Croquetas de Morcilla

Based on a concept from a good friend and gourmet in Spain, this is a little development using my favourite Spanish morcilla, morcilla de Burgos. Croquetas [Croquettes] feature strongly on Spanish tapas menus so, if I can get over fretting about deep frying [what on earth does one do with the old oil?] I’ll give this a go.

I do love the Spanish morcilla; morcilla de Burgos in particular is noticeably less stodgy than any English equivalent, largely because it contains rice. The Scots, however, have a much finer offering in Stornoway Black Pudding, which seems moister, perhaps because it contains onion. In addition, Haggis contains pearl barley, not dissimilar to rice, which should lighten the whole affair.

So, here’s an idea: how about some Scottish Croquettes made by substituting the morcilla de Burgos for, say, a 50/50 mixture of Stornoway Black Pudding and Haggis? To keep the Saltire flying, you’d probably need to use a Scottish cheese such as Dunlop instead of Manchego, too.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 400g cooked and cooled crushed potato
  • 200g crumbled morcilla de Burgos
  • 100g grated firm cheese (e.g. Manchego?)
  • 80g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g breadcrumbs
  • Large pinch salt
  • salt & pepper
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying

Place the potato, morcilla, cheese, half the flour (40g), one egg, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Combine the ingredients by hand until you have a firm mixture. Divide the mixture into 18-20 pieces and form into small rolls about 3ins/7cms long and 1in/2.5cms wide.

Take three bowls. Fill one with the remaining 40g of flour, a second with the remaining egg (lightly beaten), and the third with the breadcrumbs. Pass the croquettes through each of the coatings in turn, flour, egg, breadcrumbs coating thoroughly in each and then placing to one side for frying.

Heat the vegetable oil in a pan or deep fat fryer to 180°C. For preference, use a cooking thermometer, otherwise check the temperatire with a cube of bread, which should turn golden brown. Cook the croquetas in small batches, to avoid overcrowding the fryer and once they turn golden, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.


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Posted in Starters, Tapas Tagged with:

Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto

This is one of our favourite risottos. Teamed up with some undyed smoked haddock, the leeks replace the onions in a more normal risotto. Traditionally, the Italians do not add parmesan to fish/seafood risottos but if you feel the need, please go ahead.

I prefer Carnaroli rice over Arborio, or Vialone Nano if you can find it.

Planning

serves: 2
preparation time: 10 mins
cooking time: 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 75g butter
  • 2 leeks, trimmed with some green
  • small wineglass dry vermouth
  • 400g undyed smoked haddock fillet
  • 150g risotto rice
  • 500ml hot fish stock
  • 10g fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Salt & pepper

Get ready. Quarter the leeks lengthwise and slice them crosswise about 0.5 cm thick. Skin the haddock fillet and cut it into 2 cm chunks.

Now follow standard risotto procedure. Melt the butter over medium heat and sweat the chopped leeks for about 5 mins, stirring frequently, without letting them colour. When nicely softened, toss in the rice and, stirring constantly, cook the rice for about 3 mins to absorb some flavour and let the grains begin to turn translucent around the edges.

Now dump in the glass of vermouth and let the alcohol evaporate. Stirring constantly, allow the vermouth to be absorbed before adding your first quarter of the fish stock. Lower the heat so that the liquid simmers very gently. Assuming your homemade fish stock is unseasoned, add a little salt and pepper with each addition of stock, though be careful with the salt because of the smoked fish. Sir occasionally to extract some starch. As the liquid nears absorbtion, add a further quarter of the stock, with a little more seasoning, and repeat until you need the final quarter.

Once the last quarter of stock is added, stir in the haddock pieces and continue simmering until most of the liquid is absorbed. The finished risotto should remain quite moist. Stir in the parsley, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

If you want cheese, grate it and stir it in now. Cover the pan and let the risotto sit for 2 or 3 mins before serving.


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Posted in Starters

Duck Vindaloo

In an anglicized Indian Restaurant (mostly Bangladeshi), Vindaloo seems simply to be up near the top, if not at the top, of the heat scale. The name, however is a corruption of vinha d’alhos, meaning wine and garlic, and is more sweet and sour than outright hot. (The wine has become vinegar.) Though, let’s face it, we do want a curry kick, and there certainly should be some heat content. The trick is gauging just how much of a kick.

One man’s hot is another’s medium, so adjust as you see fit. The recipe specifies either Kashmiri chill powder or paprika, which seemed a bit odd but the great Madhur Jaffrey used paprika, too, so it must be OK. This is where you can adjust your heat content.

Planning

serves: 6
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 2 hrs

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tbs Kashmiri chilli powder/paprika (or a mixture)
  • 8 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick (~ 6cms)
  • 75ml cider vinegar
  • 6 duck legs, skinned & jointed
  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 red onions, finely sliced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 65g fresh ginger, cut into fine matchsticks
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored & coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs tamarind concentrate (optional – another sour component)
  • 3 whole green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbs light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt

Blitz the spice ingredients, down to and including the cinnamon stick, in an electric grinder. (Masochists can, of course, use a pestle and mortar should they wish.) Stir this spice mix into the vinegar to form a smooth paste and rub the paste into the duck pieces. Leave the duck to marinate at a cool room temperature for 3 hours.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan (one that has a lid for later) and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Fry them until they begin to pop. Now add the onions and fry these gently until soft and beginning to brown a little. Sit in the garlic and ginger and cook for another few minutes. Now add the tomatoes, tamarind (if using), chillies, sugar and salt.

Increase the heat before adding the duck, marinade and 100ml water. Bring back to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 60 mins, sirring occasionally, topping up the water as necessary.

Crack the lid off the pan and cook for a further 30-45 mins until the duck legs are tender and the sauce has thickened nicely.

You can serve it immediately or, as with most curries, the flavour seems to improve and develop if left to cool, refrigerated for a day and reheated.


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Posted in Poultry Tagged with:

Normandy Pear Tart

This is one of few recipes from Supercook that has withstood the test of time. (How styles change.) It’s one of Carol’s standby favourites and has always proved very popular with recipients. What makes it special/unusual is the walnut pastry, so you really have to make your own.

If you are feeling lazy, tinned pears make a very acceptable substitute to the poached fresh originals.

Planning

serves: 6-8
preparation time: 60 mins
cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 10 oz plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 oz butter, cut into cm cubes
  • 2 oz vegetable fat, cut into cm cubes
  • 4 oz caster sugar (+ 2 tbs)
  • 1½ oz walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbs iced water
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 5 fl oz water
  • 4 large pears, peeled, halved & cored
  • 5 fl oz double cream, stiffly whipped
  • 2 tbs chopped walnuts

Make the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and vegetable fat cut into small pieces. Rub the fats into the flour with your fingertips to the famed breadcrumb stage. Mix in the 4 ounces sugar and finely chopped walnuts.

Now add the egg yolks together with a spoonful of the water and mix in with a broad-bladed knife. Mix and knead the dough, adding a little more water if the dough is too dry, until it is smooth. Place the dough ball in greasproof/waxed paper and chill for 30 mins.

Meanwhile make the filling. In a medium saucepan, dissolve the 2 oz sugar in the water over low heat, sirring constantly. Once dissolved, increas the heat and boil the syrup for 4 mins. Add the pear halves to the syrup, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 mins until they are tender but remain firm. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

Roll out 2/3rds of the pastry dough into a large circle to line a 9-inch flan ring. Ease the dough into the ring trimming off any excess. Removing the pears from the syrup with a slotted spoon, arrange them cut-side down in the flan case, narrow ends towards the centre.

Roll out the remaining 1/3rd dough large enough to cover the tart. Cut a 3-inch hole in the centre of the dough circle. Dampen the edges of the pastry case and place the doughnut-shaped lid on top, gently pressing the edges together. Trim off any excess dough. Brush the op of the tart with the beaten egg white and dust with the remaining 2 tbs caster sugar.

Bake the tart in the top of the oven for 30-35 mins or until the pastry is firm to the touch. remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

Once cool, remove the tart from the flan ring. Spoon the whipped cream into the centre, over the hole in the pastry, and sprinkle over the chopped walnuts.


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Posted in Desserts Tagged with:

Herbed Couscous

I do love Moroccan tagines and when I have them I like to serve them with this herbed couscous. I try to soak the couscous grains in a stock appropriate to the main ingredient, chicken stock for chicken, lamb stock for lamb, etc. Failing that stock made from the good organic Swiss vegetable stock powder works. (This is one of the very few acceptable uses of dehydrated stock thingies.)

(The smaller fresh herb bags in Waitrose are, I think, 20g.)

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 60 mins
cooking time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 250g couscous
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 500 ml hot stock (as appropriate)
  • 20g fresh parsely, leaves picked
  • 20g fresh coriander, leaves picked
  • 20g fresh mint, leaves picked

Stir the olive oil into the couscous in a suitable glass bowl to coat the grains.

Add the hot stock and stir before leaving the couscous to soak and absorb the liquid. Leave it to cool down.

When cool, chop together all the herb leaves and stir them into the couscous.


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Posted in Accompaniments Tagged with:

Chicken Satay

I’ve decided that I’m not a big fan of so-called texture in some of my food; I don’t want crunchy seeds on my salad leaves, for example. Neither do I want crunchy bits of peanut in Satay Sauce. So, since our trip to Sri Lanka, where we had quite a few helpings of Nasi Goreng accompanying Chicken Satay with smooth peanut sauce, I have revised my approach to the latter.

This is my revised Chicken Satay recipe to go along with it. Once the accompanying Satay Sauce had been separated out, this becomes all about the marinade and grilling. Reserve chicken breasts, which can be very dry, for moist cooking methods such as a Thai Green Chicken Curry; chicken thighs are better suited to a fierce grilling.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 2½ hrs
cooking time: 10 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3cm piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 500g chicken thighs, boned weight
  • 1 qty Satay Sauce

Method

Marinating the chicken. Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan until fragrant, and then grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, then pound to a rough paste along with a generous grinding of black pepper. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the oil, kecap manis and soy sauce.

Cut the chicken thighs into long strips about 3cm wide and stir into the marinade, mixing well. Cover, refrigerate and leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes if you’ve got it, or up to 12 hours. To maintain authenticity, soak eight wooden skewers in cold water until ready to use. Alternatively, for ease use stainless steel skewers.

When you’re ready to eat, thread the strips of meat onto the skewers in an “S” shape, pushing them down so they’re all touching. To cook the skewers, I prefer a barbecue. If it’s a gas barbecue, consider using a silicon grill mat to keep it clean. Second choice of cooking method would be a griddle pan. Failing that you can stick the skewers under a hot grill. Either way, cook over/under a medium-high heat source for about 15-20 minutes until cooked through, turning regularly. You can turn the heat down to medium on the griddle after all are well charred – don’t worry about black bits, they add flavour.

Meanwhile warm the Satay Sauce over a gentle heat Adjust the consistency (you decide) as necessary by adding water. Serve the cooked skewers with the sauce.

For our Sri Lankan experience, you might add the Nasi Goreng, too.


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Posted in Poultry

Satay Sauce

Nasi Goreng featured quite heavily as a reliable staple during our trip to Sri Lanka, where it was usually served along with a Chicken Satay skewer. Once back at home, luckily before the distressing bombings of Easter 2019, I found this Satay Sauce recipe which happily uses peanuts as opposed to commercial peanut butter. I’ve converted from those dreaded American cup measures of the original. Unusually for an American recipe, this feels reasonably authentic.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 5 mins
cooking time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 125g roasted peanuts, salted or unsalted
  • 3 fl oz water
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ tsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbs soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbs Thai fish sauce
  • ½ tsp cayenne (or to taste)
  • 5 fl oz coconut milk

Method

The original specified unsalted peanuts but, please, you’re adding Thai fish sauce anyway so what does it matter?

Put all the ingredients into the container of an electric blender/blitzer/liquidizer and whizz to a smooth sauce. [I’m not a big fan of “texture” in food but if you want peanut lumps, you could smash some separately and then mix them in to the smooth stuff.]

If it’s a bit thick for your liking you can slacken it with a little more coconut milk or water.


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Posted in Basics

Nasi Goreng

I became very fond of this dish during a trip to Sri Lanka, where they often seem to serve it with a Chicken Satay skewer.

Nasi Goreng is apparently Indonesian for Fried Rice and to get an authentic flavour said rice should be fried in Nasi Goreng Paste. Kecap manis must also be included.

The basis for this recipe included shredded chicken but not prawns, though they seemed to be included in Sri Lanka. Since I am fond of the mixture, my version includes prawns too. It is traditionally served topped with fried eggs.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: 30 mins

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 6 banana shallots, halved & sliced crosswise
  • 2 chicken breasts, skinned
  • 1 qty Nasi Goreng Paste
  • 2x250g pouches pre-cooked basmati rice
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbs kecap manis
  • 1 tbs Thai fish sauce
  • juice 1 lime
  • fresh lime, quartered to serve
  • 250g cooked small prawns
  • 2 spring onions, shredded to serve
  • ½ cucumber, sliced to serve
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced to serve
  • salt & pepper

Method

Begin by frying the sliced shallots in vegetable oil until brown and crispy. Drain these on kitchen towel in a bowl before setting them aside and adding to the “to serve” ingredients.

Add more oil to the onion oil if necessary. Cut the chicken breasts into chunks and fry these in the vegetable oil until well browned and cooked through. Put the chicken breasts onto a clean plate and season with salt and pepper. Once cool, shred or chop them into pieces.

Reduce the heat to low and add another tablespoon of oil to the frying pan. Add the Nasi Goreng Paste and fry gently for 10 minutes. Add the rice, suitably massaged and separated into grains. Increase the heat a little and cook the rice for 3 minutes or so, stirring it and coating it with the paste. Push th erice up the sides of the pan and pour the beaten eggs into the centre of the pan. As soon as the egg has set, break it up and stir it through the rice.

Add the kecap manis, fish sauce, lime juice, shredded chicken, prawns and a little seasoning. (Be careful with the salt because you have the fish sauce already.) Cook for a few minutes until piping hot. Cover it to keep hot for a few minutes.

Fry the four separate eggs. Divide the Nasi Goreng across four plates, scattering spring onions and crispy shallots on the top of each. Now top each serving with a fried egg.

Serve with the sliced cucumber and tomatoes arranged neatly beside the Nasi Goreng.


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Posted in Poultry Tagged with:

Nasi Goreng Paste

Nasi Goreng became a bit of a staple on my trip to Sri Lanka. It all starts with the paste to give its distinctive flavour.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 15 mins
cooking time: n/a

Ingredients

  • 2 banana shallots, roughly chopped
  • stalk of fresh lemongrass, chopped
  • 4-5cms fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2tsp shrimp paste
  • 2tsp tomato purée
  • 2-3 medium red chillis, seeded if you prefer
  • 1tbs soft brown sugar
  • 25g salted roasted peanuts

Method

Put all the ingredients into a blender/blitzer along with a tablespoon or two of water and blend until smooth.

Store refrigerated in an airtight container until you need it. It should keep for a week or so.


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Posted in Basics Tagged with:

Lentil Purée

A vegetable accompaniment that started from one by Nico Ladenis. The original, I realized after I first cooked it with red lentils, uses green lentils. DUH! It also involved double cream and a bothersome demi-glace but I think cream is over-rich and a splash of a good (i.e. home made) chicken stock works well. [For Darwin’s sake don’t use stock cubes.] A good brown chicken stock would be perfectly fine and closer to demi-glace depending upon how rich do you want it.

The fresh herb added could be varied according to the starring item. If the lentils will accompany chicken, then tarragon would work well, for example. The coarse grain mustard is terrific.

Planning

serves: 4
preparation time: 5 mins
cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 200g red split lentils
  • knob of butter
  • 1 large banana shallot, chopped
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 tbs coarse-grain mustard
  • Salt & pepper

Method

Simmer the lentils in just enough unsalted water (900ml is about right) for about 25 minutes or until they are breaking down. Red lentils are great because they purée themselves. Drain any excess liquid through a fine sieve.

Heat the knob of butter in a modestly sized sauté pan and, when melted, gently fry the shallot for 3-5 minutes to soften it. Add the lentils and stir to mix. Now add enough stock to slacken the mixture – a consistency like single cream is good. Stir in the chives (or chosen herb) and whole grain mustard. Let the mixture bubble gently, stirring to stop any catching on the bottom of the pan, to thicken slightly – go for a consistency similar to double cream.

Adjust the seasoning with salt, definitely, and pepper, maybe – since red lentils have a mild peppery taste anyway, you may decide not to use any more.


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Posted in Veggies