Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Risalamande - Rice Pudding with Almands and Cherry Sauce

Here's a typical Danish Christmas dessert called risalamande. I's a rice pudding mixed with whipped cream, almonds and served with a warm cherry sauce. It just happens to be red and white like the Danish flag. According to tradition, all the almonds except one are chopped. The person who finds the whole amond then gets a prize of some kind.
Ingredients (for 6 people):
80g of risotto rice
600ml full fat milk
200ml water
1 pod of fresh vanilla
100g almonds
400ml whipping cream
Sugar to taste
Cherry Sauce:
1/4 kg fresh cherries
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup of water
Fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp maizena

You need to make the rice pudding in advance as it needs to be cold. Make it the day before. Pour the rice and milk into a pot with a thick base. If the base is too thin you will burn the rice.

Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod and throw them with the pod itself into the milk. Bring it slowly to a boil. Cover with lid and boil slowly for around 50 minutes, and REMEMBER to stir ocasionally or it will burn. Especially towards the end.

After cooking, let it cool down, remove vanilla pod and place it in the fridge until the next day.

Now, to make the sauce, de-pit the cherries by cutting a circle around the centre, twist and remove pit.

Add the sugar and water and let it simmer slowly for 20 minutes until the berries are soft.

Squeeze some lemon in to the sauce.

Ad the maizena and stir. This will thicken the sauce.

Chop the almonds coarsely, add to the rice pudding. Don't forget to leave one almond whole and buy a present for the finder.

Whip the cream.

Stir in the rice pudding and almonds.

Add sugar to taste.

Pour the warm cherry sauce over the cold risalamande. Merry Christmas.

Tuna Mousse

Here's a little something inspired by a starter I had in a restaurant when I was back in Denmark recently. It's built around a basic tuna mousse, which has been pimped up with some salmon. You'll need:
2-3 cans of tuna
1 onion
1 tbsp freshly cut dill
1 tsp lemon juice
2 leafs of gelatine
1/2 dl whipping cream
1/4 l. crème fraîche
Fresh Dill
Smoked salmon
Mixed lettuce
Lemon Cubes (Lemon juice+gelatine, recipe at the end)

Start by softeing the gelatine in cold water for 5 minutes.

Break up and crush the tuna. Shred the onion into the tuna.

Add salt (not too much, the tuna might be quie salt. You can always adjust later), white pepper and freshly chopped dill.

Whip the cream.

Mix the cream and crème fraîche into the tuna. Taste for salt.

Heat up the gelatine with a bit of the water in the microwave or over bain-marie. Stir it until it is completely disolved. Mix it into the tuna.

Pour it into individual, buttered ramekins or a bread tin. Place in fridge for minimum 4 hours or better, overnight. Once you are going to serve, place them in warm water for a few minutes which will help them slide out. Furthermore, you can losen them around the edges with a knife.

For making lemon squares, which basically is a lemon-jello cube instead of squeesing fresh lemon over the final dish, you take the juice from a lemon.

Pour it into some softened gelatine (see above). Heat it up carefully in a microwave and stir to disolve the gelatine. Pour in to a greased tray and cool off until it stiffens. Cut into to tiny squares.

Plate the dish with the mousse, salmon, some lettuce, capers, the lemon squares and sprinkle some fresh dill over it.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Ensaladilla Rusa - Another Spanish Tapa

Just time for a quick recipe for another Spanish tapa: Ensaladilla Rusa. As the name suggests it was actually a Russian invention from 1860's Moscow and is also know as Salade Olivier. It's a great way of getting rid of some of those old cans you have hidden away in your kitchen cupboards, and although the preparation takes some time (all the chopping), it's really simple to do. furthermore, this is not a definitive recipe and some people might argue that some ingredients are missing or too much, but it's really just a throw-together-whatever-you-have kind of recipe. For the same reason I haven't given any exact meassures. Apart from what you see here, you can also add, eggs, prawns, ham, peas and just about anything you like:

Chop some raw carrots into fine cubes.

Mix them with some sweetcorn, roasted (or raw) red pepper, also diced.

Dice some pickled gherkins, add them.

Add some chopped asparagus.

Some finely cubed, boiled potatoes.

Crush some tuna and add it.

Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Great fresh and even greater after 24 hours in the fridge.

Serve with a good dollop of mayonnaise. I prefer serving it with the mayo rather than mixing it all in from the beginning. this way it stores better.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Cookies - Warning, very addictive!

These cookies are sensational. No more, no less. You can whip up a batch in less than 10 minutes and have delicious cookies in no time. I've often usen them as a dessert, fresh out of the oven while they are still soft and chewy, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on top and warm chocolate sauce poured over. But they do come with a warning, they are highly addictive and eating too many and you will end up with a tummy ache. But Christmas is around the corner and the diet doesn't start until January, so what are you waiting for. Go bake!
150g of white sugar
150g of brown sugar (the sticky kind)
125g of half-melted butter
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp raising powder
340 g of flour
Chunks of Chocolate (White & Dark)

Add the butter to the two types of sugar. Mix it till you get a creamy consistency.

Add the eggs and whisk it white and creamy before adding the flour.

Mix the vanilla, raising powder with the flour and add it. When baking these, don't improvise on measures as it's all a rather exact science. This is build on years and years of trial and error. Just go with me on this one.

Use the dough hooks on your mixer.

This batch is mixed with dark and white chocolate and walnuts. Other suggestions are M&Ms or raisins. Place the dough on cling film. Roll it into a sausage and put it in the fridge for at least and hour. Or you could even make a big batch and keep them a couple of days, and then take them out. Cut a few and make freshly baked cookies.

Take the dough out of the fridge and slice it.

Place on baking paper and put in the oven at 180º for more or less 10 minutes.

They might look raw when you take them out, but you need to look for the lower part of the cookie to be slightly brown. Leave them too long and they'll go dry or even worse - burn.

Here you can see the brown base a bit clearer. Let cool completely before storing. Keep your fingers off them aswell ... if you can. At least for a few minutes anyway. The chocoloate and the sugar is HOT.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Roasted Duck

In Spain, where I live, ducks are pretty hard to come by, so when I found a frozen one in my Lidl supermarket, I thought, why not give it a try. In Denmark, where I was born, we always ate duck for Christmas and for a local holiday called Morten's aften ("The eve of St. Martin") which refers to a myth of Saint Morten of Denmark who out of humility didn't want to become a bishop. He hid amongst geese to avoid being found, but the trecherous little animals started making lots of noise and he was found after all. The first thing he decide as bishop was that everybody should butcher and eat a goose on the 11th of November. Today the duck has taken it's place on the dinner table in stead.
Here's my version of roasting the duck whole. It can be quite tricky as the temperature you need for making the meat tender and juicy is much lower than what you need for making the skin crispy. Many chefs prefers to cook it in parts, but when you are busy making all the traditional side dishes, such as red cabbage and caramelized potatoes (recipes to follow soon), it's easier just to leave it whole in the oven.
1 duck, neck and wing tips removed (and reserved)
5l water
400 g salt
1-2 apples
1 bag of prunes
Wing tips, neck, heart
1 carrot
1 onion
1 twig of rosemary
1 glass of red wine
chicken stock
some prunes
1/2 apple
spoonful of butter
spoonful of duck dripping
1 spoonful of flour

Stir the 400g of salt in the 5l of water until it's completely dissolved, submerge the duck in the brine for 6 hours. Throw away the brine, put the duck in fresh water to rinse for 1 hour, change the water evey 15 minutes. Leave the duck to dry completely for 24 hours covered in the fridge.

Remove excess fat from the area around the back.

Press down hard on the breast to crack the chest bone. This will make it flatter and ease the roasting and carving.

Cut the apple into smaller pieces, get a handful of prunes.

Sprinkle tem with pepper.This is easier than sprinkling pepper inside the bird.

Stuff the bird with the apples and prunes. You then need to close the bird a bit. I do this by making a few holes through which I pull a string to "sew" it. You can simply just tie the legs together as well.

Then you need to perforate the skin all over, with about a couple of centimetres between each pinch. Don't go through to the meat, this is only to give the fat (the skin is impermeable skin) a way to get out during cooking. This will help crispying up the skin.

Then sprinkle it with black pepper and baste it with some melted butter. The butte is used because the sugars in the butter will caramelise and turn the skin to a lovely dark brown colour. Put it in the oven on a grill above a roasting tray with a bit of water to collect the prippings. The oven needs to be pretty hot to start with to start roasting the skin. Set it at 240º. Give it 30 minutes with the breast side down.

Meanwhile for making the sauce, fry the wings,neck and heart with a carrot and a chopped onion. Add a twig of rosemary.

When everything has got some colour, add a glass of redwine and let it reduce to half. Then add chicken stock until everything is covered and leave to simmer while the duck roasts away. See later how to finish the sauce.

After the initial 30 minutes, turn the bird over and sprinkle the top (now the breast side) with coarse salt. Lower the temperature to 180ºC and leave it roasting slowly.

I'm basting here, but have just learnt that you shouldn't (Alton Brown on Google and Food Network Thanksgiving). So, don't! Use a meat thermometre to decide when the meat is done. When the thickest part of the breast or thigh reached 75º it's cooked. In my case it took about 2h 30m. If you want, you can add some extra apples and prunes into the roasting tray.

Leave the bird rest for 10-15 minutes while you finish off the sauce. Don't cover it, or the crispy skin will go soft. I forgot to take a picture of the sauce making, but basically I strained and reserved the fond from the fried wings and neck, melted a bit of butter with some duck fat drippings and then made a roux by frying a spoonful of butter in the fat. After a minute I added the fond and slowly warmed it up while stirring and then tasted for salt and pepper.

To cut the breast, cut down along the chest bone of the bird and around the the upper part of the thigh. The meat, if properly cooked, will come off by itself.

Here's the duck breast served with boiled potatoes, red cabbage and caramelized potatoes (recipes to follow soon).