Monday, December 31, 2012


Look what I’ve got! An ibérico ham. Time to invite some friends over to share this deliciousness.

 Using the lavishly illustrated book, Slicing Spanish Ham by Pilar Esteban, as reference, my son, Benjamin Searl, broaches the ham, a pure ibérico de bellota (acorn-fed) from Los Pedroches (Córdoba) with more than 36 months curing time.

The ham is sweet and nutty; the fat is soft and melting.

For my Sunday afternoon Open-House-with-Ham party I made a pot of black-eyed peas to get a jump on good luck for the New Year. That recipe is in my January 1 blog last year. And, hot from the oven, a cazuela of patatas a lo pobre, potatoes cooked with onions, peppers and tomatoes in wine (recipe).

Also on the buffet table, a bright winter salad of cauliflower with capers instead of the olives shown in the photo (recipe),

I also made olivada, a garlicky olive paste, good with quail eggs or bread sticks for dipping. I bought a heap of empanadillas de batata, little fried pies filled with sweetened sweet potato paste, and made a batch of carrot-raisin-apricot-fig cupcakes to serve with mandarins from my trees.

How many guys to turn a ham?

With good ham, I love fino Sherry. I also served red and white wine and beer. Most guests seemed to favor beer for an afternoon gathering. The sun was shining and we all sat on the terrace until sunset. Glorious winter day.

Olivada is a garlicky olive dip.
Olive Spread

My home-cured and pitted manzanilla olives lost their crisp texture, so I turned them into this tasty spread. Serve it as a dip, sandwich spread or sauce to accompany hard-cooked eggs, roast lamb, fried fish or sliced tomatoes.

Makes  ¾ cup.

1 cup drained and pitted olives, black or green
½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons dry Sherry
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smoothly pureed. Serve cold or room temperature.

New Year's luck--black-eyed peas.



  1. All looks so good, and I had to miss it, but I send you my love and best wishes for the New Year 2013. Besos. Poppy

    1. Poppy: Thinking of you every time I slice the ham! All the best in 2013.

  2. How wonderful, Janet. I wish I had been there. Iberico ham on the terrace--
    what a way to start the New Year.

    1. Donna: hop on over--holiday goes on thru Monday and there's still some ham left, sun is still shining.

  3. Thanks so much for the invitation Janet, we'd have loved to be there... Feliz año!

  4. Happy New Year Janet! It looks like you started off the year just right, with sunshine, good friends, a good luck tradition from the American South and a delicious Iberico ham. I look forward to some recipes with the parts left over, and am eager to check out the book to better understand the techniques for getting the most exquisite slices. Enjoy!

    1. Ansley: Happy New Year to you too. Yes, a very good start to the new year with breakfast of ibérico ham, new olive oil and tomatoes from the garden piled on grilled bread.