Doughnuts and hot chocolate sauce by Nieves Barragán Mohacho

Doughnuts and hot chocolate sauce from Sabor

This is like an easier version of churros with chocolate sauce. If you don’t have a mixer to make the dough, you can knead it by hand.

Ingredients

rapeseed or sunflower oil, enough to fill your pan to about 3cm

For the doughnuts
60g cold but malleable butter
450g plain flour
60g caster sugar
4 eggs
12g fresh yeast or 4g quick yeast
60ml whole milk

For the hot chocolate sauce
300ml water
150g caster sugar
160ml single cream
50g cocoa powder
300g dark chocolate (70%)

For the cinnamon sugar
150g caster sugar
50–60g ground cinnamon

Take the butter out of the fridge 15 minutes before starting and chop into small cubes. Put the flour and sugar into a large bowl and mix together with your hands. Heat the milk until almost steaming, then remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Mix into the yeast, stirring with a whisk to dissolve.

Put the flour and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and slowly add the butter – it will look like crumble. Add the eggs one by one, then dribble in the milk/yeast mixture until everything comes together into a sticky dough.

Slightly flour a large container or bowl, turn the dough out into it, and lightly flour the top. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning, turn out the dough on to a floured surface – it will have almost doubled. Take a piece (approx. 30g) and roll it in your hands, then squeeze down until it’s about 2½cm thick. Use the top of a miniature bottle to press out the dough in the middle, leaving a hole. The doughnuts should be around 25g each. Repeat until you’ve used up all the dough.

Stick two fingers through the middle of each doughnut and roll them round to push out the dough a bit more and double the size of the hole – otherwise it will close up when the doughnut is fried and expands.

To make the hot chocolate sauce, put the water, sugar and cream into a pan on a low heat and dissolve the sugar. Put the cocoa powder and chocolate into a bowl and place over a pan of simmering water to melt the chocolate (this keeps it smooth). When the chocolate has all melted, add it to the cream with a spatula. Continue mixing until it becomes dense and thick and perfect for dipping. Keep warm.

Mix together the sugar and cinnamon. Put the oil into a shallow pan on a medium heat. When it’s hot, fry the doughnuts until golden brown, then remove and drain on kitchen paper. Dust with the cinnamon sugar while still warm and serve with the warm chocolate sauce for dipping.

This recipe appears in
Sabor: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen
Nieves Barragan Mohacho
£25 Penguin Fig Tree

Read the review

Pork belly and mojo verde by Nieves Barragán Mohacho

Pork belly and mojo verde from Sabor

This recipe uses a pestle and mortar to make a lumpier mojo verde that’s good for serving alongside meat, but you could make a smoother, creamier sauce for marinating. Just put all the ingredients, except the coriander, into a blender. Whiz together, adding the coriander halfway through, then blend again until green and creamy with some small flecks of herb. Instead of pork belly, you could grill lamb cutlets and serve them with the mojo verde dotted around, or marinate chicken in the smoother version of the sauce.

Serves 6-8

1 x 4–5kg piece of pork belly, rib bones intact
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

For the mojo verde

1 bunch of spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
2 big bunches of fresh coriander (equal to around 6–8 of the 40g supermarket packets)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
200ml extra virgin olive oil
125ml Moscatel vinegar
2 dried chillies
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Line a roasting tray with greaseproof paper. Score the skin of the pork belly quite deeply (around 1cm), then place it skin side down on the paper-lined tray. Season the top of the pork belly with salt, pepper and cumin seeds and cook for 1½–2hrs. The skin should be very crispy and the meat must be tender – if it’s not quite there yet, turn it over and cook it for another 10 minutes.

Make the mojo verde while the pork belly is cooking: roughly chop the ingredients and add them slowly to a pestle and mortar, dribbling in the olive oil bit by bit and mashing together.

Spoon some mojo verde on to each plate, then top with 1cm–2cm thick pork belly slices and drizzle over a little olive oil to finish.

This recipe appears in
Sabor: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen
Nieves Barragan Mohacho
£25 Penguin Fig Tree

Read the review

Persimmon, goat’s cheese and land cress salad by Nieves Barragán Mohacho

Persimmon, goats cheese and landcress salad from Sabor

When persimmons are in season and ripe, this salad is so good and only takes five minutes. The best persimmons I’ve tried are from Sicily. Don’t try to make this with hard persimmons – it’s pointless. The goat’s cheese should be creamy and very soft – you should almost be able to spread it.

I always keep a large piece of bread in the freezer: if you take it out and leave it for 20 minutes to thaw slightly, you will be able to slice it very thinly (this works best with bread that’s not very wide).

This makes a great starter or light lunch or dinner.

Serves 4

8 sage leaves
60ml extra virgin olive oil
around ¼ of a loaf (15cm) of frozen baguette or thin white bread, left for 20 minutes to defrost slightly
100g land cress (or something peppery like watercress or rocket)
4 very ripe persimmons
200g soft creamy goat’s cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160–170°C. Put the sage leaves into a saucepan and just cover with olive oil, then put on a very low heat. As soon as the oil is warm, turn the heat off and leave to infuse, stirring gently. Discard the leaves.

Cut the partially defrosted bread into 8 very thin slices. Place on a lined baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil, then bake until the bread is crispy on both sides. Place the salad leaves on a plate and put the toasts on top.

Cut the persimmons in half – they should be deep orange and really juicy – then cut into wedges as well as you can. Cut the goat’s cheese to a similar size.

Lift the persimmon halves carefully on to the toast slices and top with a slice of goat’s cheese. Drizzle the sage-infused oil over the top and season with black pepper.

Extracted from
Sabor: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen
Nieves Barragan Mohacho
£25 Penguin Fig Tree

Read the review

Casa Marcial: The Cuisine of Nacho Manzano by Benjamin Lana

Casa Marcial

Nacho Manzano is best known in the UK as the executive head chef of Ibérica, the chain of stylish Spanish restaurants he helped launch in 2009 in London and which now has branches in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow.  But this book focuses on the food at his two Michelin-starred restaurant Casa Marcial in the tiny hamlet of La Salgar and the surrounding region of Asturias in northwest Spain where Manzano was born and continues to live and work.

The rugged, mountainous landscape is beautifully captured in Lobo Altuna’s images, which are almost worth the price of the book alone, and illustrate the first half of the book that tells Manzano and his family’s story. What is now one of the leading modernist restaurants in Spain began life after the Spanish Civil War as a cider mill and shop selling traditional wooden clogs run by Manzano’s great grandmother. In the 60’s, Manzano’s father Marcial ran it as a bar with food until finally Manzano and his sister Esther opened Casa Marcial in 1993.

The second half of the book contains recipes for the restaurant’s ’60 best dishes’ organised into vegetables and rice, fish and seafood, poultry and meat and desserts and fruit. Signature dishes include ‘house scrambled eggs over torto’, a deep fried maize flour flat bread typical to the Asturias region that Manzano put his spin on at the tender age of 15 when he topped them with eggs flavoured with caramelised onions and local Cabrales blue cheese; and ‘rice with pitu de caleya’, a take on a traditional Asturian feasting dish made with the local free range pitu de caleya or village chicken, a formerly neglected ingredient that Manzano has championed to become the Spanish equivalent of poulet de Bresse.

Given that the Manzano family have their own fishing grounds (although La Salgar is in the Sierre del Sueve mountains, it’s just 6 kilometres from the Bay of Biscay) it’s no surprise that just under half the recipes in the book are dedicated to seafood. Manzano takes a fin to tail approach with refined and stunningly presented dishes such as cod tripe with red pepper consommé and pil, the classic gelatinous sauce made with the cod’s skin and bones.

Manzano is a truly individual culinary mind and Asturias is a fascinating and under reported gastronomic region; Casa Marcial makes a fine introduction to both.

(This review first appeared in The Caterer magazine)

Cuisine: Spanish
Suitable for: Professional chefs
Cookbook Review rating: 4 stars

Buy this book
Casa Marcial
Benjamin Lana
Photography by Lobo Altuna
€38, Planeta Gastro

El Celler de Can Roca by Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca

El Celler de can Roca

Xanthan gum. Kuzu thickening agent. Calcium gluconolactate. Is your mouth watering yet? No, me neither. Reading the recipes in this hefty, lavishly produced volume about the world famous three Michelin starred restaurant in Girona, Spain, you can’t help but think of the ingredients on the back of a packet of Haribo.

This is the English translation of a book originally published in Spanish in 2013. In those four years, food trends have moved on from the gels, spheres, soils and foams beloved of molecular gastronomy that litter the pages of this book to a far more naturalistic approach. In their measured world of rotovals and sous vide cooking, the Roca brothers (head chef Joan, pastry chef Jordi and sommelier Josep) are so far removed from the wild heat of an open flame that they risk leaving themselves out in the cold.

Nevertheless, there is plenty here to amuse cooks of the progressive persuasion in search of inspiration. A ‘vienetta’ made from black truffle and white asparagus ice cream is a hoot, while Artichoke Flower, built from artichoke petal crisps and served with foie gras soup is a visually stunning creation. Convoluted dishes with grand titles like ‘The World’ (a selection of five snacks inspired by the brothers’ travels to Mexico, Peru, Morocco, Korea and the Lebanon) are broken down into bite-sized recipes for each element which are often quite straightforward and can be cherry picked by those not wanting to replicate Roca plates verbatim.

The 90 recipes included take up less than half the book’s generous 480 pages which leaves plenty of space for a detailed history of the thirty year-old restaurant, a report on a day in the life of El Cellar written by noted Catalan author Josep Maria Fonalleras, and articles on things like the restaurant’s interior design and its wine cellar. A chapter on sauces is particularly revealing – who knew that the ‘sexual tissues’ of sea urchins make good thickeners? But whether or not you find meditations on concepts like ‘techno-emotional cuisine’, ‘transversal creation’ and ‘chromatism’ edifying will depend on how much of a proponent of modernist, avant garde cuisine you are.

Beautifully designed and photographed, El Cellar de Can Roca is unquestionably a desirable object. Fans of books by Ferran Adria and Nathan Myhrvold will lap it up; those of a more classical bent may find the whole thing just too pretentious to swallow.

(This review first appeared in The Caterer magazine)

Cuisine: Spanish
Suitable for: Professional chefs
Cookbook Review rating: 3 stars

Buy this book 
El Celler de Can Roca
Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca
£30 Grub Street

 

Sabor: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen by Nieves Barragan Mohacho

Sabor

Nieves Barragan Mohacho’s food has that elusive X factor. Just as you wanted to eat everything on her menus when she was executive chef of the Barrafina group of authentic tapas restaurants in London, so you’ll want to dive straight in and cook the recipes in this, her first solo cookbook outing. Within hours of being delivered, its pages are stained with tomato and smoked paprika and I’m planning a shopping trip for Idiazabal sheep’s milk cheese, Moscatel vinegar and Arbequina olive oil so I can delve deeper into Mohacho’s repertoire of regional and modern Spanish dishes. Sabor is destined to spend more time on my kitchen counter top than my coffee table.

Sabor (Spanish for flavour) is the name of Mohacho’s first venture in partnership with JKS Restaurants. Unusually, the cookbook has been published in advance of the restaurant’s October opening, so it’s difficult to judge how closely the recipes will reflect the menu. Mohacho will be serving dishes from the Basque country, her home region, as well as Galician octopus and the book does include a rich Basque bean stew made with black Tolosa beans, pork ribs, chorizo and morcilla, and a recipe for boiled octopus with smoked sweet paprika and potatoes.

Other restaurant-ready dishes include a colourful and beautifully presented salad of chicory, anchovy and salmorejo (an addictive cold soup made with tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, bread, sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil) and quail marinated in chilli, lemon thyme and garlic and served with honey infused with cloves and star anise.

But the book is really all about home cooking and Mohacho has included childhood favourites such flat green bean, tomato and potato stew and ‘My mum’s braised rabbit in salsa’. Even these domestic dishes offer something novel with ingredients that may be unfamiliar to UK chefs such as dried choricero peppers which are typical of Basque cuisine.

Yet Mohacho is not tied to her heritage. ‘I’m not precious about tradition’ she writes in the introduction and points out that she uses ingredients not common in Spanish cooking such as skate which she serves with pipperada, a Basque pepper stew she’s given her own twist to with the addition of chorizo.

You won’t discover ground breaking techniques or elaborate methods of presentation. But by reading and using Sabor, you will be powerfully reminded of the supreme importance of flavour in cooking, and that can only be a very good thing.

(This review was first published in The Caterer magazine)

Cuisine: Spanish
Suitable for: Confident home cooks and professionals
Cookbook Review rating: 4 stars

Buy this book
Sabor: Flavours from a Spanish Kitchen
Nieves Barragan Mohacho
£25 Penguin Fig Tree

Cook from this book
Persimmon, goat’s cheese and land cress salad
Pork belly and mojo verde
Doughnuts and hot chocolate sauce