Roasted codfish with Serrano ham and peppers

roasted fresh codfish

I am Portuguese and of Catholic extraction. Therefore, my Christmas dinner must be  boiled dry codfish, eggs, potatoes and kale, with plenty of olive oil with garlic. There is no way around it, I am afraid. It is been like this for centuries and everybody just keeps up with the tradition.

When I was a kiddie my Mother once tried to a bacalhau conventual [convent style codfish], just to try something new. When the dinner came to the table, an outcry of biblical proportions followed and Christmas was almost cancelled.  Everyone survived the trauma, but my Mother never a tried it again. After 3 decades my Father still mentions the infamous year we had baked codfish for dinner. Outrageous – after that, only anarchy could have descended to the civilized world.

This year, I staid in Zurich for Christmas. And when not in Rome … I almost made a point of departing from the usual traditions. Well, sort of… It is still codfish, but fresh. Not boiled, but  baked with Serrano ham. And, for a complete departure from the tradition, the recipe was found on a book meant for british dieters. But, please, I beg you, don’t let my family know about it. It will be our little secret.

Roasted codfish with Serrano ham and peppers (adapted from Dave Myers and Si King’s The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight)

Ingredients 

  • 1 red pepper deseeded and cut into thin stripes
  • 1 yellow pepper deseed and cut into thin stripes
  • 2 courgettes cut into 2cm slices
  • 1 medium red onion cut into thin wedges
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 thick skinless fresh codfish fillets (about 150g each. A big chunk will also work)
  • 4 slices of Serrano ham or any thinly sliced cured ham
  • 10g dry white breadcrumbs
  • 10g of parmesan cheesed finely grated
  • A handfull of parley leafs, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method 

1. Preheat the oven to 220oC. Put the peppers, courgettes and onion in a large baking tray and drizzle them with olive oil. Season with a little salt and plenty of black pepper and toss everything until the vegetables are coated with olive oil. Roast for 20mun until softened and lightly charred.

2. Mix the bread crumbs with the cheese and parsley. Reserve.

3. Pat the codfish dry on kitchen paper and remove the bones with a pair of tweezers. Season with a generous amount of pepper. No need to add any salt – the Serrano ham has already plenty of salt on its own. Wrap the each fillet with a slice of ham, making sure they are closed.

4. Take the baking tray out of the oven and make space for the codfish and ham. A few gaps will be suffice. Place the fish on the tray and scatter the Parmesan mix all over the fish and vegetables. In case you worry about soaking the vegetables: the codfish will be sealed inside the Serrano ham and cook on its own juices.

5. Put the tray back in the over for another 12-15min or until the fish is cooked, the ham crisped and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

6. Serve immediately.

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Valencian salad

Have been many times to Valencia, and never saw this combination. Normally, what you get if you ask for an ensalada valenciana is a mix of tomato, lettuce, onion and olives, dressed with some olive oil, vinegar and salt. In any case, Thomas Keller’s take is absolutely worthwhile trying… A lot of flavors that seem that won’t go together, but compliment each other to perfection.

Valencian salad (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad Hoc at Home)

Ingredients 

  • Baby leafs ensemble by Migros (the original called for  frisée  and watercress, which I could not find).
  • Roasted red peppers (the original recipe called for piquillo peppers, a bit challenging to find in this part of the world; see bellow for a recipe of roasted red peppers )
  • Spanish olives
  • Valencia oranges
  • Marcona almonds
  • Roasted garlic vinaigrette (see below for recipe)

Method

Put everything in salad bowl, in a proportion that makes sense to your taste. Gently mix the vinaigrette. Serve.

Roasted garlic vinaigrette (adapted from Thomas Keller‘s Ad Hoc at Home)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (=120ml) champagne vinegar
  • 2/3 spoons garlic puree (just blend the equivalent of 2 – 3 confit garlic cloves)
  • 1 1/2 cup (360ml) extra virgin olive oil

Method

Mix the vinegar and garlic puree.  Add the oil slowly, whisking until emulsified and smooth. Put in the fridge in a covered container until use.

Roasted red peppers (adapted from Ferran Adrià‘s The Family Meal)

Ingredient 

  • 2 large red peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper freshly ground

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Rinse the peppers, and then place in a roasting tin while still slightly wet.

After 45min, the peppers will be blackened and soft. Leave until cool enough to handle. Keep any juices that have collected in the pan.

Peel the skin from the peppers and remove the seeds. Do this over a bowl to catch any juices.

Cut the pepper flesh into thin strips. Put the peppers and the reserved juices into a pan and simmer over a low heat for 5min.


Pork loin with roasted peppers and garlic & parsley olive oil

Of course I had to get Ferran Adrià‘s The Family Meal. How could I not, specially if Ferran Adrià promises dishes any cook can do, at an affordable price of  €5  per person?  And, this is the first dish I did. While I am very proud I could pull an Adrià dish all by myself, I also have to say it was not horribly complicated. It could even be a weekday meal…. The dish itself s great – the sweetness of the red pepper combines to perfection with the pork. The parsley and garlic olive oil is fresh and has a delicate flavour. All in all,  a delicious no-too-much-fuss.

Pork loin with roasted peppers and garlic & parsley olive oil 

Ingredients (for 6)

  • 2 large red peppers
  • 100mL olive oil, plus extra for frying
  • 6 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 3 springs fresh parsley
  • 18 thin cut pork loin steaks

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Rinse the peppers, and then place in a roasting tin while still slightly wet.

Drizzle with a little olive oil and roast for 45min

Fill a small saucepan with water then add the garlic. Bring the pan to boil.

Lift the garlic out of the water and into a bowl of iced water to quickly cool. Repeat this twice, starting with cold water  in the saucepan each time

After 45min, the peppers will be blackened and soft. Leave until cool enough to handle. Keep any juices that have collected in the pan.

Peel the skin from the peppers and remove the seeds. Do this over a bowl to catch any juices.

Cut the pepper flesh into thin strips. Put the peppers and the reserved juices into a pan and simmer over a low heat for 5min.

Pick the leaves from the parsley leaves from its stems.

Put the drained, blached garlic, parsley leaves and remaining oil into a tall jug or beaker. Process with a hand held blender until finely chopped.

Place a large frying pan over a high heat and add a little olive oil. Fry the pork for 1 1/2 min until golden on both sides and juicy in the middle.

Season the pork with salt and pepper, and serve with the peppers. Finish with a tablespoon of garlic and parsley oil.


Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables

A dish with no history and minimal verbiage. I happened to have all these veggies in the fridge and Mr Caramelised brought home a cut of beef that screamed for stew. Forty-five minutes later, dinner was served.

Beef stew with mushrooms and vegetables 

Ingredients

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut in half-moon slices.
  • 1 garlic clove, grounded
  • 250g of button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus), sliced
  • 2 red peppers deseeded and sliced in fine strips
  • 3 zucchini (=courgette) cut in slices
  • 500g of stew beef cut in cubes
  • 50g of flour or Maizena
  • 100ml red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 thyme springs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 250ml of vegetable stock

Method

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it shimmer. Toss the mushrooms. Let them fry until soft and fragrant. Reserve.

Clean the frying pan with a kitchen paper, put more olive oil and heat it until it shimer. Put the red pepper in, and let it fry until soft. Finally, add the courgette in the pan, and let it fry for a few minutes until soft . Reserve  courgette and red peppers, together with the mushrooms.

In the meanwhile, place beef cubes and flour in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Shake off excess flour. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until it shimmer.  Add half the floured meat and fry until sealed and meat has begun to brown. Be careful not too put too many pieces in the frying pan. Instead of frying, the meat will boil to death, with rather unpleasant results. Reserve the meat.

In the same frying pan, put the onion and fry until caramelised, stirring occasionally (it must be soft and translucent. It will take about 15minutes). Add the grounded garlic and the reserved flour and panfry, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in approximately 100mL of red wine stir well to combine and deglaze the frying pan. When the sauce starts to thicken, toss in the meat and reserved vegetables. Mix well to combine, and then add the vegetable stock. Add the bay leave and the thyme.

Let simmer for about 15min, until the stock reduces to half and the sauce is a bit thick. Take out from the stove and let it rest for a bit.


Pan fried chorizo with roasted peppers and Fundador Brandy

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Another recipe from one of my favorite cook books: Tapas: Simple Flavours, Striking Combinations by Carlos Horrillo and Patrick Morcas. You can use any brandy, really,  but only Fundador Brandy gives it a special flavor. Needless to mention some caution is needed while flambée-ing.

Pan fried chorizo with roasted peppers and Fundador Brandy

Ingredients 

  • 2 medium red peppers
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic infused oil (just mix garlic to taste with olive oil, mix and let rest for a few hours).
  • 8 spice chorizo sausages (if you want to be very precise, you should look for Rosario chorizos), cut into 2cm slices
  • 50ml Fundador Brandy
  • parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Spike the 2 peppers with skewers and hold them over a high flame on the stove until the skin is charred and black. Leave the peppers to cool down a bit, then peel of the skins and hull them (for practical reasons, I never do this. Probably, I get a more rustic dish).

Place 2 dashes of olive oil in a heavy based frying pan and put on at medium heat. Add the skinned peppers and sear them quickly all over. Remove them all over and put them in a dish. Sprinkle over some garlic infused olive oil and salt, allow them cool and then cover the dish with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours.Once done, cut the peppers into slices and leave to one side.

Place a clean large heavy-based frying pan (or wok) on a high heat. Add 2 dashes of olive oil and tilt the pan backwards and forwards to coat the base completely. When to oil is smoking hot, drop in the sausages and cook fiercely until they start to brown and release their fat. At this point put the sliced marinated peppers and cook for 20 seconds more. If you are cooking on gas, be careful. The fat will spit and might ignite. Put in the Brandy – it is very likely that the pan will ignite. If not, just use a match to start the flambee. Let it cook for 10 seconds, or until the flame is gone. Then toss in the parsley. Serve right away.