When it gets hot in Spain we avoid eating hot food and turn our attention towards things that are eaten cold. You might have heard about gazpacho or salmorejo!
Then there is the “plato de verano”, which literally means “summer’s dish”. It’s not a unique recipe, but a way of describing “something somewhat substantial that you eat cold”. It depends on the cook and whatever is available on the day.
My recipe provides a good balance between sharpness, oiliness, savouriness, softness and crunchiness so that it’s a pleasant and refreshing thing to eat, but without having to bite too much (too much effort if it’s very hot).
I made this practice mini loaf the other day as an experiment born out of an experiment: I had made a coca with a focaccia dough made with my beer starter (and a couple of cans of Camden Hells lager instead of water), and I had set some dough aside to practice shaping it into a baguette, as I don’t have lots of experience with that type of shaping.
Then I was gathering ingredients to make an omelette, when I noticed there were two sausages in the fridge, and that gave me an even better idea:
The first thing I think of when autumn arrives is mushrooms. Then pumpkins. And then, celeriac.
But for some reason, they were not stocking it anywhere near us. I kept peeking at the vegetables section each time I visited the shops, and all I saw were sad swedes (the roots, not the people) and tiny squash and potato cubes. No! That will not do!
So I finally braved the rain and wind, walked to a supermarket further away, and found celeriac there. At last!
I have a confession to make: I am late to most culinary trends and “best kept secrets”.
I had never been to the Gay Hussar, the restaurant that used to be in these premises. I actually barely knew anything about it, its fame (used to be frequented by politicians on their old-school long lunches) or the type of cuisine it cooked (Hungarian), until it was threatened with closure.
And then it was finally closed and boarded up, and I never had the chance to visit, and then it spent quite a bit of time shut, and I would cycle past it and never give it a second thought (there’s only so much you can be saddened with before everything drags you down).
Then a couple of weeks ago Devvers said we should visit the restaurant as it had just opened.
In the quest for the most extravagant and spectacularly looking dishes, we often overlook the basics. What a shame!
So here’s one of them: bollit (in Valencian) or hervido (in Spanish). Which literally means… boiled!
This dish is extremely simple, consisting of boiling vegetables in salted water, and then having them with a bit of fat of your choosing. I know—it sounds “unappetising”, and it looks “ugly”, but it can be oh so comforting, especially when the weather is cold or if you’re feeling not so great and all you need is some simple food that doesn’t require extremely sophisticated skills to prepare.