Pot Roast - Without a Pot

Still lousy picture taking - -sorry - dirty lens I think.
A variant of my prior
Pot Roast - Sans Pot.
Except: smaller piece of meat, started at a lower oven temp, variants in the ingredients (although the principal remains the same, and I forgot to pan fry the thing before wrapping it in foil! Everything went directly into the pouch. It's in the oven right now. I wonder how it will turn out. (See bottom of recipe for adjustments due to this slight oversight)

  • 750 grams meat - in this case a low cost cut - cooked slowly (you should brown in a frying pan prior to putting in pouch - I forgot)
  • chop
    • 1 small onion
    • 1 large shallot
    • 4-5 cloves of garlic
    • (remove meat and brown / soften these in the frying pan too; add the tomato [see later] for that matter)
  • smear meat with
    • chunky salt
    • 2 t ground cumin
    • 1 t white pepper
  • place 1/2 of onion/shallot/garlic mixture on foil (lots of foil; you're going to make a pouch)
  • slash in some olive oil
  • place meat on mixture
  • put rest of mix on top of meat - smear in
  • pour on 1/4 c of balsamic vinegar (I used Vinagre de Aranjuez - very much the same thing, but Spanish)
  • pour on some oil
  • add a handful of black raisins (I use moscetal raisins)
  • 5 tomatoes; deseeded and chopped; go on top and around the meat
  • seal the pouch

Into the oven at 125c for 1 hour and them lower to 100 for 1 hour (or until it reaches 60c internal temp)

Remove and rest, in the foil, for 20 minutes - this is important, don't skip this step

Open pouch, slice and eat. Enjoy.

Fixing my mistake: The meat was fine. The "sauce" was not really cooked. And too acidic from the vinegar. So, remove the meat (cover with foil to keep warm); all the sauce and leavings go into a sauce pan. Boil. Reduce until it has very little liquid; cook for 5-10 minutes. The vinegar sweetens and the garlic and onions softened. Came out pretty well although the tomato pieces lost their bright red color and sort of went brown. But it tasted really good I was told.

Edited to mention browning the meat 1st; re-edit to add pic and the fix for the sauce.

Garbanzos and Chorizo Sausage

Clearly I need to work on my picture taking skills. Lens got fogged.

  • 700 grams of garbanzos (1/3 lb) covered completely (& more) with water
  • soak overnight (or all day - max 2 days)
  • drain, save the liquid
  • 1 chorizo sausage, de-skinning the sausage is my preference
  • 1/4 the chorizo and slice (basically, make little triangles slightly bigger than a garbanzo)
  • fry chorizo to remove / reduce fat; 5-6 minutes
  • drain on paper towels, set aside; and wipe the pan lightly to remove excess oil/fat of the chorizo
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic; finely minced; peel them, 1/2 'em lengthwise and remove the "kernel" from each one; really really finely minced please
  • in 1 tablespoon of olive oil; low-medium heat - fry the garlic 'til browned; 1-2 minutes
  • 1 small onion, fine julienne (1/2ed and sliced thinly)
  • add more olive oil and the onion to the garlic
  • 1/2 t of thyme (tomillo)
  • a bay leaf
  • salt
  • more salt (don't be afraid)
  • fry it all up until the onion is softened and brown (it'll smell great)
  • 1/4 c of white wine (any old cheap stuff will do); reduce to nothing and scape up anything sticking to the pan
  • add garbanzos
  • garbanzo liquid to cover
  • bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low (simmer); partially cover with a lid
  • skim off any skum that forms (after about 10 minutes)
  • continue simmering until garbanzos are done / tender (maybe 45 minutes - they're hard to overcook); stir occasionally; taste occasionally
You can make them in advance and put them on hold at this point - for hours; then follow these steps
  • remove lid; and bring to a boil again to reduce the liquid until there's very little
  • add back the chorizo; heat it all up
  • serve
  • delicious (they tell me)

Botin: The Oldest Restaurant in the World

My sis and her guy have been visiting and on their last day we wanted a special meal. So, we went to The Oldest Restaurant in the World, Botin; more accurately known as Sobrino de Botin - Brother in Law of Botin - - which is what the sign over the door says. It's been there since 1725 and had an eatery on that spot since 1500 something. That's quite a while.

We were seated in the "Filipe IVth" room - which is up 2 flights - a bit of a climb but quite lovely. They really pack the tables in so it's full/crowded but not as bad as (for example) your typical french bistro.

We had the obligatory, and well worth it, Suckling Pig (one, me) and three had the Roast Lamb. For starters we had Morcilla (of Burgos), Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup)[with egg] and Anchovies with Roasted Red Peppers. My sister loved the morcilla, as I do; that must be because of our Scottish heritage (it's a type of blood sausage with rice). We also ordered a green salad with onion for 4 instead of having the fries that normally accompany the meat. Wine was a normal Cune Rioja [lotsa wine at a reasonbable price]. The bill came to about €€150ish for 4. Not bad at all and really big portions.

Besides big portions the food was good too. Well roasted meat from their 200 year old wood oven. Delicious.
It's at Calle Cuchilleros 17, in Madrid; right behind the Plaza Major. Worth a visit. They're usually fully booked so reservations are advisable but we just dropped by at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon and they managed to squeeze us in. The back-up plan was to go to Posada de la Villa just a little further away.

No pictures - I completely forgot; we were having too much fun to bother with that.

Tortilla de Cebolla

Tortilla de Cebolla Originally uploaded by willsong.

Also known as: Spanish Tortilla (Onion), Spanish Omelette, Tortilla Español.

The wine: a simple El Coto crianza, 2002.

The recipe: (serves 3 or 4)

  • 4 onions
  • 6 eggs (or I could have done 8 eggs)
  • olive oil (no substitutes; and use the good stuff - not super processed cheapo olive oil) This is a dish where the oil is an actual foodstuff in the recipe, not just a cooking aid.
  • salt & pepper
  • frying pan (25cm? 10" or so); non-stick or good old cast iron (it's got to be a not sticky pan)
  • flat plate the same size or larger than the above mentioned pan
  • colander (sieve, chinois)
  • bowl
  • wooden spatula (okay, plastic if you must)

How to:

  • peel onions; 1/2 them from top to bottom (through the root, not around the equator); slice very thinly (think... potato chips); (optional: put the onions in the bowl)
  • Pour lots of olive oil into the pan; about 1+cm (1/2") deep; lots of oil (you'll pour much of it off later); heat the oil to medium hot (lower than a frying temperature [was - tempurature])
  • Dump onions into oil; turn the heat up ('cause putting in the onions cooled the oil); bring back to medium temp.
  • Cook onions slowly, without frying & crackling noises. Basically you're "poaching" the onions in oil.
  • Cook slowly until soft and limp - 20 minutes might be good. They will not get colored at all - they remain white.
  • When onions are "done", drain the oil (put the colander in the bowl and dump the onions in the colander). Let this sit and cool a little (5 minutes; crack open a beer); don't bother wiping the pan clean
  • Put the drained oil into a (metal? glass) container for reuse (yes, we reuse oil); wipe out the bowl
    e.g. use the oil to make another tortilla next weekend
  • Dump onions from the colander into the bowl
  • Add salt & pepper (be generous)
  • Crack the 6 or 8 eggs into the bowl; mix with the onions
Okay, now, making the tortilla:
  • The pan will be oiled but not oily (if there's a visible pool or oil pur it off)
  • Heat the pan until the oil starts to smoke (it's olive oil so it will be hot but not all that hot; don't use any other type of oil - it won't work)
  • Dump the onion/egg mix into the hot pan

    In the first 30 seconds of cooking...
  • Toss the mix a little (once or twice), quickly, like sautéing veggies (sort of coats the edges of the pan with egg mix)
  • Use the spatula to stir the mixture twice (only twice; only two circuits of the pan)
  • Spatula the cooked mix off the edges of the pan; basically you're cleaning the edges of the egg mess and making it look tidy

  • Lower the heat; by now it's starting to coagulate (firm up); take it completely off the heat if you feel like it might be overbrowning the underside.
    If you're good at this you can just hold it 1cm above the heat instead of turning the heat down - I'm not that good.
  • Keep cooking until the top of mixture shows some signs of being "set". You're going to flip this tortilla over so it must not be too mushy

  • Take away from the heat
  • Place plate, upsidedown, over the pan; hold loosely but firmly (not too tight; if you panic everything will slip all over the place).
  • Invert, flip, the plate/pan combination.
  • The 1/2 cooked tortilla is now on the plate; remove the pan (ta-da!)
  • Slide the tortilla back into the pan; to cook side 2 (yes, this can be a little messy)

  • Turn the heat back up to finish setting the mixture and browning the sucker
  • Tidy up the edges while it cooks; to give a nice round shape
  • Meanwhile, clean the plate
  • When done... flip the beautiful tortilla back onto the plate. Yes, flip it again, don't slide it off; 'cause the second side is usually prettier.

By the way, the picture above is my first really successful tortilla. It took me more than a couple of tries to finally get this thing right. Good luck.

edited 29-10 to add salt & pepper

Txitxarro; a Much Better Picture

I see that the oil from cooking is drizzled over the fish and that the puré de patatas (potatoes) has slices of fried garlic on it.
Those julienned roasted peppers might have the oil over them too - but that would be overkill as they're quite delicious all on their own.
Sprinkled with very finely chopped parsley.
I like this one.

Txitxarro (Jurel, Mackerel) - Braised

Txitxarro (pronounce as chit-char-o), filleted, pick the tiny bones out, braised in a little oil (for color) and finshed in the oven (170c) [It seems that the pros almost always finish things in the oven].
Served with 2 (green) chiles, puré of potatoe and garlic, and julienne of roasted red peppers.

(phone camera - sorry)

Life in the Kitchen: One Day at Work: Making Things Smaller

Working in a kitchen can be fun - but it's not all about actual cooking. A lot is about making things smaller. Lessons learned: work on your knife skills.

Here is what I did in one day at work (our "prep" day - when the restaurant is closed). Actually, I missed taking pictures of a whole bunch of stuff but you get the idea. The day consisted almost entirely of cutting veggies into assorted sizes.

Mirepoix (large - could have been left whole 'cause the stock cooked for a whole day)

Brunoise of Carrot (large)

Chopped Onion (roughly)

Julienne (very fine) of Onions, Carrot, Leeks, and Mushrooms (sliced)

Brunoise (very very fine) of Onion & Green Pepper

Sliced Onion

Jardiniere (large sticks) of Carrot and Zuchinni

Julienne beans, carrots, zuchinni

Garlic, sliced (to be fried later)

Garlic, chopped superfine

Julienne of celery

Julienne of celery

Then, after work, a burger and a beer at the local cafe.

Here's an Idea

I just spent the last 4 days at work (well, 3 1/2 actually) and took a whole mess of pictures of what I did (camera phone). It's going to take a bit to assemble the blog entry. Please stand-by.

Top 50 Things to Eat Before You Die

According to the BBC the top 50 things to eat before you die are:

  1. Fresh fish
  2. Lobster
  3. Steak
  4. Thai food
  5. Chinese food
  6. Ice cream
  7. Pizza
  8. Crab
  9. Curry
  10. Prawns
  11. Moreton Bay Bugs
  12. Clam chowder
  13. Barbecues
  14. Pancakes
  15. Pasta
  16. Mussels
  17. Cheesecake
  18. Lamb
  19. Cream tea
  20. Alligator
  21. Oysters
  22. Kangaroo
  23. Chocolate
  24. Sandwiches
  25. Greek food
  26. Burgers
  27. Mexican food
  28. Squid
  29. American diner breakfast
  30. Salmon
  31. Venison
  32. Guinea pig
  33. Shark
  34. Sushi
  35. Paella
  36. Barramundi (maybe)
  37. Reindeer
  38. Kebab
  39. Scallops
  40. Australian meat pie
  41. Mango
  42. Durian fruit
  43. Octopus
  44. Ribs
  45. Roast beef
  46. Tapas
  47. Jerk chicken/pork
  48. Haggis (maybe)
  49. Caviar
  50. Cornish Pasty

43 down - 7 to go.

An odd thing is that I just saw the list at nerdgirl.com and it's the same result except I have had reindeer and kangaroo (in Canada & Australia respectively).

Comments - Word Verification

I have had to turn word verification on for comments since the comment spam is getting bothersome.

Been on the Beach

My sis is visiting from way far away & we headed down to the beach for some sun; thus I have not been blogging (have been tanning instead [not bad for October]).
Let's see what I can find from my camera phone - maybe even a pic with food in it.

Brochetta in the town of Almeria
On the beach terrace in Vera.

I also noticed that in the sofrito thing I posted below I should have put the hamburger on the bottom and the veggie mix on top. It would have been much prettier.

Sofrito y carne picada

Sofrito y carne picada
Originally uploaded by willsong.

Some veggies & ground beef

1 onion
1 shallot
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 garlic glove

Burnoise very very fine (important!) -
fry in olive oil - 20 minutes or so
salt / pepper
No, I said very very fine. No, even finer. You ought to be making veggies "dust". The pieves will be as small or smaller than the ground beef bit.

cook the vegs 'til soft
add thyme & marjoram
keep cooking - it will reduce in volume
You dont want to develop any color - really you are poaching it, not frying

In another pan:
700 gr ground beef (beef only - no mix)
fry in a hot pan - not non-stick - you want some color to develop
add salt

cook until the liquids are evaporated (the sound will change)
add 1 tsp Picante Pimenton de Vera (hot paprika)
add white pepper
add a dash of Lea and Perrins
cook until the oil sort of absorbs the flavors (if you have good meat you can hear the change)
Add 3 eggs (beaten together lightly) while the meat is hot helps hold the cooked beef together

Plate with (big) rings
- layer of the vegs
- layer of the ground beef
decorate with tomoto wedges around the ring (hides the leaky juices from the sofrito)
and tomato slivers on top (hide the bland color of the meat)

Reportedly this was delicious.

A real winner and so damn easy. Made from what just happened to be in the 'fridge. The idea was a "sweet" (thyme/marjoram) base of veggies with a slightly spicy (pimenton) meat topping.

Seems to have worked.

Camera shot was from my new Nokia phone.

Bit of a Mess Right Now

What with the new job, school starting again, no internet connection 4 days out of 7 & assorted other stuff I've been neglecting the blog. I'll try to get back into the rhythm again soon.
Meanwhile, enjoy this: Pigeon flan with poached pears - part of the new fall menu.