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.


RASPBERRY LEMONADE

If you are meant to make lemonade when life gives you lemons (a recommendation I thoroughly agree with) I promise I could have swamped you all with lemonade this year. This is a recipe I got in California this summer. A sort of 'citron presse' with crushed raspberries. Simple and yet delicious. Totally recommendable.

You need:
- 6 lemons
- 150 ml water
- 250 ml fizzy water
- 5 raspberries per person
- one table spoon of caster sugar per person

Juice the lemons. Add the water and sugar, mix it all well and strain it so that you do not get any pips. Put the raspberries into a tall glass. Crush them with the back of a spoon. Add the sweetened lemon juice. Top it up with the fizzy water. It could not be any simpler.

Like all lemonades (and like life itself)  this tastes better with plenty of sunny weather.

SUMMER CHICKEN

I thought I would post a 'proper' summer roast chicken as I am in the US for a few days and all we can get here is the chlorinated chicken (surrounded by mountains of fries) that the UK Government seems so keen to allow into the UK as part of their desperate attempt to agree a deal with the US at any cost. Pity that otherwise perfectly sensible people, like the head of the UK administration, seem to have fallen for that nonsense too. The thing is this:  if the UK government  allows US chlorinated poultry into the UK, no UK poultry will be allowed in the EU. That will mean we will have plenty of chlorinated chicken to eat in the UK, but  we may need to cross the channel to eat a proper chicken. Apparently in fantasy planet Brexitland this is called 'taking back control'… taking control of all but your chicken that is!

You need:
- one chicken
- half a glass of water
- two table spoons of olive oil
- salt
- four sweet potatoes
- 200 gr butternut squash
- three onions
- a jar of pesto (see our recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2011/03/green-pesto.html)

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Cut the onions in six chunks (vertically). Cut the sweet potatoes and butternut squash in big chunks. Put both the onions and sweet potatoes on a roasting tray. Add a bit of salt and the two tablespoons of olive oil. Toss it all well.  Salt the chicken (including inside) and put it on top of the onions and sweet potatoes. Add the water (not on top of the chicken, just on the side of the roasting tray). Roast for 1.30 minutes. Serve it with the pesto and a salad. Simple and wonderful.


MELON GAZPACHO

Gazpacho is traditionally made with cucumber and tomatoes. Over the last few years it has become fashionable to make gazpacho with fruits such as strawberries and watermelon. I am not too keen, but this melon gazpacho builds on a classic seventies' combination of flavours, melon and serrano ham.  When I was a teenager there wasn't a Spanish wedding that did not feature this in the menu. Then came the melon with king prawns (a great recipe which I will give you later this Summer). Avocados did not manage to reach the Spain of the 70s, but prawn cocktails and pineapple with cheese on toothpicks were as popular there as in the UK.

You need;
- a canteloupe melon (or half a Spanish 'piel de sapo' melon)
- 1 cucumber
- a quarter green pepper
- a clove of garlic
- half a glass of good olive oil
- half a glass of water
- two tablespoons of vinegar
- salt
- 100 gr of good serrano ham (it would be better with Iberico ham; and, with the permission of my Italian friends, worse with parma ham) into very small cubes.

Blend the melon, cucumber, pepper, garlic and olive oil. Get this mixture through  a 'chino' colander so that you get a smooth soup. Add the water vinegar and salt and stir. Taste it as, if the melon is very sweet, you may need to add a bit more vinegar. Keep it in the fridge until you are going to serve it. Serve it in bowls with the ham sprinkled in the centre of the bowl.



TUNA WITH ONIONS or BONITO ENCEBOLLADO

The last few weeks have been crazily busy and as a result we have not cooked much, but we are now approaching the holidays and back on track.

This is a very Spanish dish. We cook it in Summer when tuna fish is 'in season'. Broadly speaking there are three main ways to eat tuna in Spain: in marmitako (see our recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2013/07/marmitako.html), as they do in the North; 'encebollado', as they do in the South; and with tomato sauce (see recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2014/07/tuna-with-tomato-sauce.html) as they do all over Spain. We like tuna so much that the white tuna from the North Cantabric sea is called 'bonito' (i.e. beautiful) and it is indeed a very beautiful fish.

You need:
- a thick steak of tuna for every three people (cut in not too small squares)
- a generous amount of olive oil (8 to 10 table spoons)
- 4 onions (sliced or just chopped in little squares)
- two cloves of garlic (sliced)
- a bay leaf
- a pinch of sweet paprika (pimenton dulce)
- salt
- three quarters of a glass of water
- two table spoons of wine vinegar (needless to say, Jerez is best)
- 4 table spoons of flour
- a pinch of oregano
- a tablespoons of chopped parsley

Salt the tuna and dust it with the flour (this is just to add a bit of consistency to the sauce, so no problem if the fish  is not perfectly coated in flour). Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan (or a frying pan) over medium heat. Fry the tuna on both sides until it is golden (do not stir it too much or otherwise the fish will break; and if you are preparing this with a lot of tuna just do it in batches). Take out the fish and reserve.

In the same oil fry the garlic for two minutes over very low heat, then add the onion, increase the heat to medium for 4 minutes and then lower the heat to its minimum setting for another 15 more minutes.  Then add the paprika, oregano, and half a teaspoon of the chopped parsley. You may need to add a bit more salt (just taste it). After a minute add the vinegar and finally the water. Put the tuna back into the sauce and let it all simmer for 10 minutes. Before  you serve it sprinkle some parsley on top.

You can serve this with plain white rice or with fried potatoes (frankly much better and also more authentic than with rice)



DUCK WITH CHINESE PANCAKES

This is a very simple family dish that never fails to please. You just need:
-       - a duck
-       - a couple of packets of Chinese pancakes
-       - salt
-       - 2 tablespoons of olive oil
-       - four tablespoons of chinese all spice
-       - a cucumber
-       - a bunch of spring onions
-        - plum or hoisin sauce (whatever you prefer)

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Salt the inside of the duck. Then make a paste with the olive oil, all spice and salt. Rub this paste all over the duck. Put it in the oven for 1.30 hours and then lower the heat to 175 degrees for another hour. When the duck is ready let it rest for 10 minutes covered with foil, take the meat out of the bone and then shred the meat with two forks.


When you are about to serve the duck, cut the cucumbers and onions into thin sticks. Heat the pancakes in the microwave for 30 seconds and let everybody assemble the pancakes (cucumber, spring onions, duck and sauce) It really could not be any easier.   


SPRING PASTA

This is a really nice and quick way to prepare pasta.
You need:
- a packet of long dry pasta (spaghetti is best)
- a mug of peas
- a bunch of asparagus (chopped in bite size bits)
- half  mug of pesto sauce ( preferably home made, which is really easy to prepare and lasts for 5-6- days in the fridge - see our recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2011/03/green-pesto.html)
- salt
- parmiggiano cheese (or equivalent)

Boil the pasta in salty water according to packet instructions  (it tends to be 12-14 minutes) 6 minutes before you take the pasta out add the peas, and two minutes afterwards add the asparagus. when the pasta is boiled put it all in a colander, add the pesto ( with a couple of tablespoons of the water that you have used to boil the pasta) and grate a generous amount of parmiggiano on top. It could not be more simple, but it is heavenly.

You can do this with beans or broccoli, but the peas and asparagus combination works really well.


CHOCOLATE TART

Though I was having a really happy weekend, I had to resort to a bashing recipe after receiving on Friday a leaflet from the Education Secretary Justine Greening in my home. Full of superficial trivia (bash) like pointless letters she has written on everything from airplane noise to pollution - as if that could be changed with just a couple of letters! (bash, bash) -  but no reference of course to her draconian cuts to the secondary schools budget which are already having a devastating effect on London schools (bash, bash, bash). Gone are the days when politicians had to be accountable for the financing decisions they took... (bash, bash, bash, bash)

Luckily this recipe involves plenty of biscuit bashing. It is from Simply Nigella and all I have done is to replace vanilla essence in the original recipe with orange essence. The pastry case is made with crushed bourbon biscuits which is one of those truly genius Nigella ideas (together with frying gnocchi's) and it  means you do not need any melted butter.

You need:
- 300 g bourbon or oreo chocolate biscuits
- 50 gr butter (room temperature)
- half a teaspoon salt flakes
- 500 ml double cream
- 100 g dark chocolate (grated or cut thinly)
- 50 g cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons expresso instant coffee
- 2 teaspoons olive oil ( the stronger the better)
- 1 teaspoon orange essence
- 75 g sugar
- a teaspoon of salt flakes.
- 4 teaspoons milk
- 25 g corn flour

Bash the biscuits for as long as you need to get rid of any bad moods, worries or stress (if you are getting tired of bashing just think of the conservative education policy for a minute so that you can keep going) Mix them with half a teaspoons of salt and the butter. Take a flan case and cover it with the crushed biscuits so that you make a tart case. Let it cool down in the fringe for 2 hours.

When the case is ready, mix the cornflour with the milk until it dissolves in it. Then in a pan heat the cream, salt, chocolate, cocoa powder, coffee, olive oil, orange essence and sugar. Put it over medium heat and stir it (without letting it boil) until the chocolate dissolves into the cream. Take the cream off the heat. Pour the milk and corn flour mixture in it, bring it back to the heat and keep stirring until it thickens (around 10 minutes). Put it in a jug, cover with cling film (so that the cling film touches the chocolate cream) and let it cool down for 30 minutes in the fridge. When it is cold, pour the cream into the pastry case and let it all cool down for 4 hours or preferably overnight.

This tart is divine. Definitely good enough to even make you forget for a while about the policies of this government. Final bash!