Monjavina is a sweet of arab origin, typical of the region of Játiva and of La Vall d’Albaida, where Onteniente, my hometown, is located. You can find it by other names like almoixàvena or monxàvena, but you will very rarely find it in any other regions of Spain other than the ones I just mentioned. My mom, in fact, never made it, as she comes from Seville, and I grew up eating it at the homes of friends. You could say that every household in Onteniente makes it.
The recipe is simple, with few ingredients, and that can mislead as to its result, which is a delicious, light, sugary cake that is best eaten on the day it’s made. My favorite time to have it is mid afternoon, with a glass of horchata (*) if I am in Spain, or an espresso if I am in America. This mid-afternoon snack is usually referred to as la merienda in Spain, a meal that is meant to stave off hunger between lunch and the late Spanish dinner. La merienda is most often also referred to as this meal in the context of children: the meal they eat right after they get home from school.
I am very glad the weather is still decent and we are going to have a very nice weekend, because I’m not ready to let go of summer. I’m harvesting the very last of my vegetables, and dreaming of all the fish and seafood I ate while in Spain and Portugal this summer. So before I start thinking and cooking fall recipes, allow me one last one, which transitions very well from summer to fall, and where I can enjoy the last of my homegrown vegetables: calamari and bean salad.
So many zucchinis! When I planted my vegetable garden back in the spring, I didn’t realize I would get such a generous bounty. My friends Cort and Kathleen share the produce from their amazing garden as well, so I’ve ended up with quite a few of them! All the better, since crispy battered zucchini are a hit with my family.
I didn’t realize either, when I dug the holes for the seedlings, how large the zucchini plants would get. Lesson learned for next year: I need more room for the zucchini plants, and more space between them and the next variety of vegetable. But the lesson for this year, which I learned early: wear garden gloves! Those zucchini leaves are very spiky.
Pomegranates from El Taroncheral (photo Marlen Caballero)
Figs from El Taroncheral (photo Paula Sanz Caballero)
Some days I fantasize about my sister Susana and brother-in-law Jaime’s arroz con bogavante, soupy lobster rice. It usually happens around this time of year, after I’ve come back from my summer in Spain, while their vacation is only starting. The photos they send of their fun times at the beach, or the meals they enjoy, make me hunger for more. I followed Susana’s recipe for the lobster stock recipe I’m sharing today, which can be used as the base in the preparation of many delicate seafood stews and soups. Of course Susana and Jaime’s arroz con bogavante comes to mind, but very soon I’ll post a wonderful recipe of a seafood stew that I’m sure you’ll love, using lobster stock.
A few weeks ago I attended one of my best friends’ birthday party. It wasn’t just any party. It was a lobster bake party for a good number of guests, hosted by other good friends, at their farm house. I am not going to go into describing the beauty of this place, the manicured gardens and farmland and barns themselves, or the attention to detail that went into organizing the event —that would almost require another post.
You’ve probably had sangría before, maybe even one of the modern versions of it. Sangría is considered Spain’s un-official national beverage. Since it can be made ahead of time, it’s usually served when entertaining. Traditional sangría in Spain includes red wine, soda, some hard liquor, citrus and other fruit, usually stonefruit like peaches, in season in the summer, when sangría is most consumed.
In the last few years I’ve been seeing all sorts of drinks labelled “sangría” that may include alcohol or not, and different fruits not seen in a traditional Spanish sangría. I wouldn’t say those mixes are not sangría. Rather, what I like to think, is that the word sangría has become a generalized term for any drink that includes chunks of fruit —much like paella, which nowadays (and only outside of Spain), many people refer to as any rice dish cooked in a shallow pan and that includes a lot of fish and shellfish. Those dishes, or rather, their names, have become commonplace.
I don’t know why I don’t make this soup, sopa mora con tostones, Moorish soup with tostones, more often. I grew up eating it very often, as my mom made it regularly. It’s probably the healthiest soup, or as we call it in Spanish, puré (for a soup where all the ingredients are blended). It incorporates a wide variety of vegetables, some spices, and extra virgin olive oil. What could be better?
With the higher temperatures, which seem to have come now to stay, lemonade is my drink of choice. I like to make mine, because I can control the amount of sugar I add. And I particularly like lavender lemonade, because lavender is one of my favorite aromas, and I like lemon on just about everything, so putting the two together seems very logical to me. The lavender comes from my garden; the lemons —I wish.
I don’t know in which category exactly to place esgarraet, salads or appetizers/tapas. Esgarraet is a dish typical of the Valencian community, and very often it is served as a tapa, on top of a slice of crusty bread, or grilled or toasted bread. It consists of roasted red peppers, salt cod, garlic and olive oil, and in some areas of (more…)
As mother’s day approached, and I was thinking more of my mom, and how we’ve been separated by an ocean for the past 22 years, many memories of when she was the mom and I was just a daughter danced through my head. Many of those memories involved oranges, and orange trees, and an orange orchard where (more…)
If you subscribe to this blog, or follow it regularly, you’ve noticed it has taken me a few extra days to post. I have not been procrastinating! In fact, this is the third recipe that I cooked and photographed for this week’s post. I kept changing my mind about it, and suddenly, I realized this Sunday is Mother’s Day in Spain, and I will (more…)