Curry Goat

curry goat

curry goat

August 23rd, 2014

Curry Goat is synonymous with Jamaican Cuisine and that of the other English speaking Caribbean Islands. Surprisingly the origin of the dish lies in colonial India and not Africa as one might imagine. Apparently, when slavery was abolished in 1834, the British government sought indentured labour from India to work on the plantations – labourers contracted to work for seven years and many settled in the Caribbean instead of returning home. These indentured workers brought their culture and cuisine with them – curry was a particularly popular method of seasoning and cooking in India. Lamb or mutton curry would have been a favourite at home and therefore, with an absence of sheep, curried goat (referred to as curry goat and never goat curry) became the replacement.

I’ve been thinking of cooking curry goat for a while and as the Notting Hill Carnival is taking place this weekend, it seems fitting to do so now. I’ve looked at and absorbed more than a dozen recipes for curry goat and used the ingredients that appealed to me most. I lived just off Portobello Road for the duration of the 1980s, right in the heart of West Indian Notting Hill and I’ve tried to recreate the type of curried goat I was used to eating at the carnival and Caribbean restaurants in the area. There are quite a lot of recipe variations, but I would imagine, that like those of Italy or Spain, the West Indian recipes vary from family to family, town to town and island to island.

scotch bonnets

scotch bonnets

A word of warning – I like hot spices and used a whole Scotch Bonnet chilli pepper including the seeds. If you like something milder, remove the seeds or just use half or quarter of a chilli. Be careful how you handle Scotch Bonnets – don’t rub your eyes or other sensitive areas. I found that three fingers on my left hand (holding the chilli while chopping) became warm and tingled for about three or four hours after preparation. I found the sensation quite pleasant, but if I’d got the chilli in my eye it would have been excruciatingly painful!

A&F butchers

A&F butchers

Goat isn’t especially easy to find in Britain, but luckily A&F Butchers, near me, in the covered market on Seven Sisters Road (Holloway Road end) sells it for £4.99 a kilo.

meat

meat

If you can’t find goat, lamb or mutton is an acceptable substitute.

goat

goat

Curry Goat recipe (serves 3, preparation time 5 – 6 hours):

2 lb chopped goat (including bones)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 green pepper (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
4 – 5 fresh tomatoes (peeled and chopped) – or 1 tin
10 pieces of garlic (chopped)
1 Scotch Bonnet (chopped)
the green tops of 2 spring onions (chopped)
3 medium potatoes cut into 3 pieces each
1 lime (juiced)
1 inch of ginger (grated)
1 pint chicken stock
a small bunch of coriander (cilantro) (chopped)
8 or 9 allspice berries (whole)
4 dessertspoonfuls mild curry powder
4 dessertspoonfuls All Purpose seasoning
1 sprig of thyme
a large splash of olive oil for frying the goat

curry rub

curry rub

Almost all the recipes I saw called for Caribbean curry powder, so I bought Dunns River Curry Powder and All Purpose Seasoning (which are available in many London grocery stores and even the large supermarkets). Some recipes suggest blending the vegetables with curry powder to create a wet marinade, others suggest rubbing the meat with the seasoning. I squeezed the juice of half a lime over the goat and rubbed in the curry powder and all purpose seasoning. After rubbing, the goat should be rested for a few hours in the fridge, or ideally overnight. I just came across an interesting recipe which suggests adding a rusty nail – I’m not sure the rust makes any difference, but I might try it next time…

frying goat pieces

frying goat pieces

The consensus of opinion proposes that the goat should be fried in oil, until coated and then left cooking on a very low heat for 30 or 40 minutes. If you are worried about it burning, use a cast iron casserole with lid and put it into a preheated oven at 150º C.

goat and stock

goat and stock

Next add about a third of the stock and continue to cook with the lid on for another hour. Stir and repeat this at the end of the hour.

goat and vegetables

goat and vegetables

After the goat has had about 2 and 1/2 hours cooking, stir in all the other ingredients, (except the potatoes and the juice of half a lime). Cook for a further 2 hours in the oven at 100º C.

goat and potatoes

goat and potatoes

Cook the potatoes in the goat curry for a final hour and squeeze on the juice of half a lime just before serving with rice and peas.

 

rice and peas

rice and peas

Many years ago I had a Pakistani girlfriend who cooked me coconut kidney beans, as taught to her by her mum. The first time I had curry goat at the Notting Hill Carnival it came with rice and peas, which to my surprise were more or less identical to coconut kidney beans! Therefore, I suspect that the provence of the dish is in Asia, as per that of curry goat. Gungo or pigeon peas can also be used, but I believe red kidney beans are the most common “peas”.

If using dried kidney beans, these should be soaked and cooked beforehand. I’d intended to use fresh coconut milk, but the shop across the street that sells coconuts, only had small ones that sounded very dry, so I bought a tin of coconut milk – creamed coconut can also be used.

allspice

allspice

I was able to find some allspice berries at Bumblebee, which I crushed with a mortar and pestle – if necessary ground allspice can be bought in a packet from most supermarkets.

Rice and Peas recipe (serves 4):

1/2 lb basmati rice
1 lb red kidney beans (cooked) or 1 tin
1 medium onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (chopped)
2 spring onions (bruised)
1 Scotch Bonnet (whole)
1 sprig of thyme
16 allspice berries (ground)
1 tin of coconut milk
200 ml water
a large splash of olive oil for frying the onion
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the basmati rice in a seive to remove some of the starch.

Fry the onions in olive oil until they become soft. Stir in the garlic and rice, then pour on the milk and water. Add all the other ingredients (except the kidney beans) and bring the the liquid up to simmering. Make sure that you use a whole Scotch Bonnet pepper with no holes in it. Any holes will make the rice blisteringly hot, whereas the whole un-pierced pepper adds a subtle flavour, not heat. Ideally the mild rice should be a counterpoint to the spicy hot curry.

When simmering, stir the liquid gently, put the lid on and cook for 10 minutes. Next gently stir in the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Allow the dish to sit without heating for a final 5 minutes. Before serving remove the pepper, thyme and spring onions.

Serve the curry goat with Red Stripe larger or Dragon Stout.

Posted in Drink, Food, Meat, Recipes, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Patates amb Allioli

patates amb allioli

patates amb allioli

August 14th, 2014

A small hake fillet and a couple of haddock fillets landed in my lap (very cheaply) today. Hake always makes me think of allioli – both are very popular in Barcelona and seem to go hand in hand. Allioli is an emulsion made of garlic and olive oil (all i oli in the Catalan language) which seems to go very well with most fish, chicken, lamb and potatoes.

I  thought I’d dust the fish with seasoned flour, pan fry it in olive oil and serve it with fried potatoes and allioli on the side. While I was peeling the garlic I remembered seeing a recipe in Colman Andrews book, Catalan Cuisine, for Patates amb Allioli (scalloped potatoes with allioli) and went to look it up…

I liked the idea but preferred my own allioli recipe here. Strictly speaking, a traditional allioli is made with garlic, olive oil and a pinch of salt only. The addition of eggs turns it into garlic mayonnaise and many Catalans will tell you it’s just not right! However, it is increasingly common for allioli to be made with eggs, since they aid in the emulsification and make it possible to prepare in a food processor. In this case, I like the addition of eggs because they help to bind the potatoes when baking and give the dish a nice golden colour.

Patates amb Allioli (serves 2):

3 pieces of garlic (peeled and squashed a little with the back of a knife)
2 egg yolks
the juice of a lemon
one third of a bottle of extra virgin olive oil
salt
4 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced)

Peel and slice the potatoes (I used Désirée which are waxy and floury – this means they hold their shape well and absorb the allioli) and boil them in salted water for about 10 minutes. Rinse them with cold water and allow them to cool.

While the potatoes boil, put the garlic and a pinch of salt into a food processor. When the garlic is chopped add the two egg yolks and blitz until the eggs and garlic have emulsified. Then slowly drizzle in the olive oil – you will hear the food processor change tone as the allioli thickens. Finally squeeze in the juice of a lemon and give the allioli one last whizz.

scalloped potatoes in allioli

scalloped potatoes in allioli

Oil a baking dish to prevent sticking and make alternate layers of potato (dry with some kitchen towel if necessary) and allioli. Sprinkle on a little black pepper and bake in a preheated oven at 275º C for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture has gone puffy and golden.

I served my fish and potatoes with some seasonal broad beans and peas. I also had some extra allioli on the side and a glass of Torres De Casta rosado – labeled Viña Sol rosé in the UK.

It did occur to me later that one could cook the fish and potatoes in the oven together with a little more allioli…

N.B. In case of disaster where the mixture splits, I learnt a great tip from an Elizabeth David book (regarding making mayonnaise and it works for allioli too) – if the egg yolks and olive oil fail to bind, set your mixture aside and clean your mortar and pestle (or food processor). Beat another two eggs and slowly add your original mixture, it should all bind together. You have the expense of another two eggs, but at least you don’t have to throw all your previous ingredients away. I notice that the tip is included in this article on perfect mayonnaise.

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The Soho Food Feast 2014

st. anne's church

st. anne’s church

June 7th, 2014

The Soho Food Feast was set up in 2011 by Margot Henderson, to support Soho Parish Primary School. The school is in the heart of Soho and often has a funding gap of about £40, 000. The Food Feast is a weekend event, held in St. Anne’s Churchyard and supported by local restaurants. This year it cost just under £20 per ticket and rations of food from some of the best chefs in London could be had for a £2 food ticket (bought in advance, inside the event). I was quite taken aback, while purchasing £10 worth of tickets, when one of the school teachers thanked me personally for helping to provide the school with a new playground!

the wright brothers

the wright brothers

Everyone was a little anxious this week, as the weathermen had forecast rain for Saturday. Extra preparations were made, including a second marquee,  but as luck would have it, the rain stopped at 11.30 and we had a lovely sunny day. As you can see above, The Wright Brothers had to protect their Jersey Oysters from the sun rather than the rain.

brasserie zedel

brasserie zédel

The first thing to grab my attention was Brasserie Zédel, who occupy the space vacated by  the Atlantic on Sherwood Street. They are known for being a proper brasserie in London with a prix fix menu.

brandade

brandade

I spotted their home baked bread and light fluffy brandade de morue – salt cod mixed with mashed potato, garlic, cream and olive oil – definitely one of my foodie high points of the day.

croque monsieur

croque monsieur

The French theme continued with Blanchette’s novel croque monsiere.

maltby & greek

maltby & greek

Maltby and Greek, import Greek food wine and oil, specialising in bottarga (cured fish roe).

greek "tapas"

greek “tapas”

They were offering little Greek “tapas” to suit whatever you were drinking.

quo vadis

quo vadis

Quo Vadis had a table full of little beef and chutney buns (all made in house) and some French bean and rockets salads.

scotch eggs

scotch eggs

Blacks came with tray loads of Scotch eggs,

black pudding scotch eggs

black pudding scotch eggs

made with black pudding, of course!

natoora

natoora

Natoora is a shop specialising in good quality natural ingredients.

slicing ham

slicing ham

Their sliced ham was excellent

tomatoes

tomatoes

and their beautiful red tomatoes grabbed my attention inside the marquee, where most colours were slightly muted.

i camisa

i camisa

I Camisa and Son is one of the few remaining Italian delicatessen left in Soho. Their table was loaded with focaccia sandiches

mozzarella and olives

mozzarella and olives

and tiny little mozzarella balls with olives.

chipotle

chipotle

Chipotle, who are a chain, still manage to step up and support the local community – look at that enthusiasm.

black beans

black beans

The tacos are pretty good and their killer Margaritas were quite a liquid high spot at the feast, this year and last!

bocca di lupo

bocca di lupo

Jacob Kenedy’s award winning Bocca di Lupo, kindly gave us

arrabiata

arrabbiata

a delicious spicy arrabbiata pasta with chillis, tomatoes and tart parmesan cheese.

dean street townhouse

dean street townhouse

The Dean Street Townhouse provided one of the most talked about dishes

soufflé

soufflé

- the twice-baked smoked haddock soufflé. Oli said he’d been to the restaurant especially for one of these during the previous week and it cost quite a bit more than the £2 ticket. The soufflé was absolutely delicious.

andina and ceviche

andina and ceviche

Andina and Ceviche had adjoining stalls, which is not surprising since they are both Peruvian restaurants founded by Martin Morales.

quinoa burger

quinoa burger

Andina had a quinoa burger

ceviche

ceviche

and Ceviche had their special Don Ceviche – seabass ceviche in amarillo chilli tiger’s milk, limo chilli, sweet potato and red onions. They also had a Ceviche drinks stall with a fantastic Pisco Sour.

brindisa

brindisa

Brindisa were serving a traditional Catalan dish of butifarra with a white bean stew and allioli.

charcuterie and chillis

charcuterie and chillis

They also had a separate stall opposite, with chacuterie

raw milk manchego

raw milk manchego

and manchego cheese made from raw milk.

the st. john

the st. john

The St. John were cooking their

ox heart

ox heart

famous ox heart on the barbecue, served in little buns from the St. John Bakery.

school of wok

school of wok

The School of Wok, providers of “Asian Cookery lessons for people who want to know their pak choi from their choi sum”

ribs

ribs

had me convinced of their skills with these succulent sticky ribs.

the fresh olive company

the fresh olive company

The Fresh Olive Company and Belazu (run by the same people) had a big queue,

olives

olives

which is not surprising when you taste their beautiful olives.

bateman 21

bateman 21

Bateman 21 specialise in

souvlaki

souvlaki

souvlaki – literally skewers of fresh meats, vegetables and cheese, wrapped up in Greek flat bread, warmed on the grill.

pulpo gallego

pulpo gallego

Copita, who specialise in tapas, were cooking pulpo gallego – a Galician dish of boiled octopus with potato and sprinkled with pimentón – here they’d mixed the pimentón with mayonnaise.

crayfish on the griddle

crayfish on the griddle

They also had some beautiful fresh crayfish cooked on the griddle.

cooked crayfish

cooked crayfish

In the UK Signal Crayfish (from America) threaten our indigenous White-claw Crayfish and therefore can be trapped and eaten (with permission) as a conservation measure!

24 hour cooked beef

48 hour cooked beef

Steak specialists Flat Iron slow cooked Irish beef sous vide (under a vacuum) for 48 hours and finished it off on the barbecue.

horseradish

horseradish

Served here with hand pounded horseradish.

beef and horseradish

beef and horseradish

I half expected the beef to fall apart, but in spite of the long cooking, it was very tender and retained some chew, which is what I like. I was exceptionally jealous of Flat Iron’s beautiful 3 foot chopping board, but I just couldn’t convince them to let me have it for two food tokens.

pork belly

pork belly

Foxlow (an offshoot of Hawksmoor) cooked pork belly in thick bacon slices

slow cooked beef

slow cooked beef

and slow smoked beef,

pork and beef

pork and beef

then built a large sandwich with the two, along with some salad.

pork and beef

pork and beef

As you can see, they had to roll it tight in paper to keep it all together.

pork and beef sandwich

pork and beef sandwich

It was quite something with all that smokey barbecue flavour.

hix

hix

Hix had the usual salmon and seasonal vegetables, not to mention a very deep foodie debate.

pasta

pasta

Lina Stores (a traditional Italian delicatessen in Soho since 1944), had

pasta selection

pasta selection

the most exquisite pasta at the feast.

pasta with sage

pasta with sage

They warmed each portion separately in olive oil before sprinkling a little parmesan on top. It was absolutely delicious!

koya

koya

Koya were cooking up a storm.

japanese omlette

japanese omelette

The precision involved in making the omelette with chopsticks in a square frying pan is amazing. Thin layers are poured into the pan and the chef skilfully flicks it upwards to roll a rectangular cake.

dashimaki

dashimaki tamago

The dashimaki tamago (omelette left) was sliced and served with kayaku onigiri (rice cooked with chicken and vegetables in a seaweed wrapper).

stuffed peppers

stuffed peppers

Terroirs had a huge dish of cooked green peppers, stuffed with soft white cheese.

stuffed pepper with anchovy

stuffed pepper with anchovy

These were served simply with an anchovy.

mestizo

mestizo

Mestizo is an authentic Mexican restaurant, not to be confused with Tex Mex cuisine, which is what most people think of as Mexican (Tex Mex could be described as an amalgamation of North Mexican cuisine with Texan farmhouse and cowboy fare).

rajas con crema

rajas con crema

I particularly noticed the rajas con crema (strips of poblano pepper in a sweet corn and onion cream sauce)

pollo con mole

pollo con mole

and pollo con mole (shredded chicken in tomato, onion and chipotle chile sauce).

salt cod fritter

salt cod fritter

The Union produced another of my absolute favoutites,

salt cod fritter with allioli

salt cod fritter with allioli

a salt cod fritter with allioli. It was like fried brandada – what a great idea! I asked them where they source their bacalao and they said they make it themselves – I was very impressed.

vegetable fritters

vegetable fritters

Duck Soup made a wonderful stand out vegetable fritter, which looked like a green pea peanut brittle.

vegetable fritter with tahini yoghurt and sumac

vegetable fritter with tahini yoghurt and sumac

It came with tahini yoghurt and sumac.

phil dirtbox

phil dirtbox

Our compere for the day was Phil Dirtbox, who probably is the voice of Soho.

I failed miserably to take pictures of any of the people who provided the drink. I previously mentioned Chipotle and Ceviche, but we also had marvellous service from The French House, The Travelling Gin Company and Kamm and Sons with their hilarious Punch and Judy.

We went for a wine tasting with Trevor at the St. John wine stall, but he insisted on sharing a bottle of white wine with us instead…

Previous events:

The Soho Food Feast 2013

The Soho Food Feast 2011

 

Posted in Drink, Eating Out, Fish, Food, Meat, Restaurants, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Chicken Gumbo

gumbo with rice

gumbo with rice

May 26th, 2014

I’ve been watching Tremé (probably 3 years later than most people), an American drama series showing the people of New Orleans, dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Alongside the rebuilding, every episode is full of food and music, so when I got to the sequence where they hold the first Mardi Gras carnival after the storm, I needed to eat some gumbo too!

First of all though, there are two types of cooking in Louisiana – Creole (from the original French and Spanish colonists in New Orleans), containing tomatoes and Cajun (from the Cajun people of South Louisiana who were originally French colonists of Canada, who’d been expelled by the British), without tomatoes. Both Cajun and Creole styles of cooking use a trinity of celery, onions and sweet peppers for flavour. When garlic is used, it becomes a  holy trinity.

Gumbo is a type of stew which originated in Louisiana around the early part of the eighteenth century and comes from a mixture of cultures. The name itself comes from the African word for okra – ngombo or quingombo and a filé gumbo would contain ground sassafras leaves, a thickener and flavouring used by the indiginous Choctaw Indians.

Gumbos can be made with most meats, such as alligator, chicken, duck, rabbit, squirrel, turkey, veal, or, seafood like crab, crawfish, oysters, shrimp, etc. Meat combinations and seafood combinations are common, but it’s unusual to have meat and seafood mixed together. However, both should contain andouille, originally a French smoked pork sausage, but adopted and made by German settlers to Louisiana. If you can’t find an American andouille in the UK, French ones should be available, but otherwise smoked Polish sausage (from most supermarkets) would do.

Gumbo should be cooked with a roux – normally fat/oil cooked with flour to create a thickener in traditional French cuisine, but in Louisiana this is cooked further until it takes a toasted chocolate colour. Okra and filé can be added for flavour and thickness – some combine the two, while others use either or. There’s also some debate over which oil or fat can used, any of the following are acceptable: butter, lard, chicken fat, goose fat, olive oil, groundnut oil, etc.

Chicken Gumbo recipe (serves 2 greedy people):

3lb chicken (jointed)
1 andouille sausage (sliced)
1 onion (chopped)
1 green pepper (finely chopped)
2 sticks of celery (finely chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1/2 lb okra (stalks removed and sliced widthways)
1 cup of olive oil (or other oil/fat)
1 cup of plain flour
2 pints of chicken stock
2 dessertspoonfuls Cajun seasoning (to taste): 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 2 teaspoons hot smoked pimentón mixed together
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoonfuls of cayenne pepper
2 dessertspoonfuls of Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce
2 or 3 teaspoonfuls of Tabasco Sauce

Joint the chicken and put it in a plastic bag with a couple of tablespoonfuls of Cajun Seasoning and two teaspoonfuls of cayenne pepper for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge. The longer you leave it the better it tastes. When ready, bring the chicken to room temperature and brown in the oil or fat, in a large cast iron casserole (in several batches as necessary). When browned, remove the chicken to a plate.

roux

roux

Scrape the bottom of the casserole to loosen any caramelised chicken, then added the remaining oil or fat. Stir the flour into the hot oil – to make a good Cajun style roux, you will need to keep stirring or it will burn. If it burns you will need to throw it away and start again! Either stir slowly on a medium heat for up to an hour to get a good chocolate colour, or use a whisk on a high heat – I’m good at roux and can achieve the above on a high heat in about 20 minutes. I cannot stress enough, that the stirring must be non-stop. By browning the roux you achieve a deep nutty, slightly bitter flavour. This is something best done to your own personal taste. The dark roux reminds me a little of a Mexican molé – a dark unsweetened sauce made of cocoa. While cooking, if the roux is too thick, slowly add more oil/fat, if it’s too wet, sprinkle in a bit more flour.

Once you have achieved a roux of the desired colour, stir in the holy trinity of onion, celery, pepper and garlic. Cook this for a few minutes before slowly pouring in the chicken stock. When the stock starts to bubble add the chicken, the Worcestershire Sauce and the bay leaves (I noticed that while my gumbo isn’t made with filé, bay leaves are actually of the same family as sassafras – Lauraceae). Put the lid on the casserole and place it in a pre heated oven at 150º C for about 90 minutes. I imagine this originated over an open fire, but I do appreciate the non stick cooking achieved with a cast iron casserole in the oven.

chicken gumbo

chicken gumbo

After an hour and a half, remove the chicken and allow it to cool before removing the skin and bones. Slice it into chunks before returning it to the pot with the okra and a couple of splashes of Tabasco sauce. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning. Put the casserole back into the oven for another couple of hours at 100º C.

When done, adjust the seasoning again before serving with a  couple of spoonfuls of rice and a Dixie beer or even a Sazerac. Make sure you play some music by BeauSoleil, Buckwheat ZydecoDr. John, The Meters, The Neville Brothers, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, The Wild Tchoupitoulas, etc., to set the mood. I sprinkled a little smoked pimentón over the top of my rice to give it a hot smokey flavour.

Gumbo is considered to be an economical dish which can easily be stretched to feed an unexpected dinner guest or two – serving it with rice certainly makes it go further. It’s often an accompaniment to Louisiana dance parties known as fais-do-do (French for go to sleep). Outside of New Orleans, in Arcadiana, Cajuns hold a gumbo hunt (courir de Mardi Gras) on Shrove Tuesday – participants go from house to house asking for gumbo ingredients which are cooked as a group feast at the end of the day.

I don’t often use Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, prefering to create my own savour flavours from red wine vinegar, anchovy paste, etc. However, I used it here as a nod to Justin Wilson, Cajun chef and humourist.

…and there’s also an Anthony Bourdain programme on Cajun cuisine here.

Posted in Drink, Fish, Food, Game, Meat, Recipes, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Menuts Rosa

streets of spain

streets of spain

May 4th, 2014

This weekend the Southbank hosted a Streets of Spain food and drink fiesta,

vidal pons

vidal pons

sponsored by Campo Viejo Rioja.

menuts rosa

menuts rosa barcelona

I was delighted to see that about 16 stalls had come from la Boqueria in Barcelona,

menuts rosa

menuts rosa london

including one of my favourite stalls, Menuts Rosa.

rosa i francisca gabaldà

rosa i francisca gabaldà

The Gabaldà family have run Menuts Rosa for four generations – they have been selling offal in la Boqueria since 1900.

pota tallada

pota tallada

Back in Cataluña  Rosa and Francisca sell fresh meat products like the above,

vacuum packed tripe

vacuum packed tripe

but they also do a line of traditional home made stews in vacuum packs, which can be heated up and served within 5 minutes or so. This is what they’d brought with them to promote in London.

rosa

rosa

Alongside the packets of food, they were selling bowls of hot

riñones

riñones

kidneys,

tripe

tripe

tripe and cap i pota (below).

cap i pota

cap i pota

I’d been hoping they’d have cap i pota – my favourite Catalan stew, typically made by cooking calf’s head and feet in lard, olive oil and sherry, with chilli pepper, red pepper and samfaina for several hours until tender. It’s a thick, meaty, unctuous dish that makes your lips stick together. I’ll have to make this myself the next time I’m in Barcelona.

The weather had turned cold and Menut Rosa’s hot food at £3.50 a bowl was perfect to warm people up – it was also cheaper than most of the other food on offer. I bought a bowl of cap i pota and chatted to Rosa and her mum about buying a veal penis (from their stall in Barcelona) and making a stew with instructions given to me by one of their South American employees (Veal Penis Stew recipe). Apparently animal penis is good for virility and is similarly popular in China – Chinese Stag Soup recipe.

tongue and pistachio

tongue and pistachio

I went home with some vacuum packed tongue and pistachios – i llengua amb festucs.

jamón y chorizo

jamón y chorizo

Before leaving I had a good look around the other traders in the market too, above is Canasaladeries J Farres who specialise in pork and cured meat

paella

paella

and came across an interesting chicken paella at Jamón Jamón (from Portobello Road), It looked like a traditional Valencian recipe with white beans and rosemary. I read somewhere that you use rosemary in the absence of snails, but never the two together, because snails are fed rosemary and are therefore pre flavoured.

gambas

gambas

I believe these beautiful prawns were going on top…

The Streets of Spain fiesta continues tomorrow (May 5th) from 12 – 8pm.

Posted in Barcelona, Drink, Eating Out, Fish, Food, Meat, Recipes, Shopping, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Mardi Gras Jambalaya

jambalaya

jambalaya

March 4th, 2014

Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday and  Pancake Day is an annual Christian feast day, relative to fasting for lent, which starts the next day, Ash Wednesday.

To celebrate Mardi Gras, I had originally intended to make savoury and sweet pancakes for a group of friends but while I was thinking about savoury fillings, it occurred to me that it might be more fun to cook a Jambalaya as the main course and follow it with sugar and lemon pancakes – Jambalaya being something traditional that would be eaten on Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Jambalaya typically contains meat, sausage, seafood, vegetables and rice. It’s said to have originated in and around New Orleans and is perhaps a New World paella combining French, Spanish and African cuisine. There are two main types, a Creole Jambalaya would contain tomatoes and be specific to New Orleans, whereas a Cajun Jambalaya would be made without tomatoes and often contain game meat such as alligator, duck, nutria, venison, etc. Cajun cuisine is common to the rural population of Louisiana, outside of New Orleans and of French Arcadian decent. Both Cajun and Creole styles of cooking would use a trinity of bell pepper, celery and onion as key ingredients.  The word Jambalaya comes from the Provençal jambalaia - a mixture, combination and also a pilau of rice .

Creole style Jambalaya recipe (serves 6): 

1 lb diced chicken meat
1 andouille (spicy smoked pork sausage), or in Britain, a hot chorizo ring could be a reasonable substitute (sliced)
1/2 lb large raw prawns
1 large onion (chopped)
2 sticks celery (chopped)
2 medium bell peppers (chopped)
1 fresh chilli pepper (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
6 or 7 medium sized tomatoes (blanched, peeled and chopped) or 1 can
a sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
a small bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 lb paella or risotto rice – long grain rice would be used in America
1 pint of home made chicken stock
Extra virgin olive oil (as required)
a splash of balsamic vinegar
Cajun seasoning (to taste): 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 2 teaspoons pimentón mixed together
1 teaspoon of hot smoked pimentón

Chicken marinade:

6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons of hot smoked pimentón
a large pinch of dried crushed chilli
a large glug of olive oil

I bought a medium sized chicken, cut the meat off and then cooked the carcass with vegetables in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes to make the chicken stock.

Put the diced raw chicken into a plastic bag or container and mix thoroughly with the chicken marinade. Refrigerate for 24 hours before using.

When ready to cook the main dish, fry the sausage in olive oil until it browns a little. Remove from the pan and fry the onions, adding the celery, garlic and peppers after the onions have become translucent. Cook the chicken and marinade in with the vegetables until it has taken some colour. Return the sausage to the pan, along with the tomato, thyme and bay leaves. Cover and cook gently for 15 minutes or so.

Taste the Jambalaya and adjust the flavour with more Cajun seasoning, pimentón, etc. and add a splash of Balsamic vinegar. Stir in the rice and allow it to cook for a couple of minutes before pouring in some warmed chicken stock. Don’t add all the stock at once, but instead pour some in every ten minutes or so and stir the dish to stop the rice sticking to the bottom (do keep the heat on low and the pan covered). Add the raw prawns about ten minutes after the rice goes in, prawns don’t need to cook for too long or they become rubbery. Rice varieties have different cooking times, so use the time on the packet for guidance and be prepared for it to take an hour, since the rice is being cooked gently as opposed to boiling. This can be cooked on low in the oven if the pan has a lid – that way there will be no food burnt on the bottom.

When the rice is tender sprinkle chopped coriander or parsley on the top and serve.

salad

salad

Audrey made a mixed leaf salad, with radishes, celery, kohlrabi and walnuts.

allioli

allioli

As I’m partial to allioli with paella and fideua it seemed fitting to make some to go with Jambalaya.

Six of us wolfed down the Jambalaya as if there were no tomorrow before taking it in turns to toss pancakes for pudding. Miraculously none ended up on the floor or ceiling. Pancake recipe here.

Rather a large quantity of alcohol was consumed – as Jambalaya is a hearty, spicy dish I recommend a robust red wine such as Carta Roja, Jumilla.

I will of course be fasting for the duration of lent …not!

Posted in Drink, Fish, Food, Meat, Recipes, Spanish | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Slider

slider

slider

January 10th, 2014

I can remember going on a solo bus trip age 10, to Talley Ho Corner where I bought my first LP, The Slider by T-Rex. Fast forward many years and I’ve come across two more sliders – small burgers and my new personal favourite, sloe gin cider.

sloes

sloes

I often make sloe gin during the autumn, which is ready to drink by Christmas. It’s a great winter warmer when the weather goes south. A demijohn (gallon jar) half full of sloes can produce two lots of gin (about 9 bottles), but at the end of it one is left with a lot of gin soaked berries. I’ve seen suggestions for eating these sloes with ice cream or even chocolate coating them, but having tasted a few I’ve found that they are still quite bitter and not pleasant at all.

sloe gin cider

sloe gin cider

Last September, around the time that I was bottling my second batch of gin, I found an article suggesting that the gin soaked sloes could be given a second lease of life by adding cider to them. As cider is relatively cheap this seemed like a good experiment…

the southampton arms

the southampton arms

I went to the Southampton Arms to buy my cider. It’s conveniently just a couple of streets away from my home and is probably, “The only dedicated ale and cider house in London to sell only beers and ciders from small independent UK breweries.”

legbender

legbender

The pub staff are exceptionally helpful here – they let you taste all the drinks before you order and handily sell takeaway cider by the flagon! As sugar had previously been added to the sloes and gin, I chose a very dry cider – Legbender from Rich’s Farmhouse Cider of Sommerset, with an ABV of 6%.

sloe gin cider

sloe gin cider

The cider should be poured gently over the sloes – splashing it around oxygenates the drink and apparently that should be kept to a minimum – oxygen can kill the Slider over time or adversely affect the flavour. I needed about 6 pints of cider to cover the sloes.

airlock

airlock

An airlock should be used to allow any gas to be released – there is likely to be a chemical reaction with any sugar left from the sloe gin and potentially a secondary fermentation in the cider. The airlock allows gas to escape without letting any bacteria or insects in.  The Slider should be left in a dark room or cupboard for a month or so.

I had intended to drink the Slider in October or November, but somehow didn’t get round to it. This week I invited Audrey round for the opening of the demijohn and I was slightly anxious that it might have turned to vinegar. I needn’t have worried, there was a distinct and pleasant cider smell when I removed the cork.

Our verdict: The Slider was exceptionally good. The gin soaked sloes had mellowed the tart cider, giving it a hint of sloe gin and it had a distinct taste of almonds (from the stone of the sloe), apples and cherries. The drink had a lovely clear rose hip colour and only needed filtering towards the bottom of the demijohn. I will definitely be making this again!

When making your own Slider I recommend that you use a good quality traditional cider and not the commercial rubbish found in most pubs and supermarkets. There are stalls in farmers’ markets selling the real thing. It’s worth noting that some people use their sloes once again (after the cider) and add sherry to them – I haven’t gone that far yet…

I noticed online, that one can buy a commercial Slider, which costs around £12 per half bottle.

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