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.