I was not joking: here it goes #beetrootgate dish number 3. I tried this recipe once, out of one of favorite cookbooks long before I had a blog. As beetroots were pulling up in the fridge, it seemed like a good idea to try it again. And, it was as lovely as I remembered it, with lots of different flavors and textures. A perfect side dish for you winter roasts…
Roasted beetroot with chestnuts, roasted red onions and balsamic vinegar (adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)
- 3 large beetroots washed and cooked, sliced (pay attention not to pull the vinegary ones from the shelf)
- olive oil to taste vinegar to taste
- 3 red onions cut into quarter
- 8 roasted chestnuts, crushed with a mortar and pestle
- balsamic vinegar
- salt and black pepper to taste
Pre-heat your oven to 190oC/3750F/mark 5
Place the sliced beetroots* in a roasting tray, and drizzle them with a generous amount of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 25min. Reserve.
Put the quartered onions in a small roasting tray, drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place them at the bottom of the oven and roast for about 20min. Reserve.
When everything is ready, place a large heavy-based non stick frying pan on a medium heat and put in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When is piping hot and begins to smoke, drop in half the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 min, until the beetroots start to get dark, stirring occasionally, Add half the roasted onions and dash of balsamic vinegar. Mix well, and add the half the chestnuts. Cook together another 3min. Reserve. Repeat whit what is left of the ingredients.
Just when the second batch is about to get ready, put in the reserved portion. Drizzle again with olive and let it cooked until everything is well mixed.
*If you cannot find cooked beetroots, cook them by bringing them to boil in a large pan with salt and water and bring them to simmer for about 3h. After allowing them to cool, peel of the skins.
Once I got the empanada de atun [savoury tuna parcels] properly tested and under control, I decided to expand to other combinations. Not knowing where to start, I turned to Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas, whom seemed to favor spinach, cream cheese and spinach. If it is good enough for Patrick and Carlos, it is also good enough for me…. I am actually quite fond of spinach, which helped a bit my decision. Of course, living in Switzerland, the Cheddar in the original recipe had to be replaced by Emmentaler. No one noticed seemed to complain – if anything it conformed better to the taste of hardened expats living in Switzerland for longer than they want to admit. All in all, a great dish to serve when the occasion requires food easy to eat or informal gatherings. For bonus, it is vegetarian and all the greenies make it look a bit more healthy than its tuna fish counterpart. Eat warm or cold, with a beer or a glass of red wine.
Spinach and cheese parcels (empanada de espinacas y queso, adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)
- 2 packets ready of read-rolled puff pastry (one for the bottom, the other to cover it)
- 800g of fresh spinach, washed
- 100g of full fat creamy cheese, like Philadelphia
- 100g of grated Emmentaler cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 slightly beaten egg
1. Coat the bottom of a heavy bottom non sticky pan with olive oil and put it on high heat, until the olive oil is smoking hot.
2. Drop the the spinach leaves inside, season whit salt and turn the leaves until they start to wilt.
3. Transfer the leaves to sieve lined with kitchen paper, so it absorbs the bitter liquids.
4. Allow to cool, and put them in a large mixing bowl.
5. Add both cheeses to the spinach and mix everything together until it is homogenous.
6. Allow to cool overnight in the fridge
7. Heat the oven to 200 oC
8. Line the bottom and walls of the rectangular baking tray previously buttered. Pinch it with a fork and fold in the e spinach and cheese mixture.
9. Put the second sheet of puff pastry on top, and close the edges trimming the excess pastry. Seal with the beaten egg. You can brush the whole surface to look shiny.
10. Leave in the stove for about 20m (or according to the instructions), until the pastry is done.
A few weeks ago, I posted the
watered down light version of this dish. A dinner party loosely inspired in Spanish cuisine prompted me to do the actual thing, with all its condiments, red wine and olive oil. Mind you, for extra slow-home-made-cooking points, the meatballs were rolled by hand with all love and care by T. and myself. It seemed like a lot of food, but at the end all it was left was the meatballs used for this snapshot. And, I had to hide it in a dark corner of my fridge.
Meatballs in rich tomato sauce (adapted from Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas’ Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations)
For the meatballs
- 650g of minced pork and beef
- 2 pinches of very finely chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, mint, basil, tarragon, coriander and oregano.
- 1large egg
- small yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 red chili, finely chopped (or to taste)
- 300g fresh breadcrumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Enough olive oil to coat the baking tray
For the tomato sauce
- Olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely sliced
- 1 stick celery, finely diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 70mL ruby Port
- 250mL red wine
- 3 cans of 400g-chopped plum tomatoes
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 2 bay leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 180 oC.
2. Put all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl, and season all the salt and pepper. Combine with your hands until you have a consistent mixture which allows you to form the meatball.
3. Start rolling the meatballs with your hands.
4. Put a generous amount of olive oil in baking tray
5. Drop in the meatball, stirring them to coat them evenly.
6. Put the tray in the oven for 30min, or until the meatballs are all golden brown. Do not forget to stir them occasionally to cook them in all directions.
7.While waiting for the meatball, start the tomato sauce. Place a large, deep sided saucepan on a low heat and pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the sliced vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Fry gently until they are soft and start to color.
8. Poor in both wines, and bring to boil.
9.When the wine is boiling and has reduced to half the volume, drop in the tomatoes. Season again, and bring to boil, stirring at all times.
10. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 15min.
11. Once the meatballs are cooked, fold them in the tomato sauce. Let it simmer for 10min more. (in reality, what I did was to do the tomato sauce and the meatballs in advance. On the day of the party, I combined them both while cold. Then, I slowly warm them. It actually tastes better, as the flavors combine and develop).
Comfort food for a bitterly cold day… For the this dish, I pulled recipes from 2 different books. The meatballs are a modified version of Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas‘ take. The tomato sauce is the famous tomatada by David Leite I use ever so often.
Spaghetti and meatballs in a tomato sauce with basil
Ingredients for the meatballs
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 500g ground beef and pork
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried persil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Salt and pepper freshly ground
- Olive oil to taste
- Flour as needed
Ingredients for the tomato sauce
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons
- 2 springs fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 garlic gloves minced
- 1 kg very ripped tomatoes, seeded and chopped* (or a couple of canned tomato, preferably san marzano, chopped, juices reserved).
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of double concentrated tomato paste, to taste
- 1 small fresh medium red hot chilli pepper, such as Serrano, stemmed, seeded and chopped (it optional. Sometimes, I just add a few drops of piri piri sauce).
- Freshly grounded salt and black pepper to taste.
- Fresh basil
- Boiling water
- A little bit of olive oil
Heat the stove the 190 oC (=375 oF).
Place a large heavy base, non stick frying pan on a low heat with 2 dashes of olive oil. Add the sliced onions, a pinch of salt and pepper then sauté gently until soft and tender. When it is done add the minced garlic and let it fry for a 1 minute more. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl combine the meat with the herbs, the eggs and the caramelised onion. Once the mix has aggregated, roll the meatballs with your hands. Roll them in flour so all the surface is coated.
Place a large heavy base, non stick frying pan on a low heat with 2 dashes of olive oil. Gently brown the meatballs, about 5min, adding more olive oil if needed. Reserve the frying pan.
Place the meatballs in a baking tray coated with olive oil and put it in the stove for about 30min or until they feel solid.
In the meanwhile, start the tomato sauce. Use the frying where you browned the meatball. Add more oil if necessary, and heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the onions, parsley and bay leaf and cook until nicely golden, about 15min. Add the garlic and cook for 1 min more.
Turn the heat to medium low, stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste and chilli pepper, if using. Bring to a simmer, cook, lid ajar, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 30min.
Once the tomato sauce is done and the meatballs are out of the stove, you will need to combine both. Just drop gently the meatball in the frying pan, making sure the surfaces are coated. Let it simmer gently for about 20min.
In the meanwhile, boil spaghetti. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. If cooking dry spaghetti, use a mimimum of 500ml of water for each 100g. of dry spaghetti. Once the water is boiling, you will need to add the spaghetti. Reduce the heat so that the water is on a slow boil. Let it cook as said in the package. When ready, drain and add some olive oil to avoid sticking.
On a plate, put the spaghetti and on top the meatballs and the tomato sauce. Add a basil leaf for decoration and extra flavor.
Another Spanish classic… Very much like the tortilla de patatas [potato omelette], there are many versions and interpretations. And, as you might guess from previous posts, the best empanada is going to be the one cooked by the proverbial Mother-in-Law… Actually, at some point, I had scribbled down a recipe that had been in someone’s family for generations. But hélas!, I lost it during one of my many moves. I ended up to use the one Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas have on their Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations book.
All in all, it is not exactly easy to get this dish right. The filling is relatively straightforward, but the pastry requires a certain level of skill and commitment. Although this might sound like scratching a chalkboard with nails to some, I ended up using pre made pastry, to avoid any culinary catastrophes… In any case, it is an awesome combination of flavors and textures, which reminds me of home and many bohemian nights out.
Savory tuna parcels (empanadillas de atún)
For the filling
- Olive oil
- 2 medium onions finely sliced
- 1 large red pepper, finely chopped
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 225g tomatoes coarsely chopped
- 350g of good quality tuna (in olive oil), drained
- 8-10 good quality black 0lives, stones removed
- Small pinch of saffron strands. soaked in 2 tablespoon hot water
For the pastry
- pack of ready rolled puff pastry
- 1 beaten egg
Place a large heavy base, non stock frying pan (or wok) on a low heat with 8 dashes of olive oil. Add the sliced onions and pepper, a pinch of salt and pepper then sauté gently until soft and tender.
Add the chopped tomatoes and give everything a good stir, then simmer gently until all the ingredients have reduced to a thick sauce.
Add the tuna, olives, saffron and another pinch of salt and pepper, Summer everything together, stirring regularly until you have a tick, rich sauce. Set aside to cool, and then refrigerate for 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 200oC/400oC/gas mark 6
Lightly flour your work surface and place the rolled puff pastry on top. Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 12cm squares and arrange them on several greased baking sheets. You will need 8-12, depending on how many people you are going to serve. Gauge it so you have enough pastry to wrap the filling. If the pastry is too thin the parcel will burst and all the ingredients will spill out. Some spillage is fine. If the pastry is too thick, it will not allow the flavours of the filling to come through.
Put a dollop of the tuna mixture, a ball shape roughly 5-6cm, in the middle of the square, and then dab the edges of the suare with eaten egg, Bring up the corners of the pastry to the centre and press them together to form a peak at the top. Glaze the tops with beaten egg, and then in the oven for 20min, or until golden brown. Serve hot, warm or cold.
Alternatively, you can put the pastry in the a rectangular or square baking tray, allowing the wall to be coated about 5cm. Put the tuna mixture on it, and put another sheet of pastry on top. Close the edges, sealling with beaten egg. Glaze the top with beaten egg.
I have already mentioned it a few times: Tapas – Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations, by Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas, is one of my favorite cookbooks. And, the roasted sweet potatoes is one of my favorite dishes. It looks a bit laborious, but most of the roasting can be done in advance.
Roasted sweet potatoes pan fried with roasted red onions, pine nuts and feta cheese
- 3 large sweet potatoes cut in 3 cm slices
- garlic infused oil (I normally out 4 crushed cloves in 100ml olive oil and let it rest for a while)
- salt and pepper
- 3 red onions cut into quarters
- 1 heaped tablespoon of pine nuts
- 75g of feta cheese
The stove goes at 200oC (mark 6).
Put the sweet potatoes in roasting tray and drizzle generously with garlic oil until they are well coated. 2 pinches of salt and 3 pinches of pepper and then mix well. Put in the middle of the stove for about 1h, and mix every now and again to ensure they don’t burn.
Put the onion quarters in a small roasting tray and drizzle with garlic oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place them at the bottom of the stove and cook for 20min.
For the pine nuts, get a small frying pan and put it at low heat. Do not add oil. Drop in the pine nuts and fry gently stirring constantly until they are golden brown. Reserve.
When the onions and sweet potatoes are ready, place a large heavy based non sticky frying pan on a medium to high heat and put enough garlic oil to cover the bottom Drop in half the roasted sweet potatoes and fry until they start to break. Add half the roasted onions and give everything a good stir. Cook for 5min, stirring the whole time to avoid burning. Take it out from the pan and keep it hot. Repeat with the remaining roasted potatoes and onions.
When the second batch is almost ready, add the first batch to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Carefully stir in the feta cheese and the pine nuts and continue cooking until the feta is almost melting. Serve straight away.
Another recipe from one of my favorite cook books: Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations by Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas. You can use any brandy, really, but only Fundador Brandy gives it a special flavor. Needless to mention some caution is needed while flambée-ing.
Pan fried chorizo with roasted peppers and Fundador Brandy
- 2 medium red peppers
- Olive oil
- Garlic infused oil (just mix garlic to taste with olive oil, mix and let rest for a few hours).
- 8 spice chorizo sausages (if you want to be very precise, you should look for Rosario chorizos), cut into 2cm slices
- 50ml Fundador Brandy
- parsley, roughly chopped
Spike the 2 peppers with skewers and hold them over a high flame on the stove until the skin is charred and black. Leave the peppers to cool down a bit, then peel of the skins and hull them (for practical reasons, I never do this. Probably, I get a more rustic dish).
Place 2 dashes of olive oil in a heavy based frying pan and put on at medium heat. Add the skinned peppers and sear them quickly all over. Remove them all over and put them in a dish. Sprinkle over some garlic infused olive oil and salt, allow them cool and then cover the dish with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.Once done, cut the peppers into slices and leave to one side.
Place a clean large heavy-based frying pan (or wok) on a high heat. Add 2 dashes of olive oil and tilt the pan backwards and forwards to coat the base completely. When to oil is smoking hot, drop in the sausages and cook fiercely until they start to brown and release their fat. At this point put the sliced marinated peppers and cook for 20 seconds more. If you are cooking on gas, be careful. The fat will spit and might ignite. Put in the Brandy – it is very likely that the pan will ignite. If not, just use a match to start the flambee. Let it cook for 10 seconds, or until the flame is gone. Then toss in the parsley. Serve right away.
No matter how much effort, love and care you put into it, someone mother’s tortilla will be always better than yours. And don’t even mention the supreme interpretation of this Spanish classic done by all Mothers-in-Law – specially yours. To stay away from trouble, I use the recipe I found in the book: Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations by Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas, and call it potato and caramelized onion omelette.
Tortilla de patata [Spanish omelette]
- 1.5 Kg Desiree red potatoes (I use 1Kg of parboiled roesti potatoes. Most Spanish Mothers and Mothers-in-Law would be horrified if they knew).
- Olive oil
- 1 large Spanish onion (always a controversial topic. For some, a proper tortilla de patata has nothing but eggs and potatoes; others would call the thought an heresy).
- knob of butter
- 10 eggs (no typo: it is indeed ten eggs you are going to need).
- Salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes, cut them in half, and then cut each half into slices 1.5cm thick. Place in a pan of cold, salter water ad bring the to the boil. Parboil, or until just tender enough to pierce with a knife. Drain and leave to one side.
In a large, non-stick frying pan, around 30cm in diameter (preferably with slopping side because it will make turning the tortilla easier later on), place 12 dashes of olive oil and put on a low to medium heat (this is liberal quantity of olive oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pan with a thick film). Toss in the sliced onions and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and start to fry them. Once the onions start to sizzle, turn the heat down to low and add the knob of butter. Cook the onions until they are soft and golden, and then remove them with a slotted spoon and place to one side.
Return the pan to medium heat, and add the par-boiled potatoes, a generous pinch of salt and a small pinch of pepper. Fry gently for 2 minutes, turning frequently or until the potatoes are lightly crisp and and golden on the outside while soft on the inside. Just before they are done, return the onions to the pan, stir them well and cook them together for about a minute. When done, remove everything with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl to one side. You will need the oil that was left at the pan for later.
Crack the eggs into a large bowl, add 2 generous pinch of salt, a small pinch of pepper and beat lightly together. Add the cooked potato and onion mixture and still well. Leave to stand for a few minutes, to allow the ingredients to marry.
Return the pan to medium to high head, add 6 more dashes of olive oil (again, until you have a thick oil film that covers the surface of the pan. Tilt the pan until the bottom is well coated. Do not forget to do is, or else you have parts of the tortilla firmly sticked to the bottom of the pan. Not a nice tortilla technique…). Heat the oil until smoking hot, then poor in the egg mixture, moving the pan in a gentle, circular motion to distribute the ingredients evenly and prevent the eggs to stick and burn. Cook for about 30 seconds, then turn down the heat to medium low, and cook for further 4 minutes, shacking the pan gently every so often. Do not stir! (Seriously, do not! If you stir, it will be a completely different dish). When the tortilla start to bubble on the side, it is time to turn over. If this the first time at doing this, prepare for a mess (let’s face the facts – it will get messy. It took a few times before Mr Burntsugar got the hang of it, but now he is an expert. I am more on the supervision and management side of things).
Find a suitable plate, large enough to cover the face of the pan with space to spare, and sit it face down on top. Hold firmly onto the handle of the pan with one hand and use the other hand to press down firmly the plate. Now, in one fast move, lift the pan of the stove and flip it over onto the plate. Remove the pan (hopefully, there’ll be little, if anything, left stuck to the base, and not a horrible mess to clean in the kitchen). Clean thoroughly the pan with kitchen paper roll. It is very important the bottom of the pan has no egg leftovers and burnt egg stick to it. Set down the pan while you add 12 more dashed of olive oil and tilt the pan to make sure the bottom is coated with a thick film of olive oil. When the oil is smoking hot, carefully slide the half cooked tortilla into the pan to cook on the other side. You might need to shake the pan gently and tuck in the sides of the tortilla with a wooden spatula because they will probably look a bit jagged. Allow the tortilla to cook in hight heat for about 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to medium low heat and cook for further 4 minutes. This should leave you with a tortilla moist in the middle (when the tortilla is this cooked to its point is another heated controversy). If you are the ones who prefer it firmer, cook it for a few minutes more, preferably before carbonization. When the tortilla is cooked to your taste, slide it onto a clean plate to cool down slightly. Serve it warm, at room temperature, cut in slice, in little cubes…