Archive for June, 2013

After the first full moon of May as the Spring turns to Summer the Spanish coastal towns from Tarifa to Conil watch in the splendour of Blue-fin tuna making their way from the cold Atlantic waters to warmer Mediterranean spawning grounds.

Their streamlined bodies having packed on blubber during the winter months make these massive Blue-fin tuna a mighty catch. Most are frozen and shipped to Japan at a hefty price but some are destined for the restaurants that line the south west coast of Andalusia and even make their way as far south as El Capote (Gibraltar)!

With plenty of newcomers to El Capote’s food and wine matching evenings, Ian and Chef Lede set out a fantastic menu to herald this fantastic fish. And may I say, what a treat was in store for us!

9 different fresh tuna courses. Tostas, Mojama, Brocheta, Sashimi, Tartar, Tataki, Galete, Lomo, Albondiga!

A modo de Tapas

  • Tostas de Atún en manteca colorá de citricos y polvo de ibérico

Fresh tuna sitting on a toasted tortilla spread with lard that had been mixed with the zest and juice of an orange to cut through the fatty fish. Served with tiny pieces of cured Spanish ham which added a necessary salty intensity to the tuna. Beautiful.

  • Salmorejo cordobés con Mojama de Atún y huevos de codorniz

This dish was delicious – sweet salmorejo that had cured meat and boiled egg served with. However, instead of cured jamón; mojama (cured tuna). The mojama cube adding salty seasoning to the intensely sweet salmorejo topped with a boiled quail’s egg. Simple and wonderful in one bite!  And then finish the bowl of sweet, silky salmorejo.  We had a competition on our table to see who could get their bowl the cleanest – if my memory (after all that wine) serves me correctly the winner was Owen – as I cheated and used my finger!  Finger-licking-good!!

  • Brocheta de Atún con espuma de soja

Tuna, wrapped in nori (maki roll) with pearled rice and fried.  Served with a little wasabi sauce and soya cream.  Originally meant to be a tempura dish, however some of the diners expressed the need for some dishes to be gluten-free.  Therefore Ian with Chef Lede redesigned the finish to this dish so that it would still have the same structure with crispy pieces to provide contrast in texture.  Just as tasty and gluten-free.

A modo de Japo-Andaluz

  • Tartar de Atún, condimentos y mezclum de hierbas con nieve de manzana

A very light and delicate balance of flavours in this dish. The tuna tartar was sublime – accompanied by a tangle of zesty-green, fresh leaves. I was watching Chef Lede’s assistant add the green apple ‘snow’ to the dish; a workman should never blame his tools but the ‘snow’ was snowballing onto the plate as opposed to his anticipated light flutter. He did try to clear some of the snow-flurry off but his fingers literally ploughed through the delicate tartar! Perhaps creating an apple sorbet or freeze-drying the apple shavings previously would have created the desired effect. However, I loved this dish, I thought it would make a great light lunch or even a starter at a dinner party – fantastic.

  • Sashimi de ventresca de Atún con helado de Wasabi y vinagreta de Yuzu

Tuna belly sashimi. Wasabi ice-cream. Yuzu vinaigrette. Sounds simple – but this dish got me very excited! The wasabi ice-cream sitting on top of the sashimi was such a clever touch to what was already a gorgeous dish. Tuna belly is a prized ingredient in sushi and sashimi – sometimes referred to as the ‘king of ingredients’ due to its rich, fatty flavour. The yuzu, a kind of japanese citrus fruit, with its aromatic, almost floral flavour provided a an acidic backnote to cut through the fatty tuna – absolutely delicious.

  • Tataki de lomo negro de Atún con su ajoblanco – ajonegro

Tuna tenderloin of dark meat sitting on ajoblanco (aka white gazpacho: almonds, garlic, bread, water, oil and vinegar). The tenderloin was meaty and served in slices showing us the quality of the meat. Seared on the outside and quiveringly rare in the centre. The ajoblanco with its caviar and balsamic notes providing necessary tang and to what was otherwise a sublime dish.

beautiful, tasty, fantastic, absolutely delicious, sublime

I didn’t eat the ajonegro as the idea of bitter burnt garlic didn’t appeal to me – but then again was I meant to? And this is what I absolutely love about eating at El Capote on these evenings – it’s not just fuel consumption but a multisensory experience where diner must look, touch, smell, taste, think before taking the culinary plunge.

A modo de guisos de toda la vida pero a mi manera

  • Lomo blanco de Atún en tomate con su pellejito

Tenderloin of white meat in a tomato sauce. Again another winner. We’ve all had tuna in tomato before. I used to have tuna in tomato with pasta as a student but never as good at this! It goes to show how the quality of the product is what Mediterranean cooking is all about – simple dishes where the product sets the standard for excellence.

  • Patata de feria, Galete de Atún con papas en su papel de plata

“I’m sorry everyone but the next dish went a bit wrong. The foil paper that the potato is cooked in has stuck to the jacket skin – you’re going to have to peel it off but the inside is delicious!”

Was the voice of Ian as he served us up the next dish. With regulars heckling the man demanding a discount and newcomers trying to explain to their fellow diners that everything had been fantastic so far so they had no problem with this, the Patatas arrived at the table. A hush descended on the room…

…very clever. The foil was edible silver leaf! Cutting through the potato revealed flaked tuna (reminiscent of El Huerto De Lede). The potato sat in a light broth adding seasoning and flavour to the whole dish.

  • Albóndiga de Atún encebollado

By now most of us couldn’t have thought of how else tuna was going to be served and then suddenly we were given a massive tuna meatball each! However, a delicious tuna meatball. An absolute shame that as we cut into the tuna meatball none of the eggs were runny as this would have been impressive on the eye but the flavour was still there. Delicious.

The entire evening’s menu degustacion of tuna dish upon tuna dish was deliriously excellent.  However, if I have to pick the dish that was my favourite of the night it has to be the Tuna Tataki con su ajoblanco/ajonegro.

dessert

As a little bonus, we were given a dessert that wasn’t on the menu: pinenuts, vanilla ice-cream and basil sauce served with a parmesan melt.  Fresh and zingy – an excellent way to liven the palate after the rich dishes we had just been given the pleasure to share with eachother.

What’s next?  It’s surely got to be El Capote’s Greatest Hits.  I know which ones would make my top 5 – which are yours?

Having established a benchmark of food and drink at my parties a few years ago, what could I pull out of the bag to feed my 20+ guests this party round?  After all I can no longer get away with several bags of doritos and assorted dips!

Do I provide my standard party medly of spiced nuts, cranberry glazed cocktail sausages and pesto palmiers?  Surely that’s a more wintry repertoire.  With the weather nearing the cusp of summer a lighter menu would be more appropriate.

So when thinking of summer food what do we recall to mind?  For me it’s things like chilled gazpacho, salads, fruit and veg and bbq meat!  How could I go about trying to incorporate these ideas into my repertoire of party food?

Summer Party Menu:

strawberry cocktail

taken from youtube.com

Strawberry Champagne Cocktail

In a blender blitz strawberries, lemon juice and icing sugar until you form a strawberry puree.  Pour this into the bottom of champagne glasses and top up with the fizzy wine of your choice.

After much deliberation the following is the menu I decided on:

Ajo Blanco (aka white gazpacho), Roast vegetable cous cous salad, Cauliflower cake and Beef carpaccio with parmesan shavings.  For dessert homemade limoncello and biscotti.

Ajo BlancoAjo blanco

I followed a Sam and Sam Clark Moro recipe (having even asked them which bread to use via Twitter!) but looking online there are several sites that have similar if identical recipes.

Literally combine almonds, garlic, stale bread, olive oil, sherry vinegar and iced water in a blender and blitz until it forms a smooth-like liquid with the consistency of cream.  Chill and serve with white grape cheeks.  This needs to be served ice cold – so either put into the freezer for a while before serving or pour over ice.

Top Tip: beware the volume of liquid you put into your processor as you don’t want it pouring out of the central post as mine did!!

Roast Vegetable Cous Cous SaladRoasted-Veg-Couscous

This couldn’t be easier; roast the veggies you wish – peppers, red onions and courgettes give the best flavour for this but I also used some leftover asparagus.  Aubergine is a great veg to use in this as it is a meaty vegetable providing texture as well as colour.

When you’re ready to assemble, pour boiling water or stock over the cous cous making sure to just cover in liquid.  Cover in cling film and leave until the cous cous has absorbed all the water.  Mix the veg through and add chopped herbs – parsely, corriander and mint work best.

Cauliflower CakeCauliflower Cake

A recipe from Foodat52 from my Foodie Weekend but a quick online search has given me the exact same recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi  (Follow the Yotam hyperlink to take you to the recipe) at the Guardian online.

I’ve followed this cauliflower cake recipe several times now.  The 10 eggs in the batter make the cake soufflé in the tin.  It is decadent, delicious, moreish and full of flavour.  Ideal as a light lunch.  You could almost replace the ubiquitous lunchtime quiche with this golden cauliflower delight.

decadent, delicious, moreish

The great thing about the cauliflower cake is that it is even better the following day!

Beef CarpaccioBeef Carpaccio

As all my other dishes were unintentionally vegetarian I decided to pull out all the stops with a prime fillet of beef for the carnivores amongst us.

Make sure that the fillet is at room temperature before attempting to cook it.

Roll the prime fillet in sea salt, crushed black pepper, finely chopped rosemary and thyme (no oil).  Once the griddle is smoking hot, sear the fillet for a minute all the way round.

Then take off the heat and leave to rest.  Once the meat has rested for anything from 5 – 10mins, slice it as thinly as you can AND with the back of the knife flatten each slice as much as possible without grinding the fillet into a mush on your board.

Top Tip: Know your audience!  As there are many people attending the party who would not like to eat their meat carpaccio-style, put the end of meat into the oven.  Leave to rest and then carve this in thin slices/strips.

Lay the slices of carpaccio onto a dish and shave parmesan over.  Sprinkle with some fresh thyme and drizzle with a simple dressing of olive oil, mustard and sherry vinegar.  If serving this as a main meal accompany the carpaccio with peppery rocket leaves.

Limoncello and Biscotti

click on the hyperlink to direct you to the recipes.

If there is one recipe from the ones mentioned above that you MUST try and recreate it has to be Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower Cake.  I’m off to scrounge in the fridge for leftovers!

Enjoy the summer everyone.