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Dinner for Two: Salmorejo and Blue Cheese Cream with Strawberry Purée

dinner42This is the cecina edition of Dinner for TwoCecina is basically cured or smoked meat, similar to ham, but it usually has a stronger taste, and it can be made from meats that aren’t pork. We had some that friends brought us when they came to visit, and this weekend it was time to use it. We were in the mood for something fresh and summery, since the weather has been playing along really nicely. And it’s strawberry season! So we came up with two ideas. Salmorejo is a dish from Andalucía that we became addicted to last year on our holiday in the region. It’s a cold purée made from tomatoes and bread. It’s a bit similar to gazpacho, very refreshing, but since it’s got bread in it it’s more substantial and filling. Mr BBF used this recipe and topped it with some cecina that he briefly toasted in the microwave. We also decided to make a starter (which we later decided to have as desert) of blue cheese cream with strawberry purée, also topped with cecina (no microwaving this time. For this, we were inspired loosely by this recipe, but we wanted fresh strawberries, so I just made a real purée rather than using strawberry jelly. It was simply delightful. We enjoyed our feast with some txakoli and some cecina drizzled with olive oil:   Blue cheese cream with strawberry purée (serves 2-3) Ingredients

  • 60g blue cheese
  • 120g mascarpone
  • about 40ml milk (depending on the thickness of the cheese cream, start out with 30ml then add more if needed)
  • one large handful fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • cecina or ham to garnish

For the blue cheese cream, cut the blue cheese into pieces and place them in a plastic bowl. Add the mascarpone and the milk and mix a bit with a fork, further crumbling the cheese. With a hand-held blender purée the mix until thick and very creamy. Taste and potentially season with salt and pepper (we didn’t). Also if you like you can vary the blue cheese to mascarpone ratio. I liked it as it was (I like cheese a lot), but Mr BBF would have preferred it with slightly less blue cheese. For the strawberry purée, wash and dice the strawberries, mix them with the 2 tbsp sugar in another plastic bowl. Purée with your trusty hand-held blender until it’s nice and creamy. Layer the cheese cream and strawberry purée into glasses and refrigerate until just before servingNow, I learned a lesson here. Inspired by the original recipe, I put the strawberry purée at the bottom of our glasses. But since our purée didn’t have jelly, it was more fluid than the cheese cream and the layering didn’t work that well. So I would recommend to start with the cheese and then layer the strawberry purée on top. Alternatively, you could spike the strawberry purée with some gelatine to make it less liquid. Refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, garnish with the cecina and half a strawberry per portion. Salmorejo (serves 2-3 as a main) Ingredients 

  • 800g fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 150g white wheat bread, crust cut off
  • 1/2 clove of garlic (this is really enough, just trust us on this one)
  • salt to taste

Warning: this recipe makes a bit of a mess in your kitchen, but it’s absolutely worth it. Peel the tomatoes, either using a very sharp peeler or using the poaching method. Chop them and place them in a large pot, bowl, or in a blender if you have one. Purée the tomatoes, then pass them through a colander to get rid of remaining peel and seeds. Dice the bread and add it to the tomato purée; leave for about 10 minutes to help soften the bread. In the meantime, peel the garlic clove and mince half of it. Add the garlic, the olive oil and salt to the purée and blend until smooth. Season to taste and refrigerate until serving. Cut some cecina or ham into small pieces and pop them into the microwave for a few seconds to make them crunchy. Ladle salmorejo into soup plates and garnish with the cecina. ¡Qué aproveche!



Recipe: Risotto with Strawberries “al Antxon”

Life has been a bit crazy lately. You don’t even want to know how long it’s been since I last cleaned my flat (erm… a while). So time for posting has sadly been compromised once again by this thing called life, coupled with a lot of work. Thankfully, there are still strawberries that can be turned into wonderful dishes to help a girl through these busy days. This recipe is definitely on the more unusual side of strawberry-based food, at least for me. It’s also incredibly yummy. I got it from a wonderful blog called Hafentelegramm (which I would also recommend to all those who want to know about lovely places to visit and things to do in Hamburg), and adapted it slightly to suit the needs of Antxon the Idiazabal cheese. Of course, you can also make this just with parmesan. The risotto is topped with brittle, which you can also easily make yourself.

Ingredients (two portions):

For the risotto

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 125g risotto rice
  • 100ml white wine
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • finely grated zest of one lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated Idiazabal cheese
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves
  • 3 handfuls strawberries, cut into small cubes

For the brittle:

  • 1 handful almonds or other nuts
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp butter


Heat a bit of butter in a saucepan. Cook the onion and the garlic in it until they’re all translucent. Turn up the heat and add the rice. Keep stirring and cook for about 3 minutes until it goes transparent around the edges. Add the white wine and lower the heat. Then gradually add the stock as the rice cooks, stirring it regularly. This will take around 20 minutes.

Cut the basil into thin strips. Once the rice is done, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, butter and cheese to the risotto and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and let the risotto sit for five minutes. Carefully stir in the strawberries.


You can make this while the risotto is cooking away. Finely chop the almonds. In a non-stick frying pan, melt the butter and add the almonds. Roast until golden. Add the honey and stir, roast for another minute.

Top the risotto with the brittle and enjoy!

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Recipe: Rocket & Strawberry Summer Salad

Despite the meteorological moodiness of my adopted home city, this week something finally happened… You can never be too sure, but the temperatures have cracked the 20°C mark on such a regular basis that it leads me to draw a conclusion: summer, people, it really does seem to be here! The wonderful thing about summer and especially June in these parts is that days seem to last pretty much forever. You can comfortably leave the office at 8:00pm and still enjoy about two hours of sunshine.*

Another thing that I love about June is that we finally get local strawberries. Strawberries, to me, are the ultimate herald of summer. Once you can buy them at one of these strawberry-shaped stalls on the street corner, you can be sure that summer has begun. I don’t really like buying them when they’ve been shipped from far away, because it means they’ve been harvested without being ripe, and taste mainly of water (plus, the food miles! Eek). I bought some yesterday. They’re like little red drops of perfection. Today, I went to the farmers’ market and got some rocket to make one of the easiest, tastiest summer salads ever.

Ingredients (1 pretty substantial portion):

  • 2 big handfuls rocket
  • 2 handfuls strawberries
  • 90g feta cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt
  • pepper
  • balsamic vinegar reduction to drizzle (this stuff has become seriously overused, but it goes amazingly well with the strawberries, so don’t snub it)

Wash and dry the rocket. (On a side note: in my book, rocket wins the award for most difficult to eat salad. You may want to cut the leaves a bit, or else you may, like me, end up with salad dressing everywhere. I got some on my wall, for God’s sake. Don’t ask how I did it.) Arrange on a plate or in a bowl.

Wash and dry the strawberries and cut them into quarters or halve the smaller ones.

In a bowl, combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some salt and pepper. Add the strawberries and let them marinate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the feta cheese into cubes and add to the salad bowl or plate. Once the strawberries are done, pour them over the salad. Drizzle with some balsamic vinegar reduction. Enjoy!

* This, Hamburg weather, is about all the praise you’re ever going to get from me, so you’d better appreciate it.