Tuesday, 28 May 2013

No rabbit and no woodcock, just the simplest Spanish supper of eggs and peppers

Snacks Scotch Woodcock Scotch Woodcock is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal. The full recipe is presented here and I hope you enjoy this classic Scottish version of: Scotch Woodcock.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
Scotch Woodcock is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal. The full recipe is presented here and I hope you enjoy this classic Scottish version of: Scotch Woodcock.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
the moment just before it finished cooking
It was midweek supper time and the store cupboard was not inspiring me to do culinary conjuring. I harked back to growing up in post rationing Scotland when my mother would always have a supper trick up her sleeve, and "Scotch Woodcock" was just one of them.The name of the dish was inspired by Welsh rarebit.Hey ho Welsh rarebit contains no rabbit I hear you say, so Scotch woodcock contains no woodcock,whatever.During the war my mother´s "ration coupons" would have allowed her to purchase a certain amount of particular products each month and eggs would have drawn the short straw, but come the end of rationing and having a forester and his wife who kept hens close by, mother suddenly had fresh eggs in plentiful supply.
"Scotch Woodcock" was a traditional Scottish recipe, fashionable in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.It was a classic snack that blended Gentleman´s Relish,milk,eggs,anchovies and cayenne pepper and was then served as a spread on toast.It is mentioned in Mrs Beeton´s book of Household Management.It is so delicious that it can be served as a snack at any time and is also great at breakfast time.However like mother like son, neither of us have ever been able to adhere to recipes.Her version of Scotch Woodcock was unlike any traditional one, in particular the version layed out by Mrs Beeton.For sure my foodie mother had certainly heard  of an anchovy but in the mid 1950´s probably had difficulty in sourcing such a rarity in border country Scotland.So she made her recipe from just eggs,tomatoes,milk and cheddar cheese. I was too young to remember but most likely her dish was made with fresh eggs from the foresters hen house, milk from Daisy at the local farm, a fresh tomato straight out of the garden, and a good handful of grated cheddar cheese.
Well every mothers son finds themself in another time and another place, and my home now is on the Iberian peninsula with all those lovely ingredients all about me.My store cupboard was offering me eggs,milk,cheese,tomatoes and pequillo peppers so Piparrada a simple Spanish supper of eggs and peppers it had to be.
Sometimes called Piperade basquaise, as it originally came from the region of southern France on the Spanish border,this is essentially a dish of savoury poshed up scrambled eggs.Although cooks pontificate about what is the definitive recipe,what is important is that a dish like this should reflect two things,the region,and what is available at the time.Obviously,one can´t do without the eggs- and the better the eggs the better the dish-but the other ingredients should be allowed the odd substitution or even be left out. After all this is a simple supper and not something that requires precise detail.
Piparrada
(eggs with peppers)
srves 4
2 red peppers or (my option) 2 tinned Pequillo peppers,drained
6 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves
1 small onion,shredded
55g (2oz) Presunto Serrano ham,cut into strips
340g (12 oz) tomatoes,peeled seeded and chopped
8 eggs
salt and pepper
Roast the peppers under a grill or on a barbecue until charred.Wrap them in a cloth until cool enough to handle,then peel them.Discard the seeds and stem,then cut the peppers into strips.I used tinned pequillos.
heat half the oil in afrying pan and sauté the garlic and onion.Add the strips of ham,then the tomatoes and peppers.Fry for about 15 minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated.Turn out into a bowl  and set aside.Beat the eggs as you would for scrambled eggs then season with salt and pepper.Heat the remaining oil in the pan and pour in the eggs.Stir them,cooking very gently,then add the pepper mixture.cook without stirring again until the eggs are set.

and for those who want the recipe,here is
My mothers Scotch Woodcock recipe
  • A couple eggs
  • A splash of milk
  • Handful of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
Heat a cast iron skillet and melt a bit of butter to coat the bottom of the pan.
Crack the eggs into a bowl. Add the milk. Whisk together with the cayenne pepper.Add the tomatoes and cheese and stir to blend.
Pour it all into the frying pan and scramble.
Serve with toast.


Scotch Woodcock is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal. The full recipe is presented here and I hope you enjoy this classic Scottish version of: Scotch Woodcock.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
Scotch Woodcock is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal. The full recipe is presented here and I hope you enjoy this classic Scottish version of: Scotch Woodcock.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
This is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
This is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
This is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
This is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
This is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet
This is a traditional Scottish recipe, from the Victorian period, for a classic snack of a blend of Gentleman's relish, milk, eggs, anchovies and cayenne pepper that was served as a spread on toast as a savoury dish at the end of a meal.

Read more at Celtnet: http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/miscellaneous/fetch-recipe.php?rid=misc-scotch-woodcock
Copyright © celtnet

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A culinary faux-pas that became a new take on a Catalan treat


There are times in every cooks life when something constructive is born out of adversity.Such is the story of the Catalonian scallion or green onion, called the Calçot.Popular myth suggests that a peasant farmer, Banigues Xat, in the area of Valls (Tarragona Province) is said to have been the first to have planted the sprouts of garden onions, covering them with earth so a longer portion of the stems remained white and edible. That action is known in Catalan as calçar, a Catalan agricultural term which means to cover the trunk of a plant or vegetable with soil.Inadvertently, when the onions were grilled they frazzled, overheated and became charred and burnt on the outside.Instead of throwing them away,the outer layers were peeled and it was discovered that the interior was very tender and tasty.This culinary faux-pas has left Spain with one  of its most typical dishes.Widely consumed in late winter and early spring with its very own sauce -Salbitxada,it is  completed with a main course typically consisting of meats and sausages.
This most traditional way of eating calçots is still manifested today in the form of a calçotada (plural: calçotades), a popular gastronomical event held between the end of winter and March or April, where calçots are consumed in vast quantities. Once grilled the outer layers are black, half split open and have taken on a sort of froth, they are then wrapped in groups of 25 or so on several sheets of paper and left for at least half an hour to cook in their own heat.
They are eaten moorishly by peeling away the outer layers and smearing the calçot with its accompanying salvitxada sauce.
So, I decided to experiment with a more domesticated version of the proceedings.The Catalan festival celebrates the harvest of calçots, half way between leeks and onions. In homage to the Calçotada, I recreated this idea but using leeks. Their subtle and delicate flavour definitely calls for calls for a tasty sauce, so in this case its a sort of romesco made of flaked almonds, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and red peppers.Don't forget to use a bib to avoid the stains caused by the sauce and keep your fingers away from your clothes. Why so? Well, when you learn about the ritual you'll understand. First you spread the newspaper bundles on the table and everybody gathers around, usually standing with a bowl of sauce nearby. Now it's time to peel one of them. You take the plant by the leaves and pressing upon the tip of the white bulb with the other hand you try to pull away carefully the burnt out external layer. This you learn with practice. It must come out neatly without smashing the content. Then you leave the peel aside (now the hand used for peeling is a mess) and soak the bulb in the sauce, haul it towards your mouth and take a good bite only on the white part of the plant. The rest you throw away. After this repeat the process at will. Of course, wine is mandatory in this case.  Bon appetite!

Salbitxada sauce 
Salbitxada is a sharp and lightly sweet Catalan sauce that's traditionally served with the calçots. That said, it's a great finishing touch for other dishes, too. This will probably give you more sauce than you need – keep it in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze.
1 red pepper
2 red chillies
5 garlic cloves, skin on
40g flaked almonds, toasted
4 ripe tomatoes (400g), blanched, peeled and deseeded
2 tsp sherry vinegar
Salt
100ml olive oil

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Put the pepper, chillies and garlic on an oven tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove the chillies and garlic, turn the pepper and roast for 20 minutes more. Once the skin is blistered, put the pepper in a bowl and cover with clingfilm. When cool, peel and deseed both the pepper and chillies, and peel the garlic.
Grind the almonds to a coarse powder in a food processor. Add the pepper, chilli, garlic and tomatoes, and whizz to a paste. Add the vinegar and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then slowly add oil to make a thick sauce.

And when all is said and done,it's fantastic, its fun and everyone has black fingers from the char!!!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Home-made Limoncello and strawberry ice cream


With summer just around the corner,my palate has been giving me a nostalgic nudge for my mother´s home made strawberry ice cream.The strawberry season here in the Algarve, and in Andalucia, is now drawing to an end but before the cloches are finally drawn on the strawberry plants for another year I wanted to take a fruity stab at my favourite childhood treat, and give it a bit of a revival.
Due to clement weather conditions this spring the strawberry season has not only been prolonged but also produced surplus fruit. So, with a bountiful harvest of  luscious red fruit,a recipe for home made Limoncello that I was recently given and another surplus of lemons falling off our lemon tree, what better idea than to combine my home made Limoncello with some succulent local strawberries.

serves 6-8
225g(8oz) strawberries
3 egg yolks
65g (2.5oz) caster sugar
300ml(1/2 pint)double cream
150ml(1/4 pint) full fat milk
250ml(8fl oz) Limoncello
grated zest  1/2 lemon
Put a large plastic container in the freezer ready for he ice cream.Slice half the strawberries thinly and set aside. Press the remaining strawberries through a fine sieve,retaining only the pulp.Set aside.
Beat together the egg yolks and sugar.Put the cream and milk in a saucepan and bring gently to the boil.As it begins to boil, remove from the heat and and beat in the egg mixture.Return to a low heat and cook for about 1 minute stirring all the time with a wooden spoon until slightly thickened.Remove from the heat and fold in the sliced strawberries and sieved pulp.Stir in the limoncello and zest.Take the container out of the freezer and pour in the mixture until the container is 3/4 full.Leave to cool then place uncovered in the freezer.
After half an hour,remove the container and stir well.Replace in the freezer and every half an hour repeat this procedure until the ice cream is frozen.If you have an ice cream maker,churn the ice cream until it thickens,then leave in a container in the freezer until ready to serve.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Wilted rocket salad with asparagus and bacon


I can see clearly now the rain has gone.Everything green is in abundance,well just for a short while till the effects of that rain have worn off.And now I am well and truly ready for salads.Hopefully the hot weather is here to stay.
You won’t believe how incredible this simple combination of crunchy almonds, crisp bacon,tender asparagus and rocket is. The rocket will wilt as it sits though, so serve it right away.A wonderful interplay of tastes and textures can be achieved and it all comes together very quickly.Trust me,this is a salad you will want to make over and over again.
Wilted Rocket Salad with Asparagus, Bacon, 
Almonds, and Sherry Vinaigrette     

8 rashers of bacon,cut crosswise into 5cm(2inch)pieces
500g (1lb) asparagus,trimmed of tough woody stems,and cut crosswise into 2cm pieces
Flor de sal
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
freshly ground black pepper
250g ( 8oz) baby rocket
1/3 cup salted slivered almonds,toasted
1/3 cup roasted peanuts shelled

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the bacon, stirring often, until crisp, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain, leaving the bacon fat in the skillet.
Cook the asparagus in the skillet with the bacon fat, stirring often, until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 3 minutes. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and, using a slotted spoon, transfer to the plate with the bacon.  Add the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, and a scant 1/4 tsp. pepper to the fat in the skillet and whisk until combined.
In a large bowl, combine the asparagus, bacon,rocket, peanuts and almonds and toss with just enough warm vinaigrette to wilt the rocket . Serve immediately.
Result!!!!-clean plate


Monday, 13 May 2013

Croquetes de fava- being broadminded


Yeah its broad bean time again! Vicia faba, the broad or fava bean (broad beans as most Anglophiles know them)is an ancient staple of the Portuguese and many Middle Eastern and North African  cuisines. For use in the traditional recipes of these cuisines the bean is allowed to develop fully and is then dried, resulting in more nutritious dishes than in the European manner, where the beans are more frequently eaten green and immature.Ground into a flour known as shiro it also plays a central role in the Ethiopian culinary tradition.
While I adore fresh fava beans, I find it hard to justify the time commitment and labour intensity they require.
Mind you, I'm not against making an effort in the interest of great flavour. But unlike fresh pea pods, which are a delight to pop, these particular pods can be tiresome to rip open, and between the blanching and the peeling that follow, I'm frazzled before I've even started to cook the actual dish.
But how many people realise that broad beans are good not only eaten whole but also when mashed and made into a dough? This recipe is a little labour intensive but the flavour reward is worth the effort.These little gems are delicious served hot or cold, and even better, they can be made in advance and reheated in the oven.
Croquetes de fava
makes 24

300g (11oz) fresh favas (broad beans) podded
250g (9oz) plain flour
2 eggs
50g(2oz) butter,softened
1 teaspoon dried yeast,diluted in 1 tablespoon lukewarm water
olive oil for deep-frying
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

FOR THE FILLING
250g(9oz)ricotta cheese
1 egg
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
3 tablespoons fresh chives,finely chopped
a pinch of nutmeg
Blanch the beans in a large pan of boiling water for 1 minute then drain well and cool in cold water.Peel off the skins.Place the beans in a food processor and whizz until mushy.Transfer to a large bowl,add the eggs,flour,butter,yeast mixture, some salt and pepper and mix well with your hands until you obtain a smooth dough.Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about 30 minutes until slightly risen.
Meanwhile make the filling.Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix to a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper.
Shape the dough into balls the size of golf balls.On a lightly floured work surface,roll out each ball of dough into an oval shape about 3mm(1/8inch)thick.Plave a tablespoon of the filling on it and roll it,pinching the edges together to close.
Heat the oil in a large deep saucepan or a deep-fat fryer.Deep fry the croquetes,a few at a time,for 2-3 minutes,ontil golden brown.With a sharp knife,cut in half on the diagonal.Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot or cold.


 

Friday, 10 May 2013

TIP TOP TIPS - and an asparagus migas





























"Asparagus should be sexy and almost fluid"
Diana Vreeland Editor American Vogue 1963-1971

Ohh my giddy veggie aunt, I never knew there could be so many ways with asparagus,whether wild or farmed. At this time of year, from April to June, these lovely green spears are at their best and most tender.Here in Portugal wild asparagus can be foraged for free under the olive trees after the rains have beenin March.I was lucky enough to be able to find it this year on the banks below the castle here in Castro Marim.It was hard to believe one had a wild kitchen garden just a stones throw from ones home, but you have to be quick on the case - those Portuguese are always fast on the forage. Well, this season has long since passed like the rain and so its off to the market.
When I make asparagus, nine times out of ten, I roast it. Steamed asparagus is good and sautéed asparagus is even better, but neither compare to roasted asparagus.Roasting mellows the flavour of asparagus. It gets caramelized and tender and just perfect in every way. As soon as I saw spring asparagus in the market, I knew I had to buy it, but other than roasting it, I wasn’t sure how to be more inventive with it. My fridge is full to bust with pesto every which way so I decided against raw asparagus pesto but I have given you the recipe if you want to make it.It is a great stand by if you need a quick spring sandwich with a difference.This bright-green, fresh-tasting pesto is perfect for spreading on sandwiches, tossing with hot pasta, or slathering on crostini. However I decided to be a little more inventive and found this wonderful recipe from the urban locovore, an Australian blog that combines a Portuguese tradition(migas) with an interesting combination of other Portuguese ingredients. 

Roasted Asparagus, migas crumbs,goat curd and a fig infused port and balsamic reduction  
Serves 4 as a tapa

8 Asparagus spears
1/2 cup goat curd
2 tbs Fig Infused Port & Balsamic Reduction
Migas crumbs

Migas
200 g stale bread
100 ml olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup thyme leaves
 
To make the migas, soak the bread in water for 30 minutes, then squeeze out the excess. Heat the oil in a pan over a low heat and add the garlic and thyme. Add the bread and spread out over the base of the pan. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until it begins to crisp then turn the bread and cook until it is all crispy. Place on a paper towel to drain. When cool break down into crumbs. Season the asparagus and cook on a hot grill pan until soft and coloured. Place on a plate, top with a quenelle of goat curd, sprinkle with migas crumbs and finish with a drizzle of Fig Infused Port & Balsamic Reduction.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The case of the posh fish finger and the Wasabi crust


Like Kate Atkinson´s character, former police detective Jackson Brodie, I found myself recently drawn into the vortex of a culinary mystery.How do you coat almonds in wasabi and keep them spicy and crunchy? I cracked it (no pun intended) very quickly. Life´s too short - just buy a packet of wasabi peanuts.Having always been mad about wasabi, imagine my excitement at having stumbled across wasabi peanuts right here in the Algarve.Knowing myself too well I had to quickly find a recipe before I crammed face and they were all gone.Fish seemed to me the obvious choice, and I settled for salmon.Don't feel guilty at the extravagance, as just two pieces of salmon can be stretched to feed six guests a sensational starter, served with a crunchy, Algarvian style coleslaw on the side.
Wasabi peanut crusted salmon  
400 g salmon fillet
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
150 ml soda water
115 g flour (190 ml)
80 ml corn flour
A good pinch of Flor de sal
150 g pkt wasabi-coated peanuts, finely crushed
Sunflower oil for frying

For the Algarvian coleslaw
Shredded chinese leaf and little gem lettuce hearts
Cucumber, matchstick strips
Carrot, matchstick strips
1 small red pepper, matchstick strips
1 small green pepper,matchstick strips
Spring onions

For the wasabi mayonnaise
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Wasabi paste or creamed horseradish to taste
teaspoon grated lime zest
Mix all three ingredients well and serve in asmall bowl or ramekin

Prepare the coleslaw ingredients, combine and chill in a covered bowl.
Combine egg, soda water, flour, corn flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
Carefully pull off the skin from the salmon. Slice the fish into 36 neat, short fingers, while heating a pan of  sunflower oil,1cm deep.
Dip each fish slice into the batter to immerse completely, then lift out and drag across into the crushed peanuts to coat it well. Transfer them directly and individually into the heated oil, frying for no more than 30 seconds, turning once during this time until browned attractively.
Lift each one out with a slotted spoon, onto kitchen paper towel to drain. Serve warm or at room temperature with a small portion of coleslaw and a tiny dipping bowl of garlic  or wasabi mayonnaise.

Hints and Tips:
The peanuts can lose a little of their hot tang when they are deep fried so for a strong wasabi taste I smeared some wasabi paste on the salmon pieces bfore dipping them in the batter.
 
A food processor running on it's fastest speed setting,
handles the crushing of the peanuts perfectly.