Cubiletes de Amalia - Foods from Asturias

Behind every family recipe there is love. Pure, simple love. And fond memories. Cubiletes have been a long tradition at ours and it is one of the most coveted recipes I have. Every year, on December 23rd, Amalia and my mum would make cubiletes and casadielles for Christmas Eve. The roles in the kitchen were always the same: Amalia led, my mum followed and I observed.

Amalia was generous enough to share her family recipe with my family some +30 years ago. She started giving some of these treats to my dad –back then her neighbour- on Christmas and when he got married, she taught my mum how to make them. She was one of the most loving, caring, humble and respectful people I have ever met. She wasn’t my grandmother, but I love her as if she was. It breaks my heart that today we will be doing the cubiletes without her, that we don’t have her warm smile, her loving words, her advice and experience leading the baking session. But the thing about family recipes is that they keep the essence of the person who passes it on long after they are gone. She isn’t here, but somehow she is.

Los cubiletes de Amalia

Merce, Amalia’s daughter, has been kind enough to let me share her mum’s recipe with the world and I will always be grateful for that. You are a lucky bunch, trust me.


Cubiletes, a step by step recipe

Yield: 24
You will need cup-shape moulds

Ingredients for filling
250g ground almonds –if you can toast and ground them on the same day much better-
250g sugar
2 eggs, beaten
8 tbsp white wine
powdered sugar to decorate

Ingredients for the pastry
500g flour
2 tsp baking powder
160g sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g unsalted butter at room temperature
3 tbsp white wine

Cubiletes

We will prepare the filling first as we need to let it rest while we make the pastry.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients gently until well incorporated. Once you have a soft paste let it rest while you make the pastry.

In a medium bowl, add flour and baking powder. In a big mixing bowl, mix sugar and egg until well incorporated. When you have a yellow paste then add unsalted butter, white wine and olive oil. Once all the ingredients are mixed thoroughly add slowly the flour and baking powder mix and stir with a wooden spoon. You will know that the dough is ready when it isn’t sticky and you can handle it with your hands.

Cubiletes

Preheat the oven at 180C.

Take a little ball of dough and place it into a cup-style mould. With your hands, shape the ball of dough into a thin layer, stick to the mould. The thinner the better. Then add the almond filling with a spoon. The filling will expand while baking so leave some space on top.

Cubiletes

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes keeping an eye on them to avoid burning.

Let them cool and then dust with powdered sugar.

Cubiletes
 
 
 
Membrillo - Monica R Goya

Membrillo

A homemade quince paste recipe

Lee en castellano


Turkey might be the leading country in producing quinces, but in northern Spain we are anything but short of these quintessentially autumn fruits.

Membrillo - Monica R Goya

The quince tree is native to the southwest Asia region and it is believed that the word marmalade originally refers to quince jam (from Portuguese marmelo, which means quince).

Quinces are one of my favourite fruits, so delicate and special, only apt for those who try hard enough as it is almost inedible –too hard and too sour- when raw. However, there was a time in my childhood when I hated quinces for it meant hours spent by a casserole, just stirring. My mum, dad and I would take turns. Stirring boiling quinces is a dangerous affair (the bubbles might burn so try to avoid any contact by all means). And I didn’t even like quince paste back then!

Membrillo, quince paste - Monica R Goya

Nevertheless, at some point in my childhood that changed and every time I passed by my mum’s quince trees I could almost smell the soft, aromatic membrillo (quince paste) that we make every year at the beginning of the autumn, when her trees are laden with fruits.

Luckily some years ago my mum upgraded her recipe to a simpler one and the hours of stirring have been substituted by blending. Sometimes she is still nostalgic of her previous method and does it the long way. I must admit I am don't.

Quince tree - Monica R Goya

Membrillo (Quince Paste)

Nothing reflects better the flavour of autumn in Asturias than membrillo paired with some of our excellent blue cheeses, maybe Cabrales or Gamonéu. I love it on spelt or rye sourdough bread.

Yield: two rectangular pieces

Ingredients
1kg quinces cored
700g sugar
Juice of one lemon

Two sealable containers of a shape of your choice


Wash the quinces, cut out the cores with a sharp knife and roughly chopped them in small chunks. Put them in a large pan together with the sugar and the lemon juice, cover and let macerate for 24 hours.

Membrillo - Monica R Goya

The next day the sugar should have dissolved and quinces should be covered in an aromatic lemony syrup. Bring to the boil in a medium heat and then simmer for about 45 minutes over a low heat or until the quinces are tender. The paste should have a dark red, brownish colour. Blend and transfer the paste into a sealable container. Leave it to cool and then store in a sealable container for up to a year*. Once opened store in the fridge.

(*) Anything with so much sugar will keep a year or forever!

Membrillo and Gamonéu cheese - Asturias - Monica R Goya
 
 
 
Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

A family affair

A freestyle tomato sauce to make now

Lee en castellano


When you come from a family with a garden and with a stubborn zero-food waste attitude, it’s only natural that preserves are an important part of your pantry.

This freestyle sauce has been in my family for years, it is rich and runny, with a soft texture. It incorporates elements from other Spanish classics such as the fritada riojana (that also includes peppers) but it has been basically something that my mum and aunties came up with trying to use the surplus vegetables from the garden.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

Back home in Asturias there is a sort of tomato canning weekend every year. It involves a few members of my family and the mission has been the same from the beginning of time: using all the surplus tomatoes from the garden and making canned tomato sauce that will be used throughout the year, until the new season comes.

I only appreciated the superlative importance of that tomato canning season when I left the nest to go to university. Suddenly I forgot the hassle of making it and felt fortunate to have those jars at hand in my pantry. Being able to prepare pasta or fish with a delicious sauce free from hidden sugars in no time was a real blessing.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

Tomato sauce, step by step recipe

Ingredients

Yield: 9 medium jars

3kg ripe tomatoes
600g red peppers
250g green peppers
1kg onions
50g garlic
25g salt
*Bottled lemon juice or citric acid

As with any preserves aiming for a long shelf life, jar sterilisation is the most important part of the process. Wash all the jars and lids in hot soapy water. Once the jars and lids are clean, soak them in boiling water for fifteen minutes. Make sure you use a jar rack or a towel so that the jars don’t touch the bottom of the pan.

We always use a large pot so that we can do them all at once, but when I do it on my own I need to do several batches as I don’t have such a large pot. Any option is ok as long as the jars and lids are soaked in boiling water for fifteen minutes. Then you can use kitchen tongs to pull them out upside-down on a spotlessly clean kitchen towel to dry.   

If you don’t have a garden it is worth asking your farmer at your local market. Many times the farmers have “ugly” produce that they don’t bring to the market because they know they won’t sell. However, if you ask for it, they might be able to bring you the tomatoes that otherwise would be discarded at a reduced price. And everyone wins.  

Dip the tomatoes in plenty boiling water for three or four minutes to skin them more easily. When they cool, skin them and put aside.   

In a large frying pan over medium heat, sauté the peppers, onions and garlic in a good olive oil until soft. Then add the skinned tomatoes and continue cooking uncovered until they have reduced to a jam looking sauce. Stir often to prevent it from burning.

Once the sauce has cooled, pass it through a food mill –or do it directly in the pan with an electric hand blender-. Add the salt to taste towards the end.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya

Ladle tomatoes into the sterilised jars and add a tablespoon of olive oil per jar. Then seal and process the jars in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes. The jars must be covered by at least 3cm of water. Once they cool leave them upside-down on a flat surface for twenty-four hours and check for liquid loss.

*While researching this recipe I found out that to be canned safely in a boiling water bath all foods should be high acid. The tomato sauce isn’t naturally high acid enough to be on the safe side, and this is achieved by adding bottled lemon juice or citric acid to the sauce. This is to prevent botulism, since it cannot grow in high acid environments.

The proportions to be added to the jars prior ladling the sauce would be as follows:

For jars around 500g/a pint:
¼ tsp citric acid or 1 tbsp bottled lemon juice 

In our recipe lemon has never been added and it has always worked fine. Obviously we always check that the sauce is ok before cooking with it, but we are incorporating the lemon solution from now onwards.

Tomato sauce | Monica R. Goya
 
 
 
Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias

Blood Orange, Requesón & Polenta Cake

Citrus fruits have a long standing tradition in Asturias and they make a heavenly combination together with local requesón, almonds and corn flour

Lee en castellano


One of the most exciting seasonal foods to have in winter are citrus fruits. From Niembru to Doiras, it is not uncommon to see lemon and orange trees laden with fruits all around Asturias, for citrus fruits have a long standing tradition in the region.

In the 17th century they were one of the main exports to important trading ports in England and The Netherlands, where Asturian oranges were very well regarded. According to the book “Asturias y el comercio con el norte de Europa (1650-1700)” written by Luis Cueto-Felgueroso, ships loaded with Asturian citrus fruits, -oranges and lemons mainly- set sail from the Asturian coast regularly at that time.

Spain is the main European producer of citrus fruits and it is among the top ten in the world. However, these days it is hard to find Asturian citrus fruits outside the region. 

Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias

When Liz Prueitt of San Francisco based Tartine Bakery posted on her social media her adaptation of the classic River Café polenta cake, she almost broke the Internet. The baking-world bit of the Internet I mean. Since I saw her recipe I have been daydreaming of making that cake with my uncle’s oranges and delicious Asturian requesón. Unfortunately, my uncle’s oranges didn’t make it safely to London, but the requesón did.


Blood oranges, requesón and polenta cake
Adapted from Liz Prueitt who adapted it from the River Cafe Cook Book

If you have a very sweet tooth, please choose the sweeter option in the sugar measurements. The resulting cake from adding less sugar has a very citrusy, not that sweet finish. This cake is gluten free.

Ingredients
 
Topping
25ml water
70gr sugar (if you want a really glossy-looking cake, add between 40 and 50gr more of sugar and 5ml more of water)
2 oranges (blood oranges make a more colourful cake)

Cake
120gr sugar (150gr if you go for the sweeter option)
120gr butter
3 eggs (separated)
170gr requesón (the original recipe calls for ricotta, similar, but not identical, but obviously you could use it if you don’t find requesón)
1 lemon and 2 oranges (zest and juice)
60gr cornflour
135gr ground almonds
A pinch of salt

Butter and flour a 9” or 10” (anything between 22 to 25cm) round cake tin and line it with parchment paper. If you want to be very cautious, flour the paper too. Mix the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved and spread it on the bottom of the tin. Cut the two oranges in thin slices –the thinnest you can- and arrange them on top of the sugar/water mix trying to cover all the surface of the cake tin, ideally in a single layer. It is tricky because the orange slices are very fragile, but try your best. The thinner the slices, the better the cake will look.

Preheat your oven to 160C (325F). Cream together the sugar and butter until you get a pale, soft batter. Add the three yolks and then stir in vigorously the requesón. Add the zest and juice of one lemon and two oranges and a pinch of salt.

Mix the cornflour and ground almonds and fold in the batter. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and mix them in. The batter will be very thick and consistent. Pour it into the cake tin and spread it evenly over the sliced oranges –already on the bottom of the tin-.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. As always, time depends on the oven but around 40-50 minutes.

As much as you might want to see how it turns out, make sure you let it cool for at least 30 minutes before unmoulding it. Invert, unmould and transfer it to a platter or cake stand.
 

Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias
Blood Orange, Requex�n & Polenta Cake | Foods from Asturias
Blood orange, requeson and polenta cake | Monica R. Goya