Saturday, 30 December 2017

GUATLLES EN ESCABETX - PICKLED QUAILS


I have never cooked quails before because they are hard to get when you live in country Australia. I use to eat them often when I was little because my father had a quail farm in Catalonia. Children loved the quail eggs: fried, boiled, in an omelette... There are many traditional Catalan recipes to cook quails. This recipe, pickled with vinegar and spices was a very traditional way to keep game birds without the need to be refrigerated. The taste improves with the time, so it's better if you can cook the recipe the day before.


INGREDIENTS

4 quails, butterflied
Sea salt and pepper, for seasoning
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
15 black peppercorns
10 red peppercorns
a pinch of both sweet paprika and saffron
200ml sherry vinegar
200ml extra virgin olive oil
200ml dry white wine



METHOD
Butterfly the quails and season with salt and pepper.
In a big frypan, put a bit of olive oil and fry the quails until nicely browned. 
Remove from pan and set apart.



Using the same frypan, add a bit more oil to the pan and fry the onion and the garlic in low-heat.
Add the rosemary, thyme, peppercorns, paprika and saffron and fry until the onion is tender.



Add the vinegar, oil and wine to the pan and bring to the boil.



Add the quails and lower heat to a minimum. Cover the pan and cook for about 20-25 minutes, turning over the quails halfway.



Turn off the heat and let them rest for about 10 minutes.
Serve straight away or just keep them in the sauce until ready to eat.
You can serve them hot or at room temperature.

Serves 2

Friday, 29 December 2017

SPAGHETTI A LA PUTTANESCA


One of our favourite pasta recipes. It's easy to make and is delightful. The saltiness of some ingredients together with the piquant tomato sauce, makes it very appetizing. From the cookbook 'Food of Italy'.


INGREDIENTS

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1-2 small red chillies
6 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
100g pitted black olives, chopped roughly
1 Tbsp capers, chopped if large
400g spaghetti
grated parmesan cheese (optional)


I used our own olives from last year's harvest.

METHOD:
Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic and chilli. Fry gently for about 6 minutes, or until the onion is soft.


Add the anchovies and cook, stirring, until well mixed.
Add the tomatoes, oregano, olives and capers and bring to the boil. 


Add a little bit of water to the tomato can to clean it and add to frypan.
Reduce the heat, season and leave to simmer until reduced to a jam / chutney consistency, about 8 minutes.


Drain the spaghetti, toss well with the sauce and serve at once.


Sprinkle with parmesan if using.

Serves 4

GOAT'S CHEESE AND ROCKET SALAD


The best thing about this salad is the dressing. I sometimes substitute the goat cheese for the double baked ricotta - see recipe in blog. However, it is an amazing salad to serve next to any kind of meat dish. A favourite is Saltimbocca a la romana! - see recipe here

INGREDIENTS

250g thick bacon rashers
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 small, round, soft goat's cheeses, about 100g each
100g rocket or rocket and baby spinach leaves

Dressing
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
3 tsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper

METHOD:
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Cut the bacon rashers in thin slices, discarding the rind.
Put in a frypan with a little oil and fry the bacon pieces until crisp.
Drain on paper towels.
To make the dressing, peel the garlic, crush it into a small bowl, then whisk in the mustard, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. (I put all dressing ingredients in a small glass jar, and shake it until combined.)
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Cut the goat's cheeses in half horizontally and place the rounds on the paper.
Bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and turns a toasty brown on top.
Meanwhile, put the rocket into a mixing bowl with the bacon. Pour over the dressing and toss lightly, then arrange in circles on individual plates.
(Add some croutons if using - see below.)
Remove the cheese from the oven, place one round in the centre of each salad and serve immediately.
For a vegetarian version, use lightly toasted pine nuts or almonds instead of the bacon.

Serves 4


I sometimes add some croutons for crunchiness. This time I crunched rice and corn cakes into small bits and added some Sicilian spices and a bit of olive oil. Mixed it all in a bowl and then put on a tray lined with baking paper under the grill for a couple of minutes or until crunchy. You can also do the same using bread. The croutons are not too greasy and therefore healthier.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

TIRAMISÚ




Tira mi su means 'pick me up', 'cheer me up' or 'lift me up' in Italian. Its origins are often disputed among Italian regions of Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Piedmont, and others. This recipe is one of the best I have eaten, and some of my friends agree with me. I made it for dessert for Christmas and it was scrumptious. 😍 From the cookbook 'The Food of Italy'.

INGREDIENTS

5 eggs, separated
180 g caster sugar
300 g mascarpone
250 ml cold strong coffee
3 Tbsp sweet Marsala or brandy
36 small sponge fingers
80 g dark chocolate, finely grated

METHOD
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is light and fluffy and leaves a ribbon trail when dropped from the whisk. Add the mascarpone and beat until the mixture is smooth. (I used a stand up mixer.)
Whisk the egg whites in a clean dry glass bowl, using a wire whisk or hand beaters, until soft peaks form. Fold into the mascarpone mixture in small batches.
Pour the coffee into a shallow dish and add the Marsala or brandy. Dip enough biscuits to cover the base of a 25 cm square dish into the coffee. The biscuits should be fairly well soaked but not so much so that they break up. Arrange biscuits in one tightly packed layer in the base of the dish. 
Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the layer of biscuits . Add another layer of soaked biscuits and then another layer of mascarpone, smoothing the top layer neatly.

(I used a trifle glass bowl, and I added 4 layers of biscuits and spread the mascarpone over each layer.)

Dust the grated chocolate to serve. The flavours will be better developed if you can make the tiramisu a few hours in advance or even the night before. If you have the time to do this, don't dust with the chocolate, but cover with cling film and chill. Dust with the chocolate at the last minute or it will melt.


(I made it and decorated it the day before and the chocolate didn't melt. But make sure the chocolate has been in the fridge before grating it, otherwise it will melt very easily!)

Serves 6-8

Sunday, 24 December 2017

CRANBERRY GLAZED HAM




I love to glaze the Christmas ham. Every year I try a different glaze. This year I have tried the cranberry glaze. I hope it is nice. Haven't tried it yet but the smell is wonderful. Merry Christmas to everyone. 💝🎄🎇🎅

INGREDIENTS

Half a leg or full leg ham
2 Tbsp whole cloves

For the glaze
275 g jar cranberry sauce
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (110 g) caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tsp ground allspice
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

METHOD:
To make the glaze combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the cranberry sauce melts and mixture thickens slightly. Brush over prepared ham. Cook following the instructions below.



Preheat oven to 180C.
Cut through the ham rind in a zigzag pattern 8 cm from the shank.
Run your thumb under the rind to separate it from the fat.
Peel back, sliding your fingers underneath the rind to remove.
Use a sharp knife to score the fat diagonally in a diamond pattern at 3 cm intervals. Push 1 whole clove into the centre of each diamond.
Place the ham on a wire rack in a roasting pan. 
Add enough boiling water to the pan to reach 2 cm up the sides of the pan.


Brush the ham with one-quarter of the glaze. 


Bake, basting with the remaining glaze every 20 minutes for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until ham is golden.



Saturday, 23 December 2017

CALAMARI IN UMIDO - BRAISED SQUID IN TOMATO


This recipe is perfect for cooking big calamari tubes. It is very easy, fast and really tasty. The calamari turn out soft and the sauce is just delicious!! From the cookbook 'Two Greedy Italians - Eat Italy'.

INGREDIENTS

1 kg big calamari tubes
8 Tbsp olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
10 g capers
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 small red chillies
salt and pepper
100 ml white wine
250 gr chopped tin tomatoes
a handful of Italian parsley, chopped roughly

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 170C.
Heat the oil in an ovenproof dish (I use a cast iron casserole) and add the chopped anchovy fillets and capers. Cook over a medium heat, stirring until the anchovies dissolve. Add the garlic and chilli, stir and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.



Add the calamari, and stir fry for a further couple of minutes. Add the wine and boil until it reduces by half. Add the tomatoes and parsley and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and cover.



Transfer to the oven and cook for about 40 minutes or until the calamari is completely soft.
Remove from heat and serve with lots of good bread to mop up the sauce. It's just sooo delicious!!

Serves 4




CALAMARS AMB PILOTILLES - CALAMARI WITH MEATBALLS



This is a very traditional Catalan recipe that is very easy to make and it comes out really yummy. There are many versions to the recipe, and it is more traditional to do it with cuttlefish than calamari. However, because we live in the country, and we do not have access to big fish co-ops or markets like the ones in Australian big cities, I have adapted the same recipe using calamari. It's still sooo good, you want to make it for a special day when you feel like having some comfort food. 

INGREDIENTS:

For the meatballs
500 g pork and veal mince
100 g prawn meat (optional), chopped 
1 egg
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bread slice, without the crust, soaked in milk
1 handful of parsley, chopped
a pinch of ground cinnamon
olive oil
salt and pepper
flour

For the calamari
600 g calamari or cuttlefish, cut into 5 cm squares
250 ml red wine

For the sauce
1 onion, chopped very finely
250 gr chopped tin tomatoes
250 ml chicken stock
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 fresh bayleaf
1 handful of parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp flour
25 g pine nuts
salt and pepper

METHOD:
Start by cleaning the calamari tubes and cutting them in the middle and then into long strips. Cut each strip into 5 cm pieces and put in a saucepan with the red wine. 


Bring wine to the boil and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Keep in the saucepan.
Mix the mince with the chopped prawn meat in a big bowl. Add the egg, the garlic and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Squeeze the soaked bread and add to the bowl. Mix with your hands until all ingredients are well combined.


Wet your hand with a bit of cold water and make meatballs the size of a ping-pong ball. Put on a plate. Refrigerate for about 20 - 30 minutes.


Put some flour on a plate and dust the meatballs, shaking off any extra flour. 


Put some oil in a frypan and cook the meatballs in batches. Cook until they are brown all over. Keep warm on a plate.


To make the sauce, chop the onion in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add to the frypan, using the same oil from cooking the meatballs. Cook until the onion starts to turn brown and then add the flour. Mix well.


Add the tomato and mix well. Let it cook for about 5 minutes and then add the wine from cooking the calamari, the stock, the cinnamon, bayleaf and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.


Preheat oven to 180C.
Get a big bowl and put a fine colander on top of it. Remove and discard the bayleaf and pour the sauce in the colander. Sieve pushing with a wooden spoon or a pestle. Push all solids through the sieve until you get basically nothing left. See picture below.


Scrape the back of the colander for any solids and add to the bowl.


Put the meatballs and the calamari in an ovenproof dish and pour the sauce on top. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.


Serve with some crusty bread or any other bread you have at home to mop up the sauce. It's just delicious!!😋


Serves 4 - 6

Sunday, 17 December 2017

SPICE-ROASTED BUTTERFLIED CHICKEN


What else do you really need to have a great dinner? - Roast chicken, potatoes and a good glass of red wine - or two!! This is one of our favourite recipes. You add the spices to the chicken, you put it in the oven, and that's it!! And it's sooo delicious you will be making it over and over again. From the cookbook 'The New Classics'.

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (pimentón)
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 x 1.6 kg whole chicken, butterflied

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 200C.
Position the chicken, breast-side down, so the back is facing up and the drumsticks are pointing towards you.
Using sharp kitchen scissors or chicken shears, cut closely along either side of the backbone and remove.
Turn the chicken, breast-side up, and press down firmly on the breastbone to flatten the chicken.
Tuck the wing tips under before roasting.
Season chicken with salt and pepper.
Place the chilli flakes, garlic, paprika, oregano, lemon rind, vinegar and oil in a bowl and mix well to combine.
Place the chicken on a baking tray.
Cut the lemon into thick slices and tuck under the chicken.
Pour over the chili mixture and spread all over the chicken to coat.


Roast for 45 minutes, brushing with the pan juices halfway through, or until cook through and golden.


SERVES 4


This recipe goes very well with potatoes. You can have it with Gratin Dauphinois or with Rosemary and Lemon roasted potatoes - see blog for recipes.



GRATIN DAUPHINOIS MADAME LARACINE



This recipe is from an incredible book that was recommended to me quite a few years ago by a French friend and chef - 'Bistro cooking'. There are some extremely good recipes collected by this writer, over the years, while going around France and eating at French Bistros. There are so many different ways of making a potato gratin.... I find that sometimes it is very hard to get the potatoes cooked well, even though I have cut them very thinly. This recipe is different for the fact that you parboil the potatoes with milk, garlic and bay leaves, and then you put them in the oven to make the gratin. It is just so beautiful that you have to stop yourself from eating the whole lot!!!


INGREDIENTS

1.5 kg baking potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 cups full milk
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 tsp salt
3 fresh bay leaves
ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup creme fraiche or double cream
2 cups grated Gruyere or Cheddar

METHOD:
Preheat oven to 190 C
Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with the milk and 2 cups of water.
Add the garlic, salt and bay leaves.
Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally so that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring from time to time, until the potatoes are tender but not falling apart, about 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the potatoes to a gratin dish.
Sprinkle with the nutmeg, pepper, half the creme fraiche and half of the cheese.
Cover with the remaining potatoes, and sprinkle again with nutmeg, pepper and the remaining creme fraiche and cheese.
Bake the gratin until crisp and golden on top, about 1 hour.
Serve immediately.


SERVES 4-6


Serve this gratin with any meat dishes. This time, I served it with Butterflied Chicken - see recipe in blog. It was something to die for. Real comfort food.

  

Saturday, 16 December 2017

BAJA FISH TACOS WITH PICO DE GALLO


We eat these fish tacos regularly. They are so easy to make and they taste amazingly good. If you have the time, prepare the 'pico de gallo' in advance and let it marinade for 1 - 2 hours to let the flavours develop. I used snapper tonight, the flathead was too expensive. It worked very well too. From the cookbook 'Delicious- Quick Smart Cook'.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 tsp each of ground coriander, cumin & turmeric 
1/4 tsp chilli powder or 1/2 tsp if you like them hotter
1/2 cup plain flour
6 x 180 g skinless flathead fillets (or any other fish fillet)
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
12 small tortillas, warmed to packet instructions
1/2 iceberg lettuce, thinly shredded (or any salad greens)
1 ripe avocado, sliced or mashed (optional)
Sour cream or greek yoghurt, to serve 
Coriander leaves, to serve

Pico de gallo
Makes 2 cups

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
4 long green chillies, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped coriander leaves
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin

METHOD:
To make the Pico de gallo, mix all ingredients in a bowl with salt and pepper.


To make the tacos, combine the dry spices and flour in a plastic bag. 



Close the top and shake to mix.


Cut the fish fillets into small pieces and season with salt and pepper.



Add the fish fillets in the plastic bag, enclose the top and shake until all fish is well coated with the spice mixture. Shake off any excess flour.



Heat the oil in a frypan over medium-low heat.
Fry the fish, in batches, for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through.
Keep warm while you cook the remaining fish.



To serve, place the warm tortillas with the lettuce, avocado if using, some pico de gallo, sour cream and coriander leaves.



SERVES 6

This is also a meal that can be made even more easily for one of these days when you don't have much time to cook or you don't feel like it! Buy some hot smoked salmon from the supermarket, and then just prepare the other ingredients to accompany it. Better, healthier and cheaper than take away.





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