Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chicken Kiev, Chilli Mushrooms On Garlic Toasts, Mini Cheese Souffles

Tapas Friday has come and gone, leaving only a lingering taste and a stubborn aroma of fried goodness. It was fun, tasty fun. And with the start of a new week and the menu planning already underway for this coming Tapas Friday (yeah i know this post is a bit later than usual!), let us cast a quick look back to the final Tapas Friday of winter 2010. Sit back. Get hungry and enjoy.

I haven't had Chicken Kiev since college. A long long time ago sadly. Thinking the ability to open a box, remove the contents and stick something into an oven until nicely burned was a culinary feat; I felt it was time to revisit my old college staple 'treat' and to give her the salty squid treatment. That just sounds wrong. But my theory is that nobody really reads the text so I can leave it in.

I used two chicken breasts, cut into small chunks, and filled with a garlic and tarragon butter. I then pane(d) the chicken, dipping first into beaten egg, flour then seasoned breadcrumbs, then shallow frying until cooked. Simple. Pushing the boat out presentation wise, I sliced a spud into thick discs, seasoned and roasted for about 15min in a hot oven. Voila, Chicken Kiev on a potato plate!

Being a total chili freak, and in equal measure a total mushroom freak (mushili freak or chilroom freak?), I am surprised that I didn't throw this classic out there sooner. This could not be any easier, tastier, spicier, easier or tastier and spicier dish that is so easy and tasty and spicy. Slice the mushrooms - I used Paris Browns and two small Thai green chilies as they are so hot, (Johnny Cash will be playing through your head for days after this). Get your pan nice and hot, throw in a knob of butter, add the mushrooms (be careful not to overcrowd the pan), give them a toss, season a little, add the chilies, give the pan another toss then leave it for a min on the heat. Add a dash of white wine and as much thyme as you can handle and cook until the wine is reduced. You could be really bold and throw in another knob of butter at the end to get a nice glaze on your ‘shrooms too.

Taste, season, then serve on thinly sliced baguette, toasted, then rubbed with garlic then drizzled with olive oil. Eat them all yourself before bringing them to the table.

What goes up must come down. Sadly, coming down happens a lot quicker than it takes to rise in the case of these little pots of air. Cook a finely chopped shallot in 55g of butter with a clove or two and some smoked paprika until the shallot is soft but not coloured. Add about 3 tablespoons of flour and cook for 2-3mins, before slowly adding about 225ml of milk, whisking as you add it. Return to the heat, stirring constantly, until it gets to the thickness of cream. Strain through a sieve and add your cheese and stir well until smooth. I used an Irish Comte-ish type cheese and an Irish smoked cow cheese. Add 4 egg yolks and mix well. Fold in 4 well beaten egg whites and spoon the mixture into your buttered dishes which have salt rubbed along the sides. Stick them into a hot oven (180c) for 30-40 mins.

When cooking a souffle, the hotter the oven, the higher they will rise, but they will fall quicker as they cool, likewise, a cooler oven gives a more modest rise but doesn't deflate as dramatically. We found the best way around this is to cook them in a hot oven and then actually get into the oven to eat them. If your oven is big enough to fit you and another.

The recipe here will make a lot more than the 3 portions in the photo below. Simply keep the others in the fridge, bring to room temp the next day and then back into the oven. Great for a hangover.

Shopping List:

Veg and herbs (local veg shop) €5.20
Free-range Irish Chicken
breast x 2
(local friendly butcher) €3.00
Baguette (deli) €1.95

Total €10.15

Lunate, Fiana, Sicilia, 13.5% (white)
This is such a nice full bodied white, really nice with spicy foods.
Eternum Viti, Toro, Spain 14.5% (red)

Possibly my favourite red at the moment. Rich, full on, spicy wine. Really nice.

On the strereo
Ipod shuffled. Hits on the night ranged from a sedate Joan as Policewoman to Faith No More and Boo-Ya Tribe giving me hell.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stuffed Aubergine Canapes, Chorizo Al Vino, Leek & Apple Quiche

Oh my, the Fridays are following super fast now. I can downright feel like the tapas project starts to take over now and dictate the course of the end of each week. In a good way, as it makes you now really looking forward to every Friday! To cut the long story short, and not let our fans waiting too long ;), here the recent developments:

Canapés Of Aubergine Filled With Spicy
Sweet Pepper Cream

Every time you learn something new. This time, for my part, it was about the specific character of the aubergine, which absorbs moisture like a sponge. I thought, cutting the eggplant into thin slices and leaving it sprinkled with salt just for 30 min before frying will do the job. Then I had to realize, I should have done this already in the morning. The sponge, combined with some salt, releases its moisture, but very slowly. Will keep it in mind for next time ;).
For the spicy cream I chopped and pureed a sweet pepper, adding some hot chilli powder, smoked paprika, roasted garlic, goat cheese, cream cheese ans a splash of lime juice. Left this to cool and set in fridge for an hour or two. After brushing the eggplant slices with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of dried oregano, I fried them shortly (both sides) in a griddle pan (for the ultimate BBQ-look). Let them cool down a bit, and then filled them with the sweet pepper cream. Tooth picks are here quite essential. Hot, hot, hot!

Chorizo Al Vino

Here, the biggest challenge lies in the quality of the chorizo sausage. So I recommend, get the best you can afford, it will pay off (as mentioned in previous entries, due to the small quantities needed for tapas, it is never a real big expense, even if the ingredients are posh). I cut the sausage in thin slices and fried some onion, garlic, and a bunch of fresh flat parsley
and a pinch of saffron in a pan. I used white wine to deglaze (wow, I am using kitchen vocabulary!), which makes the dish a bit lighter than using red wine. But both are possible and depend really from what you're in the mood for. I added chorizo, another splash of white wine, chopped a tomato, and let all this just simmer away for another few minutes.

Generally, it's quite a rich dish, so it goes well with just a piece of baguette, seafood, salad or other veggies, but definitely nothing else 'meaty' beside it.
Leek And Apple Quiche
OK, this might be not a typical Spanish tapas dish, but regarding my German culinary repertoire and the fact that breaking the rules can make your day, or Friday, I decided to make this delicious savoury tart. First, the pastry has to be done. For this, I combined app. 350 g of flour with app 170 g of cold, flaked butter, some freshly grated nutmeg, a good pinch of salt, one egg and one yolk and some water, to a nice, smooth dough (I would recommend to leave the kitchen machine in the press and for a better result work here with hands :)). I left the pastry in the fridge for at least an hour. Meanwhile, clean and roughly sliced 2 leeks, and fried them up with some olive oil, garlic and some sliced streaky bacon (to give it nice, smoky flavour). Seasoned, and kept simmering for few minutes. I peeled, chopped an apple and added it to the leeks, just at the end with the heat turned off. Beside this, I beat 4 eggs, adding app. 200 ml of cream, salt, pepper, and again some freshly grated nutmeg.
Finally, rolled out the pastry, placed it in a round oven dish, and pulled the pastry out, so you get a nice border for your quiche. I filled it with the leeks and topped with the egg mix. It is optional, but you also can add some grated cheese, I put some delicious organic goat cheese on top. All you have to do now, is to bake it in preheated oven for 30-40 min at 170 degrees. Et Voilà!

Shopping List:
Veg (local veg shop) €4.97
Chorizo (deli) €3.20
Streaky Bacon (deli) €1.50
Soft Cheese (supermarket) €1.19
Cream (supermarket) €1.55
Baguette (deli) €1.95
Total €14.36
(WOW! First time I have actually managed to stay below the limit)

Lunate, Merlot, Sicilia, 14% (red)
Fiana, Sicilia, 13.5% (white)

On the strereo
Phoenix, Souls of Mischief, Them Crooked Vultures, Twilight Singers

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Patatas Bravas, Stuffed Squid, Goats Cheese and Black Olive Tapenade Crostini

Following on from what was the worlds greatest Tortilla last week, I felt the pressure to use another typical tapas dish. Although we don't have to do Spanish dishes, I still find myself leaning that way, there are really just so many amazing tapas dishes you want to make yourself, I find it's great fun just playing around with them, but the really great thing is the simplicity. Maybe it's the Irishman in me, but I do love potatoes, so what better tapas to kick off this weeks entry with than Patatas Bravas with a super spicy Mojo sauce. I love chilli too. But who cares what I love. Here is our next installment of Tapas Friday.

Patatas Bravas with Mojo Sauce
Patatas Bravas is one of my favourite tapas dishes. I went the healthier route and roasted my potatoes in the oven, instead of frying them, but you can do whatever you feel like. The Mojo sauce is by far my favourite to have with these. First off, peel your potatoes, I usually go by one spud per mouth. Peel and cut them whatever way turns you on. I went for cubes here, although, that is pushing it as they looked more like random out of shape cubes. The kinda cubes that will never be really cool perfect 10 cubes, but until the cube police come a knocking, I'm calling them cubes. Sprinkling with olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon juice and plop into a hot (220c) oven. Turn the heat down to 180c once they go in and then give them a toss after 10-15 mins, then give them another 10-15mins until a knife goes thorough the centre easy-peasy.

While the spuds are getting funky in the oven, pound the be-jasus out of a sweet red pepper, clove or 3 of garlic (I roasted mine but you don't have to, raw is cool), about a tablespoon of cumin seeds - if you give them a quick flash in a really hot pan for a few seconds first it brings out the flavour a lot more, some smoked paprika, and a little (a lot) of hot chilli powder, brazil nuts and almonds. Pound it like its 1983 in a mortar & pestle, taking a break to sip some Cremant every 9-10 blows. Add some olive oil every now and then to give it a nice saucy consistency, give it a squeeze of lime juice and a bit of fresh parsley. Season to taste and you are done. I added a bit of homemade mayo to this one, but you don't have to. Serve it a room temp. The sauce, not the sparkly. Also, if you don't have a nice heavy mortar & pestle just put it all into a food processor/blender and blitz.

Stuffed Squid with Romesco (yeah whatever) Sauce

This was a lot of fun to make, and even more fun to eat. I had some mince pork (125g) frozen which was great. OK, so chop an onion and as much garlic as you like and some parsley stalks. Fry them off, add the mince and brown. Through in some smoked paprika, chilli powder, and sweet paprika. Next, soak some saffron threads in a little hot water for a second, then add to the pan with chopped black olives. I also had some bread crumbs which found their way into the mix. Let the liquid reduce a bit and thicken. Season to taste and add some chopped parsley. I let this cool before stuffing as much as humanly possible into the squid, and closing it (in a spectacularly unsuccessful way) with toothpicks. Two should be enough if you are talented, mine was looking a bit like Pinhead from Hellraiser, AND the filling was still seeping out. I think it has something to do with the Squid shrinking in size a little as it's cooked while the filling doesn't. Next stop, NASA. The good news is, before taing a photo I removed most of the toothpicks and tarted her up like a teenager outside Copper Face Jacks on a Saturday eve !

Now that we have our stuffed squid ready to be cooked, put the dirty pan you cooked the filling in onto a high heat. De-glaze it with a liquid, I used port but water is fine if you are eight. Let it reduce a little then add a chopped tomato and the squid. Turn the heat to medium and cover, turn the squid every now and then. I cooked mine for about 35ish mins and it was nice and soft. I was a bit afraid of it being just like rubber but it was OK. I served it on a Romesco (yeah whatever) sauce. For that, I roasted a red pepper and garlic. Once the pepper blackens, remove from the oven into a little bag a tie a knot and allow to cool. God I would love a blue cheese burger now. Just assuming you stopped reading 2 paragraphs ago and are presently en-route to your fishmonger. When its cool it will be easy to peel. Blitz, blend, pound or mash it with some almonds, sweet paprika, salt and pepper. maybe a squeeze of lime, maybe ...

To serve, starting from bottom up I went, Romesco, cooking sauce from squid, then squid. Just let the squid rest a min before slicing it with a knife so sharp you could cut frozen icemen from a cave in Greenland. Some natural yoghurt gives a bit of colour.

Goat Cheese Crostini with Black Olive 'Tapenade'

I love goat cheese. Love it. Love it. Love it. Just thought we should get that out of the way. For the crostini I sliced some bread. Wow. For the 'tapenade' I just blitz some left over black olives. Wow Wow. For the goat cheese I cut it, with a knife!! Spread the 'tapenade' onto the bread, add the goats cheese and stick it under the grill till gratinated. Add a little left over roasted red pepper for colour if you feel fancy. Eat two at a time. This has got to be easier, tastier, healthier and something else ending in 'ier' than any microwave meal. Enjoy!

Shopping List:

Squid (fishmonger) €3.40
Olives (deli) €2.85
Goat Cheese (deli) €2.36
Almonds (health shop) €1.99
Bread (deli) €1.95
Veggies (local veg shop) €3.17

Total €15.72

(I was lucky to have some pork mince in the freezer!)


Cremant De Loire, same as last week
Valpolicella 2008, 13%
Chocolate. Delicious. Must have more.

On the strereo:
Notwist, Mo'Horizon, Spoon

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tortilla De Patatas, Prawn, Serrano & Pickled Peppers, Canapes of Black Pudding & Spinach With Chickpea Puree

It's Tapas-Friday again, and the competition is getting really serious. After P's fish&chips tapas success last week, I will have to keep up here with some damn good ideas... So having done my homework and researched the most popular Spanish tapas, I came across probably the most popular and simple idea of food Spain ever had, namely Tortilla de Patatas! Remembering my first Close Encounter of the Third Kind with tortilla during my college time in Barcelona, where my Catalan flatmate desperately tried to teach me how turn the pan in a smart and efficient way, here my attempt to reconstruct the perfect recipe:

Tortilla de Patatas with Smoked Paprika
I parboiled the potatoes, but it's optional. You can also add them straight to the pan, where onion, garlic and a bit of fresh thyme have already been simmering in a good splash of olive oil. Potatoes, cut in thin slices (some prefer them in cubes) should cook there for 10-15 min, seasoned and added 1-2 table spoons of smoked sweet paprika (the amount is totally á gusto, some might find smoked paprika very intense, I personally love it and can't get enough) permanently stirring. Beat 4 eggs á la 'scrambled', I added some milk and freshly ground nutmeg too. Season, and pour into the pan with potatoes. Give it a few minutes and then - the most difficult part - turn the pan into another one (same size), so the tortilla's bottom is on top. I coated the second pan with a bit of olive oil and pre-heated it. Another few minutes and then turn again, if potatoes are cooked and tortilla's sides are nice, brown and crispy, it's ready! Very enjoyable, either hot or cold. I served it with some Pecorino shavings.

Prawn-Tapas with Pickled Peppers
and Serrano Ham
Fresh prawns are a bit of a pain, as it's quite tricky to peel and de-vein them. It's possible to use some ready made frozen stuff, but I always prefer the fresh ones (for my part, P offered his peeling skills to help me out, so always look for somebody available to abuse ;)). I fried the prawns with a nice amount of sliced garlic and red hot chillies in rapeseed oil, they are done pretty quickly. Served on top of rolled Serrano ham and a piece of home pickled pepper on a piece of baguette. There was some home made mayo left from the week, so I topped the canapés with it. Pickling peppers yourself makes a lot of sense, as the good ones are usually very expensive to buy. I slowly roasted them with some good sea salt pepper, fresh thyme, garlic cloves, sprinkled with olive oil. Then skinned the peppers (pain, big time, especially the green ones!) and pickled them over night, adding some more olive oil and some lemon juice (white vinegar possible too).

Black Pudding Canapés with Spinach
and Spicy Chickpea-Puree

Yes, I know. Sounds a bit too much. Or are we saying now, so 'Dubai' ?? Well, it is indeed a kinda self-indulgence that dictates this recipe. As seen in a tapas bar in Dublin, I wanted to recreate this delicious black pudding-spinach-chickpeas dish, by taking it to a canapé level. For the spicy hummus, I roasted some cumin seeds, grounded and added them to a frying pan, where oil, onion, garlic and drained chickpeas were simmering away. After frying all together, adding some (again) smoked paprika and very hot chilli powder, I blitzed it, adding some of the drained chickpea water. Then simply fried slices of black pudding in some oil, as well as the baby spinach with some onion, raisins, salt and pepper, using a different pan. Arranged all together on a piece of baguette, and placed majestically a half of walnut on top of each. Finally I must say, the walnut could be easily replaced with a slice of an apple, the amount of cumin seeds in the hummus could be dramatically reduced and the slice of the black pudding could really go thinner... But all in all, it was a nice piece of exhibitionism!

Shopping list:
Vegetables (fruit&veg shop) € 6,00
Prawns (fish monger) €4,00
Serrano Ham (deli shop) €1,60
Black pudding (butcher) €1,00
Can chickpeas (supermarket) €0,90
Baguette (Bakery) €1,90
Total 15,60

Crémant de Loire, Cave M. Bonnamy, Brut, 12,5%
Beautiful, full-bodied, buttery sparkly with small bubbles and a great aftertaste. And it was half-prize reduced...!
Eternum Viti, Toro, Bodegas Abanico, 2007, 14,5%
Honestly, one of the best Spanish wines I've ever tasted. Full-bodied, but with an amazing smoothness, full of oak and vanilla. Makes you want MORE!

On the stereo: Joanna Newsom and Amiina