Sunday, July 26, 2015

Roasted Fig, Honey & Rosemary Spread (Tapas month)

Have you ever found an ingredient at the store that was so fabulous you knew you had to do something special with it? It happens to me from time to time. This week it happened twice, with two separate ingredients. First it was the brilliantly beautiful Bresaola, deeply meaty and slightly gamey, which I purchased to stand in for Serrano Ham during my Tapas month posts and recipes written for the event at Foodies Plus. The second impressive ingredient was a twelve month aged Manchego, magnificently nutty and subtly sharp. I had been planning some kind of combination of figs, Manchego and Serrano Ham (but had to settle for the ham’s stand in, Bresaola) for some time, which I thought would be an excellent way to honor the ingredients. Although I considered using the fig jam I’ve already got on hand, I remembered from the first tasting that it was overly sweet and had obviously been made with dried figs. It is coming up on fig season; this just won’t do. As I was planning my own fig spread I decided to roast them with honey and rosemary.

Regarding honey: for these purposes, I recommend using a darker honey with molasses notes, such as buckwheat or wildflower honey. I used this lovely avocado honey (yet another ingredient I picked up for special recipes), and not only does it have a molasses note, but it also has an avocado-like buttery aftertaste, and a lightly bitter, grassy finish which reminds me of artichokes. Avocado honey is a very complex honey and I recommend trying some if you can get your hands on it. It is delightful on buttered dark bread.

Serve your roasted fig spread on crostini (as I did), or crackers and top with shaved Manchego and a slice of Bresaola.

Roasted Fig, Honey & Rosemary Spread

9 figs, halved with the tops removed
2 Tablespoons dark honey of choice
1 Tablespoon butter
2 large sprigs rosemary, leaves only
2 - 3 drops olive oil
Salt, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add olive oil, to keep butter from burning. Add 1 Tablespoon honey and stir to melt.
2. When honey has melted, add rosemary leaves. Add a small pinch of salt. Allow to steep for five minutes.
3. Brush figs all over with butter/honey and in each cavity add a few rosemary leaves. Set on a greased or parchment lined sheet tray and roast for 10 - 15 minutes, until the figs have softened completely.
4. Allow to cool down to warm and pulse in a blender with remaining honey until smooth. Taste and add additional salt, if needed.
5. Serve spread on crackers or toast with Manchego and Serrano Ham or Bresaola.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Huevos Rellenos con Trucha ( Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs with Lemon Aioli)

It is Tapas month on foodies plus and the ideas are flowing freely! This is another idea inspired by my Tapas cookbook, and a variation of Huevos Rellenos that includes canned tuna. While we enjoy canned tuna, our favorite type of preserved fish is smoked trout in oil. We often enjoy smoked trout in a salad with a bright, zesty citrus dressing, so I hit upon the idea of whipping up a lemon aioli to use in my deviled eggs to compliment the rich, smoky flavor of the trout. It turned out to be a really fabulous combination with a lot of personality. I garnished my deviled eggs with capers and cornichons, as well as a sprinkling of cayenne pepper.

I’m including the Lemon Aioli recipe, which was an adaptation of Williams-Sonoma’s Lemon Garlic Aioli (without the garlic; it just didn’t fit with the other flavors), because I really feel that this dressing made the dish; if you’re pressed for time or don’t have a stand or immersion mixture, you can always use store bought mayo and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the yolks (before adding mayonnaise or anything else). I recommend making the aioli hours to a day ahead of time to give it time to set. You’ll have some leftover. It makes a fantastic dipping sauce for grilled artichokes and is really yummy in chicken salad, as well as in a potato salad (particularly if made with yukon gold potatoes).

Huevos Rellenos con Trucha

(Makes 16 deviled eggs)

8 hard boiled eggs, peeled
5 Tablespoons lemon  aioli (see recipe below)
50 grams smoked trout
2 teaspoons mustard powder
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1. Cut eggs in half and pop yolks out into a mixing bowl.
2. Set whites aside and mix the filling: Add everything except the smoked trout to the mixing bowl and mix until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, flake the trout until it is just broken up. Fold trout in to the filling (egg yolk) mixture. Fill the egg white cavities with the yolk filling.
4. Serve sprinkled with capers and a dash of cayenne. A separate bowl of cornichons goes great with these stuffed eggs.

Lemon Aioli

(Makes 8 ounces)

2 eggs yolks, brought to room temperature
zest of 1 lemon
juice of two lemons
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 1/2 cups neutral oil (such as canola or vegetable)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg yolks, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and mustard powder. Attach the whisk attachment. Turn mixer on full speed and whisk until egg yolks are foamy (approximately 45 seconds).
2. Turn the speed down just a bit (mine goes to 8 and I turned it down to 7) and begin adding the oil, a little drizzle at a time, being careful to create an emulsion and not to break the egg yolks. When you’ve incorporated 2/3rds of the oil, add remaining lemon juice. Drizzle the rest of oil slowly into the mixture. Turn mixer off.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour into a glass jar. Cover jar and allow to set in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Albondigas with Chipotle Adobo Ketchup Glaze

As far as food goes, Mexico and Spain don't share all that much. When I discovered something they had in common, I couldn't wait to share it with you for Tapas month on foodies plus. What are albondigas? They are made of beef and pork combined. In Mexico they are served as a soup in broth and in Spain as Tapas, or bite sized foods. My version is meant to be consumed as a Spanish style Tapa, but has the spice typical of Mexican style meatballs; the way these meatballs are seasoned is inspired by Mexican cuisine.

What makes a perfect meatball? In my opinion a perfect meatball would be moist, tender and have a great balance of flavor. These meatballs deliver all that and a crunchy exterior. They are perfect topped with the spicy, acidic glaze and garnished with manchego shavings. Ordinarily I use milk-soaked bread crumbs to achieve a tender meatball, but I wanted a Mexican twist so I decided to use cornbread in the meatballs. I made a fresh cornbread the day before, but as long as you toast the bread on a low heat to make it stale it can be made the day of, or purchased in a store. If you can’t get hold of cornbread and you don’t have the ingredients to make some, substitute the same amount of corn muffin. The sweetness of the cornbread is a fantastic compliment to spicy, tart and smoky chipotle adobo glaze.

Other than milk soaked bread the key to a perfectly tender meatball is to handle with care. The more delicate you can be and the less you handle the meatball mix and its individual ingredients, the more tender they will turn out.

The best thing about these meatballs is that they’re fairly easy to make and yet they are impressive and taste delicious.

If you don’t prefer frying them you can braise them in the glaze by adding more liquid or bake them.

Albondigas with Chipotle Adobo Ketchup Glaze

Makes approx 40 mini meatballs


1 lb. minced chuck
8 ounces minced pork
2 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo*
1 cup cornbread crumbs
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg
salt, to taste
pepper to taste
canola oil, for frying

Measure cornbread crumbs into a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Pour over cornbread crumbs and stir gently. Combine thoroughly.
Allow bread crumb mixture to cool. Add all other meatball ingredients. Mix with hands gently. Combine thoroughly.
Roll the meatball mixture into 1” round balls, handling delicately.
Cover the bottom of a large saucepan in about 1” canola oil (or any neutral oil). Bring oil to medium low heat. Lay meatballs in a single layer with room in between (you may have to cook the meatballs in a couple of batches). Fry without touching for about 4 minutes.
Flip meatballs over and fry for an additional 4 minutes, or until they’re cooked through.
Brush with glaze (see recipe below) and serve with small forks or toothpicks.


2 teaspoons paste of chipotles in adobo*
3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
3/4 cup tomato paste

Bring stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat.
Whisk in all other ingredients.
Cook for 5 minutes, to allow flavors to marry.
Brush onto meatballs

*grind the entire can into a wet paste and freeze the rest in an ice cube tray for later use

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tapas Recipes: Tortilla Española with Ají Amarillo

It is tapas month at foodies plus, my main--and favorite--social networking community. Everyone in the community is so kind and creative. So much so that I find tapas a perfect theme for the month of July. One tapas recipe or dish is made large and meant to be shared in small bites; sharing is kind. And since tapas means small bites the confines of the idea are pretty much endless, from a creative standpoint.

I am so thrilled to joining in the fun and bringing you my own small bite, my twist on a classic: Tortilla Española with Ají Amarillo paste. A tortilla usually means a very flat bread made with stone ground corn flour (masa) or wheat flour, and fried on a griddle. This type of tortilla is a wrap or vessel for delicious stuffing. A tortilla in Spain, at least a “Spanish style tortilla” is an entirely different thing. It is a light, fluffy omelet/thin egg pie that is often studded with cubed potatoes and will sometimes also include sauteed onions. I kept the dish to more or less the same formula, but I thought it would make for an interesting variation to fill the tortilla with spicy potatoes and caramelized onions. I topped it with minced green olives and a skewered slice of Bresaola (the closest thing I could find to Serrano Ham at my regular market; it seems like the beef equivalent of Serrano Ham). The combination of fluffy, spicy omelet with earthy potatoes, the richly nuanced musk of dry cured meat and briny olives was just perfect. Not to mention this dish is incredibly photogenic. Tortilla Española would probably be best enjoyed with a dry white wine. Don’t let me tell you what to drink, however; you do you. That’s the way I like it.

Learning how to make a Tortilla Española is a good tool to have in your culinary arsenal, especially if you have an interest in tapas, and/or enjoy entertaining. My method of cooking was adapted from a great little coffee table book I picked up awhile ago, Tapas Made Easy. The right equipment is very important, as I learned the hard way the first time I attempted this dish and it stuck completely to the inside of my enameled cast iron saucepan. A good ceramic nonstick pan is what’s needed. If you don’t have one you could bake your tortilla at 375 for 6 - 9 minutes (until top turns golden). This is supposed to be served cold and is much easier to portion out after it has completely cooled.

Tortilla Española

Makes 16 tapas

2 small potatoes, any variety
1/2 medium yellow onion, julienned
4 eggs
1 clove garlic
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Ají Amarillo paste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

For Garnish (optional, but highly recommended):
4 pitted Manzanilla olives, diced finely (you’ll serve only about ¼ olive per portion of tortilla)
1/3 lb sliced Serrano Ham or Bresaola (16 slices total, one for each serving)

Parboil the potatoes whole in their skin for about 10 minutes, depending on the size. You want them just shy of cooked. Transfer to your cutting board to cool, then dice up into about a 1/2 inch dice.
Heat a medium sized nonstick pan to medium heat and add ½ of the olive oil. To the pan add onions and saute for 2 -3 minutes. Add potatoes.
Stir to coat and saute for about 7 minutes. Add Ají paste and saute for another 3 or so minutes, until potatoes are fully cooked. Set cooked onions and potatoes into a sieve to cool and drain off excess oil.
As potatoes cool whisk together eggs and grate the garlic into the eggs. When onions and potatoes have cooled, add them to the egg mixture.
Bring the heat up to high in the same non-stick pan and add remaining olive oil.
Poor in egg/potato.onion mixture and cooked for 2 minutes. Flip omelet and cook for another 2 minutes. Transfer to cutting board.
Cut into squares and enjoy. This will make about 16 small servings.