Monday, 23 April 2007

Feliz cumpleaños

I had the privilege of cooking for my father’s birthday last weekend.

The Menu
Rocket salad
Chocolate soufflés

The paella was his request. The salad was to ease our guilt over the rich dessert to come. The soufflé was an obvious choice. Back when I was a Sydneysider on a visit to Melbourne, it was the perfect ending to a dinner I shared with my father at Scusa Mi. It's a restaurant I don’t find particularly memorable generally but their chocolate soufflé with espresso ice cream has been on my mind lately.

I am a big believer that paella should be a dish of strong flavours- smoky paprika and seductive saffron. I like to play up both of these flavours in the way I prepare my ingredients. By slicing the chorizo and grilling it before adding it to the rice you prevent the addition of excess fat but also add an extra dimension of smokiness. Of course you can add whatever you want but I do prefer pork to chicken as it seems to work so well with the seafood. By marinating the pork in paprika and chilli powder you give it a huge flavour boost and how could that possibly be a bad thing?

½ tsp chilli powder
4 tsp smoked paprika ( I strongly recommend Casa Iberica)
1 tbsp oil
1 pork chop
1 chorizo sliced
12 mussels
8 prawns (peeled and headed)
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic
1 tomato diced
½ cup white wine
2 pinches saffron
2.5 cups Calasparra or Arborio rice
5 cups stock

Combine the chilli powder and 1 tsp paprika with the oil and rub over the pork. Season well with salt and allow to marinate for several hours.

Over a skillet or grill plate cook your sliced chorizo for 1-2 minutes on each side. Place aside. Now cook the pork chop for 3 minutes on each side. Place aside to rest a few minutes before slicing the meat into thin strips. Discard any excess fat but retain the bone.

In a large pot place your stock over a low heat so it stays warm and ready to be added.

Now for the paella itself I strongly recommend a copper based pan. It is the best way to get that perfect crust on the bottom.

In the copper based pan begin by cooking the onion in a little olive oil. When translucent add the garlic and then the diced tomato. Add the remaining 3tsp of paprika and the rice. Stir until the rice is coated well and blushing a brilliant red.

Add the ½ cup wine and deglaze the pan before adding the pork and chorizo. Add the pork bone for flavour but remember to remove it later.

Add 2 cups of stock and the saffron and allow to simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Add another 2 cups stock and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes. You may need the final cup depending on how quickly your rice absorbs liquid.

Add the mussels and prawns and allow 8-10 minutes for them to cook through. Remove them when ready so they don't overcook and allow the rice to finish cooking. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes before serving. Top with the seafood and bring the pan to the table to serve.

Chocolate Soufflés
1/3 cup cream
¼ cup cocoa
150 g dark chocolate
6 egg whites
½ cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease 4 individual ramekins with butter and dust with sugar. Shake out the excess sugar and set aside.

In a heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water melt the chocolate, cocoa and cream. When smooth set aside to cool.

In a large bowl beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. I almost insist you do this by hand. In a clean metal bowl it doesn’t take as long as you’d imagine and the arm workout you get almost makes up for the rich dessert you’re about to consume. Add the sugar slowly and continue to beat until glossy.

Add 1/3 of the egg white mixture to the chocolate before folding through the rest.

Pour into ramekins and bake for 12-15 minutes. Don’t open the oven prematurely lest the delicate things collapse. Top with a dusting of sugar and serve immediately with cream.

I promise these are practically fail proof and sure to rise but due to our greediness and desire to eat them in their fully inflated state I wasn’t quick enough whipping out the camera.


Patricia Scarpin said...

Wow, Truffle - I'd love to have wonderful food like this cooked for my on my birthday!

Actually... I'd love that any day. ;)

Anonymous said...

Happy belated birthday to your father! What a lucky dad to have a feast like that on his special day. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

Truffle said...

Thanks so much Patricia :)

Thanks for the kind words Ari.

Little Foodie said...

My husband grew up in Spain and I'm a big fan of all things Spanish myself. Love the way you've done the paella!

Truffle said...

Thanks very much Little Foodie. Hope hubby cooks you lots of Spanish treats!