One of the hardest times of the year to live away from family when you have children, is Christmas. When Monkey was smaller it was much easier to hop on a plane to Spain before the school holiday prices kicked in, and spend Christmas with Granny and Gramps. Sadly this year, we just don’t have the funds to cover the flights, car hire and cattery costs so we will be celebrating Christmas with them via Skype. Not quite the same, but at least we will see them on Christmas Day. We can still have a Spanish themed Christmas thanks to the Christmas World on a Plate blogger challenge that we’ve been asked to take part in by Expedia.
Christmas in Spain is very different to here, as with most European countries, the main celebration is on Christmas Eve, where families join together to celebrate, exchange gifts and feast.
My parents live in rural Andalusia, an English couple living in a small town where all their neighbours are locals. I’ve written before about how well they have been integrated into the community and we all know their neighbours well. When we’ve been there with Monkey, presents have been shared out, sweets and tarts exchanged.
Then thinking of a Spanish themed Christmas meal I had to include meatballs at some point. One of my all time favourite meals in Spain was in a tiny, scruffy looking bar, in a village not far from my parents home. As we walked through the door, I could see my Mum’s concerned face, but the place was packed with locals, always a good sign in my opinion. We sat down and ate a simple, but totally delicious meal, which probably cost less than £5, meatballs were at the heart of the meal. We have a special friendship with one of the neighbours CC, and my starter is based on a something she has cooked for us before – Sopa de Albóndigas. CC’s soup is clearer than mine, and I needed to chop the coriander finer really, but still totally delicious.
I made the Sopa de Albóndigas from Chicken stock, adding chopped onions, celery sticks, chopped tomatoes, cumin, oregano, coriander and sliced courgette, along with some Turkey meatballs. It’s very simple to make and really you can add all sorts of vegetables to the mix, and even add rice too. It’s a favourite here, and always reminds me of Spain.
For a main meal CC suggested we might think of Sirloin steak with cream, pepper and mushrooms. But as I have to feed a fussy 6 year old I knew he wouldn’t eat steak so I decided to fuse together ideas from both Spain and England to create a Spanish Chicken pie. She’ll laugh about the addition of mashed potato to this meal, but I think my parents would enjoy the fusion of their past and present lives.
My Spanish Chicken Pie consists of frying onion and garlic with chopped tomatoes, then adding shredded cooked chicken, roasted peppers, olives and seasoning, before topping with paprika spiced mash potato, which is popped in the oven to crisp. Delicious, a blend and celebration of both countries.
Daddy P and my parents are all fans of Crema Catalana as a dessert, so again I added a little twist to create a Tarta de Manzana adding apples and puff pastry to the mix.
I lined a baking dish with puff pastry, added sliced apples in layers (sprinkled with lemon juice) before adding sugar and cinnamon. This was then baked for 10 minutes. Double cream, egg and sugar were whisked together before pouring on top of the apples. The Tarta de Manzana was then baked for 45 minutes. We all agreed that the finished result was delicious.
To accompany a Spanish themed Christmas Daddy P and I enjoyed Cava and a lovely bottle of Rioja – Salud!
So we may not be spending Christmas with our friends and family in Spain this year, but they will be very much in our thoughts as we celebrate with a Spanish themed Christmas.
disclaimer: we have been compensated for this post, but my thoughts and opinions remain my own.