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Cucharea’s lasagne

lasaña emplatada

 

Hello friends of Cucharea,

Today I want to share with you our recipe for Lasagne, already available to order from Cucharea.

This well-known Italian dish has become part of Spanish cooking, as, back in the day, did croquettes, which have their origin in France. Both are now, together with paella and the potato omelette tortilla, one of the standards of Spanish cuisine.

Lasagne is basically a combination of various recipes and cooking techniques. It isn’t that difficult to make, but you need plenty of time and you are going to use more than a few pots.

Let’s go. The ingredient list is at the end of the post.

The Bolognese

First of all let’s cook the bolognese. For this we need, olive oil, garlic, onion, bay leaf, minced meat, (half pork and half veal or beef mince), ripe tomatoes, carrot, a little red wine (optional), salt, black pepper and a little oregano.

Finely chop and fry the garlic, onion and carrot together with the bay leaf. When they have softened, add the minced meat and sauté.

 

Add the red wine and let the alcohol evaporate.

Now we add the peeled and chopped tomato, if you can remove the seeds, more the better.

Let the bolognese cook for 45 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally,  then add salt and pepper to taste and add a little oregano.

 

The Bechamel

For a litre of milk we need 80 grams of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), 80 grams of flour and some salt, pepper and nutmeg. Bechamel is usually made with butter but I always replace it with EVOO since it is healthier and is a big part of my identity in the kitchen.

We make a Roux, that is, lightly sauté the flour in the oil and then add the milk little by little and whisking constantly. It is important to add warm milk to avoid lumps.

The bechamel sauce must be cooked for at least a half hour to make it perfect, we enhance it with salt and pepper and a little freshly grated nutmeg.

 

The Pasta

Obviously, you must use lasagne pasta, we are going to cook it al dente in salted water.

The way to cook this pasta is to throw the sheets one by one into boiling water in a pot or wide casserole, with enough space for them to boil happily and avoid sticking to each other.

About 10 or 11 minutes is enough, so remove the pasta and chill it in ice water to stop the cooking immediately and ensure the lasagne sheets remain separated.

When the pasta is cold, remove the sheets and let them dry on a clean cloth.

 

The assembly

In an oiled baking dish, put a layer of pasta, then a layer of bolognese, a layer of bechamel, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, ricotta or mozzarella – according to your preference – and repeat the process twice more.

 

 

Finish with a final layer of bechamel and grated cheese.

 

Into the oven

So now you your lasagne is ready to bake.

Sett the oven to 180 degrees C and bake for 35 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, you can uncork a bottle of wine to let it breathe and begin washing the mountain of pots, pans, dishes and utensils…. or, you can order your lasagne from Cucharea and concentrate only on baking it for 35 minutes at 180 degrees while you have a snack and a drink with the person you love the most.

Quantities for 4 people

Bolognese:

  • 1 medium clove of garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 600 grams of mixed minced meat
  • 100 grams of tomato
  • 1/4 glass of red wine
  • Salt, pepper and oregano

Bechamel:

  • 80 grams EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 80 grams plain flour
  • 1 litre milk
  • Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

24 sheets of lasagne Pasta, Parmesan cheese and any other grated cheese you fancy.

You can see all the Cucharea;’s dishes here.

Next week I plan to prepare a vegan vegetable soup. What do you think, would you like to try it?

Don’t be shy, leave a comment below!

¡Gracias!

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Recipe – ‘The Rags of Úbeda’

andrajos 2

Hello friends of Cucharea

Today I want to share with you a perfect recipe for cold days, of which here in England there are many.

It’s called Andrajos de Úbeda – ‘cloth rags’ of Úbeda.

For those who don’t know it, Úbeda is a beautiful city in the heart of Jaén, Andalusia. It is considered a world heritage site by UNESCO thanks to its history and Renaissance architecture.

It is the birthplace of some of the best olive oil in the world, and has some of the greatest artists such as Joaquín Sabina, internationally known singer-songwriter, Paco Tito, distinguished potter and Marcelo Góngora, the magnificent painter and sculptor, amongst many others.

Like all the towns and cities of Spain, Úbeda also has its own distinctive gastronomy.

One of the most representative dishes of this area is Los Andrajos (The ‘rags’); an ancient stew recipe based on vegetables and meat or fish, fresh pasta and a touch of mint.

Traditionally, in the areas of ​​Albacete, Granada, Almería and Jaén, this stew was made with whatever was at hand. Either hare, rabbit or salted cod can be the main ingredients of this dish, accompanied by seasonal vegetables such as asparagus, beans, or artichokes.

From the middle of the last century, when families began to enjoy the freedom afforded by refrigerators and freezers in their homes, new foods became popular in the interior areas of Spain, such as clams, squids and prawns, which until then were only within the reach of the people who lived in coastal areas.

In this way, what had originally been a dish made exclusively with products from the field or salted cod, was diversified to the point that in Úbeda it became popular to cook them in the following way.

Here I have a link to the kitchen channel where the blogger Conxy Jiménez shows us how it is made. My recipe is a little different since I like to use green asparagus instead of clams, but it’s essentially the same. In short, a comforting dish with a robust flavour for the chilliest of days.

How about you? Are you familiar with the gastronomy of Úbeda? Would you like to try this dish?

 

 

 

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How to fry Cucharea’s croquettes

Hello croquette lovers

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have supported us in our new Spanish home cooking project for Brighton and the surrounding areas.

It is amazing how many fans there are of our dishes and especially our homemade croquettes.

Well, here I go.

Some of you have sent me messages asking what the best way is to fry croquettes because when you have previously cooked them at home, they have burst when you fried them.

So I’m going to give you a couple of tips so that you can have a perfect fry.

 

croquetas fritas cuchareaVarious croquettes

Why do croquettes burst when they are fried?

There are several reasons why this may happen.

The first may be that the mixture has been under-cooked.

Making homemade croquettes is a slow process where you have to cook the mixture for quite a while. I cook the mixture for around two hours – without stopping – with a whisk so it doesn’t catch. Believe me, I have a forearm like Popeye from whisking so much.

The second reason may be that you have used too little flour when making the roux. I use between 90 and 120 grams of flour per litre of milk, it depends on the recipe.

That is the minimum that you should use; if you use less flour, the dough will be too liquid and explode when frying.

Another reason may be that they are not well breaded. If the bread crumbs do not completely cover the croquette, they will burst. Too thick, of course, and they are just disappointing.

But hey, you save all this drama with Cucharea’s homemade croquettes.

How to fry croquettes

Cucharea’s croquettes come frozen. That is why I advise you to take them out of the freezer one hour before before frying so they do not remain cold in the centre after frying.

 

croquetas antes de freir

If you can not wait an hour, you can fry them directly from frozen and then put them in the oven at 160 degrees for 3 minutes or so.

What to fry them in?

Ideally, use a deep fat fryer filled with clean oil. I use virgin olive oil, but you can use any oil – as long as it is not dirty or you have fried fish or peppers or something that strongly flavours the oil.

If you do not have a fryer, you can use a saucepan or milk pan. A saucepan is better than a milk pan because it straighter, higher sides, since the croquettes must be completely covered by the oil.

cazo con aceite para freir croquetas

Temperature

This is the most important detail. If you fry the croquettes below 180 degrees Celsius they will burst.

Ideally, heat the oil to 190C degrees, take a few croquettes and fry until they are golden brown. I say 190C because when you add the croquettes the temperature will go down a little bit. Be careful with this. Do not put too many in at once because the oil temperature will drop too much and then they will burst.

termometro a 190 grados

aceite a 190 grados friendo croquetas

Frying time

It depends on how golden you want them. About two minutes is fine.

Keep in mind that when the bechamel begins to heat inside the croquette it will expand and may make small cracks in the breadcrumbs. This is normal since the bechamel of our croquettes is soft and the layer of bread crumbs is not very thick so they have a delicious texture.

When this happens you can hear the croquettes begin to “sing”. That’s to say that the sound of frying changes; it’s time to take them out before they burst with the heat.

Drain the oil from the croquettes

Once fried, let them rest in a sieve so that the excess oil can drain. Another way is to put them on absorbent kitchen paper and then move on to another sheet of clean absorbent paper.

I like the first method better because with the paper the croquettes tend to soften.

escurriendo el aceite de las croquetas en un colador

 

Well, that’s it. Frying croquettes is not rocket science but has its tricks.

The Tips

  • Thaw at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Heat the oil to 190C and then fry at 180 degrees for a couple of minutes without overloading the fryer with croquettes.
  • remove and drain the excess oil.
  • Do not eat them all and leave some for others.

 

You have four flavours to choose from right here.

Chorizo, roast chicken and ham, prawns, and mushroom with Cheddar cheese.

What flavour would you like us to prepare for you? Let us know!