Last week we got a big melon in our fruit and veg box delivery, and when I was removing the seeds I remembered that I read that early horchata recipes used melon seeds, and I wondered: what would an horchata made of melon seeds taste like?
Why not try it? After all, these seeds were going to go to waste, and I have a bit of time in my hands… so…
This is a sweet cake that is produced around Easter time in the Valencian region, and it’s also one of my favourites!
In fact, I like it so much that I learned to make it, because it’s impossible to source it in London, and I was missing it lots each time I spent Easter in the UK.
One of the defining features of this bun is that it uses eggs both in the dough and in the decoration, which has many variations: you can brush the top with beaten egg, or whisk the egg white with sugar until it stiffens and use it to decorate the top the bun, or you can even place an egg on the bun before baking, which makes it look like an egg nesting on the bun (this is most typical of the smaller, individual pieces). Often, the eggshells are dyed with food colouring, so this makes for very colourful pieces that you’re sorry to eat.
Tradition has it that you should take a mona with you on a country side walk on Easter Monday, to celebrate the arrival of Spring. Then, when you find a nice and calm spot, you sit down and eat your mona outdoors, while enjoying the early warm weather and the sight and scent of flowers (hopefully without too many insects!).
And if your mona includes eggs, it’s quite traditional to ‘crack’ them on the forehead of your family members or friends… preferably by surprise! 🤪
We used to do most of our grocery shopping in the shops in the area, but since the ‘outbreak’ and the ‘lockdown’, it all has been really messed up, with shops packed with people but devoid of food.
Now that most of our fresh food shopping comes from erratic and unpredictable home deliveries, and is complemented with whatever we can find when we venture onto the shops once a week, we’ve had to “change our paradigm”.
Or in other words, instead of going from recipe to ingredients, we’re now going the other way: here’s the ingredients, what can you do with them?
This is the home-cooked version of a classic tapa or bar food. Normally you either snack from the livers drenched in this brutal green garlicky sauce, or have them on a ‘sandwich’ which has also been generously drenched in the sauce.
I’d warn that this is not something you want to bring to your office, unless you really hate your coworkers, because the garlic is STRONG in here.
Livers (I used chicken livers, but it’s traditionally made with pork liver)
You’ll also need a mortar and pestle, or a blender.
First slice the livers into bite sized pieces. Put on a hot pan with oil, and fry them until they are nicely browned.
In the meantime, wash and chop off the rough ends on the parsley, and peel as many cloves as you feel you can handle in your sauce. This is what I went for:
Now you have two options, depending on whether you’re using a mortar or a blender:
1) If you’re using a mortar, place the cloves on it, add a pinch of salt and start mashing carefully (the cloves have a tendency to slip away… like a banana peel). Once they’re a bit of a paste, start adding pieces of parsley (it helps to cut them a bit with scissors or your hands so it’s not the whole twig sticking out of the mortar), and keep mashing and smashing and adding bits of oil as you need to keep it paste like but not too liquid that things slip away from you.
2) If you’re using a blender, you can be lazy like I was and stick everything on the blender jar and blend it down to a paste. You’ll need to add lots more oil though.
You can make a bigger batch that way and store it in the fridge for a few days. It’s either the copious amounts of oil or the very strong GARLIC but it won’t go off.
Back to the livers, once they’re browned, you can choose between adding a good amount of the green sauce to them and stir while they’re still on the pan, or maybe toasting some bread, adding the sauce and then the livers. ¡Buen provecho! (and don’t forget some napkins… as it’s going to be messy!)
Other uses of the sauce (and leftover livers)
This sauce is used as accompaniment to lots other dishes, normally things that you stir-fry:
squid (cut in squares or fried whole)
Sometimes it’s also combined with tomato sauce, specially in sandwiches: one “side” has green sauce and the other one has a red sauce made with mashed tomato. The contrast is divine!
Other ideas, if you have left-over livers:
use them as topping for pasta. Cook the pasta as usual, drain almost all the water from the pot, and then add some oil or green sauce, and the livers, and stir and mix everything together.
or as topping for an “Arroz a la cubana” – cook some tomato sauce with the livers and thinly sliced onion and garlic, then serve with nicely cooked white rice.
On sandwich and sandwich bread
I used quotes around ‘sandwich’ because in Spain you would use a stout piece of stick bread, a sort of wider relative of the French baguette, and not square sandwich bread that has been baked on a tin. You need something that can hold everything together and contain the copious amounts of oil, and frankly, flimsy sandwich bread won’t cut it.
Even more, we refer to sandwiches as those made with baked tin loaves, and those loaves are called ‘sandwich bread’ (pan de sandwich).
Last December in Valencia, I was excitedly telling my mum that we going to a “bar de bocatas” that is famous for having lots of different bocadillos on the menu, and my mum wondered if they would have one of her favourites, hígado con picada? They didn’t, but it made me want it, and so I took note to cook it when I came back.
This is a bit complicated because WHY ARE SHOPS NOT SELLING LIVERS? I just don’t get it. We’re trying to go all anti food-waste and then shops only sell some parts of animals. What are they doing with the rest? Nonsense.