lunes, 30 de noviembre de 2009

Tower of shortbread with cream and fruit

Another sweet delicacy for everyone’s palate and eyesight. Easy as baking a tray of biscuits, and filling them with cream and fruit. Whichever fruit you have at home will do, strawberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries, raspberries, etc. The funny thing about this dessert is that when you have it in front of you, ready to eat, you realise that you have to “destroy” that beauty and you don’t know how....anyway, provide your guests with a fork and see what happens...


300g softened butter

150 icing sugar

Zest of one lemon

Dash of vanilla extract

1 egg, lightly beaten

450g sifted flour

Preheat the oven to 180degrees. Grease two trays and place them in the fridge while you make the biscuit dough.

Mix the butter and sugar, add the zest and vanilla, then the egg little by little, beating after every addition. Add the flour and mix until you have consistent dough. Divide the dough into two and roll out to 2,5mm and place it on the trays. Place the trays back in the fridge until they harden.

When this is done, flour the biscuit cutter of your choice, cut out three discs per portion, and place them in a greased oven tray. When you have them all in the tray, bake them at 180 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are a bit brown. Cool in the tray for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a cooling rack.


200ml whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing sugar to taste

400g fruit of your choice

Icing sugar to sprinkle

Whip the cream with the sugar, and then add the vanilla. Now it’s time to assemble the plate. To do this, grab one of the biscuits and place it on the plate, fill a piping bag with the cream and place small rosettes around the biscuits and place fruit in between every rosette. Repeat with another biscuit and place it on top of the first one, now for the top one,place just one drop of cream and one strawberry and decorate with fresh mint leaves. Sprinkle the icing sugar on top of the “tower” and enjoy...

lunes, 23 de noviembre de 2009

Lamb shanks with nutty couscous

Lamb is on of my favourite meats, because of its flavour and textyure.I chose shanks for this dish because I like the way it falls from the bone when it has been cooked in the oven. to serve, a lovely couscous, with nuts and aromatised with rose water, just a few drops, otherwise we can ruin the plate, beause it has a very strong flavour. This is a very simple dish, you don't need many ingrediets and the flavour is amzing.

I guess it's more than obvious that I love middle eastern food, because of its flavour and colour. Couscous is part of the daily life in middle eastern households and nuts are an ideal touch to a meal. Middle eastern gastronomy is a varied one, with wonderful ingredients ready to surprise your palate. Coscous is a healthy option as well, and I always add the nuts to it, whichever ones you had at home will do, walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, etc. And sultanas, lots of sultanas...

For the Lamb

Lamb shanks, one per person
3 bay leaves
Drizzle of white wine
Half a lemon, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper


Season the meat, and place it in an oven tray along with the rest of the ingredients, and bake at 180 degrees for an hour and 15 minutes, aproximately. When a knife comes out easily from the meat, its done. Reserve.

For the couscous

150g couscous
Handful of nuts
A few drops of rose water
Handful of sultanas or dried apricots (choped)
250ml very hot chicken stock or water
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Place the couscous in a bol and cover it with the hot stock or water. Cover the bol with a plate and let it rest for 10-15minutes. Check if the liquid has dissolve , and separate the couscous grains with a fork if so. Let cool.

When the couscous is completely cold, add the rest of the ingredients, if you add walnuts, chop them a little. Drizzle wth the olive oil and season. Serve in a big dish with the lamb shanks on top of the couscous, and decorate with dates if you want.

lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2009

Crêpes Suzette

I love crepes, not only eating them but making the batter, cooking them, and thinking about the filling. I prefer the crepes to be thinner than usual, almost paper thin. I really admire french people for making them up and the best thing is that you can fill them up with millions of combinations, chocolate, fruits, cream, stewed fruit, even savoury crepes are delicious. Whenever I need my sugar dose and want to indulge myself, I make some crepes and fill them up with jam, or "dulce de leche" and I'm good to go. Today I give you the crepes suzette, a wondeful and delicious recipe, if you have never tried these before, you will now know what have you been missing.When I have the time, I always always make these, and afterwards I don't even feel guilty, because hey there's fruit in it.

I serve these on a plate or bowl, dressed with the orange butter after flambe them with the liquor we decide to use whichever one we have at home. This is optional. And the only thing you have to make, apart from the crepes is the orange butter, but this is such an easy dessert that it's the one thing I make or bring to a dinner with friends whenever I don't have the time to make an ellaborate pudding. You will need a flat frying pan, special for crepes, or a non stick one. We also need a spatula for turning the crepes over. The first one is ussually the test one, so get rid of it, don't desperate and carry on. Even if you dont flambe the crepes you will need some liquor for the orange butter, I always use Grand Marnier because the taste is delicious, but Cointreau or even brandy will do the trick. This is how I make them...

For the crepes
1 cup plain flour
2 eggs
1 tablespoon sugar
zest of one orange
30g melted butter
1 cup milk

melted butter for cooking the crepes


Mix the flour with the zest, the sugar and the eggs, add the buter and the milk. It should be a light mixtture, like cream, if not, add more milk. Brush a non stick pan with melted butter, when hot, add a laddle full of the batter and move the pan in circles so it covers all the surface, when set, turn it over with a spatula and let set for a few seconds. Place on a plate and carry on cooking the rest of the crepes, brushing the pan with the melted butter when necessary. Pile them up, cover them with cling film, when you finish cooking them all and let rest if you have the time for at least 30 minutes. (you can freeze them at this stage)

For the orange butter

200g melted butter
the zest of 1 orange (yes,another one)
3 or 4 tablespoons icing sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup Grand Marnier


Mix all the ingredients. At this stage the mixture can look a bit curdled but don't panic, as soon as you heat it it will be OK. To do this, place the orange butter in a big saucepan, over a low heat. Reserve. Now we have to prepare the crepes, to do this I like to make them decent by opening them on my cutting board, and place in a plate on top of it, but upside down, I then cut the excess with a knife, this way all my crepes are the same size and they look more pretty.

OK, let's go back to the orange butter. When you have heat the butter and starts bubbling, grab a crepe and place it open in the saucepan, and very carefuly fold it over twice, so you have a triangle in hte end, do this with the rest of the crepes, and yous saucepan will be filled with lovely triangles, you have to spoon the butter on top so to make surethat the whole of the crepe gets sucked in all those wonderful juices. At this point you can flambe them, to do this, graba laddle and fill it with the liquor, place it on the heat and set it on fire, pour it on the crepes and spoon the liquid over until the alcohol has evaporated. If you feel brave take do this at the table in fron of your guests. Serve with ice cream or fresh fruit and don't forget some extra sauce on the side.

domingo, 8 de noviembre de 2009

Roasts of the World I - British Sunday Roast

So, I decided to start a series of entries with the subject of "Roasts of the world". I would like to publish here some of the recipes for roasts that I have tried "in situ" (lucky me!) Others will be cooked after researching and trying to be the close to the "real thing". First things first, because I live in England and because this plate is undoubtedly one of the most representative dishes in the british gastronomy, my first roast entry is the british Sunday roast.

There's a Sunday roast, everywhere you go...on a Sunday of course, with a choice of meat, you can have roastbeef, or lamb or pork, with all the trimmings. My only concern is that I have been served (in some of them) frozen boiled veggetables with the roast, no herbs, no olive oil (quite unbelievable for me, being a spanish and an olive oil addict) Anyway, I hardly reccomend to use fresh vegetables, because they are easy to make, and delicious. This roast is a beef one, and I included the tasty goose fat roast potatoes, the mighty Yorkshire pudding, the fresh vegetables (honey glazed) and stuffing balls (Iknow, I Know, you are not supposed to serve stuffing with the beef, but I like stuffing and I wanted to show it here, so what?) All this is served with gravy, proper gravy, of course, don't think about that brown paste like powder that you need to mix with boiling water, no no no... proper gravy is easy to make and very tasty, really. Sunday roast is delicious if you follow the rules, so...ladies and gentleman I give you the Sunday Roast...(you may need a siesta afterwards)

For the roast beef (or the meat you want)

1 piece of meat (whatever you choose)

1 onion peeled and cut in half

5 0 6 garlic cloves

4 sprigs of thyme

salt and pepper

olive oil


Preheat the oven to 200degrees. Season the meat and seal it on a high heat until brown. Place it in the oven tray with the onion, the garlic and the thyme (don't forget the oil it has been fried on and the juices). Bake at 200 for the first 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 170, cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes for every 500g of meat. Reserve the cooking liquids for the gravy.

For the Yorkshire pudding

150g plain flour

150ml milk

2 eggs

salt and pepper

olive oil or beef dripping

Preheat the oven to 180degrees. Get a muffin tray and place small quantities of the olive oil of beef dripping (whatever you decide to use) in every hole. Place the tray in the hot oven and heat, this is essential for the pudding to rise.

Sieve the four and place it in a big bowl, add the beaten egg and the milk, mix and season well. Take the muffin tray from the oven and fill two thirds with the mix in every hole, quickly return the tray to the hot oven and bake for 25-30minutes.

For the potatoes

1 kg floury potatoes such as King edward

100g goose fat or oilive oil


Preheat the oven to 18o and place the fat or the olive oil in an oven tray inside the oven to heat while you boil the potatoes. Boil the potatoes in plenty of boiling water for just 5 minutes, no more, you don't want to cook them through. Drain the liquid and shake the pan to soften the edges, this will make them crusty in the oven. Place the potatoes in the preheated oven tray and bake 40-50 minutes shaking the tray every now and then and turning them halfway through. Season with salt once they are coked.

For the stuffing

250g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 onion finely chopped

6-8 sage leaves chopped

1 egg

salt and pepper

olive oil


Sweat the onion in a pan with the olive oil until is a bit translucid, add the chopped sage and the breadcrumbs, season well and mix until everything is combined. Transfer to a bowl and add the beaten egg. Shape this mixture into bite size balls and place them in a greased oven tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

For the glazed vegetables

2 or 3 carrots

2 or 3 parsnisps

100ml honey

100ml orange juice

3 sprigsof thyme

salt and pepper

Cut the carrots and parsnisps into batons, and boil them for five minutes. Drain the water and place them in an oven tray. In a bowl mix the honey, oranje juice, salt and pepper and the thyme and drizzle over the vegetables. Bake at 170 for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.

For the gravy

100ml white wine

100ml beef or chicken stock

1 tablespoon flour

It's important to keep the liquid that the meat has been cooked in. Place the roast tray (without the meat) on the stove on high heat and scratch the surface with a woodenspoon. Add the wine and carry on scratching, when the juices have reduced a little, add the flour and stock, and keep on scratching until everything thickens and all the juices are combined. Place in a gravy pot and reserve.

When you have cooked everything, it's time to serve the roast. To do this, thinly slice the beef and place 3 or 4 slices in each plate, along with 4 or 5 roast potatoes, 4 or 5 stuffing balls, the vegetables and one Yorkshire pudding per head. Serve with the gravy. (and an antacid for dessert!)