Festive Finest

The tortilla is one of the most famous Spanish dishes. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been on holiday in Spain who hasn’t tried it. I lived in Spain for a few years and it was one of my favorites. It can be eaten as a snack or as a starter. In this recipe we are going to give the original recipe a nice tweak, since we are in the pumpkin season and we can get spinach almost all year round, we will make a winter tortilla.

Pumpkin and Spinach Tortilla – Serves 8

180ml extra virgin olive oil
3 onions, peeled
14 free range eggs
1 teaspoon oregano
600g roasted pumpkin or squash, cut into 2cm cubes
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
300g spinach, blanched, water squeezed out and chopped
1.5 teaspoon of salt
Black pepper

1. Heat a 30 cm (12in) deep-sided frying pan over a high heat. Add 50ml of the olive oil and when hot add the onions, stir well and cook until golden. Crack eggs into a bowl and add oregano, pumpkin, spring onions, spinach and cooked onions. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
2. Put the pan on full heat again and when it is smoking add remaining oil.
3. Carefully pour the tortilla mix in and after 20 seconds, stir gently. Bring the cooked mix from the outside into the centre and take the raw mix in the centre the outside. Do this a few times then turn the heat down. You can now either finish it under the grill or in the oven if you have an ovenproof pan (200c for the oven option).
4. It is cooked when just set – overcooked eggs are tough. Cool for 10 minutes then flip onto a large plate. Tortillas are best made at least 6 hours ahead and even better eaten the day after you make it.

Recommended Wine: Rioja (Spain)

As for the past couple of Christmases, I will not suggest any recipe for this special day of the year, everyone has their own family recipes for Christmas Day. But if you feel adventurous during the feastive season I will be delighted if you try this recipe. This stew is very rich and the depth of flavour is enormous. You can replace duck with chicken if you prefer but it will take about 40 minutes less cooking time.

Duck/Chicken, Ginger, Star Anise And Coconut Stew – Serves 6

1 medium duck
2 red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 medium leek, cut into 1 cm rings and washed well
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon coarsely grated fresh ginger
6 whole star anise
1 bay leaf
400ml unsweetened coconut milk
250ml water or chicken stock
Salt and black pepper
Fresh coriander to serve

1. Preheat oven to 180c. Joint duck into 2 legs and 2 breast, then cut each piece in half again.
2. Heat a heavy frying pan and brown meat all over without adding any oil. The duck should be fatty enough, so it won’t need any oil.
3. Brown only as many pieces that will fit in comfortably at one time. Remove pieces to a plate when they‘re ready.
4. Keeping rendered fat in the frying pan, add onions and leek and fry on a high heat, stirring often, until onions begin to colour. Put them into the bottom of a large casserole dish with carrot, garlic, ginger, star anise and bay leaf.
5. Lay the duck on top and sprinkle with salt. In the same frying pan, place coconut milk and water or chicken stock, then pour over the duck. (If the liquid doesn’t cover meat, add more hot water).
6. Cover the dish and cook for 2 hours, then remove lid and cook for a further 20 minutes. Serve this with fragrant rice topped with lots of fresh coriander. Enjoy!

Recommended Wine: Riesling (Austria)

In the last few years Panettone has become one of the most popular cakes in U.K. Once it was only available in Italian delicatessens but now you can find it in any major supermarket. Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to bake a panettone, it’s a really complicated process that requires a lot of steps. Instead, we are going to buy one and make it extra special.

Panettone And Mascarpone Cake with Berries And Cherries – Serves 8

1x 500g panettone
500g mascarpone cheese
500ml double or whipping cream
200g icing sugar, plus extra for sugar for garnish
500g raspberries
300g strawberry, hulled and halved
300g pitted cherries

1. Slice panettone horizontally into four rings, then place the bottom piece on a serving plate.
2. Whisk the mascarpone, cream and icing sugar until soft peaks begin to form. Add half of the raspberries and beat until quite firm.
3. Mix the remaining berries and cherries together. Spread a third of the cream on the base and scatter a third of the berries and cherries on top.
4. Lay another slice of panettone on top and repeat until you have reassembled the cake.
5. Cover and chill for 2 hours. To serve, dust panettone with extra icing sugar and then cut into wedges.

Recommended Wine: Moscato D’Asti (Italy)

I wish all the readers of the Cranleigh magazine a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from me and my family. I hope you can spend it with your loved ones.

Simone Conti

Enjoying these recipes? You can read more of Simone’s meals HERE.

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