So this is definitely one of those cook books that I have read a lot from but pretty much never cooked any recipe from and looking through this recipe I probably have a good idea why that is the case.
Its an older style cook book and that’s not just from the fairly sexist title, what Spanish Men don’t cook or have kitchen’s!!! It was published in 1999 and while its a much more visually appealing cook book (i.e. it looks good on the shelf and would sell well) than some of the traditional all text ones of the 60’s and 70’s it has one striking feature. None of the pictures in it are of any of the recipes listed. Its all locations and scenery around Spain. So while its a great travelogue and sets the scene for the evocative food it describes it doesn’t really give you any visual clues. Am pretty sure I purchased it after Carrie and I traveled through Spain in 2000 and came home looking for ideas to recapture the experience.
So have been away the last few weeks so no updates but a bunch of recipes starting to stack up. Worked on getting Facebook and the Blog linked so hopefully all works, this post is a bit of a test.
Went out shopping today to get some of the foundations and items to get kicked off again. Who can guess from these photos whats coming up???? Or even better what cuts of meat are these????
So the cover picture for those astute readers is not of Boneless Pork Chops with Honey Gremolata. But it is the Chapa which is one of the seven fires that Francis Mallmann talks about in his superb book Seven Fires – Grilling the Argentine Way. If you are a lover of food cooked over fire this is a must have book. Francis evocatively describes how cooking with wood is a constant learning curve. I wont try myself but will leave it to the man himself to describe.
“Cooking with wood fire is like going on a first date. It is something that you look forward to with great anticipation and a little anxiety. You can never know exactly what the conditions will be………every time you cook over wood outdoors, you are starting fresh in a strange kitchen.”
Time to change continents with a move from West to East and a nice simple Thai dish…. a dish of many names. Muu Parlow is the name in David Thompson’s book Thai Food. In a later book called Thai Street Food also from David Thompson he has a slightly less complex recipe but now calls it Khaa Muu Parlow. From the time I lived in Bangkok I also knew it as Khao Khaa Muu. For anyone who has spent some time in Thailand this should not be surprising, many things have slightly different variations in names. You will even get variations in the spelling of the anglicised versions of the same Thai word, so Muu is Thai for Pork but is also spelt Mu or Moo by others, and that’s an easy example they can get a lot more complex.
So the simple translation of the dish is Pork Hock with Rice which is pretty much what Khao Khaa Muu translates as, well its actually Rice (Khao) Leg (Khaa) Pork (Muu). Now that’s not a very descriptive title and doesn’t lend itself any details of what the pork is cooked in, what its served with, etc, etc. But in many ways that’s the way classic recipes throughout the world are, they don’t have to have the paragraph long descriptions of all the ingredients and how they are treated. It also allows people over time to have a wide license to modify and change the dish to suit whats around and the tastes of the customers. if we look back to the first recipe I cooked and Coulibiac is pretty much means a simple Fish Pie when what is inside it couldn’t be further than simple.
So here we go, week 2 and another simple dish. Stuffed Cabbage, how hard could that be. This is another of those dishes that sound simple, not very exciting and probably a bit old fashioned. I do remember trying this some years ago and wasn’t a great success so here goes a second try.
Its a pretty simple concept and one that I think pretty much every culture has a version of, find some leftovers, stuff into vegetable and cook. One of those great necessity dishes that over time got elevated to a higher status.
The general concept of the recipe is make a stuffing, blanch and separate cabbage, stuff and then braise for extended period. Am pretty sure the last time I tried this I used Savoy Cabbage and did not work out. Think that you need a tighter cabbage to hold it all together. So standard every day cabbage that once had trimmed the damaged and overly loose leaves off was a bit over 2kg.Also trimmed the base so it sat nicely on the bench.
So first one and why not something challenging, thanks Carrie!!!
A real challenge that need to think about is lots of pictures and descriptions but will be unable to post the recipes as would likely make some of the authors unhappy!
This is one of my favourite cook books and have eaten at Bistro Moncur in Sydney many times where some of these recipes have featured. Including the fantastic Crab Omelette (hopefully that will get picked in the future).
So the recipe for Coulibiac is a pretty good start, its a dish I first tasted many years ago when I was working in one of my short stints in a kitchen in Sydney. The version that Damien has in his book is by no means the shortcut version Make the brioche and rest, make crepes, prepare the rice and fish. One thing I do like about his recipe is using a bread tin to bake it in to hold the brioche together in a nice loaf and not spread across the baking tray.
The history of Coulibiac appear to go back to the humble Russian fish or meat pie made with bread dough, crushed wheat, dill and onions known as koulibiaca. It was the 19th century French chefs hired by the Russian nobility that created from that what is today Coulibiac. The original called for Sturgeon but we will make do with the humble Salmon.
Time to go and shop for ingredients