This is a blog featuring my personal stories of food, gardening, yachting, photography, travel and life.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Salmorejo Recipe


I promised I would post this recipe at some point in my blog after talking about how great it was when we had it while visiting Spain. So, here it is.

This style of cold soup originated in the city of Córdoba in the south of Spain. When preparing this dish, you'll want to use two kinds of olive oil: A lightly flavored oil is pureed into the soup, but a stronger, fruitier Spanish oil gets drizzled over just before serving, for a flavorful accent.

·         2 cups room-temperature water
·         1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
·         2 cups (packed) coarsely torn day-old baguette with crust (about 4 ounces)
·         10 plum tomatoes, halved, seeded, coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
·         1/3 cup coarsely chopped onion
·         1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
·         1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
·         1 garlic clove, peeled
·         1 1/2 cups lightly flavored extra-virgin olive oil
·         3 hard-boiled eggs, coarsely chopped
·         1/3 cup chopped Serrano ham* (about 1 1/2 ounces)
·         Fruity Spanish olive oil (for drizzling)

·         Stir 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon coarse salt in medium bowl to dissolve. Add bread; soak 30 minutes. Squeeze excess liquid from bread; reserve soaking liquid.
·         Puree half each of chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, Sherry wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, and garlic in blender until very smooth. With machine running, gradually add half of bread, adding reserved soaking liquid by tablespoonfuls if mixture is too thick to blend. Puree until very smooth. With machine running, gradually add half of light extra-virgin olive oil (mixture will turn slightly orange). Transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining chopped tomatoes, chopped onion, Sherry wine vinegar, fresh lemon juice, garlic, bread, and oil. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Season to taste with salt.
·         Divide soup among small bowls. Sprinkle chopped egg and ham over. Drizzle with Spanish olive oil and serve.
·         *An uncooked, cured Spanish ham (also called jamón Serrano); sold at specialty foods stores and Spanish and Latin markets. If unavailable, prosciutto can be substituted.

        Makes 8 servings

Coimbra and Salamanca

Arrived in our last stop in Portugal, the university city of Coimbra. Since the year 1290, Coimbra has been home to It's university. We. We're just here for the day and as it turned out, not even that long.

We headed toward Coimbra taking some toll roads. Nothing we hadn't been doing all along, but in places in Portugal they have an automated system that reads your license plate and compares it to a computerized list of those who have pre-purchased their tolls on these roads. In the south we figured out how to use it and things worked fine. Suddenly, here in the north, we came upon the system again but could find no one who could help us pay for our tolls. No one even knew much about this new system.  No one could take our .50 (note that's .50) in tolls and we couldn't prepay for the short amount of time we'd be on the toll road before leaving Portugal without our paying 50 (that's 50) that was non-refundable. So it remains to be seen what or how this will come back to haunt us in the future. But rest assured it will.

In the meantime, we got checked into our Pousada outside Coimbra. Lovely hotel but not nearly the stunning setting as Sagres down south. Oh well, we'll muddle through.

Getting lost in Coimbra was easy. Getting unlost became a bit of a point of contention or us but we finally found the old city and a parking place. It was late enough that our choices for lunch had luckily diminished. We intended to try one of two places on our map but couldn't find them. It was almost closing time for those two cafes, so rather than continue trying to find them we decided on a third choice which was, by now, closer and had no closing time. Lucky us!

Goat stew and Pollo stew with blood in Coimbra
Adega Paco do Conde is popular with local students and families alike. You select the item, fish or meat, from the case at the front counter and they grill it for you. But we had heard that one of the local specialties here was goat stew and I was determined to try it. The owner came out and greeted us, chatting us up for 10 minutes about where we were from, life and the high cost the Euro has taken on the lives of the Portuguese. He suggested we also try the arroz con pollo with blood. Hmmmm. Okay. The two bowls arrived and the smell was heavenly. My goat stew was very salty but the accompanying plate of cooked cabbage, carrots and potatoes cut the saltiness. The meat was absolutely perfect! I'd never tasted anything with such a  richly flavored broth. It must have been simmering for hours.

As for the arroz con pollo with blood? Well, it might sound dreadful to you, but it too was just heavenly. Absolutely amazing! The local red wine and beer were great accompaniments along with the local baked bread we used to sop up the juices.

Leslie headed off to explore further into Coimbra while I remained in the quiet, sunlit Praca do Comercio, or Commercial Square, catching up on my journal and a fair bit of people watching.

After our heavy lunch we had no further plan beyond getting back to our beautiful Pousada for a final, quiet evening in Portugal.

Next day--our time in Portugal has sadly come to an end. We must head to Salamanca, Spain today and despite the fact that Coimbra never clicked with me, this wonderful, beautiful, passionate country certainly has.

We headed east toward the border on more of those electronic toll roads, stopping several times to try and pay our fees but to no avail. We are sure this will catch up to us yet, but there is little we can do. 

****A footnote to this issue. As of this posting some several weeks after our arrival back home, we have received nothing regarding our failure to pay the tolls. So we are quietly crossing our fingers and hoping the issue is settled. 

So across the border we went and after some initial difficulty finding our way around Salamanca, we eventually found our hotel nestled directly across the street from the cathedral. We even have a lovely large terrace space with a table and chairs that look out to the dome and flying buttresses of the cathedral. Fabulous view!

We headed out across the old city which is largely made up of shopping streets surrounded by university buildings. It looks a little Harry Potterish to us. Clean, largely free of the graffiti seen in most other places we've been, it is just a jewel of a city. We love it!

We walked all around the key parts looking in a few shops and for a dinner place but nothing opened for dinner until 8:30.
Our terrace in Salamanca

We found a shop that sold lovely looking pastries and meat pies and bought some for dinner. A way further along we found a place we liked where we stopped in for a glass of wine and with it we each got a free tapa.

Back to the hotel to sit out on our terrace and munch on our dinner goodies washed down with a glass of port out of a bottle we'd purchased in Portugal.

Salamanca cathedral
It had been raining pretty hard at times when we arrived but had settled down to just drop or two making a sunset dinner on the terrace possible. Still it was cold and with the sun going down it started getting even colder. Only 8 degrees Celsius when we arrived, it must have got down lower in the night.

Night view of the Salamanca Plaza Major
We slept in probably the most comfortable beds of the entire trip which was a welcome change as tomorrow is another big day of travel and sites.