Easter is traditionally a time for hope, renewal and week long celebrations in Spain, but this year’s festivities are likely to be a very different affair as we stay home in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus and the lockdown continues. To make it worse, most of us are separated from loved ones and friends at a time when we would normally be gathering together around a table to enjoy good company, great food and a few deliciously sweet Easter treats. But in these frightening and uncertain times when we’re all feeling like we’re trapped in an unbelievable plot from a second-rate disaster movie, the kitchen offers us sanctuary, an oasis of peace and tranquillity where we can relax and forget about the storm raging outside for a while.
Luckily the Spanish kitchen gives us plenty of inspiration at this time as fiestas and religious festivals have traditionally been associated with an assortment of pastries, sweets, cakes and biscuits. Some are flavoured with almonds' pine nuts, honey, cinnamon, and orange blossom water reflecting their Arab, Moorish roots, while others are doughnut style pastries fried in oil such as my personal favourites “rosquillas de semana santa” or “Churros”. They are very simple to make and a delicious afternoon tea treat.
If it's deeper flavours and textures you're after over Easter, you can't beat frito mallorquin de pascuas. Vegetarians, please look away now! “frito mallorquin” is a very popular and traditional recipe found in local restaurants all over the island. It is normally made with pork offal (heart, liver and kidney), but during the Easter festivities (pascuas) it is also made with local lamb. It’s a rustic, heart-warming dish and full of flavour. If offal is a bridge too far, you could substitute for diced lamb meat, pork fillet or chicken breast. Whatever you’re planning to cook over the weekend, take your time, relax and learn to enjoy cooking something different and learning a new recipe. Felices pascuas!
FRITO MALLORQUIN DE PASCUAS
Cooking time: 32 minutes
Preparation time: 20 minutes
- 150ml/5fl oz/2/3 cup olive oil
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 aubergine (eggplant), diced
- ½ bulb fennel, diced
- 1 red pepper, de-seeded and diced
- 1 green pepper, de-seeded and diced
- 2 bunches spring onions (scallions), chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig thyme
- 350–400g/12–14oz lamb’s offal (heart, liver and kidney), cleaned and diced
- 10 mint leaves, chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat two-thirds of the olive oil in a large heavy frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat; add the diced potatoes and fry for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, aubergine (eggplant), fennel, peppers, spring onions (scallions), chilli, paprika, bay leaves and thyme and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the vegetables are cooked and nicely coloured.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a separate frying pan set over a high heat and stir-fry the offal for about 2 minutes, until golden brown. Add the offal to the vegetables and mix well. Add the mint leaves, season to taste and serve immediately.
ROSQUILLAS DE SEMANA SANTA
- 3 eggs
- 100ml milk
- 150g sugar
- 100ml olive oil
- grated zest of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 300g flour
- sugar and cinnamon for dusting
Separate the eggs and beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the lemon zest. Beat the egg whites until thick and add to the eggs and sugar. Mix carefully and add the baking powder & flour. Blend until the mixture is soft. Cover and leave to rest for one hour. Heat oil in a pan and shape the mixture into small doughnuts (6 cm more or less) and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from oil and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
CHURROS with HOT CHOCOLATE and ORANGE BLOSSOM DIP
There is no doubting that churros have become a part of Spain’s social fabric, much like croissants in France and bagels in New York. They are easily
the country’s most popular fairground snack, hangover cure, Easter and New Year’s Eve treat. It has been that way for centuries and this fried snack has become so universally adored that today it unites people of every walk of life. If you want to see a true cross- section of Spanish society, spend a few hours in a churrería or chocolate house.
Serves 4 (makes about 20 churros)
FOR THE CHURROS:
- 250ml water
- 125g unsalted butter
- 1 wide strip lemon zest
- 200g plain flour
- 1 egg
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 4 tbsp granulated sugar, for dusting
- 1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon, for dusting (optional)
FOR THE HOT CHOCOLATE AND ORANGE BLOSSOM DIP:
- 250g dark chocolate, chopped
- grated zest of 1⁄2 orange
- 300ml milk
- 1 tsp corn flour
- 2–3 drops orange blossom essence
To make the hot chocolate dip, gently heat the chocolate, orange zest and half of the milk together in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Dissolve the corn flour (cornstarch) in the remaining milk and whisk into the melted chocolate. Continue to cook over a low heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate has thickened, about 1–2 minutes. Add the orange blossom essence and keep warm until ready to serve.
To make the churros, combine the water, butter and lemon zest in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove and discard the lemon zest. Reduce the heat to low and add the our, stirring vigorously until the mixture comes cleanly away from the sides of the pan and forms a ball, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and beat in the whole egg. Continue beating until the batter is thick and smooth.
Spoon the batter into a piping bag fitted with a medium-sized (2.5cm/1in) fluted or star-shaped piping nozzle.
Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a deep, heavy saucepan to 190°c/375°F or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Carefully pipe 10-cm/4-in strips of dough directly into the hot oil, snipping them o cleanly with a pair of kitchen scissors. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side, turning once, until golden brown. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time and remove with tongs to drain on paper towels.
Sprinkle the hot churros with sugar and cinnamon, if using. Serve with the hot chocolate and orange blossom dipping sauce, poured into 4 individual serving cups.