Lentil and Chorizo Stew

Lentil and Chorizo Stew

Yesterday my baby girl was home sick with a tummy bug, which incidentally I caught, so I decided to make her a clear broth.  I had some chicken and ham bones in the fridge, plus loads of veggies, and I always have some herbs and spices on hand, so it was easy-going.  Today she is feeling much better, and I put that delicious stock to good use.  Lentils-  I love lentils, having grown up eating it almost every week.  In Colombia our grains are usually accompanied with white rice, but here in Spain, lentils are eaten as a dish on its own.  That is what I was going for today, swapping my usual “latino” herbs and spices for some more “mediterranean” ones.  Oh, and let’s not forget the chorizo……no lentil dish worth its name would be without it here, since pork is king!

Lentil and Chorizo Stew

I love the chorizo in the lentils, it gives it a warmth and depth that really isn’t achieved with in our Colombian counterpart; at least in my home our lentils were more of the vegetarian variety.   Also, I added some smoked sweet “pimenton” to give it that extra smoky kick!  Adding the chorizo and pimenton makes this more of a one plate meal, no accompaniment needed, and as the weather cools down, it definitely warms your belly too!

So here’s what you’re going to need”

4 cups dark stock (recipe below)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 carrot, chopped

1/4 cup chorizo, cubed

1 tsp smoked sweet pimenton or paprika

1 cup Pardina lentils, or Lentilles du Puy (french lentils)

2 bay leaves

1 sprig of thyme

Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a medium sauté pan, add the olive oil and warm it up over medium low heat.  Add the onion and green pepper, and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add the carrot, chorizo and pimenton, stirring and cook for another 2 minutes.

In the meantime, in a dutch oven or medium stockpot, bring your stock to a boil.  When boiling, add the vegetables, lentils, bay leaves and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat for 10 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium low, and simmer for another 35 minutes or until the lentils are fully cooked and it has slightly thickened.  Serve with fresh crusty bread and enjoy!

For the Stock:

This is a go to stock recipe that can be used as a broth, or base for other food preparations.  This makes about 6 cups, and feel free to swap some of the vegetables and herbs for what you have on hand.  The most important part is the cooking time so it really develops some flavor.

Makes about 6 cups of stock

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1 leek, sliced

3 shallots, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 celery sticks plus some leaves, sliced

1 large tomato, diced

1 cup cabbage, diced

1 tbsp tomato paste

Chicken bones and neck

3 ham bones

8 cups water

2 sprigs of sage, roughly chopped

2 sprigs of thyme

3 bay leaves

1 tsp black peppercorns

Salt, to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the leek, shallots, carrot, celery, tomato and cabbage, cook for about 15 minutes, until softened.  Raise heat to high, add the tomato paste and your bones, stirring constantly to incorporate the paste.  Add the water and the rest of the ingredients.  Boil for about 10 minutes, and then lower heat to medium high, and cook for another 40 minutes.  Turn off heat, and cover to let the flavors meld for another 20 minutes.

Strain through a chinois, and return to the dutch oven.  If you want a very clear broth, like consome, then when the stock is simmering, add 2 scrambled egg whites to the stock, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove the egg whites, this picks up all the impurities and leaves you with a crystalline broth.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Asparagus and Red Pepper Quiche

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Spring has definitely sprung, and as the days grow warmer in Madrid, it’s time to eat lighter and take advantage of nature’s bounty.  Asparagus is something that I look forward to every year, especially since my daughter absolutely loves them.  Yet I find that I seem to prepare them in the same ways, lightly sautéed either with eggs, parmesan or just a simple vinaigrette.

This year, I was going through a book that I have not opened in a long time.  My copy of Michel Roux’s “Pastry; Sweet and Savoury” has been sitting on my shelf for years.  I always leaf through it, and promise myself that I will try some of the recipes, yet I think I have only made one before.

I remember I bought the tart pan for this recipe specifically a couple of years ago, because the picture in the book struck me for its beauty.  I was a bit wary though, because the many times I had read the recipe, it seemed quite complicated.  I wasn’t wrong.  But what I didn’t realize, was how wonderful and delicious it is.  So yes, it is time-consuming, but I think if you tackle it bit by bit then it will become infinitely easier.  It isn’t hard, just laborious.

The result is a Quiche so elegant, so refined and bursting with spring flavors.  I hope you will try it too.  Oh, and the pastry is to die for.  ‘Nuff said.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Michel Roux’s  Pastry; Sweet and Savoury

1 recipe short crust dough (follows)

40-45 medium asparagus stalks

salt and freshly ground pepper

5 red peppers, semi-confit (recipe follows) 600g total weight before confit

1 egg

1 egg yolk

200ml whipping cream

pinch of nutmeg

6 dill sprigs

Roll out the dough to 3mm and cover the elongated tart pan.  Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 190C, poke the dough in the tart pan and cover it with parchment and pie weights (or dried beans if you don’t have pie weights).  Bake for 20 minutes.   Lower the heat to 170C, remove pie weights and parchment and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and proceed with the filling.

Trim asparagus to 10cm to fit the tart pan ( do use a ruler).  Reserve bottom stalks for soups or frittata.  Steam until just tender, about 3 minutes.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and set aside.

Chop the already confit peppers, and set on a paper towel to drain off all the oil.  Place evenly on the baked tart pan.

In a medium bowl, mix the egg and the yolk with the cream, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Pour 3/4 of the cream mix onto the peppers.  Carefully place the asparagus, 2 by 2 horizontally facing opposite sides in your tart pan.  Spoon the rest of the cream mixture on top.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.  Take out of the oven and place over a rack to cool for 20 minutes before unmolding.

With a spatula, lift the Quiche on to a plate.  Place the dill springs on top, and serve warm.  You can accompany it with a side salad for a perfect spring meal.

SHORT CRUST DOUGH RECIPE:

250g flour

150g cold unsalted butter, cut into small squares

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 tbsp cold milk

In a large bowl, add all the ingredients.  With your fingertips, start mixing all the ingredients until it resembles wet sand.  Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to a week.  You can also freeze it for up to 3  months.

CONFIT RED PEPPERS RECIPE:

600g red peppers (if not for this recipe, you can use whatever color you want, or a mix)

600ml of olive oil

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 rosemary sprig

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 tsp black or white peppercorns

Roast the peppers, in the broiler or on a grill.  Char the skin all over, then place in a plastic bag for 15 minutes to cool and sweat.  Remove skin and seeds.

Heat oil in a small stock pot to 70C (very very low heat).  Add all the ingredients plus the peppers and cook for 30 minutes.  Let cool, and if not using immediately, place the oil with all the ingredients in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are going to use them.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Carne en Posta – Braised Beef Colombian Style


Carne en Posta

Carne en Posta is a staple of Colombian cuisine. You can basically find anything “En Posta”, from chicken to fish, but at my house, beef was the norm. Traditionally it is from the Caribbean region of Colombia, where my family is from (Barranquilla!) but now you can find it almost everywhere. This recipe was passed down from generation to generation in my family, and now I am the proud recipient! At my house we serve it with Arroz Con Coco (coconut rice, a staple in Cartagena) and Ensalada de Repollo (cabbage salad).

posta

As always, there are endless variations because everyone in Colombia has their own unique recipe. I am happy to share mine with you.  Make sure you have a side, like rice or bread, because this sauce is DIVINE my friends, truly finger lickin’ good!

 

2 lb. eye of round (cleaned of all fat)

1 tbsp ground cumin + 1/2 tsp

1 tbsp garlic salt + 1 tbsp

1 tbsp achiote (annatto seed)

1 tsp ground coffee

3/4 cup vegetable oil

dash of vinegar (whichever will do)

1 large onion, chopped

1/2 large green pepper, chopped

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

10 cups of hot water

1/4 can coca cola

 

Rub 1 tbsp of cumin, 1tbsp of garlic salt and 1tsp coffee over roast, and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, add the 3/4 cup of oil to the achiote seed in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until oil is red and fragrant. Be careful not to let the oil burn. Strain 1/4 cup of oil into a large heavy bottomed stock pot, and set aside the rest of the oil and seeds. Turn heat to high, and brown meat all over. Take pot off of the heat, take out meat and reserve on a plate and strain the rest of your oil into your stockpot and lower your burner to low. Place pot back on the burner and add the dash of vinegar and deglaze your pan.

Add your chopped vegetables, the remaining 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1 tbsp of garlic salt and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, place the meat and its juices back into pot and cover with the water. Raise heat to high, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Take off the cover, lower the heat to medium and boil for 1 hour.

Take the meat out and slice into 1/2 inch slices, put back into pot with any juices that have accumulated and add the coca cola, boil for another 2 hours approximately or until the meat is fork tender.

When it is done, take the meat slices out, strain the liquid into another bowl, wipe your original pot so there are no vegetable bits and discard the veggies if you like (or not, sometimes I don’t strain but it is a matter of personal taste). Return your cooking liquid and the meat to the pot and cook for a little more if the sauce needs thickening.

posta3

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Zucchini and Jamon Iberico Risotto with Manchego Cheese

Risotto

 

I love risotto.  I love the variety of ingredients you can add  to the humble rice, and make it a truly gourmet meal.  Plain, with just saffron, or loaded with veggies, it really is a crowd pleaser.  I love also that you have to dedicate your time to risotto, it makes me feel like I am making something with a lot of love and patience.  Mind you, it isn’t the longest dish to prepare, but it is constant.

I remember I didn’t particularly like risotto when I first tried it.  I thought it wasn’t cooked properly.  But, of course, I later realized that like pasta in Italy, the rice has to be al dente too.  Risotto is also a tricky dish, in so that you really have to practice a few times to get it to be perfect.  My first attempts were complete disasters.  One turned out to be a sticky mess, that you could plaster walls with, the next one, watery and runny.  Only with practice and the guide of my fantastic Zio Gianni did I learn how to really cook food, with mastery and patience.  Now, I can basically make it with my eyes closed, since it was a dish that I prepared daily at my restaurant.  I can tell by sight when I am going to add the last spoonful of stock, and if you pay attention, and practice, you will too.

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I decided to use some Spanish ingredients, to mix it up a bit.  I love that risotto is a blank canvas, where you as the artist can create your own masterpiece.

So, if you fancy trying this version of mine, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 2

1 tbsp Olive oil

2 tbsp Butter

1/2 Onion, finely minced

1 glass Dry White Wine

120 g Carnaroli rice

6 cups Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Jamon Iberico or Prosciutto, julienned, plus a tsp for garnish

1/4 Zucchini, julienned

1 cup Manchego Cheese, grated

1 tsp Chives, minced, for garnish

In a stock pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Lower the heat to simmer.  Keep hot.  In a large and deep sauté pan, add the tbsp of olive oil and tbsp of butter, over low heat.  When melted, add the onion and sauté, until very soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Raise the heat to high, and add the rice, and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until the rice starts to become translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Add the white wine, and let it evaporate.  Add enough stock to fully cover the rice, about 3 ladles full.  Lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly.  (Until you get the hang of it, and so it won’t over cook, taste the rice after each addition until it is almost fully cooked, but has just a little bit of bite. )  When the stock has evaporated, but there is just a little bit of film on top, add another ladle full of stock, trying the rice, and continue stirring.  This should take between 10-12 minutes approx.  On your last ladle full of stock, add the zucchini and ham.  Cook, stirring until the stock is almost completely evaporated, but still creamy.  Turn off heat, and add the remaining tbsp of butter and the cheese, and mix.  Cover and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes.  This part is called mantecare.  Mix well again, add the pepper and more salt if needed, and serve with the ham and chives to garnish.  Buon Appetitto!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

 

Minestrone

Minestronne

 

Nothing screams homey, comfort and belly-warming to me more than Minestrone.  Growing up, it was my mother’s preferred way to get me to eat veggies, mine too now, of course; I also remember watching my uncle carefully chop all the vegetables, and explain to me in which order they should be sautéed, for how long, and of course, his secret ingredient.

photo107

The hard rind of the parmesan cheese.  He rarely threw out any food out, there was always some use for it.  I remember as a kid, watching that incredibly hard and inedible rind being plopped into the soup mid way, and upon its extraction, it was a soft, gooey, gloop of a mess.  For me it was alchemy, magic.  And the taste of the soup…..incredible!

I still make my minestrone exactly the way my uncle taught me, digging out as many veggies from the fridge as I can, but always respecting their taste profiles.  I remember him saying never to put eggplant in, as it would give the soup a more acid taste.  So I don’t use it.  Also, he used broccoli, but this time I found this beauty:

photo105

 

I think this is purple cauliflower, but the taste seems to be a cross between the two.  It gave the overall dish another beautiful color profile, which I love…..I love eating the rainbow, it just makes me feel so healthy!

The recipe I am going to give to you is by no means written down anywhere, I always make it from my memory.  So, the amounts are not perfect, so hang in there.

So, here’s what you’re going to need

Serves 8-10

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk of celery, sliced

1/2 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced

6-7 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 handful of green beans, chopped into 2 inch sticks

1/2 zucchini, diced

6-7 broccoli or purple cauliflower florets, chopped

1/2 cup white beans, from can or jar

1 tsp dried oregano

3 cups vegetable stock

1 large can (800 g) crushed tomatoes

1 parmesan cheese rind (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and leeks.

photo104

 

Sprinkle in some salt and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium high, and add the rest of the veggies, except for the beans.

photo106

 

Saute until the mushrooms are just starting to soften, about 6 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, parmesan rind and oregano.  Let it come to a boil, and then lower the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Five minutes before you take it off the heat, add the beans.  Taste and add more salt if needed, and some pepper.

Serve with the grated parmesan.

photo109

 

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Arroz con Pollo – Colombian Chicken and Rice

 

 

Arroz con Pollo

The last time I made this dish, was 5 years ago.  5 YEARS AGO?!?  Why the heck has it taken me so long to make it again?  As a child, this was the staple dish for large gatherings with my mum’s side of the family.  Really, what can be simpler, a crowd pleasing dish, that is full of protein, veggies, and best of all, flavor.

There a many variations of Arroz con Pollo, every family has their own recipe, and many latin american cultures have their methods too.  For example, the cuban variety uses the chicken on the bone, and the rice is a little soupier, almost like an Arroz Caldoso,  or soupy rice.

My version is probably influenced by my Italian grandfather, with the addition of olives and capers.  Either way, it is awesome.  It’s a dish that has a few steps, but totally worth it, because it’s a whole meal on a plate.  My daughter loves it, and always has, it was a great way for me to sneak it some vegetables that she would never normally eat.  As I said, there are many, many variations.  I like to use annatto seed, or as some call it, achiote.  This is a small red seed, and it is used for food coloring, much like saffron but with a nuttier taste.  In some countries, like Mexico, they grind the outer layer into a paste, but in Colombia you boil the seeds in oil or water until it releases its natural color.  The longer you boil, the deeper the hue you get, so it can turn your oil from yellow to deep red.  Then you discard the seeds and use the oil in your food.

Annato Seeds

 

I also like to use cabbage, well, because I love cabbage.  Then I add some raisins, because I love having every other bite give you a surprise of sweetness amid the saltiness of the olives and capers.

Ingredients for Arroz con Pollo

This dish is very heartwarming, and tastes of home and family to me.  I hope you take the time and make it so you and your family and friends can savour the tastes of Colombia!

So here’s what you’re gonna need:

Serves 8

For your basic white rice:

1/4 onion, finely minced

1/4 green pepper, finely minced

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cups long grain white rice

4 cups water

2 tsp salt

For the braised chicken:

1/4 cup annatto seeds

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 small green peppers, chopped

4 small tomatoes, chopped

4 scallions, sliced and set in a bowl of water to wash, then drained

1 heaping tbsp of cumin powder

2 tsp of salt, more to taste

1 packet of Sazon Tropical

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 chicken, cut in pieces, skinned

1 1/2 cups of cabbage, chopped, plus one large leaf to “cover the pot”

1 handful of green beans, chopped

2 tbsp of pimento stuffed green olives, sliced

3 tbsp raisins

1 tbsp capers, rinsed

1 cup water, or more to cover and braise the chicken

First, make your basic white rice.  In a medium heavy bottomed pot, add the vegetable oil, minced onion, green pepper and garlic over medium low heat.  Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened and fragrant.  Wash your rice, and strain.  Add the rice, and then the four cups of water and the salt, and raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a boil, covered.  When the rice boils, lower the heat to medium low again, and leave the rice partially covered.  When the water is almost all evaporated, about 15 minutes, with a large wooden spoon, “turn” your rice, which basically means to flip the rice with the spoon so the bottom layer goes to the top and vice versa, and let it dry out, another 10 minutes.  Switch off the heat, and leave to further dry out, partially covered.

In the meantime, in a small saucepan, add the annatto seeds and the 1/4 cup oil and boil, for about 3-4 minutes or until the oil is a deep red hue.  Take off the heat and strain the oil into a large stock pot, discard the seeds.

Heat the oil over medium heat,  now you are going to make the Sofrito.

Sofrito, Ingredients

Add the onions, green pepper, tomatoes, scallions, cumin powder and salt.  Saute for about 15-20 minutes, until very soft, the vegetables have released their flavors and reduced, but not browned.  Add the carrot and cook another 5 minutes.  Now add your chicken and brown on all sides.  Add the water, sazon tropical, cabbage and bring to a boil.  When it is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and “cover” it with the large cabbage leaf.

Arroz con Pollo

Let the chicken braise for about 15 minutes, and check to see how the breast is doing.  We don’t want to over cook the breast, so check it to see if it is cooked through, and if it is, take it out and keep cooking the rest of the chicken parts.  Add the green beans.  After about 10 more minutes, check the legs, thighs, and wings to see if they are cooked through.  If they are, remove and let cool along with the breast.  Add the olives, raisins and capers at this point.

When the chicken is cool to the touch, shred it and discard the bones.  Check the vegetables and see how much water has reduced.  You want it to be a bit liquidy, but not so much so as when you mix it with the rice it will be soupy.  If the liquid has almost reduced, turn off the heat.  If not, wait another 5 minutes.  You want about 1/8 cup of liquid, approximately.  Add the chicken back to the braising liquids, and then add your white rice and stir, so everything mixes up together and it is all beautifully colored a vibrant yellow.  Turn the heat down to low, and let “dry” a few more minutes, now fluffing with a fork.

You can serve it immediately, but I prefer to let it sit over night in the fridge, that way all the flavors meld.  Serve with a wedge of avocado and and ice-cold beer!

Buen Provecho!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Roasted Summer Vegetable and White Bean Salad

After all these days eating out, my belly needed something healthy, satisfying and delicious.  Ta-da!  Here is the perfect salad to satiate your hunger and make you feel oh-so-good about eating.

It’s so easy to make, and quick too if you buy the beans already cooked.  I love the markets here in Barcelona, because there are these lovely ladies that all they do is cook legumes so you won’t have to.  I could kiss them.  And they are always perfectly done, never too mushy, always fork tender.

Adding a little lemon-dill vinaigrette for that summer zing, and you’re done.  It’s a one plate meal that your taste buds will love and your waistline will thank you for.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4

6 or 7 medium broccoli florets

6 or 7 medium cauliflower florets

A handful and a half of cherry tomatoes

1 large yellow pepper (or orange, or red, whatever tickles your fancy) cut in half and ribs and seeds removed

1 red onion, thickly sliced

Olive oil, for drizzling over the veggies

Salt and Pepper to taste

250g of white beans

1 large bunch of dill, chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice from one lemon

Sea salt

 

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Place all your veggies (minus the beans) onto an oven sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Roast for 10-15 minutes, until they are nicely browned and fragrant.

Let cool a few minutes before chopping the peppers.

In the meantime, make your vinaigrette with the extra virgin olive oil, dill and lemon juice.  In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with the beans and dressing.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

And voilà!  You have your meal!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming! : Bubble and Squeak

Continuing with British Week, since it is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee!  I love the practicality of British food.  It amazes me that from one lunch, as we had on Sunday, I have almost a week’s worth of food just from the left over’s!!!

Yesterday I made Bubble and Squeak.  This is a hearty, belly filling dish using up the rest of your mashed potatoes and vegetables from the roast.  On Sunday I made roast chicken, roast vegetables, mashed potato and yorkshire pudding.  The pud’s were the first to go.  But as always, I have chicken, mash and veggies left over.

Bubble and Squeak to the rescue!  All you have to do is mix your veggies with the mash, place it into a frying pan and form into a sort of juiced up hash-brown.  Basically the name of this dish is because of the sounds of the “potato patty” as it cooks, and since your veggies will let out a little water as they cook, the whole thing will bubble as well.

Since I didn’t put the chicken into it, because today I am making a Chicken, Mushroom and Tarragon Pie, I decided to fry up a couple of farm fresh eggs to go on top.  Then just, portion it up, place your fried egg on top, and heat up and pour on some of your leftover gravy….and you are good to go!

It’s so ridiculously easy, and tasty.  You can even do this with your Thanksgiving left overs, since the day after I am so keen on the leftovers, but then I kind of get tired of them.  I think this will be a great answer to not end up throwing them all away in despair (and utter disappointment, since I hate throwing away food).

Mind you, the picture isn’t great, just because it is sort of a lump on the plate covered with gravy and egg.  But trust me, your taste buds will thank you.  And it’s so darn quick to make, you don’t even have to think about it and you have a full, balanced meal on the table.  Of course, this isn’t health food.  But I don’t eat like this every day, and you only live once! ;)

So, just to give you a couple of steps:

Mix your left over vegetables with your mashed potatoes.

Place a little oil or butter into a non-stick frying pan, over high heat.

Put your mash and veggies into the pan, and form into a large patty.

Cook for about 5-7 minutes, and then place a large plate over the pan, flip over, and slide the patty back into the pan and cook another 5-7 minutes until nicely browned.

In the mean time, fry up a couple of eggs in another pan.

Serve your bubble and squeak topped with the fried egg and your re-heated gravy.

Enjoy!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla