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It has taken a long time to recognize Spanish cuisine as 5-star, but it has finally reached that status. Although it has always been a country that has offered down to earth fare, the most-recent listing from the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants, three restaurants hail from Spain and have made it in the top ten. El Celler de Can Roca in Galicia, Mugaritz, located in Errenteria, and renowned Chef Arzak's restaurant, titled under his own name, in San Sebastian has received the prestige they deserve with this honor.
The amount of the Iberian recipes is influenced by their home-grown products and is getting larger each day. Many recipes may have roots that stem from elsewhere, but by adding in that full of “Viva España” flavor, they are considered their own.
Carrot cultivation spread to Spain in the 1100s via the Middle East and North Africa. The Spanish introduced the carrot on the island of Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela, in 1565. Carrots have been used in sweet cakes since the medieval period, during which time sweeteners were scarce and expensive, while carrots, which contain more sugar made a great substitute.
The traditional Spanish version was used more as a breakfast cake rather than a dessert one. It wasn't until the 20th century it was used in a bizcocho (sponge cake). Proving to be a flavorful ingredient, cooks and mothers began experimenting with it. In the Valencia region, dating back 8000 years, a cave painting showed honey being harvested. It is used as yet another sugar replacement in many desserts and much long term healthier choice.
Torta de Nueces y Zanahorias (Carrot and Nut Cake) first became available in restaurants and cafeterias, and then commonly served in the homes throughout Spain.
This is a basic recipe that anything can be added to as a topping according to individual preference.
1 to 1½ cups chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds)
1¼ cups light raisins
½ cup butter
¾ cup honey
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¼ cup orange juice
1¼ cups wholemeal flour (brown flour)
2 tsp. baking powder
Zest of one lemon
Flour and butter for pan
1) Peel the carrots and bring to boil in a saucepan with water for 15-20 minutes.
2) Flatten and mash the carrots with a fork and set-aside.
3) Peel and chop the nuts and set to grind on the electric mixer. Place aside.
4) With an electric mixer, whisk butter and gradually beat in honey until light and fluffy.
5) Add the eggs one at a time and continue beating.
6) Place in the raisins, cinnamon, nuts, zest of lemon and orange juice.
7) Combine dry ingredients of flour and baking soda in separate large bowl.
8) Add the dry ingredients with the mashed carrots to the creamed mixture alternately and gently stir.
9) Pour batter into greased pan and bake at 350ºF 35 to 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.
10) Garnish the cake with sugar icing, raspberries or apricots, currants and mint leaves.
Other posts by Veronica:
Swordfish Alicante Style
Pimientos Rellenos (Spanish Stuffed Peppers)
Canelones Rellenos con Gambas
Pinchos de Gambas (Shrimp Skewers)
Sopa de Crema de Ajo (Cream of Garlic Soup)
Vieiras a la Gallega (Galician Scallops)
Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)
Albóndigas de Arroz y Espinaca (Rice and Spinach Meatballs)
Crema Catalana (Catalonian Custard)
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