Friday, August 10, 2007

Breakfast #11: Cuajada con Miel y Piñones

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Good morning! What’s so good about it you ask? Well, the sun is shining through the smog of my city, I’m looking forward to dinner in my favorite French restaurant with my favorite lady (my mom!), and I’m having cuajada for breakfast.

Cuajada is a creamy milk curd from Northern Spain, although you can have it all over Spain now. I have mentioned cuajada before here and here. It is traditionally made with sheep’s milk (leche de oveja), but is now often made with cow’s milk. The cuajo or rennet is added to the heated milk and this is what curdles it. Rennet is a natural complex of enzymes found in the cow’s tummy (actually any mammalian tummy), and what digests mother’s milk. This complex contains an enzyme which coagulates the milk, making it separate into curds and whey.

Now, if mammalian tummy (present company’s excluded) is not readily available to you, rennet is also available in tablet or powder form. If you are at a restaurant that makes their own cuajada or serves fresh, please, take it! Take two and think of me! Also, grocery shelves throughout Spain are filled with commercially made cuajada, some better than others – look out for the ones in the clay pots marked “de leche de oveja”, these are the best. And if that still eludes you (like, for example, if you live half a world away), there is the last resort, which I have used here – cuajada mix. This is nowhere near as good as fresh cuajada, but as fresh cuajada in Manila is, for now, a lovely fantasy, it will have to do for me. When I saw these on the shelves in El Corte Ingles, I purchased a bunch to send home.

I have made them here in the clay crocks I bought in La Bisbal, along the Costa Brava. This is my favorite way to have it…with honey and pine nuts. It's usually served as dessert, although sometimes also for breakfast. I can have it both times, and a third for snacking!

Simply put, I love cuajada. To bits. No visit to Spain is complete without it. I think of it the way other people think about eating paella in Spain. Not leaving until I’ve had my fill. Is it that good? Obviously, opinions differ. This is, after all, a simple milk curd, taken with honey, sometimes nuts, sometimes fruit. But there is something about its creamy smoothness, its milky white innocence, which makes me feel inexplicably optimistic about life.

For next time:
- Add a vanilla bean or a cinnamon stick to the milk when heating.
- Try experimenting with other spices and flavors…could a “chai cuajada” be in my future?
- Use carabao’s milk! Extra creamy!

Happy weekend and count your blessings! Even if sometimes they have to come from a ready-mix box :)

21 comments:

christine said...

Yum! With my deep fondness for yogurt, it naturally follows that I love cuajada too. But come to think of it, considering the amount of time I've spent in Spain I didn't have it often enough. I want to try those grilled sardines (were they sardines?)in Marbella you and C were telling me about. What were they called again?

Pille said...

I never had cuajada in Spain:( I guess I must head back soon and check it out - it sounds delicious!

Kelly-Jane said...

I've not heard of cuajada, but I like yoghurt, so I'm sure this would be lovely. When I eventually get to Spain I'll look out for it! :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

A friend of mine who lives in Portugal posted a recipe for cuajada this week and I found it really interesting, Joey!

Yours look delish!

oggi said...

I haven't seen cuajada in any of the Spanish restaurants here in the Washington, DC area. I would like to try some, it looks and sounds delicious!

katiez said...

I can't believe I missed that! All the years we lived in Andorra and traveled all over Spain!
Been to La Bisbal lots, though. Love their pottery and have, ahem, a kitchen full.....

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Fiddle I've never had this cuajada but it certainly sounds like I'd really like it if I did. And honey and pine nuts, that would be perfection especially if I could throw in a few blueberries.
Joey, I'd really love to try this.

Rasa Malaysia said...

The pine nuts floating on top of the soup is beautiful. I love it. :)

Gourmet Traveller said...

Haven't tried cuajada yet but will soon. My mom mentioned she saw you today - were you in Rockwell? Anyway, I'll look out for cuajada when I get back from Vegas.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Nens! Well, cuajada is a pretty simple thing, and not one many would think as a must-try, but I'm just strange that way :) We had the grilled sardines when we visited my cousin in Malaga...they were fantastic! I can ask her what they were called :)

Hi Pille! It is delicious! Hope you get to try it on your next trip :)

Hi Kelly-jane! I'm sure you will like it :) It's not sour like yogurt...it's more like a very fresh young cheese...and infant cheese ;)

Thanks Patricia! Sounds good! :) What's her site?

Hi Oggi! Even here, there is only one Spanish restaurant that I know that serves it...good thing I have these mixes to tide me over ;)

Hi KatieZ! I probably would have missed it too if someone hadn't made me try it :) Ah! I wanted to take more pottery home from La Bisbal but we only had one box and were a bit nervous about shipping so many breakables...wish I had bought more!

Hi Tanna! I'm sure it will be wonderful with some blueberries!

Hi Bee! I like the floating pine nuts too :)

Hi GT! Yes! I saw her at this food event to benefit breast cancer awareness...I love bumping into her, we always have a good chat :) Let me know if you get to try it...if you can find it fresh, better!

veron said...

I've never heard of cuajada until now. Well it looks yummy and it looks just wonderful for breakfast.

Marketman said...

Fantastic photo, but I can only imagine what it tastes like as I haven't had it before...

valentinA said...

Beautifully made! I'm gonna try it, it sounds so tempting no matter what!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Veron! It's really yummy...not quite the glamorous dish, but yummy nonetheless :)

Hi Marketman! Thank you :) It tastes creamy and milky...very mild...

Hi Valentina! Thanks! :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Sweetie, this is her blog (unfortunately, it's in Portuguese, but there's a version in French):

In Portuguese

In French

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Patricia! :) I'm sure I can piece together something (or ask C's French-speaking cousin) :)

Katrina said...

I've never had cuajada before, either. Which Spanish restaurant serves it here?

Peabody said...

Not my usual breakfast but definitely sounds wonderful.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Katrina! Gaudi has it :)

Hi Peabody! Well, this is actually more popular as a dessert, but I love it for breakfast too :)

mushroomman2004@yahoo.com said...

I doubt this is still active after 4 years but here goes. I'm seeking directions on how to create this delicate dessert at home. I live in Ohio and have occasional access to fresh goat's milk. I took a trip to Spain last year, at about this time, to walk the Camino de Santiago. We started at Roncesvalles and the night before we started our pilgrimage we were treated to this simple, delicious dish following our meal of lamb and vegetables. It was served with honey on top and it was absolutely divine. Do you have a recipe? If you do, I would deeply appreciate it if you shared it with me. You can reach me via email. Thank you very much.

C Faux said...

I just came back from La Rioja and ate cuajada morning noon and night. And now I am back in the USA completely going into convulsions because there's nowhere to get this wonderful concoction.