Late last year I found myself alone in Melbourne’s most famous Spanish restaurant, Movida. I was sitting at the bar with eight (yes, EIGHT) dishes in front of me. I was in Melbourne for three days doing a baking course and had asked my classmates for dinner recommendations. The overwhelming response was to try Movida and despite warnings from everyone that it would be almost impossible to get a table, I managed to walk in and get a seat at the bar. Luck was on my side! So there I was, all alone with eight different tapas and because everything was riquisimo, I was secretly glad there was no one to share it with me!
The highlight of my meal was Movida’s hot chocolate ganache pudding with vanilla bean ice-cream and nougat. There isn’t anything new with a warm chocolate pudding with ice cream is there? I mean, that’s always going to be a winner – but when you add Frank Camora’s nougat or turron – the combination of a warm chocolatey pudding, cold and creamy vanilla ice cream and then THAT nougat… the lady beside me must have suffered from some serious dessert envy because even if she had eaten half her dessert, she pointed to my plate and asked the waiter “give me exactly what she’s having!”.
As I was leaving the restaurant the bartender mentioned to me that the turron recipe was in the Movida Rustica cookbook. I knew I just had to get the cookbook, if only for the turron recipe.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Rustica cookbook has many other recipes that make this a wonderful addition to my collection. The book is the result of Frank Camora’s (owner and chef of Movida) 18 month journey through Spain to find out what is true Spanish food. There’s no mention of molecular gastronomy in this book, nor will you have to search very far for the ingredients – Senor Camora goes back to basics in this book and shows you rustic, Spanish cuisine at its finest.
This is going to sound strange but you know what I love about this book? Having grown up in a world where women dominated the kitchen, I’ve always thought it would be cool if I could have even one man that I could look up to in the kitchen. For some reason, Frank Camora fills that gap. He tells your stories about his travels around a little town in Cadiz and then goes on to teach you why there is nothing wrong with eating preserved food and how the Spaniards have turned this into an art (nothing goes into a tin unless it is the best!). He tells you about the art of cutting jamon properly and that there are in fact people in Spain who do this for a living! Reading the cookbook, you feel like the Spaniards have adopted Camora into their homes and he shares this fantastic experience with you. As you read through Rustica you find yourself saying “tell me more!”.
And there are the recipes – they have come from the Spaniards that have opened their homes to Frank Camora – they are honest – you know you can trust these recipes.
From the recipes I’ve tried, I’ve had great success with the Coca de recapte (a Catalan flatbread that and I use the recipe as my standard pizza crust now – (oh but please, you aren’t allowed to tell a Catalan that coca is their version of a pizza!).
The Escudella or Catalan Hot Pot reminds me of a dish which we used to eat all the time called cocido (a version from Madrid) and Frank Camora’s version takes me back in time when we used to have Sunday lunch at my Mama’s house and we would have this filling soup with mixed meats, sausages, vegetables, chicken, beans and pasta. You know a dish is good when it can take you back to your childhood right?
And then of course… there is that magnificent turron.
- 125 grams honey
- 225 grams glucose syrup
- 190 grams caster sugar
- 2 egg whites
- rice paper for lining (available from Asian groceries)
- 200 grams blanched almond kernels, toasted
- grated zest of 1 lemon
- Place the honey and 175 grams of the glucose syrup in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over low heat until well combined, then cook until the temperature reaches 130C on a kitchen thermometer.
- Meanwhile, put the sugar, remaining glucose syrup and 50 ml water in another small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then cook until the temperature reaches 170c.
- While the syrups are cooking, beat the egg whites using electric beaters until stiff peaks form.
- As soon as the honey reaches 130c very slowly pour it into the egg whites, beating continuously. When the sugar syrup reaches 170c, very slowly add it to the egg whites and continue beating until the mixture has cooled enough so that it is just hot, but not hot enough to burn you.
- Lightly grease a 15 x 25 cm tray and line with rice paper.
- Stir the almonds and zest into the nougat mixture, then pour it into the prepared tray.
- Cover the top of the nougat with more rice paper, cutting the sheets to fit.
- Leave to stand until cool, then cut into 12 pieces.
The nougat will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 month (if it lasts that long!)
Notes from me:
- Work quickly when mixing the almonds and zest as the mixture will harden before you know it
- The bowl and beaters will be difficult to clean straight after – no problem – just leave it to soak in water and after a few hours it should be much easier to clean
- If you can’t find blanched almonds, use unblanched – I didn’t notice any difference in taste
- For those of us unfortunate enough not to be able to eat in Movida as often as we’d like – the book is a fantastic substitute!
Following the multi-award winning title MoVida, chef and restaurateur Frank Camorra returns to his native Spain in this companion book. In MoVida Rustica, Frank delivers many traditional as well as innovative recipes that are inspired by his travels but perfected for the home cook. From the nation’s bustling capital Madrid and Basque seaside towns to rustic Andalucia with its Sherry Triangle, MoVida Rustica highlights the pillars of Spanish cooking, and the culture in which the food is grown, prepared and eaten. Get to know matriarch Herminda, stroll across the Santiago Market and visit the kitchen gardens of Salamanca to understand what defines traditional Spanish food.
Published November 2009
368 pages, hardcover
200 x 255mm