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.


CATALAN CREAM or CREMA CATALANA

This is a very typical catalan dessert. In Catalan it is called 'crema', while in Castillian it is called 'crema catalana'. Though Calaluna can legitimately claim ownership of this recipe (as indeed there are references to it in Catalan literary works even from the Middle Ages) the fact is that it is eaten all over Spain. And indeed in Europe, as it is just a variation of the typically French 'creme brûlée' that the Belgians make to absolute perfection. Here in the UK this is a 'burnt cream' or a 'Cambridge burnt cream'. Some also claim it is a 'Trinity cream', as they say it was invented in Trinity College in Cambridge in the XXVII century.  Despite the disputes about the origin of this recipe, the fact is that it is a delicious dessert. And it is rather uplifting that no matter the country, language or region, at the end of the day we all eat the same.  

You need  (for 5 people):
- 500 ml full fat milk ( alternatively use 400 ml half-fat cream and 100 ml single cream)
- 3 egg yokes
- half a stick of cinnamon.
- zest of a quarter of a lemon and a quarter of an orange (only the yellow and orange bits)
- 50 gr sugar
- 40 gr corn flour
- more sugar to burn the top of the cream

Heat the milk with the lemon and orange peels and the cinnamon. Let it come to almost boiling point, then lower the heat, simmer for 8 minutes and then cover it and let it cool down for another 20 minutes.

Separately mix the eggs and sugar (with the back of a spoon, so that you do not create any air bubbles). Add the corn flower, and then the milk (through a colander so that you do not get any cinnamon bits in). Put this mixture back in the pan over medium heat while you stir it until it gets thick (it takes around 8 minutes) I normally get this though a colander again to make it very smooth, but I suppose you are fine to do without this step if you cannot be bothered to do it.

Put the cream on the individual pots, cover with cling film ( really important as otherwise you will get a really unpleasant 'custard skin' on top) and let it cool down in the fridge for 3 hours. When you are going to serve it, put some sugar on top and then burn the sugar under a hot grill or (much -much easier) with a torch.

Very delicious - and surprisingly light.


CHOCOLATE SWISS ROLL

Every time we make this my guests are impressed, but it is in fact really easy to make. In Spanish this type of cake is called 'brazo de gitano', ie. 'gypsy's arm', no idea why.  We first learned to make these decorations  a couple of years ago in a Spanish blog called www.recetadelafelicidad.com and since then we have changed colours, flavours and also slightly adapted the recipe. This is one of my children's favourite combinations of flavours.
You need:
- 30 g melted butter
- an egg white
- 30 g sugar
- 40 g plain flour
- 4 eggs
- 120 more g plain flour
- 25 g cocoa
- 120 more g sugar
- 4 tablespoons apricot jam
- a 250 g tub of mascarpone cheese
- two tablespoons icing sugar


The easiest manner to do this is with an indented silicon mat. We bought ours in Spain (see link: http://www.utilcentre.com/utensilios/pasteleria/tapete-relieve-silicona-60-c-a-230-c/tapete-relieve-relief-10-modeloflowers.html). We have not found them in the UK, but they send them internationally (the mats are huge, so we cut them in half and kept one in Spain, but you can always pass one half to a friend who likes to bake…) If you cannot/do not want to get the matt, you can also make this very easily by hand.

Just mix well the melted butter, egg white, 30 g sugar and 40 g flour and extend this mixture over the silicon mat ensuring the mixture gets into every indentation. If you do not have the mat, put the mixture into a piping mat with a very small nozzle. Print whatever pattern you like, put baking parchment on top of the paper with the pattern and then just pipe the mixture following closely the pattern. Put the silicon matt or baking parchment with the mixture into the freezer for 30 minutes.

Then, preheat the oven at 170 degrees. Whisk the eggs and 120 g sugar well (and electric whisk is best) until it acquires the consistency of whipped cream. Add the flour and cocoa and mix it all with an spoon ensuring you do not loose any air. Put this mixture on the swiss roll mat or on a swiss roll tin with the decorated baking paper at the bottom. Bake it for just 10 minutes (not a minute longer or it will get very dry!)

Take it the roll off the oven and put it over a clean cloth. Roll it over itself and let it cool down for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the mascarpone and icing sugar. When the roll is cold, extend it, spread the apricot jam on top and then the spread mascarpone over the jam. Roll it all tightly ensuring you do not leave any air inside it. Cut the extremes so that you get a nice swirl on the side and serve.


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.