This month we speak about ...
Spain is the anvil on which art and culture are beaten out: art, literature, flamenco and corrida!
The Spanish hospitality and the appealing indolence of the climate has always attracted those who wished to flee the drudge of everyday routine.
This country is a treasure chest, waiting to be discovered by those who are not content with blazing beaches and untainted seas. The cheerfulness and innocence of this constantly evolving nation with profound cultural roots gradually reveals itself and captures the visitor.
Valencia, Granada, Siviglia, San Sebastiàn: the image of each and every city, is a searing continuous culture born of the genius of people who have questioned their beliefs, followed their instincts, writing, speaking, painting and building.
Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo: mirrors coloured by water, spires towering to the sky, soft, moulded forms that blend with the urban landscape.
Spain is alive in Gaudi's architecture, perfect, fresh and original and in the prestigious artistic inheritance of Goya, Mirò, Velàzquez, and Dalì.
It is easy to lose oneself in the sunsets, as vibrantly vermillian as the towers of the Alhambra, in the vibrations that rise from the glorious history of the Spanish lands: so intense and important that they seem to resist fading into the past, lingering in the present in numerous and diverse ways.
The many colours of the day are reflected in the tasty tapas, that as commanded by Alfonso X the Wise, are still served with the precious wines from the vineyards of Navarra, Rioja and Jerez, true jewels of any wine cellar.
This month we speak about...
Japan is the place where the sun rises. The ideogram that forms the name of the country is formed of the symbol of the sun and a root, the dawn of a new day greets the sacred mountain Fuji-san from on high. This is the volcano that for more than three hundred years has sombrely and symmetrically towered over Tokyo without once raising its voice. Sought, like the geisha, by tourists in search of the trite, Mount Fuji has always been the natural custodian if the boundless archipelago called Japan: four main islands and three thousand minor ones.
The language spoken in the land of the rising sun is equally ancient: it is not easy to date the exact moment in which the island dialect met with Chinese terms, giving rise to a new tongue. The fruit of a lexical synthesis, modern Japanese has no less than four alphabets and it is one of the most complicated languages to learn.
The complexity and the most strident contrasts seem to be the common denominator of a country that is capable of combining the most antique cultural traditions and the most advanced technological standards in the world. It is no surprise to simultaneously encounter the centuries-old traditions of the samurai and the universe of the manga. This is what makes Tokyo hyper-technological, cultural, extravagant, mannered, and garrulous, while continuing to be the most energetic example of Japanese success.
Even the Kyoto of the Zen temples and gardens is bustling with establishments and shops, where the cuisine respects the natural flavours of the ingredients, always fresh and served with great attention to the appearance, in harmony with the colours and the forms.
Japan is to be enjoyed as a country with ancient traditions that is also a laboratory for experiments in the future.
Recipes from our DVD JAPANESE CUISINE
280 gr. white rice
340 ml water
5 large prawns
300 gr fillet of tuna
200 gr smoked salmon
67 ml rice vinegar
The first thing to do is to prepare the best known ingredient of Japanese cooking, washing the rice in a bowl rinsing until the water runs clear.
Drain the rice put it into a ceramic pot and add the cooking water.
Cover and cook until the rice has absorbed all the water.
Turn off the heat and leave to rest for ten minutes.
Pour the rice vinegar into a small pan, and after turning on the heat, add three spoons of sugar one spoon of sea salt and stir for a few minutes.
Place the hot rice in a bowl make a well in the centre with a wooden spoon and pour in the rice vinegar mixture.
Stir and cool by fanning for a few minutes.
Put the fillet of tuna on a chopping board and slice it into thin pieces.
Now take the salmon and cut it into long, rectangular pieces.
Clean the prawns, remove the head the shell and leave the tail.
Blanch them, holding them by the tail.
Cut the inner side of the prawns to open them.
Make little dumplings of boiled rice and cover them with slices of tuna or salmon or prawn.
Arrange the sushi on a plate and serve with soy sauce and wasabi, a creamy horse radish sauce.
This month we speak about...
...and the Sun said to Uzmal: “you will build great temples, arenas, pyramids and shrines as high as the sky, so that my warmth from which everything is born may never cool, and my radiance may fill every corner. So that the sun shall never set on my chosen people, nor on the place where I cast the fruit of the napal cactus that grows on the great stone”.
Tierra Mexìca: the cradle of ancient civilisations and ardent inspiration.
Mexico: the womb of the New World, Latin soul and Caribbean countenance.
To live in Mexico is to experience it through all five of the human senses: to perceive the aroma of Mezcal, the intense flavours of a new and yet ancient cuisine, to delight in the notes of the mariachis, to glory in the colours of the street markets, to stumble upon the harmonious differences of the melting pot of Meso American races, recreated by the cheery local craftsmen.
Yet, beside the vivid hues of nature, the culture and the folklore of Montezuma's homeland, we see the colours of modernisation, development and the metropolis, contemporary intrusions that gently blend into the traces of the more recent Hispanic past.
There can be no doubt, one returns from Mexico enriched.
Recipes from our DVD MEXICAN CUISINE
CHIMICHANGA RELLENA DE PICADILLO - Stuffed tortillas
8 soft tortillas
oil for frying
8 cocktail sticks
1/2 cup of cream
Ingredients for the picadillo:
1 kg of lean minced pork
1 finely chopped onion
4 cups of tomato puree
1 bay leaf
black pepper in grains
2 diced carrots
1 large diced potato
1/3 cup of oil (10 cl)
Endive for garnish.
To prepare the picadillo:
Chop the onion finely on a chopping board.
Warm the oil in a large casserole and add the meat, a little at a time. When you see it is turning golden, add the onion. Stir and add the pepper.
Leave it to brown for a few minutes then add the tomato puree.
In the meantime, dice the carrot and the potato. Add the carrot to the meat.
Mix and cover the pan.
Add the bay leaf, a pinch of salt and finally, the potato.
Leave it to cook on a low flame for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked.
Clean the endive, which you will use as a garnish, and dry it.
Warm a small frying pan and place a tortilla in it; keep turning the tortilla and take it out after one minute.
Now you can fill the tortilla with the meat mixture.
Use a chopping board or a plate. Put two spoons of the meat mixture in the centre of the tortilla, roll it up and fix it with a cocktail stick.
This is called a Chimichanga. Repeat the operation with all the tortillas.
Put the rest of the meat mixture aside, but keep it warm.
Fry the Chimichanga in hot oil, until they are golden all over. Let them drain and place them on some kitchen paper.
Make a bed of endive on the serving plate and place the Chimichanga on it. Remove the cocktail sticks.
Garnish with the remaining meat mixture.
Pour two spoons of cream over the parcels.
The dish is ready to be served.
ARROZ CON LECHE - Mexican rice pudding
1 litre milk
200 g. sugar
80 g parboiled rice
250 ml. litre water
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon grated lime
2 sticks of cinnamon
2 egg yolks
30 g sultanas
powdered cinnamon and mint leaves for garnish
Pour 250 ml of boiling water into a bowl containing the rice, stir it and leave it to rest for 15 minutes. Drain the rice.
Put the rice into a pan and add two ladles of water. Cook the rice until all the water has evaporated.
Add the milk and the sugar and mix well. Cook over a medium heat.
Grate the lime zest onto a saucer and together with two cinnamon sticks add the milk.
Separate the eggs. Beat the yolks with a fork and add them to the rice which is cooking.
Add the sultanas and stir well. Remove the cinnamon sticks.
Serve the pudding on a serving dish, or in individual dishes.
Adorn with sultanas, powdered cinnamon and a few leaves of mint.
Leave the pudding to cool for about 20 minutes before serving. If you prefer a cold dessert, put it into the fridge.