Friday, May 25, 2012

What's in the fridge Friday dinners

We tend to do most of our food shopping at the Gorey Farmers Market on Saturday mornings which means by Friday night the fridge is looking pretty bare. Friday dinner tends to be a frugal one, we call it 'what's in the fridge dinner', using up whatever is left from the weekly supplies. It can be a bit dull or boring and sometimes experimental - with very inconsistent results! but sometimes it can really work! 

Last Friday, for example, I decided to cook cannelloni, as I had some pasta left in the cupboard, stuffed with some leftover vegetables. To avoid a bland veggie mix I decided to give it a bit of a kick, the result was spicy cannelloni with a lentil and spicy veg filling and yoghurt on top (no good pics I'm afraid), here's what I used:

It is a very easy option, because it requires no bechamel sauce.

For the filling: 4 tomatoes, 2 carrots, 1 courgette, 1 onion, garlic, ginger, coriander in seeds and fresh, turmeric powder, garam masala powder, cumin seeds, chilli seeds, salt, pepper, brown lentils. 

Peel and chop the vegetables, finely, and add to a pan with a bit of olive oil. Add a cup of brown lentils and the spices. Cook until the lentils are soft. Add a bit of stock or water if the mix gets too dry, the lentils need water to soak when they cook.

Let the mix cool down.

Fill the cannelloni pasta (those ones already in a rolled shape), lay on a deep tray and cover with enough yoghurt so the pasta is not exposed. Cook at 180-200C for about 30 min. Easy peasy!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Galician basics: Empanada of anything

Mussel empanada!
Empanada is, along with octopus, one of the classic and most traditional Galician foods. Made to share, to take out, to eat in... empanada (similar to patties - or let's call it pies) can be bought in any bakery and filled with almost anything. More often than not the filling will be seafood or fish (salted cod, tuna, cockles, mussles, octopus, conger eel, razor clams, name it) but also meat, traditionally pork (for example zorza, a kind of minced chorizo meat) but ham and cheese is a popular modern addition to the repertoire.

Normally, empanada is eaten cold but my hometown has a special version, called Market Day Pie, that is made with chunky fish, eaten warm with a paprika oily mix. It is delicious.

When I first moved to Ireland, this was one of the foods I missed the most, and friends visiting will travel with a fresh (or day old) portion of empanada in their cases, just to kill the craving.

I've tried making empanada before but never tasted quite right but recently I got a new pastry recipe from a friend's mum in Viveiro and this time it was a real success, tasted like the real deal.

The pastry can be frozen, hence the huge quantity of flour (unless you are making a huge pie)

-1kg flour
-cup of white wine
-cup of milk
-cup of sunflower oil
-pinch of salt
-25gr yeast
Mix and let sit and rise for 30min-1hr.

For the filling, I had mussels from the market. I steamed them and then I made a veggie sauce with: 1 onion, 1 red pepper, 5 fresh tomatoes, salt, saffron, spoonful of olive oil.

I rolled the pastry in to parts (one for the bottom and one for the top), put the veggie paste and mussels and then covered. I even made a little M for the top, like the Galician bakers do to indicate the main ingredient of the filling: Mussels!

I baked it for about 30 minutes, until golden brown. Didn't it look pretty?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ensaladilla Time!

16th of May and looks like the Summer is being a bit shy this year. After a half decent day today - literally half: sunny morning and overcast afternoon! - we can only hope good weather is on its way! and one of my favourite and easiest summery meals is ensaladilla.

You might have seen it in your travels to Spain, covered in a thick layer of mayonnaise as tapas or pintxos in bars. Ensaladilla means 'little salad' but it doesn't really  have to be that small.

My mum and dad used to make huge ones (with homemade mayonnaise, yum!) when we had big celebrations at home and had the family over. Usually as a starter, along with Galician empanada. In Spain, they tend to call it ensaladilla rusa (little Russian salad) so I presume its origin is not Spanish at all. The beauty of it is that you can mix and match the ingredients depending on the season.

The basic ingredients are (in my book!):
-potato, egg and carrot (boiled)
-tomato (fresh)
-tuna, if you can get hold of good fresh tuna steak from your fishmonger and boil it, much better than your average tasting tinned tuna. Although there is pretty good quality bluefin tuna in olive oil available in certain specialist stores around Ireland (I recently bought some in The Store Cupboard at Rathwood but Dunnes Stores seems to stock pretty decent tuna jars too).

Other additional ingredients (depending on the season):
-asparagus (perfect for this time of the year, early Summer) - boiled (cut in half, as tips take less time to cook)
-peas (our crop is usually out around July) - no need to boil, if they are fresh they will be delicious!
-runner beans (our crop generally starts in late summer, around August) - topped and tailed; boiled until soft
-a few nice olives to decorate, if you like them

It can't get any easier than ensaladilla: just cook the ingredients that need to be cooked, let cool and then chop in smallish cubes the potato and carrot (not too small otherwise it will go a bit mushy). Cut the tomatoes in wedges and the runner beans in chunks of about 3cm. Slice the egg and jut cut the asparagus in half (they are very delicate). Then assemble in a deep dish.The result will be a combination of layers of different vegetables with sliced boiled egg and most delicate vegetables (like the asparagus tips and a few olives) on top to decorate.

It is a great picnic and packed lunch meal! and don't forget the mayonnaise to taste!