Is it any surprise that my most favourite presents to give (and receive) during Christmas are cookbooks? I consider myself a pretty good judge cookbook character. For example, my brother who is a bachelor loves the four ingredients or less series and his idea of cooking is to buy a chicken, buy a packet of spices and chuck everything in the oven. For one of my sisters, I am always on the look out for cookbooks that have recipes that can be completed in thirty minutes or less. She is so keen on saving time (in fairness to her, she does have a four month old baby), that we call her “Miss Shortcut”.
My Mom is getting a book I bought a few weeks back, Miguel Maestre’s first cookbook, Miguel’s Tapas.
Born in Murcia Spain, Miguel has worked in many celebrated restaurants including Bather’s Pavillion and Bilson’s in Sydney and even Ferran Adria’s El Bulli in Roses, Spain. He has also been on a number of TV shows including the popular Boy’s Weekend. Today Miguel owns two restaurants in Sydney, El Toro Loco and Argyle Bazar.
The cookbook is divided into seven sections based on the times of day the tapas are meant to be eaten. Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, dessert, afternoon tea, dinner, and evening snacks. Hmmm… the Spanish seem to love their tapas anytime of the day! There is also a section at the very end covering basics and sauces which includes among other things, a variety of stocks, flavoured oils and vinaigrettes.
Miguel has managed to strike a balance between the classic tapas such as the tortilla (potato omelette), paella and churros (his chocolate sauce is made with condensed milk!) and some tapas he gives a contemporary twist. For instance, Wild Rice Popcorn and a Deconstructed Spanish Omelette inspired by his time at El Bulli.
I’ll be honest, the reason I’m giving my Mom this book isn’t so much that I want her to enjoy it (well, that’s part of it), but mainly because I want her to cook many of the dishes from it while she’s here for a visit. Top of the list would be the Flamenca Eggs, Manchego Bread Rolls (inspired by the very popular Brazilian cheese bread), Salted Cod Croquettes, and Wagyu and Chorizo Meat Pie. For dessert, I’m thinking she could make Bombe Alaska Fruit Skewers, Santiago’s Tart and Bread and Butter Pudding…
Like his TV shows, Miguel has a light hearted approach to cooking tapas. As he shares his recipes, he also shares stories behind the recipes, in particular about his childhood growing up with a large family from where he got his love for cooking from.
So yes, this book’s going to my Mom for Christmas… unless of course… I decide to keep the book for myself…
Miguel Maestre’s Bechamel and Prawn Stuffed Mussels (Tigres)
The problem with growing up around a Mom who owned a Spanish restaurant, is that you always think no other recipes can be “as good as Mom’s”. Then there is a problem with Mom who thinks “no recipe can be as good as mine.”. El Comedor had a recipe for stuffed mussels which was delicious. This recipe proves me wrong. It is as good as our family recipe (if I say it is better I might get disowned!). I loved it, my husband loved it, and yes, even my Mom loved it. This is a sure crowd pleaser and can be made ahead of time until the part where the mussels are stuffed. The frying should happen right before serving, otherwise, I think it can be fried an hour or two (not more) ahead and warmed in the oven when guests arrive. One thing to note, the recipe makes only ten portions – it’s so good I suggest, you double it.
For the Romesco Sauce
- 3 piquillo peppers (small peppers or capsicums, I used store bought but you can easily make your own)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 bunch coriander
- 1 chilli
- 10 almonds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- squeeze of lemon
For the White Sauce
- 10 grams butter
- 2 teaspoons plain flour
- 100 ml milk
- pinch of white pepper
For the Mussels
- 100 ml white wine
- 10 large black mussels
- 4 large prawns, peeled, cooked and chopped
- 2 piquillo peppers, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 pink eschallot, finely chopped
- extra flour for dusting
- 2 eggs, beaten lightly
- 50 grams panko (I used breadcrumbs)
- olive oil to shallow fry
- To make the romesco sauce, blend or process all the ingredients until smooth.
- To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add flour. Cook, stirring until the mixture bubbles. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring, until white sauce boils and thickens. Season with white pepper.
- To prepare the mussels, bring the wine to boil in a medium saucepan. Add mussels. Cook, covered for a few minutes until mussels open. Remove from heat.
- Remove mussel meat from shells and roughly chop. Reserve ten half-shells.
- Add the mussel meat to the white sauce, with prawns, peppers, parsley, garlic and eschallot. Divide mixture among the mussel shells.
- Dust filled half shells with flour. Dip in egg, then panko/breadcrumbs. Repeat crumbing twice.
- Shallow fry until golden brown and crisp. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with romesco coulis.
Miguel’s Tapas is published by New Holland Publishers Australia. RRP $45.00
Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season! Please enjoy my little ecard!