Lechazo en casa

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Made this inspired by our travels last week to Burgos to eat Lechazo. To be more precise it is a slow roasted shoulder of lamb and this version is not traditional as I added thinly sliced onions wine and herbs but it was delicious. Ate it with a rice stuffed tomato and green salad. With a cool glass of kozel beer. Yum!

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Daring Bakers November Challenge 2012: Twelve Days of Cookies

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

The challenge recipe I chose to make was the chocolate sables, recipe here.  I left out the egg yolk as I had read some other recipes on the internet that did not use it, so I thought I’d see how it went.  The cookies were delicious, crumbly with big chunks of chocolate and not too sweet.  They even seemed to get better with time!  Try them crumbled up in vanilla ice cream for an excellent version of cookies and cream.

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As my second cookie, I made Alfajores, which are South American corn starch based cookies, filled with dulce de leche.  I used the recipe from familyfoodie.com, which have a little lemon zest as well as vanilla for flavour.  Dulce de Leche, whilst readily available in Spain is quite expensive, so I made my own using the oven method, which seems a lot safer than boiling sweet and condensed milk in a pan and is also much faster.  Simply pour a can of sweetened condensed milk with a sprinkle of salt into a pyrex tray and bake at about 180 degrees until golden brown (time varies with your oven-mine took about an hour but my oven is terrible).  When it is golden whisk it up to get rid of any lumps and leave to cool and set a little before using.

The cookies were lovely and crumbly, although very sweet and with a tendency to stick your mouth together!

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 This was an excellent challenge, Ill probably make a few more cookies before Christmas hits!!

Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run

Our dear friend peter came to stay and we ate him! If you want a cheap delicious meal I suggest you do the same. It does involve some fairly full on butchery but i found it errrr fun,no not the right word, “interesting” .  Now I sound like a serial killer. If, like me, you enjoy doing the things most cookery books tell you to get your butcher to do then go for it.  If not , get your butcher to do it. Think they might tell you to stick it in Tescos though. I didn’t even ask in Carrefour, as it came sealed in a bag. Anyway where were we.

Here! What you must  do to the rabbit: cut it’s legs off and the head, cut out the liver and kidney, then remove the saddle from the backbone and rib cage, keeping it in one piece. What is the saddle? The bit where you would strap your saddle were you to attempt to ride your rabbit. The two loins that run down the backbone.

With the two loins in one piece but without bones, take the liver and kidney and lay them along the centre of the meat, season, roll up and tie with string at 3cm lengths, (I used the devilishly technical granny knot), you should end up with a weird sausage saddle thing, season it, wrap it in cling film and pop it in the fridge. Now you can eat that with some mash and something green.

To cook your sausage, take it out of the fridge 30mins before you are going to cook, brown it in a frying pan with some butter and oil, then pop it in the oven at 170 for 10-15mins.  Then rest it for at least 5mins in tin foil, before destringing.  Serve with mash, greens and any juices you managed to get from resting. That is phase one. Completed.

Phase two as seen in the photo is all the above, plus you make a cottage pie with the rabbit legs

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Rabbit cottage pie

Rest of rabbit including head and backbones.

1 large carrot diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 onion diced

4 garlic cloves peeled and split in half

100ml white wine vinegar

300ml white wine

1.25 litres of chicken stock

1 large tin of whole tomatoes drained then squished by hand.(i prefer to chopped but you can use chopped)

1 bay leaf

sprig rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped tarragon (I used half quantity of dried)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

  1. In a casserole pan colour the rabbit pieces in a knob of butter with a splash of oil until golden. Remove and set aside.
  2. Colour the veg adding more butter and oil if needed.
  3. Return the rabbit to pan add the vinegar and reduce to almost nothing.
  4. Add the wine and reduce by 2/3
  5. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, bay and rosemary.
  6. Bring to the boil skim and simmer gently for 2 hrs.
  7. Heat oven 170c
  8. Lift rabbit out and set aside, reduce stock to light sauce consistency.
  9. Strain the sauce reserving the veggies.
  10. Pick the meat from the bones and combine with the veggie,s  tarragon and parsley and a few tablespoons of the sauce in a lasagne dish.Taste and adjust the seasoning, drizzle with a little olive oil and cover with mash.
  11. Bake in the oven for 40 mins, enjoy.

This recipe is adapted from Antony Demetre’s excellent book “Today’s Special” recipes from Arbutus and Wild Honey.

Daring Bakers October Challenge: Mille Feuille

ImageOur October 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Suz of Serenely Full. Suz challenged us to not only tackle buttery and flaky puff pastry, but then take it step further and create a sinfully delicious Mille Feuille dessert with it!

This was a tricky challenge for me, relying heavily on presentation and patience, neither of which are my strong points.  The first attempt was very tasty, but as I didn’t let it chill for long enough before cutting, it collapsed and needed to be eaten with a spoon! The second attempt stayed together much better and was delicious.

I made a traditional Mille Feuille with Creme Patiessere filling.

The puff pastry was really fun to make, although perhaps could have stayed in the oven a little longer for a crisper finish.  My feathering on top also needs a little work, and next time I would assemble right before serving so the pastry stayed a bit crisper.  However, it was delicious!  Great challenge!

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Cenador De Amos Review-Michelin starred food served with a sense of humor

At the risk of cries of outrage from men throughout Cantabria, I’m going to put it out there and say that the best food of the region is not in fact their mothers’ tortilla, or even their grandmother’s age old, six hour to cook recipe for cocido montanes.  Tucked away in the small village of Villaverde de Pontejos culinary maestro Jesus Sanchez, chef at restaurant Cenador De Amos is creating innovative food good enough to impress even the most devout mummy’s boy.

The restaurant is located in Cantabria in Northern Spain, in a small village where every second building seems to be for sale.  This along with the fact that the restaurant is not exactly on the beaten track (read: very tricky to locate!), it is surprising that the restaurant receives enough custom to keep its doors open. It really must be the food.  Cenador de Amos has a range of menus ranging from molecular gastronomy to more traditional fare.  We opted for the Menu de Degustacion, deciding previously to go all out and live off lentils for the rest of the month.  Although it must be said that by the end of the meal we thought we may not need to eat at all for the rest of the month.

The restaurant is housed in a restored stone building, with the dining room decorated in a modern, simplistic style.  Simple white table clothes, polished silver and rustic tiled flooring made for pleasant surroundings that weren’t over done.  Other than the food, the stand out feature was definitely the service.  We were greeted and seated in a manner suited to the style of restaurant (coats taken, chairs pulled out etc), but whilst very polite and helpful, the server and sommelier also proved to have a sense of humor; not always the case in these types of restaurants.

All the courses were explained simply in a mix of Spanish and English, suitable wines were recommended crumbs were removed, and subtle jokes about Manchester United’s recent loss to Bilbao were made.  The friendliness of the staff made the dining experience hugely more enjoyable since we didn’t feel like we were being watched constantly and creating too many crumbs on the table (we are pretty messy eaters).

Now to the food.  The menu we chose consisted of 16 small and surprisingly multicultural courses, featuring dishes ranging from traditional Cantabrian with a gastronomical twist to Moroccan and South American style courses.  There was a great range of flavours, colors and plates.  All the courses were handily printed on a take home menu, not only useful for blogging purposes as it would be impossible to remember the names of all the dishes, but also to remind you of what to expect next during the meal.

I will apologize in advance for the photo quality.  Although I have a camera which in theory should do all the hard work for me, I don’t seemed to have quite mastered the art of food photography yet.  Rest assured the food did not all have a slightly blue tinge up until the 9th course- this is just when I realized the camera was on the wrong setting.

The first dish was Crema de ave y foie (Chicken and foie soup).  This was creamy, rich and utterly delicious, giving us high hopes of what was to follow.  There is nothing more worrying when you sit down to 16 courses than receiving a bad soup to start, it makes you a little uneasy of what you are in for next if they can’t even nail a simple soup, but this did not disappoint.

The second entree was Morcilla sin sacrifico (Black pudding without blood).  This seemed like a puzzling concept, as far as I knew Morcilla was made of pretty much only blood, with a bit of rice thrown in.  However it was soon clarified that the Morcilla was in fact an olive tapanade, shaped exactly into the form of a small slice of morcilla.  It’s amazing the surprise you get when you bite into something that looks exactly like Morcilla, but tastes like olives- even when you know what it is, it seems like your brain is programmed for the flavour you associate with what your eyes see.  This was served with La guindilla (a pimiento stuffed with tuna), typical Cantabrian fare, but shaped into a perfectly smooth sphere.

Morcilla sin sacrifico y La guindilla

The next entree was Tomate pimiento del cristal (Glass tomato and pepper).  This was a thin green pepper stuffed with a fresh tomato salsa,very light and tasty.

Tomate pimiento del cristal

We then started the second part of the menu, (second entree, first main course?  I’m not exactly sure what to call it!).  The first dish was one of my favorites of the night, El Juego alrededor del foie (loosely translated, foie three ways).  These included a piece of fresh pate like foie, sandwiched between to thin wafers, a cooked piece of foie and a creme brulee made from…foie! With a little meringue in the corner, just for fun.

El Juego alrededor del foie

We were then served with what was my least favourite dish of the night, La Ostra Margarita (Margarita Oyster).  I don’t like oysters, so this wasn’t totally surprising.  I was hoping they would do something magical to change to way I saw oysters forever, but it still tasted like sea water to me!  I liked the little spherification pearl though.

La ostra margarita

This was served with a little wafer basket filled with guacamole.

Then the main courses started to arrive.  All of these were totally different and included dishes made with meat, beans, fish and vegetables for total variety.

The first was a rather improved version of french onion soup, Cebolla tierna con queso ‘Divirin’ y oregano fresco (Onions with Divirin cheese and fresh oregano).

Cebolla tierna con queso 'Divirin' y oregano fresco

The next had a South American flavour, Pochas en caldo de arroz venere (red beans in stock with little ‘rice’ like crumbs flavoured like popcorn).  It tasted a little like a corn tortilla filled with beans…but much better.

Pochas en cado de arroz venere

We then moved onto a more Morrocon inspired dish of Como un ‘cus-cus’ la lenteja (like a cous- cous made of lentils).  This was indeed just like cous- cous but with a lentil flavour.  It was served with melting pork belly pieces and grapes.  I don’t know what they had done to the grapes, but the result was like an explosion of grape in the mouth.

Como un 'cus-cus' la lenteja

The next course was Ravioli de apio-nabo con brandad de bacalao (Ravioli of celery and turnip filled with cod)

Ravioli de apio-nabo con brandada de bacalao

This was followed by a fish course of Rape en adobo de aceituna negra (Monkfish in a marinade of black olive).  This was delicious despite the skid marks.

Rape en adobo de aceituna negra

Then came the meat course in the form of Molleja de ternera con alcachofas y queso almendra (veal sweetbread with artichokes and almond cheese).  The cheese was the stand out part of this dish, fresh and light, but with a distinct almond flavour.

Molleja de ternera con alcachofas y queso de alemandra

Then at last it was time for the last savory part of the meal.  La albondiga de pichon y anchoa, (Meatball of baby pigeon and anchovy).

La albondiga de pichon y anchoa

Time for dessert!

The first course of sweets was a delicious Yogur con manzana e hinojo (Yoghurt with apple and fennel).  This was a frozen apple flavoured yoghurt with a variety of yoghurt and apple flavoured accompaniments, and what seemed to be a contact lens on top.

Yogur con manzana e hinojo

The second dessert had a Cantabrian flavour- Sobao caramelizado, leche y tapioca.  (Traditional Cantabrian sponge cake caramelized with milk and tapioca).  Still not a big fan of the tapioca, but the rest was delicious.

Sobao caramelizado, leche y tapioca...hard to see for the bubbles!

Finally, the icing on the cake, entretenimientos dulces (sweet entertainments!),served with tea and coffee.  These featured a variety of meringues, chocolates, Turkish delight, strawberry yoghurt and their own version of the ‘Filipino’, a popular chocolate coated, dohnut shaped biscuit in Spain.

We left full, relaxed and thoroughly impressed with what is without a doubt some of Cantabria’s best food.

Surf’s Up Sugar Rush Cake

This is a quick piccie of the cake I made for Breadheads birthday.  I was going for the surfing theme (obviously) and while the result was not too bad (if a long way from professional), the cake itself was a little sweet.  Diabetes inducing sweet in fact.  The combination of a caramel apple cake with butterscotch icing and a coconut swiss roll filled with chocolate cream cheese mousse and topped with a white chocolate coconut cream cheese icing almost finished us off!

Recipes to follow, but i’d recommend one of these cakes at a time and maybe a less sweet base cake if using the icings!

Always remember to check your spelling when icing a cake as even simple words such as 'birthday' can be troublesome!

Grubs up!

We like to cook and we like to eat. We want to share this with our family, friends and anyone else who shares this passion!  This blog probably won’t be pretty, it probably won’t be the best blog you ever read, but it will be about food, food and more food, cooking, baking, eating, ranting and rambling about food.  So if that sounds like your cup of tea, follow us and let us know what you think!