In general, we´ve been able to find most of the foods in Valencia that we enjoyed back in the US. And all our holiday favourites I can make on my own. But there are still some things we love where, while we have found substitutes, the exact foods here aren´t quite the same. This year we´re going to buck tradition for Christmas. None of the usual honey baked ham with cloves and brown sugar, although the Supermercado has something very close. No. This year we´re going to break out and do a Mexican themed Navidad with an actual twist. But finding all the ingredients has been a challenge so I thought I would start early to get my menu sorted.
Today, I gathered all the ingredients from our neighbourhood SuperCor for my first fresh salsa. Armed with a food processor, a Pintrest recipe and video, and fingers crossed I made my first batch. Turns out we like spicier food than the people of Pintrest. It called for 3 jalapeño peppers, one large red onion and a clove of garlic. What I learned in my first foray into the world of Mexican salsa is that you keep the tomatoes steady and double all the other ingredients if you want good flavor. And one of those onions should be a large white onion to add even more bite. Also, strain anything wet, except, of course the lime juice.
Jeff liked the results but we decided that the next batch could use a bit less processing. More pico de gallo, and less smoothie. But I´m sure with some experimentation I´ll find the right consistency. There are plenty of salsa recipes out there – it should be fun to try others. Roasted red pepper. Salsa verde. A trip to Mercat Central for more varied fresh pepper selection is on the list. Jeff´s take after a plate of chips and salsa? ´It starts out smooth. Good flavor. By the end it´s pretty spicy. I´m calling this ´Sneaky Salsa´ cause the fire sneaks up on you.´ I can work with that.
With my new found food processing confidence, I decided to add another of Jeff´s favourite foods that he´s missed in the past three years. German Pretzels. They seem like a festive holiday addition – right? I´ve mostly missed the entire pandemic baking thing. I made cookies once for Thanksgiving, while it appears the rest of world has been stocking up on sour dough starter and baking their way through anxiety. So it seemed it was my time to get on this bandwagon before I entirely miss the pandemic baking boat.
Here is my first attempt at pretzels.
They´re not pretty. I´m learning what good pretzel dough consistency should be. The proofing process on the radiator could use some refinement. And using a duck egg for the egg wash isn´t the way to go. I´ll go chicken and just the white next time. Jeff was kind in his assessment but he did use some of the skills he´s learned in the Great British Baking Show and gave me some feedback on ´the dough´ and ´the bake´. He said it tasted fine but the texture could use some work. But he was gentle with it. I guess he wants to see more pretzels in his future and is willing to be the guinea pig tasting my attempts.
I´ll post more pics as I go. I´ve got other recipe adventures planned as we get through the holiday season.