Welcome to Mum&sons

My two eldest boys challenged me to start a cooking blog with simple recipes that we can cook together - and my youngest one has now joined in. I am hoping they pick up some cooking and photograph skills... or that at least they learn to design and run a blog.


PARTRIDGES ESCABECHADAS

This is a really great way to cook partridges. I was recently served this at a dinner and decided to try gain this recipe with the help of my mother.

You need:
- 3 partridges
- 2 carrots - cut in big chunks
- 2 onions - cut in half moons
- 4 bay leaves
- 5 garlic cloves
- 80 ml olive oil
- 150 ml white wine
- 50 ml water
- 2 springs of thyme
- 10 black peppercorns

Put half of the olive oil in a frying pan. Salt the partridges and fry them in the olive oil for a few minutes on all sides (they should not get golden).

Take the partridges out. Add the rest of the oil and fry the onions for 5-6- minutes over medium heat until soft. Then add the garlic, carrot, thyme and peppercorns. Add the water and wine. Put back the partridges in the pan. Cover with a lid and let them bubble oven low heat for 35 minutes. Put the partridges, vegetables and sauce in a glass jar and let it rest for one or two days before eating them.

Before you serve the partridges just heat them a little (not too much) . In the summer you can also eat them cold with a salad.


PHILO APPLE PIE

This is one of the easiest recipes of this blog and also one of the most delicious ones. All you need is:
- philo pastry: 10 sheets
- 6 apples (the trick of this pie is to use cooking apples, so that they become really soft and creamy and you end up with a kind of apple compote encased in crispy buttery philo)
- 125 gr butter
- 4 tablespoons of brown sugar

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.
Peel the apples and cut them into cubes. Heat 80g of butter in a pan, add the apples and the sugar and cook it all over medium heat for 8 minutes.
Melt the rest of the butter. Paint all the philo sheets with it and layer them over a round tin (the philo will be bigger than the tin which is fine, just keep overlapping the buttered philo sheets one over the other) Pour the apples over the philo. Cover the top of the apples with the excess philo tucking it all well so that you get a pie case. Paint it with some melted butter (see the picture) and just bake it for 20 minutes or until golden.


CHISTORRA

Chistorra is a great Spanish product. Similar to chorizo but thinner (because it was normally made with the tripes of lambs) It comes from the North of Spain and it is difficult to find it in the UK, but Brindisa is now selling it (as well as 'presa iberica' which is truly delicious iberico pork meat). All you need to do is to heat a pan (with no oil), cut the chistorra in 2 cms chuncks and fry it for 2-3 minutes until it is crispy on all sides. Just eat it with bread (crusty is best). Serve it as a snack or as an appetiser with drinks or on the side of fried eggs. It is always a success.
 

PATATAS BRAVAS

This is a very typical Spanish tapa. The name means 'brave potatoes' and it consists of fried potatoes with a hot sauce. Children normally like this because it is hot but not outrageously so. It is meant to be eaten at around 13.00 or so with a cold little beer  ('un cortito' ) just to stretch yourself until lunch at around 14.00… or 14.30… or even 15.00… Crazy, I know: when Spanish people finish lunch some British people start their tea.
 
Whether you add tomato sauce or not to the 'bravas' is a matter for national debate in Spain -  half Spain does and half does not. Just as half adds onion to the 'tortilla' and half does not; half prefer Cola-Cao and half Nesquik, half of us were brought up with Nocilla, and the other half with Tulicrem…people in a country disagreeing about trivial things is part of life - and it is also very healthy indeed! 

You need:
- half a potato per person
- lots of olive oil
- salt
- an onion ( dice thinly)
- a teaspoon of sweet paprika
- a teaspoon of hot paprika
- 2  tablespoons of plain flour
-  500 ml of chicken, beef or vegetable stock
- I normally add 5 tablespoons of tomato sauce,just because in my view tomato sauce with any simple carbohydrate is one of the very best pleasures in life. But try the sauce with and without the tomato and make up your own mind…

Cut the potatoes in chunks. Put them on a dish  in the microwave for 3 minutes. Then add a bit of salt.

Separately fry the onion over low heat on a couple to tablespoons of olive oil. Wait for 8 minutes until the onion is soft. Increase the heat, Add the paprika (both sweet and hot), then add the flour, stir well for a minute or so and add the stock. Let it all simmer for 8 to 10 minutes (over medium heat). Add the salt and the tomato sauce (if using it) and blend it all (with a hand blender is best)

Heat well a very generous amount of olive oil in a deep pan. Fry the microwaved potatoes for two to three minutes so that they get crispy. Pour over the sauce - or serve it separately as a dip. And enjoy.
 
 

TARTA DE SANTIAGO - SANTIAGOS' TART

This is one of the most popular tarts in Spain and it is decorated with the cross of the Order of Santiago.  It comes from the spectacularly beautiful region of Galicia and it is a truly simple tart made with very few ingredients.

The tart takes its name from the patron of Galicia, the Apostle Santiago, who came to Spain from Jerusalem to spread the Gospel in the Iberian peninsula. The route that Santiago took is now the famous 'Camino de Santiago', a popular pilgrimage path that crosses the north of Spain from Roncesvalles, in the border with France, to Santiago de Compostela, around 35 Kms beside the Atlantic Ocean. The Camino is open to people of every age and physical condition - it is also open to those who are not catholic - and it is meant to be one of those occasions where you can 'find yourself'. If you are catholic it also has an added incentive as doing the Camino means that when you arrive at the stunning Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela all your sins - all!-   will be forgiven. Doing the Camino is indeed one of the outstanding points of my personal 'to do' list before I die - though I will probably need more than one Camino to be forgiven for all the swearing I am doing lately when I see some Prime Ministers and Presidents on television!

You need:
- 250 gr sugar
- 250 gr ground almonds
- 5 eggs
- zest of half a lemon
- a (small) pinch of cinnamon
- icing sugar
- a greased and lined tart mold

Preheat the oven at 174 degrees. Put the ground almonds on a tray and let them roast for 5 to 10 minutes until they get a bit golden. Then separately mix the eggs and sugar (with a fork) add the almonds and then the zest and cinnamon. Put it all into the greased and lined mould and bake for  50 minutes (still at 175 degrees)

When you take it out of the oven let it cool down. Then put the shape of the Cross of Santiago on top of the cake (I have an old metal shape, but you can just draw it on paper or simply print it from the many pictures on the internet) and dust the tart very generously with icing sugar. I do not know anybody who does not like this.





MALTESE OCTOPUS

This is a typical Maltese dish. I came to look into food from Malta after a prominent member of the UK Conservative party insulted the Maltese by saying that their  Prime Minister 'should go back to his tiny little island'. How sad is it that members of the UK governing party now feel free to insult other Europeans gratuitously like this - and without the government offering any apologies for it?

On the positive side this has led to me talk to the children about Malta, its geographical position, history, size and culture. It has not been difficult because my bother was on holiday there a few months ago and he could not stop praising the island. We have looked into Maltese recipes, which are great. I have found many good blogs, including a superb one called www.amaltesemouthful.com. So utterly yummy. I tell you, the island may be small...but boy they know how to eat well!!

Best is obviously to follow the authentic recipe in any of the numerous blogs. The best we saw is here: http://www.amaltesemouthful.com/octopus-stew-stuffat-tal-qarnit/ But we  made a few changes as we went along. You need:

- an octopus, cut into mouth-bite chunks. If the octopus is fresh you need to tenderise it by hitting it everywhere many times for 3-4 minutes. This is a bit off putting, because normally octopus are sold with their eyes on, so you risk looking like a sadistic person while the eyes of the octopus beg you to stop. The easier alternative is to freeze the octopus when you buy it (when it freezes the muscles contract and then let go, so it becomes tender and there is no need to torture the poor octopus anymore)
- 3 onions, chopped thinly
- 4 garlic cloves (grated)
- 1glass of tomato sauce (see our recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2011/03/tomato-sauce.html- alternatively used a good passata, or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes )
- 2 handfuls of olives
- 2 teaspoons of small capers
- lemon zest and juice of a lemon
- a glass of white wine
- a tablespoon of parsley, a tablespoon of basil, and the leaves of three springs of thyme.
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt
- a glass of frozen peas.
- more parsley and basil to garnish
- a tin of chickpeas (drained)

Fry the onions in the olive oil under low heat until they are tender. Then add the garlic and after a minute or so the tomato sauce. Then add the octopus, increase the heat to medium and wait for 15 minutes and add the olives, capers, lemon zest,  wine and lemon juice. Add the salt, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and let it summer for 40 minutes. Add the peas, let it cook for a further 10 minutes, and finally add the chickpeas, wait for a further 5 minutes, sprinkle the basil and  parsley and serve.



COURGETTES WITH BASIL

This is a super-quick and really healthy lunch or starter for a dinner.  I cook very often as it is a good way to make children eat courgettes. And the children like to help with the pestle and mortar.

You need:
 - three courgettes and a spiralizer (or you can buy the courgettes already cut into 'spaghetti' in some supermarkets. I have seen them at Sainsbury's but sure others have them too)
- a handful of pine nuts
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- two handfuls of basil leaves
- a clove and a half of garlic (or more if you are into garlic and are not going out that night)
- parmesan cheese (as much or as little as you wish - my children like lots of it)
- salt

Take a shallow pan. Heat the oil. Add the courgettes and let them fry for 5-7 minutes depending on how 'al dente' you like them). Te key to this wish is not to add any salt to the courgettes at this stage as otherwise they will release water and get boiled. While the courgettes are cooking, crush the garlic and salt with a pestle and mortar. Then add the pine nuts to the garlic and leap crushing them. Finally add the basil leaves to the mortar and mash them with the garlic and pine nuts. Do not mind too much if some pieces are bigger than others - it actually adds texture to the dish, so it is a good thing.  Add all this mixture to the courgettes (while you are still heating them). Mix well and add some grated parmesan cheese on top of it all (at this point you can also add some dried tomatoes, or bits of mozzarella or both)  Wait for a minute while the parmesan mellows. Take it off the heat and serve it promptly.

If you do not have time you can replace the garlic, pine-nuts and basil with a jar of pesto. Still good, but not the same…