Almond cake



A couple of years latter, with a different camera and the right almond meal… St James cake, take 2.  Also, it  doubles up as my birthday cake. A far cry from the formidable cakes years of the past few years, but still  a sophisticated, luscious and  almondy affair to put on the table with a glass of prosseco.

Almond cake (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)


  • Baking spray or butter and flour as required
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g of sugar
  • 150g of almond meal (make sure you are using the off white mixture, made with pealed almonds)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar as required


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat a baking tray with baking spray (or butter and flour). It has to be a large one,  like  a 40 cm round one)

2. In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and the sugar until you have a pale yellow foamy mixture

3. Add the the ground almond and the cinnamon to the egg mixture. Fold it slowly in the same direction with a wooden spoon, until you obtain a fluffy and airy mixture.

4. Pour the mixture in the tray (it  should be must be about 1.5cm deep)

5. Put in the oven for about 20min, or until golden brown. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides of tray when you take it out of the tray.

6. Sprinkle icing sugar on top of it before serving.



Ferran Adrià’s roasted chicken

An impromptu diner lead to a seriously good roasted chicken – my poor suffering testers guests still talk about it. For bonus points, combine it with roasted potatoes, onions and romesco sauce.

Roasted chicken (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients (6-8 persons)

  • 4-6 bay leaves
  • 40 g dried rosemary
  • 15g dried thyme
  • Black pepper corns to tast (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Olive oil as needed to brush the chicken
  • Salt
  • A total of bout 4 kg  whole chickens (I ended up with 3 chickens)
  • 3 lemons  (1 per chicken)
  • 6  unpeeled garlic cloves (2 per chicken)
  • 200 mL white wine
  • water


Preheat the oven to 220 oC.

Start the herb crust:  put in a small blender the bay, rosemary, thyme and peppers. Process until you have a very fine powder.

Prepare the chicken to be roasted – wash, cut the tips of the wings and tail. Season with salt and pepper inside and outside.

Put  the chicken on a roasting tray lined some olive oil, breast up.  Brush the chicken with olive oil and finely great the lemon zest over it. Stuff it with 1 lemon cut in pieces and 2 garlic cloves.

Roast the chicken, breast up. After 25min, turn it around and let it roast for another 35min, or until golden and cooked through.

Remove the chicken and set aside covered with foil.

Poor the white wine and the water in the cooking tray to deglaze and remove all the sediments.

Collect all the cooking juices in a small pan and put on high heat. Boil the cooking juices until you have a gravy.

Carve the chicken and serve it with the gravy

Baked onions and potatoes with romesco sauce

Autumn flavors – roasted potatoes and onions with a nutty sauce to go with it….. hearty food with rich flavors, different textures and enough substance to satisfy your appetite. And, once you have enough romesco sauce on stock, very easy and quick.

Romesco sauce  (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)


  • 1 ripe tomato
  • 1 whole head of garlic
  • 60mL of olive oil
  • 70g toasted blanched hazelnuts
  • 200 of sliced white country-style bread
  • 50 mL of sherry vinegar (fifty, not five hundred)
  • 240g of roasted peppers (Adrià recommends Chorizero pepper paste, but I was not able to source. I replaced it an equivalent quantity of with preserved roasted peppers)

Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Put the tomato and head of garlic in a roasted tray and cook for about 45min or until is tender and blackened. Peel the tomatoes and garlic cloves and put into a big bowl (more likely, you will have to squeeze the garlic). Roast the hazelnuts in a pan with a bit of olive oil over medium heat, until they are dark golden. Remove, drain with a kitchen paper and set aside. Fry the bread with a bit of olive oil, and break to small pieces with your hands. Add the vinegar, nuts, bread, fried bread and peppers to the bowl where the tomato and garlic are. Process with a hand held blender to make a coarse paste. Blend in the olive oil until smooth. Baked potatoes (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal) Ingredients 

  • 1 baking potato per person
  • 2 small onions per person
  • Salt to taste

Method Pre heat the oven to 200 oC Wrap each potato in aluminum foil Put in a roasting tray and bake for about 45min or until the potatoes are soft  and onion skins are charred. Cut the potatoes and the onions in half. Season with salt to taste. Serve with the romesco sauce.

Ferran Adrià’s Guacamole with tortilla chips

Seriously, no need to buy special spices mix in expensive packages with a kilometer long list of ingredients. Making guacamole is as easy as this…

Guacamole with tortilla chips (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 2 ripe tomatos, peeled and diced
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 avocados
  • 1 onion very finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons of  finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salta and pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips


Start by peeling the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in boiling water and leave for about 10 min. Put them in iced water to quickly cool them down. Pull the skin out of the tomatoes with a small knife. Dice them into very small cubes.

Finely chop the onion.

Pick the leafs out of the coriander stalks and chop them very.

Cut the avocados in half and remove the stones. Remove the flesh with a spoon. Put them in a bowl in mash them with a fork until you have a coarse paste.

Add the tomato, onion and coriander to the avocado paste and mix everything with a spoon until incorporated into the mix.

Finally, add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with the tortilla chips.

Grilled lettuce hearts with a mint vinaigrette

Grilling lettuces hearts might sound like a cardinal sin. However, if you are bored of eating lettuce with a traditional dressing, this is a very, very, very easy  to do dish with surprising results. Serve either as an appetizer or a side dish.

Grilled lettuce hearts with a mint vinaigrette  (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)


  • the leaves of 8 springs of fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon of   mustard 
  • 1 tablespoon of cherry vinegar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 lettuce hearts, cut in half lengthways and seasoned with salt and pepper


To make the vinaigrette, put the mints leaves  in a tall beaker. Then, drop in the mustard, the vinegar, the egg yolk and one portion of the olive oil. Start mixing with a hand held blender. Add the olive oil bit by bit, without stopping the blender. It is done when the mint looks chopped, right before it starts to convert into a mayonnaise (be careful not to over do it). Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the surface of a large frying pain (or a grilling one) with olive oil, and heat it. Drop in the lettuce heart and let them fry over medium heat until they are golden on both sides (it will take about 5 minutes). Once out  of the pan, cut them half lengthways again.

Put the 4 wedges on a plate and poor the vinaigrette on top it. Serve while warm.


Tomato and bread + summer = gazpacho. Nothing much to add to that, really. This was my first attempt this this year, and by to look of the weather forecast, probably the last. On this special occasion, I tried Ferran Adrià’s recipe, minus his secrete ingredient – mayonnaise. Don’t take me wrong – I believe him: it will probably make gazpacho much creamier, but, hélas, I still haven’t recovered from a bad mayonnaise I had more than a decade ago.
Gazpacho (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)
  • 3 bleached garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 onions peeled and chopped in big chunks
  • 60g cucumber peeled and chopped in big chunks
  • 75g red bell peppers seeded and sliced
  • 1Kg rip red tomatoes, chopped in big chunks
  • 30g of white rustic bread, without crust, torn into pieces
  • 120ml cup water
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar


First, peel the garlic cloves and drop in small saucepan with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. When the water begins to boil, take out the garlic out of the water and put into a bowl of ice water to quickly cool it. Repeat twice, always starting with cold water.

Peel and cut the vegetables into large chunks and put them into a large bowl.  Add the tomatoes into large wedges and put in a bowl with the onions, cucumbers, and bell peppers. Add the bread, torn into pieces, then pour over the water. Process everything together using a hand-held blender, about 5 min until is well combined. Add the olive oil, sherry vinegar, salt and pepper and blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Chill in the fridge before serving (at least 2 hours). Serve the gazpacho with a plus an extra drizzle of olive oil. If you want, you can add cured ham, finely chopped egg, tuna, croutons, chopped pepper…..

Almond cake

This was supposed to be a Tarta de Santiago [St James’ cake]. A bad kitchen day and a less than good execution converted it into a simple almond cake. But, not everything was lost… I found back a childhood flavor. Actually, something which resembled to what used to be my mother’s favorite cake. I can still remember the nanny doing it year after year for her birthday with super sweet ovos moles [soft eggs] filling. And on  the side, an ongoing polite fight between my mother and the nanny, where mother would ask the nanny for the recipe and the nanny would say she had promised never to give it away. The nanny eventually retired and all we got was a close enough version scribbled in a piece of paper. Or, maybe even the right recipe, but no one could bake it like her…

Almond cake (adapted from Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)


  • Baking spray or butter and flour as required
  • 3 large eggs (70g)
  • 150g of sugar
  • Ground almonds 150g (fail of the day – if you want the St James cake, they must be peeled. The mix I used was not peeled and instead of getting an yellow-ish cake, I got a browned one with a bit more bite than it should)
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • Icing sugar as required


1.Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat a baking tray with baking spray (or butter and flour) (Ferran Adrià recommends a 30*50cm; I used a 30 cm round one

2. In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and the sugar until you have a pale yellow foamy mixture

3. Add the the ground almond and the cinnamon to the egg mixture. Fold it slowly in the same direction with a wooden spoon, until you obtain a fluffy and airy mixture.

4. Pour the mixture in the tray (second fail of the day – if you want the St James cake, it must be about 1.5cm deep. My cake almost doubled it).

5. Put in the oven for about 20min, or until golden brown. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the sides of tray when you take it out of the tray.

6. Sprinkle icing sugar on top of it before serving.

Chicken wings with mushrooms

It seemed like a good idea to cook this dish for the 10th anniversary of my doctoral exam. It is almost finger food, it is somehow Spanish and its recipe seemed straightforward enough. For an extra touch of nerdiness, I could even use the same species of mushrooms I used for my PhD (Pleurotus eryingii, if you really must know).

Then, I realized the recipe called for 30 (thirty) garlic cloves for 6 persons. Cook for twelve, and you’ll end up with 60 (sixty) of them to peel and slice. I.e. at an average of 10 cloves per head, 6 garlic bulbs. Or, if you want to be very precise, at an average of 90g per bulb, about 540g of garlic to slice. In total, it was a 1h long operation that left me with tears in the eyes, redness in the fingers and the taste of garlic in the back of my throat. Needless is to say that after that I just had to had a shower before I find myself ready to face the company of civilized people. It took a good couple of weeks until I felt the need of using garlic, either in major or minor proportions.

At some point, I was getting concerned this dish would actually work. For more drama, after having seen a big bowl of garlic being poured into the concoction, my suffering testers dinner guests were showing an increasing preoccupation about its palatability. It was a wasted worry. It was indeed a delicious dish.  A bit garlicky, but far to be the garlic overdose some catastrophists had anticipated. The white wine just cuts the grease, the thyme added some freshness to it, the chicken wings get soft and tender… Perfection on a small dish cooked with humble ingredients.

Chicken wings with mushrooms (adapted from  Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 18 chicken wings, tips removed and cut in half through the joint
  • 100mL olive oil
  • 360g of mushrooms, sliced (it can be button mushrooms, chanterelles, shitake, Pleurotus, all the above, other that is on season. On this occasion, I just got a mixed bag from my local supermarket).
  • 30 (thirty) garlic cloves roughly sliced
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 3 fresh thyme springs, leaves pulled out
  • 180mL white wine
  • 150mL water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


1. Season the half chicken wings with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan until it is hot and add the chicken wings. Cook them gently for about 30min, turning regularly.

3. When the chicken wings are evenly browned, drop in the garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.

4. Add the bay leaves and the thyme and mix.

5. Poor in the white wine, and turn up the heat and let it simmer until the wine has reduced a little.

6. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes until they are well incorporated with the meat, garlic and herbs.

7. Poor in the water and let it simmer until it has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft.

Bananas with lime and rum

Cheap, cheerful and (almost) universally liked by grown ups and kiddies. The kind of thing you can prepare on the fly a few hours in advance and let rest in the fridge. It won’t let you down, as long as you  make sure the version for kiddies is rum-less.

Bananas with lime and rum (adapted from  Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal)


  • 80g sugar
  • 100 mL rum
  • 50 mL water
  • 6 bananas, peeled and finely sliced
  • The zest and juice of 2 limes.


Poor the water into a pan and mix the rum and sugar. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring all times. When the sugar has solved, allow to cool. Then, mix in the lime zest and juice. Finally, put the banana slices into the sirup. Leave to marinade in the fridge for a few hours.

Almond soup with Caramelita ice cream

When I saw this dish on  Ferran Adrià’s The Family Meal, I decided to try it on a heart beat. All in all, it was an emotional decision driven by gluttony, which could have be a serious contestant to the Darwin Awards of cooks. As I was plating, I realized that M., the poor suffering tester, is allergic to almonds. Needless should be to add (once again) that  am lactose-intolerant. Would a dessert made of ressuspended almonds and milk-derivatives be a good idea given these combined food challenges? Really, no need to answer. It is already bad enough the question needs to be made. Fortunately, G. showed up for a coffee the day after, and volunteered to help with the full platted dish. He said it was good, and asked for more…

About the dish itself – making the almond soup is actually a bit more laborious than I expected. Filtering the almond suspension can ended in a bit of a mess. In case you wonder why I am cooking for 6: Adrià justifiably says this is the minimum you should do, as it takes some critical mass to get the almond soup right. And, really, go for the Marcona almonds if you can source them. Anything less than that, and you won’t taste its flavor. In the absence of nougat ice cream, I tried Caramelita. It is a good combination, but apparently a bit too sweet (probably true – Moevenpick ice creams tend to be on the sugary side of life).

Food intolerances apart, this is actually a lovely dish for a dinner party. You can do the soup in advance and then plate when you need it.  It is an elegant combination of flavours and textures, which won’t disappoint the hard core foodies.

Almond soup with Caramelita ice cream

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 240g of Marcona almonds
  • 600mL water
  • 80g sugar
  • whole caramelised almonds to tastes
  • Caramelita ice cream to taste (original recipe called for nougat ice cream, which I was not able to find).


Put the almonds in a food processor and roughly chop

Tip them into a large bowl, then add the water

Leave to soak for 12 hours in the fridge

Use a hand held blender or food processor to blend the almonds and water until smooth and creamy

Carefully strain through a fine meshed metal sieve, using the back of a ladle  to help the soup pass through the sieve.

Add the sugar and whisk until it dissolves

To serve, put a triangle of three caramelised almonds in the bottom of a bowl. Place a scoop of ice-cream in the centre of the triangle

Poor the almond soup around the ice-cream.