Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pintxos ... or Pinchos


It's possible that many people know what Tapas are: Spanish aperitifs to say it in very simple words.
Pintxos (Pinchos in Spanish) are the Tapas from the Basque Country, more sophisticated than they've ever mainly due to the drastic evolution of the Basque cuisine
Nowadays a Pintxo isn't usually pierced (pinchado) with a wooden stick as it was in its early days. It is often a small masterpiece of haute cuisine, elaborated with all the modern cooking techniques and served with fork and knife and bread on the side. They are something like the different servings of a Tasting Menu at any high end restaurant. There are also dessert-pintxos therefore you can really have a full course meal.
 
Pintxos are typically enjoyed while drinking a glass of wine, like an excellent local white wine called Txakoli, or a cold beer. There is an entire world of Basque culture in a Pintxo and its surrounding atmosphere, just try it and see. 
There is also a lot of literature on the subject. When wanting to buy a book, this makes it hard to choose only one. 
San Sebastian, being the core of this subject, is crowded with places to get your Pintxos. While yo can find them in all neighborhoods, like Gros for example that has several of the important places for Pintxos, El Casco Viejo, the city's oldest area, is the premier part of town to find a place for good Pintxos. There are so many places and restaurants, they are really one next to eachother; they are just all over the place.  
I‘ve chosen for this post one spot where I feel the Pintxos are excellent, particularly the hot ones because of their originality. It's a small Taberna called Astelena and has a great location in Plaza de la Constitución. I hope you enjoy the pictures and, in case you get too hungry while watching, just make yourself a Pintxo!... and enjoy.

Books on Pintxos
Astelena's counter

Astelena's blackboard menu 1

Astelena's blackboard menu 2

Glas of Txakoli Wine and Brocheta de Gambas 

Bacalao encebollado

Revuelto de Hongos

Revuelto de Hongos mientras uno se lo come

Foie de Pato

Croqueta de Pistachos

Brownies con Helado

Cheesecake Vasca con frutas rojas

Friday, November 16, 2012

Crème Brȗlée vs Crema Catalana


my first post from the trip....

Crème Brûlée and Crema Catalana, did you know that although they look the same they really are quite different?
Crème Brûlée is French while Crema Catalana is Spanish and they are both made with eggs, milk and sugar and presented in a ceramic bowl with caramelized sugar on top.
Still, although creme brûlée has cream and crema catalana doesn't necessarily have any, the main difference between them is that crema catalana gets its texture from cornstarch and is cooked stirring it at low heat while creme brulee doesn't have neither cornstarch nor flower and is cooked in a bain-marie at a low temperature oven.
Have you tried both? which do you like best?
Here are the 2 recipes as a welcome present for you:

Crème Brûlée



Ingredients
grams
Cream
700
Milk
250
Sugar
150 + 40
Egg Yolks
6 units
Vanilla
1/2 tsp*/beam
*tsp = teaspoon
 


Procedure:
Beat at moderate speed the egg yolks with the 100 g of sugar, lower the speed and add the other ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Pour the mixture into the molds, (you can use single portion ramekins or pyrex type molds which can also be of a larger diameter)
Cook uncovered in a bain-marie at a low temperature oven 120°C. 
Cooking time varies according to diameter and height of the mold:
1,5 cm height mold: 60 min. 
4 cm height mold:1h 10 min
cm diameter height: 1 h 20 min.

Refrigerate for a couple of hours or days. Before serving, sprinkle the rest of the sugar on the top of the cream and caramelize with a flame or by using your oven’s broiler. You can serve right away or wait for a couple of hours, not too long or the caramel might soften. Enjoy!



Crema Catalana

Ingredients  
grams
Milk
250
Egg yolks
7 units
Sugar
100 + 40
Cornstarch
40
Vanilla beam
 1 tsp*/beam
Orange zest
1 tsp*
Cinnamon stick
1 stick
*tsp = teaspoon 





Procedure:
In a pot and while stirring constantly, heat at low temperature, milk, vanilla, cinnamon stick and orange zest. Put it aside as soon as it begins to boil.
Beat slightly the egg yolks with the150 g sugar, add the cornstarch and finally, continuing to stir, add the warm milk with the spices that you put aside earlier. Pour again in the pot and heat at low temperature, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, at this point put away from the heat right away and continue to stir for a minute.  Then, pour the mixture into the molds using a fine sieve, (you can use single portion ramekins or pyrex type molds which can also be of a larger diameter). Refrigerate for a couple of hours or days. Before serving, sprinkle the rest of the sugar on the top of the cream and caramelize with a flame or by using your oven’s broiler. You can serve right away or wait for a couple of hours, not too long or the caramel might soften. Enjoy!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

The beginning


The trip is now beginning and with it this new blog!
Stay in touch with me so that you don't miss our first post during the next coming week... 
there could be a surprise in it!