Saturday, April 24, 2010

Andalusian Meatballs, Feta Stuffed Tomatoes, Flammkuchen

Can you believe it is that time again? It feels like we have only just finished wiping our mouths from the previous weeks feast, when along comes the next Tapas Friday! Panic usually sets in when I realise that I have left it almost too late - tomorrow never comes they say - to plan. But like everything else it always works out, maybe we do just work better under pressure! And with new dishes and a new blog style, we roll into this weeks Tapas Friday for more fun, frying, food and eh... Flammkuchen. Bon Ap!

For this very simple dish, I washed few small vine tomatoes, cut each top off and carefully scooped the insides with a tea spoon. Sprinkled with some olive oil and left aside, while I prepared the Feta cheese filling. Again, very simple, mashed Feta with some fresh thyme, chives, olive oil and roast garlic (squeezed out of the skin), and seasoned slightly, depending on how salty your Feta is. Then stuff the tomatoes with Feta filling, sprinkle some more olive oil and put them into the fridge for couple of hours. To garnish just use whatever fresh herbs available, basil does a great job here:)

Super-refreshing little side to any meat/BBQ dishes!

I love meatballs. Always have. But kinda always did them in a same way, using fresh chili to bring in more diversion. Last week, sitting in front the telly, and drooling while watching a Jamie show, I got somehow inspired to try a lil' different version of the regular meatballs: meatballs Andalusian style!

This was my lucky weekend, as I found some beef mince leftovers in our freezer, which, of course, helped me a lot to maintain the budget :) I combined the mince with fresh chopped coriander, 2-3 garlic cloves, chili powder, one egg and some more happy leftovers of breadcrumbs, seasoned my mince mix and formed small meatballs. I heated up a pan, added some oil, and fried my meatballs for 5-10 mins, stirring constantly, to give them a nice colour. Take out of the pan, leaving the oil and juices, drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

Now it's time for the tomato sauce, in fact, the most beautiful one you've ever done. I added one chopped onion and more garlic into the previously used, still hot pan, fried them up, watching the garlic, so it doesn't get burnt. Then de-glaze with a good amount of Sherry (medium dry, in my case) and let it simmer for a moment. Add 2 stalks of finely chopped celery, and finally stir in a can of peeled tomatoes. I also had the tops and insides if my stuffed tomatoes left, so I added them too, nothing wrong with some fresh tomatoes ;). Seasoned slightly, and let it simmer on low heat until the sauce reduces down by half.

Finally add the meatballs and sprinkle with each handful chopped green olives, chopped almonds and raisins (dependent on the budged, I used ready stuffed olives with almonds). The beautiful, naturally sweet tomato sauce makes best friends with the spicy balls of meat. Olé!

This is one of my favourites, reminding me closely of a region I used to live, where France meets Germany, on a doorstep to Lorraine and Alsace. Seasonal around the end of summer, this onion tart traditionally comes along with 'Federweisser', a very young, still fizzy and yeasty wine (where the fermentation process has just begun), often sold by the vineyards on the side the road, when you are driving through the country. I order Flammkuchen every time I am in Germany, just to test the different ways it is prepared, mostly as a flat pizza-style version.

However, the this time I wanted to reconstruct the onion tart, which comes closer to a cake in its consistency and volume.

I started with the dough, mixing 600 g of flour with one packet of dried active east, dissolved in half a cup of luke-warm milk. Added the other half of milk, same amount of water (1 cup), one egg, teaspoon each of salt and sugar, and 75 g melted butter (feel free to use oil if you like). Now it comes to working with the dough, so knead until you feel your arms are toned like those of M. Obama, and your dough is nice & smooth. Form a ball, cover it slightly in oil and leave in a warm place for 30 min - 1 hour, until it doubles its size. Meanwhile, cut streaky bacon into strips and fry it in a hot pan plus little oil for 5 mins, then remove. Chop 4,5-6 onions and fry them up in the same pan with a handful of caraway seeds, but don't not allow them to turn golden. Remove and set aside. Next, combine Creme Fraiche (I also added few spoons light sour cream) with 4-6 tablespoons of vegetable oil, some salt, pepper and freshly ground nutmeg.

When the dough reaches its double size, punch a hole in the middle with your fist and watch it collapse. Take out and give it another sweaty workout, then place on slightly floured surface and roll out, or what I did, take it in your hands and pull apart, while constantly turning, so you get a kinda rectangular shape similar to your baking tray. Place on buttered tray and stretch the edges apart. Place the onions first, then your bacon strips and cover everything with the Creme Fraiche mix. Pinch of salt and pepper, some fresh thyme on top, and then it goes into preheated oven (180 degrees) for 20 mins, until it turns golden.

Shopping List:
Dried Yeast
Creme Fraiche €1.14
Tin Tomatoes €0.39

All veggies & herbs € 3.98

Feta Cheese €1.79
Streaky Bacon €1.49
Stuffed Olives €1.29
Caraway Seeds €0.70


Total €13.44

La Croisade, Réserve Chardonnay, 2009, 13%
Hoya De Cadenas, Reserva Privada, 2005, 12.5%

On the stereo
Spex #89 Album, Billie Holiday

Friday, April 16, 2010

Squash & Mascarpone Crespelle, Bruschetta, Carbonara Ravioli

It feels like I am living on a distant land. Only last week, we could enjoy the luxury of air travel, arriving home to a cold wet island. Now all of a sudden, a volcanic eruption has left us all stranded and there is a strange glowing object in the sky. Now, I know what you have all been thinking since Thursday, ‘will this volcanic eruption disrupt Salty Squid and Tapas Friday?’ Not on your sausage! It will take more than Mother Nature to stop Salty Squid. And for those of you who had plans to travel a nice Mediterranean land but instead are stuck at home reading our blog, fear not, as Salty Squid takes you to Italy, volcanic ash or no volcanic ash.

I would love to write about how I discovered Bruschetta in an Italian Trattoria in some remote Tuscan Hill town, or along the Amalfi coast, in a romantic place, attractive waiters for her, a sassy waitress for him, candles stuck into empty bottles of Chianti Reserva supplying the amorous light, love struck couples holding hands on the tables talking about, I don’t know, what romantic couples would talk about, Foie Gras I suppose, sipping glasses of Sangiovese. Then the aforementioned sassy waitress arrives with my bruschetta, like a goddess riding a clam. As I lift my virgin slice of Bruschetta, I bit into the grilled sourdough, in an instant my taste buds are assaulted in the nicest possible way. The sweet tomatoes and the strong but not overpowering garlic, infused beautifully with excellent extra virgin olive oil and the sweet summer taste of basil, lingering in my mouth, begging for more of that garlic and tomato to play with.

Miss Saltysquid gazes at me with a mouthful of bruschetta herself, we don’t have to talk, we look deep into each others eyes, tears forming, my sassy waitress rides away on her clam, her job done. Ah how I wish this was the case. Sadly, I don’t remember my first Bruschetta at all, but I am pretty sure that I probably ordered it in some terrible Italian restaurant in the Dublin city centre because it was the ‘safest’ thing to order. I am equally assured that I would have asked for it without g..g..g..garlic. Or basil. Alas a tomato on toast would have arrived, I would have scoffed it down, thought nothing more of it, before my Spaghetti Bolognaise with chips arrived.

Bruschetta was traditionally used for testing the quality of the years olive oil, traditionally served with maybe a little garlic. For my SaltySquid tapas Bruschetta, I mixed some vine tomatoes, seeds removed, with some garlic, extra virgin olive oil, tiny bit of chilli and some fresh basil and gave it a season. I also made a cannellini bean mush, by sautéing the beans over a low heat with a little chilli and some roasted garlic and a drop of red wine and a squeeze of lemon. Seasoned. I bought some excellent light rye bread for these. Brushed with olive oil and grilled on a hot hot grill pan. As opposed to a cold cold saucepan. Once toasted, rub each slice with a clove of garlic. Spoon the toppings onto each slice of toasted rye and drizzle the tomatoes with some excellent olive oil and the beans with some rosemary oil and a slice of Finnocchiona salami. I was inspired (I robbed) most (all) of this idea from Jamie. For the rosemary oil, bash some sprigs of the herb with S&P and good olive oil. An avalanche of crushed black pepper does it for me. But you probably think you are better than me. So do whatever you want.

This dish is easier than tying your shoe laces and it probably tastes nicer too. Get yourself one squash, peel, de-seed and chop into chunks. Sprinkle with some oil and chilli powder and pepper and roast until soft – maybe 30mins ish. Blitz and wrap in muslin. Stick it into a colander with a heavy weight on top. I used a baby elephant, for 24 hours to get all the moisture out of the pumpkin. After this, mix it with 250g of Mascarpone, a couple of teaspoons of English mustard, garlic, a chilli and a good grating of fresh nutmeg. Mix well, season and taste. Mmm, good isn’t it? Now taste again. It’s really good. Next, tell your guests that the mix has fallen on to the floor, which you have not cleaned since you mud wrestled a wild boar earlier and for hygiene reasons, the 10 second rule simply doesn’t apply. Apologise. Return to the kitchen and dip your face into the mix. The trick here is to inhale all the mix before you pass out. If a guest happens to come into the kitchen at this time they will need to be restrained, tied up and gagged. Alternatively, set the mix aside and make your batter for the crespelle.

200g of plain flour, a beaten egg added to 400ml of water and a good bunch a chopped sage. Make a thin batter with the flour and water mix. Add the sage and pinch of salt. Let this mix stand for at least 30 mins.

Next, get a non-stick pan good and hot with a little oil, add just enough batter to coat the base of the pan, cook for a min or less, flip and cook for another half a min. Repeat and let them all cool.
Now for the fun part, spoon the pumpkin mix onto the pancakes, trying to make a sausage type shape and roll tightly. Repeat until all the mix is used. Refrigerate for an hour.

And finally, slice each crepe into 4, discarding the ends, place onto a baking tray and grill on a high heat for 5 ish mins. While grilling, melt butter with sage until butter turns brown, place crespelle onto a plate and spoon the butter over them – devour them all. Serves 4.

This is without doubt one of the most awkward time consuming ways to make carbonara. After making this in my shoebox kitchen, the place looked like a bomb went off. A bomb of egg, flour and cheese. Make your pasta dough by mixing an egg to 100g of Italian 00 flour. Kneed for about 10 mins until smooth and elastic, wrap in cling and let rest for an hour in the fridge. Using a pasta machine, roll the dough, starting at the widest setting, passing it twice as you move through the dials to the narrowest setting as possible. Cut the strip of pasta in half, using one half for the egg yolk ravioli and the other for the free form lasagne.

For the ravioli, cut your pasta sheet into four rectangles, large enough to be folded in half, leaving enough room for the egg yolk. Wash half of the pasta lightly with a little water using a pastry brush not a garden hose. Separate an egg in your hands and carefully slide the yolk onto the damp part of the pasta. Carefully fold over and seal, making sure to not get any air trapped. Dust with semolina flour and keep cool. Don’t make these too far in advance as the mix will make the pasta weep and become sticky. In a hot dry pan, fry the diced pancetta and a squashed clove of garlic for a few mins. Drain onto some kitchen paper and keep warm, discarding the garlic clove. Next, take the second strip of pasta cut it into four also. Place it into boiling salted water for about a minute to cook. Drain. Lay the sheet flat on a plate. At one end, sprinkle with pancetta and then fold over another piece of the pasta and sprinkle with grated parmesan. Cook your ravioli in the salted water – gently for about a min or two. Carefully remove, drain and place on top of the free form lasagne. Sprinkle with parsley and black pepper. The egg yolk must be runny in order for this to work as it is the sauce in the dish. Eat immediately.

Shopping List:
Light Rye Bread €2.80
Eggs €1.90
Mascarpone €1.50

All veggies & herbs € 5.59
Pancetta €2.15
Total €13.94

Cuvee Des Amandiers, 2009, 12%
Villa Di Toscana, Chianti Reserva, 2003, 13%

On the stereo
Tocotronic, Angus and Julia Stone

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sushi Special: Maki Rolls With Gravadlax, Uramaki, Breaded Squid

We are back! After a week long break in Germany visiting family, Saltysquid is back in action, full of meat and Weissbier, but none the less, we are back and it feels good. And to make this weeks posting even more special dear reader(s), Friday was Mr Saltysquids birthday, therefore, the budget constraints were lifted temporarily and we here at Saltysquid enjoyed a meat-free night of Sushi!

On Wednesday, we got a lovely piece of Salmon from our local friendly fishmonger. We covered it in coarse sea-salt, black pepper, lemon zest and green tea leaves and an insane amount of dill. We wrapped it in muslin and put a heavy weight on top before leaving it the fridge to work its magic. All we had to do, was
A) not eat it before Friday and
B) remember to turn the fillet every 12hrs.

Come Friday, we washed off the crust, gently dried it with kitchen paper and we had the most tasty, amazing Gravadlax. To serve we simply gave it a drizzle of lime juice. The beauty was that we could use this amazing dry cured salmon for our sushi... which brings us onto tapas dish no. 2.

This Maki roll made using the cured salmon mentioned was a joy to eat. Self praise is no praise I hear you chant – well I didn’t make them, Miss Saltysquid did and they kicked butt. For the sushi rice, buy good quality Japanese or American sushi rice. Rinse and soak the rice until the water is clear. Cover the rice - we used 6 cups, with water, and then another little bit and cover. Soak for 15 min. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, allowing the rice to simmer for about 20 min. Take it off the heat and steam for another 15 min. As the rice is short grain, it becomes sticky when cooked, exactly what we need for making sushi! While the rice is cooking, make the sushi vinegar (sushi-zu).

Mix 4 tbsp of both rice vinegar and sugar with 2tsp of salt. Mix this into the hot rice as soon as the rice is cooked. Mix really well then fan the mixture to cool quickly – the quicker it cools, the better!

Next place a sheet of dried seaweed (Nori) on a sushi mat. Spread some of the cooled sushi rice, covering about 1/3 of the Nori sheet and line with cucumber, cured salmon and thinly sliced carrots and roll as tight as possible without breaking. Give your sushi roll a little press once rolled. Once this is done, simply slice the roll into your desired thickness and in case the rice sticks to your knife, wipe the last one with some rice vinegar water from time to time. Serve with soy sauce, Wasabi and pickled ginger. I found wearing a white head band adds to the authenticity.

California Rolls are a kind of inside-out Sushi (Uramaki). Typically these are filled with crab and avocado. Firstly cover your sushi mat with cling, followed by a layer of Nori, rice, sesame seeds and another layer of cling – in that order. Be careful that the cling film is not trying to sneak into the sushi roll like some sneaky sneaker that likes to sneak out a snickers while wearing sneakers. Think of it as a really bad, wrong Asian lasagne... actually no, don’t. Now, press down on these layers and flip over, leaving the sushi mat behind. Remove the layer of cling that is facing you. Carefully spread some wasabi then the filling of sliced avocado, carrot and crab meat, which we also mixed with a home made wasabi mayo. Roll carefully again making sure that the bottom layer of cling is not trying to sneak into your California roll like an uninvited guest at a party. Once rolled, press again a little and remove the cling. You should have a beautiful roll staring at you. Slice again to your preferred thickness.

Japanese breadcrumbs are amazing. I love the crunch you get from them. Personally I don’t think there is any substitute for that rough, coarse batter. I got a lovely squid from our local friendly fishmonger.

I cleaned the squid tubes and scored the skin with a sharp knife. I then cut the tube into rings and soaked it in milk, paprika and black pepper for a few hours. When their time came to serve their duty, I tossed them in some flour, seasoned with salt and a truck load of black pepper. Shake off the excess flour and drop into some egg whites, then into the breadcrumbs, which I gave an additional sprinkling of black pepper. Drop into hot oil, turning as they cook for a few minutes, just a few at a time. Keep the cooked ones warm on a plate covered with kitchen paper. Season with a pinch of salt as soon as they come out of the hot oil. We served them with our home made wasabi mayo and a wedge of lime. Happy birthday indeed!!

Shopping List:
Fresh salmon fillet (with skin) €9.00
Fresh squid €2.50
Japanese breadcrumbs €2.00

Japanese Sushi rice €2.60
Wasabi €2.00
Rice Vinegar €4.00
Cucumber, Carrot, Avocado, Dill €3.00
Crab meat €6.00

Total €31.10
(Budget x 2, 'cause last week no tapas, B-day, etc...)

Juve y Camps, Cava Gran Reserva, Espana 2004, 12%
Banditella, Col D'orcia, Italia 2006, 14%

On the stereo
The Pitchfork 500 album on shuffle