Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Tuna, crab and cheese mousse


There are days –weeks, even- when things run so fast, all at the same time, that you simply feel overwhelmed. Lately, for the past few weeks, I've been trapped in this accelerated spiral that seems to lead nowhere, never stopping. Yes, I know it will stop, eventually. And it will leave me with that feeling of a hangover without alcohol, disrupted, exhausted and empty, as if my head where made of cork. I know there will be some time for some rest… or at least, that is what I have to remind myself, when I feel like I need days made of 48 hours!
I tend to eat the first junk food I have at hand when I feel like this. So, as I know myself all too well, I have learnt to try to avoid that. It does not mean that I will always manage to do so, but I try.
Today’s recipe -this cheese mousse- is great for that. It also has tuna and crabmeat,  and it gives a fantastic result. The idea came from adapting a classic tasty cold mousse. I have used light cream cheese and fat-free milk instead of cream and eggs, so that it is really, really light, but the result in terms of taste is very good. I did it in individual ramekins, but you may also be prepared in a larger mold, and serve it as a paté, to spread with bread. You could also put less agar-agar, and let it in the form of a dipping to go with crudités. Or you might try to add some red pepper for enhanced flavor and color, or, basically, include any changes you feel like trying, as it is really versatile.
Enjoy!
Tuna, crab and cheese mousse
Ingredients (for 6 individual molds)

160 grams of tuna in spring water
10 crabmeat sticks
250 ml of skimmed milk
300 g of nonfat cream cheese
4 anchovies
3 grams of agar-agar (or equivalent quantity of gelatin)
Pepper
Salt

Preparation
Mix flaked tuna with chopped crabmeat and chopped anchovies. Blend well. Put in a saucepan the milk, cheese, salt, pepper and agar-agar. Heat and stir to dissolve it, without allowing it to boil until it is completely mixed. Add the crushed mixture of tuna, crab sticks and anchovies, mix well and remove from heat. Pour into molds to use, slightly pre-oiled (better with a spray or use a pair of oil droplets and spread with a brush) and cool to room temperature. Once cooled, put into to the fridge for at least 4 hours, until ready to serve. To serve, garnish with minced crabmeat and tuna.





Tuna, crab and cheese mousse
Ingredients (for 6 individual molds)

160 grams of tuna in spring water
10 crabmeat sticks
250 ml of skimmed milk
300 g of nonfat cream cheese
4 anchovies
3 grams of agar-agar (or equivalent quantity of gelatin)
Pepper
Salt

Preparation
Mix flaked tuna with chopped crabmeat and chopped anchovies. Blend well. Put in a saucepan the milk, cheese, salt, pepper and agar-agar. Heat and stir to dissolve it, without allowing it to boil until it is completely mixed. Add the crushed mixture of tuna, crab sticks and anchovies, mix well and remove from heat. Pour into molds to use, slightly pre-oiled (better with a spray or use a pair of oil droplets and spread with a brush) and cool to room temperature. Once cooled, put into to the fridge for at least 4 hours, until ready to serve. To serve, garnish with minced crabmeat and tuna.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Mascarpone and almonds ice cream

I keep on making ice cream. I guess it is my way of trying to extend a bit the summer feeling. I cannot get used to these rainy, cold days and gray days in August. Weather has been terrible this summer in here. I guess by now I should have got used to the fact that here weather can only be one of two: bad or worse. So, it really makes no sense at all talk about the weather. But it is not a rhetorical resource at all. Here it is a real topic for conversation. These cold temperature and dark skies make it really difficult to think of summer. And when you receive the occasional out of office autoreply  at work, with someone’s message explaining she is on summer holidays, it feels really strange. It feels kind of out of place.

So occasionally I decide to do some ice cream. I prepare it not because a hot summer day asks for a refreshing and frozen dessert.  Right now, I need to remind myself that no matter how cold it is outside,  at the end of a great  meal, an ice cream will always be a perfect dessert.

This ice cream is just a slight variation on one of the easiest ice creams I've ever done. I had done it several times before. And when I invited some friends over for dinner, I thought I could prepare this ice cream some days in advance. If I felt like preparing something else, this delicate and neutral ice cream flavor would work perfectly. If served alone, the almonds would  provide a lovely  crunch to it so that it is not bland at all. Besides, you can prepare it in a moment, and the result are oh so good. Will you also try it?


Mascarpone cheese and almonds ice cream

Ingredients
250 grams of mascarpone cheese
100 grams of sugar
100 ml whipping cream
juice of 1 lemon
50 grams of toasted almonds, (flakes or coarsely ground)


Directions
To make the ice cream, put the cheese, sugar and  lemon juice in a bowl and mix well. Add the cream and mix again. Finish by adding the almonds, trying to keep them well distributed. Put in the freezer (or ice cream) at least 6 hours before serving, preferably overnight.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Wholewheat beer bread




I grew up listening my granny´s stories about her youth and how she would go to bake her own bread to the wood oven at the village´s baker. She talked of a time that was too far away from me. It sounded like sci-fi. When you are a kid, it is just impossible to simply image the world existed before you were born. So, the world before my own mum was born was absolutely inconceivable.
Those stories from my grandma on her going to the baker’s to bake the bread that she knead at home, once a week, and how it kept perfectly fresh and lasted for a week, until her new baking trip, all those seemed to me made up stories.
Many years had to go by for me to remember all these. And now, I remember all of these every time I do homemade bread. I remember her, so hugely smiling, so funny, and her amazing sense of humor, in her immense kitchen, in where for years there was a wooden stove that only she managed to properly control.

Making bread at home is something everyone should try, even if you do not have any childhood memory connected to it at all. Because once you try to do your own bread at home you will repeat. It is one of the most rewarding experiences in the kitchen, no matter what is your level of expertise. You only need really simple ingredients, a bit of time and a hot oven to convince yourself that you make a proper loaf at home. 



Wholewheat beer bread (makes a large loaf)
Ingredients
250 g wholemeal flour
250 g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
10 g salt
10 g dried active yeast (20 fresh baker yeast)
30 g butter, softened
300 ml good beer
 

Directions 

Put the yeast into the beer and let aside for 10-15 minutes, until bubbly and frothy. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until all the flour has been picked up. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Let it rest in the bowl for 1 hour.
Line a baking tray. Tip the dough out onto your floured surface and shape into a ball, then flatten out with your hands and cut diagonal lines across the top. Put the dough on the baking tray and leave to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven 200º. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes until golden brown, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.