Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

Several years ago, I was taken to a hidden gem of a chiringuito (beach bar) which instead of being on ochre, sandy shores lapped by the azure blue waters of the Atlantic, was located on a raised promontory overlooking the beaches of Tarifa below.  Arriving for an early lunch, we chose to sit at a suspended table that gently swayed with the breeze, lulling us under the shade of the pine trees.

As romantic as this sounds, in hindsight, it was probably not the most convenient of places to sit at for lunch as between our crossed legs, our beach bags and cutlery there was hardly any room for the plates!  Salads and fish were ordered but there was one standout dish that I shall always associate it with that suspended table under the pine trees; atún encebollado.

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From what I could conceive at the time, it was just large cubes of fresh tuna cooked in an onion broth.  Both delicious and easy to recreate…or so I thought; having tried different versions of this at various restaurants and tapas bars.

I recently came across a youtube clip by Karlos Arguiñano, a chef from the Basque Country (Spain) who I used to watch on TV as a child, where he was preparing the dish, atún encebollado and decided it was time to give it a go myself.

I like the idea of serving this over potatoes but not chips, as happens in many tapas bars but roast potatoes just won’t do in this dish as you don’t want crunchy bits.  Pommes de terre à la boulangère, with a texture that almost dissolves into the bouillon is ideal as it mirrors the texture of the tuna.

Atún Encebollado with my cheat Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère

This dish has two parts – the tuna and the potatoes which I recommend are cooked indepedently of eachother.  Some recipes will ask for potatoes, tuna and onions be cooked simultaneously as a casserole but I’m not a fan of doing it this way.  Work with the potatoes first as this needs a longer cooking and is more forgiving should you need to do this ahead of time and won’t dry out should the dish need to sit for a while whilst you organise yourself with the tuna.  Use stock cubes/liquid bouillon to speed up the process.

Pommes de Terre à la Boulangère (my quick cheat version)

Ingredients:Potatoes-Boulangere

3 large potatoes
1 large white onion
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of thyme
2 Bay leaves
A glass of white wine/dry sherry
1/2 litre Vegetable stock
Butter
Oil
Salt and pepper

Method: 

1st: Slice the onion and sauté in oil and butter until translucent (5-10mins).
2nd: Slice the potatoes into thick slices; skin on and add to the onions. Sauté for 10mins.
3rd:  Deglaze the pan with a good glug of white wine.  Chop the garlic cloves and add to the pan with the thyme and bay leaves.  Season well and pour in the vegetable stock.
4th:Make sure the stock just covers the potatoes and simmer for 10-15mins.
5th: Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
6th: Butter the bottom and sides of an oven dish.  Add the potatoes, onion and stock and cook in the oven until the potatoes are tender and coloured on top.

Atún EncebolladoBonito-encebollado-1

Cook this once the potatoes have gone into the oven or at a later time.

Ingredients:

500g tuna
5 medium white onions
2 garlic cloves
1/2 litre of fish stock
A glass of white wine/dry sherry
1 Tspn pimentón (dulce)
1 Bay leaf
Butter
Oil
Parsley to decorate (optional)

Method:

1st: Slice the onions and sauté in oil and butter until translucent (5-10mins)
2nd: Deglaze the pan with a good glug of white wine.  Chop the garlic cloves and add to the pan with the bay leaf and the pimentón.  Season well and pour in the fish stock.
Simmer for approx 15mins making sure the pan does not dry out.
3rd: Cut the tuna steaks (I prefer using fatty tuna for a dish like this) into large chunks and add to the onions towards the end of the cooking time. Serve once cooked.

Note: If you prefer using tuna loin instead of fatty tuna, I recommend not adding this to the onions but to griddle it to your liking and then serve with the onions poured over.

Serve hot and as Karlos himself would say, “Rico, rico con fundamento.”

 

 

 

 

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IMG-9263These are the sort of thing that you snack on quite easily without realising how many tails you are unashamedly stacking on the side of your plate!  Don’t be fooled, this is nothing like the whiff of Hawaiian Tropic sun lotion nor is it dessert-sweet – just a delicious morsel of crispy fried prawn with a tropical twist.  Actually, this would be perfect with pineapple rice on the side as a main dish.

1Kg of prawns easily serves 4 as a part of a mezze style table, however, depending on appetites depends on whether you’ll be fighting over the last prawn or calling it quits before sneakily stealing one last one before dessert.

Ingredients:

1Kg of uncooked grey prawns

1/2 cup of plain flour (all purpose)

1/2 tspn salt

1/4 tspn garlic salt

2 egg whites

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 cup dessicated coconut

Method:

1st: Remove the shell off the prawns leaving the tails in tact.  Devein the prawns and butterfly them.  Press down on the prawn using the back of a knife to flatten the prawn.

2nd: In one bowl mix the flour, salt and garlic salt.  In another whisk the egg whites and in a third bowl mix the panko breadcrumbs with the dessicated coconut.

3rd: Hold the prawn by its tail, and dredge it first through the flour mixture, then the egg whites and then the panko breadcrumb mixture.

4th: Place on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for 30mins to an hour.

5th: Fry by your chosen method.  When shallow frying keep an eye on the colour of the oil and change as necessary.  Drain on kitchen paper

6th: Serve with chilli jam to dip the prawns in or a spritz of lime, or pineapple rice.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. would be happy to serve these in their restaurants!

 

Summer holidays are finally over, children back at school and reality sets in that the beach will become a weekend activity for the next few weeks whilst the September sun still entices us with hot, summer days and balmy evenings.

It’s too hot to turn the oven on and no one fancies heavy, comforting, autumnal fare just yet but just because we’ve changed our spades for satchels and sandals for suits doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a bit more sunshine in the kitchen.

The BBQ grill is still our friend and these tangy, spicy jerk chicken and pineapple skewers are the ideal thing to make and just as easy to eat!!

Jerk seasoning, a spicy blend of ingredients such as chillies, thyme, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg originates from Jamaica and you can make it as hot as you can take, from merely hot to incendiary. If you want to make the recipe from scratch you can (jerk mix) or just buy a Jerk Seasoning spice mix from the shops. Whatever suits you.

Ingredients – all quantities given for 1 chicken breast per person

1 chicken breast per person

1 small pineapple cut into large chunks or 1/2 tub of fresh pineapple chunks

1/2 tsp of jerk seasoning

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp of olive oil

Method

1st: Cut the chicken breast into chunks. Place in a bowl.

2nd: Mix the jerk seasoning, lime juice & olive oil and pour over the chicken breast chunks. Make sure the chicken is coated in the marinade and leave to marinate for anything from 30mins to overnight.

3rd: Light the BBQ and prepare the chicken skewers. Once the coals are glowing white hot put the skewers on the grill and allow to colour before turning over.

4th: Serve with Creole-style rice and black beans, a sprinkling of coriander leaves and wedges of lime to squeeze over.

The juicy pineapple has a cooling effect on the spicy jerk chicken and the combination of sweet and spicy plays with the taste buds. If you’re preparing this for children or as part of a family dinner, make individual skewers hotter with a few drops of Tabasco sauce or a shower of dried chilli flakes.

Any leftovers can be eaten cold the following day with more Creole-style rice and green leaves.

Frozen Yoghurt

Posted: June 4, 2017 in Dessert, Fruit, Summer

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You’ve got to make this!  It is ridiculously simple and easy to make, tastes delicious and most importantly, is a healthy frozen yoghurt dessert for those mid week suppers.

3 ingredients, 5 mins in a food processor, 30mins in the deep freeze, lasts up to a month

Ingredients:

500g natural yoghurt (use Greek, fat free, bio, you chose!)
500g fruit
Honey to taste
Add any other flavours you wish to stir in: chopped mint, choc chips, nuts, peanut butter…the combinations are up to you!

If you’re making for one day to the next, then it is not necessary that the fruit is frozen beforehand – however, if you’re planning on serving it for dinner that same night, then you’ll need a stash of frozen fruit in your deep freeze as this will help set the frozen yoghurt within 30mins to 1hr of being made.

My preferred flavour combo is summer berry and mint but I recently made a mango and passion fruit version which I quite liked.  The only problem with mangoes is how ripe they are when you use them – you may find that you’ll need to up the sugar content if using less ripened fruit, especially as passion fruit can be quite tart too.

frogurt2.jpgWith the heat on the up and summer nearly here these make a great dessert or afternoon treat.  Whether you make a containerful to scoop onto cones or as individual popsicles made in shop-bought moulds, kids love them and adults do too!

Let me know which flavour combinations you make and which become your favourites.

Gastrorob

How to prepare…

Posted: August 21, 2016 in Seafood, Summer, Uncategorized
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When on holiday in the Mediterranean we all like to feast on deep fried squid rings; sweet and succulent to the bite with a lemon spritz.  For those of us that live on the shores of the Med, we are fortunate enough to dine on this delicious cephalopod as often as the seas allow us.  However, for those of you less fortunate, squid or as it is now trendily referred to on restaurant menus, calamari, is something you can only long for on your summer hols.

If you can’t wait for next year to enjoy delicious calamari rings and those you find in restaurants back home don’t quite measure up, then your only option is to purchase whole squid and turn them into calamari rings yourself.

“Can’t be bothered doing that,” I hear you say, “I’m too squeamish!” scream some, “I don’t want that mess in my kitchen,” justify the others BUT this is a work of mere moments.

All major supermarkets sell fresh squid and those that have a proper fishmongers onsite will clean and prep them for you, should you wish, however cleaning and preparing squid is not daunting.  Follow these simple steps below:

1st: Hold the squid firmly above the eyes and pull the body away from the hood.

2nd: Cut the tentacles off by holding the squid below the eyes.  Take care not to burst the ink sack as this will be very messy. Avoid the beak (mouth) as this will not be pleasant to eat, this can be found inside the head, near the eyes.  Reserve the tentacles and discard the remainder of the body.

3rd: Remove the cartilage from the inside of the hood.

4th: Now thoroughly clean the hood, inside and outside.
Remove the pinkish layer of skin and wings.  These come off easily.
Turn the hood inside out, I find this easiest to do by pushing a chopstick from the tip until the hood has turned inside out.
Give the inside a good scrape with a knife and rinse to get rid of any gritty, slimy traces.

5th: Turn the hood inside out again, taking care not to rupture it, this is now ready to cook.

Slice into rings and pass through seasoned flour before deep frying for delicious calamari rings.  Wedge of lemon on the side.

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Alternatively, open the calamari hood and score the flesh on both sides and grill over hot coals – for a true taste of summer.  I love the way they curl as the heat hits them trapping any salsa / dressing juices that you drizzle over.

CalamariSalad

photo taken from http://www.taste.com.au

 

Like something that Robin might shout at Batman, this summer gave me: Frozen Bananas!

In a bid to rescue my waistline and save me from the evil Dr. Hart E. Tack I’ve been peeling, slicing and freezing bananas since June.  Actually I have also frozen raspberries, blackberries and blueberries throughout the summer.

So what have I been using my frozen fruits for?

My weekday summer breakfast has been an ice-cold smoothie of bananas and summer berries; packed with summer fruits (high in antioxidants) and thickened with porridge oats.

For those of you that haven’t seen through the charade; imagine a bowl of ice cold porridge in drink form!  A smoothie though normally chilled with ice-cubes, this can dilute the smoothie in both taste and consistency; hence substituting this for frozen bananas which become slushy when blitzed.

You can buy packets of frozen summer berries but I prefer to buy punnets of fresh summer fruits and freeze them in bags.  That way I can add more of one kind of berry than the others.  Also remember that our grocery stores do not always stock fresh varieties of summer berries, so purchasing them when they are available and freezing them means you can have a regular supply.  Plus fruits bought in season tend to be cheaper than at other times of the year.  Do not use canned fruit as they are generally disappointing.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler:

  • pour ¾ of a glass of milk into a blender and add a handful of frozen banana slices as well as any other fruit you wish.  Add ¼ cup of porridge oats and blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass and drink!

A nutritious alternative to summer berries is to add a tablespoon of peanut butter which combos perfectly with bananas.

I know that summer will officially come to an end in the next few days but the temperature doesn’t necessarily reflect that – so I can see myself breakfasting on summer berry-banana smoothies for a few more weeks to come.

Blitz away!

 

The beginning of summer heralds tuna from the Atlantic to make their way to the warmer spawning grounds of the Mediterranean.  As they swim along the western coastline of Southern Spain to cross through the Straits of Gibraltar they become ensnared in a maze of nets – the subsequent slaughter; Almadraba is an age old tradition practised in fishing villages from Conil to Tarifa since Phoenician times.

This method of catching tuna preserves the integrity of the animal’s meat which makes it as soft as butter to eat – hence why it is such a delicacy.

And if slicing this tuna and eating it sashimi style was not delicious enough, Chef Lede at El Capote, showcased 9 exquisite dishes to celebrate this glorious fish.

Atún de la Almadraba

The ideology behind a lot of the food served at these evenings is to challenge your culinary practices – anyone can cook a tuna steak – but can you think outside the box and create something different and innovative that is still a flavoursome tuna dish?

Once again Chef Lede pushed boundaries and broke culinary norms.  There was still an element of Asian influence in some of Chef Lede’s approaches; for example tuna sashimi sprayed with a mist of soya vinaigrette served with an intense spicy tomato relish.  Simple, clean but beautiful.  Or the decadent tuna tataki served with ajo blanco, kimchi and sushi sauce which I have to say was absolutely divine; my favourite dish.

The evening’s entertainment started with Chef Lede going round each table and assembling the first dish of Chicharrones de Atún (Tuna Scratchings) directly onto the centre of the table.  The tuna scratchings were delicious; salty, crispy and puffed in every bite, served with puffed corn crisps on a bed of fried breadcrumbs spiced with pimentón and olive oil caviar.  The creativity in this dish got everyone talking and buzzing with excitement as to what might be coming next.

The next dish was a subtle but savoury macaroon filled with smoked tuna and Manchego cheese.  At first bite the sweetness of the macaroon came through and some people were put off by this – however I found that the sweetness was very subtle and balanced the seasoning well.  I enjoyed this idea but would have liked it served warmer; I thought it could be an excellent dinner party starter – even though as delicate as macaroons are, one would be enough.

I had tried the following ‘tomatillo’ at Calentita where Chef Lede cooked at the Live Kitchen but there were some changes to the execution of this for the better.  Tomatillos de salmorejo con mojama, falsa tierra de migas y polvo de aceitunas (Salmorejo ‘tomatoes’ with salt cured tuna, served on a bed of breadcrumbs and black olive powder).  At Calentita the salmorejo was frozen almost slush-like and very cold; this time round the salmorejo was at room temperature and seductively oozed out of the tomato-shell and mingled with the mojama and the savoury breadcrumb and black olive rubble.  A delicious mouthful.

Tunafest Tuna TartareTuna and green apple tartare served on avocado and lime puree with scorched kimchi sauce was met with mixed reviews.  I personally would have liked the tuna to be minced further and the apple itself being less dominant in the dish – a quick grating of green apple might have achieved this.  I tend to like tartare dishes to have an almost vinegary tang to them and this was achieved mainly from the kimchi sauce rather than the apples themselves – perhaps the apples were not acidic enough?  Maybe some diced cornichons (which are normally served with steak tartare) might have given a more acidic note to the dish.  This however is purely a matter of opinion as the dish was well executed and the theatre of Chef Lede blow torching his way around El Capote was an added bonus.

Michelin starred peasant food at its best!

Callos de Atún followed and this really stumped everyone.  The magic behind this dish was in the fish sausage that was present in slices throughout the dish.  Not just adding flavour that you would normally associate with callos but texture.  The pescetarians as our table were very confused as to whether they would eat it or not and even started picking out the pieces of tuna sausage; however, once reassured that there was no meat in any of the dishes they dived back in, scraping the bowl and wanting more!

 

Ventresa de atún (tuna belly) served with ‘onion rings’ was another piece of theatre as there were two stocks.  The first being the
solid rings of stock placed on the dish, the other served hot in shot glasses where each guest needed to pour over the stock over their dish, melting the ‘onion rings’ and warming the slightly cooked dish.

Tuna belly also known as fatty tuna is the most succulent and flavoursome part of the fish and is seen as a delicacy in Japan.

Galete de atún guisado como un rabo de toro Andaluza surprised me with its rich and intense flavours.  I am assuming that the flesh at the tail end of the tuna was used for this dish and not necessarily that the dish was cooked as you would prepare oxtail; either pressure cooking or slow cooking for many hours.

The 9 tuna dishes presented to us were of a very high standard and each one delicious in its own right.  I felt that this year Chef Lede and Ian managed the serving of courses much better than they did at their previous tuna event and it is very impressive to think that in little old El Capote 320 plates were served over the course of the evening to an appreciative crowd.

Dessert will remain unmentioned as there was no tuna in it!

If there is anyone who would have liked to have attended a tuna inspired evening as above, let myself or El Capote know as there are only a few more weeks available of Atún de la Almadraba.

Tuna that cuts like butter!