Monday, May 30, 2016

Croquetas de Jamon

Croquetas de Jamon, is a classic tapa available at most bars across Spain. It can be served as a tapa, part of a meal with a salad on the side, and it loved by all. The beauty of it, is that you can fill it with just about anything— use your left over roasted chicken, or heck another way to use leftover Thanksgiving Turkey, chopped hard-boiled eggs, finely minced shrimp or squid, chopped chorizo, mushroom, cheese, or a combination of these. 

The real beauty of these lie in the delicate richness of the bechamel sauce combined with the flavors of your favorite filling. Make it a day ahead, to give the mixture enough time to harden in the refrigerator or freezer. It will then be easier to handle.

After spending two months in Spain, the kids loved Croquetas. It has never been my favorite Spanish tapa, but every time we are out for dinner, it is ordered— and everyone I know simply loves them!

Apparently, the Croquetas at the restaurant Embarcadero in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain are the best ever. So you can imagine my excitement when I found the recipe online.

While we were in Las Palmas (Spain), my aunt gave me a good supply of homemade frozen Chicken Croquetas, which was the best thing to have for quick last minute kid dinners with some corn and veggies on the side, or when friends stopped by.
Back in New York, our freezer is stocked back up with Croquetas de Jamon, and the kids are still loving it!

Recipe courtesy: Restorante Embarcadero  

125 grams / 9 tablespoons butter
1 liter / 4 cups whole milk
125 grams / scant 1 cup onion, minced
200 grams jamon Iberico, minced (or finely minced mushrooms, left over roasted chicken, or a filling of your choice)
125 grams / 1 cup all-purpose flour
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

4 eggs, beaten 
2 cups all-purpose flour
200 grams / 4 cups bread crumbs
  1. Melt the butter in a large pot on medium heat.
  2. In a saucepan warm the milk.
  3. Once the butter has melted, add the onion. Mix and let it cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the jamon, mix. Season with salt and white pepper.
  5. Add the flour, and keep mixing, until very well incorporated. 
  6. Add the milk, little by little, to ensure that the flour dissolves well. It will be a thick consistency. 
  7. Transfer it to a glass baking dish, flatten it out. Let it cool, transfer to the freezer. Let it cool until it is frozen hard enough to work with. Cut into rectangular shapes, about 2-inch x 1-inch. 
  8. Lightly coat in flour, then dip in the egg, generously coat with bread crumbs. At this point you can freeze it again. Or bring it back to room temperature and then deep fry. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Apple Clatoufis

Clafoutis is a French dish that is sort of a cross between a flan and a pancake. Similar to a flan, clafoutis is a very easy dessert that always impresses. It’s hearty enough even to serve for breakfast. It is traditionally made with black cherries but also sometimes with berries, prunes, or other fruits. My girlfriend Mumtaz and I did a French Bistro cooking class at the Brooklyn Kitchen, and when we learnt and ate this dessert, I loved how simple it was to prepare, lovely rustic looking dessert, warm and delicious.

Since we served this to kids tonight, I skipped adding the liquor. It was still divine, and served with Talenti's Sea Salt Caramel ice cream took it way over the top. 

Inspired by Julia Child, recipe courtesy Brooklyn Kitchen
Serves 8

Pancake Batter
1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour

4 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 3 cups apples) (I used Granny Smith)
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup calvados, dark rum, or cognac
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish
Ice cream of your choice, for serving (I used Talenti Sea Salt Caramel ice cream, it is simply divine!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Pancake batter: Combine the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, and flour in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Cover and place in the fridge to set for at least 10 minutes and up to 24 hours.
  3. Apples: Meanwhile, prepare the apples. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the apples until lightly browned. Remove from heat, pour over the liquor, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup sugar, and let stand up to 30 minutes to absorb flavor.
  4. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish and pour the apples into the base with their liquid. Do ahead.
  5. Bring the batter to room temperature. Pour the batter over the top.
  6. Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake about 50 minutes. It is done when it a knife inserted to the center comes out clean and the top is light brown.
  7. Garnish with confectioner’s sugar and serve with ice cream.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Changri Tarkari (Bengali Shrimp Curry)

My five-year old son absolutely loves 'Gambas al Ajillo', a Spanish shrimp dish, where the shrimp is cooked in abundant olive oil, with a generous amount of thinly sliced garlic, some dried red chilies, and parsley. We do too. So every time I buy shrimp, we eat 'Gambas al Ajillo'.
But today I craved a Shrimp Curry. Aditya Bals cookbook, Chakh Le India had this recipe which looked delicious— exactly what I wanted— spicy and tangy. 
A chat with my dear Chef Bengali friend Meera, had me sharing her Panch Poran, or Bengali five-spice mixture, and hence a delicious dinner on the table. Meera said that some desire a deeper, more reddish color. That can be achieved by 'bhunaoing' it for longer (steps no. 3 & 4), however, we were happy with this deep-turmeric color.

4 servings

1 lb medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon oil (preferably mustard, if not, vegetable oil)

1 tablespoon oil (preferably mustard, if not, vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

The Curry Base
1 tablespoon oil ((preferably mustard, if not, vegetable oil)
1 teaspoon Bengali five-spice mix (equal quantities of cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds and fennel seeds)
1/2-inch cinnamon stick
4 green cardamons, split
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely minced
3 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chili powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tomato, sliced very thin
Salt, to taste
2 cups water, hot

Juice of 1/2 lime
3–4 tablespoons fresh cilantro

  1. Marinate the shrimp. Set aside. Prep the other ingredients.
  2. In a large flat-bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Fry the shrimps, on both sides, until almost cooked through. Remove on a plate. 
  3. In the same pot, heat another tablespoon of oil. Fry the whole spices until fragrant, be careful not to burn, about 30 seconds— 1 minute. Add the onions, salt to taste, and mix well. The salt will help the onions cook faster by letting its water out. Brown the onions, by using the ‘bhuno’* method.
  4. Add the ginger-garlic paste, the powdered spices, and let it cook until the oil separates. This is a clear indicator that the spices have cooked and released its natural oils. Continue to ‘bhuno’ for 5 more minutes, to get a deeper color.
  5. Add the tomatoes, and once the oil separates, pour in the hot water. Stir the curry a few times, till the oil surfaces again and the curry is perfectly cooked. 
  6. Immerse the shrimp along with all their resting juices into the simmering curry. Stir the shrimp gently and poach them to a juicy tenderness for 6–8 minutes. Simmer the curry uncovered to reduce it a little.
  7. Remove from heat. Squeeze lime juice, which will amazingly lift the whole curry perfectly. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve over white Basmati rice.

This is a fundamental cooking technique used in Indian cuisine. Spices, herbs, and aromatics are sautéed over high heat, till they are toasted and intensely aromatic. A little liquid is then added to deglaze the pan and blend the ingredients well. Once most of the liquid evaporates, the process is repeated, till the aromatic spice base is homogenous and the oil rises to the top, signifying that the masala is properly cooked.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño

A visit to Nobu in New York or Kabuki in Madrid, always called for us enjoying a perfect modern sashimi, with a delicate play of taste and texture. This Yellowtail Sashimi is inspired by just that. A fine balance of acid-sodium-heat. Thin slices of yellowtail, brushed in garlic, topped with the chili-lime-soy sauce, garnished with the fresh citrus cilantro and crunchy heaty jalapeño.
2.5 ounces sushi-grade yellowtail
1 clove garlic, finely minced or pureed
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili oil
1 teaspoon red chili powder
6 very thin slices of jalapeño (less than ¼ of 1 jalapeño)
Cilantro leaves for garnish


  1. Slice yellowtail in six thin slices. This is easiest when the fish is very cold or even slightly frozen — pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes if you’re having trouble).
  2. Spread garlic puree over a small plate, set aside.
  3. In a small bowl combine lemon, soy, chili oil, and red chili powder. Set aside.
  4. Dip each slice of yellowtail in the garlic and arrange on serving plate. Don’t try to use all the garlic — there should just be a slight coating on each piece of fish.
  5. Top each slice of fish with a slice of jalapeño. Do ahead. Chill if not serving immediately.
  6. Pour lime-chili-soy sauce over fish, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve immediately.