Making home made yogurt

It is well known that I am very lazy and refuse to cook croquetas or tortilla, am more than glad to buy roast chickens, would not dream of making my own jam and feel faint at the mere thought of cleaning anchovies for boquerones en vinagre. So severe is the case that I won´t go near most recipes that call for sepparating eggs or browning meat. I don´t fry, I don´t roll and I don´t stuff, and am constantly plugged to my freezer, Thermomix and rice cooker.

So you see that when I say that making yogurt is well worth your while, it´s true, and not the kind of annoying off-the-cuff remark of someone who can take apart a car and put it back together. The basic elemental yogurt you buy costs ten times more than what you´ll make and tastes nowhere nearly as good. And if you buy good milk, even organic, the economics of the thing really start to make sense. And it´s so so easy. 

Back when Abba were still together, my mother owned a yogurt making machine, and I´d always assumed that it was necessary for making yogurt, as a waffle iron is for making waffles. But like so many of my late seventies beliefs, this isn´t true. All you need is milk and yogurt and a bowl and time and a blanket. 

To further convince you of my laziness I won´t even bother to type the recipe, but instead direct you here. Though I´ll warn you that Heidi makes it sound much more complicated than it is (really, you just boil some milk, wait for it to cool down a bit, mix in yogurt, leave it to set somewhere warm). Just one piece of important advice given by my friend Cristina, dairy expert of Malasaña: to retain the heat the best thing is to put the yogurt bowl inside one of those insulated coolers one takes to the beach. Much better than blankets or shawls, whatever Ms Roden or Ms Colwin may say.

Make your yogurt int he evening in five minutes, shut it inside the cooler and awake next morning to thick, creamy, sweet tasting yogurt you got for pennies.


Strawberry gazpacho

Gazpacho is such a great soup that some people just can´t hold themselves in and wait for tomatoes to be good. The minute the thermometer flirts with 30ºC they´re off, and the resulting gazpachos can be a little bit boring and somewhat pale.
This is a version I was taught last week by Isabela Muro. Throwing strawberries in with tomatoes and olive oil into a blender may seem a little bit wacky, but it works very well. The strawberries give it sweetness and colour, and the whole thing is fruity and light and satisfying. The normal gazpacho is much much better, but this makes for a fun little change, and good sense if you must have gazpacho right now.

All you do is mix 1 kg. strawberries, 1 kg. tomatoes, 300 ml. olive oil, 4 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 garlic clove (seedling out and blanched beforehand). Blitz it in a stong blender, strain it with a chinoise and you´re good to go.



We had a strawberry discussion this weekend, and all agreed that the best we´ve had came from Aranjuez, and were grown in the open air. The great whopping plastic-raised fresón from Huelva is no love of ours. But. Apart from nísperos, it´s all there is, so we eat it very happily in all its possibilities:

with sugar and yogurt
with chunks of pineapple
with whipped cream and meringues
crushed with whipped cream and sandwiched between two sponge cakes
with pancakes and caramelized apples

doubtless we´ll think up a few more before cherries begin to claim all the love.



It works! It really does. Yesterday´s pancake batter looked a bit dodgy in its plastic container, a bit more alive than yesterday, but the minute it hit the pan it made fluffy, perfect pancakes just the same.
I had two plates of pancakes with caramelized pear and a pot of tea ready in less time than it took J to change Pía and install her in a highchair. Mind you, he´s not fast, and has some issues with the straps in the highchair, but still, this was a lightning fast operation, and possibly the only way to make Mr.No-Breakfast go out into the world with a full stomach in the morming. Now I know.



Tomorrow is the opening of my show, and I am in that marvelous state where I am either staring blankly at the wall or snapping at whoever has the misfortune to speak to me. I can´t eat, or I am ravenous. I feel there are a million things I must do, but can´t think of any. Very much like pre-wedding nerves, except on that day I knew what I was going to wear, and had only to make sure I fit into it.
Since I have no idea what I will be looking like tomorrow, I have instead cooked myself a beautiful, decadent breakfast: pancakes with sauteed pears.
I´d never made pancakes for one, because one egg makes too much batter, and if I make the whole batch intending to freeze some it´s more than likely that I will eat all the pancakes anyway. But Marion Cunningham says you can keep batter in the fridge, and if that is true, well then, we´re home free.
I made three panckaes from this batter and sauteed a pear in butter and brown sugar in another pan, and it all took fifteen minutes, including one phone call to J to apologize for having snapped before, and another to my mother to schedule Pía´s morning.
Why don´t we make pancakes every morning?


Sauteed cherry tomatoes

One of my rules is: no tomatoes between October and June. There are enough dissappointments going around to add mushy, mealy, pale, tastless toms to the list.

And yet. Sometimes, I really, really want a tomato. Or big bags of them are on sale, and, well, I´m not made of iron. The rule that ammends the broken rule is: cook them. Slow roasting makes up for their sins pretty well, but it takes forever. My new favourite thing is to achieve a similar result within minutes. 

All you need is a handful of those accomodating little things, cherry tomatoes, and a bit of balsamic vinegar.

Sauteeing the cherries at high heat brings out all the things you want in a tomato: juiciness, flavour, tartness, sweetness. A drizzle of vinegar at the end makes them caramelize, or look caramelized, dark and long cooked. And it all happens while you get a sandwich ready!

Over the past week I´ve used these in a salad with fresh mozzarella and anchovies, as a side vegetable, and as a garnish to perk up a bland sqash soup from a carton.