Pimientos rellenos / bajoques farcides (stuffed peppers)

Stuffing the pepper with the rice mix

I absolutely adore stuffed peppers—if Proust had madeleines, I have stuffed peppers.

It’s smelling them and instantly thinking of sunny Sundays and visiting grandparents; chasing the faint scent of the roasted skins all the way from the ground floor through three flights of stairs, across the long corridor leading to the kitchen, and then finally (finally!) digging into the strongly flavoured rice while sitting on a pile of cushions on a chair that was way too low for me… Yummmm!

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Carquinyols (Vall d’Albaida style)

Carquinyols / casquinyols in a saucer

This is the type of low-key sweet that you would get on a visit to the bakery—go to buy a bread loaf, and come back with that but also half a quarter of these for your mid-morning coffee.

Unfortunately, someone in my family has developed a nut allergy so they’re not casually acquired anymore, and they’re also quite regional so I haven’t had the chance to find them in my most recent visits to Valencia. And then, there’s lockdown and no travelling, so… time to bake some, as I’ve been craving these for a while!

They’re quite easy to make, so if you are tired of baking cookies and shortbreads and feel like attempting something more exotic, try this. (I mean, at this point going to a different supermarket a few blocks away already feels super “exotic”, so imagine baking something typical from two countries away!)

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Pa de Sant Antoni (savoury, with sourdough)

The crumb of a plaited Saint Anthony's bread

After my first attempt at a Pa de Sant Antoni and realising that it was sweeter than I remembered it, I decided to develop a recipe for a savoury version.

I was also really determined that it had to be a plaited bread, which inevitably forces you to use a less wet dough so you can handle and shape it without losing your wits.

The result, once baked, has less definition in the plait than I’d like, but I am very pleased with the bread itself nonetheless. The crumb was quite open, and the anise flavour was there to give it the air of an special bread. I also practiced “painting” the surface with water to give it a smoother surface, and it worked! It felt a bit like biting into a brioche. Quite interesting!

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