Front Door of the Pizzería

For posterity and the curious; here's a pic of the front door of the pizzería. This is normally kept closed and locked even during business hours (¿ to discourage customers ?) but it was so hot the other evening that we opened it to get a bit of a cross-draft going.

Empanada - pic

This post is nothing more than a pic of a the very nice looking empanada from the other day while I look for the book/web-sites with the recipes I used as the basis for it.

The concepts are:

  1. make a sofrito (onions, little green peppers, lots of olive oil)
  2. cook the cockles (1st in a pressure cooker, then together with the sofrito)
  3. make the dough (which includes using residual olive oil from making the filling)
  4. roll out dough, assemble with cockle-filling
  5. bake in a wood-burning oven (the wood-burning bit being an optional extra)
For the moment I can't locate the book with the basic dough recipe (not that I actually followed the recipe or anything).

Barbecue: Empanada

It's 37 C out [98,6 F] in the shade and the wind is still. A bit warm. I quite enjoy it. We're having a "sardinera" (barbecue of sardines; see "Weekend Away") on Saturday and preparing a lot of Galacian dishes.

  • Sardines on the barbee
  • Bica (a cake)
  • Crepes (more or less like a crepe but not French style)
  • Clam Empanada
  • Albariño (white wine)
It's going to be hot; 40 C [104F] so the pool will be an important component of the event. That. and the siesta (after lunch).

The empanada, pictured above, is not the little half-moon you find in South America -- it's a big square thing that feeds a bunch of people.
Excuse the slight fogging of the picture. I think the lens was gunky from taking pics over a steaming pan the other day.

This foto is of the empanada being extracted from a gorgeous wood burning oven. It's in the morning, after the oven has cooled all night, and is "only" 255C [435F].

Shrimp & Squid Skewers: Gambas y Calamar Brochette

On the theme of "know your food". If you're going to eat it buy it with its eyes still intact (probably this rule does not apply to beef). In this case.. shrimp/s (prawns).
I'm not actually certain what the difference between shrimp & prawns is.

Rip off their heads, peel away their shells and strip out their intestinal tract (devein). Here shown with the accompanying chopped up squid rings.

Marinate and grill (in this case, under the grill in the oven 'cause I didn't feel like cranking up the bar-b-que).

Shrimp & Squid Skewers: Gamba y Calamar Brochettes

Serves: 8
  • 16 wooden skewers
  • 1 kilo prawns (32 or so)
  • 150 gr squid rings [8 oz] (better would be whole baby squids)
  • 1 T ginger powder (better would be an inch or two of fresh, grated)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 T soy sauce (better would be light soy)
  • 2 T sherry (or sweet sherry but not cream sherry)
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 1 T olive oil, virgin
  • 2 t chili oil
  • 1 chili (deseeded)
  • 2 T corn flour
  • 4 T sesame seeds
  • 1 lemon
  1. Peel and devein prawns
  2. Cut squid rings into prawn length pieces
  3. Whisk marinade ingredients together
  4. Marinate prawns and squid for 1, 2, 3, 4 hours (turn/stir once)
  5. Soak wooden skewers in water for ½ hour
  6. Add sesame seeds to the marinade & stir
  7. Stab shrimp, squid, shrimp, squid, shrimp & squid onto each skewer
  8. Lay all these out on an oiled grilling tray and drizzle marinade remains over
    • Drizzle additional olive oil if you're short of marinade
  9. Put them under the grill at about 8 cm [3"] for 8 minutes
    • Too close and they'll burn
    • Turn them, another 5 minutes grilling
    • Times vary widely according to the power of the grill; you want to do these slowish
  10. Wedge the lemon into 8 and serve on the side (for squeezing over the prawns)
  • Serve on top of baby salad greens (the marinade and lemon becomes its dressing)
  • Don't grill these too fast, they'll dry out
  • Barbecuing is good too

Cangrejo: Crab Salad: Surimi

Continuing with the variations on seafood salads as in: ¡ Lobster ! Avocado Salad: Ensalada de Bogavante y Aguacate and Chicken Madeira & "Lobster" Avocado Salad.

Well, it's summer and heavy duty cooking isn't called for.

Bought a box of varied canned/jarred seafoods from "El Pescador de Cantabria"

picture pinched from the net - fair use


  • open the jar of "crab salad" (the "salad" designation is because it's got some roasted red peppers in there).
  • distribute neatly over a bed of finely chopped lettuce and
  • sprinkle with virgin olive oil
  • don't add any salt - it'll be fine without it.
  1. Upon reading the ingredients of the jar I discovered that this was not pure crab meat but "Surimi" which is white fish (usually pollock), binder (flour) and the target meat (in this case crab). It's a legitimate food product and typical of many asian nations - as in the notorious "fish balls". This particular surimi looked good and tasted great; in dramatic contrast to the rubbery/floury fake lobster tails in the "Lobster" Avocado Salad the other day.
  2. Bought a whole normal lettuce instead of the prewashed, cut and air-bagged variety. I'd forgotten how good a good lettuce can taste. Theses days they're probably grown hydroponically or soil-less and there's not all that much dirt to clean off - - I didn't actually need a salad spinner. Just peeled away a couple of outer bruised leaves and was that was that. Next time I'm going down to the local natural foods store and get a locally grown organic lettuce which I expect will be an order of magnitude better even. Oh, and the unprocessed lettuce was cheaper too.

Weekend Away

This weekend - more travel, little cooking. Back and forth, 550 km [350 miles] - - that takes about 4½ hours each way (you do the math).

Lunch on Saturday was sardines. Fresh, just dead, sardines. They should be stiff, not floppy, and have clear, bright, eyes when you buy them.

No "recipe" really just a bit of technique.

  1. Wash sardines (removes loose scales),
  2. put on a tray,
  3. sprinkle generously with coarse salt (reported to keep them juicy),
  4. barbecue 'em.
  5. Eat.

No mention of filleting, gutting or trimming of any sort. Whole sardines; heads, guts and all are barbecued - and they're eaten whole (except that you peel off the skin before diving into each one).

Avocado Slicer

More fun tools for the kitchen.

I was doing that Avocado & Lobster Salad the other day and got to use one of my utensils from the bottom drawer; where the odds and ends hang out.

An avocado slicer. Cut the avocado in half, around the long axis, down to the 'nut' in the middle. Twist the two halves to open. Remove the pit. Slip the avocado slicer along the skin and ¡ voila ! you have easily and quickly scooped out pieces for sandwiches or salads. They do papaya slicer too.

I love kitchen toys.

Spaghetti, Sauce Bolognese: Salsa Bolognesa

On the theme of "normal" meals. Spaghetti. With Bolognese Sauce. A sprinkling of Parmesan on top. Well, hey, it's summer, somewhat warm out (33C ish [91F]), and the cooking is lazy.

With pasta from Peck (Italian).

This is not a super-traditional recipe for Bolognese; but it's what I actually did. It's really just a tasty meat sauce and not representative of the region of Bolgna in Italy.

Sauce Bolognese: Salsa Bolognesa

Serves: 20
  • oil, olive, virgin
  • 1 kg beef & pork (mixed 2/3, 1/3), ground [2#]
  • 1 onion, julienne [diced]
  • 3 T cream
  • 250 ml red wine [8 oz]
  • 2 L tomato sauce [2 qt]
  • 1 L ham stock [1 qt] (or beef stock)
  • 2 T parsely, fresh
  • 1 T basil, dried
  • 1 T oregano, dried
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 t pepper
  • 3 chile peppers (split & de-seeded)
  1. Oil into a (large) pot (dutch oven style)
  2. Brown the meat well (don't just make it opaque, get it good and coloured)
  3. Remove meat, leave the oils/fats in the pan
  4. Brown the onions (could take 15 minutes)
  5. Return the meat
  6. Add the cream, stir
  7. Add red wine, tomato sauce & stock
  8. Add parsley, basil & oregano, salt & pepper and chile peppers
  9. Crank the heat up to a boil - then...
  10. Cut back to a simmer
    • Simmer for an hour (uncovered)
  11. Taste the sauce & tweak the salt, pepper basil & oregano
  12. Remove the chile peppers (if you can find them)
  1. The recipe makes a load of sauce; it freezes very well
  2. The chile peppers don't make this sauce very "hot" but they do add a subtle touch that enhances the other flavours in the dish
  3. A little bit of cream smooths the acids of the wine and the tomato
  4. Towards the end of the simmering it will splash sauce all over the place while it bubbles. You can turnit down and put a lid on, half covering it, but will in any case will have a mess to clean up later. Live with it.
  5. Adjust the salt, pepper & spices towards the end of the simmering; not at the start. You need to let them work their magic on the sauce before tweaking them.
  6. Make this a day ahead if you can to let the flavours blend


Quick and tastier than store-bought.


  • 125 ml Tomato Sauce, small can (or, better, home-made) [4,25 oz] or Sofrito
  • 1 T Oyster Sauce
  • 2 T Hoi Sin Sauce
  • ½ t Pepper
  1. Warm tomato sauce, add oyster sauce, hoisin sauce and pepper
  2. Stir for a moment
    • you've just made a 30 second ketchup
    • Put this into a squeeze bottle and into the 'fridge for a bit (it's too runny when still warm)

A Hamburger

How about something as simple as a hamburger? This was lunch.

Sometimes this thing about being a classically trained French chef takes a back seat.


Serves: 3

  • 450 g ground beef & pork mixed [1#] (a ratio of 2 or 3 parts beef to pork)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T chives, chopped (fresh from the back porch)
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 drops Tabasco sauce
  • 2 T bread crumbs
  • ¼ t salt
  • dash black pepper, generous
  • oil
  1. Mix Worcestershire, Tabasco, egg, salt, pepper, chives (whisk)
  2. Add meat and bread crumbs
  3. Mix, gently, not handling too much, with your (clean) hands
  4. Form into patties (I used a hamburger press)
    • Put an indentation in both sides with the back of a spoon (they bulge up when cooking)
  5. oil into a frying pan, high heat, until just about smoking
  6. hamburger into the pan
    • and sear/brown side 1 really well
  7. Flip to side 2 and sear that side too
    • Dropping to medium low heat after a few seconds
  8. Pull the pan off the fire and let things cool down
  9. Flip back to side 1 and put it back on the heat
  10. Fry slowly to desired doneness
    • Flipping to side two half way through
  11. Does it get any more normal than this?
  1. Get really good meat but with some fat in it (fat captures flavour)
  2. Freshly ground by your butcher (if you have one)
  3. Or grind it yourself. In lieu of a grinder you can actually chop meat by hand without it taking too much time - - if you have sharp knives
  4. The commercial method of doing this would be to fry the meat patty for colour and then finish cooking it in an oven at about 175C [350F]
  5. Don't cook good meat all the way through 'til it's well done 'cause you'll lose the flavour
  6. With a low carb angle you eat it without a bun
  7. It's really good with a home-made "ketchup"
Cooked (on a bed of rucula [rocket]):

Calamares con Cebolla Oporto: Squid with Port Onions

Oh, you're gonna love this. Try it at home.

These are rings of squid, fried, over sauteéd onions (with squid ink & port) with a few prawns thrown in for colour. Yes, those onions under the rings in the picture are black. You probably don't eat a lot of (deliberately) black food do you?

I did a search on the web for Squid with Port Onions and came up with exactly zero hits so I guess this counts as an original recipe.

Calamares con Cebolla Oporto

Serves: 2
  • oil (olive, virgin)
  • 1 onion
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 package squid ink
  • ¼ C dry white wine
  • ¼ C Port (sweet)

  • oil
  • 400 g Squid (cut into rings) [¼#]
  • ¼ C dry white wine
  • 100 g Prawns [3oz]
  • ¼ C dry white wine
  1. oil into a pan
  2. sauté onions
    • until translucent and soft
  3. add salt
  4. add wine and squid ink, stir to dissolve
  5. add port
    • bring up to a decent boil then lower heat to medium and...
    • reduce to sauciness
    • set aside, in the oven, covered with foil, at about 100 C [200F]

  6. oil into a frying pan
  7. add squid
  8. fry lightly for 10 min
    • they will shrink, release juices and brown just very slightly
  9. deglaze the pan with white wine (leave the squid in there)
    • stir around to completely deglaze
  10. reduce the resulting juice to thick sauciness
  11. add prawns
    • stir around until they've changed colour
  12. add more wine
  13. reduce the sauce again and at the same time you're cooking the prawns through
  1. Squid rings are usually about 1cm wide [½"]
  2. present the squid & prawns on top of the onions
  3. typically served with rice
    • but I served with garbanzo beans spiced up with a little bit of cumin
  4. this is a one pan dish if you wipe and rinse the pan between doing the onions and the squid

As I Was Saying - Cafés

This is a very nice, upscale, café/restaurant nearby; and what it looks like at the end of the evening.

We also sipped on a very nice vino:

The 1998 version of this wine was a gold metal winner and some say that the 2001 is even better. 'Twas delicious.

A quote or 2:

Classic oaky but subtle nose. Nice structure, crisp tannins, good fruit and good length. Drink 2007-2010.

Traditionally made Riojas such as this are becoming rare as the race seems to be on to make bigger, more intense, earlier drinking, and less oaked wines. But with extended barrel and some bottle aging, the best Riojas such as this one develop a soft, velvety, oaky patina. At the same time, because Rioja is one of the cooler parts of Spain, they retain good acidity. This beautiful blend of 75% Tempranillo, 15% Manzuelo, and 10% Garnacha.

Café Trash

Many mornings I get a newspaper and pop out to the local cafe for a coffee and a croissant. One thing you'd notice when visiting Madrid is the profusion of debris on the floor of any coffee shop (or bar).

Sugar packets, toothpicks, cigarette butts, olive pits, serviettes… whatever.

It's messy, traditional and let's face it - it's harmless. This habit is less evident in other parts of Spain (the coast regions) but here in the center of the country people throw their trash on the floor. The procedure is: order a coffee, rip open the sugar, dump sugar into coffee, dump empty package on floor.
You can observe this same behaviour by everyone from the humble day labourer taking a break from the construction site next door to to the suited-up lawyer chatting on two mobile phones at once.

I'm sure it's not a fault of manners. My speculation is that "back in the day" when labor was cheap that it was more or less expected that there would be somebody around to perpetually be cleaning the floor while the bar was open. And, since the floor's usually ceramic tile, the trash doesn't have much impact at all (except visual); and it does have the advantage of keeping the surface of bar itself nice and tidy and clean.

Recipe: Rabbit in Mustard Sauce: Conejo al Mostaza: Lapin à la Moutarde

Bunny for lunch yesterday.

Rabbits are farm-bred for consumption, similar to the way chickens are raised. So there ought not be any trepidation in eating them.

This is a traditional, simple, French recipe for a tasty braised rabbit. Yes, you could use pork or chicken or any more or less white meat (try snake, lizard or alligator maybe). It's a one-pan dish.

I first learned this recipe during the cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu. The same thing can be found, more or less, in Le Cordon Bleu: At Home.

Rabbit in Mustard Sauce

Serves: 2 (or 5 in the nouvel cuisine style)
  • 600 gr Rabbit thighs (boneless, rolled & tied with string)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 T Dijon mustard (or grainy mustard)
  • ¼ onion (or 4 shallots) very fine brunoise [dice]
  • ½ C white wine (dry)
  • ¾ C cream (heavy, whipping)
  1. Preheat oven to 200C [392F]
  2. Season meat with salt & pepper
  3. Oil into an oven proof frying pan (no plastic handles)
  4. Pan fry for color (10 minutes or so. Get it good and brown)
  5. Paint the meat with mustard
  6. Into the oven for 20 minutes
  7. Turn the meat and add the onion (there will be meat juices in the bottom of the pan)
    • 10 minutes more
  8. Turn meat and add wine
    • 10 minutes more
  9. Degrease the juices in the pan
  10. Add cream and stir around a bit
    • You might as well turn off the oven
  11. 5 minutes more
  12. Taste for seasoning (adding salt and pepper if needed)
  13. If there's any grease or oil left floating in the sauce you ought to degrease it again
  1. The technique in this recipe is called braising which is about cooking with moist heat. Often done in a covered pot - but this one's not.
  2. Roasting is done with dry heat. So actually this recipe has three techniques: frying (for color), roasting (to cook the meat through) and braising (for flavour)
  3. Double the amount of meat if you like. Or use whole rabbit cut up into pieces. Or a whole, deboned, rabbit would be good
  4. Good with any white meat (muskrat, alligator or pork maybe)
  5. Rabbit should be cooked all the way through - no pink. This is true for most white meats - except probably pork.
  6. If you don't have an oven-proof frying pan transfer the meat and juices to any old oven-proof dish after browning it. Then deglaze the frying pan with a little bit of white wine and put that juice in with the meat too
  7. To degrease use the edge of a large spoon to skim off any fats
  8. Do not cover when cooking; many dishes lose color when covered
  9. Use a cloth when grabbing the handle of the frying pan. And if you do, make sure that it's a dry cloth. I forgot, and used a damp towel. The heat from the 200 degree handle of the pan soaked through that thing in about a quarter of a second but by then it was too late.
    Then, I made the same mistake again the second time I turned the meat. Grrr.

Because Shalee Said So - KitchenAid

Aint it a cutie?

So I went out and got one.

Based on readers' surveys the KitchenAid wins the "robot" contest.
I love hardware stores and this machine fits well in either the kitchen or in the garage with the (other) power tools.

I'm looking forward to using it for something.

Drafting - Rabbit in Mustard Sauce: Conejo al Mostaza: Lapin à la Moutarde

This is how I write recipes when cooking. I'll redo later it in the regular format, w/ pic and all; this is for comparison purposes. & maybe good for a laugh.

LCB @ home más o menos
srvs: 2 or 5 neauvo cuisine
one pan
600 gr Rabbit thighs (boneless, rolled) tie w/ string (or 3 kg rabbit, then debone or cut up)
season w/ sal y pimienta blanca
oil in pan
Pan fry for color - 10 min-ish
Paint w/ mustard (dijon o grainy)
Oven 20 mins @ 200 C (braising)
hot pan, wet cloth, ouch, burnt palm - twice
turn pieces
½ onion (or 4 shallots) into pan (diced v. v. fine) or less
10 min more
Add ½ C vino blonco seco - turn lapin -10 minutes
degrease - spoon
add ¾ C heavy cream (or quark or créme fraise) - stir around
5 minutes more - turned off oven
taste for seasoning (s&p)
Do not cover when cooking; colored dishes lose color when covered.

About Cooking Lobster

Say hello to the sea rat:

Going for a swim:

and… After:

Goes nicely with a chilled white wine from Rueda (just a few kilometers north of here):

So I faced the moral-ethical dilemma about cooking lobster, live lobster, until it's dead. Since buying lobster already prepared or in a can poses no such problem I figure I ought to face the food I eat, buck up, and kill it myself. As for whether the lobster feels pain or not… I don't know. There are opinions on both sides of the issue but given that a lobster has very few neurons (100 thousand versus 100 billion in human types [that's 1 million times fewer]) there's reasonable weight on the side that says lobsters are neurologically challenged creatures. Related to the land-based scorpion.

The classical technique is to dump them into a pot of boiling water. I opt for the warming cold water up to a boil variant.

Boiled Lobster

  • 1 lobster (1 kilo [½#])
  • 1 large pot of water
  • 1 handful of coarse salt
  • a lid for the pot
  • heat
  1. Fill pot with cold water (enough to generously cover the lobster)
  2. Add a handful of salt
  3. Place lobster in pot
  4. Place lid on pot
  5. Place pot on heat
  6. Max heat until water is bubbling (actual bubbles rising, not just sticking to the sides of the pot)
  7. Simmer vigorously for 11 minutes
  8. Dump water out
  9. Fill again with cold water (to stop the cooking process)
    • Or dump lobster into ice water or another pot with cold cold water
  1. 13 minutes for a large lobster
  2. It will turn a real red color well before it's completely cooked
  3. Lobster's "done" when you can pull out/off one of the whiskers/feelers/antennae or one of the tiny legs
  4. If you see the meat separating from the shell that's also a sign it's done (or practically over-done)
  5. Avoid overcooking the lobster because the meat toughens up.
  6. Timings are for European style lobster which will be, by (north) american standards less well done that you might be used to
  7. Everything inside is edible except the head and the gills. The green and the red stuff you encounter in the lobster is tasty too (it's liver and lobster-caviar respectively)

Fresh lobster is delicious and well worth doing, yourself, at least once.

Other info snagged from the net (American Timings)





1 lb.

12 - 15 minutes

1-1/2 lbs.

15 - 20

2-3 lbs.

20 - 25

3-1/2 - 5 lbs.

25 - 30

¡ Lobster ! Avocado Salad: Ensalada de Bogavante y Aguacate

The same salad as last Thursday but now with real live Canadian lobster (actually, come to think of it, the lobster was dead - - or at least it ended up that way).

I could choose between a local lobster from Galicia (here in Spain), which was gigantic, or a smaller one that came all the way from Canada. I went Canadian because 1) I am one myself and 2) it's only a salad we're making here and I didn't need all that much lobster meat.

The idea is to compare the fake lobster tails that went on Thursday's salad. Presumably the real stuff will be better. The fake was a little bit gummy/floury for my taste.

Apart from taste, the real thing is about 7 times more expensive than the fake lobster - - hopefully worth it.

Avocado Lobster Salad


serves 2
  • mixed greens
  • some rucula [rocket]
  • 1 lobster (tail and claw meat)
  • 1 avocado (sliced longways)
  • avocado vinaigrette
    • 5 T virgin olive oil
    • 1 T red wine vinegar
    • ¼ avocado (the bits left over from slicing the avocado)
    • ¼ t salt


  1. put greens on a plate
  2. distribute rucula around the rim
  3. place lobster tail on top - - sliced thinly, placed judiciously and decoratively
  4. surround, symmetrically, with avocado slices
  5. blend oil, vinegar, avocado bits and salt
    • drizzle over the salad


  1. Using enough salt is really important in the vinaigrette. People tend to under-salt oil and vinegar salad dressings
  2. A stick blender is ideal for making the vinaigrette
  3. The non-tail/claw meat (all the bits left over after you use the big chunks) can be shredded and used in tomorrow's green salad. A little touch of deliciousness to an otherwise mundane dish.
  4. From a 610 gram [11/3#] lobster I got 320 grams [11 oz] of meat

The Terrace at La Cúpula

This is a short (40 secs) shot of the terrace at the local pizzería on Thursday night. The quality is iffy but you might sort of get an idea of what it's like.

Yes, it's in Spain but you hear people speaking English (some musician who was visiting here from South Carolina) and very nice music being performed by the band at the back end of the terrace (in the Latin Bossa Jazz style).

After I get some more practice the quality (might) improve. This was my first try with shooting a video in "night" mode and I obviously have some serious problems holding the little phone-camera steady.

In any case, it's a very nice little space and if you're ever around here one Thursday night you might like to drop by.

Chicken Madeira & "Lobster" Avocado Salad

Suddenly I had to make lunch yesterday. No planning went into this; I just popped out to the store and hoped for the best - - and a little bit of inspiration.

A fish & fruit salad (fake lobster tails and avocados with an avocado vinaigrette

and a Chicken in Madeira Tomato Sauce

Avocado Lobster Salad


serves 2
  • mixed greens
  • some rucula [rocket]
  • 2 lobster tails
  • 1 avocado (sliced longways)
  • avocado vinaigrette
    • 5 T virgin olive oil
    • 1 T red wine vinegar
    • ¼ avocado (the bits left over from slicing the avocado)
    • ¼ t salt


  1. put greens on a plate
  2. distribute rucula around the rim
  3. place lobster tail on top - - sliced thinly
  4. surround, symmetrically, with avocado slices
  5. blend oil, vinegar, avocado bits and salt
    1. drizzle over the salad


  1. Using enough salt is really important in the vinaigrette. People tend to under-salt this kind of dressing
  2. A stick blender is ideal for making the vinaigrette

Chicken in Madeira Tomato Sauce


serves 3
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 chicken thighs
  • 3 T Madeira wine (or port or some type of fortified wine; I used a light sweet port)
  • 1 C tomato sauce (homemade - sofrito)
    • 1 C tomato pureé
    • 1 onion
    • salt
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • red pepper
    • cumin (a pinch)
  • ¼ C water (fresh from the tap)
  • 1 red pepper (deseeded)
  • lemon juice (from a half lemon - fresh)
  • thyme - fresh from your back porch


  1. Oil into a pan
  2. fry the thighs, skin side, until very browned (5, 6, 7 minutes or so)
  3. fry the other side until really brown (another 6 minutes)
  4. remove the pieces from the pan
  5. pour off excess fats & oils
  6. deglaze the pan with the port (Madeira)
  7. add the tomato sauce
    • bring up to a boil/good simmer
  8. add enough water so that it's soupy
  9. return chicken to the pan - skin side up
    • get back up to a good simmer
  10. Add lemon juice and the red pepper
  11. Cover with a loose lid and reduce to a slow simmer - for 10 minutes to three quarters of an hour
  12. Remove chicken to the serving plate
    • Cover loosely with aluminium foil
  13. Remove the red pepper
  14. Reduce tomato sauce so that it's saucy, not soupy
  15. Pour over/around chicken pieces
  16. Sprinkle a little (very little) bit of thyme leaves over the presentation


  1. Browning the chicken, very well, in just a bit of oil will result in crusty brown bits let in the pan bottom; which is what you want; so that you can get it, and its accompanying flavour, into the sauce by deglazing the pan with the port
  2. Degalzing is: pouring a liquid into the hot pan and scraping up the flavourful brown stuff that was left from the previous cooking step.
  3. Adding water to the tomato sauce before simmering the chicken is to make sure that there's enough liquid to keep the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan. You could use a really good chicken stock instead of water - - that would be nice
  4. Chicken Madeira often has mushrooms in it - mine didn't today


I've been looking at getting a new toy for the kitchen. Either a


or a Kenwood (known as DeLonghi in the US)

They're called a "kitchen robot" here; possibly because one of the most well known European makers is called "Robot Coupe" (it's French).

A capricious purchase, sure, but will be fun (if I can only find space for it).

Anyone have any preferences or recommendations?


Okay, so you take the plant, which is growing quite nicely in the garden now that summer's here, trim the outermost leaves, dry them carefully (on newspaper, turning/stirring, every few hours) and remove any contaminants. You will be consuming this stuff later and you want the resultant product to be nice and clean.

I hope you clicked on the picture to enlarge it and realized that we are talking about thyme - - not that other "herb" you might have been thinking of.

I bought a thyme plant for the back porch a while back and you have to keep trimming them to keep them from getting scraggly. The result is that you quickly have about a 12 years supply of fresh, home dried, thyme on your hands. Boy oh boy is it ever more fragrant than the 2 year old bottle of (very nice, top quality) thyme I last bought in Paris.