Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cook this: TAPAS

Last week's response to my recipe for chicken croquettes or Croquetas de pollo put me in a Spanish mood for days.  I must apologise to the neighbours for my thunderous Flamenco fumblings...

Here are a few more great Tapas recipes from my book Cocina Nueva - the new Spanish Kitchen. Published by Murdoch Books. 
An oldie but a goodie - even if I do say so myself!

Combine these 4 recipes with the Croquetas de Pollo and a few glassed of chilled fino sherry or Spanish Beer and you'll have yourself the perfect little tapas party for 6.

Add in a salad and let's call it dinner!

Smoky fried almonds

20 g ( 3/4 oz) butter
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) olive oil
 2 garlic cloves, bruised
235 g (8 1/2 oz/1 1/2 cups) blanched almonds, preferably Spanish (such as marcona)
 21/2 teaspoons sea salt, lightly crushed
 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano cayenne pepper, to taste

Makes about 250 g (9 oz/1 1/2 cups)

Melt the butter and oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and almonds and stir constantly for 4–5 minutes, or until golden.

Remove the almonds with a slotted spoon and drain briefly on crumpled paper towels. Mix the salt, sugar, paprika, oregano and cayenne pepper in a bowl, then add the almonds and toss to coat. Spread the almonds on a tray and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve in a small bowl to nibble on with drinks.

Although almonds — particularly the delicate-textured marcona variety — are enjoyed all over Spain in many incarnations, they are often eaten simply toasted and salted with a glass of chilled fino (dry) sherry This lightly spiced version is very moreish.

Garlic prawns with chorizo

6 garlic cloves
50 g (1 3/4 oz) butter
 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, cut into 1 cm ( 1/2 inch) cubes
 3 small dried, smoked red chillies, preferably red guindilla chillies if available
 12 raw king prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined, tails intact
1 tablespoon fino (dry) sherry
 crusty bread rolls, to serve

Serves 4

Finely chop four of the garlic cloves and set aside. Finely slice the rest.
Melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on crumpled paper towels. Increase the heat to medium–high and cook the chorizo and whole chillies, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the chorizo becomes crispy and fragrant.

Add the chopped garlic and fry for 1 minute, or until lightly golden, then add the prawns and sherry and cook for 2 minutes, or until the prawns turn pink and curl.

Toss the crispy garlic slices through the prawns and season to taste. Turn out into a small bowl and serve with crusty bread rolls for mopping up the garlicky juices.

Manchego and cumin buñuelos

60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
 60 g (2 1/4 oz /1/2 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
 1/2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
11/2 teaspoons very finely chopped thyme
olive oil, for deep-frying
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
60 g (2 1/4 oz /2/3 cup) finely grated Manchego cheese

Makes about 24

Put the extra virgin olive oil in a small heavy-based saucepan with 90 ml (3 fl oz) of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring just to the boil over high heat, then remove from the heat and immediately tip in the flour, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika and thyme and stir for 1 minute, or until the mixture forms a smooth paste and comes away from the side of the pan.

Put the pan back over medium heat and cook, stirring vigorously and continuously, for 5 minutes — a ‘film’ should start to coat the bottom of the pan, but if the oil starts to separate, the mixture is overheated and you will need to start again.

Meanwhile, fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full of oil and heat to 165–170°C (315–325°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 20–25 seconds.
Take the flour mixture from the heat, allow to cool slightly, then gradually beat in the eggs with a wooden spoon until very well combined. Continue beating for a few minutes, until the mixture becomes thick, glossy and smooth. Mix in the cheese.

Working in several batches, drop slightly heaped teaspoons of the warm buñuelo mixture into the oil and cook for 7 minutes — they will become puffed and golden before this time, but be sure to leave them in for the full 7 minutes so they don’t collapse on cooling. Drain well on crumpled paper towels and serve immediately.

Note: Choux pastry can be temperamental so it is important to measure the ingredients precisely and to follow the method carefully.

Chilli mussels

chilli tomato sauce
 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1–2 small red chillies, seeded and very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
24 mussels, scrubbed and bearded
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) white wine
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) fino (dry) sherry
125 g (4 1/2 oz /1/2 cup) crushed tinned tomatoes
 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

30 g (1 oz /1/3 cup) finely grated Manchego cheese
55 g (2 oz /2/3 cup) breadcrumbs, made from day-old bread
 11/2 tablespoons flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
olive oil, for drizzling

Makes 24

First, make the chilli tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add the garlic, chilli and paprika and cook for a further 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Increase the heat to high and add the mussels, wine, sherry and a large pinch of salt. Stir everything together, then cover and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 3–4 minutes, or until the mussels pop open. Discard any that remain closed. Remove the mussels from the pan and leave until cool enough to handle.

While the mussels are cooling, stir the crushed tomatoes into the sauce along with the thyme, sugar and 125 ml (4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup) of water. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until thick and pulpy — you should have about 185 ml (6 fl oz/ 3/4 cup) of sauce.

Meanwhile, when the mussels are cool enough to handle, pull them out of their shells and set aside. Pull the shells apart at their hinges into two halves. Choose the 24 biggest halves, remove any muscle with a sharp knife, then rinse well and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the remaining shells.
Finely chop the mussel meat, stir it through the sauce, then take the sauce off the heat. Spoon the sauce into the mussel shells and sit them on a foil-lined baking tray.

Preheat the grill (broiler) to high. To make the topping, combine the cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley and sprinkle it over the mussels. Drizzle with olive oil, then put the baking tray under the grill and cook for 2–3 minutes, or until the topping is crisp and golden. Serve at once.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Cook this. Meat Pies with Beer and Vegemite.

Football, meatpies, Kangaroos and ..... beer ... and Vegemite.
Actually I'm happy to leave the footy and Kangaroos to themselves.  Aussies watching football - you need these. Get baking.

Meat pies

2 tablespoons olive oil 1 brown onion, finely chopped
 2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
 600 g (1 lb 5 oz) chuck steak, cut into 1.5 cm (5/8 inch) dice
 10 g (1/4 oz) butter
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) beer
375 ml (13 fl oz/11/2 cups) beef stock
 1 small carrot, finely diced
 1 celery stalk, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons Vegemite, or other yeast extract such as Marmite or Promite
11/2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
3 sheets of ready-made shortcrust (pie) pastry
3 sheets of ready-made puff pastry
 1 egg, lightly beaten

makes 6 individual pies

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Season the flour with salt and black pepper and use it to lightly coat the beef cubes all over. Add the remaining oil and the butter to the pan. Sauté the beef in three batches until lightly browned all over, adding more oil if needed. Set aside.

Add the beer and stock to the pan, scraping up any cooked-on bits. Return the beef and onion to the pan with the carrot, celery, garlic, Vegemite, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 11/4 hours, or until the beef is very tender and the sauce is thick and rich. Discard the bay leaf and season to taste. Allow to cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until cold.

Put two baking trays in the oven and preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Cut six 14.5 cm (53/4 inch) diameter circles from the shortcrust pastry and six 12.5 cm (43/4 inch) circles from the puff pastry. Line the bases of six pie tins measuring 12.5 cm (43/4 inches) across the top, 7.5 cm (3 inches) across the base and 3.5 cm (11/3 inches) deep with the shortcrust pastry circles — the pastry should come just a little way above the edge of the tins. Brush the edges lightly with the beaten egg.

Divide the chilled beef mixture between the lined pie tins. Lay a puff pastry circle over the top of each pie and press down around the edges of the shortcrust pastry, pinching together if you like to help the edges adhere.

Pierce a little air vent in the top of each pie using the tip of a small, sharp knife. Brush the top of the pies with the egg, avoiding the vent, and place directly onto the trays in the hot oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and lightly golden, then lower the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4) and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling hot.

VARIATION: Make little pot pies by filling individual ramekins with the beef and topping with a puff pastry lid. Cook for 10 minutes at 200°C (400°F/Gas 6), then 8 minutes at 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Recipes from Grub - Favourite Food Memories by Jane Lawson
Photographer Steve Brown. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cook this. Croquetas de Pollo

Croquetas de pollo

Chicken Croquettes with Smoked Paprika Salt

béchamel sauce
90 g (3 1/4 oz) butter
90 g (3 1/4 oz /3/4 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tablespoon fino (dry) sherry
125 ml (4 fl oz /1/2 cup) home-made or low-salt chicken stock
1 fresh bay leaf
185 ml (6 fl oz /3/4 cup) milk
60 ml (2 fl oz /1/4 cup) cream (whipping)

 2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 leek, white part only, finely chopped
3 slices jamón, prosciutto or jambon, finely chopped
1/2 celery stalk, very finely diced
 200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) chicken
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
50 g (1 3/4 oz /1/2 cup) seasoned dry fine breadcrumbs
55 g (2 oz /1/2 cup) ground almonds seasoned plain (all-purpose) flour, for coating
 2 eggs, lightly beaten olive oil, for deep-frying
2 teaspoons sweet or smoked sweet paprika, mixed with 1 tablespoon salt
lemon wedges, to serve

Makes 24

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the flour and stir for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is dry and a little crumbly and smells like pastry cooking. Add the sherry and stir until absorbed. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the stock.

 Add the bay leaf, gradually whisk in about half the milk, then return to the heat and whisk in the rest of the milk, then the cream. Cook, stirring, for 8–10 minutes, or until the mixture is very thick and smooth and starts to pull away from the side of the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To make the filling, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the leek, jamón and celery and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened and lightly golden. Add the chicken, breaking up any lumps with the back of a spoon, and fry until the chicken changes colour and is just cooked through. 
Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Remove the bay leaf from the béchamel sauce and add the sauce to the chicken along with the parsley. Mix well, season to taste, then cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, or until completely cold.

Divide the filling into 24 portions and roll into small croquette shapes 5–6 cm (2–2 1/2 inches) long. Combine the breadcrumbs and ground almonds in a small bowl. Lightly coat the croquettes in the flour, dip them in the beaten egg, allowing any excess to drip off, then coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. Sit the croquettes in a single layer on a tray and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until ready to cook.

Fill a deep-fryer or large heavy-based saucepan one-third full of oil and heat to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Deep-fry the croquettes in three batches for 2–3 minutes at a time, or until lightly golden. Drain well on crumpled paper towels and serve hot with the paprika salt and lemon wedges.

Variation: Instead of the chicken, try using minced (ground) pork, flaked tuna or finely chopped and sautéed garlic mushrooms, and add different herbs to taste. Also, instead of the lemon wedges, the croquettes can be served with a small bowl of sherry vinegar for dipping into.

Recipe text copyright of Jane Lawson - from Cocina Nueva - The New Spanish Kitchen. 
Image by Steve Brown. 

Cook this: Raisin Torrijas with Honey and Walnuts

Super-easy yet impressive Spanish dessert. Gluten-phobes look away. 

Raisin torrijas with honey and walnuts

4 thick slices day-old raisin brioche, or other good-quality raisin bread
2 eggs 125 ml (4 fl oz /1/2 cup) cream (whipping)
2 teaspoons caster (superfine) sugar
 1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
mild vegetable oil, for pan-frying
20 g ( 3/4 oz) butter
 160 g (5 1/2 oz /scant 1/2 cup) honey
1 tablespoon manzanilla sherry
35 g (1 1/4 oz /1/3 cup) walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Serves 4

Cut the brioche slices into 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) wide fingers. Whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar and vanilla extract and pour into a non-metallic dish.

Put the brioche fingers in the egg mixture and turn to coat well. Leave to soak for 10 minutes.
Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to cover the base by 5 mm ( 1/4 inch), then add the butter and place over medium–high heat. In two batches, lift the brioche fingers out of the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip off, then fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until golden. Drain on crumpled paper towels.

Meanwhile, combine the honey, sherry and walnuts in a small saucepan and leave over low heat until the honey melts.

Divide the brioche fingers among four serving plates and spoon a little of the honey and walnut sauce over the top. Serve with vanilla ice cream or custard and whipped cream.

Photo by Steve Brown.
Text copyright of Jane Lawson from the book Cocina  Nueva - The new Spanish kitchen. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Creamy Fish Pie

This simple fish pie is perfect on a cool evening with a glass of white wine - something with enough acid to cut through the richness. 
I have cravings for this baby. Give it a whirl - you won't be disappointed. 

60 g (21/4 oz) butter 2 leeks, white part only, sliced
1 large fennel bulb (about 500 g/1 lb 2 oz), finely sliced (reserve the fennel tips for the sauce)
 1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) boneless, skinless white fish fillets, such as snapper, flathead, blue-eye or ling
80 ml (21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) dry white wine or vermouth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
 a few parsley stalks
a few celery leaves
40 g (11/2 oz/1/3 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
a large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk
250 g (9 oz/1 cup) crème fraîche or sour cream
 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
 1 tablespoon lemon juice
11/2 tablespoons finely chopped fennel tips or dill

16 slices of white bread, crusts removed
softened butter, for spreading
1 handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, finely chopped
75 g (21/2 oz/3/4 cup) finely grated parmesan cheese

serves 6–8

Melt a third of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the leek and fennel. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until soft. Add the celery and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the celery is tender. Remove from the pan and set aside, but keep the pan at the ready for continuing the sauce.

Put the fish, wine, bay leaves, peppercorns, parsley stalks, celery leaves and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan, then add enough cold water to cover. Slowly bring to the boil over medium heat, removing the fish with a slotted spoon as soon as it becomes opaque. Continue to cook the stock for a further 15 minutes, then strain and keep warm over low heat. When the fish is cool enough to handle, break it into large flakes.

Add the remaining butter to the same pan you sautéed the fennel in and place over medium–high heat. When the butter begins to sizzle, stir in the flour and nutmeg and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) of the warm fish stock until smooth. Whisk in the milk and continue whisking for 5 minutes, or until very smooth and thickened slightly. Stir in the reserved fennel mixture and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take the pan off the heat, then stir in the crème fraîche, mustard, lemon juice and fennel tips or dill. Season well. Carefully fold the sauce through the fish, trying not to break it up too much, then pour into a large, well-greased ceramic baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5). To make the topping, spread the bread with softened butter, cut into small cubes and toss with the parsley and parmesan. Scatter evenly over the top of the fish mixture. Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the topping is crunchy and golden and the filling is hot.
VARIATIONS: Replace the fish or half the fish with some cooked prawns (shrimp) and scallops and add a tablespoon of finely chopped capers. You can also use good-quality tinned or bottled tuna and a ready-made fish stock to save time.

This recipe is from Grub  - Favourite Food Memories by Jane Lawson

Copyright Jane Lawson. 
Image by Photographer Steve Brown. 
Text and images cannot be replicated in any format without permission from the author.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Quick and Easy Spicy Baked Beans Recipe

 My dad used to sing a little ditty about baked beans but it isn’t appropriate for print — well not in a cookbook anyway! The baked beans we eat today are believed to draw upon Native American as well as French or Italian origins. Baked beans were first produced commercially by the Americans in the late 1800s, with the British following close behind. Although the tinned form is very handy, it just doesn’t compare with this flavoursome version, which is almost, but not quite, as quick as opening the tin.

By request, from my cookbook 'Grub - Favourite Food Memories' here is a simple recipe for making your own Spicy Baked Beans at home.

serves 2 as a main and 4 as a side

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small brown onion, chopped
1 slice of bacon, finely chopped, optional if you are veggo
1 garlic clove, crushed
60 g (21/4 oz/1/4 cup) tomato paste (concentrated purée)
1 bay leaf 
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or smoked sweet paprika if not using bacon)
large pinch of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons mustard powder 
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons golden syrup (if unavailable, substitute with maple syrup  or honey) 
11/2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
2 x 400 g (14 oz) tins cannellini beans, drained

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium–high heat. Add the onion and the bacon, if using, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until lightly golden. Add the garlic, tomato paste, bay leaf, paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, worcestershire sauce, golden syrup, sea salt flakes and 375 ml (13 fl oz/11/2 cups) water. Stir well and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the beans and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10–15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and saucy and the beans are tender but not mushy.

Season to taste and serve on thick slabs of buttered toast or as a side dish for fried or poached eggs. These spicy baked beans also make a great jaffle filling.

**This recipe is from my cookbook Grub published by Murdoch Books  - all text and images are the copyright of Jane Lawson and may not be replicated without permission.
Image by super lovely photographer Steve Brown.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Homemade Crumpets

Australians have a fond attachment to this bubbly, yeast-leavened version of the pancake. Crumpets are (or were) commonly eaten toasted for breakfast - smothered with butter and  honey or Vegemite!

Thank you dear Simon Marnie (ABC Radio) for sharing your love of this recipe with your audience. It makes me smile to think of you whipping these up at home for the family! I agree - the store-bought version has NOTHING on homemade crumpets!

makes about 12 (serves 4–6)

2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
310 ml (103/4 fl oz/11/4 cups) warm milk
250 g (9 oz/2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
vegetable oil, for cooking (choose one with a mild flavour)

3 tablespoons drained stem ginger in syrup, very finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of the syrup
 250 g (9 oz/1 heaped cup) mascarpone cheese
4 ripe nectarines or small peaches, cut into thin wedges
golden syrup, maple syrup or honey, for drizzling

To make the crumpets, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) of the warm milk and stir until the yeast has dissolved. Cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel) and leave to sit in a warm place for 15 minutes, or until frothy.

Sift the flour and 1 teaspoon salt into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Whisk the remaining milk with the egg and pour into the well. Add the yeast mixture, then whisk to form a smooth, soft batter. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 1 hour, or until the batter has doubled in volume and is covered with bubbles. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with 1 tablespoon water and beat it into the batter. Leave to rest for a further 10 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, mix the chopped ginger and ginger syrup through the mascarpone cheese and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Brush with vegetable oil. Working in batches, carefully ladle 1/4 cupfuls of the crumpet batter into the pan, leaving space in between for spreading. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the top is completely covered with popped bubbles and is dry to touch. If you like, flip the crumpets over and cook for a further 30 seconds, or until just very lightly golden. Remove from the pan and cover with a tea towel to keep warm while you cook the remainder. (You can also cook the mixture inside egg rings for a less rustic result, but you will need to use a little less mixture in each one.)

Serve two or three crumpets per plate, topped with a dollop of ginger marscapone, some nectarine slices and a drizzle of golden syrup. You can reheat any leftover crumpets by toasting or grilling (broiling) them.

VARIATION: For a savoury breakfast, smear the hot crumpets with butter and Vegemite or Marmite and top with a poached egg.

*Image above by the seriously lovely Photographer Steve Brown
Grub was published in 2007  by Murdoch Books and is currently out of print. Jane Lawson now owns the copyright of text and images which must not be used without permission.