Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Spanish Feasting

The theme for this weeks Cookbook challenge was Spanish & who doesn't love a good old Spanish feast?

The first dish I cooked was for my family, I had some egg yolks that needed using up & Bill Granger's Crema Catalana was calling my name.  I have never made one before but I guess its fairly similar to a brulee which I have had some success with & besides it meant I got to pull out & dust off my barely used blow torch - yay fun with fire!  The recipe was pretty good in that the end flavour was sensational, lovely spiced cream without being too sickly & the crackly top was a wonderful contrast even though I may have overdone the torching.  The only problem I had was that mine didn't seem to set in the oven even though I cooked them for a lot longer than the specified time.  A few hours in the fridge & they were pretty well set but I cant help feeling they were still a little on the soft side, not too worry as id didn't seem to effect the pleasure factor.  Oh and did I mention that I had this for breakfast as I knew there was no way I would have room after our potluck lunch (details to follow), very decadent breakfast!

Crema Catalana - Bill Granger - Simply Bill

625ml (2 1/2 cups) cream
170ml (2/3 cup) milk
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
2 cinnamon sticks
peel from 1 orange
peel from 1 lemon
6 egg yolks
4 tablespoons caster sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons soft brown sugar

Preheat oven to 140c.  Put the cream, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, orange and lemon peel in a saucepan over medium heat and bring just to boiling point, then remove from the heat. 

Whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large bowl.  Strain the cream and pour slowly over the yolks and sugar mixture, whisking constantly.  Skim off any foam that rises to the top.

Put six 125ml ramekins in a large roasting tin and spoon the mixture into them.  Pour hot water into the tin to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins & cover with foil.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until just set.  Lift the ramekins out of the tin and leave to cool before chilling in the fridge for 2 hours.

Preheat the grill to its hottest temperature.  Put the ramekins on a baking tray, sprinkle brown sugar over the chilled creams and then place under the grill for a couple of minutes until the sugar is melted & dark golden (alternately if you have a chef's blowtorch this is the time to use it).  Leave for a few minutes for the sugar to cool & harden before serving.  Serves 6.

Next I had to cook a dish for the Cookbook Challengers potluck Spanish themed lunch, kindly hosted by Agnes at Off the Spork.  I thought there may be a lot of reheating going on so I brought along a dish I could serve straight up.  This 'Asadilo de Pimientos', basically a Roasted capsicum, tomato, garlic and onion salad is a recipe by Frank Camorra in the Food Safari cookbook.  Personally I loved the salad and thought it was nice and refreshing alongside some of the heavier dishes of the day, hope everyone else enjoyed it too.  I've also been eating it for lunch since then on some nicely toasted sourdough rye, it's like a bit like an Italian bruschetta that way. 

Note this recipe has 2 whole heads of garlic in it so beware!  Also to note, I didnt bother peeling or seeding my tomatoes as I really cant see the big deal about going to all the extra effort.  For the dressing, I used half quantities & the dish was still swimming on dressing so dont feel the need to add the whole cup of olive oil or half a cup of sherry vinegar, in my opinion it would be way too much.

Asadillo de Pimientos (Frank Camorra) - Maeve O'Meara - Food Safari

6 red capsicums
2 onions
2 heads garlic
250ml extra virgin olive oil (arbequina if possible)
sea salt
500g tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
125ml sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and crushed

Preheat oven to 180c.  Place the whole capsicums, onions and garlic in a baking dish.  Drizzle with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Roast for 30 minutes or until the onion is soft.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (the steam will help loosen the skins) and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Put the tomato and parsley in a separate bowl.  Squeeze the onions from their skins, roughly chop them and add to tomatoes.  Cut the tops of the heads of garlic & squeeze the cloves into the bowl.  Peel the capsicums and discard the seeds.  Tear the flesh into strips and add to the bowl.  Pour over the remaining oil and the sherry vinegar.  Sprinkle with the cumin and add salt to taste.  Toss well with your hands.

And to end of Spanish week with a bang I give you the Cookbook Challengers Potluck lunch.  As I said before the lovely Agnes at Off the Spork hosted with other 'cooking' guests being Penny at Jeroxie (Addictive and ConsumingApril at My Food Trail, Cherrie at Sweet Cherrie Pie, and Leigh of Chit, Chat, Chomp, plus some partners and stomachs for good measure (you know who you are!).

The aim was to bring along your Spanish dish for everyone to share.  The picture above does no justice to the amount of food we consumed in the end, with some people cooking up to 4 dishes (I think that was the max). From memory this is what we had, Oxtail (beef) stew, wrinkly potatoes, deep fried custard & lemon tart all from Agnes,  octopus stew, sardines, mushrooms & toast from Penny, garlic prawns, breads & friands from April, beef roll ups from Cherrie, Chorizo, pea & filo parcels plus Spanish bickies from Leigh & the salad from myself.  A fantastic feast from all thanks very much.  For individual details and closer ups of all the other dishes, sure they will all be posted on the girls blogs soon.  Nice to meet some fellow lovers of food & share the love on a sunny Melbourne afternoon


Agnes said...

Wow, I can't believe you ate crema catalana for breakfast! What an eating day you had. ;)

And thanks for coming along to lunch - it was really nice to meet you!

What's For Tea? said...

Now I'm REALLY sorry I missed lunch!

Great job everyone - looks gorgeous. DEFINITELY see you for the next one!

chitchatchomp@yahoo.com.au said...

Your salad was wonderful - so fresh with lots of flavour. Gotta love sherry vinegar.

Thanks for wonderful afternoon Ange!

Anna said...

We stomachs felt extremely indulged by such an incredible meal, thanks so much :)