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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Week 35, Spanish

Spanish lunch

Hola! Welcome, welcome! Come in, take a seat, and get comfy. I would feed you all if I could, but unfortunately because technology hasn’t quite progressed to that point, you’ll just have to read all about the following lunch, and wish you had been there!

The theme for this week's Cookbook Challenge is Spanish, and last Sunday a few bloggers came over for a Spanish themed potluck lunch. At first I really struggled with the Spanish theme and wasn't sure what to make. I don’t own any Spanish cookbooks, and couldn’t find anything in any of my other cookbooks that wasn’t paella. I didn't want to make paella, and interesting no one else made it either - we really needed Kat to come and cook it for us!

After a whinge on twitter, I received some good suggestions from @gastromaniac, which helped me decide on one dish - salted wrinkled potatoes with mojo verde. The following day, I went to the library and while I couldn’t find any Spanish cookbooks, I borrowed Saffron and Sunshine which contained assorted recipes from around the Mediterranean. When I flicked through it, I realised it was a goldmine and I came away with four additional recipes I wanted to make. So um, that would be five recipes altogether. Uh oh. I did consider culling my number of recipes but I really wanted to make them all.

So I did! My five recipes were:

Wrinkled salty potatoes with mojo verde
Andalusian chickpea stew with chorizo
Andalusian spiced oxtail casserole (which was actually beef)
Catalan lemon tart
Catalan cream fritters

Wrinkled salty potatoes with mojo verde

Spanish lunch
Spanish lunch

I followed a recipe out of The Cook's Companion for the potatoes, which basically said to boil the washed, whole potatoes in a pot of salted water. One cup of salt is used per litre of water (Yes, that’s one whole cup). When the potatoes were soft, they were drained, and sat in the uncovered pot on the stove on a low heat until all the liquid evaporated and they were covered in a thin film of salt.

These were served with mojo verde, which was made with a cup of coriander leaves (I just used the entire bunch, roots and all, well washed of course), ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, a small crushed garlic clove, ½ teaspoon of ground cumin and 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar. All the ingredients went into a food processor and were processed until smooth.

The potatoes were really nice – surprisingly not too salty, despite the amount of salt in the water! Because I reheated them in the oven when everyone arrived, they lost their film of salt, but you can see it in the photos. The mojo verde went very well with the potatoes, but coriander haters might think otherwise!

Cocido con chorizo - Andalusian chickpea stew with chorizo

Spanish lunch

I am a big fan of chickpeas, but normally I go for the tinned version. However, I decided to go to the effort of using dried chickpeas for this recipe because they are cooked with ham bones and chorizo, and I thought that the slow cooking for dried chickpeas might help infuse them with some porky goodness. I think it worked. I thought they were pretty tasty, but like I said, I do love chickpeas. Although now that I've reread the recipe while typing up this post, I realise that I forgot to add potatoes to the dish. Whoops! I don't think the potatoes were missed, but for the recipe, see the end of this post.

Rabo de buey cordobes - Andalusian spiced oxtail casserole

Spanish lunch

This was meant to be an oxtail casserole, but when I went to the butcher they had sold out of oxtail (they had some the day before too – grr!). So I just picked up some gravy beef and made the dish with that instead. The meat is slow cooked in a red wine sauce and spiced with paprika, cinnamon, and cloves. I added a small amount of chilli flakes just to give it a tiny bit of kick. This was a savoury rich stew and I cooked the meat until it was very tender. It would make this again - it was delicious. For the recipe, see the end of this post.

Tortell de limon - Catalan lemon tart

Spanish lunch

Okay, on to dessert! I made two desserts - the first being a lemon tart. To be honest, it was okay but it wasn't the best lemon tart I've ever made so I won't post the recipe. It had a very short, biscuity pastry, and a sweet but very tart filling. The top was sprinkled with sugar which was blow-torched to caramelise it.

Leche frita - Catalan cream fritters

Spanish lunch

And finally, the second dessert was Catalan cream fritters, which is basically a very thick custard, egged, breadcrumbed and DEEP FRIED. OH YES. I made a very thick custard, flavoured with a touch of lemon zest, and then poured it into a mini cupcake tin to cool and firm up in the fridge overnight. If anyone is keen on making these, I would suggest putting the custard in the freezer - I wish I had! After we had all eaten lunch, I spooned the custard out of the tin, dipped it in egg, then panko and into a pot of hot oil. They are very delicate, so I had to be careful not to break the crust. They were served dusted with icing sugar and cinnamon. They were very small little morsels, but very rich, as you can imagine! For the recipe, see the end of this post.

Spanish lunch Spanish lunch
Spanish lunch Spanish lunch

And as if that wasn't enough food - check out what the other bloggers made!

April brought along garlic and chilli prawns, plus home made bread rolls and chocolate chip friands.

Penny brought along octopus with olives and chorizo, buttered garlic mushrooms and baked sardines with white wine.

Spanish lunch Spanish lunch
Spanish lunch Spanish lunch

Ange made us a roasted pepper, garlic, onion and tomato salad with a sherry vinegar dressing.

Cherrie made morcon, which were Filipino beef rolls - a dish influenced by the Spanish!

And Leigh brought over chorizo and pea parcels, plus three kinds of Catalan biscuits. (I didn't take photos of the biscuits because I was too busy deep frying!)

PHEW. You can understand why I was highly tempted to have a nap after everyone left! Particularly since there were very little left overs - yes we ate almost everything. A big thanks to everyone who came to lunch, it was a blast!

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Spanish potluck lunch

Cocido con chorizo - Andalusian chickpea stew with chorizo

From Saffron and Sunshine

Serves 4-6

350g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 whole small head of garlic
2-3 links of chorizo (about 100g)
a short length jamon serrano bone or bacon knuckle
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 dried red pepper, torn into pieces of 1 tablespoon paprika
1-2 bayleaves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly crushed
13 black peppercorns, roughly crushed

To finish
1 large tomato, skinned, deseeded and chopped
1-2 potatoes, peeled and chunked
a handful of spinach or chard, rinsed and shredded
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a large pot with enough cold water to cover generously. Bring the water to the boil and skim off the foam that rises.

Meanwhile, roast your garlic - the book recommends doing this by charring it over a flame. Personally, I would just skip this step and peel and roughly crush the garlic.

Drop the garlic and remaining ingredients into the pot. Turn up the heat and bring it up to the boil. Cover the pot loosely, and lower the heat to a simmer, and let it cook for about 1&1/2 - 2 hours, or until the chickpeas are quite soft. Add water if necessary.

When the chickpeas are soft, add the chopped tomato and potatoes. When the potatoes are just soft, add the spinach, bring the pot back to the boil and cook until the leaves are wilted.

Taste and add salt if necessary. Remove the ham/bacon bone, stir in the olive oil and serve.

Spanish potluck lunch

Rabo de buey cordobes - Andalusian spiced oxtail casserole

From Saffron and Sunshine

Serves 4-6

1 whole oxtail (about 1.5 kg) cut into its natural sections (alternatively, use 1 kg of gravy/stewing beef if you can't find oxtail)
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g diced jamon serrano or prosciutto scraps or bacon
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
1 stick celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3-4 cloves
1 bayleaf
150ml red wine

Wash the oxtail and trim off any excess fat.

Heat oil in a large casserole. When the oil is hot, brown the oxtail in batches, removing from the pan and seeing aside.

Add the ham/bacon, onion, garlic, celery and carrot to the pan drippings and cook gently until the vegetables are soft. Return the oxtail to the casserole, adding the spices, seasoning and red wine.

Turn up the heat and add enough water to cover the meat. Bring it up to the boil and then down it down to low, putting the lid on and leaving it to simmer gently for about 2 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones.

Check it occasionally, adding more water if necessary. Taste it when it is ready to serve, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Add a small amount of chilli flakes if desired.

Spanish lunch

Leche frita - Catalan cream fritters

From Saffron and Sunshine

Serves 4

600ml milk
25g butter
75g flour
1 pinch ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 egg yolks
finely grated lemon zest from a lemon

To finish
1 whole egg
2 tablespoons milk
breadcrumbs for coating (I used panko)
oil for frying
sugar and ground cinnamon for dusting

Place all the ingredients except the lemon zest into a saucepan. Heat it gently over a low heat, whisking and stirring constantly so it doesn't stick. Just before it comes to the boil, add the lemon zest and simmer until the mixture is very thick. Note: my mixture never came to the boil, it suddenly thickened, so I turned down the heat at that stage.

Pour the custard into a lightly oiled dish in a layer as thick as your thumb - I poured it into mini cupcake moulds. Wrap it with clingfirm and leave to cool and firm overnight in the fridge. You might want to try the freezer.

Mix the egg with the milk on a plate and spread the breadcrumbs on another plate. Cut the custard into bite-sized squares. Dip the squares into the egg, and then into the breadcrumbs.

Heat a generous amount of oil in a heavy frying pan. When hot - if you add a cube of bread it should immediately sizzle - carefully slip in a few of the breaded custard squares. Turn them once, being careful not to break the crust. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper while you fry the recipe.

Serve sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

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