Friday, August 28, 2015

A Basque flavour 2: David's Gateau Basque

David's recipe for a simple and delicious Gateau Basque:

Ingredients for pastry: 200g plain flour, 1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk, 130 g castor sugar, 130 g unsalted butter, pinch salt, lemon rind. Ingredients for custard: 200 ml milk, 1 egg yolk, 50 g castor sugar, 20 g plain flour, a little cherry brandy(optional), some stoned Morello cherries(he used our own homegrown ones which had been preserved in armagnac but tinned Morellos could conceivably be used). First make the pastry: put the flour in a bowl, make a well in it and into it put the egg yolk, the lightly beaten whole egg , the sugar, pinch salt, and the softened butter. Mix carefully till well combined and forming a good smooth and not sticky pastry. Put it in the fridge to rest while you prepare the custard. Dilute the flour with a little of the milk. Warm the rest of the milk gently. Beat the egg yolk with the sugar, then add to warmed milk, and then add the flour mixture, stir over stove till nice and thick(and do not let it boil.) Off the stove, add a little cherry brandy, and then the cherries. If you want to make the classic custard-filled Gateau Basque, omit both the cherries and cherry brandy. You can also flavour your custard with rum if you like.

Grease a cake or tart tin, roll out the pastry, make a base and sides out of most of it, then pour the custard mixture into it. Make a lid with est of the pastry, crimp the edges well together, then glaze the top with a pastry brush dipped into some egg yolk. Score the pastry with a knife to form a pattern(rather like that on Pithiviers pie.) Bake in a moderate oven for about half an hour. The cake is delicious both warm and cold.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Basque flavour 1: Poulet Basquaise

We spent quite a while in the Pays Basque these holidays, revisiting the ancestral home of my mother's family and reconnecting with many of my aunts, uncles and cousins there. And eating lovely Basque food of course!
The cornerstones of savoury Basque cuisine are red and green capsicums/bell peppers, as well as the long 'sweet peppers'; tomatoes; onions and garlic; and of course the lovely chilli powder known as 'piment d'Espelette', which is made from the long peppers grown there and which has a lovely sweet yet spicy flavour--something in between paprika and hot chilli. Added to dishes during cooking, it really gives a great spicy tingle; sprinkled on afterwards, you get the fruity flavour but it's less 'hot'. Whatever, it's used on everything there--eggs, meat, fish, even occasionally sweets! You can order it in Australia, here and here for instance, but if you can't find it, you can try substituting a hot paprika(not quite as good, as paprika is ground much finer than piment d'Espelette--the latter is quite coarse, which gives it more flavour. )
I'm posting on this blog a couple of recipes that are absolute Basque classics and quite easy to make. This one is for Poulet basquaise , or Basque-style chicken, and in the next one I will republish David's great recipe for a simple Gateau Basque, THE Basque cake par excellence!

Poulet basquaise

Ingredients: (for 4 people)
1 kg chicken pieces, diced--or a whole chicken, cut into pieces
4 good truss tomatoes(or use a can of tomatoes)
1 large onion
2 capsicums--1 green, 1 red
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf, pinch thyme, parsley
piment d' Espelette powder --or if you don't have any, a hot paprika powder can substitute
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying

Chop the onion and fry it and the crushed garlic in the olive oil. Separately, saute the chicken pieces in some more olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste(don't add too much pepper, as the piment/paprika powder will be added later) . 
Add the chopped capsicums to the onion and garlic mix, sit well, then add the herbs, and stir a little more. Now add the tomatoes, and cook till the sauce is nice and thick.
Add the sauce to the cooked chicken pieces, sprinkle in some paprika/piment powder, and simmer for about half an hour, till the chicken is completely cooked through. If the saice starts sticking, add a little water, just enough to deglaze the bottom.
Serve with extra chopped parsley and paprika/piment powder on top. Goes well with rice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Easy yoghurt

The yoghurt in process of setting.
We have made our own yoghurt for years and it's excellent, much cheaper than the store-bought variety, and very easy to make. And you need no special equipment. I've been asked to put up the recipe(which is David's invention!)so here it is. We only ever use full cream milk for it as it's such a much better taste; you can experiment with skim but it doesn't set as well, I believe.

David's yoghurt

Ingredients: 1 litre UHT full cream milk, 3 spoonfuls powdered full cream milk, 1 spoonful live yoghurt culture(we use Greek-style yogurt--must be full cream milk yoghurt). Once you have made this once, you just keep back one spoonful from your own yoghurt to make the next batch.

Mix the UHT milk, powdered milk and spoonful of yogurt till well-combined. Heat the mixture to blood temperature(ie the temp of a baby's bottle). Pour into lidded icecream container or similar, and keep at a constant temperature--either in a foam esky or in the linen cupboard or similar.It needs to sit a few hours like that. If you make this in the morning you can then, at end of day, take it out of wherever it's been sitting, and put it in fridge. The next morning, it'll be set and ready to eat!