Tuesday, November 25, 2008

let them eat....Wild Rocket Soup

Today I cooked them up there a potato based soup finished with wild organic rocket (same as the wild rocket that grows all over the island except that it costs €18 a kilo). The trick with potato soups is to get the potato/liquid ratio right (probably by adding what seems like too much liquid) so you dont end up up with Stretched Potato Soup (AKA SPS). Today I failed and served them SPS

Anyway the recipe is: sweat some onion and garlic in lots of olive oil, add chopped, peeled potatoes, sweat some more, add (slightly more) liquid (than you think), bring to boil, add rocket and blend. Season. It should be a lovely silky vibrant green.

Some funny things are going on with prices these days. €18 is an awful lot for some weeds. I know I sound like a grumpy old Mutfak but it is. Ribeye steak costs €18 a kilo, halibut fillet in the supermarket cost 16 bucks today. I guess its all in the packaging. Have it growing wild in the field next to your house dont look right but have it covered in mud and in a plastic bag such as they have in the veg stalls here and badabing! a desirable object is born.

My favourite has to be the modern marketing/packaging/rebranding of Ibiza salt. If you go the excellent Cash Loto you can pick a kilo of Sal Torres for 36 cents. If you go to the nearest shop selling Sal de Ibiza you can pick up the same salt for up €110 a kilo (yep, 305.5 recurring times more expensive). Now go to your friends houses, and see how many of them have these beautiful, desirable little turquoise pots of God's greatest gift to man besides poontang.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

let them eat....Chicken Freakasay

I was driving up to the house today with Caesar Salad planned cos there was some little gems to use up. I was going to serve it with fried chicken breast - a way of serving this dish that has become popular over the last decade. I am totally against this but not to the point of not doing it if I think no one is looking. I can see where it is coming from but it shouldn't be allowed really.

Anyway the weather was so utterly rubbish that salad as main dish was not really an option so I changed it to chicken fricasee which was ok but not that great. The Ibicenco handyman/henchman really didnt like it. Apart from a few exceptions the spanish dont really seem to dig bechamel/veloute style dishes. Nor do they really like risotto (and before you think it - risotto is in no way similar to paella. It is about as similar as mash potatoes and chips). I think it is because of the butter. The Spanish just dont do butter like the Engleesh. Or Marlon Brando.

Not sure if I mentioned this but have found out recently that the boss came to the villa 3 times this summer. And stayed for 4 days each time. 12 days. 12 days in one year.

Light so crap today couldnt take no photos so just gonna leave a photo of somethingorother.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

let them eat....Spanish tortilla

I dont know what it is about doing recipix of this Spanish classic but I have tried three times over the last year and each time something stops me from being able to complete it; visitors, failure of light and now yesteday's camera running out of batteries. Three times I have tried and three times I have failed.

Shame really cos it was a really good one - soft potatoes with a few bits of golden edge, sweet onion, the centre still moist and perfectly salted.

I have been in Spain now off and on for more than 20 years and the tortilla has been there by my side since day one. I arrived by train in Barcelona’s Paseo de Gracia and emerged from the darkness of the subterranean train station into the brilliant sunshine and swarming Plaza Catalunya. I sat down in Bar Zurich to await god knows what. I ordered a beer and a Spanish tortilla bocadillo (bocadillo meaning little bite, but it is invariably an enormous length of phat Spanish baguette, rubbed with tomatoes, drenched in olive oil and spinkled generously, perhaps overgenerously, with salt). And that was pretty much my diet for the first 9 months of my time there.

I cant remember who showed me how to make tortilla but I wish I could so as I could thank them. The recipes I have been shown since are all inferior and in many ways indicative of why spanish food is in decline in the domestic arena. The recipe is (and one day I will manage to recipix it) as follows:

You will need:
1k potatoes
1 large spanish onion
And a good frying pan that will hold all the ingredients and give you a nice thick tortilla at the end. A thin tortilla is a poor tortilla.
And a mixing bowl big enough to mix everything easily.

- Peel waxy or floury potatoes and slice them to the same thickness more or less as 3 euro coins placed together. You want them all to be roughly the same size so they cook evenly.

- Pour olive oil into a good frying pan, put the potatoes in and put on a medium heat.

- Whilst they are frying peel the onion, cut it in half and slice across the grain slightly thinner than the potatoes.

- Pour the potatoes out of the pan into a large bowl, add the onions and generous salt and mix them together adding a bit more oil if it looks dry.

- Use this method of mixing the potatoes and onions throughout and continue cooking until the potato is soft and slightly golden. If there are uncooked bits but the rest is done then put a lid on for a couple of minutes and this should finish them off.

- Break the eggs into the same mixing bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour in the potato and onion and mix it up good. Taste it for salt. THERE MUST BE ENOUGH. THIS IS A VERY SIMPLE DISH AND WITH VERY SOFT FLAVOUR SO THERE MUST BE ENOUGH SALT. ACHTUNG. ACHTUNG. ACHTUNG!!!!!!! ✪ ☁ ☠ ✖ ✪ ☁ ☠ ✖ ✪ ☁ ☠ ☢ ✖ ✪ ☁ ☠ The mixture must be decidedly wet with the potato and onion sitting in a puddle of egg.

- Put the pan back on the heat and coat with a bit more oil. When it is hot pour in the mixture. Let it cook on a medium heat for a minute or two and then send a palette knife all the way round the edge (paying particular attention to any handle rivets that there may be) to see that it is not sticking. (If it is sticking really badly I suggest you give up and just make a hashy mess).

- Place a large flat plate or saucepan lid over it , flip it over and slide it off back into the pan using the palette knife to tuck in the edges so him look nice at end. (This is reasonably easy BUT make sure you do it over a work surface, not the cooker, so if it slips off you don’t have to spend hours cleaning your cooker AND make sure you have cloths or can handle the heat - having to drop it midway would be annoying).

- Cook another couple of minutes and the flip the tortilla back onto a clean plate.


NB Don’t over cook the egg as a dry tortilla is not easily enjoyed. Keep him nice and moist

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Last Time I Cooked for Eve

The last time I cooked for Eve she was lying in my bed. God what a bitch. Beautiful? Yes. Voluptuous? Yes. Misunderstood? No.

She had come to me crying about something or other. I never did find out what it was but whatever it was, she was really upset. Bawling her fucking eyes out, screaming and cursing. Something about not being fair and why the fuck shouldn’t she and I don’t know what. 

Anyway. I took her in my arms to try and comfort her but as usual she pushed me away spitting out what a useless fuck I was and how all men were the same – spineless, pussywhipped faggots. Man, I guess she hated men. But I didn’t care. I loved her.

I knew what was going on. I knew she how she despised me but I just didn’t care. So long as she kept coming to my bed she could do whatever the fuck she pleased. Goddam I loved that woman.

Another time she had turned upset and crying and in need of comfort. It took an unusually short time to to calm her down and it was achieved with a lot less insults and vitriolic rejection than usual. I took her in my arms and assured her that, yes all men, all men, were vile and wanted only one thing and she seemed to cheer up almost immediately. She suddenly remembered she had to be somewhere urgently and left. Fuck me if the fucking bitch didn’t steal my fucking wallet. Goddam pigskin wallet, best quality wallet money can buy. I’d have given her the fucking money. But oh no, she had to steal it. She was like that. Did stuff to piss people off cos she thought it was funny or some fucking shit like that.

Have you ever noticed how many bad or unpleasant words begin with or feature the letter V? Vile, vindictive, violent, vice, vicious, villian, vampire, vapid, vomit, vaccuous. And what is the predominant letter in that woman’s name? Some people say she has been misrepresented and blah, blah, blah – bullshit. She was a fucking bitch from start to finish. She knew exactly what she was doing with every little goddam thing she did or word she spoke.

Anyway. The last time I cooked for her she wanted her favourite – tarte aux pommes. She loved that dish. Her favourite apple was the Cherry Pippin. She had a seemingly endless supply of them and my God they were good – bright red, shiny and and heavy in my hand. It felt like it could explode at any minute. Bite into it and it did. Badabing!!!!! Mouth flooded with the clear, crisp, sweet flavour making me think of all things pure – blue skies, mountains, rivers and then……..her.

So anyway I made her this tart as she lay screaming and cursing on the bed. I don’t understand how she had the stamina to keep all that hatred and anger at such a pitch all the time. I guess it was her life blood.

I took three of those apples, peeled, cored and sliced them, tossed them in some vanilla sugar and put them on to steep with a gurgle of sauternes and shaving of lemon zest. Leaving the lid on I cooked them until the were soft enough to puree. Then I cooked them some more until they were slightly, ever so slightly, caramelised. Then I strained the syrup and pureed the apple.

Whislt that and the catawalling in the background were going on I took some butter from the fridge, cubed it and rubbed it into some sugar and OO flour. When it was crumbly I stopped, washed and dried my hands, broke an egg into a cup and whisked it with a fork. I poured 2/3 into the bowl and worked it quickly to a dough adding a tiny bit more of egg. When I had the dough, I flattened it, wrapped it and put it in the fridge. I poured myself a glass of calvados and went to the terrace for a smoke and think about this stuff.

When I had finished I took the pastry back out of the fridge. I dusted the marble and rolled out the pastry to a nice thickness. I rolled it on to the pin and then laid it across the tart case. I pushed the corners in to get a good right angle, passed the pin over the top of the case and flattened the upright edges slightly flush. I then lined it with oven paper, filled it with baking beans and cooked it at 140ÂșC with the fan on for 20 minutes. I then peeled three more apples, cored them and cut them into segments a la tarte aux pommes. I then dusted them with icing sugar and left them to mascerate. Whilst they macerated, I masturbated. No, not really – I had plans for later on but I washed my hands just in case. What I actually did was poach the segments in the strained syrup and to gently heat some apple and calvados jelly.

The tart case was now cooked so I removed the baking beans and paper and spread the puree over the bottom of the tart. Checking the segments were almost soft through I lifted them gently from the syrup with a slotted spoon and laid them out in the fanning circle you associate with this sort of thing. I brushed it with some of the jelly and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes at 140 without the fan.

Whilst it was cooking I went to the bathroom. She was by now passed out. I showered, dried and dressed and walked back past her without shouting “wake up, bitch and get the fuck out of my house.”

What I did do was to take the tart out tof the oven, cut a slice and take it through to her. The moment the aroma hit her nostrils she sat bolt upright and shouted “Where’s my food, you fuck?” I was standing next to her, arms outstretched, offering her this thing I had made for her in one hand and an ice cold glass of sauternes in the other. “Oh” she said , took them and devoured them. “More” she said and the same was repeated. This happened three more times and then she just laid back down on the bed and said “fuck me.”

God I loved that woman.