Thursday, November 18, 2010

Biscuits from Heaven

Each day of the week the boys have to take a midmorning snack to school. Monday yoghurt; Tuesday sandwich, Wednesday fruit; Thursday biscuit; Friday dowhatchalike. At a quarter past eight this morning I realised that it was biscuit day and the biscuit tin was empty. I have been promising myself that I would get into the habit of making biscuits and stop giving them the shit that is generally available. One of the primary reasons being I just don’t trust big food corporations to do right by us.

I have also been promising them that we will find a biscuit recipe we like and make them together, become expert at them, be able to make them blind folded. They liked this idea and I have failed to produce the goods for weeks, months probably. But today was different. Today I said NO! Enough! The buck (biscuit) stops here! As I say it was 8.15 and we had to leave at 8.47 at the latest. I grabbed a recipe I know is good and started. 32 minutes later I placed a tray of cooling biscuits in the back of my car. Not just any biscuits either. No. These are biscuits you would not be ashamed to serve to God.

We ate some in the car on the way to school. The cooling biscuits held the still liquid chocolate suspended within it. The outside rim was crunchy and the centre chewy. They were sweet but with that essential undertone of salt. All this in 35 minutes. Boy, was I popular with them kids.

90g brown sugar

45g white sugar

125g butter

125g of chocolate chopped up

1 egg

125g flour

½ tspoon bicarbonate of soda

½ tspoon salt

Get your oven warmed up. 180ºC with fan. Warm that butter and cream it with the sugars. Stir in the chocolate and beat in the egg (we didn’t have an egg so used water). Stir in the flour, salt and bicarb. Bring all together.

Spoon out walnut sized blobs onto baking sheets and bake for 12mins. No matter what you do or what your oven says they will not all cook regularly so just go with it. They are ready when golden on the outside. Remove them and hang around the kitchenette until they have cooled. Then eat them

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Kids love anchovies. Despite all evidence to the contrary - retching, tears, escape – kids really do love anchovies. They just don’t know it yet.

When I refer to anchovies I don’t mean those hairy slithers of brown salt paste baked on to the top of pizzas nor do I mean bog standard supermarket anchovies. No, I mean the real thing. Spanish anchovies from Cantabria or by preference Anchoas de Escala form the Catalan coast. These last ones really are the king of anchovies. You can get them already cleaned, filleted and packed in olive oil or you can buy them whole and packed in salt. Obviously it is far less fiddly to buy the fillets and I am not sure whether the taste and texture benefits outweigh the ease. UNLESS OF COURSE IT IS SUNDAY MORNING. If that is the case then you need:

1 jar of Anchoas de Escala packed in salt

1 packet of salted crisps (not kettle – too crunchy)

Olive oil


Dark vermouth (In order of preference – “vermut” bought from a one eyed hunchback in Barcelona; Punt e Mes; Martini Rosso)

Soda water



A version of Sunday Morning Coming Down by Kris Kristofferson (KK)

A version of Sunday Morning Coming Down by Johnny Cash (JC)

A version of Sunday Morning Coming Down by Willie Nelson (WN)

Begin recipe on Saturday night by drinking enough to achieve an appalling hangover. On Sunday start by putting on the KK version of Sunday Morning Coming Down then put ice, lemon and a generous double double measure of Vermouth in a tall glass and top up with soda water. Gulp it down and make another.

Next find a sunny corner and begin the anchovies. Sipping all the while, take them out one by one. Squeeze off head and discard (or give to cat?). Now gently squeeze along the body and separate flesh into 2 fillets leaving the spine in tact. (The spine will make a fantastically other tapa to go along side). Do this to all of them. Put on JC version of SMCD. Wash the fillets under cold water to remove salt, scales and any bones that present themselves to you. Dry on paper towel and lay those mothers out. On a plate. Pour over some very good quality olive oil and leave for a bit.

Meanwhile flour and then fry the anchovy spines in olive oil. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Pour yourself another vermouth and go back to your sunny spot with the anchovies, crisps and spines. Delight in God’s bounty whilst Willie Nelson croons.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chinese water torture

Encouraged by the UK government’s business trip to China and in the spirit of free enterprise I have decided to find out which rice is most appropriate for an ancient method of torture much favoured in bygone times. It is simplicity itself and very cheap to boot. The victim is force fed uncooked rice and then force fed water to expand it.

I am experimenting with 3 types of rice – basmati, white short grain and brown rice. I poured the rices into separate glasses and covered with water. I started at 10am. By 10pm there seemed to be little change but the rice has softened and is like biting little bits of chalk.

I was thinking of cooking it at 38ºC to see what happened but then figured the body temperature might well be at 40ºC or so due to fever so am going to try it at that first.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kidz Fude - Raons

I am assured by the mongers of the new market that raons are peculiar to the Pitiusas’ waters but I am assured of a lot of things by a lot of people much of which I don’t believe. Whatever the truth it matters little. These superlative little fishes are divine. So beautiful, their wide flat bodies are the colours of the rainbow - they positively glisten.

I had bought them (at €69 a kilo) because a food writer doing a piece on the Mediterranean was coming to meet and eat with me that afternoon and I wanted to show her something nice (Miss McMichael). I bought four of them so we could each have two. In the end we only had one each because I felt bad depriving Lucrecia and the boys of this little luxury.

The meet and eat went well (yanks do meet and greet, I do meet and eat) and there were still two left. Not wanting them to languish unsavoured I asked Primo if he would like one. This was just before bed. He looked at the fish, stuck his finger in his mouth, gave the matter some thought and said “Yes. For breakfast.” With that he about turned and disappeared out the kitchen.

At breakfast the next morning I salted and then fried those little mothers in a nice pool of very hot olive oil giving them about 45 seconds on each side. Because the minuscule scales are not scraped off and are edible the skin crisps up beautifully and beneath this delicious golden coat lies the sweetest flesh of any fish I have eaten. Primo and Slim shared half each then fought for the tail whilst Lucrecia regally ate hers with a look quiet but intense pleasure. I looked back at Primo - he was busy carefully removing the tiny cheek oyster. A treasure indeed.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Kidz Fude - Snax

kidz snax

Hmmm….what I like about it is that it is soft on the top and crisp underneath and the cheese is really creamy but then a bit bitter too.” Primo is talking about a little something we just had to keep the lobo at the gate. The crackers are long, thin, uneven tongues of crisp water biscuit. Il Panaté” by Mario Fongo – Le Lingue di Suocera. Each one is about a palm wide and a foot long, or would be were it ever to stay whole. Its undulating surface is pinpricked through here and there, golden in the troughs and sandy in the mounds. Snapping it makes me feel like I am in an advert – slow motion, bursts of sunlight, blonde women with white teeth. It gives me wood.

The cheese is Taleggio. I discovered this delectable come hither cheese several years ago melted alongside some Gorgonzola bubbling on top of a tomato and polenta gratin. Hooked. Right there, right then. The Italians get Taleggio. We get Dairylea. Typical.

Just cut and cold it is good but melted it is as close to heaven that melted cheese is able to get. Anyway, cut thin slices of cheese, place on top of the cracker and blow torch until the cheese bubbles and melts.