June 27, 2011

More raspberry…into fluffy & flavourful marshmallows!


I was addicted to candy when I was a kid, all my weekly allowance went into a bag as big as I could afford of assorted gummies!By that time I already preferred the soury ones over the sweet ones!This post is just a reminiscence of that time gone past which comes back from time to time with the urge to get a dose!;) But this is definately a much healthier option and with more possibilities to play around your favourite flavours into this candy form.

We made these in class last week to use up some infused strawberry syrup we had prepared for a panna cotta and left-over egg whites. Someone, who made me a big favour!, liked the idea and asked for the recipe, so here it goes! I chose raspberry at home, simply because I still have so much of it! But my favourite marshmallow flavours are amongst others: lime rind, coke & lemon (the coke needs to be reduced), passionfruit & kumquat and orange rind & orange blossom…Bailey’s is most people’s favourite, but I find it too sweet!. The recipe is the same, just substitute the raspberry juice for the juice, drink or essence of choice…to taste!Obviously for orange blossom, use with caution as too much tastes like perfume! or for the lime one, add the rind of half and juice to taste etc.


Like I said, this is a good way to use up left-over egg whites, and a much simpler one to making macarons! Though to do marshmallows the whites can be omitted by simply melting enough jelly into juice and sugar syrup or corn syrup, I prefer this method as it gives the marshmallows a fluffier texture. Also, if you are lucky enough to have a kitchen Aid mixer or any mixer of the sort, it makes your life easier and you will get even better results! Making them in the work’s kitchen Aid was dead easy, perfect texture. On the other hand, making them with a a handheld mixer is definately more work…but it works! Believe me, we’ve even made them beating by hand! Tiring, but not impossible, just get someone nearby to take over before your arm in numb ;)!

Raspberry marshmallows

(for 1 20x20cm tray)

2 egg whites (about 30g each)

100g of raspberry puree(I used this raspberry sauce, though fresh juice is best)

250g of white sugar

some water to wet the sugar (about 100g)

8 gelatin sheets, gold*

some lemon juice to taste, I used half a medium lemon to compensate the sauce

icing sugar, to coat*

*That is simply the commercial presentation according to the gelifying power (in bloom degrees)

**I blended some lyophilised raspberries with icing sugar in a coffee grinder to coat the marshmallows for a more intense and sour cover and a bright pink colour, but use either just icing sugar or mix with some sideral “pica pica” candy for a soury touch!

Get your raspberry puree ready, if you have to make it, I find it’s better strained off the seeds.


Hydrate your gelatin sheets (if you use powdered neutral gelatin, use about 14-16g) in cold water. If you haven’t used this before, it is important that the water is cold, specially now in summer when cold tab water is tepid! Otherwise when you try to grab them, you will find they’ve melted in! So, if you need to, add a pair of icecubes!

Then, simply remove excess water over a kitchen paper, so you don’t introduce extra moisture into the recipe.


More mise-en-place, prepare your mould, about a 20x20cm tupper or square metal ring over a tray, or the equivalent rectangular size (if you are daunty enough, you could skip all this and fill up a piping bag with the mixture to pipe the round marshmallow longs into a parchment sprinkled with icing sugar or a mix of icing-sugar and cornflour). For the mould bit, line with film or parchment and lightly grease with a neutral flavoured oil. That’s done!See the photo later on…

Place the sugar in a small pan with a bit of water, just enough to cover…if you add too much, no problem, it will just reduce until it get’s to the right consistency!The less water, the sooner it get’s to that syrup stage. Over medium heat reduce until you get to the firm ball stage, past the 120ºC. To test, if you haven’t got a thermometer, I find it easier to check when if goes past the thread stage, that is, when if you take a bit in between the forefinger and the thumb it makes a thick thread…Then, it will be past 116ºC, a minute more or so and it will do (for the photo, I wasn’t quick enough!so it doesn’t show very well). If you want to be precise, as the link says, grab a drop with the tip of a fork or so, immerse into a glass with cold water to cool and as you remove it, you should feel a malleable but firm ball.


If you have a kitchen aid or a robust mixer of the sort, you want to start beating your whites when the syrup is at about 110ºC or so, that is, when it begins to thicken and the bubbles are a bit smaller, as it will take no time to have them whipped up to make the italian meringue when you have the syrup ready. If you have a hand blender, begin a bit earlier, just in case :)

You want to reach firm peaks before you add the ready syrup, but do not whip past that stage or they will get dry and grainy, still you can add a bit of lemon juice or cream of tartar to avoid the grainyness.

Then, pour the syrup in a thin thread as you continue whipping (again…I love kitchen aids!). When all is incorporated, add the jelly sheets one at a time. From the heat of the meringue, they will melt, though if you prefer to melt them into the puree by heating it a little, or adding both that to the syrup, no problem. If you have added them one at a time, when melted, add the puree, juice or whatever (I haven’t added any colouring, but you can add a few drops of colouring here) and continue beating until the mixture thickens considerably and comes to room temperature…just don’t let it cool so much as to let the jelly set!!


Pour onto the lined mould/tupper, tap it a few times against the working surface to smooth the top and just let it set.


I love the looks of the sticky bits in the bowl!


When set, unmould…the film will come easily off if you greased it well. Another option to greasing is sprinkling icing sugar (on it’s own or with a bit of cornflour) on the surface, but the sides will probably stick, that’s why I prefer greasing. Cut to the desired size.


Coat with the icing sugar, the sideral candy or like I’ve done, the lyo raspberry powder mixed with icing sugar…and ready to eat!


By the way, those pink nibs around are the lyo raspberry!

Keep in the fridge best to keep it fresh, or it will dry up quite quickly if uncovered or go bad otherwise. Hope you or your kids like it!

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June 19, 2011

Two ways to an addictive raspberry clafoutis, plus a tasty jam!


A few weeks back when I published my second try at Tartine bread in “Madrid Tiene Miga” I had heard about clafoutis and remembered having seen it in Cannelle et Vanille more than once; but had never tried it. It was in my “to try” but had forgotten about it, until from a commentary from Roser I linked to her blog and there it was to remind me! She encouraged me to give it a try and so I began by reading a bit more about this traditional french dessert to learn what it really was and since I had never tried it for comparison, what the result was meant to be…Then came recipe research and then the thorough testing to get to something I liked using rapberries (as I had  overproduction) instead of cherries as the authentic recipe requires.


So I learnt that precisely, that only when cherries are used, can this dish be properly named “clafoutis”, if done with any other fruit (or vegetable for savoury versions) then it ought to be called “Flognarde” instead. The truth is that I searched for flognarde and very few links show up, whereas I keep seeing versions with any type of fruit being referred to as “clafoutis”. So, that’s why I’ve still titled my raspberry version “clafoutis” because I think very few people know what flognarde is and to be honest I think it’s ok, just like a strawberry or peach gazpacho is named “gazpacho” as other than the obvious substitution, the characteristics of the dish remain the same. Does this make sense?…what I hate are bastardised versions of a dish, named after it’s original name, pretending to be so, that don’t even resemble what it ought to be (like the tabbouleh example or as it happens so often with tiramisú).

Like I said our raspberry plant has given us sooo many incredible raspberries non stop for over a month (only a few are left now) and that’s why I’ve had to give them a use. Loads and loads of jam, nothing like storebought, with more acidity, an intense radiactive colour :)and an incredible texture; thanks to Christine Ferber’s advice from her books!(it was about time I made my own jams too!). So, I’ve had enough to perfect this recipe to my taste! The first time I made it, it turned out almost uneatable…as to my surprise, the almost sweet raspberries brought out their acidity when heated. So, I adjusted that macerating them with a bit of sugar before using them and that was fixed. Then, the proportions of eggs and specially flour to get a creamier dough after setting and the sugar to get it tasty enough but not overly sweet! I gave it infusing some fresh vanilla in the milk and that too made a difference to better. So, I thought I had it just perfect until I discovered…


Ottolenghi’s clafoutis recipe!!This chef is just awesome, any dish of his I try, becomes a favourite! There are things I may prefer to change to adapt to my taste, but not one recipe I disliked or that didn’t teach me something new! So, from his first book I found a plum clafoutis (he used vanilla too in the dough!)but with an alternate, completely different method to the traditional recipe; where the dough is simply a crêpe batter. His version is more like an american pancake batter! He beats up yolks & whites separate to incorporate a lot of air into that crêpe mix, resulting in a foamy but creamy delicious texture! After quite a few trials…I now think I prefer his unorthodox version (at least for this raspberry flavoured one!). I give you both of the finalists to try and test which one suits your taste. But beware…because they are so easy to put together, such a perfect sweet & sour match, and so feathery light (specially Ottolenghi’s recipe) that they soon become addictive!!Yesterday I prepared one more batch and intended to save some for Linguine..but began with a spoonful and finished the whole thing!!Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!!


Two ways to raspberry clafoutis

(enough for 2x16cm moulds)

Traditional version                                                           

1 egg

100g milk (or half milk, half cream)

30g flour (pastry flour is best)

40g sugar (25g for the batter+15g for the raspberries)

pinch of salt

1 small piece of vanilla bean, open & seeds scraped

10g butter, melted (optional)

100g raspberries (optionally substitute 20g for blueberries)

Ottolenghi’s batter recipe version

1 egg, separated

50g cream*

25g flour

25g sugar(for batter)+15g for the raspberries

pinch of salt

1/4 of a vanilla bean, just the seeds

80-100g raspberries

*He recommends double cream, I’ve tried 35% whipping cream and half cream and half milk and both work well

Begin marinating the raspberries with the sugar. They will bleed, but that’s ok, if you do not do this step, they’ll come out really sour!This way, they’ll come out almost like a jam.

For the traditional method, beat together just to combine, no need to incorporate any air, the eggs with the sugar and the pinch of salt. If you are on the run, you can add the vanilla seeds at once in too, if not you can infuse it with the milk from the recipe and melt the sugar in the warm milk (up to you, though the infused one has a bit more taste for the same amount of vanilla, whereas in Ottolenghi’s version, since the yolks are beaten up, rather than mixed, more flavour from the vanilla is released)

Incorporate the butter beating to integrate it, then add the flour and finally the milk (if you infused it with the vanilla bean, not just the seeds, strain it!;) ). That’s it for the batter.


Butter the moulds well, specially if you plan to unmould them later when cool. distribute the berries amongst the moulds and cover with the batter. Ideally (or to my taste) it should come up about 2,5cm-3cm.



Bake at 200ºC for 10 minutes, lower to 180ºC and continue for about 10 more minutes until golden (if you like a paler look, you can cook it for longer at 160-175ºC max, though I prefer it this way). Note that if your mould is high and you fill it up a lot, it will take longer to cook, so lower the temperature a bit. Ready! you can serve warm or cold, it is usually sprinkled with icing sugar, which looks really nice too…I just prefer to keep it simple and less sweet.


Now, for Ottolenghi’s version, it is just a bit more work. Similarly macerate the berries a bit with the sugar, then beat up the yolks with half the sugar, the salt and the vanilla until creamy and pale in colour. This will dissolve the sugar and

clafoutis otto1

Add the cream and then the sifted flour (he says the other way around, but it get clumpy!) to get a smooth batter. Then, beat the whites to soft peaks with a bit of lemon juice or cream of tartar to avoid graininess, add the remaining sugar gradually as you beat until stiff peaks. Just try to avoid overbeating, or the meringue will get dry and grainy and will incorporate worse to the batter. Fold into the batter softly.

clafoutis otto2

For this recipe, since it sticks more to the moulds, he recommends to line the moulds with a bit of parchment, if you intend to unmold the clafoutis. Otherwise, at least butter and lightly flour them before adding the batter. Then, drop in the raspberries distributing amongst the surface…be generous! So, it’s the other way around, as the resulting batter has a thicher consistency.


Bake at 180ºC for 10 minutes, then lower to 170ºC for about 10-15 minutes more. Use a brochette to test doneness, as it may look ready but still be goey in the inside.


I think it may not look as good as the other one…but once you dip in, it’s heavenly!


Up to the last bite! Like pancakes with soury raspberry jam and the mild vanilla flavour!


If you have any batter left over, you can use it as pancake batter! yum!Pour it on the preheated pan (not too hot), add the raspberries or blueberries


…turn and enjoy!

clafoutis pancakes 2 

Now for the raspberry jam!


For 1 kg raspberries:

800g sugar (if done with seeds) or 750g if they will be removed

plus juice of half a lemon

Aren’t they just amazing?


I did this over 2 day (or up to 3 for the deseeded jam):

Day one: Mix the raspberries with the sugar and lemon juice and back into the fridge…so the raspberries naturally exude their juices. This day can be skipped and you can go straight into day 2, though I prefer it.

mermelada frambuesas

Day 2: bring to a light boil and then cover with some parchment to keep the raspberries dipped in their own juices. This step is specially useful if you want jam with no seeds, so the raspberries soften and then cool to handle them & remove the seeds.

mermelada fram2

mermelada fram 2,5

Day 3: If you are going to, remove the seeds, you can use a vegetable masher (pasapurés), though I found a large strainer with a scraper to work better!

mermelada fram 4

A bit of extra straining if like me, you don’t want to leave a bit!!But that’s just me being obsessive…


So, finally, place over high heat the raspberries with sugar & lemon from day 1 or the strained ones, seeds removed until the right consistency is reached. It will be at around 104-105ºC, but if you haven’t got a thermometer, you will notice how no more foam comes out and you’ll notice it clogging and beginning to set. Otherwise, just place a small spoonful in a cold dish and place in the fridge/freezer until it cools to check set.  It’s important to check or you’ll end up reducing the jam too much and loose a lot of flavour and colour, to get a more tan shade. Let the pectin+sugar+acid (from the lemon)do their work to gelatinise…not caramelise by reduction!

mermelada fram 3

Here’s the one with seeds:


And the one without:


Isn’t it amazing? our first raspberry jams!


To keep and make a vacuum, just sterilise pots & tops in boiling water for a few minutes and drain over a clean towel upside down. Then, as soon as the jam is ready, with a funnel fill them up to the rim, cover and turn…IMG_5940

Leave like that until cool for the vacuum to work, then just label and keep for ages!!

If you want a simpler way to get a super tasty raspberry sauce, though with a shorter lifespan, refer to the recipe that goes with the cheesecake, it’s really amazing!You’ll get this texture, full of flavour!


I hope you get to try at least one of the recipes!!Enjoy!

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June 13, 2011

Inspired by Quique Dacosta: poor man’s tasty “arroz a banda socarrat”


In my family we’ve always been rice eaters…almost any dish with rice (well done, that is)we love; be it “meloso” (creamy), “caldoso” (with more stock), risotto or “seco” (cooked dry in a “paella” pan or in the oven) or on it’s own!My mom has always made fantastic paellas (some of the best I can recall) so in my dried rice dishes I took her’s as a base on which to improve.

Quique Dacosta is the reknown chef of the two michelin star restaurant “El Poblet” in Denia (Alicante), which aside from being a “cocina de autor” restaurant with very personal creative dishes, masters the art of cooking rice as expected from the emplacement in the Valencian community (though he himself is from Extremadura). So, being a rice lover, I’ve always followed his cooking as close as possible and immediately had to get his amazing book on rice dishes “Arroces Contemporáneos” when it came out  in 2005 with lot’s a invaluable information on the science of rice to understand how it behaves on cooking and numerous beautiful dishes using various cooking techniques.


But, it was not until december last year that I watched him prepare an “arroz a banda” in Robinfood (a fantastic cooking program, in spanish, led by the hilarious David de Jorge). This program marks a before and after in my “paella” style dishes…The radical difference being the amount of stock used per amount of rice! Sounds simple, right? Well, when I heard him mention that he used 1L of stock for 160g of rice (very little for the pan, to make just one layer of grains, no overlapping!), I thought it couldn’t be right! When most recipes, and what I often used was 2 ,5 parts stock (at the most) to 1 part rice. So, I had to go at myself to check if it was possible.

With the idea in mind that I would ruin the “arroz a banda” dish, I simplified his version (full of amazing quantities of tasty fish & shellfish) to make a simple stock with just the heads and carcasses of some medium-sized prawns, convinced I would end up with a soupy rice or creamy at least. To try to compensate I turned the heat to full blast for the first 10 minutes (it’s always higher those first 10 minutes…though I had never tried, that high!) and then lowering to medium the remaining 8. To my surprise, ALL of that simple prawn stock evaporated resulting in a perfectly cooked, with a beautiful “socarrat” (caramelised crust) in the bottom and full of taste…just with a few sad prawns!!

I’ve repeated and repeated this dish, testing different rice types, adjusting the minimum amount of prawns to use to get a tasty & easy to make(but cheap)fumet and removing all unnecessary components to just leave the rice to enjoy it on it’s own! The term “arroz a banda” meaning literally “rice on the side” was coined to refer to a rice, cooked in a paella pan (for lot’s of evaporation) as a side dish to fish boiled to make a sustancial stock (just like “cocido” stock is made and then fine vermicelli pasta is cooked in it). You can of course enrich this basic “poor” version as much as you like up to all the list of tasty ingredients in his main recipe, but this simple version, tested over and over and tried by many people now, is a great starting point that won’t disappoint and leave you wondering how so little can have soooo much flavour! Enjoy!!!


Poor man’s “arroz a banda”

(just enough for 2 as a first dish in a 30cm in diameter paella pan!*)

For the stock:

250g of fresh prawns

11/4L of water (to obtain 1L)

…anything else more you want to add, like fish bone you may have! Though that’s enough for a tasty rice!

For the rice:

about 3-4 tbsp of olive oil, better if it’s extra virgin

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 ripe tomato, grated

160g of rice ** (suggested maximum: 180g, see note below ***)

pinch of sweet pimentón

pinch of saffron

salt to taste (beware, as a lot of stock gets reduced, it will be added later on!)


*To maintain the result of this dish consistent, if you want more rice, I suggest you increase the size of the paella pan accordingly or make 2 simultaneously, otherwise the result won’t be as good)

**I most often use “Calasparra rice” with excellent results. This rice, a D.O., more than a variety (which unless indicated Bomba) is always Balilla x Solana variety, is a cheaper version of bomba, a grain that although does not absorb a lot of flavour from the stock due to a higher proportion of amylose than most Japonica varieties (usually short-grain varieties)does not often overcook, remaining firm to tooth. In the case of dried rices like paella this not a problem as the reduced stock stays on the outside of the rice compensating for that reduced flavour absorption when compared to other varieties like Sénia (the one Quique Dacosta recommends).

***As mention on the first note, the key to this dish is precisely the proportion of rice to stock in the given area of the pan, more rice for the same paella pan will result in overlapping grains of rice and the cooking of the grains and the caramelisation of themselves will be different)

So, now after all that talking, or rather, writing, for the simple recipe…

Nothing fancy, simple prawns, the better, the tastier the stock, though. I buy when I find decent ones at a good price and freeze in 250g batches (as you can imagine, Linguine is a big fan of this dish)


To make the stock, I remove heads & carcasses of the prawns to leave the flesh


Then, I fry them with a bit of oil to release all that rich flavour! Add the water and bring to boil. Make sure you are watching as it comes to a boil, so that yacky foam does not mix with the stock and you can remove it to get a clear fumet. Give it at least 20 minutes to infuse at a simmer (or a bit longer if you can, though fish & shellfish shouldn’t boil for longer than half an hour or they’ll bring out bitter notes…If you like, it’s best to cook for that long, turn off and let infuse for longer before straining).

Meanwhile I prepare the rest, but just to put it all together, when ready, strain to make up to 1L, top up if needed, but keep hot, as the stock should be added almost boiling to the rice.

caldo langostinos

The bodies of the prawns, I either use to make a starter har gaow..if I’ve had the time (still perfecting, but will come…)



or I just stir fry them over high heat in the oil where I’ll make the sofrito to give a taste into what will come ;)


Remove & serve…or if you prefer to include that into the rice, as in the first dish, chop them up in small pieces, give them that stir fry to give more taste into the oil and reserve to add almost at the end of cooking, when most stock has evaporated. Up to you!

For the sofrito, just slowly fry the garlic, do not let it colour as it get’s bitter!(Quique Dacosta does not add garlic directly, but uses garlic-infused oil, if you have some, go ahead with the substitution!

Then, add the pimentón and the pinch of saffron and immediately add the grated tomato, so it doesn’t burn.

Let that reduce until all the water from the tomato is evaporated and add the rice and give it a short stir before adding the stock. This coats the rice lightly with oil to keep the grains a bit more separate (by the way, this is the Alicante way of making rice: a stock and a sofrito, in Valencia, the make a stock within the paella and then add the rice).


Add the hot stock over and bring the heat high up!!!Keep boiling over very high heat for 10 minutes. You can add some salt here, but as I said before, take into account that there’s a lot of stock reducing completely, believe me, I’ve already made that mistake!It’s best to adjust to taste after at least 7 minutes of boiling down.

After those 10 minutes, lower down the heat to medium for 8 more minutes. After that time is over, the stock should have completely evaporated…if you see a few minutes before it’s not even close, you can adjust the heat accordingly. You may not get it perfect the first time, as you get to know your hobs intensity required for the right times, though it most often works from the first moment!

In the photos below, the stock at the begining as it was added and brought to a high boil and after those 10 minutes to give you an idea of how much gets reduced and the texture of the stock after that time (you can see the rice and the stock is thicker, with a starchy consistency).


Another note about the pan…Dacosta recommends a Lacor paella pan, which is a thick bottom inox pan with non-stick coating, I have another good brand thick bottom pan, and though I’ve made the same dish in other shitty pans (I mean really shitty, not even paella pans) it does make a difference (though all may work once you adjust to them), specially for a homogeneous “socarrat” that the pan distributes heat evenly.

For the socarrat, Quique Dacosta adds a tablespoon of that garlic oil to favorise and aid in caramelisation of that starch. I add a bit extra oil from the begining, so I lately don’t add it, but you can if you like, it helps.

And that’s it! Ideally rest for 4-5 minutes more and serve or eat straight from the pan!!


Hope you like it as much as we do!

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