Custom Search

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Moules Espagnol / Mussels Spanish Style

This is one of my favourite ways of preparing and eating mussels, either as a starter or a main course with plenty of crusty fresh bread.  The combination of chorizo, chilli & tomato is just perfectly Mediterranean.

Here's what you need for 2 of you;  1kg fresh mussels (de-bearded and scrubbed), 50g butter, half an onion chopped, piece of chorizo sausage cut into small chunks, 2-3 cloves garlic sliced, half a tin chopped tomatoes, tomato frito, glass dry white wine, fresh chillies (I like the really small, hot chillies which I grow) & double cream.
I have left some of the quantities out because this is all about taste and cooking from your heart.  Once you have cooked this you can adjust the amount of chorizo, chilli or tomato to suit how you like it for the next time.

Only buy fresh mussels (most nets of mussels have a date of harvest on them - do not buy them if the date is more than 3 days ago.)  To clean them, first put them into a bowl of clean cold water.  On each mussel pull the "beard" which appears between the two halves of the shell, then scrape away any barnacles or other dirt on the shell and place in a cean tub.  Once all the mussels are scrubbed rince them again in clean cold water.  Any broken shells or shells that do not close when handled must be thrown away.

Let's cook these beauties;

1)  in a large pan (large enough to hold all the mussels with room to spare so they can open) put the butter, chopped onion, chillies, chorizo and garlic and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes.

2) add a glass of wine, turn up the heat and let the wine start to cook out.

3)  add the mussels to the pan and cover the pan for 1 minute.  Gently shake the pan to move everything round.  The extra heat and steam will start to open the mussels.

4)  add the tomatoes and a spoonful of tomato frito.  Stir into the mussels, which should be open.

5)  boil the sauce and add a good "whoosh" of cream.  Bring the sauce back to the boil and serve.

6)  do not over-cook the mussels (even if you put the sauce back on the heat to reduce it further).  The whole cooking process takes only about 8 minutes.  All the mussel shells should be open, any that do not open after cooking should be discarded.

7)  serve with plenty of crusty bread and a spoon for that sauce!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Melting Middle Chocolate Pudding

The way to my (any!) girl's heart is with chocolate!  A rich chocolate fondant, made popular by various cookery shows, cooked in the oven but still with the middle oozing melting chocolate.  A good fondant is fantastic - a poor one is basically a warm chocolate sponge! You may need to experiment a couple of times with the exact cooking time for these - but don't worry, you can have a lot of fun eating the mistakes!

To make 4-6 puddings (depending on size!) here's what you need; 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 125 g sugar, 50 g flour, 100 g chocolate 72% cocoa, 100 g butter.

1)  whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy. 

2)  mix in the flour.

3)  melt the butter and chocolate together.  You can either do this in a microwave on low power or set a bowl over a pan of hot water.

4)  once the butter and chocolate are melted, fold it into the egg and flour mix.

5)  pre-heat your oven to 180C (gas 4).  Grease the inside of your moulds with butter and sprinkle in a little flour.

6)  spoon the chocolate mix into the moulds and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a minute before carefully taking the pudding from the mould.

The exact time varies depending on the size of the mould and temperature of the mix.  If you have made the mix in advance and stored it in the fridge, the cooking time will be longer.

To check if they are cooked, the top should appear cooked but still "give" if touched and even be slightly "wobbly".



Pan Fried Cod Fillet with Chorizo & Piquilo Pepper Sauce


Pan fried cod fillet with chorizo and piquilo pepper sauce on a bed of  mascapone and garlic mashed potato - this was the main course that Kathie, my wife, chose for her birthday dinner last night.  It was preceded by prawns in garlic and followed by melting middle chocolate puddings, washed down, firstly, by Portell Cava and, then, Mocen Sauvignon Blanc.  We like to do birthdays properly!

So here's what you need for the cod dish; fresh cod fillets (175 g - 225 g), chorizo sausage, piquilo peppers (traditionally Spanish small roasted & peeled red peppers), 100 ml dry white wine, 100 ml fish stock, 100 ml double cream, 25 g butter, salt & pepper to season.

I like to buy whole cod and fillet them, then use the head and bones to make stock.  For me this is the best and most economic way - cod is a precious fish so it is only right to use all of it.  If you are buying cod from a decent fishmonger they will prepare the fish how you like, but make sure you ask for the head and bones for your stock.

Ok - let's cook!

1)  prepare the sauce.  For 2 people a 3-4 cm length of chorizo cut in quarters lengthways, then sliced across at about 3 mm.  Two peppers roughly chopped.  In a shallow pan, over medium heat, add the butter, peppers and chorizo.  Cook for a couple of minutes.

2)  add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce the wine by half, then add the stock and, again, reduce by half.  The colour from the chorizo and pepper will leach into the sauce giving it a beautiful orang/red tinge.

3)  add the cream and reduce the heat so that the pan only simmers - thickening the sauce.  The sauce is thick enough when it will coat the back of a spoon and looks shiny and luxurious.

4)  meanwhile, in a flat pan with a little oil, over medium heat we can cook the cod fillets.  Score the skin side of the fish 2-3 times (this helps the heat penetrate and stop the skin tightening and curling up the fillet).

5)  place each fillet in the pan skin side down and cook for approx 3 minutes.  Turn the fish and cook flesh side down for a further 2 minutes.  It is possible to remove the pan from the heat and allow the latent heat to finish cooking the cod.  Fresh cod is cooked when it starts to flake, the flesh is opaque/white and still moist.  Over-cooked cod is dry and not very appealing.

6)  present the fish on your plate and spoon the sauce over, dividing the chorizo and peppers equally.

Fish Stock

Enhance your sauces with a proper fish stock.  Quick and easy to make and will keep in the fridge for a few days.  Make sure you use only really fresh fish bones.

To make approx 1 litre of stock you will need;  500 g-700 g fish bones/scraps (cod, turbot, sea bass are all good, avoid oily fish such as salmon or mackerel), onion, carrot, bay leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 150 ml dry white wine, water.

1)  roughly chop the onion and carrot.  Peel the garlic.  Put the carrot, onion, bay leaves, garlic and fish in a pan with a little oil and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring to avoid anything sticking.

2)  add the wine and cook for a further 3 minutes to allow the wine to reduce.

3)  add enough water to cover the bones, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes.  Periodically skim any scum off the top.  Do not cook the stock any longer as it will develop a bitter taste and be totally useless.

4)  strain the stock and refrigerate.  After cooling in the fridge it should resemble a clear jelly.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Leek & Potato Soup / Vichyssoise

Leek and Potato Soup / Vichyssoise is an incredibly versatile soup - serve it hot on a cold winter's day or, serve it cold on a hot summer's day.  With the addition of some cream this is can be a rich, smooth starter or just for lunch with a nice fresh baguette.  The added bonus of this recipe is that it is virtually gluten free as the potato thickens the soup rather than flour.

Here's what you need for 4 - 6 portions;  50 g butter/margarine, 2 leeks, sliced and washed, 2 medium potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into chunks, 1 onion, chopped, chicken or vegetable stock (cubes or fresh), 1.2 litres water and salt & pepper.

1)  in a pan on medium heat melt the butter/margarine and add the onion and leek.  Allow to cook down until the onion and leek has softened - approx 8 - 10 minutes.

2)  add the potato, stir into the leek & onion, turn up the heat and add the water and stock cubes. 

3)  bring to the boil and simmer until the potato has softened.  The potato should squash easily if you press it against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.

4)  blitz the soup thoroughly with a hand held blender or liquidiser.

5)  for best results, pass the soup through a conical strainer.  Now taste to check the seasoning, add salt & pepper as required.

6)  serve hot with cream swirled through the soup or add approx 100 ml cream and refrigerate, then serve cold once properly chilled.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Tarte au Citron / Lemon Tart

So easy to make yet the results are fantastic.  I first made this using Michel Roux's recipe, so this recipe is very close to his - but why alter something that works so well?  I have made this as individual tarts in the past, similar to the chocolate and raspberry tarts on this site, but for the following recipe I have made it as one tart in a 25cm flan/quiche mould.

Here's what you need;  one quantity  Sweet Pastry, 5 eggs, 180 g sugar, 150 ml double cream, juice and zest of 2 lemons.

1)  pre heat your oven to 190C.  Roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick and line your flan case.  Trim off the excess pastry around the top.  Using either baking parchment or foil line the pastry and weigh down with baking beans and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

2)  turn the oven down to 150C.  In a bowl whisk together the sugar and eggs.  Do not over-whisk.

3)  in a seperate bowl lightly whisk the cream.  This only needs about 30 seconds of whisking - again do not over-whisk.

4)  add the cream to the egg mixture along with the zest and juice of the lemons.  Stir together to incorporate, and put in the fridge for 20 minutes.  I find whisking at this stage adds too much air resulting in air bubbles in the finished tart.

5)  pour the lemon mix into the pastry case and bake for about 40 minutes until the mix has set.

6)  allow to cool, slice and serve sprinkled with icing sugar and a little fresh cream.


Friday, 8 March 2013

Prawns in Garlic - Gambas al Ajilo

Gambas al ajillo is one of the best, most famous Spanish dishes.  Either serve as a starter, tapa or even main course served with rice.

To make a starter portion here's what you need; 6 large prawns (gambas).  I like to use size 2, 20-30 per kilo, they are beautifully meaty.  You will also need 1-2  cloves garlic (I normally make a blend of garlic & parsley known as ajo perejil), 25 g butter and 50 ml good olive oil.

de-vein the prawns
1)  peel and de-vein the prawns.  To de-vein them, use a sharp knife and slice down the back of the peeled prawn to reveal the dark vein, and pull it out.

2)  in a shallow pan put the butter, oil, sliced garlic/ajo perejil.

3)  over a low - medium heat melt the butter then add the prawns and cook on each side for approx 2 minutes.  Careful not to overcook them.

4)  to serve them in a traditional Spanish style, serve them in a hot terracotta dish, or other hot ovenproof dish, with fresh bread to soak up the cooking juice.








Pommes Dauphinoise

A delicious potato dish to accompany special occasion meals.  Cooked with cream and garlic and then finished off with cheese in the oven, this potato dish will wow your diners.

For 2-3 portions this is what you'll need; 3 medium to large potatoes, 2 cloves garlic crushed, 150 ml double cream, 100 ml milk, 50 g grated cheese (cheddar/emmental), salt & pepper to season.

1)  thinly slice the potatoes (peel them first if you wish, but not necessary)

2)  put the sliced potato in a pan with the cream, garlic and seasoning and gently bring to the boil.  Allow to simmer for approx 10 minutes.

3)  remove from the heat and layer the potato in an ovenproof dish.  Pour on the cooking juice to just come to the top of the potato and cover with grated cheese.

4)  place the dish in a pre-heated oven to 180C and cook for approx 25 minutes.  The cheese will brown.  Check the potato is cooked by sticking with a small knife/skewer.















Sunday, 3 March 2013

Lemon Tree Rossini

This is our version of the classic Tournedos Rossini - a sumptuous dish with fillet steak.  Definitely a special occasion dish and well worth the effort.

Here's what you need for 2 portions;  2 trimmed fillet steaks approx 200 g each, 50 g home made Chicken Liver Pate,  2 slices French bread for crostini, olive oil, salt & pepper to season, serve and garnish with grilled tomato, onion rings and home made potato wedges.

For the sauce;  25 g butter, mixed mushrooms eg. oyster, chanterelle, cep, bolet (fresh or dried), 100 ml red wine, 200 ml demi glace

1)  prepare the crostini by soaking the French bread with olive oil and placing in a hot oven until they crisp (but not burn!).  Spread the cooled crostini with a thick layer of the pate and keep to one side until ready to assemble the dish.

2)  have everything prepared for your chosen garnish/accompaniments

3)  in the restaurant I cook the steak on a full size griddle but, at home, use a very hot skillet pan.  I always lightly season each side of the steak before cooking.  For a medium-rare steak cook each side about 3 minutes before turning it.  I turn each side twice to give the criss-cross pattern on the steak, therefore cooking the steak for approx 12 minutes.  For a well done steak you will need to cook it longer and I recommend turning the heat down slightly on the griddle pan so that you cook the inside without just burning the outside of the steak.

4)  make the sauce - in a shallow pan melt the butter and mushrooms together,  add the wine and, over a high heat, let the wine reduce by half.  Now add the demi glace and bring the sauce back to simmer and reduce until you are happy with the consistency of the sauce.  Good quality demi glace can be bought in powdered form but for an extra special occasion you could make from scratch using beef bones.  I will show you how in the Kitchen Basics page.

5)  to assemble the dish, place the crostini with pate in the middle of your plate and place the steak neatly on the top and finish off with the sauce.  Garnish with grilled tomato and onion rings.  Serve the wedges separately.


Friday, 1 March 2013

Carrot & Coriander Soup

An everyday favourite, but that is no reason for it not to be delicious.  Still one of my wife's favourites.  Souptastic!

Here's what you need for approx 6 portions;  75 g butter/marg, 75 g plain flour,1 medium onion roughly chopped, 6 large carrots peeled and sliced, 1 bunch fresh coriander, couple stock cubes (I use chicken but veg stock is just as good), salt & pepper to season and approx 11/2 litres water.

1)  put butter, onion and carrots in a pan over medium heat.  Stir to mix all the ingredients in the melted butter.

2)  add the flour and stir to ensure flour is absorbed by melted butter

3)  add the water gradually in 3-4 goes, stirring to combine all the ingredients.  Increase the heat and bring to the boil.  The soup will start to thicken as it gets hot.

4)  allow to boil for approx 15 minutes, so that the carrots are soft.  Add the stock cubes and a little salt & pepper.  You can adjust the seasoning later to suit your taste.

5)  roughly chop the coriander and stir into the soup before removing from the heat.

6)  once you have removed the soup from the heat, blitz it with a hand held blender, check the seasoning and adjust if needed.  If you blitz the soup thoroughly it shouldn't need passing through a strainer.

7)  serve with a little swirl of cream.  If storing the soup I tend not to add cream until serving - it keeps better this way.  The soup will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.