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.


TORRIJAS

Long time since I last posted here, but setting up in a new country has taken a while.

These are called 'torrijas', an Easter dessert that is eaten all over Spain, and they are divine. Nobody in my family (by which I mean no women, because men did not cook - surprise!) made them when I was little, but once every year la señora Paca in my village would make big trays of these and give us one. They are perfect for  Easter, because they feel properly sinful after all that Lent restraint.  Think of them like the much better version of French toast: made with delicately flavoured milk, fluffy not mushy, and with a hint of honey at the very end.

You need:
Stale bread (proper crusty bread) cut in thick slices - it really has to be stale, so buy it, cut it and leave it in a cupboard for a couple of days.
250 ml milk
150 ml sugar
peel of a lemon
a cinnamon stick
a teaspoon of vanilla essence
two eggs, beaten
two tablespoon of honey
Unflavoured oil (sunflower or alike) - a very generous amount
150 ml water

Start by preparing the flavoured milk the night before you are going to make these: just bring to the boil the milk, cinnamon stick, lemon peel, 50 g of sugar and vanilla; put it in a sealed container and let it cool down (in the fridge) over night.

Heat the oil in a frying pan (over medium heat). Soak the bread properly into the flavoured milk (the bread should absorb as much milk as possible), then coat the bread with the beaten egg and fry until they are golden on both sides. Don't bother putting them on kitchen paper when you take them out of the pan to get rid of excess oil: you only eat these once a year, so 'excess' is the whole point of them.

You can prepare the honey syrup  by just combining the water, 100 ml sugar and honey and boiling it  for 15 minutes over low heat. The nicer way to do this (and indeed most other syrups) is to prepare a caramel with the sugar, honey and a teaspoon of water (just put it over low heat and wait without stirring until it becomes golden), then add carefully the rest of the water and boil for 8-10 minutes. You can also add a teaspoon of whisky or cognac to the water and caramel (before you boil it), which obviously makes the syrup even better. Let the syrup cool down a little and pour over the torrijas.

These are eaten at room temperature.


FLAVOURED MILK MOUSSE

This is the easiest dessert I know - but you need a siphon ( which you can get for 25 quid). You can also serve it on its own, with berries on the side, with tuiles or beside any simple cake.

You need
- 400 ml single cream
- 100 ml milk (if you like a denser consistency just use 500 ml single cream)
- a stick of cinnamon
- peel of a lemon
- three table spoons of sugar

Heat all the ingredients together until it is about to boil. Take if off the heat, let it cool down and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Just before you are going to serve it, strain the mixture  though a colander, put it in the siphon, add two charges of air and serve. I normally put some powdered cinnamon and candied lemon peel on top of it, but it is purely for decoration, so no need to bother.

Kids enjoy being how the siphon works, but be very careful if you let them use itas it works with pressure, so you need to manipulate it with extreme care.


ECLAIRS - PETISUS

In my village these are called 'petisus' with an accent in the 'u'. I suppose this comes from the french 'petit-choux' as they are little bits of choux pastry filled with cream, but where I come from we are not good at languages, so 'petisus' it is. Our local bakery sells them with three types of icing: dark chocolate, white chocolate and caramel. And pretty much any celebration in the village happens with a big tray of these, so they epitomise happiness to me.

You need:
For the pastry:
- 65 ml milk
- 70 g plain flour
- 70 g butter
- 3 eggs
- a pinch of salt

For the cream: 
- 540 ml milk
- 60 ml cream
- 4 egg yokes
- 50 gr corn flour
- 120 sugar
- a teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the icing:
- 150 ml double crem
- 200 g dark chocolate

Start with the cream. Heat 400 ml of milk, the cream and vanilla extract until it is about to boil. Separately mix the rest of the milk with the corn flour and disolve it well. Mix the egg yokes and sugar beating well until they get frothy. Mix the egg mixture with the cornflour mixture, still mixing it well. Finally, add the warm milk to the eggs and cornflour mixture. Put it all back in a pan over low heat (while you keep stirring it) until becomes thick. Take it off the heat, put it in a piping bag and put it in the fridge until it gets cold (you can do this the night before you are going to make the petisus) 


Heat the oven at 180 degrees. Put a tray with water in the lowest part of the oven so that the oven produces steam.

Put the butter and the milk in a pan over low heat until the butter is melted. Add the flour and salt (all in one go) and beat well with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and wait for 10 minutes so that the mixture cools down. Beat 2 eggs and add them in little bits (you may not need all of it) Put the mixture into a pipping bag.

Pipe little strips of the mixture on a tray covered with silicone. Push down any peaks by patting them carefully with a wet finger. Beat the remaining egg and paint each blob with the egg wash. Bake for 22 minutes. make a little cut at the side of each strip as you take them out of the oven.

Finally make the icing by putting the chocolate and cream in a pan over low heat until the chocolate dissolves and you get a glossy mixture (around three minutes)

Pipe the cream into each strip of choux pastry and coat each one with the chocolate. 

Wait for 20 minutes or so until the chocolate gets hard and eat. 









BLACK RICE

This is one of my favourite ways to eat Spanish rice. 

You need: 
- 1 large tomato
- half and onion
- half a red pepper
- 3 'fond d' artichokes' ( you can buy them frozen from Picard) 
- 250 g squid 
- one sachet of squid ink (add two if you want the rice really black)
- around 400 g 'bomba' rice, ideally Calasparra
- salt
- fumet 
- olive oil

Start by preparing the 'fumet', which you can do days in advance (see the recipe for 'arroz a banda http://www.mumandsons.com/2018/09/arroz-banda.html

Fry the tomato (no need to add oil) in a small pan until it gets mushy, almost liquid.

Separately fry the onion, pepper and artichokes (all cut into small cubes) over very low heat with a table spoon of olive oil for 8-10 minutes until it is all soft.

Cut the squid into small pieces. Take a paella pan, and fry the squid with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for 3-4 minutes (be careful because they 'spit') then add the rice (a handful per person) the ink, three tablespoons of the tomato pure and three  tablespoons of the onion, peppers and artichokes mixture. Stir it for a minute or so, then add the fumet (for each volume or rice, three times the volume of fumet).

Let it bubble over intense heat for 8 minutes. Then lower the heat and wait for another 8 minutes. Finally  add a tiny drizzle of oil all around the edge of the pan and increase the heat for 3 minutes. This is to create what is called 'socarrat', which is only possible if you add fat to the rice.



PLUM TART

These are so simple, and yet so handy when you parents in law decide to come for tea unannounced and you have not bought any cake. All you need is:

- A sheet of puff pastry
- 3 plums
- 8 teaspoons of brown sugar
- one egg

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees.
Cut the puff pastry in 8 squares. Cut two 'L's inside each square alongside the borders. Flip each 'cut border' to the other side . Beat an egg and paint the borders of the pastry. Cut the plums in slices and arrange them inside each square. Sprinkle a teaspoon of brown sugar on top of each tart. Bake for 20 minutes (watch them carefully as they burn easily... as you can see with one of them in the picture!)


SAFFRON ALI-OLI

This is a lovely sauce for any Spanish rice dish. It also goes really well with fish. Or indeed just on its own on lots of crusty bread if you have had a bad day.

All you need to do is to prepare a mayonnaise as per our 2 minutes mayo sauce recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2011/04/2-minutes-mayonnaise-sauce.html with one egg, 200 ml sunflower oil, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of lemon juice using a hand held blender.  Separately, add 10 stems of saffron to two tablespoons of boiling water and let it infuse for 5 minutes. Add the saffron water and a clove of garlic to the mayo and blend well. It has raw egg so keep it always in the fridge and never longer than a day.