Two birthdays

I am writing in spoonglish again after two months. I obviously did not follow through with my new years resolution. Is anybody surprised? Not only I left my blog aside, but also I forgot spoonglish first birthday, which happened this month without me even thinking about it. We didn't celebrate! I also had my birthday this month, 27 years old already, but we did celebrate that one.  What a selfish b**ch I have become!

Some days ago, I made my favorite lamb tagine recipe. I had a piece of lamb shoulder in the freezer since do-not-ask-me-when, and I decided to take it out some morning to make this dish that I love and that I hadn't made in a while.

The first time I ever ate tagine was at a Moroccan restaurant called El Jardín del Califa, in Vejer de la Frontera. If you ever happen to go to this little village in Cádiz (Spain), you have to go eat at El Califa, it is a wonderful culinary experience.

I use the recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook. The first time I made it I loved it. This time, I had to substitute some of the vegetables to use up the things that were in my fridge, and I liked it even more.

Lamb tagine with vegetables, prunes and dried apricots
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, serves 4.

Tagine gets its name from the dish in which is traditionally cooked in the north of Africa. It is a shallow ceramic casserole with a conical lid. If you have one, that's what you should use to make this, but if you don't, just use whatever you have, as did I.

You can substitute any vegetables you like for the ones in this recipe. Good ones are summer squash, winter squash or sweet potato. I really like the prunes and apricots, but I guess you can also use raisins or other dried fruits instead.

2 lb (1 kg) lamb shoulder 
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
2 carrots, pealed and sliced
2 small parsnips, pealed and chopped or sliced
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup prunes
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 tsp honey
1 pinch of grated nutmeg or to taste
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Cut lamb from bones and cut into 1-inch pieces. In a cast-iron pot or skillet or just regular pot heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb meat and bones, in batches, about 5 minutes per batch or until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to pot and add onion and celery. Cook over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Return meat and bones to pot. Add 1 1/2 cup (350 ml) of water, saffron and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the lamb to a plate. Discard the bones. Add carrot and parsnip to pot, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are barely tender. Add ginger, cinnamon, prunes and apricots. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until fruits and vegetables are tender.

Return lamb to pot. Add honey and season with more salt and pepper if necessary. Sprinkle with nutmeg to taste. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes. Serve with couscous. 


My american idol

I don't really ever talk about other food blogs, but the truth is that I read an insane amount of blogs. Well, to be honest, I do follow a lot of food blogs, but I only read a handful of them. Among those, there is one that whenever I see there is a new entry, either on Facebook or on my Google reader, I stop whatever I am doing and read it from beginning to end. That blog is smitten kitchen.

I am not the only one who likes Deb's writing and recipes. Her 6 year old blog has almost 112,000 fans on Facebook  and her book has been among the top sellers since it was released earlier last fall.

Her witty writing, her perfectionism when cooking, her beautiful pictures and her lovely toddler combine to perfection to make smitten kitchen one of the most read blogs in the world, and the envy of every blogger. Her cookbook, which I got for Christmas, is not only loaded with delicious recipes and pictures, but also makes a great read because every recipe comes with a story or an essay that will make you laugh.

I don't think there is any recipe in the book that I don't want to make. As of these short ribs, I have already made them twice. I thought that no braised meat could ever beat my pork cheeks. However, these short ribs are as good, if not better. I adapted the recipe just a bit, because I always like to blend the vegetables with the sauce for a richer flavor and thicker consistency.

If you make it, DO NOT SKIP the parsnip puree. The combination of the parsnip and horseradish flavor of the puree with the sauce of the meat is just AMAZING.

Balsamic and beer-braised short ribs with parsnip purée
Serves 3-4, adapted slightly from The smitten kitchen cookbook

5 lb (about 2 kg) bone-in short ribs( about 6 to 10 depending on the size), separated and trimmed of excess fat
1 large red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup (120 ml) balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bottles (24 oz or 660 ml) dark beer
2 to 3 cups (475 ml to 710 ml) beef stock
Olive oil, salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325° F (160° C).

Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy pot or dutch oven over high heat and add olive oil to coat the bottom. Brown the short ribs on all sides, in batches, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Remove all but one tablespoon of the fat from the pot. Add the red onion and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant,  about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook stirring for about 2 minutes.

Add the vinegar, beer and Worcestershire sauce, scraping the brown bits stuck in the bottom of the pot. Return the ribs to the pot, meaty side down if you have space to arrange them in one layer, or vertical if you don't. Add beef stock so it covers the ribs completely. Bring to a simmer.

Turn of the heat, cover and put in the preheated oven. Braised for about two and a half to three hours, or until the meat is super tender and falling off the bone.

At this point you have two options: refrigerate over night or keep going. If you choose to refrigerate it, the next day discard most of the fat that will have solidified on the top and put the pot back over low-medium until heated up. 

Remove the ribs from pot. Puree the sauce in a blender to give the sauce a better consistency. Pour sauce back in pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until reduced by a third. Arrange the ribs on a serving platter or in plates and pour the sauce over. Serve with parsnip purée. 

Parsnip purée

2 lb (1 kg) parsnips, peeled and sliced into big chunks
4 tbsp (55 g or 1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy cream
1 tbsp prepared horseradish sauce or freshly grated horseradish
1/2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot combine parsnip with enough cold water to cover. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Drain.

Puree hot parsnips,horseradish, butter, heavy cream, salt and pepper until smooth.



Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family and loved ones. 

I decided to start this year with a good breakfast at 2 PM, and made those good-looking pancakes my first meal of 2013. They are pumpkin and chocolate chip pancakes adapted from here. And they are deliiicious. I made them in a cast iron skillet that I have had for a while and was never brave enough to use it because it requires seasoning. Well, it wasn't that hard. Just washed it with water and spread some oil on it after I used it. No big deal. So from now on I will be using it more.

I usually don't have a lot of new year's resolutions, as I think that any day is a good day to start a new project or try to achieve something. Actually, I think that any day is a good day to decide that you are starting something the following monday. However, I do have a resolution for this year:

To cook more and to blog more about it.

As I have been a very good girl this year, Santa brought me four new cookbooks full of delicious recipes that I can't wait to try and share with you.

Besides all the cooking and blogging, so many other exciting things are happening this year. I will probably be moving to a new city and I will start a new job. And the most exciting of all, I am getting married!

I wish you all a wonderful 2013 full of adventures and good things and pancakes. I probably won't be having many more pancakes though (wedding pressure is starting).

Pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes
Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen, makes 10.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons lightbrown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 ground cloves
1/8 ground ginger
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. 

In another bowl, add the cream and the milk. Add the egg and lightly beat. Next, mix in the pumpkin puree until completely blended. Pour in the slightly cooled melted butter and mix some more. 

In two batches, gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. The batter should have some small to medium lumps.

Heat up a heavy skillet over medium low-heat and brush with 1 tablespoon of butter. Scoop the batter, using a 1/4 cup measure, to the warm skillet. Top each pancake with desired amount of chocolate chips. I added about 10-15 chips per pancake. Cook until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancake and then flip. Cook on opposite side for about 40 seconds, or until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter.


Playing doctor

Last week I played doctor with a turkey. It was, by far, one of the best cooking experiences ever. I took away the insides, injected the turkey, sewed it's skin, stuffed it... I felt like McDreamy.

But let me start from the beginning, because there is a beginning. Last week was the week after thanksgiving, and on Monday, Scott and I went to the store. They were out of almost everything, because like us, so many people were just back from the Holiday and needed to stock up with food. However, they still had a lot of turkeys, and because Thanksgiving was over, they were on sale. It was not my idea to buy a turkey (we had just had lots of turkey the week before), but I (almost) never say no to my fiance. You know, one time I said yes and he gave me a diamond ring, so now I try to always say yes, just in case. 

For 3 days the turkey was thawing in the refrigerator and I was looking for the best way to cook it. Then I thought that the best turkey I have ever had is the turkey that is roasted at my grandparents' house every Christmas. Besides, as I am not going to be home to eat that delicious turkey this Christmas for the first time in my whole life, so I had to make it myself.

My great aunt, la Tia Carmen, used to be the one in charge of making the turkey every year. After she passed away, my grandma and my aunt Isabel took over. Now it's mostly Isabel who makes it, but my grandma supervises her very closely to make sure that everything is perfect. 

Isabel gave me the recipe. She sent me a voice note through Whatsapp while she was at the grocery store. Gotta love technology! And aunts! ( Thanks Isa!)

I started by taking the giblets from inside the turkey. Then I injected it all with brandy. This was so cool, it really felt like being a surgeon in the OR. Once injected, I made the stuffing, which is a cooked mix of ground meats, bacon, sausage, apple, and dried fruits. I added some brandy to it too.

I stuffed the turkey with the stuffing, which was a lot harder than it seemed. Then, I was told that I had to sew the skin to close the cavity in both the head and tail sides. Here came the CRISIS! I didn't have a needle that was thick enough for kitchen twine (to be honest, I did not have ANY kind of needle). I asked my aunt if I could just not close the bird -what a terrible surgeon I am- but she said no because then the stuffing would come out (kind of like what would happen with real patients if you don't close them up) and would not finish cooking . More CRISIS. She suggested to staple it. I don't even have a stapler!

However, I had come this far and I was not going to give up on my Christmas turkey now, plus sewing it would mean more surgeon playing. I used my engineering skills and I came up with a solution. I tied the twine to a toothpick and attached both with tape. I am not kidding.

It was a hard task, but the coolest of them all. I must have used at least 10 different toothpicks,  as they kept coming out of the thread, or braking. But I did it! I sewed the cavity and it looked good! After that, the hard work as over. I just rubbed the turkey with salt and olive oil and roasted it for what it seemed eternity.

 It was perfectly cooked, the stuffing was good, the turkey was very tasty and moist. We made cranberry sauce and Brussels's sprouts too. And the turkey the tasted just like the one at my grandma's! Something to really take pride on.

My family's Christmas Turkey

For the stuffing
1/2 lb (250 g) bacon, chopped
1 pack dried shitakee mushrooms, rehidrated, OR 1 tbsp grated truffle
1/2 lb (250 g) white sausage
1/2 lb (250 g) ground veal
1/2 lb (250 g) ground pork
1/2 cup (120 ml) cognac or sweet wine
9 oz (250 g) prunes
1 apple, cored and cut in 1/2 inch cubes

For the turkey
1 fresh or thawed turkey, clean, insides discarded
1 cup (230 ml) of brandy
Olive oil or lard
3 cups (700 ml) turkey or chicken stock

Make the stuffing
Put the bacon and mushrooms in a big heavy skillet over medium heat. When a lot of fat is released add the sausage and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ground meats and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine or cognac. When it is partially cooked (about 10 minutes), remove from heat and mix in the prunes and the apple. Let it cool.

Make the turkey
Rinse well the turkey in and out and pat it dry. Add salt and oil inside the cavity, distributing it well.

Use an injector to inject the brandy in the turkey's meat, distributing well between the breast and the legs.

Stuff the cavity with the stuffing, packing it well inside. You might not be able to fit all of it, depending on the size of the turkey.

Using kitchen twine and a thick needle, sew the skin to close both entrances to the cavity.

Truss the turkey so that the legs ad wings are tight for an even roasting. Spread salt and lard (or oil) all over the turkey. 

Preheat the oven to 375°F (180° C).

Put the turkey in a baking pan. Cover the breast with aluminum foil. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and pour some chicken stock over the turkey, spreading it with a brush. Roast for 2 more hours (or until a total time of 15 minutes per pound of turkey), turning occasionally for an even roast and adding stock every 20 minutes. The turkey will be cooked when the juices come clear when inserting a knife between the thigh and the drumstick, or when the temperature on a thermometer inserted on the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165° F (70°C ).

Pour the juices in a bowl and let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes covered with foil before carving.


The healthiest fast food

I know I know I know, I haven't been writing a lot lately! And I am sorry! The truth is that I have a full time job and 3 kids and a dog and I volunteer on the weekends, so I really don't have time! Ok, all the former is a total lie, but what do you want me to say? I have been busy. And I have to plan a wedding. 

Anyway, last week was Thanksgiving, which means that I gained the 4 pounds that I had lost over like 2 months.  So all I want to eat now is low fat, low carb, low calorie food. I am obsesed with healthy food. I even started a pinterest board call healthy weeknight dinners, because even when I am in healthy mode, I refuse to give up taste and pleasure in food. I know this sounds like one of those Jenny Craig comercials, but the truth is that it is possible to enjoy low calorie food. 

Although I don't think I will completely stop making cupcakes or ice cream, this coming year I am going to try to cook healthier than I usually do...you know, we have to look skinny on our big day, says Vogue and all..

On my trip to Spain 3 weeks ago, my mom made salmon en papillote. Papillote is a beautiful french word that means parchment, but sounds so much better. This cooking technique involves wrapping the food in a  little parchment packet so it cooks in its own steam when you put it in the oven. It is super easy, super clean, super tasty and super healthy. So the other day I was looking through my food magazines in an obsesive look for healthy food and I found this recipe. Took like 20 minutes to make, of which at least 5 where for taking pictures. 

I started with some salmon, sliced zuchinni, some cherry tomatoes, half a shallot and fresh basil. You can substitute pretty much any other fish and vegetables you like.

I put it over a sheet of parchment, drizzled everything with olive oil and a splash of white wine, and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Then I had to close the packet and I had no idea how to do it. This video was really helpful!

After 12 minutes at 400 degrees, tadaaaa, nicely cooked!

Salmon en papillote
From Bon Appétit, October 2012, serves 1.

1 salmon steak
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 small zucchini , thinly sliced
3 basil leaves, chopped
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine

Preheat the oven to 400° F (200°C).

Place a square of parchment on a work surface. Layer the squash, tomatoes, shallot and basil over it. Season it with salt, drizzle with the wine and 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place the salmon atop, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil.

Fold parchment over the mixture and crimp edges tightly to for a sealed packet. Put the packet on a baking sheet and place it in the oven for 15 minutes. Carefully open the packet and enjoy a tasty healthy dish.


Pumpkin and Politics

Pumpkin is to fall what politics is to Washington DC. And that is why I made pumpkin cupcakes and brought them to a debate watching party. Because it's fall already, and because this Washington DC. 

My friends and family back in Spain will find it weird to hear that I meet with my friend's at someone's house to watch the presidential debate. Probably a lot of Americans would also think it's kind of weird, or boring, or even lame. However, in this city, politics are a huge part or everyday life as so many jobs here are directly or indirectly related to government. Most of my friends here are lobbiests, lawyers, senator staffers, engineers that work for government contractors..so since I moved here I have had to get used to have politics be a really frequent conversation subject. I guess in Spain we don't really talk about it that much among friends as it is impossible to do so and have a good time.

But I am not as much into politics as I am into food, so I had to bring something to eat to this debate watching gathering. I made Martha Stewart's pumpkin cupcakes recipe. I had tried these cupcakes last year at a Halloween party, and after eating like four of them I had to ask the host where she got the recipe from. 

I used a one bowl approach for this recipe. Sometimes I like to get my hands dirty and my arms tired instead of using the stand mixer. This recipe was simple enough for it, as no whipping or beating was required.

For the icing I used the recipe from Patent and the Pantry and from now on I tell you that this is going to be my go to cream cheese frosting recipe. So good that when I was done covering the cupcakes, I had to pipe some of the leftover icing directly into my mouth. I also think it sounds gross, but it tasted like heaven. 

Obama did a terrible job in that debate, but the cupcakes were the touch of fall that we all needed.

Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart, makes 12

For the batter:
1 cups (128 g, 4.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick, 110 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 can (210 g, 7.5 oz) pumpkin puree

For the frosting:
8 oz (220 g) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter (1 stick, 110 g), room temperature
3 cups (385 g) confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Make the batter and bake the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)

In a medium bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. In another bowl mix the sugars and the butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at at time and mix until well incorporated. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture gradually and mix well. Mix in pumpkin puree.

Line a cupcake pan with liners and fill each one about halfway with batter. Bake until tops spring back when touched and a cake tester comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before icing.

Make the icing and finish:

While the cupcakes are cooling down, beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and sugar and mix until incorporated. 

Spoon the icing into a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe the frosting on top of the cupcakes starting on the edges and forming a spiral towards the center. 


Hi five duck

When it comes to food, some people are very easy to please. They are happy with every homemade food you give them and almost never complain. They like, almost, everything. Examples of that kind of people are my mom, my sister and myself. Scott is not one of those. He is much more demanding, he loves to eat, but he won't eat anything. He is much harder to please, much more sophisticated. So when I put food on the table, he tries it and says: "Oh my...this is just perfect!", and he gives me a high five, then, guys, I have cooked something really awesome.

That is exactly what happened when he had his first bite of this duck confit. And when that happens, I smile, mark the recipe as a good one, and share it on spoonglish with you.

So what is duck confit? Duck confit is a french recipe for cooking duck legs in duck fat at a low temperature for a long period of time. After it's cooked, the duck can be stored in the fat for a long period of time before it's eaten, so it is some kind of preserve. I had eaten duck confit many times at home, but always from cans. However, since I have an obsession for making things that most people buy already made (ice cream, baguette, burger buns), I also felt that I had to make this delicious french specialty from scratch; and so I did.

Duck Confit
Makes 6, adapted from Bon Appetit and French Cooking

So this recipe has 2 parts. In the first part, I explain how to make the duck confit. It is extremely easy to make, it just takes time. The second part of the recipe is just an idea of what you can make with duck confit. I like it pan seared because the skin gets crunchy, and it is delicious served with a sweet sauce. However, you can also serve it cold in salads, with pasta, with rice or pretty much anything you can imagine.

6 duck legs
3 tbsp coarse kosher salt
1/2 tbsp dried thyme
2 tsp ground white pepper
1 bay leaf, chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled
4 8oz containers of rendered duck fat
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix salt, bay leaf, thyme and white pepper in a bowl. Pat dry the duck legs and rub the mixture on both sides. Put them in a plastic bag with the garlic cloves and refrigerate overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
Melt the duck fat with 1/2 cup of water in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Keep cooking until simmer slows and the water has evaporated, about 20 minutes. 

Rinse the duck legs to get rid of the salt mixture and pat dry. Arrange the legs in a baking pan, on one layer. Pour the duck fat over the duck legs. Cover the pan with foil. Place in oven and let it cook until the meet is tender and falling of the bones, about 3 1/2 hours. Let it cool slightly and transfer to the fridge for at least 4 hours. 

The confit can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 month. Make sure it is always completely covered in the duck fat. The duck fat can the be reused for other recipes, like potatoes baked in duck fat.

Pan seared duck confit in red wine sauce with duck fat baked potatoes
Serves 2 hungry ones or 4 not so hungry ones

For the potatoes
3 yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp duck fat melted
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

For the sauce 
1 cup of red wine
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 clove
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 container concentrated gelatine-like beef stock (like this)

For the duck 
4 duck confit legs
2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

Make the potatoes
Preheat the oven to  425° F (210°C). Put the oil and the melted duck fat in a big bowl. Add the potatoes and onion and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. In a baking dish layer the potatoes and the onion. Bake for 45 minutes.

Make the sauce
In a medium sauce pan heat the wine with the sugar, the honey, the vinegar and the clove. Add the concentrated stock and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let it simmer, stirring frequently, for about 45 minutes or until desired consistency.

Sear the duck.
Preheat the oven to 400° F (200° C).
Take the duck legs out of the fat and clean to get rid of most of the attached fat. Heat oil in a sauce pan on medium high. Add 2 duck legs skin down and cook for 1 minute. Transfer to a baking sheet. Cook the other 2 legs and transfer to same baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. 

Finally, serve the duck legs, skin side up, with some sauce and potatoes. Enjoy, and expect high fives!


See you later, summer

Labor day is supposed to be the last weekend of the summer. To say goodbye to it, we went to the beach. I don't think I have ever told you how much I love the beach. I never get tired of it. We went to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, where some of my favorite beaches in America are. The weather was on an off, like a struggle between the sunny summer and the rainy fall. The beach was almost empty and the water was warm after all the summer months.

It has been a great summer. It all started with the trip to Chincoteague. Then came Italy. After that, Almu's visit and our trip to NYC. Then a month in Spain with trips to Paris, Lisbon and Tarifa. Then my sister's visit and a second trip to New York City with her. And finally, the OBX. Wow, now that I think about it, it has been amazing!

Now it's time to wrap up, put away the flip-flops and the summer dresses and say see you later, summer. And here is (what might be) this year's last summer recipe: cantaloupe  and ham salad. I learnt this recipe from my mom, who learnt it from my aunt Papusa one time we visited her like a million years ago. The only thing I have changed is the type of melon because in America I can't find the Spanish type of melon. However, it can be made with any kind of melon as long as it is ripe and sweet.

This is a much better version of the typical prosciutto and melon appetizer. It is refreshing, and the combination of flavors can't be any better. I don't know what else can I say about a salad, but I really want to convince you to make it. Make it know, when the cantaloupes are in season. Make it with a good Serrano or Iberian ham if you can, or just try it with prosciutto or a cured ham of your choice. Do not forget the pine nuts because the add a great crunchiness to it. Do not ever skip the mint because that is the ingredient that wraps all the flavors and adds a super refreshing touch. 

Cantaloupe and Ham Salad
Serves 4

1 cantaloupe, diced (or balled)
3 oz (85 g) thinly sliced cured ham (such as Serrano or prosciutto), chopped
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
10 mint leaves, chopped
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil

In a serving bowl add the melon, ham and pine nuts. Add the chopped mint and salt to taste. In a small bowl mix the lemon, vinegar and oil to make a vinaigrette. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad ( no need to use all, use as much as you like) and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to eat. 


Dinner for one

I have been home alone for a couple of days. I am pretty bad at being alone with myself. I like me, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to entertain myself, I am not enough.- It's not me, it's myself, I need something else, I understand, right?- Yes. -OK. (See? Not good at being alone). Fortunately my sister is coming today to take me away from this crazy solitude.

One of the things that I'm bad at when I'm alone is eating. I tend to skip lunch, and then I get super hungry and I start going to the fridge to snack trying to deceive my stomach until dinner. Yesterday was no exception. I spent all day cleaning and doing laundry like a crazy person, and I forgot to eat lunch. When I finished the chores I decided that I was going to eat dinner like a normal person, or actually, like two normal persons, because I was very very hungry. So I found this recipe and 3 perfect reasons to make it: 1) it looked yummy; 2) I had chicken in the freezer and parsley in a glass of water; 3) I wanted to use our new food processor and I hate hate hate chopping parsley by hand.

The trick of putting the parsley in a glass of water is something that I have learnt from my mom and my grandma. It's a great idea! It stays fresh for about 2 weeks. Another way to keep fresh parsley that my grandma recently showed me is to freeze it in a tupperware once chopped. The food processor worked great for chopping the parsley, a process that lasted exactly 5 seconds. I was so amazed. Goodbye chopping parsley with a knife!

The recipe did not disappoint. On the contrary, it was delicious. Although it calls for one hour and fifteen minutes of braising, I only cooked it for 45 minutes. Scott always accuses me of cutting down cooking times, but this time I was about to starve so I couldn't help it. 

Finally, I got my meal of the day in company of these pretty roses. I don't like eating alone.

Braised chicken with parsley and capers
Adapted from Bon Appétite, Serves 1

1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 chicken thighs, or drumsticks, or combination
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) chopped parsley
2  tbsp capers, rinsed
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine vinegar
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer onion to a bowl. 

Add more oil to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Season chicken with salt. Add chicken to skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Add reserved onion, parsley and capers to skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, vinegar and chicken with juices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 1 1/4 hours (or 45 minutes if you can't wait). Transfer chicken to a plate. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken. Eat, alone or not. 

Note: For 2 servings, just add more chicken. For 4 servings, double the stock, the vinegar, the parsley, the onion and the capers.