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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Crema Catalana

This was dessert at the Catalan feast… Very similar to Creme Brulee, it contains all the usual goodness of a dessert. Eggs, milk and a load of sugar. The use of a kind of branding iron to encrust the sugar is traditional but new to me. It’s as common place in a Catalan kitchen as having an electric kettle in England or a refrigerator specifically used for Mountain Dew in the United States, sorry. Again, thanks to Sergio for all of the effort and showing me how to caramelise the sugar Catalan style.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 cinnamon stick – optional
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1  cup  sugar
  • 3 tbsp corn starch

Method

Bring the milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon to the boil over low heat. Next, take the mixture off the heat and let it cool down, then strain the milk and cream mixture to get rid of any lumps (removing the cinnamon stick in the process.)Mix the egg yolks and ½ cup of the sugar until you start to get  thick creamy texture. Now it’s time to dissolve the cornstarch in 4 tbsp of the warm milk mixture that you just made,  stir it back into the remaining mixture, this will thicken it even further and act as a stabiliser. Mix the milk in with the eggs and sugar and put it all in a pyrex bowl (or similar)  over a pan of simmering water. Stir continuously until the cream thickens even further, making sure that it doesn’t boil. When this has thickened up nice, let the cream cool  for a minute and and pour it into the bowls or ramekins. Put these in the fridge until they’re cold, or for as long as you want, (even overnight) when you are ready to serve, sprinkle a generous amount of the remaining sugar over each bowl or ramekin.

Heat the iron over the stove, and press it against the sugar until it is starts to burn and caramelise. It’ll form a lovely crust. Careful not to leave it on the sugar for too long otherwise it’ll go black (another way is to use a blow torch.) Serve immediately and enjoy.

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Scones

There might be controversy over the pronunciation (/skoʊn/, rhyming with “cone” or /skɒn/, rhyming with “gone”?)But there is no controversy about how delicious they are.

I ate a scone in England and it looked this this.

Then I tried to make my own scones at home and they didn’t exactly come out how I’d hoped. I got a recipe from the Delia, queen of the English kitchen. I think there may be a problem with my oven temperature because lots of things don’t rise correctly. I think if you follow this recipe, and you have a slightly newer oven than we do, your scones will turn out fine!

  • 8 oz (225 g) of self-raising flour
  • salt
  • 3 oz (75 g) of butter, at room temperature, cut into small lumps
  • 1½ oz (40 g) of brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Method

Preheat to 425°C (220°C).

Sift flour and a pinch of salt into large mixing bowl. Then add the butter. Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Mix in the brown sugar. In a measuring cup, beat together the egg and the buttermilk. Mix the everything together lightly with a palette knife. When it starts to come together, continue mixing with your hands. The dough should be soft but not sticky. If it seems to dry, add a little more buttermilk, a teaspoon at a time. The dough should come together in a ball, leaving the sides of the bowl clean.

Take the dough and shape it into a ball. Place it on a floured surface and also flour the rolling pin. Roll out the dough and make sure its not thinner than 1 inch (2.5 cm) – the scones won’t rise if they are rolled out too thin.

Use a cookie cutter or a glass to to cut out the scones. Place the cutter/glass on the dough and give it a tap – don’t twist it. Lift if up and push the dough out. Continue until you’re left with the trimmings, then bring those together and roll out the dough again; repeat.

Grease and lightly flour a baking sheet and place the scones on top. Brush the tops of the scones with buttermilk then dust with flour. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the scones are risen and golden brown. Remove and place on rack to cool.

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Yemas

Yemas, a sweet made from egg yolks and sugar,  are from Avila, a town to the north west of Madrid on the way to Salamanca. We brought a box of their delicacy back home to sample and unfortunately the verdict is a big thumbs down. The bad texture and an unpleasant taste combine to create something ummmm,  well, not good. That is however only our opinion as the people of Avila are clearly proud of “Yemas” and they seemed to have no problem in selling them, maybe to ignorant tourists but anyway, people were buying them. On the plus side, they come in a nice box!

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Torrijas

“Semana Santa” or “Holy week” has just passed. Here in Spain, attendance at Catholic churches is falling dramatically, with Spain’s youth apparently becoming more and more disillusioned with Catholicism. Well, that’s the theory, but you wouldn’t believe this was the case during Semana Santa. Spain doesn’t hold back; they take this very seriously… I’m talking processions that last up to 12 hours, pointy hats, thousands upon thousands of marchers, brass bands, drums, not to mention the countless effigies of Christ and the Virgin Mary and the tens of thousands of people that line the streets to watch…

Food wise, the star has to be Torrijas. Served almost exclusively in the Easter period, it is a kind of French toast/Eggy bread, with copious amounts of sugar. It can vary on the quality, like any dish I guess, but the picture above was of  a really good one that we ate on a terraza in Caceres in Extremedura, the poorest region of mainland Spain. This really was the authentic Torrijas experience, as if I had tilted the camera up, I would have been photographing the pointy hatted marchers (nazarenos) bearing the weight of Christ on their shoulders. Recipe to follow shortly… promise.

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Apparently one of the “Tatin” sisters dropped her apple tart on the floor, decided to serve it anyway and wrote it into culinary history. We didn’t drop this version on the floor, but honestly if we had,  would probably eaten it anyway. It is a delicious dessert. One you should definitely try. We even used pre bought pastry to save time and worked out really well. Good luck and let us know if it was a success.

Ingredients

  • 5 apples (of your choice) peeled, cored and sliced into quarters
  • just under a cup of sugar
  • 100g butter
  • pre-made pastry
  • a little milk

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Then in a pan that you can put in the oven. i.e one that doesn’t have a plastic handle.

Sprinkle the sugar evenly on the bottom of the pan and then add the butter as illustrated. Put over a medium heat and the butter and the sugar will start to melt and caramelise. This should take about 4-5 minutes. Jiggle the pan around a bit to make sure that it the sugar and butter cook evenly. Now you are ready to add the apples.

Add them in a spiral, cramming them as tight as you can. Now cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Cut your pastry into a circle a bit bigger than your pan. Take the pan off the heat and place the pastry on top of the apples, tucking in the excess pastry as shown below.

Prick holes  in the pastry, brush it with some milk and put the pan in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the pastry is a golden brown.

When it is removed from the oven it should a bit like this.

Now it is time to flip the tarte. Be really careful as the juices from the apples and the caramel will be really hot. So, place a large plate over your pan and press down as hard as you can to create a seal. Then (wearing long sleeves) flip the plate and place on the work surface. You should have the perfect tarte. Hope so anyway!

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Chocolate brownies were made due to a lack of cocoa powder in the cupboard, but to be honest, maybe a blessing in disguise. Thanks to our New York/ Chicago visitor Caitlin for the inspiration behind the chocolate melting technique. Seriously it is such a good method as all you need is a bowl and some boiling water.

Ingredients

  • 225g dark chocolate at least 60% cocoa
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of sugar
  • 1 1/4 all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Method

First, preheat the oven to 180C (350 F). Next you need to melt the chocolate… This technique is genius (thanks again Caitlin.) Put all of your chocolate in a bowl, boil some water and pour it over the chocolate. Stir. As the chocolate melts, it will separate from the water. Now you can simply pour away the water (if a little remains in with the chocolate it won’t really matter.) In a separate small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla. Then pour in the chocolate mixture, followed by the flour mixture and whisk until combined.

Transfer liquid into well greased baking tin. Cook for about 30 minutes, but keep checking as this will vary depending on the depth of your tin.

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Flan

Last night we had a delicious flan in a restaurant and decided to try and recreate it today in our own kitchen.

I combined 2 recipes because, although the lovely Simone Ortega offers traditional recipes in her cookbook, 1080 Recetas de Cocina, she doesn’t always explain the steps in great details.

Ingredients

for the caramel sauce

  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water

for the flan

  • 3/4 liter of whole milk
  • 8 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons of vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 300F (150C).

In a frying pan, over high heat, stir the sugar and water together and then leave it without stirring until it turns a dark yellow/brown color. Before it gets too dark, remove from heat and pour  into the flan moulds (called flaneras). The caramel should solidify into a layer on the bottom.

Next, in a saucepan, combine the milk and vanilla and bring to a boil. Then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the whole eggs and the egg yolks with the sugar and whisk until foamy. Take the milk and vanilla liquid off the heat and allow to cool. When it’s cool, pour the liquid through a strainer into the egg mixture, only adding a little bit at a time so that the eggs don’t curdle. Stir the mixture until combined and then pour into the flan moulds.

The flan needs to be cooked in a water bath. We put boiling water in a deep baking tray on top of a cookie sheet. Place each flan mould into the water bath, in the oven, and bake for about 1 hour.

Check to see if they are ready by placing a knife into the center of the flan. The knife should come out clean. If it does, then it’s set and ready to come out of the oven. Allow to cool until room temperature, then put in the fridge. When they’re cold, take them out and use a knife to cut around the edge of the flan. Place a plate over the flan, flip it over, tap the flan mould, and voila!

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