Sunday, November 22, 2009

Iberian Delights

I have enjoyed Portuguese food ever since Leonie & I visited back in...1982? I've recently been inspired by Spanish food and at least two of you have visited this year. Last week I bought a magazine - Gourmet Traveller - with a Spanish theme & this is the basis for this blog. In addition I have had a birthday & received a delightful fifties style apron which I think provided additional inspiration.
Let's start with Alfajores Payes. As soon as I saw these I had to have them. I immediately discovered that you needed to cook the condensed milk for 3 hours & cool for a similar time but by that time I was too involved. I was up until after 11.00 on Sunday night chocolate coating one half and up at 6.00 doing the other side before work. I took them in for my team on Monday and had great feedback which I will share with you. They are very rich - make them smaller. Some participants felt the biscuits were so delicious the chocolate was a distraction. If you think that, then make a version you just dust with icing sugar.
Then there is the Portuguese custard tart. Phoebe gave me Ladies a Plate - Second Helping for my birthday & there was a recipe. Just like a bought one, I thought. Phoebe's comment: don't roll the pastry too thin, which I think we did because we had 30 pastry cases & only enough custard for 24. The recipe suggested you would get 20.
Back to the magazine. We had Calasparra rice with chicken & chorizo for dinner this evening. This was excellent. Make sure you brown the skin well at the start & we did find the rice took a little longer to cook than suggested. Be patient. If you don't have a paella pan use a wide shallow frying pan - not too heavy bottomed.
The apron made me do it - the custard tarts left me with 4 egg whites so I dipped into Edmond's & rediscovered one of my mother's old favourites. I suspect she made it to use up egg whites too. Remember Lemon souffle, which she used to call Lemon Snow. Peter called it Lemon Fluff & Phoebe is calling it Lemon Flurry. Whatever the name, it is delicious. Very refreshing and the perfect vehicle for stray egg whites on a summer evening.
One last thought. We had a picnic at one of our favourite spots, Percy's Reserve. On the way home we were taking a turn in the rose gardens & came upon two young (18-20) women wearing aprons similar to mine, sitting on an elegant rug, tucking into the most amazing looking sponge cake, which appeared to be decorated with every kind of gummy sweet known to humankind. Our picnic wasn't nearly so inspired - but it was good all the same.

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