Category Archives: Desserts

Cava sabayon with strawberries and cherry tomatoes (Sabayon de Cava avec fraises et tomates cerises) – Sunday lunch with friends!

20140302-142812.jpg

I had a lunch at my place on the weekend for some special dinner guests so needed to put some effort in to make a full 3 course lunch 🙂  They are special dinner guests because when I’ve been to their place, I’ve definitely had some of the nicest meals ever so now was not the time to be cutting corners!

I decided to cook a couple of recipes which had already been on the blog as well as a new one for dessert which I will feature here; strawberries and cherry tomatoes in a sabayon sauce.  I took this approach because 3 courses is not something I do that often so to do a couple of familiar recipes, while mastering one new one seemed like a good balance where I wouldn’t get too stressed!

For the starter I did chicken nuggets which was my last post 🙂  There were 5 of us for lunch and I wanted a relatively simple starter and also so that people were not too full before the main of risotto.  The idea was that the lunch would get posher as we went through the courses!  The chicken nuggets seemed popular anyway so a good choice to kick off the lunch 🙂

Risotto is one of my old favourites and I hadn’t made it for these friends yet so a good opportunity to cook it again as the main 🙂  Also I was able to focus my energy on the dessert.  Actually in the end, the dessert was pretty simple so I would say the risotto won in terms of the most time consuming part but all in all a good mix between the dishes!

The dessert recipe comes from one of my current favourite books; Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo.  Again it looked quite light so wouldn’t be too much after the risotto.  It was pretty simple to make overall.  I think I whisked it for longer than the 10 minutes it suggested but apart from that it was quite straightforward.

The highlight of this recipe was being able to try an egg yolk separating trick with a plastic bottle that I’d seen on an internet article!  So I cracked an egg into a bowl (gently so the yolk didn’t break) and then squeezed the bottle directly above the yolk to suck it up, before depositing the yolk in a separate bowl.

20140302-142701.jpg

20140302-142711.jpg

20140302-142721.jpg

20140302-142730.jpg

It’s probably easier if you watch this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAp8pEaWB1Y

I did this to get 6 egg yolks and then added 3 tablespoons of sugar.  I whisked this over a bain marie a little before adding 150 ml of cava (the recipe quotes champagne but living in Catalunya, I had to choose cava above champagne!).  Then I carried on whisking for about 15-20 minutes until the mixture thickened and was a little foamy (the tip is if you can draw a figure of eight shape in the sauce and it stays then the sauce is ready).  I chilled the sabayon sauce in the fridge until it was dessert time and I think you can do this for upto a couple of hours (one other tip; I do think the sabayon sauce evaporated a little while chilling so I didn’t have as much as I expected!).

When it was time for dessert, I put 3-4 tablespoons of the sabayon sauce into bowls and added a few quarters of strawberries and deseeded cherry tomatoes.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the finished product so I’m posting it from the book instead!

20140302-142742.jpg

20140302-142750.jpg

20140302-142757.jpg

20140302-142804.jpg

20140303-193301.jpg

It was definitely a nice end to this meal, with a good combination of plates.  It’s true that cherry tomatoes go very well with strawberries (apparently, scientifically speaking, strawberries and tomatoes have the same flavour components) which was a nice discovery and the sweetness of the sabayon sauce goes very well with these fruits.

Other learnings from this post are that I don’t appear to be able to spell the word dessert (just had to go through and correct many references to sand!) and also that I think my food pictures have improved when looking at my old risotto post from over a year ago 🙂  I also got a new iPhone…I guess it helped 😛

4 Comments

Filed under Cherry tomatoes, Desserts, Food, Food blogging, French, Pudding, Recipes, Strawberries, Uncategorized

Blogging 1 year on! – Razor clams (navajas) with chorizo, Seafood and cava risotto, Arancini and Stewed plums!

image

It is hard to believe but one year has passed already that I’ve been blogging!  On average, I’ve stuck to my one blog a month rule but it is true that I was much more productive in the beginning!  However, to celebrate this one year, try to put this right and make the most of the fact I had friends staying who also love cooking, we managed all of the recipes listed in the title over two meals this weekend!  The cava recipe was chosen especially for the one year celebration 🙂

The starter was Rob’s inspiration following a visit to the local market:

image

image

image

image

image

image

Razor clams (navajas) with chorizo, shallots and red pepper!  When I met Rob he was always quite random with his cooking ingredients, never measuring anything with sometimes amazing results and sometimes not so amazing… I think he will forgive me for mentioning his syrup sponge pudding which was more like a soup (although it still tasted amazing!).  Over the years he has perfected many techniques and is a great cook so now the random recipes are usually great too 😉  which included this one!

I’d never cooked razor clams before and it was quite a new experience as I discovered they were still alive while washing them.  They made some noise and were kind of pulsing a little.  I’ve come a long way with food but still, this gave me the heebie-jeebies!  If in doubt, you can find the definition here:

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/heebie-jeebies

We grilled them (alive! yes we felt kind of bad for some seconds…) for a couple of minutes until the shells opened and then cleaned them again (removing the dark parts) although I have to say thanks to Kristine and Rob for doing this dirty job!  In the meantime we had chopped up about 10 shallots (after soaking them in boiling water to make the skins come off more easily), roasting a red pepper for 20 mins, removing the skin and chopping and also chopping about 100g of chorizo.  We cooked the shallots, red pepper and chorizo in a bit of oil on the hob for about 5 mins before adding the razor clams for a couple more minutes.  Then we put all the ingredients back in the shells to serve.  We used about about 15 razor clams for 4 people.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

The next course was inspired by my blog entries.  In honour of the anniversary, the guest chefs had to choose one (or two as it turned out!) recipes from my blog from the past year.  They chose risotto and arancini but with a slight variation this time in that it was seafood and cava 🙂  Again we took the inspiration from the market and chose razor clams and shelled and unshelled prawns with Kristine being head of ingredient sourcing!  The remaining ingredients were shallots, asparagus, fish stock, rice and butter.

We snapped the asparagus ends off (using about 15 in total).  This was Rob’s tip for knowing how much to remove from the end;  bend them until their natural point of breaking and then all the “bad” part is removed.  We boiled the ends in about a litre of water for about 30 mins with 2 fish stock cubes to make the stock before blending.

image

In the meantime we melted a knob of butter and gently fried the chopped shallots (approx. 10) before adding about 300g of rice and one glass of cava.  Once the rice had absorbed the cava, we started to gently add the stock, one ladle at a time, waiting until the liquid was soaked up before adding another one.  We added the remaining asparagus and continued this process for about 25 mins.

image

image

image

We added 8 unshelled prawns and cooked for about 4-5 mins before removing and then adding the shelled prawns (approx. 12) and cooking for 2 mins.  We added a little more butter and ground pepper, mixed well and placed the unshelled prawns on top before serving.

image

image

image

For the next day we decided to use the leftover risotto for arancini.  We used about a quarter of a baguette to make breadcrumbs and added flour to a plate and one beaten egg to a dish.  We rolled the rice mixture into small balls, rolled in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs.  We cooked them on an oiled baking tray for 25 mins at 200 degrees.

image

image

image

image

image

The final dish went through various interations due to when we were going to cook it and the remaining time available before their flight home!  So in the end we did stewed plums 🙂  We cut the plums into quarters, removing the stones and added to a pan with 4 tablespoons of water, 6 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  We stewed in the pan (with the lid on) for about 15 mins until the plums were soft.  Fairly easy but delicious!

image

I guess this must be my longest blog ever!  Definitely the most recipes at one time which is fitting for the one year anniversary!  I’ve really enjoyed the blogging experience and over this weekend, it’s been really nice to look back at all the recipes I’ve done and hope that I’ve learnt something along the way.  The best part of this though was to celebrate it with friends, friends who share the love of cooking and eating.  A very special occasion and photographic evidence is provided below demonstrating just quite how small this cuineta is!

image

8 Comments

Filed under Desserts, English, Fish, Food, Italian, Recipes, Rice, Uncategorized

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

Leave a comment

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