february 14, 2009

An informal mediterranean feast is now our v-day tradition.
On the menu: dolmades, salt cod fritters, crema catalana, and some red wine.

6 oz packet vine leaves
1 cup long grain rice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 oz pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoon currants
2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leave parsley
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice (I think we used more)
2 cups vegetable stock

Soak the vine leaves in cold water for 15 minutes, then remove and pat dry. Reserve some leaves to line the saucepan and discard any withe holes. Meanwhile, soak the rice in boiling water for 10 minutes to soften, then drain.

Place the rice, onion, olive oil, pine nuts, currants, herbs and salt and pepper, to taste in a large bowl and mix well.

Lay some leaves vein-side-down on a flat surface. Place 1 tbs of filling in the center of each, fold the stalk end over, then the left and right sides into the center, and roll firmly towards the tip. Repeat with remaining filling and leaves.

Line the base of a large, heavy-based saucepan with remaining vine leaves. Drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil. Add the dolmades, packing them tightly in one layer. Then pour olive oil, stock, and lemon juice over them. Cover dolmades with an inverted plate.Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 45 minutes.

Bunuelos de Bacalao (Salt Cod Fritters)
1 lb salt cod
1 large potato
2 tbs milk
3 tbs olive oil
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup flour
2 eggs, separated
1 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
olive oil, for frying

Soak the cod in cold water for 24 hours, changing water regularly to remove salt. cook the potato in a pan of boiling water for 20 minutes, or until soft. When cool, peel and mash with milk and 2 tbs olive oil.

Drain the cod, cut into large pieces and place in a saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft and there is a froth on the surface. Drain. When cool, remove the skin and any bones. Then mash well with a fork until flaky.

Heat remaining oil in a small frying pan and cook the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Combine the potato, cod, onion, flour, egg yolks, and parley in a bowl and season. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the mixture. fill a large saucepan with olive oil and heat. Drop heaped tablespoons of mixture into the oil and cook for 2 minutes or until puffed and golden.

Crema Catalana
2 cups milk (we used fat free)
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
4 egg yolks
7 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tbs cornstarch
ground nutmeg

Heat milk in a pan with lemon zest and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lemon zest and cinnamon. Place egg yolks and 3 tbs of sugar in a bowl and whisk until pale yellow. Add cornstarch and mix well.

Stir in a few tablespoons of the hot milk, then add this mixture to remaining milk. Return to heat and cook gently, stirring for 5 minutes until thickened and smooth. Do not let boil.

Pour into shallow ovenproof dishes. Let cool (we chilled it in the freezer). Before serving, sprinkle each custard with a tablespoon of sugar and ground nutmeg. Use a flame torch to caramelize the sugar.

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