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.


ROAST FENNEL WITH PESTO

The idea of this recipe comes from the World Bank canteen. I was there earlier  this week  doing some work (at the Bank, not at the canteen) and also trying to gather support for our new international Inspiring Girls campaign (will tell you more about this at a later stage - so exciting!)

This really is a good combination and a great way to get children to eat fennel  - though mine complained that once you eat the pesto, what lies underneath is still fennel...

You need:
- fennel (one or two bulbs)
- olive oil (a tablespoon per bulb)
- salt
- pesto (see our recipe: http://www.mumandsons.com/2011/03/green-pesto.html)

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Cut the fennel in thick slices (at the Bank they did this in quarters, but increasing the surface of the fennel that gets charred makes it even nicer). Salt the slices and add the olive oil. Toss them with your hands so that all the slices get an oil and salt coating.  Roast for 35 minutes. Let the fennel cool down and pour some pesto on top. That is all there is to it.




TUNA SANDWICH

This is one of my favourite sandwiches from my 'most-est favourite' tapas bar in Spain: La Criolla (in Valladolid). They serve it with mini ciabatas as a tapa, but you can make it with normal size ones so that it becomes a lunch.

You need:
- a ciabatta roll (you can also do this with a baguette)
-1.5 piquillo peppers (open them up so that you cover the whole of the roll with the peppers)
- tuna (half a small tin) - the original recipe is with ventresca, i.e. the belly bit of the tuna which is very moist, but good quality tinned tuna works well.
- two green olives
- 2 prawns
- an anchovy fillet
- a teaspoon of mayonnaise
- a drizzle of olive oil
- tiny bit of salt

Open the ciabatta roll. Drizzle each side with a tiny bit of olive oil. Put (in this order) the piquillo peppers on top of the bread, then the flaked tuna, followed by the prawns (cut them in half horizontally so that you end up with 4 thin prawns) a bit of salt, the olives (cut in half) the anchovy fillet and finally the mayonnaise. Put the other half breadroll on top. Put it in a sandwich bag and into the toaster, or under the grill for a few minutes so that the bread gets warm. Eat immediately.



AJO BLANCO


This is a very easy cold soup from the South of Spain. Very garlicky, but very good.

You need:
- 200 gr almonds (raw and without skin. If you can only find almonds with skin then put them in a bowl with boiling water for 4-5- minutes and you will be able to peel them easily)
- half a glass of (good) olive oil
- 2 glasses of water
- a clove of garlic ( if you are brave try with 1.5 cloves, but children may find it too strong)
- a teaspoon of salt
- 1.5 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
If you like the soup thick and do not mind the carbohydrates add a slice of stale bread (without the crust). And if you like it thinner just add more water.

Blend all the ingredients together. Let the soup cool down in the fridge for an hour of so.


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SEFARDI SALMON

This recipe was given to me by a Spanish ex Minister who happens to be an outstanding cook (and great host as well, in addition to being an outstanding lawyer)  It is part of the culinary heritage of the Sefardi Jews who were expelled from Spain centuries ago at the time of the brutal Inquisition. I am not sure at the time they would have used salmon or rather white fish. In any case it goes work well with a salmon nowadays.

You need:
- a steak of salmon per person ( we used four)
- 2 onions (diced thinly)
- 2 handfuls of kalamata olives (pitted and chopped) - haf a jar
- a teaspoon of chopped parsley
- two tablespoons of olive oil
- half a lemon
- salt

Put the oil on a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, lower the heat and wait for 6-8 minutes until they get soft. Add the olives and cook it all for another 5-6- minuets so that you get a mellow mixture. Add salt and the parsley and mix well.

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Grease an oven tray lightly. Salt the salmon steaks and put them on the tray (skin side down) Pile the onion and olives mixture on top of the salmon (it is easier to do this if you put the steaks close to each other and just pile up all the mixture on top). Sprinkle with the lemon juice and bake for 13-15 minutes. If you like it very well done then bake for 18 minutes - but be careful with the timing because dry salmon is really not nice to eat.

Feel free to add a few capers or a couple of fillets of chopped anchovies to this ( in which case, do not add any salt to the onions) 

 

  

SALTY CARAMEL & CHOCOLATE CAKE

This is a birthday cake for one of my sons who loves salty caramel (who doesn't?!). 

Just bake a cake as per the chocolate birthday cake recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2016/02/birthday-chocolate-cake.html  

For the icing you need:
- 175 gr butter (room temperature)
- 125 gr icing sugar
- 200 gr caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons of water
- a teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 1.5 teaspoons of salt

Put the caster sugar in a small pan with the two tablespoons of water. Heat it (without stirring it) until it becomes a brown caramel (it only takes 3-ish minutes but you need to keep watching it as otherwise it burns easily). Take the caramel off the heat and let it cool down for 45 minutes. 

Beat the butter and the salt with an electric whisker for a couple of minutes. Add the salt, the vanilla essence and finally the icing sugar. 

Use the buttercream to assemble the cake and ice it.




TIRAMISU

This recipe comes from my Italian friend Valentina who is  a very good cook. It is as authentic a recipe as it can be. Even though normally I cannot swallow more than two spoonfuls of tiramisu I ate the whole portion…and a little bit more…

You need:
- two eggs separated
- 125 gr sugar
- 400 gr mascarpone cheese
- 400 gr Savoiardi biscuits (the better the biscuits the better the tiramisu)
- 1/2 strong espresso coffee (don't tell Valentina but I used decaf espresso as I am a bit paranoid about children drinking caffeine).
- 30 gr dark (and good) cocoa powder

Make sure the coffee is cold before you start. Mix the yokes with the sugar until they are pale. Add the mascarpone cheese. Separately which the whites until you get firm peaks. Fold the whites into the mascarpone and yokes mixture ensuring you do it gently so that you do not loose any air.

Get a flat tray. Make a lawyer with biscuits soaked in the coffee (just soak them for a few seconds one by one). Cover it with the cream. Add another layer of biscuits and then another one of cream. Cover with the cocoa powered (sprinkle it through a strainer). Put in the fridge for a whole night and enjoy. It is gorgeous.




WATERCRESS SOUP

I love watercress and serve it so often when it is in season that my children have learned to love this soup as well.  We make it with courgettes, which is healthier than the traditional recipe with potatoes, but tastes just as good.

Though most watercress soups call for stock, please do not use any of it. Watercress has a fabulous distinctive yet subtle flavour - you want this soup to taste of watercress, not of chicken or anything else.

You need:
- one onion - chopped
- a clove of garlic (in slices)
- 2 courgettes (peeled and cut into thick slices)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 300 gr watercress (worth chopping it bit as otherwise watercress has the obnoxious habit of wrapping around the blender blades)
-1.3 l boiling water
- salt
- a tablespoon of creme fraiche

Put the oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic and let it fry for 8 minutes (medium heat). Add the courgette and salt and wait for another 8 minutes. Add the boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes, add the watercress and let it simmer for a further 4 minutes. Take it off the heat, add the creme fraiche and blend. 

This soup should not be too thick. It is impossible to predict the quantities as it depends on how big your courgettes are - if you see the soup is too thick just add a bit more water.