Vegetables, cheese and ham cake: sweet and salty feast before Christmas
Last day I said I am looking forward to Christmas very much. Compared to last year, I think it’s going to be a much happier one because our lives are slowly getting back to normal after going thorugh the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a matter of fact, I’ll visit my grandparents on 1st January. It’s been three years, three very long years, since I last saw them and I have never been away from them for so long. They live in Jaen (Southern Spain) and before moving to Oxford, I used to travel twice a year to spend quality time with them. As you can tell from my words, I cannot see the moment to hug them.
I am also looking forward to Christmas because it’s the perfect excuse to eat desserts. Yes, any time is appropriate for so and I absolutely agree with Paula’s Apron on her “Always dessert” recurrent statement. However, it was during this time of the year when, as a child, I used to eat more sweets and desserts. Spanish tables over these days are filled-when not stuffed! So, how can you resist to try one or two? Lauren Aloise from Spanish Sabores brilliantly explains it in this fantastic article.
From the culinary point of view, there is an interesting season just days away. My plan is to showcase some of the traditional Spanish creations which will include desserts, but before I have to make room for this spectacular cake. Think of your favourite plain, spongy cake mixed with vegetables and cooked ham or bacon-or neither if you are vegetarian. Have you ever tried merging both? Does it sounds weird to you? Let me confess I have never been keen to give it a go until I saw Enrique Sanchez (what a chef!) doing it. We tried it one evening for dinner and, despite it’s a bit heavy for a late-time meal, the flavour is incredible. To crown it up, Sanchez also prepared a peppers sauce that paired magnificently.
We all have at home the basic ingredients for a cake and the bottom of the fridge full of vegetables. Wait no more and try it before switching to mode Christmas.
For the cake:
Green pepper (1)
Cooked ham (150 g)
Single cream (200 ml)
Soft cheese (150 g)
Grated cheese of your choice (120 g)
Plain flour (275 g)
Baking powder (1 teaspoon)
Oregano (1 teaspoon)
For the peppers sauce:
Red pepper (1)
Yellow pepper (1)
Onion (1 small / half large)
Garlic clove (2)
Mayo (4 tbsp)
DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING
We need to simmer all the vegetables first. Heat up some olive oil in a pan, finely chop the onion and start cooking it. Do the same with the green pepper and with the courgette-but this one cut in dices.
2. Chop the ham and add it to the pan. Cook everything and set aside for cooling when you finish. If it’s necessary, help yourself with a strainer to remove all the excess of water.
3. Make the cake batter in a separate bowl. Mix the eggs, the single cream, 50 ml of olive oil, the soft cheese and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Sift the flour and the baking powder over the mixing and incorporate.
4.Add to the vegetables to the cake batter, the oregano and most of the grated cheese. Stir and transfer it to a cake tin covered with oven paper. Top up with the rest grated cheese. Bake in the oven at 180 Celsius for 45 minutes. After that, let it cool down and will be ready to serve.
For the peppers sauce. Roughly chop the peppers, the onion and the garlic and simmer in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add some water when they are tender and cook for three minutes. Grind with a hand blender and let it cool in a bowl-first at room temperature and then in the fridge. Once chilled, incorporate the mayo and serve.