ENTERTAINING: When Spring Blows Hot and Cold

EntertainingTime Out
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Hot Mocha Cocoa & Mint Cocktail

Spring is here but there are still some cool days and evenings ahead.  On those nights nothing beats a cup of hot cocoa to warm you up , but if you really want to lift your spirits exponentially, try our  Hot Mocha Cocoa & Mint Liqueur Cocktail with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Super easy to make – this recipe is a keeper.

Ingredients – for 1 cup
• 2 -3 tablespoons expresso or strong coffee
• 3 teaspoons Crème de Menthe liqueur (white or green)
• 3/4 cup – 180 ml hot cocoa
• Whipped cream or Chantilly
• Optional – cocoa powder for sprinkling on top

Directions:
• Mix espresso and crème de menthe in cup or mug
• Fill the mug with hot cocoa.
• Top off with whipped cream or whipped
• Sprinkle with cocoa powder and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint

 

Here’s another great dish on those cold days in spring

Castellana Garlic Soup

 

One of Spain´s best loved dishes is Sopa de Ajo.  Really inexpensive, very tasty and satisfying.  All the basic ingredients are supposed to be great for your health:  garlic, olive oil, paprika, Serrano ham, eggs and bread.  Our recipe is the classic.

Ingredients Optional Garlic Croutons:  Over medium heat, fry a couple of sliced garlic cloves until golden then add day old bread cut in cubes and continue frying until golden brown.  Remove from pan and place on paper towels to remove excess oil.

April 2015 sopa de ajo

Castellana garlic soup https://www.flickr.com/photos/yogma/   Cropped, CC BY-SA2.0

Ingredients Soup: Serves 4

• Depending on size:  1/4 to 1/2 loaf of day old bread (baguette, baker bread…)
• 6 garlic cloves in slices
• Olive oil – about 1/2 cup
• 150 gr  diced Serrano ham or Prosciutto
• 1 tablespoon paprika
• 2 liters – 8 cups beef broth – or use 2 beef bouillon cubes (Knorr) in 2 liters of water
• 4 eggs
• Salt to taste

Directions
• Cut bread into slices
• Pour half a cup of olive oil in a frying pan and over medium heat fry the garlic slices until they just begin to brown (careful don´t over fry them or they will make the soup bitter)
•Stir in the ham
• Add the bread cubes and stir until all the oil has been incorporated into the bread.
• Add the paprika and quick stir (fry it very little or paprika will become bitter) – just enough to incorporate .
• Add the beef broth and test for salt – add salt as needed
• Poach 4 eggs on top. Cover the pan and continue over medium heat until eggs are poached.
• Serve an egg with each portion.
• Optional: Serve with garlic croutons – See above.

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How to make Vol-au-Vent cases

Watch how to in Spanish in  EnCasaContigo

 

Vol au Vent is a puff pastry shell whose center is hollow to accommodate a filling. The French name translates to “fly with the wind” which is how light this pastry is.  Vol-au-vents, whether large or small, are one of the most versatile recipes we can have in our menus.  They make great savory canapés or a main dish filled with meat, vegetables …  Filled with a cream or curd and fresh fruits and topped with a bit of whipped cream, they are a quick, easy, elegant and delicious dessert.

You can find vol-au- vent cases (in Spanish volován) in your upper scale supermarkets.  However they are expensive and quite frankly tend to taste like cardboard. However, they are really easy and quick to make at home at a fraction of the retail cost.  They are also soooo light and soooo good – especially when they are freshly baked, I promise you will never ever buy the packaged ones again.

All you need is some puff pastry – fresh or frozen from your supermarket , an egg and an oven.

April 2015 Vol-au-vent-1

Rainer Zenz/CC BY-SA3.0

Ingredients 

  • Puff pastry Fresh or Frozen (defrost before using)- CasaTarradellas fresh is perfect – no rolling needed
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, water

Directions

  • Heat oven to 200C. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment or a Silpat silicon.
  • Beat egg with water to make egg wash
  • If your pastry isn´t the right thickness, roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 5 mm. or 1/4 “.
  • To make 6 vol-au-vent  cut out 12 large circles (see video) and 6 smaller circles from 6 of the large ones.  The circle will be your base and the cut-out circles, the walls and the small circles your top.  If you don´t have round cutters you can just cut out squares or any form you like.
  • Put the whole circles on the tray, brush the edges with water – not egg wash.
  • Place the cut-out circles on top and press lightly on the edges to seal.
  • Bush the entire case and the smaller inner circles with the egg.
  • Prick the inside of the case so it will not rise too much.
  • Bake in preheated oven from 15 to 20 minutes or until they have puffed up and golden brown.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool. When cool, with a sharp knife carefully remove and discard the central piece of pastry from each one leaving the base intact.
  • To serve, allow the case to cool off and then fill with the fillings being care not to put any sauces that are excessively liquid inside.
  • Never put fillings that are not cooked in the case.  All filling must be ready to eat before they go into the vol-au-vent.
  • The vol-au-vent cases can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days before filling and serving.

 

Monte Cristo Sandwich –
Sweet and Savory

See full tutorial

 

The Monte Cristo sandwich is an American sandwich whose origins can be traced back to the famous  French Croque Monsieur.  If you´ve never gone to Disneyland or California, perhaps you haven´t been exposed to this breakfast and brunch favorite. The great thing about it is it´s faster and easier to make (no bechamel sauce) than the Croque Monsieur and you can make it savory or sweet.   Basically,  it´s a batter fried sandwich with cheese and ham or turkey.  You serve it with powdered sugar and jam for sweet or “as is” with some pickles and potato chips for savory.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients: Makes 2
• 6 slices white bread
• 4 slices of turkey or ham or a combination of both
• 4 slices of Gouda cheese, Swiss or Havarti etc. – If you use Havarti also use 1 slice of a harder cheese  like Gouda or Emmental
• 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
• 2 tsp mild mustard
• 3 eggs
• 1/4 cup – 50 ml milk
• pepper, salt
• To fry: 2 – parts butter to 1 part vegetable oil  – (not olive oil too strong)
* Sweet Version : Confectioner´s  Sugar, Favorite Jam  strawberry etc.

* Savory Version: gherkin pickles, potato chips

Directions

  • Use 3 slices of bread for each sandwich
  •  Mix mayonnaise and mustard until smooth
  • Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise mixture on a slice. First lay a slice of cheese followed by a slice of ham being careful the slices don´t go the bread .
  • Spread a little more mayonnaise mixture on another separate slice and cover the first part of the sandwich – mayonnaise side up.
  • Now lay the ham or turkey slices first and then the cheese. Order is very important because the cheese is what will hold this concoction together once fried.
    Top off with the 3rd slice of bread.  Press the sandwich down and wrap with plastic wrap and put in the fridge 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat eggs, milk and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Heat a mixture of butter and oil in your frying pan  over medium heat
  • Dip each sandwich gently into the egg mixture making sure it is completely coated
  • Fry  the sandwich in the skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side until golden outside and the cheese inside has melted.
  • Place sandwiches ona paper towela couple of minutesto removeexcess oiland serve hot

 

Monte Cristo Sweet: This is the classic: Serve dusted with icing sugar and a little jam – this is what makes it so different  – a mix of sweet and savory flavors.
Monte Cristo Savory : Serve “as is” for an equally classic but savory sandwich. Serve with potato chips and a pickle

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Easy Chair Exercises for
Everybody, Everywhere, Anytime

Before you know it, summer is here. There has to be some way to get in shape at the most basic level. But if you belong to one of the following groups, you are more likely than not to put exercising off.

People who

  • work in an office or a physicallyrestrictedsite
  • spend too muchtime in front ofa computer
  • do notlike exercise
  • cannotor should not donormal exercises
  • have joint problems
  • are physically challenged
  • are absolute beginners
  • are getting on in years

We´ve got the solution – Chair Exercises!  They are specifically designed for any and all of the above groups.  They are low impact but will get your heart rate moving to improve circulation and will strengthen your muscles while avoiding overloading your joints. You can do the whole series of about half an hour or just do one or more a day.  Each series is only 9 to 10 minutes long.  Go slowly at first and then keep building your own level.  Even though they look easy, they will give you a mild workout.  The great thing is that you don´t even have to get up off the chair.  Do them at your desk, in front of the television, at lunch break, etc.  They take so little time and you will notice a big difference in elasticity and general well being.

We recommend doing them 2 -3 times a week but you can also incorporate them as part of your daily routine.

Full tutorials EnCasaContigo  10 min. each. For Part 1, watch video below. For Parts 2 to 4, click on subsequent urls.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGxykiVAZf0    Part  2

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cY7ZxlGpTik      Part  3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lU7b8ndLMXc     Part 4