Fast focaccia

Flatbreads are great to cook, easy and fast. You don´t have to wait for the oven to heat up, so it´s very convenient to take a couple of balls of dough that you have in the fridge, let them rest and then cook them on a hot frying pan.

The only problem is that you have to do them one by one, and that is not always an option. As for waiting for the oven to come up to 250ºC, only for fifteen minutes? In Scotland, maybe, but anywhere that´s hot that´s suicidal.

Yesterday I was in a hurry, and tried making a focaccia under the grill/broiler. Bread recipes are annoyingly uptight and controlling, but over time I´ve come to rely on instinct more and more. Particulary with flatbreads, because, come on; they are the staple food nomads, and many other people who don´t have the sophisticated ecquipment we´re used to. I bet improvisation has been ok many times.

It worked perfectly fine. I stretched the oiled dough out a little thinner than usual, just one centimetre, and I had it about 10 cm from the flame. Once one side was golden, I flipped it and waited for it to do the same, and there it was: focaccia, crusty and crisp and in every way delectable.

You can see my bread recipe here, and a post about flatbreads here.


Untitled #122, originally uploaded by Lobstersquad.

Thinking of making chocolate mousse. I think Twitter is cramping my literary style...


Cheese and apple toast

I think often think back to when my kids ate everything, and I was pleased. Their father was ecstatic. So much so that he gloated, and was heard boasting that Pía preferred broccoli to French toast. And so of course, smugness brought us down. I warned him, but to no avail. Now they eat nothing.

That is, they eat pasta and toast, and fish fingers, and eggs, and bananas and sometimes tinned peaches. And blueberries and mango (expensive little critters). Nutella and ice cream, need I mention. Pizza, sometimes. Chicken, in some incarnations.

At nursery they eat a whole lot of other stuff, but at home, that´s it.

So I´m very happy to have found that they like this cheese and apple on toast, which I like to call (forgive me) Newton´s rabbit, it being like Welsh rabbit but having apples, and so, you know.
I took the idea from The River Cottage Baby and Toddler book, an infuriating volume chock full of dishes my children would run a mile from.

However, this they like, and it´s easy and actually delicious, which makes it an excellent bet for sudden adult hunger pangs on a near empty fridge, or for bulking up a meagre bowl of soup.

Just grate an apple, some cheese of the Cheddar or Manchego type, cover a slice of toast, grill/broil it until brown and crunchy and that´s it.


The ultimate chorizo sandwich

A chorizo sandwich, as sold in every bar and corner shop across Spain, is nothing more than chorizo slices, sandwiched between bread. The quality of the chorizo and the bread, and the generosity of the perpetrator are the only factors that change.

So it´s not a very good sandwich, really. One dimensional, at best. Inedible, at worst.

Unless you take a little bit of care, and then it is pretty darn tasty.

You need a baguette, a ciabatta or a small loaf of good bread.

You need some proper ibérico chorizo, sliced thin. And it has to be eating chorizo, not cooking chorizo.

Then, taking inspiration from the Majorcan way with sobrasada, you need hot mango sauce, or, failing that, apricot jam mixed with chili sauce.

Heat the oven to 180ºC. Spread the cut baguette with the sauce, layer a fair amount of chorizo slices (be generous. think about your arteries some other day). Close it, wrap it in foil, squash it a little and put it in the oven.

Take it out when the outside is very crunchy, 15 or 20minues. The orange fat will have oozed from the sausage, mingled with the hot, sweet sauce, and soaked the bread.

So far, so heavenly.

But to take it up a notch, serve alongside "ensalada de matanza". This means "pig-killing salad" and is a Spanish slaw, served in Escolástica´s village at matanza time.

Slice some cabbage as thin as you can, and dress very simply with olive oil, salt, Sherry vinegar, a dash of powdered cumin and crushed raw garlic. Not too much of any.

This will provide crunch and freshness, and make the chorizo sandwich into a balanced meal. Or almost.


Ying Yang

Hello everyone. This is one of those here and there, "just to say hi" posts.
First, please notice that discreet but effective little button that says "follow me on Twitter". Nice, innit?
Then, are you totally bowled away by the beauty of the image above? Thought so. I am going to make a batch of screenprints with it tomorrow, so if anyone wants to have it for themselves, stay tuned.
Also, just discovered this blog I´m loving already, A cookbook a month. Just the thing for cookbook obsessives like me.
Over the next week I plan to post a few good recipes I´ve been making a lot lately: Newton´s rabbit, matanza salad, the ultimate chorizo sandwich and something else I´m forgetting. Tall order, let´s see if I can make it.


Kid´s apps, kitchen apps?

Now, this is a shameless plug, of course, but I hope you´ll forgive me. It´s all true.
When you´re in a hurry to get a meal on the table, you need all the help you can get. That can come from an actual human being who will offer to chop and slice, or empty the dishwasher. Or it can come in the shape of an enthusiastic three year old whose idea of help is to open every jar and sprinkle their contents madly. Or maybe it will be a toddler, going for the cupboards with a glad glint in his eye.
In such cases, what´s more useful, an app by Jamie Oliver, or one that will keep the young varmints quiet for a few minutes while you grill their fish fingers?
Thought so.

Myself, I´m very proud of these apps, created by Terrier Digital, with illustrations by yours truly. We have many more colours coming, and also versions for the iPad. For now, I say, iPhone users with kids, get yourself Animal Colours, take a breather, and, later, enjoy how they pronounce "malayan tapir".