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.


FAKE FERRERO-ROCHERS

I have been thinking of making this recipe ever since I saw Nigel Farage celebrating a party at the glitzy Ritz hotel in London with a huge tray of Ferrero-Rochers. The party was full of multi-millionaire media owners, powerful journalists and people whose fortunes amount (individually) to around 800 millions pounds…800 million pounds!! God knows how a privately educated man, ex City trader, who enjoys an MEP salary and is backed by the very wealthiest part of the establishment has managed to trick so many people into making them think he is 'anti-establishment'. It beggars belief...

So here you have the recipe for fake Ferrero-Rocher. As fake as the anti-establishment credentials of Farage.

You need:
- 10 hazelnuts
- a small tub of Nutella
- 2 ice-cream cones or wafer biscuits (you can find these in any supermarket in the baking section)
- 100 gr milk chocolate
- 100 gr dark chocolate
- two handfuls of chopped hazelnuts (you can buy them already chopped)
- a small tray covered with baking paper
- golden candy paper ( you can buy this in Amazon very cheaply)

We got the idea for the recipe from various Spanish blogs (including 'atrapada en mi cocina' which is great) but have used our own measurements and changed a little the method.

 Put the Nutella in the fridge. When it is very cold, take little spoonfuls of nutella, put a hazelnut inside each spoonful and give them a round shape with your hands ensuring that the hazelnut is fully covered by nutella. Put them on the tray and get them into the fridge for around twenty minutes.

Crush the ice cream cones and roll the nutella-covered hazelnuts in it. You may need to press a bit the crushed biscuits against the nutella balls so that they adhere to it. Put it back into the fridge for 45 minutes.

In the microwave, melt the chocolate (around a minute on full power). Add the chopped hazelnuts and mix well. Take the nutella balls and cover them with the melted chocolate. Put them back on the tray and let them cool down for one hour.

Cover the chocolates with the golden candy paper (or if you do not have these, you can do a silver version of these with normal kitchen foil)

If you manage to forget about the Farage connotations, these are actually really-really nice.








TIGER NUT MILK

If you have not heard of tiger nuts you better start reading about them because they are the new miracle food (together with goat… yes, really). Luckily they are actually very nice, unlike those horrendous chia seeds (centuries ago Columbus brought from America tonnes of new goods:  tomatoes, pineapples, squash, vanilla, potatoes, cocoa… why do you think he left behind the chia seeds??!!)

Anyway, back to tiger nuts, in the Spanish Levant (Valencia) they have been using tiger nights ('chufas') forever in a drink called horchata, which is to die for in a hot summer day. I actually like the tiger nuts as such and eat them as peanuts. But making them into this horchata milk is a good way to get the children to eat them.

You need:

 - 200 gr of tiger nuts (only way to buy these in the UK as far as I know is to buy them dried through Amazon where you can buy a kilo of tiger nuts for £12.95. If you buy them like this you need to re-hydrate them, for which you need to leave them in water for a whole night. But in Spain and other countries you may find them fresh)
- 800 ml water
- sugar: see how much you like, I try to put as little as possible (none at all or a couple of spoons max, but in Valencia this drink is very sweet, so to make the original recipe you would need around 100 g of sugar)

You just need to mix the three ingredients and blend them well - that is all. Keep it in the fridge. Drink it as such or with a bit of powdered cinnamon sprinkled on top. Or with plenty of ice if you make this in the summer.


OXTAIL - RABO DE TORO

This is a truly typical Spanish dish. Very humble, and yet fierce, as it used to be made in the past with the tails of fighting bulls. Spanish food at its very best. If you are lucky to be in Andalucia you should go to Cordoba to try this dish. It is a beautiful town with one of the most stunning mosques in the world (though my favourite mosque is still the Great Mosque in Damascus) and the best 'salmorejo' and 'rabo de toro' in the whole of Spain.

You need:
- 2 kg of oxtail (chopped in thick chunks)
- a large onion (in big chunks)
- two clove of garlic (whole)
- 2 carrots (in 2 cm chunks)
- a red pepper ( in chucks)
- a stick of celery (in chunks as well)
- 2 bay leaves
- 700 ml red wine
- 300 ml water
- a quarter of a teaspoon of parsley
- salt
- plain flour
- olive oil

Salt the ox tail and dust it well with the plain flour. Heat a pan with a generous amount of olive oil over medium heat and fry the oxtail on all sides until it gets golden (this should take 3-4 minutes). Reserve it.

In a deep pan, put the same oil that you have used to fry the oxtail (I normally get rid of half the amount as otherwise the dish is very heavy) and add the onion, celery, carrots, pepper and garlic. Let the vegetables fry. After 10 minutes, add the oxtail and then the wine, water, parsley, bay leaves and a bit more salt. Increase the heat to maximum, wait until it starts boiling and then lower the heat to minimum. Let it simmer for 3.30 hours.

I usually let the dish rest overnight so that the fat solidifies at the top and it is then easy to get rid of it. However if you do not mind fat then eat it as such (the more fat, the more flavour…).

Take the oxtail off the pan. Put all the vegetables and sauce in a blender so that you get a very thick sauce.

Best way to eat this is with fried cubed potatoes.



SERBIAN RED PEPPER RELISH - AJVAR

I was in Serbia this week to start the Inspiring Girls campaign there.  Seriously impressive (and strong!) women and girls. Great discussion with MPs, leading civil society groups, top business women, actresses, former ministers, diplomats… You can see some pictures in the campaign’s website www.inspiring-girls.com

By the way, apparently Boris Johnson was in Serbia that day too (though not at the Inspiring Girls event!) despite it was the day after Trump was elected, when the new US President was failing to call the UK Prime Minister first and with Brexit falling down the list of EU priorities by the minute. An outstanding display of wisdom on foreign policy priorities... 

This is a traditional Serbian recipe. You need:
- 3 red peppers
- an aubergine
- 1 large onion
- a clove of garlic(grated)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- salt
- half a chilli pepper
- a tablespoon of red vinegar
- a pinch of paprika 

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Put the peppers and aubergine on a roasting tray and roast them for 30-40 minutes, until they are charred. Take them off the oven and when they are cold, peel the peppers and take out the pulp of the aubergine. Put it all in a food processor with the chilli pepper and pulse it a few times.

In a pan heat the olive oil. Add the vegetables mixture,  the garlic, paprika, vinegar and salt and let it all simmer under very low heat for 20 minutes (stir it every now and then)

We ate it with bread but you can have it as  a sauce with meat or with chicken too. The children approved.



BEETROOT AND SARDINES DIP

I know I am boring you with beetroot, but I still have some in the fridge. The recipe for this dip was given to me many months ago by my brother in law, but I may have altered it as I could not remember all the ingredients by heart. The children liked-ish it, though they would have liked it even more if it did not look so pink.

You need:
 - 2 small beetroots or a big one.
- a tin of sardines
- a pinch of paprika
- an onion (diced very thinly)
- two table spoons of sour cream
- a table spoon of chopped dill
- a pinch of salt
- a pinch of pepper
- juice of half a lemon

Start by peeling the beetroots and boiling them in water (for a good 5 minutes or until tender). When the beetroots are cooled down, chop them very thinly, i.e. once you think you are there, keep chopping for another couple of minutes. Then cut the sardines in really small chunks and add them to the beetroot. Add  all the other ingredients and put them in into the fridge for at least 20 minutes so that it thickens up.

If you like dips with a kick you may want to add a teaspoon of horseradish sauce.

And you can do this all in a  food processor but then you will loose the texture of the ingredients.

The mess that children can make with beetroot is indescribable, so best if they just look rather than help…

BEETROOT STRUDEL

I came up with this recipe in an attempt to deal with a surplus of beetroot in our house. My children said it was 'nice' which is a real compliment when applied to beetroot, as it is not one of their favourite vegetables or even remotely close to it. It also also very easy to make. 

You need:
- a big beetroot (or three small ones)
- a tablespoons of olive oil - plus more to 'paint' the pastry
- 8 sheets of filo pastry
- a packet of feta cheese
- a handful of pine nuts
- two teaspoons of parsley - chopped 

Peel and grate the beetroot (best is to wear latex gloves for this or you will end up with pinky fingers for a couple of days) In a frying pan heat the oil, add the beetroot and let it all fry for 10-12 minutes until the beetroot is soft (there are many varieties of beetroot so the only way to do this properly is to taste a bit to see whether it is  soft or not). When the beetroot is cooked, take it off the heat, crumble the feta and add it to the pan. Then add the pine nuts and parsley. I did not add any salt, but you may want to check whether this is salty enough for you. 

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. 
Lay a sheet of filo on top of a clean tea towel. Paint it with a tiny bit of olive oil. Put another filo sheet on top and paint it again with the oil. Keep going until you have used all the filo sheets. 
Pile up the beetroot mixture along the length of the pastry on the closest side to you. Roll it up so that you enclose the mixture in the pastry. Tuck the ends in and bake for 18-20 minutes until it becomes golden. 

As anything with filo, very delicious.




NISCALOS WITH POTATOES

This is a very typical dish from my region: 'niscalos con patatas'. Niscalos are saffron milk mushrooms. They are delicious orange mushrooms that grow up in pine tree forests, especially amongst the 'pino albar' variety. The village close to mine, Pedrajas de San Esteban, produces most of the pine nuts for the country - or at least the non imported ones... - to the point that the whole area is called 'Land of Pineforests'  or 'Tierra de Pinares". During the months of late October and early November that is how we spend our afternoons; wondering in the 'pinares' picking up 'niscalos'.  If you get big ones you can just grill them ('a la plancha') with a touch of garlic. But if you get little ones the best way to eat them is with potatoes in a thick soup.

I bought the niscalos for this dish in the Fruteria Vazquez of Madrid as I was rushing to the airport from a meeting there. You can see the picture of the wonderful fruteria in our Instagram account (miriam-gonzalez-durantez). It is one of those traditional shops where (if it wasn't for the price) you could just buy it all in one go.

For this recipe you need:
- three tablespoons of olive oil
- half a green pepper (diced very thinly)
- a leek (chopped very thinly)
- 4 medium size potatoes (in bite-size chunks)
- a bay leaf
- a quarter of a teaspoon of parsley (chopped thinly)
- two cloves of garlic (chopped very thinly)
- 80 gr of ham  (serrano of a similar variety chopped into small cubes)
- niscalos (as many as you can get, but around 500 gr for 5 people)
- water (around 700 ml)
- half a glass of white wine

The most important thing is to clean the niscalos really well as any bit of sand will just ruin the dish (and your teeth!)

In a deep pan heat the oil. Add the garlic, leek and free pepper and wait for 3-4- minutes (over medium heat) until the vegetables get soft. Then add the niscalos (if they are big just cut them into bite size chunks). Wait for another 2-3- minutes and add the potatoes. Let it all fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the paprika, parsley and ham. Then the bay leaf and after 2 minutes add the water (it should just barely cover the niscalos). When the water is boiling (you should see the bubbles) add the wine. Let it all simmer for 20 minutes and serve. This dish is better the day after you have cooked it.



and these are the niscalos: