Local tapas – Broad bean purée

One of my favourite restaurants is my local tapas place, El Parador.  They have a fantastic and extensive menu of the tastiest tapas I’ve ever eaten, better than anything I ate in Spain to be honest! Despite the length of the menu everything comes out of the kitchen tasting incredibly fresh. I tend to pick a different vegetable dish every time I go, along with my favourite seafood dishes, perhaps something from the specials menu and a plate of padron peppers. I’m never disappointed.

On my last visit I came away with their cookbook, Tapas, by owners Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas. I decided I would make one of my favourite starters from the restaurant, Puré de Habas Verdes, or puréed broad beans with pan-fried garlic, rosemary and olive oil.

The recipe calls for garlic, broad beans, and rosemary, and as luck would have it I am growing all three on my plot. The broad beans were ripe for picking – a little late this year but they made it eventually! I let my plants grow tall, to well over a metre, and didn’t pinch the tops out. Occasionally a few blackfly would appear on the tops and then the ladybird army would move in and take them out (in fact, see my blog header picture for illustration).

010

I companion planted nasturtiums as they are meant to distract blackfly from the broad beans (and also for their tasty leaves and flowers), but perhaps the ladybirds are super efficient as the aphids have left the nasturtiums alone.

011

The rosemary used to live on my balcony, but it was taking over so it was the first thing I planted on my plot way back in March. I feel slightly guilty as it used to flower for several months of the year on the balcony and provide a favourite food for any intrepid bees managing to make their way up to the fifth floor.

014

It is thriving on the plot though. My garlic is about to flower so I decided to leave it in the ground and use some I had in the kitchen instead.

Finally, I got home from the pub on Friday night, refreshed my wheat sourdough, and by Saturday afternoon I had fresh pain de campagne:

005

Made with British organic flour (decanted into containers but it was probably from Dove’s or Bacheldre).

035

I really don’t think it gets much more local than that! Recipe from my local restaurant, home-grown ingredients, home-made bread.

The folks at El Parador have kindly given me permission to share the recipe.

Puré de Habas Verdes

Makes 1 litre (I halved the recipe to match my broad bean harvest)

olive oil
8 garlic cloves
Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
5 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 heaped tablespoon dried rosemary)
500g broad beans (fresh, frozen or tinned – we use frozen, just make sure you defrost them), husks removed (right now, it’s broad bean season, so use fresh! But frozen broad beans are great quality as they are flash frozen, so use them at any other time of the year)

033

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat. Peel the garlic cloves and crush them with the flat side of a broad blade knife or the bottom of a tablespoon. Add them to the pan with a pinch of salt and pepper and stir them around in the hot oil. Turn the heat right down and sauté very gently for 15-20 minutes, or until soft and pale golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a dish to one side.

Return the pan to a low heat, drop in the sprigs of rosemary and season with a further pinch of salt and pepper. Stir the rosemary around in the pan and fry gently until the leaves begin to change colour – about 5-7 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in the dish with the garlic. Take the pan off the heat and allow the infused oil to cool down.

038

When the oil is lukewarm, pour it into your food processor and drop in the garlic, rosemary, and broad beans. Set the processor off at a slow speed and blend to a thick, smooth paste. If it is too thick, add a bit more olive oil. Season to taste. Once done, spoon into a serving bowl and serve immediately, or heat up in a low oven and serve lukewarm.

048

It tasted just like it does in the restaurant – result!

I followed that up with another recipe from the book, Calamares Adobados a la Plancha (Chargrilled squid with garlic, chilli and coriander), make with British squid and balcony coriander.

051

054

Also delicious. I can really recommend going to El Parador if you are in London, and buying the cookbook whether you live here or not! The authors have a really friendly style of writing with lots of helpful tips. I’m sure I will get a lot of use out of my copy even though I can go to the restaurant any time I like.

Advertisements

Billingsgate Barbecue

Something I didn’t mention in my last post is that my classmate Alex is a chef. While we were at the market he bought ten mackerel and a few squid, and we all went back to his place for a barbecue – picking up a few bottles of Chapeldown Flint Dry on the way.

It was early to start drinking but we’d already been up for hours, and it was a beautiful warm sunny day. Alex busied himself in the kitchen, we drank wine in the garden outside, and soon we had a delicious lunch – I have to say it ranks up there with my favourite meals ever.

037
Taking the bone out of the squid

034
Alex preparing the squid

038
Vegetables ready to be cooked, and tabbouleh ready to be eaten.

045
Squid and courgettes on the barbecue.

046
The cooked squid – delicious.

050
The cooked courgettes and asparagus.

049
Mackerel cooking on the barbecue. Alex has kindly agreed to share the recipe:

Chermoula (North African marinade for fish but good for veg too!)

1 large bunch of parsley (finely chopped)
1 large bunch of coriander (finely chopped)
garlic (crushed) probably 3-6 cloves depending on taste (I’d sway to high end)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp hot paprika
A good dollop of harissa or a few chillis (finely chopped)
Juice and zest of a few lemons
Olive oil
S & P to taste (although of course we all eat no salt because it’s a public health nightmare) [ed – typical food policy student talk!]

Can whack it all in a processor and it is easier but I like the manual way: get everything real fine and add oil till you get a good pastey consistency. Add the lemon juice last so you can taste how lemony you want it. Season to taste, adjust garlic chilli to taste although of course will be less strong once cooked.

051
The finished mackerel, served with baba ghanoush made with an aubergine we barbecued earlier.

Now I’m having a little taste memory…. mmmmm.

Things I haven’t blogged

Sometimes it’s nice not to blog things. To go to a good restaurant and eat an amazing dinner, and not take pictures of every course. To bake something without getting flour all over my camera. And when you blog for work, which is a pleasure, sometimes blogging for pleasure can feel a bit more like… work.

Recently I’ve started collecting things to blog again. I’ll start with something not-so-recent, another Ottolenghi gem, stuffed onions: (link is to the original Guardian recipe which is the same as in the book, Plenty)

003

My Riverford veg man, Paul, had raved about these to me a couple of times and I finally got around to trying them when I made lunch for a friend.

007

They were as delicious as they are beautiful. The innards of the onions were cooked with the leftover vegetable stock and wine from the recipe to become a lovely onion soup, too. These are going on the list of Christmas vegetarian alternatives. I always liked the stuffing more than the turkey.

Cherry clafoutis

Pity me, people, for I am allergic to apples, and stonefruit of all kinds. Stonefruit and the start of the apple season are one of the best things about the fading summer, but for me it can be torture!. I’m not highly allergic, but I get an uncomfortable itching and slight swelling in my lips, mouth and throat. And it doesn’t happen every time. I seem to get along better with organic fruit, perhaps because the varieties chosen for organic growing are different from the most common conventional varieties. So I often ignore my allergy and shove a particularly lucious-looking apricot (or as Helly introduced me to last week, an apricot-nectarine cross – I have no idea what that’s called) into my mouth, only to scrabble through my handbag for an antihistamine moments later.

Luckily, there is one guaranteed way for me to eat stonefruit without a reaction: cook them first. One of my favourite ways of eating nectarines involves halving them and cooking them in a reduction of orange juice and Cointreau; delicious served with marscapone or vanilla cream.

With cherries though, it has to be clafoutis. It makes a great quick weeknight dessert, and the leftovers are great for breakfast the next morning. I leave the stones in the cherries; it means you have to take care while eating but then I think it forces you to savour every bite.

Slightly rubbish photos, I’m afraid, which is why I haven’t blogged this before – I seem to be incapable of getting any photos that reflect how utterly delicious this dessert is.

First you need some cherries; about 300g. Here in the picture you can see 250. It’s not enough – don’t skimp on cherries! Wait until the local cherries come on the market. It’s worth it.

002

You want them in a single layer on the bottom of your dish. If they just won’t fit you’ll have to pop a couple in your mouth as you go. If you’re not me, this is probably a good idea. If you’re me, sometimes you will give the spares to your cherry-loving flatmate instead. It’s a win-win – that’s all it takes to get her to do the dishes.

Next, whip up a quick batter with 2 eggs, 200ml milk, 40 grams of flour, 40 grams of sugar, and a heaped teaspoon of baking powder. Add a few drops of vanilla essence or cherry brandy if you have it.

Pour it over the cherries:

007

Stop pouring when the cherries start to float. You don’t want too much batter. Incidentally, once I made this with almond milk and it was really tasty, however the batter was a little more dense.

Stick it in a hot oven (about 180 degrees) and cook for 30-35 minutes or until it starts to turn golden brown on top.

008

Here’s the hard part: you have to take it out of the oven and leave it to cool for a bit. It will sink down a little in the middle, that’s ok. Serve with lashings of single cream.

Sumac-spiced aubergine schnitzel

A few months ago I impulse-bought some sumac, and then completely forgot to do anything with it. I’ll freely admit that I’d never used it before and although I really liked the smell, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

So I did a bit of googling and found a recipe for sumac-spiced aubergine schnitzel, from (of all places) the Daily Mail.

I like aubergine, and I like pretty much anything coated in breadcrumbs and fried, so I was definitely already onto a winner here.

But when those breadcrumbs are combined with lemon rind, aged Parmesan, sumac, mint and parsley, it elevated the dish to something truly delicious.

069

I’d let the aubergine get a little old and wrinkly, so the outside slices (with the most skin) were a little tough to eat, but the inside slices were still good.

070

This was a bottom-of-the-fridge exercise but I ate it with some slightly wrinkled (and none the worse for it) cherry tomatoes, and some very spicy baby greens from my balcony. Those greens (mustard, rocket, mizuna etc) were so spicy they needed absolutely no dressing.

This one’s going into regular rotation, I think. The problem on the blogging front is I have so many recipes in regular rotation that it can be hard to try something new. Every time I get my veg box I look inside and think “cauliflower, that’ll do for the Ottolenghi cauliflower fritters. Cabbage can go into Parmesan skin soup. Cavalo nero – woohoo! I get to make tagliatelle with cavalo nero again! Potatoes – I’ll make another tortilla and I’ll use the rest to make some smoked mackerel fishcakes”. I’m stuck in a rut. It’s a rut of utter deliciousness. The changing seasons just give me a chance to make old favourites again.

Then again, there are some things I make all the time that I’ve never blogged. The fishcakes, for example, which I make constantly. Stay tuned for my next post, I’m finally going to blog my favourite summer dessert.

Courgette tarts – recipe

It’s courgette season, which means time to come up with 101 ways to use the delicious and prolific summer squashes so we don’t get completely sick of them, because we’ll miss them when they’re gone!

I thought I would make some little courgette and goat cheese tarts for a quick summer supper. The days are so hot at the moment it’s all about things that cook in as little time as possible!

Unfortunately this did require turning the oven on, but they did not take long to cook. I bought ready-rolled puff pastry from the supermarket. This is not the weather to make pastry in, and even the ready-rolled stuff was quite difficult to handle in the heat, despite being chilled in the fridge first.

The pictures are from my first batch. I improved them in the second batch but didn’t take any photos.

You need:
Ready rolled puff pastry
Tub of soft goat cheese
Two courgettes
Thyme, and/or oregano – whatever you have fresh and on hand
Lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

First mix some thyme/oregano and lemon rind into the soft goat cheese (the first time I just sprinkled it on top – mixing it in worked better). Slice the courgettes as finely as possible. You can do this crosswise or lengthwise.

Cut squares of pastry and then scored a line about 2cm in from the edge of the squares and about halfway through the pastry.

002

Then spread the goat cheese mix on:

004

Then layer the courgettes on top of the goat cheese. I did one layer in the pictures but I think it works better with two, if you can stop them sliding off the edges. It’s important to keep them within the scored line.

Season, brush with a decent amount of olive oil, then cook in a hot oven until the pastry has puffed up and turned golden brown.

010

Serve with a salad. It’s also lovely with some parmesan shaved on top.

012