Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 11.6.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
  • I did wonder about this chap's comments.
  • A useful article from The Local on what to do if involved in a car accident.
  • Below is an article on Spanish dishes that use chorizo and 2 relevant recipes. Happy cooking!.
  • For some of us, the real issue is democracy. There's a nice article on this below.
The EU
  • Germany is braced for catastrophic Trump auto tariffs - which could create a perfect storm for Europe. See the article below.
The USA 
  • George Conway speaks truth to power.
  • A while ago Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron planted an oak tree in the garden of the White House, symbolising their friendship. But relations between them have since frayed and the tree has died. Who can be surprised?
Finally . . .
  • It seems that greenfinches throughout Galicia, at least,  have learned about my strategy to get seeds to the sparrows by chucking them on the lawn. There were 12 of them on the grass last evening, And just one spunky sparrow . . 


1.  Spanish dishes for a feast: Angela Hartnett

Spanish food has a similar heritage to Italian cuisine: to me, it’s all about seasonality and not messing around too much with great-tasting produce. Spanish dishes have a little more spice to them, but the ingredients are the stars of the show: paprika, roasted red peppers, olives and ripe tomatoes.

Spanish cured hams are really special: chorizo has a real kick to it and beautiful oil comes from it when you fry it slightly. It gives heat to the butter bean stew below and adds an extra dimension of flavour: it’s essentially a glamorous pork sausage.

Spanish dishes have a little more spice in them, but the ingredients are the stars of the show. Here, ripe tomatoes and olives are used to create a super-light gazpacho, perfect for an al-fresco dinner party. Something you can make ahead and keep chilled in the fridge as a summer starter.

Prep time: 10 minutes    Serves four

1kg very ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 bunch of basil, leaves torn and stalks chopped
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
100g stale white bread
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

3 tbsp sherry vinegar
100ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Dash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, or to taste
A little tomato juice, if needed
Chopped black olives, to serve

Combine the tomatoes, basil, shallot, cucumber, garlic and bread in a large bowl. Add the sherry vinegar and olive oil, along with a dash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.
Toss everything together and leave covered in the fridge to marinate overnight.
The next day, blitz the mixture in a blender until you have a thick soup with a bit of texture (it doesn’t need to be smooth). If you need to loosen it, add a drop of tomato juice, and check the seasoning. Add Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce if needed. Serve in chilled bowls with a drizzle of olive oil and black olives.


Prep time: 15 minutes ¦ Cooking time: 30 minutes


350g dried butter beans
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of thyme
½ bulb of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 stick of celery, roughly diced
1 small fennel, chopped
2 red peppers, deseeded and diced
1 smoked dried chilli
300g cooking chorizo, roughly chopped
1 x 175ml glass of red wine
200ml chicken stock
Handful chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, to serve

Soak the butter beans overnight in a large bowl of cold water. The next day, drain them then add to a fresh pan of cold water. Bring to the boil then add the bay, thyme, and halved bulb of garlic, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for an hour then remove from the heat and leave the beans to cool in the stock.
Heat the oil in a separate pan and sauté the chopped and diced vegetables, and the chilli, until the vegetables are soft, but not coloured.
Add the chorizo and lightly fry until cooked through, then add the drained butter beans along with the red wine. Simmer to reduce the liquid to a thick sauce.
Pour in the chicken stock and stir the ingredients together. Simmer for 20 minutes, then serve with a scattering of freshly chopped parsley.

Like a lot of stews, this gets better the next day when the flavours have infused. I’d be tempted to eat the leftovers cold the next day for lunch.

These empanadas are a great sharing dish – to serve as nibbles, to eat as a snack as a packed lunch almost like a Cornish pasty, or to bring to a BBQ as a summer canapé. The work is in making the dough and the filling, but you can make them ahead, throw them in the oven and they're done.

Prep time: 35 minutes, plus resting time ¦ Cooking time: 1 hour


For the filling
2 chicken thighs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 Romano pepper, finely diced
100g cooking chorizo, roughly chopped
A pinch of chilli flakes, lightly crushed
A pinch of fennel seeds, lightly crushed
A handful of basil leaves, torn

For the pastry
400g plain flour
150g cold butter, diced
1 egg, beaten, plus extra for an egg wash

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.
Place the chicken thighs in a roasting tray and season. Roast for 30 minutes until cooked through, then remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, make the pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl add a pinch of salt. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Make a hole in the mixture and add the egg to it. Use a knife to mix in the flour to form a dough. Add a splash of cold water to bind it together, if needed.
Briefly knead the dough then bring it together in a smooth ball, cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
While the pastry is resting, remove the skin from the chicken thighs and take the meat off the bones, shredding it into strips. Leave to one side.
 To make the filling, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion, garlic, and red pepper until they are soft but not coloured. Season while you cook.
 Add the chorizo and the crushed spices and cook for three minutes, then remove from the heat and add this to the shredded chicken. Mix well and check the seasoning, then finally add the basil.
Turn the oven up to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6.
Roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 3mm and cut out 16 discs. Cover with a damp cloth so they don’t dry out.
Put a generous spoonful of filling on one half of each disc and fold the other half over, sealing the edges with a little beaten egg and crimping with your fingers.
Place on a lined baking and brush with beaten egg. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a nice golden brown.

2. Germany braced for catastrophic Trump auto tariffs - which could create a perfect storm for Europe

Germany is braced for catastrophic car tariffs that could send the country into a deep economic shock and create a perfect storm for Europe, experts have warned.

US taxes on car imports could act as a massive jolt to the bloc’s economy, wiping €14.5bn (£12.9bn) off GDP, according to analysis from investment advisers, Redburn. The firm’s economists believe a “nasty turn” in EU-US trade tensions is coming, which when combined with market nerves over Italian debt, could shake the eurozone.

If the US presses ahead with tariffs, Germany, which relies on carmaking for a fifth of its manufacturing activity, could see 0.28pc shaved from its GDP alone, Redburn claims.

A darkening world economic outlook, including a slowdown in Germany’s major export destination China, mean US tariffs could tip the country into stagnation or even recession.

The country’s government predicts its economy will grow by just 0.5pc in the year ahead, even without the imposition of import levies. This has serious repercussions for the eurozone as a whole. Germany is the bloc’s biggest economy and the source of one-third of its economic output.

Redburn predicts a broad-based rise in trade tensions between the US and EU, following research in Brussels.

November marks the deadline for the Trump administration to impose tariffs on European car exports to the US. If it presses ahead with the levies, the EU is set to retaliate.

Resolution is unlikely to come easily. The EU remains resistant to opening its market to US food standards.

Rows over the security implications of including Chinese telecoms firm Huawei in EU 5G networks, the Russian gas pipeline to Germany, Nordstream II, and digital taxes on US tech giants such as Google and Facebook, risk serious trade spat escalation between the US and EU.

It comes as tensions over Italian public finances mount between Brussels and Rome.

The country’s massive debts, worth more than 130pc of its GDP puts Italy “on track for imposed austerity either from Brussels or the market”, Clemmie Elwes of Reburn said.

Brussels has already triggered a procedure whereby it can fine the Italian government billions of pounds as punishment for overspending.

Rome will have to present its 2020 budget in the autumn, and Brussels will hope this shows a commitment to prevent public debt rising.

If it fails to do so, the European Commission is unlikely to want to push the so-called excessive debt procedure to the point where it could threaten Rome’s membership of the single currency. However, “this doesn’t mean that Italy cannot be pushed by market overreaction towards Italexit”, Ms Elwes said.

This would likely cause significant financial stress for the country raising its borrowing costs, forcing the imposition of capital controls.

Italian banks, already risking a doom loop of balance sheet stress because of their large holdings of sovereign bonds, could require emergency liquidity help from the European Central Bank (ECB), as was the case during the Greek debt crisis in 2015.

There is also little ammunition in store to counteract the downturn that could result from the dual shock of car tariffs and an Italian debt crisis,analysts found.

This is because Germany’s reluctance to spend its stimulus or enter into full risk sharing by way of closer monetary union in the eurozone is “deep-rooted”.

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