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.


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.


ARROZ A BANDA

This is very similar to a paella, but without any of the paella distractions: no need to peel prawns,  open mussels, suck bones, clams or anything like that.  It is typical from the area of Alicante, where I spent most of the summer holidays during my childhood. The chef that cooks this best in Spain is Maria Jose San Roman from the wonderful restaurant Monastrell in Alicante. This recipe is slightly adapted from one of hers. If you are into cooking rice watch her videos in You Tube - she is not only a superb chef but also a great defender of cooking simply and focussing on the a quality of products, which I totally agree with.

You need: 
- 2 large tomatos
- half and onion
- half a red pepper
- 2 ñoras - or alternatively a teaspoon of sweet paprika
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 7 prawns
- 300 g squid 
- around 400 g 'bomba' rice, ideally Calasparra
- salt
- fumet: made with fish bones (a couple of bones of flat fish) and a litre of water. You can get a huge amount of fish bones for very little money - indeed most fishmongers would normally give it to you for free) 
- saffron 
- olive oil

Start by preparing the 'fumet' (which I normally prepare well in advance and freeze): roast the fishbones, a tomato cut into quarters and two cloves of garlic with a couple of table spoons of olive oil at 250 degrees. It takes around 40 minutes until the fish bones are brown with black edges. Put it all in a big pan with two litres of water and boil for 2 hours (or just 20 minutes in you do this with a express cooker) 

Separately, fry the ñoras and remaining clove of garlic with a tablespoon of oil, blend it and reserve it. If you are not using ñoras just grate the garlic and mix it with the tablespoon of paprika.

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

Finally fry the onions and peppers (both cut into small cubes) over very low heat with a table spoon of olive oil for 18-10 minutes until the peppers are soft and the onions translucent.

Up to this point you can prepare it all well in advance or even the previous day.

45 minutes before you are going to eat, boil a little bit of water (half a glass), add the saffron and let it infuse. 
Cut the squid and prawns into small pieces. Take a paella pan, fry the prawns until they get pink with a tablespoon of oil (one or two minutes) take them out and reserve. In the same oil fry the squid for 3-4 minutes, then add the rice (a handful per person) a tablespoon of the ñora or paprika mixture, three tablespoons of the tomato pure and three to four tablespoons of the onion and peppers mixture. Stir it for a minute or so, then add the saffron liquid (put it through a colander to get rid of  the saffron stems). Finally add the fumet (for each volume or rice, three times the volume of fumet).

Let it bubble over high heat for 8 minutes. Then lower the heat and wait for another 8 minutes. Finally (and take note because this is a secret trick) 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', the burn bit at the bottom of the paella, which is something that every Spaniard would fight for at the table.

The key to any Spanish rice dish is not to overcomplicate it with too many ingredients. And to be really precise about timing. As soon as the rice is done you need to eat it immediately or it will become 'pasado' (mushy)... yuck...       



GOUGERES

Once you learn how to make choux pastry, you can make lots of different recipes. These are gougeres, i.e salty choux pastry. By far my favourite recipe with choux pastry, as I like anything with cheese. My children also prefer these over chouquettes. Though profiteroles are of course something else...

You need:
- 65 ml milk
- 70 g plain flour
- 70 g butter
- 3 eggs
- 125 g strong grated cheese
- a pinch of grated nutmeg
- a pinch of ground pepper
- a pinch of salt


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, but the only way to find this out is trial and error. The good news is that when you make choux pastry 4 or 5 times you will never forget what consistency you need). Finally add the pepper, nutmeg and cheese. Put the mixture into a pipping bag.

Pipe little blobs 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.  

FENNEL SALAD

This is a very simple summer salad - great with blue grilled fish.
You need:

- two fennel bulbs
- 1 orange
- a handful of black olives (pitted)
- pink pepper (to taste)
- 3 tables spoons of (good) virgin olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoons of vinegar
- salt

Cut the fennel in really thin slices (ideally with a mandoline). Add the olive oil and vinegar and let it rest for 20 minutes or so. Then cut the orange in chunks (getting rid of the white skin) Half the olives. Mix the oranges and olives with the fennel. Add salt and sprinkle with the pink pepper.  Done!


CHOUQUETTES

While this year I am working this week, for many years I used to spend a few days at the beginning of August in France. Nothing reminds me more of La Republique than going to a bakery early in the morning to buy croissants and chouquettes - vive La France! While making croissants in a pain in... the neck, making chouquettes is very easy indeed.
You need:
- 65 ml milk
- 70 g plain flour
- 70 g butter
- 3 eggs
- 150 g pearl sugar 

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 (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 in  little bits) and put the mixture into a pipping bag.

Pipe little blobs 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. Sprinkle the blobs with plenty of pearl sugar. Put the tray with the chouquettes into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Delicieux.