Buñuelos de Queso, or deep-fried cheese puffs. A delicious appetizer (maybe for your new years eve party?), lovely cheesy and with a spicy, smoky kick from the pimentón. But you must eat them fresh from the fryer, otherwise they will be very sad and deflated, instead of lovely crisp and puffy. Because the recipe is basically choux pastry flavoured with cheese and pimentón, I imagine you could also bake them in the oven instead of deep-frying them, I haven’t tried this and it will give a different result, but it is a bit healthier and you don’t have to deep-fry that way. With all the beating involved, it is one of those recipes that does need a bit of elbow grease.
Buñuelos de Queso (serves 6 as a tapas)
Adapted from “Rick Stein’s Spain”
100 g butter, cubed
250 ml water
150 g flour
1 tsp pimentón dulce
pinch of pimentón picante (or more, if you like it spicy)
4 eggs, beaten
200 g finely grated Manchego
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for deep-frying
Put the butter and water in a pan on medium heat, until the butter is melted. Then bring to the boil and add the flour and pimentón. Beat (with a spatula) until the flour is incorporated and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Then place back on low heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. Then add the egg bit by bit while whisking to make a smooth, glossy paste. Stir through the cheese and the parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat your fryer (or oil in a pan) to 180C. Drop heaped teaspoons of the batter in the hot oil. Make sure you don’t crowd them, they will puff up quite a bit. Fry for about 4-5 minutes, or until puffed up, crisp and golden. They should turn over themselves, but if not, give them a nudge. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately, piping hot.
I would say this is a perfect side-dish for the Christmas dinner. It is festive, luxurious and pairs well with all kinds of main dishes. I also like that it is a bit different than usual. Brie, pear and walnuts are a classic combination, and the addition of sprouts works very well.
Brussel Sprouts with Brie, Pear and Walnuts (serves 2, more if you have several vegetable side-dishes)
Adapted from Odin
400 g brussel sprouts, cleaned and halved
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 small pear, thinly sliced
25 g walnuts, coarsely chopped
150 g brie or camembert (I used farmhouse brie)
1 tsp fresh thyme leafs
Cook the sprouts until just soft, in about 5 to 10 minutes. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until soft and caramelized. Add the thyme, sprouts and apple, and warm through. Sprinkle over the walnuts and crumble over the cheese.
I secretly like those tubs in the supermarket with olives, some herbs and garlic, some feta and a drizzle of oil. Unfortunately, those olives are of varying quality, and the oil they use is never very nice. So one day I decided to make something similar myself. I bought some nice olives and good feta cheese, took the bottle of special and extra tasty extra virgin olive oil out of the cupboard, foraged some thyme from my garden and finished it with some thinly sliced raw garlic, a sprinkle of red chilli flakes and a little salt. I mixed everything together and left it for a few hours before serving. Delicious!
An autumnal pasta dish.
Pasta with wild mushrooms, gorgonzola and endive (serves 2)
Inspired by a recipe in Allerhande
200 g spaghetti
200 g wild mushrooms, cleaned, sliced if large
knob of butter
salt and pepper
150 g gorgonzola, in cubes
1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
3-4 heads of endive
splash of lemon juice
Prepare the endives. Remove outer leafs, cut in half, cut out the hard/bitter heart.
Cook pasta according to the instructions on the packet/by your preferences.
Place the endive in a large pan on medium heat, turn occasionally and leave to cook until soft and slightly caramelized. Season with salt and a splash of lemon juice.
Meanwhile, sauté the mushrooms in a frying pan in a knob of butter, until golden and cooked. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with the pasta, parsley and gorgonzola. Serve with the endives.
To make this dish truly vegetarian, use a blue cheese that is suitable for vegetarians.
Delicious ingredients stuffed into a bread, what’s not to love? Also see the Mediterranean and tuna versions I made before.
Sun-dried tomato, feta and tuna picnic loaf (serves 2-4)
1 clove of garlic
100 g sun-dried tomatoes
a few sprigs of oregano
1 jar roasted paprika
1 can tuna
100 g feta
Slice the top from the boule. Hollow out. Keep the breadcrumbs for another dish. Rub the inside of the loaf with the garlic (cut in half).
Coarsely chop the tomatoes together with the oregano.
Line the loaf with the paprika, spread 1/2 of the tomatoes on top, and then the tuna. Cover with a paprika, then a layer of the tomatoes again, then crumble the feta on top. End with another paprika to cover everything.
Ideally, wrap tightly in cling film and let infuse for an hour or so, but you can eat the loaf immediately if you want.
When you have lovely home-grown delicately flavoured beets, they don’t need much to make a delicious dish. So I sliced them very thinly, sprinkled some fresh goats’ cheese on top and drizzled with honey to make a delicious starter/salad.
Did you know you can use thinly sliced raw kohlrabi instead of cucumber on your sandwich? It gives a lovely fresh flavour, is juicy, but not as wet/leaky as cucumber usually is.
Kohlrabi Sandwich (makes 4)
Adapted from Allerhande
4 multigrain rolls
4 slices of cooked ham
100 g cream cheese with herbs
1 kohlrabi, peeled, in thin slices
Spread some cream cheese, place a slice of ham and put a few slices of kohlrabi on each roll.
Weird but true: parmesan rinds give a wonderful flavour to soup. You can hoard parmesan rinds the whole year (store them in a resealable bag in the freezer) and finally make something like this. But if you can’t wait this long, don’t have a freezer, or will certainly forget those rinds in your freezer, you can easily add them to a “normal” recipe to perk it up.
I’m not sure how Italian this recipe really is, but it is inspired on loads of Italian recipes I’ve seen, and it gives me an Italian vibe. Because of the beans and barley it is a meal in itself, and I would describe the flavour as robust and savoury. The amounts of the ingredients are not that important, so I don’t give measurements in the recipe. Just do what you think is right, that is what I did too, and that is why I’ve got no clue how much I used from everything.
a few parmesan rinds
some sprigs of thyme
a few bay leafs
pearl barley (small handful per person)
can of cannellini beans (a small one is enough for 2 people)
chopped flat-leaf parsley
shavings of parmesan
Heat a large pan with a glug of olive oil. Add the pancetta, sweat for a bit. Then add the onion, cook until translucent. Add carrot and celery, cook until slightly soft and possibly a bit caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer, taking care not to burn it.
Add water, the parmesan rinds, stock cubes, thyme and bay, and leave to simmer for at least half an hour.
Add the pearl barley and cook until soft. Add the cannellini beans and warm trough. Serve, garnished with the parsley and parmesan shavings.
I’m a bit on a pasta-spree, so here is another delicious and simple pasta recipe.
Spaghetti all’amatriciana (serves 2)
From nrc.next koken
2 tbsp olive oil
75 g pancetta, diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1/2 – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 can peeled tomatoes
200 g spaghetti
some flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan on medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and fry until it releases its fat and turns golden. Add the garlic and chilli flakes, fry all stirring for another minute. Turn up the heat, add the tomatoes and mash them with a fork. Leave to bubble for a bit, then turn down the heat. Leave to bubble gently while cooking the pasta.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet, or by your own preferred method.
Add the pasta to the sauce and mix well. Add the parsley and cook for another 20 seconds. Check for seasoning. Serve with the parmesan and a grater on the table.
Blue cheese, spinach and walnuts are a great combo. They are often served as a salad, but I decided to mix them wit spaghetti for a lovely, complete meal.
Spaghetti with blue cheese, spinach and walnuts (serves 2)
200 g spaghetti
100 g roquefort
300 g spinach, washed
50 g walnuts
Cook the spaghetti in a large pan of generously salted boiling water until it is cooked to your liking.
Crumble the roquefort. Roast the walnuts, and crumble.
Heat a large pan, add the spinach and let it wilt. If necessary, do this in portions. I like it best when the spinach is just wilted, some people prefer to cook it a bit longer.
Mix the cooked spaghetti with a splash of olive oil. Then mix the spaghetti with the other ingredients. Keep some roquefort and walnuts to sprinkle on top for a nice presentation.
Note: roquefort is usually not vegetarian, so to make this dish truly vegetarian, substitute it for a blue cheese that is suitable for vegetarians.