olive tapenade; christmas condiment?

Since Christmas was over a week ago, we can now begin to look back at it in a nostalgic frame of mind, reminiscing over the lovely time we had and start counting down the days until the next one. I like to spend as much of January as I can talking about what we all ate to carry the magic on for as long as possible.

In my household, we never do Christmas the ‘traditional’ way; we never have a turkey, we don’t play Christmas carols and we decorate a baby fruit tree which we later plant during my mother’s “Christmas spirit ceremony” – a little unconventional but over time I have come to accept it as our version of normal.

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This year was no different. My father was hell-bent on serving a lamb rack from Christmas lunch, something I was never going to object to! I put myself in charge of preparing the condiments and allocated the lamb preparation to Dad; roasted with a simple crust of panko breadcrumbs and preserved lemon, it was moreish and crisp, the tartness of the lemons nicely juxtaposed with the sweetness of all the butter used to hold the crust together like a fantastic culinary clay.

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I digress; the condiments, that’s what I am really talking about here, the condiments. Clinging onto the usual theme of a summer Christmas in a Southern Europe-inspired household, condiment number one was a velvety and zingy olive tapenade.

Olives are always a staple in my pantry; without a jar of olives, I get a sort of meal creation anxiety. It’s for this reason that I thought it was a must that I incorporate my favourite purple pebbles into our celebratory meal.

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Olive tapenade is by no means a difficult side dish to create; it doesn’t involve a large about of kitchen prowess and you only need to invest a small portion of time into it.

For my recipe, here’s what you’ll need:

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A jar of olives – I opted for Kalamata olives but it is completely up to your preferences
3 cloves of garlic – more or less as you see fit
2 tablespoons of capers
a small handful of fresh parsley or 2 tablespoons of dried parsley
the zest of a lemon, and half of its juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of wholegrain mustard
a good crack of salt and pepper

You can add anything else you like, obviously stick to ingredients with a Mediterranean feel – sundried tomatoes, anchovies, even figs. Or just keep it nice and simple and let the olives do the talking.

A few notes, too: it’s 100% okay to use extra virgin olive oil here because the tapenade isn’t cooked; the smooth, smoky flavour of the oil is not wasted.

Regardless of if you are using Kalamata olives, black Spanish or green Italian olives, I strongly suggest you buy them whole and pit them yourself. In my opinion, the flavour will be better and the texture of your tapenade will be sleek and not mushy. It’s great if you have, or can locate a cherry or olive pitter (which is extremely difficult if you don’t live in Spain), but slicing them with a paring knife and removing the pits by hand doesn’t take too long.

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Now onto the ‘recipe’: place all of your ingredients into a blender or food processor (or use a mortar and pestle if you’re hard-core!) and whiz until combined and smooth. It is such a beautiful shade of burgundy that you might want to paint your kitchen with it!

It’s ready to eat straight away but the flavour will deepen the longer its left – it will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

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I spread it liberally over the juicy lamb and used the leftovers as a colourful addition to our many Christmas cheeseboards and even spread it over pieces of crusty bread as an easy afternoon snack.

What was your culinary highlight of Christmas?

 

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what i ate for christmas

Now that Christmas is done and dusted, we can all get back to blogging.  But first,  I need to get back into the habit of knowing what day of the week it is.

So before I do anything that strenuous, and before I got into any such detail of my Christmas creations, I will leave you with a little teasing taster of what’s to come..

Breakfast begun with champagne and toast; I know that you’re thinking toast doesn’t really constitute a fanciful meal. It does when the array includes walnut and date conserve, confit duck, gorgonzola, roasted tomatoes and honeyed ricotta.

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The afternoon meal included a lemon-crusted lamb rack beside a bundle of home-grown new potatoes. These were accompanied by a fresh, zingy salsa verde and pungent olive tapenade. Rounding out the meal with a salad of roast butternut, crunchy spiced almonds and creamy homemade feta and button mushrooms stuffed with blue cheese. Safe to say, we were all in dire need of a nap afterwards.

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The day ended with chocolate-coated strawberries, salted caramel chocolate tart and muffin puddings. All while sipping fresh, minty limoncello cocktails.

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All in all, a fun, relaxed day in the sun, lying by the pool and gorging ourselves on chocolates… all without anyone throwing a plate or any other object at another family member… this year.

christmas countdown: stollen

The meaning of Christmas varies depending on where you are in the world. I’m not just talking about the way you celebrate it, or what it means to you – spiritually or otherwise. In every corner of the world, Christmas varies on all sensory levels; the way to looks, tastes and sounds, and the way it smells.

In New Zealand, a typical Christmas is a barbeque of sizzling sausages and an ice cold beer in the evening sun. On the flipside, my Christmases in France revolved around roasted goose and mulled wine, Christmas sweaters and staring out the window at the dreary, grey gloom. I know which one I prefer but here is something about a winter Christmas that is leaps and bounds ahead of the antipodes in festivity.

And that is the Christmas smells.

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This year I have found myself craving those warm, comforting smells; cinnamon, cloves, pine needles and ginger. Instead of brewing up a batch of mulled wine – which I didn’t think would go well with the temperature in the mid-twenties, I decided to try my hand at making stollen.

Stollen is a dense, festive bread from Germany, it is full of nuggets of sweetness and all of the flavours, textures and emotions associated with Christmas. Traditionally made with almonds, candied fruit and lemon zest, I decided to mix things up a bit by substituting in cashews, crystalized ginger and dried citrus peel.

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First things first, you need to get your dried fruit nice and drunk. I mixed a cup of raisins and a cup of candied ginger and fruit peel, chopped, with three tablespoons of Pimm’s – or orange juice if you’re not one for baking with booze. You could also use rum but I like the rich, fruity undertones of Pimm’s and use it in cooking often.

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Next up is the yeasty sponge; combine a tablespoon of yeast powder with ¼ cup of warm water, ¾ cup of warm milk, a teaspoon of clover honey and a cup of flour. Mix into a thick paste, cover with cling film and leave the yeast to do its thing. If your house isn’t too warm, then sit the bowl next to a heater for 30 minutes or until the surface of the mixture is speckled with bubbles.

In a separate bowl, whisk one egg and combine with ¼ cup of honey, ½ cup of butter and a pinch of salt. Toast ½ cup of chopped cashew nuts and add to the mixture, along with ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and 2 cups of flour.

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Add the yeast mixture and the boozy fruit and combine into a thick, wet dough. Slowly add another 1 ½ cup of flour until the dough isn’t so sticky. Knead for five minutes of a floured surface.

Once the dough has come together, roll it in a little vegetable oil and leave to rise. What I hate about so many bread recipes is that it always says the dough will double in size; mine never does and it makes me nervous for the end product. Nervous without cause, in fact.

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Divide the dough in half and roll into flat ovals. Brush the surfaces with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. I used granulated sugar, but you could use icing sugar or even a layer of marzipan. Fold the ovals over on themselves and knit the edges together, making sure no air is trapped inside and the seams are tightly secured so they don’t rip open in the oven like one of mine did!

Leave to rise for another 45minutes before baking at 190°C for 25 minutes.

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As soon as you take the loaves out of the oven, baste them again in melted butter and dust with a thick layer of icing sugar which will melt and be absorbed into the breads outer crust. Delicious!

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Serve it hot as it is, or cold next to a steaming cup of coffee. On the rare chance you have anything left past a day or two, smear each side of a thick slice in butter and pan-fry until crisp and golden. A decadent, toasty holiday treat!

salted caramel chocolate brownie tart

Since we are in December now, it’s totally okay to start talking about Christmas, and by that, I mean what we are all planning to eat on Christmas. In my family I am put in charge of the menu each year and the pressure to start planning is applied as early as September.

Even though I like to use Christmas as a time to experiment with new recipes, I know there is a lot riding on everything coming off as a success. Desserts are always the area that make me the most anxious – it’s not as easy to wing it with something that requires a strict set of ingredients, so I decided to do a test run of my planned salted caramel chocolate brownie tart.

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The name of this recipe is a bit of a mouthful, and it’s just as much of a process making it – a chocolate biscuit base, a layer of gooey caramel topped with a rich, dark chocolate brownie and glazed with a layer of even richer chocolate ganache.

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I adapted a recipe from the Akaroa Cooking School and used a sweet pastry base for my test run because I had some I needed to get rid of and wasn’t sure if all of the chocolate was going to be a sensory overload.

While the pastry was blind baking, I heated a can of condensed milk with 75grams of butter and several tablespoons of honey. I also added a teaspoon of sea salt because I love that salty juxtaposition. Once the butter was melted and the condensed milk had morphed several shades darker, I poured it over top of the base and baked for 10 minutes at 170°C. The caramel comes out another shade darker and had thickened nicely.

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While the caramel was cooking I got started on the brownie – 150grams of melted butter, ½ cup of cocoa powder, ¾ cup of sugar combined to a thick paste. I whisked in two eggs and folded through a cup of flour, a pinch of salt and another of baking powder. This makes a rather thick mixture and since I want it to pour evenly over the caramel layer, I might thin it with a bit of water next time.

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I popped it back into the oven for another 20 minutes before leaving it to cool.

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The ganache is simple enough; ½ cup of warm cream and 200grams of dark chocolate poured over the cooled brownie and refrigerated until set.

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This slice of heaven is definitely a chocolate lover’s fantasy, and while the pastry base is a nice touch I think I will be making a chocolate base come Christmas time – in my mind, you can never have too much chocolate!

 

how to be a kiwi

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed from my barrage of sunny, beach-time photos that I spent the weekend at a friend’s wedding.

The setting was idyllic; sunshine and sand, a driftwood alter and rustic décor, a warm breeze carrying the salty air, and a beautiful bride to boot.

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It was a real international affair; visitors from all over the globe settling into this sleepy little beach town. And with some many of the guests having recently returned from their lives abroad, it was a perfect occasion for an overload of Kiwiana.

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Here are some of the things we did that sum up what it’s like to be a Kiwi.

Hokey pokey ice cream

I think it’s safe to say that New Zealanders class hokey pokey as its own food group. These tiny, amber coloured droplets of golden syrup are worth their weight in (actual) gold in my eyes. Not only are they excellent in keeping my constant sugar cravings at bay, but they offer a satisfying crunch to accompany the smooth velvetiness of almost-melting vanilla ice cream. As kids, we would pick the little sugary globes out of our ice cream as we went and save them till last, the winner was the person whose ice cream had the most hokey pokey balls. The prize was never more than bragging rights, but that’s the best part of winning anyway.

Steak and cheese pies

I can understand how the idea of a mince pie sitting in a warming oven could sound all kinds of horrible. And I partially agree. It’s not something that I have often; less than once in a blue moon, but when I do indulge, it’s one of the most nostalgic experiences that exist – it just tastes like home. Gooey cheese on top of a mountain of steak chunks, drowned in an ocean of thick, rich gravy, all encased in a petite parcel of warm pastry. It is by no means gourmet, but it is definitely an ideal meal for enjoying as you walk along the boardwalk, cradled between two icy cold hands to help warm up after a dip in the not-quite-warm-enough ocean.

Beach cricket

Speaking of activities that are well complemented by swims in the “refreshing” surf; beach cricket. I wasn’t much of a sporty child; I wasn’t blessed with much in the form of hand-eye coordination, so I’m not well versed in the rules of actual cricket but that’s never stopped me from enjoying a round of beach cricket where the rules are far simpler. Someone bowls the ball (underarm of course), you thwack it as hard as you can and run to a stick poked in the ground and back as many times as you can. If someone catches the ball, you’re out, if not, the cycle continues until they do, or until someone gets mad and hurls the bat at someone else or into the ocean. But that only happens if you’re playing with my family.

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Don’t even get me started on fish and chips, that’s a story for a whole other post!

chippie tuesday: tricolore edition

Now for a bit of festivity!

This week’s instalment of Chippie Tuesday is going to be a bit of an ode to the French flag, the Tricolore. I love carrots, and parsnips, and I recently discovered purple carrots, and have since taken quite a liking to them too. So, while it is not a completely accurate recreation, I have taken some creative licensing in creating a chip version of the flag in celebration of Bastille Day.

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I had seen purple carrots often enough, but I had never garnered up the courage to actually try them, until recently. I was pleasantly surprised by their flavour; like carrots and parsnips, their earthy scent fills the air like they have just been plucked from the rich soil they are grown in. They lack the distinct crunch of a regular carrot, but when the knife slides through them with satisfying ease, you know that, when cooked, the soft flesh with be comforting and moreish.

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Begin by switching your oven on to 180°C. I have found that a fan forced bake will crisp the chips up better than an ordinary bake, but if your oven doesn’t have this option, then it’s not the end of the world. Slice any amount of any combination of coloured carrots into sticks of your desired thickness, I cut mine into eights lengthways and then each thin strip in half – about the length and width of your index finger (without thinking about it in terms too cannibalistic).

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Coat the chips in olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, you don’t need much else because the natural sugars will caramelise, enhancing their sweetness and flavour as they roast. That doesn’t mean to say that adding a little inspiration is out of the question; I find carrots are matched brilliantly with balsamic vinegar, soy sauce or even honey if your sweet tooth is influencing you.

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Roast for about 30 minutes; the cooking time really depends, not only on your oven, but also how thinly sliced your carrots are – so don’t leave them unattended too long! Serve them hot with an extra sprinkle of salt and enjoy this vaguely festive snack!

bastille day thoughts and pizza

I have always had a keen interest in history, and although the majority of what we learn in schools centres around New Zealand’s history, the French Revolution has fascinated me for a long time; the integral catalyst of this event being the storming of the Bastille. The founding of what we now know as Bastille Day occurred on July 14, 1789, when a mob of peasants, dissatisfied with the monarch, stormed the Bastille prison in Paris and freed every single prisoner – all seven of them.

While the repercussions affected the French Empire of a grand scale, the actual event was seen more as a non-event. Perhaps that is why the French are the only ones who don’t call it Bastille Day, instead it is known as le quatorze juillet – the 14th of July. In effect, the date is more important than anything that happened on it, the date that symbolises the beginning of the working class uprising – the event is so unimportant that I have encountered born-and-bred French citizens who have never learnt about what happened at Bastille.

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Le quatorze julliet is the ideal public holiday – it falls in the middle of summer so the sun is always shining, nobody has to go to work so you can enjoy the balmy weather with friends, eating, drinking and being merry, and the fireworks displays are of world class quality, but how has the way it is celebrated changed how it is perceived?

A military parade is held in Paris each year from the Arc de Triomphe along the Champs-Elysée in an epitome of patriotism; the warm summer air carrying the notes of La Marseillaise, fluttering Tricolore flags gripped by children and adults alike, who crowd the street in unruly lines. Further South, the celebrations’ leniency increases with the humidity. Many people opt for escaping the city confines to the beach or the countryside to laze about by the pool with fresh salads, cold beer and homemade pizzas. They may get back to the city to see the evening fireworks display, or maybe not.

© Yann Caradec
© Yann Caradec

While this kind of celebration, or more accurately – lack of celebration, could be taken as a slight to the birth of modern-day France, and a remembrance of those involved, especially in comparison to the celebratory fanfare of the 4th of July, I think it should be interpreted as the base-level, relaxed celebration that it is. After all, the Storming of the Bastille was brought about by many things; the absolute control of the monarchy being one of them, but also the exorbitantly high taxes and shortage of food, were the driving forces. Daily life is made almost impossible when you can’t buy bread, something the nobility didn’t understand – substituting bread for cake seemed an appropriate solution. Keeping that in mind, should this holiday not be about enjoying and celebrating the fact that we can now afford to eat, that buying a baguette costs less than a euro and not a day’s wage?

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For me, every day is a celebration of food; mostly thinking about it, but on occasions eating and creating too. My first Bastille Day was my first encounter with a traditional wood fire pizza oven. I had seen them before, and eaten pizza cooked on them, but I had never actually operated one. I know that making your own pizza is not the French-est sounding activity, but it was such an interesting experience; a daylong event!

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The heat of the oven, after hours of feeding the fire log after log, blisters the dough and liquefies the cheese and toppings, a wondrous contrast to the crunch of the base. If you make each base the size of a small plate it is a perfect serving for one – so you don’t have to compromise on toppings; it can be just what you like! But it’s more fun if you leave everyone to design their own and then share them around, you might just find a new favourite. For me, it was the very French combination of goat’s cheese and honey – I know it sounds odd, but believe me when I say it is a match made in heaven!

magic everywhere!

Like most 90’s kids, Disney was a huge influence on my childhood. But unlike most 90’s kids who let go of their Disney obsession once they hit double digits, I did not. My excuse is that I am the oldest of four, and was therefore dragged along to each and every Disney flick well into my teens. While many thirteen year olds would be so embarrassed to be seen watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with their five year old sister, I loved it, it was usually me dragging her along to watch it.

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Ever since my first movie theatre experience; The Lion King, at age three, nothing has made me happier than dancing around the lounge to The Circle of Life, or the soundtracks of any film from Pocahontas to Frozen, and I don’t think anything ever will.

My love of Disney extends so far that my final university presentation was on Disneyland Tokyo – “You can choose whatever topic you like,” has never been interpreted so literally. As you can imagine, the top of my priority list when I first arrived in France was to head to Disneyland Paris, and find a way that I could move into the Disney castle and stay there forever.

While I still haven’t managed to sort out the finer details of buying the theme park and moving in, Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth.

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I feel like this post really should be in celebration of something happening at Disneyland at the moment, it’s not. But then if it was to be subtly advertising something, then Disneyland should be sponsoring me, it’s not. A month and a half after my last trip, this post is merely brought on by a little reminiscing, looking back at all of my photos while wearing my Mickey ears part of me wishes I was back there, then another part of me remembers that it’s the middle of summer and peak season and the lines are long at the best of times.

The best time of year to go to any theme park is the off season, but Paris is Paris; there is no real off season for the tourism capital of the world. Summer time is always going to be the worst; school’s out for summer, all of Europe is on vacation in August and the heat can be stifling. If possible, avoid it during the mid-year school breaks to avoid the throngs of children and their less than enthusiastic parents– we went in the beginning of April so we only had other tourists to compete with.

The sheer size and energy of the place is hard to imagine if you have yet to witness it – 19km2 with over 15million visitors a year. Fortunately for me, I was accompanied by a Disneyland veteran and another friend who works there – to guide me around when the joy of the adventure overcame me. It was also really nice to have some experienced Disneylanders with inside knowledge – which rides to prioritise, which ones were worth the wait and which ones to avoid after eating too much candyfloss!

The Tower of Terror, while true to its name, offers an incredible view over the entire park from 200feet in the air. This sounds great in theory, but as the saying goes; ‘What goes up, must come down’, and this ride doesn’t make it easy – a free falling drop bound to make you lose your stomach! For a smoother, yet just as exhilarating experience, try the Space Mountain or Armageddon rollercoasters. Space Mountain was my absolute favourite – I went on it three times in a row!

If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try the Alice in Wonderland teacups, or It’s a Small World; a lovely, smooth and cheerful boat ride full of thousands of singing puppets.

When you’re young, the idea of Disneyland seems like a dream come true, for most of the children I encountered, that dream was a little too much to handle – the physical and emotional exhaustion of posing with Mickey and Minnie, queuing for the carousel and they itchiness of an overpriced Cinderella dress can be totally overwhelming! So leave the kids at home and let your inner child run free!

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Speaking of your inner child, this is Disneyland; it’s fun! No-one likes a Serious Sally, so enjoy yourself; buy a set of Mickey ears or a wizard hat and look the part. Don’t be afraid to sing along to the music during the parade, they happen twice daily so there is no excuse for missing it! We even made it a rule amongst ourselves to run, skip and dance on our way to each ride, just for a little bit of added fun (for us, not so much for the people we nearly collided with).

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Multiday passes are available and there are seven onsite resorts should you not be able to do it all in one day. But if you can’t prolong your trip, no one will judge you for falling asleep on the train home!

cafe chocolate con churros

If you were to say the first thing you thought of when I said ‘Spanish food’, what would you say? My guess is either ‘churros’ or ‘paella’. While I don’t think that I have the willpower to correctly make a paella; it involves not stirring the pan while it simmers and I am far too hands-on for that, I do have the willpower to make churros!

chocolato con churros
chocolato con churros

Spanish cuisine has not expanded into the mainstream Western world to the same degree as Italian or faux-Chinese, and even though most people would not be able to differentiate between Spanish and Mexican styles of cooking, I would say that 9 out of 10 people have tried churros before.

Before travelling to Spain, I had only ever eaten churros as a dessert, you can imagine my glee when I discovered these crisp, sugary treats are eaten at any time of day, even breakfast!

I recently had churros at a night market with a friend who is somewhat of a self-proclaimed churro aficionado and gladly shared with me some of her pointers on what makes a good churro. Like any traditional food; a pizza in Italy, a croissant in France, you will not find a churro as good as a Spanish churro anywhere but Spain. The ratio of sweet dough and runny chocolate sauce for dipping has to be just right, it must easily coat the golden batter and not be too thick like a paste – in Spain the churro is treated as an accompaniment to hot chocolate rather than the other way around.

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What I find most important is the dough, it needs to be crisp and golden, but often I find it has been deep-fried for too long, and while it is aesthetically perfect, the scent of caramelising sugar and the crunch as you bite into it are let down by the dry centre, and the disappointment at realising that crunch that you initially savoured is there the whole way through.

I kept this in mind when I decided to make my own, instead of deep-frying mine, I wanted to oven-baked them. Because of the slight moisture levels in an oven, I could save them from drying out, and in order to achieve the quintessential golden colour; a few minutes under the grill after they have baked through.

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Heat 1 cup of water in a medium size saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 170grams of butter and a pinch of salt. Simmer until the butter is completely melted and the mixture begins to boil. Remove from the heat and mix with 1 cup of flour and leave the mixture to cool slightly. While you are waiting, whisk 2 eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract until the egg begins to foam up. Mix the contents of both bowls together and the batter is done.

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Now comes the fun part!

Transfer the batter into a piping bag with a serrated bit and a width of about 2cm. If you don’t have a piping bag, cut the corner off a zip-lock plastic bag, it won’t have the jagged edge that is usually associated with churros but it will work nonetheless. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and pipe the dough into sticks about 8cm in length, it is helpful to have a second pair of hands with this step as the dough in incredibly thick so get an assistant to chop them with a pair of scissors as you pipe them – the bribe of fresh churros should be tempting enough!

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Bake at 220°C for 10 minutes before switching the oven’s settings to grill for 5 minutes. Such a hot temperature will almost steam the insides of the churros, while the butter will liquefy and provide an even golden shade. Once they have crisped up nicely, turn the oven off and leave the tray in for a few more minutes. Remove from the oven, dust with sugar and cinnamon and leave to cool.

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I served mine with a simple espresso dark chocolate sauce: a shot of espresso, 50grams of finely chopped dark chocolate and just enough milk to thin the chocolate out, gently heated until melted and gooey.

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Serve your churros with strawberry jam if chocolate isn’t your thing, or you want an excuse to make them for breakfast. They are even delicious eaten by themselves.

How do you like to eat your churros?

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arriba arriba, tortilla tortilla!

Spanish tortilla; a staple recipe that every Spanish housewife knows off by heart and can whip up in no time in the event of entertaining unexpected guests. And around Corpus Christi, one should expect a lot of unexpected guests.

While the general concept of a tortilla is very simple to prepare, there are a few complex nuances that are needed to prepare the perfect tortilla – they are essential, because, remember, the whole street is going to be judging you based on it.

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A tortilla is essentially a potato omelette – a frittata, so the ingredients don’t really extend further than potato, eggs and milk. Oh, and an unreasonable amount of oil. My first piece of advice is to think about the amount of potato you have in relation to milk and eggs in relation to the size of your frying pan. You don’t want too much potato that each piece isn’t saturated in egg mixture, but you want enough so that when it is all in the pan it isn’t spread too thinly. I would suggest two medium size potatoes to three eggs and a cup of milk.

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My second piece of advice is to cut the potatoes very small, you want them to cook all the way through without crisping up too much. And the smaller the pieces the quicker they will cook. As a guide, I would say cut them into pieces roughly the size of your fingernail. I did it here with parsnips.

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Gently heat about three tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the potatoes, stirring frequently. ADVICE: Use a non-stick fry pan or don’t even bother. Speaking from experience, if it’s not non-stick, you will end up with lumpy scrambled eggs.

It will take you about 15 minutes to cook the potato all the way through, be patient. When you think they are done, wait a few more minutes, because you are probably wrong and no one likes to eat raw potatoes.

Scoop the potato out of the pan, keeping the oil for later. While the potato cools, whisk the eggs and milk together. Some recipes say to separate the eggs and whisk the whites to firm peaks before mixing in the milk – you can do this but I don’t think it makes for a better end product and just takes up time. Season the mixture with salt, pepper and half a teaspoon of nutmeg. Nutmeg is the key ingredient, the ‘secret’ ingredient – just ask anyone, they are all more than willing to tell you, as long as you promise you won’t tell anyone, and if you do tell anyone each person will insist that they came up with the great idea of adding nutmeg.

At this stage, you can add anything fancy you want; spinach, sundried tomatoes, or cheese. I prefer mine left plain and simple. Mix the potato into the milk, reheat the oil and pour the mixture in. Use a slow eat so the tortilla cooks through without burning, this will take about 5 minutes or until the edges have begun to solidify.

Mentally prepare yourself for the hardest part of this recipe – the flipping. Turn off the heat, place a plate on top of the pan and with a tea towel in each hand, and flip the pan upside-down. The plate will now have the tortilla on it, raw-side down. Place the pan back on the heat and slide the tortilla back into the pan and cook for another 5 minutes.

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Flip it out of the pan, slice it into wedges, bit-size pieces or just tuck into it with a fork each. It’s not much to look at but tastes like an afternoon lying in the sun. Serve with salad, beer and people you like.

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