Monthly Archives: April 2012

Empanadas and chocolate fondant

My realistic target is to blog once a week now on weekends so with this weekend be relatively clear, I thought I would go for 2 dishes in the same post and my first blogged dessert. Usually I don’t cook many desserts (which is not to say I don’t eat them!!!). Normally I prefer to focus my attention on savoury dishes but this chocolate fondant has been on my mind for a while…  Also as I am gaining a little more confidence with my cooking, I wanted to see if it really was so simple to make a pot with a gooey centre… And actually it was!

For now back to the empanadas! Again I’ve wanted to make these for a while as they are quite a typical spanish dish. I made these with tuna but there are many different varieties of course. The full list of ingredients is at the bottom of the post. From the original recipe I made 3/4 of what was recommended, partly as there are only 2 of us at home so 24 portions seemed a bit gluttonous but also because we were close to a flour shortage and i could not forego the chocolate fondents now that they seemed so close!  So the adjusted ingredients below should make you between 16-18 empanadas.

I mixed the flour with the butter by hand trying to get close to a breadcrumb like consistency. Then i added about 1.5 eggs with the wine (keeping the remaining half aside for basting at the end). I was a bit worried at one point that the consistency didn’t look right but after a little while longer it looked fine. The recipe actually says do not knead the pastry too much else the end product will be tough. I’m not sure whether I did or not but for a first attempt I needed the pastry to be solid at least and not breakung apart! So after being happy with the consistency, I wrapped it in clingfilm and put it in the fridge for 30 mins.

Meanwhile, i cooked the chopped onion for about 5 mins, added the tomato sauce and cooked for 10 mins to thicken.  Then I added the tuna, roasted pepper, parsley and freshly ground pepper and mixed together.

I rolled out half the pastry and used a mug to make as many circles as possible.  I repeated this process with the left over pastry until I had used it all (it made 16 circles for me).

Then I put a little bit of the tuna mixture in each circle, folded and pinched together at the sides to seal them.  I put them on an oiled baking tray and basted them with the leftover egg.  Then I cooked them for about 30 minutes at 190 degrees until they were golden.

While they were cooking I got on with the preparation for the chocolate fondants.  I melted the chocolate with the butter in a glass dish over a pan of simmering water.  Meanwhile I mixed the flour with the beaten eggs and sugar until smooth.  Once the butter and chocolate had fully melted I left to cool for about 30 mins before adding to the flour mixture and mixing again until smooth.  I poured this mixture into 4 buttered ramekins and put in the fridge for 10 mins before then cooking for 15 mins at 200 degrees.

The results were great!  The empanadas were a little harder than the ones you get in the bars here (according to my photographer!) but I put this down to the fact of maybe kneading for longer and also because they were oven baked rather than fried.  The taste was still great in my opinion.  They are quite fiddly to make but it’s another recipe ticked off my list!

The best was the fondants!  They were very gooey inside when we put our spoons into them and the taste was really good too.  I will definitely be making these again as they are fairly simple to make and look and taste great!

Ingredients

Tuna empanadas

  • 300g plain flour
  • 60g softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 80 ml white wine
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 150g chopped tomatoes (from a can)
  • 200g of tuna (from a can)
  • Half a roasted pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

Chocolate fondants

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g chocolate (I used cooking chocolate)
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 20g plain flour

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Filed under Chocolate, Desserts, Fish, French, Pudding, Spanish

The swimming chicken!

I actually made this last weekend but it’s been a busy time starting a new job hence the delay in posting!  It is based on Heston Blumental’s perfect chicken recipe and for those who don’t know him; he is a British chef who likes to use the science of food.  So for this roast chicken, I had to undertake a few additional steps to my usual way of cooking!

First thing is to brine the chicken.  That is to soak it in salted water for about 8 hours which has the result of keeping in the moisture when cooking the chicken.  Heston thinks many roast chickens are dry and as they are made up of 80% water, they key is to keep this moisture in.  I’m no scientist so I won’t attempt to explain this in any more detail but google is always on hand!

I did not follow Heston’s recipe exactly but here is the link in case anyone wants to or for a few more basic details of the recipe and ingredients:

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/heston-blumenthal/roast-chicken-recipe

After the brining process, I squirted lemon juice inside the cavity of the chicken (I did not have a lemon in the fridge, nor one ready on my tree!) along with some thyme.  I rubbed the skin with butter and put in the oven for about 2 hours on 100 degrees (the lowest our little oven will go to – remember the name of this blog; la cuineta – the little kitchen, and you can see the little oven below!).

I then rested the chicken outside the oven for about 30 mins and in the meantime par-boiled some roast potatoes and carrots for 10 mins before putting them in the (now empty) roasting tin for 30 mins at about 200 degrees.  I turned the oven up to the highest temperature (250 degrees) and then put the chicken back in along with the potatoes and carrots for about 15 mins.

Finally, I carved and served along with gravy.  I’m afraid I cheated here and made my more traditional gravy using a bit of the juices from the roasting tin along with Bisto granules and some freshly ground pepper.  Maybe next time I attempt the gravy also!

I have to say the result of all this is fantastic!  If I were a scientist maybe I could experiment to see whether the brining or the slow cooking has the greatest effect but I can say, the two combined do produce a really succulent chicken and I would definitely recommend making the extra effort of brining before cooking.  The chicken literally falls apart as you carve and eat and it surely is close to being a perfect roast chicken!

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Filed under Chicken, English, Food, Recipes, Slow cooking

Thai pineapple fried rice

First things first, this is a (slightly adapted) reblog from an excellent site called Trials in Food which you can check  out here:

http://trialsinfood.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/a-new-recipe-a-new-look/

Great photos and it is a really nicely written blog about the journey through food!

I spotted this recipe a few weeks ago and really liked the look of it so on the next supermarket visit (where I remembered) I bought the pineapple in preparation.

I used a slightly different combination of ingredients owing to what I had in the fridge.  I think with this kind of recipe, it is great for using a mixture of what you might already have and many combinations could work out well!  For the full list of ingredients see the bottom of the post.

I started by boiling some rice and then while that was cooking, fried the garlic, chilli flakes and onion for a couple of minutes and then added the pepper, carrots, peas and mangetout and cooked for a further 5 mins over a medium heat.

I then added the prawns, beaten egg and ham and cooked for a further 2 mins before adding the pineapple, cooked rice, curry powder, soy sauce and mixing all together.  The final steps were to add the cashew nuts and the raisins and giving a final mix before plating up and placing the coriander over the served dish.

The taste is great!  Many different flavours and textures and it looks really good too!  Next time I have to serve it in the pineapple shell for authenticity!

Thanks again to Trials In Food for the inspiration!

  • Half an onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 2 slices of ham
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pineapple
  • Cup of rice
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of curry powder
  • Half a red pepper
  • 100g of mangetout
  • Half a cup of peas
  • Half a cup of cashew nuts
  • Half a cup of raisins
  • Coriander to garnish

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Filed under Food, Recipes, Thai

Calçots with Romesco Sauce

Calçots are a type of onion and are a tradition to be eaten in Catalunya from February to April when they are in season. The event of eating calçots is called a calçotada and it is quite typical for a group of family/friends to share in this event whether it be in a restaurant or masia in or out of the city or done at home or in a designated calçcotada area in the countryside.

I have tried a calçotada in a restaurant in a former masia before but I was lucky enough to have one at my parents-in-law’s place last weekend!

The first steps to the event was making the romesco sauce.

Romesco sauce

  • 2 dried capsicum anuums (ñoras)
  • 200g almonds
  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 pieces of bread soaked in water
  • 350g can finely chopped tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar to taste

First mix the nuts in a blender, fry the garlic in halves in the olive oil until slightly golden. Add the chopped nuts and the garlic to a bowl with the soaked bread. Add the chopped tomatoes to the remaining oil and fry gently for 1-2 mins. Add the tomato mix to the bowl, with the sun dried peppers and blend until smooth. Add vinegar to taste.

You can leave the mix in a covered bowl over night. It can also be nice to add a bit of chilli powder or fresh chillies to make the sauce a bit spicy.

The calçots

Approx. 10 per person
Selection of meats for barbecuing (we had spare ribs, pork loin and rabbit)
Sauces to serve (romesco, bbq and alioli)

Using a bbq grilling tray, bbq the calçots over the fire for about 3-4 mins each side until fairly blackened and making a sizzling noise (you might also see foam coming out of the calçot when cooked). Do in batches to get even coverage. You can keep them warm in foil or newspaper once cooked while you cook the remainder.

Season the meat and then grill/bbq the meat according to taste.  If barbecuing on the open fire, the meat should be cooked above the white charcoal or wood (rather than the open flame).

Eat the calçots first with the romesco sauce.  To eat, you peel away the blackened outer skin and dip the “clean” calçot in the romesco sauce, holding the calçot at the end and lower into your mouth.  Be warned, it can get very messy!  When eating this in a restaurant you are usually given a bib!

For the second course, eat the selection of cooked meats with the three sauces.  You could also have potatoes or chips as a side dish.  And it is common to have plenty of wine throughout the whole meal!

This is a very filling meal and a really nice sociable event to have with friends or family!

Thank you to the guest chefs for the inspiration and hard work and for the use of their kitchens!

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Filed under Catalan, Food, Recipes, Spanish, Uncategorized

Beef and honey stew

This is a dish I’ve cooked a few times before and I wanted to put it on here as it’s quite simple but very tasty.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/beef_and_honey_stew_47298

You don’t need many ingredients and the preparation is straightforward. The only real complication is the cooking time; between 2 to 4 hours so good if you have many other things to do in your home while it is cooking or you are happy to leave it cooking while you are out.

I bought beef that was already chopped but otherwise cutting the meat would be the first step. After covering in flour (I did it on a plate rather than the recommended bag method) and cooking in batches until brown, I cooked the onion and then added the remaining ingredients along with the cooked beef.

Valencian honey!

Final steps

I cooked it for 4 hours and the meat was very tender. I added the potatoes at the end but I would say they took 40 mins to cook rather than the 20 stated (I’m sure cutting them into smaller pieces would have negated this issue).

I cooked this recipe for guests who were trying it for the first time and they seemed to like it a lot so a good sign!

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Filed under Beef, Casserole, Food, Recipes, Slow cooking, Stew