A Kitchen

I have a thing for kitchens. We're looking into redoing the kitchen at home and with a little luck it might end up looking like this.

Or maybe not.

But I _do_ like this one. 1) Big 2) Tidy 3) Lots of fun equipment. On the cooking line, known as the "piano" in French, it's got (from the back) a grill, 6 huge gas burners (I'd prefer ½ of mine to be convection though [it's more energy efficient]), a granite slab and double fryers. I'm not actually sure whether that granite slab is a cooking surface or a work surface.

This pic is of the restaurant kitchen in terminal 4 at Barajas airport in Madrid, El Madroño.

In kitchen supply stores and/or hardware stores I can blow a couple of year's budget in one shot if I'm not careful.

Guideline Daily Amounts

For a moderately active person the Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) of calories is 2000 for women, 2500 for men.

This was lunch yesterday. Yes, sometimes I too eat fast food. 1 McRoyal Deluxe, large fries, a beer (McD serves beer here; it's not considered evil).

The icons are: calories, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, salt.

With this one "meal" I got ½ of my daily calories, 40% of protein, 75% of fats, 30% of carbs, & 75% of salt for the day (excluding the ketchup and the beer). That, and a souvenir old style coca cola glass.

Poulet Papillote: Chicken in a Pocket

Poulet Papillote is French. I don't know why I think of this dish in French - but I do. Probably inspired by this blog entry by another Cordon Bleu student - Ms. Glaze. I wish I could find Chicken from Bresse (in France) here in Spain. There was a famous chicken shop across the street from our Paris apartment that sold them - - I miss it.

I baked a chicken the other day. Wanting a low-fat variant I figured I would cook it in foil so that the fat would escape but the closed package would keep the meat moist.

Updated: I forgot to mention the celery


R-L: Chicken, salt (the jar at the back), aluminium [aluminum] foil, leeks, carrot, celery, fresh onion, lemon, the pink things are Food Loops, olive oil. Missing: lemon grass, pepper

Before wrapping

Wash it. Salt and Pepper inside. Stuff with the lemon and chopped ingredients, tie with the pink wrappy things, oil it up, some onion goes outside


Cooked, wrapped in doubled up foil, for 2 hours at 175C [350F]. This was a 2 kg bird [5#]

  • 2 kg chicken
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ½ lemon (had been previously squeezed for some other recipe)
  • 2 leeks
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 fresh onions
  • 3 sticks lemon grass (the secret ingredient)
  • olive oil (virgin)
  1. Preheat oven to 175C [350F]
  2. chop veggies
  3. wash the chicken (reportedly creates a crispier skin)
  4. trim excess fat (if any)
  5. salt & pepper inside the bird
  6. put ½ lemon in the cavity
  7. put in the chopped vegetables
  8. wrap the legs up
  9. oil the bird
  10. onions outside too
  11. wrap in doubled up foil
    • seal well
  12. into the oven for 2 hours
  13. open up the package
  14. broil for 7 minutes (to brown an otherwise white chicken)
  15. Leave to stand for 10 minutes out of the oven (to cool to handling temperature)
  16. Lift out, leaving the fat behind
- Done -
  1. The lemon grass changes, subtly, the taste of the whole thing. It's quite useful to have around
  2. The vegetable selection was just what I had in the bottom of the cooler. I would have put in zucchini too if I'd had a nice one.
  3. Two hours was lots of time. Could have been 90 minutes - - or three hours. This method of cooking in foil is not time sensitive.
  4. You can eat the stuffing from inside the bird. Delish.


Was out doing the shopping at the local bulk warehouse (not Sam's - we don't have Sam's here) and bought these 3 bottles of wine. Well, actually I bought 24 bottles of red wine 'cause we keep some in storage for later use. But it was these 3 wines that I bought 24 bottles of.

Pricing (l to r): 3,41 1,82 3,15 (that's CAD 4,87 2,60 4,49 & USD 4,58 2,44 4,23)

These are good wines. Not super duper deluxe wines but they are way above the level of a table wine.

Left: Gran Irache Crianza (harvest) 2001, Region: Navarra, Grapes: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Graciano, and Mazuelo , Notes: fermented 20 days, oak barrels for 12 months, fruity

Bodega Irache was founded in in 1891 but they say that their grape vines date back to the 12th century. Suppliers, historically, to the royal house of Navarra (a former kingdom in Spain)

Center: Irache Tinto 2006, Region: Navarra, Grapes: Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon & Garnacha, Notes: Young, fermented 15 days, 2006 is reported to have been a very good year for the grapes

Right: Paternina Banda Azul (blue ribbon) Crianza 2003, Region: Rioja, Grapes: Tempranillo & Garnacha, Notes: aged 24 months in oak cask

These are day to day wines. For special occasions I spring for really good stuff that might go for as much as €12! On the Canadian vacation this August it's obvious that there is going to be some wine rationing; I've discovered that Banda Azul goes for about $20 (€ 14+) which is four and a half times the price here.

When buying Spanish red wines the words to watch for are: Rioja, Ribera, Duero and Tempranillo. The word Navarra would not be bad either although I don't know if any good Navarrian wines have made it to the export market yet.

Cafeteria Kitchen

CocinaElRancho, uploaded by willsong.

We've been casually looking around at possible restaurant properties. There's a lovely chunk of land with a little local café on it just down the block. Well, it's more of a tiny mom and pop run bar actually. It's been here in the village forever and is in the same state as it was 20+ years ago.

A dead simple place with a lovely huge garden. Has possibilities I think.

This pic's of their "commercial" kitchen. The wash-up sink and on the right is a little commercial machine to wash glasses and the thing with two knobs above it is the hot-water heater. Great windows that look out into the back garden of the place.

Nothing wrong with it. It meets the needs of a tiny bar kitchen. But it won't do if I actually want to serve real food.

Recent Recipes Listed in the Sidebar

Update: A little more research led to the "correct" solution. Now it lists the 5 most recent posts with the label "recipe". Next I'll add a tweak to put in a link to all posts labeled "recipe".
A blogger's work is never done.

I managed to add a section in the right sidebar that has recent recipes listed (the 5 most recent). it's actually a search for the word "recipe" rather than for posts with the explicit label "recipe" so it's not perfected yet but it's a start.

Tiramisu: The Recipe

Edited to fix up a couple of weird things that posting from Google Docs does (pic was too damn big, post title did not show, heading styles were not what I wanted - bah)

Well, finally, the recipe for Tiramisu. The base sponge is reciped in an earlier post. The result looks like this (which is the round version - versus the mini version or the rectangular version [no pic] that I also made {the recipe below is for the rectangular version}):

I more or less followed the recipe from Professional Baking; although reports are in that some recipes in it are slightly flaky (e.g. this version of the recipe completely omits ¡alcohol! which is essential to the soul of a Tiramisu).


  • Ladyfinger Sponge base (½ sheet pan) cut into 2
  • Espresso Syrup
    • 500 ml espresso [1 pt]
    • 250 ml Dessert syrup [½ pt]
      • 125 ml sugar [¼ lb]
      • 125 ml water (mix these and bring to a boil; stir until sugar is dissolved; let cool) [4 oz]
  • ¼ C rum
  • 1,5 kg Mascarpone filling [3 lb] (procedure below)
    • 2 yolks
    • 180 gr sugar [6 oz]
    • 120 gr water [4 oz]
    • 60 gr Thick Sugar Syrup [2 oz]
      • 3 parts sugar to 1 part water; boil until thick and almost syrupy; let cool (it thickens up some more)
    • 500 gr Mascarpone [1 #] (room temp is good)
    • 740 gr whipping cream [1 lb 8 oz]
  • Cocoa (for dusting)
  • Dark chocolate (bar) for making chocolate shavings
  1. Place one sponge on a (serving) platter
  2. Add ¼ C rum to the espresso syrup
  3. Soak with the Espresso Dessert Syrup (wet but not soggy)
  4. Make the mascarpone filling
    1. Whip egg yolks until light
    2. Cook sugar, water and thick syrup to 120C [248F]
    3. Slowly pour hot sugar into egg yolks while whipping up a storm; whip until cool (sort of makes a powdery mass - something like powdered sugar)
    4. Mix the mascarpone until softened
    5. Mix in the sugar/yolk stuff
    6. Whip the cream
    7. Fold into mascarpone mixture
  5. Smear ½ the mascarpone filling onto the base
  6. Place on the 2nd half of the sponge
  7. Soak with some more espresso syrup (moderately)
  8. Top with the other ½ of the mascarpone filling and level the top and smooth the sides
  9. Cool for an hour or 6 in the fridge (or freeze)
  10. Dust with cocoa evenly (maybe an hour or two, three, four before serving)
  11. Shave, with a sharp knife and watching out for your fingers, chocolate from the bar (it should be between fridge cold nor room temp for decent results)
  12. Sprinkle shavings over the cake
- Done -
  1. I know that step 4.2 has redundant sugar, water and syrup (which is also just sugar and water) being cooked together but this is a "what I actually did" posting and what I actually did was prepare the simple syrup first, then a make a heavy syrup as a substitute for the "glucose or corn syrup" that the recipe called for (I will avoid corn syrup and don't have glucose in house). Next time I'll read ahead and just cook up some sugar and water straight.
  2. Hot sugar mixtures burn nastily. Be careful.
  3. These cakes freeze beautifully (without the cocoa and chocolate toppings)

With any luck I'm posting this from Google Docs - - who knows what it's going to end up looking like.

Easy Tiramisu

By coincidence the Amateur Gourmet, a food blogger in New York with a level of success that is several orders of magnitude greater than Will's Eats and whose blog I read on a regular basis, wrote an entry about Tiramisu this week -- - The Amateur Gourmet: Easy Tiramisu.

This guy is good. Studied for law school, then quit that and went into theater but now has a book deal out of his blogging and more or less makes a living at it.

A dead easy recipe by the way.

Ladyfinger Sponge

In making the Tiramisu the first step in doing it completely homemade is making the sponge base for the layers. I went over it briefly before but now... with pictures!

Ingredients: Yolks, sugar, whites, lemon, more sugar, flour

In industrial amounts you start with about 14 yolks but in this case I only used 4 (should have used about 7 or maybe 9 would have been good. I ended up short of batter).

Beat merrily, with sugar, over hot water until it reaches 43C [110F]. Apparently it it's fluffier if warm. Just to slightly above body temp; we're not making scrambled eggs here; we're making sabayon. Add some lemon juice here.

Dump into a bowl; continue beating until cool.

Sift the flour over the sabayon at this point and let it sit. Next time I'm going to try mixing them together after a little while so that it's more of a batter .

Egg whites.

Adding sugar, 1/3 of it at a time, once it's developing some body. Add another drop or two of lemon juice. Acidity helps hold volume too.

Until nice and peaky.

Fold into the sabayon batter gently but thoroughly.

Put into a piping bag and ... pipe into nice diagonal rows on the pan.

It wasn't even that evenly piped.

I didn't have enough batter for the whole (gigantic) pan so I had to smooth it to cover the empty quarter of the pan.

Bake at 190C [375F] for 10 minutes or so

Came out okay but too thin.

All in all not a success nor a blatant failure.


  • 180 g egg yolks [6 oz, about 9 large]
  • 90 g sugar [3 oz, big 1/3 C]
  • 270 g egg whites [9 oz, about 9 whites]
  • 150 g sugar[5 oz, small 2/3 C]
  • 1 ml lemon juice [¼ t]
  • 300 g pastry flour [10 oz, 2½ C]

Procedure (official)

  1. Beat yolks and sugar (ingreds 1&2) over hot water & beat until it's 43C [110F] (that is, make a sabayon)
  2. Whip whites, sugar & lemon juice (3&4&5) until firm, moist, peaks (lemoned meringue)
  3. Fold these 2 mixes alternately into the flour (sabayon and meringue with flour)
  4. Pipe into fingers or a sheet-pan


---Beautiful egg whites --- soft peaks --

Macro mode on the new camera sometimes works well. That, and I'm learning to use it properly.

Way behind on posting because of this here picnic I'm arranging -- in the garden. Barbecue tomorrow = Rain forecasted.

That, and the tiramisu base recipe (ladyfinger-like) is not working worth a damn. Evidently the Professional Baking cookbook by Gisslen is renowned for being error-ridden - although the techniques are accurate the recipe editing leaves much to be desired. I've done the ladyfinger base twice and am still not happy with the results. Maybe I'll try yet again - or maybe I'll just add more rum to the coffee mixture I infuse the cake base ith and no one will care.

I've got a whole lot of shopping to do tomorrow morning before lunch (which, here in Spain, happens about 2:00 so that give me a break time-wise) and tonight several things to prep - including: potato salad (French style), the famed tiramisu, and veggie skewers. I'm guessing I'll be needing a glass of wine to get me through this.

A couple of pics to hold us over:
Ingredients: Yolks, sugar, whites, lemon, more sugar, flour

My gorgeous copper bowl to whip up egg whites. That's 4 whites in there. It's a very big bowl. And a really big whisk.

Size matters.

Ladyfingers: Tiramisu Base

To make Tiramisu you need the base and middle "cake" layer. These are traditionally made from "Ladyfingers". The quick & easy way is to use store-bought cookies. The slow & difficult method is to make your own. Actually, it's not so slow nor very difficult.


Joy of Cooking


  • ½ C cake flour (we don't have this in Spain) - well sifted, 3 times, set aside
  • 1/3 C confectioner's sugar (nor this either)
  • 1/8 t salt (yes, this we have) - sift sugar & salt, set aside
  • 1 egg (this too - w/o the salmonella fears)
  • 2 egg yolks - beat egg & the 2 yolks until thick & lemon coloured
  • 2 egg whites - beat until stiff (the whites, not your wrist)


  1. Fold sugar mix into white.
    • Beat until thick again.
  2. Fold egg mix in.
  3. Fold flour in
  4. Pipe into finger forms
- Done -

Professional Baking


  • 180 g egg yolks [6 oz, about 9 large]
  • 90 g sugar [3 oz, big 1/3 C]
  • 270 g egg whites [9 oz, about 9 whites]
  • 150 g sugar[5 oz, small 2/3 C]
  • 1 ml lemon juice [¼ t]
  • 300 g pastry flour [10 oz, 2½ C]


  1. Separated-egg sponge


  1. Really, yes, that's the entire procedure from the professional baking guide's instructions. The idea is that we're supposed to know what a "separated-egg sponge" entails.
    Which amounts to:
    1. Beat yolks and sugar (ingreds 1&2) over hot water & beat until it's 43C [110F] (that is, make a sabayon)
    2. Whip whites, sugar & lemon juice (3&4&5) until firm, moist, peaks (lemoned meringue)
    3. Fold these 2 mixes alternately into the flour (sabayon and meringue with flour)
    4. Pipe into fingers or a sheet-pan
  2. And we actually weigh the ingredients instead of using measuring cups or counting eggs because eggs vary in size and measuring cups are imprecise.
  3. This recipe makes a load more mix than the JoC one because it eventually tuns into a square shaped Tiramisu with 24 pieces
Pic will come tomorrow when I actually bake the thing. I forgot to get lemons today so my plans to manufacture it tonight are dead.

Nanaimo Cake Follow Up

In an earlier post I mentioned trying to lighten up and develop height on a Nanaimo Bar. It had mixed success. The bar was higher but failed to reach cake height. Then it turned out that cutting it was rather messy. Since the dark chocolate top layer was thick and somewhat hard the new fluffy middle layer couldn't withstand the pressure of cutting the chocolate and tended to squeeze out all over the place; making for smooshed pieces when they tried to partition the thing.
I hadn't anticipated that.

Next time... thin thin chocolate top layer and another attempt to provide much more volume in the middle layer.

In the following foto, although fuzzy, you can see the thickness of the middle layer somewhat; compare to the traditional one.

Note: The bases (bottom layer) on both these photos are about the same thickness. It looks thicker on the small ones because they were extra close up.

Quick Tiramisu Pic

It turned out well. This is a mini-misu - only about 5" across. The big one looks nice too (I'll post the foto when i do the recipe.

Recipe to follow.

Carne: Meat for Lunch

Speaking of pictures, here's a simple one of lunch a couple of days ago. It's naturally raised (organic) beef from the fine people at Braman. Delicious; has real taste. Supermarket meat is bland in comparison. These are field raised, fed real food without chemicals, hormones or unnecessary antibiotics. Then, on the down side (for them) slaughtered (that is, killed); but in a supposedly more humane manner than the average cow. Probably that all makes the meat better for you - - and it certainly seems like the decent, humane thing to do; giving them the best possible life under the circumstances. If you're gonna eat meat do so in a way that is thoughtful of the end to end process. Thus endeth today's lesson.

Picture might be a tad fuzzy because I was using the macro setting - - but at too great a distance.


  • Salt and pepper both sides
  • A sprinkle, very slightly, a little chinese 5 spice powder
  • Grill (oven broiler) side one for 7 minutes
  • Side 2 for 5 minutes
  • Eat
Sometimes food is not complicated.

A Cup of Tiramisu

The Nanaimo Cake is a request from a neighbour for someone's birthday party. They also want a cake for the family; not a regular birthday cake though. So we figured a Tiramisu might be good. It's been a while since I made one of these (read... maybe never) and since I'm working in industrial sizes I figured I'd make a couple of sample Tiramisus with the leftovers. One normal sized one for the family fiesta, one smaller one (which I'll probably freeze) that's for 4-5 persons and I made two cute little individual ones - - of which you will find a picture of one above.

Well, it's certainly been a productive bloggy week so far; having a camera that actually works hasn't hurt the inspiration either.

Tiramisu layers are (bottom - up): sponge cake, soaked in espresso coffee, simple syrup and rum, mascarpone filling, another sponge, more filling and topped with a dusting of cocao.

Nanaimo Cake / Bar

This is a quick draft post to remind me what I did to change the classic Nanaimo Bar recipe to something with a little more volume in the second layer so it'll be somewhat taller; more cake-like than a thin flat bar (think... Tiramisu). And although I'm calling it a draft I'll publish it so you all can 'share the experience'.

The regular "Nanaimo" is a pretty flat little thing so I put wax paper around the sides of the pan to allow for more height. Here's a pic of the traditional ones:

Make the usual Nanaimo Bar filling (butter, icing sugar, Birds Custard Powder and cream) then add (this is the "tweaking" part; the big experiment):

  • Dessert Syrup:
    • Which is Simple Syrup (400 ml - sugar and water [equal amounts]), heated to 105C and poured slowly into 2 whipped egg yolks (probably would have been better with 3); continue whipping until cool. maybe that should have been 110C. It takes quite a while to get it up to this temperature - I ran out of patience.
  • Add ¼ tsp of vanilla powder (which I added to the hot mixture, a mistake. One doesn't add flavour to something boiling hot because it burns off the aromatics; wait until it's cool).
  • Mix dessert syrup with filling.
  • Whip 400 ml heavy cream;
    • fold into above mixture.
  • Pour onto chilled Nanaimo Bar base (which is graham crackers, coconut, toasted walnuts, butter and cocoa - and
    • spread evenly.
  • Chill really well (into the freezer if it doesn't "take" in the fridge)
Volume-wise it seems to have worked. The cake/bar is certainly taller than the regular Nanaimo Bar. Still, not a really tall result - I would have preferred about 50% more height.

Hopefully this will "set" sufficiently to stand alone and be able to take a chocolate topping.

Later, I'll top it with the chocolate layer (melted dark unsweetened chocolate with sugar and butter); which I better pour on when it's pretty cool to avoid melting the whipped cream in the filling.

This is a lot like doing a mascarpone filling but with a butter/powdered-sugar mix to start instead of the mascarpone cheese. Hey! Why not just make a regular mascarpone filling and flavour it with Birds? Wish I'd thought of that yesterday. Maybe next time (which might be tomorrow if this concoction doesn't work).

Croquette Ingredients

I was making croquettes (krokets, croquetas) the other day; these are the ingredients (left to right):

  • eggs
  • Iberian ham (front) (really seriously delicious stuff)
  • bread crumbs (back)
  • olive oil
  • sunflower oil
  • butter (also in the little plastic tub)
  • flour
  • onions
  • milk (whole, none of the skimmed muck for me)
Also needed but not pictured is salt, pepper and some nutmeg.

This was to make about 150 of them so there's more volume than would be used in the average recipe.

When it come right down to it these croquettes are a thick bechemal sauce, mixed with some meat for flavour, and then rolled in bread crumbs and then fried. Simple and delicious. A common snack in Spain and the Netherlands.

Simple everyday things you have around the house - except for the ham of course (although we usually have some on hand; but we're in Spain).

These are the same ingredients - somewhat later.

Recipe to follow

Gastromaquia - A Restaurant / Tavern

As we were strolling around the zone of Chueca in Madrid yesterday afternoon we came across a quaint little tapas bar that was just opening up for the evening and stopped in for a glass of wine (some Ribera de Duero or other). The place has a bar-ish front half (stand up) and about 7 or so s table in the back - and a teenie tiny kitchen. Three burners, an oven, and no room to swing a cat - not that I would. maybe the kitchen amounts to 13 square meters and it's mostly full of equipment rather than walk-around space.

Location: Calle de Pelayo 8 (Chueca), Madrid - - see map
phone: +34 915 226 413
also or formerly known as "
La Taberna De Pelayo"

They call it a "Taberna Gastronomica" - a Gastronomic Tavern

Optical character recognition of this pic of their menu worked pretty well. I only had to fix half a dozen misinterpretations.


Titulares de la Semana

Anchoas c/ pan con tomate 9.00€
Quesos c/ manzana, tomate dulce 9.70€
Gazpacho de fresas con ahumados y yogur 7,30€
Espuma de patata, yemas y cebolleta 5.40€
Tomates rellenos de mousse de atún 6.10€
Mezclum de lechugas c/ mozzarella 6.90€
Carpaccio de pato c/ praline de almendras 7.20€
Crujiente de Brie, jamon de pato y rucola 7.20€
Huevos fritos c/ migas y jamón ibérico 8.60€
Espaguetis c/ verduritas y curry 7.60€
Lasagñia cremosa de morcilla y manzana 7.40€
Risotto de Idiazabal 7.90€
Atún plancha c/ morcilla Boudin y manzana 13,60€
Cordero c/ cous-cous y verduritas 12.00€

I won't translate any of that; you can practice your Spanish ( the "c/" means "con" which means "with"). Rest assured it all sounds delicious; even though some of the dishes are based on simple stuff like fried eggs, spaghetti, bread, lasagna, or a tomato.

wagaboo, chueca, fun eating

From the street:

Went to wagaboo last night for dinner. It's a popular spot in the Chueca (gay) section in the centre [center] of Madrid. We were the first in the door; 8:50 PM - - we eat dinner late in Spain - - the place didn't start livening up until 9:30 or so.

Their specialty is noodles: Italian, Oriental - various types - - and made fresh to boot. Also the menu has some meat and fish for those not into the carbohydrate experience. Inexpensive, nice decor, open kitchen (which I particularly enjoy - watching the team assemble the meals). The kitchen pic was snatched from a flickr user [credit where credit is due].

The food's okay, inventive, not killer flavors; but with nice presentation and packaging. Wine list is okay too and reasonably priced. We had a good reserva Rioja for just €19.

Total bill for 5 people: some beers, a couple of starters, 4 noodle dishes, one grilled tuna steak, wine, & 3 desserts was €113; so €23 [$] a head. Plus €11 for parking (!).

Make a reservation because it usually fills up - even on a Monday night. It's so popular that the opened another one just 3 blocks away.

Their slogan, "fun eating", is a little bit lame though.


A Casa in the Sierra de Gredos

A little house in a littld village in the mountains.

Sent direct from phone.

Vino @ lunch 02/06/2007

Bracamonte 2002. We were in the area and figured we'd try a local wine. Considering that this is a Ribera de Duero there wasn't really much risk.

Saga of the phone -> blog story on this one. The process here was 1) take picture 2) send to flickr via wireless lan at home directly to Flickr (the phone has a tie-in to my flickr account built right in 3) open Flickr on the laptop browser (I guess I could use the phone's browser - but I didn't) 4) click "blog this" and 5) write this commentary 6) post entry

Closer, but what I'm really chasing as a solution is directly from the phone to the blog. Haven't found a way thay works yet.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Tryout - Google Mobile

trial picture - smallish

This trial by post to Blogger Mobile might or might not work.

Update: It sort of ½ worked. The post posted but the picture didn't.

Please excuse this period of messiness while I attempt to get some of this technology to cooperate.


This was a test post by email from my phone. It had a picture in it but that didn't "take".

I guess I'll try again; with Blogger Mobile - - which I suspect won't work from a phone connected to a Spanish mobile phone company.

I'll add the (missing) picture later.