Pies

I love pies. And they are so easy to make, too!

I remember as a child trying to struggle my way through pastry crust made from scratch. Fighting to get the butter through the flour without the whole thing clumping up all the time. Fighting to roll the whole thingamajig out without having it stick to half the objects in the house.

Well, one day I was visiting with my friend in France, and her mother showed me HOW FAST AND EASY it really is to make a fruit pie:

SHE USED READY-MADE PIE PASTRY!

Yeah. Why should us busy working mothers struggle at home for hours making a pie crust from scratch, when it’s so easy (and cheap) to buy one already made from the store?

I mean, goodness knows we already work hard enough as it is. What with our jobs, and the kids, and the housework, and the shopping, and our blogs…… Oh, well maybe not everyone has a blog to worry about.

So I armed myself with ready-made, store-bought pie pastry on the one hand, and a basket of cherries on the other. And it was as easy as 1-2-3!

1.I rolled the pie crust out into the pie dish. Stuck a few holes in the bottom with a fork to let out steam.

2.I washed and pitted the cherries (don’t eat the pits! they’re poisonous!), cut them in half and dumped them into the pie crust. Scattered a few spoonfuls of sugar over the whole thing. I’m not one to ever measure anything out so let’s just say, put in enough sugar to lightly cover all the cherries.

3.Pop into the oven. I also never pay much attention to what temperature I put the oven at, but usually around 180º Celsius. I turned on just the flame at the bottom of the oven for about 30 minutes, then around 20 minutes with both top and bottom flames on.

Oh, well I guess I forgot there is a fourth step:

4.EAT IT!

Pie Cherry Fruit

The pie turned out SO DIVINE that the very next week I ventured to make one with a tray of red fruits from the supermarket. I made it the same way I’d done with the cherry pie.

Super cinch!

Enjoy!

Oh and while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

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Currywurst

A friend spent his summer holidays in Germany, and he was telling me that Currywürst is all the rage right now over there.

It’s street food, most especially associated with Berlin, and every street stand owner has his own secret recipe for how to make the Currywürst sauce.

But basically, the sauce is made with tomatoes and curry.

I made my own version of Currywürst.

I fried onions with paprika, chilli powder, ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper and a good handful of curry powder.

I threw in a dash of white wine. I’d read that people usually use vinegar. However, I didn’t have vinegar. So I used white wine.

Loaded in quite a few spoonfuls of sugar too. Honey would’ve been ideal, I suppose, but I don’t like honey. So I put in unhealthy refined white sugar. (After all, with all that wine, vinegar and tomato, I’d bet you anything that without some sort of sweetener the whole thing would turn out sour as a lemon.)

Supposedly they put in Worcestershire sauce too, but of course I didn’t have that either.

(And please don’t ask me the amounts of everything haha, I just throw things in by eye.)

I fried up some chips (French fries), fried up a few German sausages (Bratwurst) and cut them into pieces.

Then I smothered the whole thing with my special homemade Currywürst sauce.

And here you have the result.

Currywurst

Okay, admittedly perhaps I went a bit overboard in the amounts. Certainly my son, who is notorious for having 4 stomachs, wasn’t even able to finish the whole plate.

But it was still delish.

Yum!

Okay so now here I’ll even make a (hopefully passable) attempt to present things like a conventional recipe should be presented. Enjoy!

Currywürst Sauce

Oil for frying
1 onion
1 can of ketchup, tomato sauce or tomato puré
Paprika, chilli powder, ground cumin, turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper to taste and a good handful of curry powder
Sugar or honey
White wine or white wine vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Fried chips (French fries)
2 Bratwurst sausages per person

Sauté the onion in oil. Add all the spices, salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato sauce.

Let simmer on low heat. Stir in the sugar.

Pour in a dash of wine or vinegar. Pour in a dash of Worcestershire sauce.

Let simmer on low heat until the tomatoes are cooked and the wine has evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Fry the Bratwurst lightly in oil in a frying pan, or roast on a grill. Cut into pieces. Fry the chips in deep oil. Place on a plate with the sausages on one side and the chips on the other. Pour Currywürst sauce over both.

Sprinkle a spoonful of curry powder lightly over top of the sauce to serve.

This is street food in Berlin, so people don’t usually eat it with anything else. In fact, it’s customary to see people simply standing about with the Currywürst on a plastic plate and eating it with a plastic fork as they chat.

Oh and while we’re at it, not to sound like a super sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

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Cakes

I LOOOVEEE cakes.

And I bet you do too.

Black Forest Cake

But one thing I’ve noticed is it’s not as easy to get cheap cakes here in Spain as it is in Canada. I mean, cheap cakes at the supermarket. If you want a really good cake here you have to go to the bakery and bakery cakes are expensive.

In Canada you could just go to the supermarket and pick up a ready made cake for maybe $2. And there would be a whole huge variety of cakes available. But here even if a large supermarket has cheap cakes they will maybe only have a couple of varieties. The rest are bakery cakes (also available at supermarkets but in a separate section) and they’re more expensive.

Then you just can’t compare the variety that they have in Canada with here. Of course in bakeries here you can get every sort of cake that your heart could desire. But like I said before, bakery cakes are expensive. In Canada you can get every kind of cheap, ready made cake you could possibly want at the supermarket: chocolate, strawberry, Black Forest, caramel……

Now — and I’m just speculating here — I was wondering why is it so hard to get good, cheap cakes round here? And my theory is that maybe it’s just simply because Spanish people don’t seem to have a tradition of eating cakes.

Yep. Might sound weird. But think that in poorer countries cakes aren’t all that easy to come by. (Which is why only Marie Antoinette could have cake but not her poverty-stricken, lowly subjects.)

So traditionally, here in Spain, cakes and pastries were reserved only for special occasions. Reason why all the festivities of the year have their own special pastries, like Roscón de Reyes for The Three Kings holiday or pestiños for All Saints Day.

Then as people got richer ordinary people could have cakes more often. But even so they still tend to reserve cake eating for things like birthdays or family get-togethers. I still have delicious memories of how, when I was still married, my ex (then hubby) would buy pastries every Sunday and we’d have pastries and tea with his family on Sundays.

But maybe in other cultures, like England or Canada, it was more common to eat cake every day. For example, as part of the daily tea.

Well not exactly a transcendental subject and I’m sure these aren’t exactly earth-shattering theories haha. Just one of the many small details where I notice the difference between Spanish and English cultures.

And now that I’ve got your attention, check out my previous post, Walking in the Rain. It’s got more about everyday life here in Spain, and lots of pics (wink, wink).

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Pizza Makin’

My son LOOOVEEES pizza! So he decided to learn to make his own.

They are really quite easy to make once you learn how. The only thing that takes a long time is how long you have to wait for them to bake in the oven!

Pizzas Raw

I’m a foodie. Ie. I LOVE to eat. Especially good food haha. But I’m not at all into blogging about food. Ie. I love to read food blogs, but I don’t love to blog about food myself or put up recipes on the blog. Too much work haha!

But okay, since I really wanted to showcase what a giant little chef my son is becoming, I might as well put up the recipe too.

This is from a recipe by Jamie Oliver, with a little bit of variation that I made up myself from experience with making other breads. Sorry can’t put up the link to his recipe, don’t remember where I got Jamie’s recipe from. The recipe I put here isn’t the same as his. But here is Jamie Oliver’s website.

I use about ¾ kg. of normal flour or strong flour. Strong flour is better for making leavened breads because it has more gluten and holds the dough together better. Of course if you are allergic to gluten you can’t use this flour.

You can always replace this flour with other flours if you’re allergic to gluten, or you prefer not to eat gluten. Or you can make a mix of flours using some wheat flour and some other types of flour, like semolina flour, rye flour, spelt, corn, etc.

This amount of flour produces about 10-11 individual pizza bases. So use more flour if you want more pizzas or larger pizzas, and less for less pizzas.

I add a pinch of salt into the flour and mix it around a bit in a bowl.

Then in a cup I put one envelope of yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 2-4 tablespoons olive oil. Add in milk or water at room temperature to fill about half the cup.

I use dried yeast in envelopes because it’s what I could find. It’s hard to find yeast in Spain! Dunno why, I s’pose there’s just such a grand variety of bakeries here, like five on every block, that there’s just no need for people to make their own bread.

Anyways I was able to dig up some yeast at Eroski. Mercadona didn’t have any.

Don’t forget the sugar, or your dough won’t rise! The yeast needs to feed off the sugar.

I used 2 spoonfuls of olive oil cuz we’re on a bit of a budget. If you’re lucky enough not to be on such a budget you can use more.

You can use milk or water for the dough. Milk produces a softer dough and water a crispier one.

Pour the liquid mix into the dough and knead it around until it’s smooth and silky and doesn’t stick. If it falls into pieces add more water. And if it sticks, throw in a handful of flour. Form a large ball. Cover it with some oil (like a light sunflower oil) and put it in the bowl with a damp towel over it, or aluminium foil.

Then leave it someplace warm for an hour or so. If you’ve got a kitchen with sunshine (we don’t! cuz we live on a ground floor facing north with a tall high-rise building just in front!) you can just put it in the sunshine. Since we never have sunshine, I put it in the oven at 50 degrees.

It should rise up nice and fluffy. When it’s big, punch it down and knead it some more.

Then form small round balls about the size you want your pizzas. We make small individual sized pizzas because those allow you to personalize each one. And because we only have a small oven pan to put it in!

Small pizzas are also good if you only have a small toaster oven.

Roll the pizzas out with a rolling pin into round bases and put them on your pan. Make a few holes in them for the steam to come out using a fork.

You can then cover them with whatever topping you like. Bake at 180 degrees for…… Well it depends on your oven. I leave them in for about half an hour. If it turns dark before then remove it earlier. And if it’s still kinda raw after half an hour, leave it in longer.

This is my son the pizzero. (He’s missing the hat I think.)

Son Making Pizzas

Sorry bad lighting. I did say we don’t get no sunshine in here.

You can use just tomato sauce from a can. But this time I happened to have some tomato sauce left over from yesterday’s meatballs, so I used that. This is how I made that sauce:

In a bit of olive oil I fried onions and my favourite spices. Then I added a dash of white wine and boiled off the alcohol. Pour in plain tomato sauce. Add in salt and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Finally, add in a good load of herbs, like oregano, parsley and basil. I give them all a good simmering and it’s done.

I don’t usually make something this elaborate just for pizzas. But I happened to have this sauce left over, so I used it.

Pizzas don’t take a long time to make, but they do take a long time to bake! So settle down and find something comfy to do while they’re bakin’. Like writing blog posts!

Pizza Cooked

One of my main gripes with bought pizza is that they never put in enough onions and peppers for my taste, not even at great chains like Telepizza or Domino’s. So here was my chance to remedy this!

Ah if you were looking hard you might have noticed that there is only one pizza in this photo, whereas in the original photo there were two. Well, the little pizza lovers in my home pounced on the other pizza and snatched it up before it occurred to me to take photos!

Have you ever made your own home-made pizzas? How did they turn out? Tell me! I LURRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

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Pa Amb Tomàquet

Oops, that’s not quite right, wrong Community, I think. I meant: pan con aceite!

Andalucia Flag

Next week is the Day of Andalucía, which commemorates the date when Andalucía won the status of Autonomous Community within the country of Spain.

People get patriotic and hang out flags, and in the schools they set up little plays (which unfortunately we parents won’t be privy to observing). My son’s got a role in the play his class has mounted up at his high school: he’s going to open the curtains at the start of the show and close them when it ends. (He hates acting!)

His little brother cracked up when “Hermenegildo” proudly announced his important assignment. But I explained that it’s very important that someone open the curtains too, because if no one does that, then the show can’t go on!

What the kids love most about the Day of Andalucía, however, is pan con aceite!

Pan con aceite

Yes, the schools regale them with a typical Andalusian breakfast: rustic bread dunked in pools and pools of fresh virgin olive oil.

Too bad this wonderful meal is also accompanied by homework assignments for spring break (okay, winter break, since I guess technically it’s still winter……).

Thought I’d close this post with a flash of almond blossoms. Living in da inna big city isn’t the hottest thing, but occasionally, we get a real treat from Mother Nature too.

Almond Tree

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The Blueberry Fiend

In the rest of the world I do believe it is blueberry season right about now.

Back in Canada I was the Blueberry Fiend, I used to gobble a ton of blueberries every day during the season and we’d freeze batches of them for the long, cold winter. We always had blueberries on hand, fresh ones, or frozen. We lived in the country, so we also went to gather them. They were the most luscious, juicy, delicious things…… and enormous too, in Canada the blueberries are humongous!

But now I haven’t seen a single fresh blueberry for the past six years or so, since we moved here to southern Spain from Barcelona.

In Barcelona you could still get blueberries – at exorbitant prices – at the exotic market La Boquería on the Ramblas (oh phooey, it didn’t occur to me to take a photo of it when we returned to Barcelona for a visit last year!), where they would sell you a teentsy tiny little basket of very small sized fresh fruit, which you would then guzzle whole in one sitting, for perhaps 4€. Preposterous! But at least you got a chance to taste blueberries again.

Now, these are the blueberries that I get:

Blueberries and Blueberry Jam

Once upon a time I was able to find one of my favourite brands, a French one, Bonne Maman, which was truly luscious. But these are just as tasty, and I always always always have a jar on hand. I eat them with everything: with yoghurt, with pancakes, with waffles, croissants……

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Well, it was about time I finally got around to the recipes! I love cooking, and with two big, hulking boys around, one of whom claims to possess four stomachs – and acts accordingly – I have to do a lot of it, too. The only thing I can say is: Hurray for restaurants!

If you happen to be celiac, if you’re allergic to gluten or wheat, or you just simply want to hop onto the New Age bandwagon and avoid wheat in general, now there are some very easy-to-find, cheap alternatives.

More and more, people are trying to avoid eating wheat and products containing wheat, because even if you are healthy and have no problems with wheat, supposedly it causes some sort of inflammation in human beings, as well as making you feel full and heavy.

I like to use a combination of arepa corn flour, masa arepa, and garbanzo, or chickpea, flour.

You can get arepa flour at Latin food stores or sometimes in major supermarkets. I prefer the yellow variety, but the kind carried by the Eroski supermarket across the street from me is white.

There’s no difference between the two, other than the colour. But yellow just looks more like corn!

Garbanzo Chickpea FlourGarbanzo flour might be a bit harder to find. Now it is sold in Mercadona here in Spain, so you can get some no matter where in Spain you live. Before, I had to buy it in the Pakistani neighbourhood, the Raval, of Barcelona. When I first came to Malaga I couldn’t find it anywhere, so you can imagine my great joy and delight when I discovered it sitting unobtrusively on the shelf in Mercadona!

Here is an example of a dish I like to make using this combination of flours. These sticks look like French fries, but in reality they are sticks of fried aubergine. Now, fried aubergine is one of my favourite foods in the whole wide world!

Fried Aubergines Lite

It’s easy to make. All you need to do is peel and cut up an aubergine in long sticks. I like to cut up two, because I’m crazy about them!

I dump the flour combination in a bowl with salt and pepper. You can add spices if you like. Garlic powder, chilli powder and parsley are nice additions.

Place the aubergine sticks into a bowl of water and then draw them out one by one and stick them into the bowl of flour. The flour should stick to the sticks nicely with the humidity on them. Then you can just transfer them to a (hot) frying pan with lots of oil, preferably olive oil and not sunflower oil. (I once fried with sunflower oil and by the second batch it had turned BLACK! Never again!)

If you are lucky enough to get virgin unrefined coconut oil at a modicum price, supposedly that is even better than olive oil for frying. I am not lucky enough to get coconut oil at a modicum price here in Spain, so I use olive oil. (If you are in Spain, Fitovitalia now sells coconut oil at high range jewellery prices. They have a shop here in Malaga but will ship to anywhere in Spain for a very very reasonable shipping rate. Vamos, let’s just say, it costs less for them to ship the package to my door than it does for me to pack up my two kids onto a city bus to and from the store.)

These aubergines coated in this gluten-free combination come out light, crispy, delicate. They don’t leave you feeling fat and full and like you need a nap urgently, the way wheat flour does.

My youngest son loves anything that you can put into your mouth, so we usually share this plate together. My oldest won’t look at anything that comes from a plant or grows from the ground, so he usually passes.

Eggplants

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