Esta comida es muy picante – Mole and the Lemon Tart Revisited

Olé Mole!

This week has been hectic, I’ve recently started a new job and it was induction time in Darlington (a 4 1/2 drive for me), then to Solihull to help paint a ‘Children’s Hospice’ as part of a volunteer team from work, and then up to Macclesfield before home down south.

Luckily, I was able to include some excellent restaurants so if you like Indian, Rose Murree in Hagley Road Birmingham is worth a trip, and for excellent English fair, Bacchus in Prestbury is also worth a trip the weekday special being extremely good value money. Click on the names to see their web sites.

I recently decided to spruce up the herb and spice cupboard and venturing food wise into Mexico, ordered a range of dried chilli’s amongst other exotic items such as Dukkah Za’atar and Ras al Hanout.

My inspiration was ‘Mole‘  Mexican for sauce. There are lots to choose from but I was going to attempt Mole Poblano,  more often used for celebrations as its apparently quite time consuming to make, it was about time for me to find out. Having the chilli’s to hand the rest of the ingredients were assembled, and there are quite a few. Peanuts, Ground Almonds, Onions, Tomatoes, Chocolate (YES, I had some special Peruvian, more of that later). Here is a picture of what you will need.

I used three different chilli varieties Pasilla, Mulato and Guajillo which needed soaking in hot water for 15 mins to soften them, after I had dry fried them for a couple of minutes in a hot pan to help; release their flavor oils.

I was using a combination of recipes for this Mole, William Harcourt-Cooze, of chocolate fame in conjunction with a web find and Tomasina Miers, Masterchef winner and owner of the ‘Wahaca‘ restaurant chain. The reason for this combination was that there were subtle differences in some of the processes, such as roasting the onions and tomatoes in a dry pan, and using Tortilla Chips as a thickening agent and flavour layer. The chocolate I used is a pure Cacao from Peru (Peruvian Black 100%), you can get it in Waitrose in the cooking section, or mail order if you click on William Harcourt-Cooze’s name above.

The spice mix on the left (Cloves, Cinnamon Bark), and the Peanuts were both dry fried to bring out their flavour before grinding into a powder. Once you have dry fried the chili’s, soak them for 15 minutes in hot water, reserve some of the liquid as this is added to the Mole to intensify the taste. Once soaked, remove the stalks and seeds before chopping up, and adding to the Onions, Garlic and Tomatoes.

The whole process took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours which includes soaking time, dry frying, grinding and reducing the sauce. Was it worth it, hell yeah. The flavour is just fantastic, deep rich and very satisfying. Its not too hot but warming and very satisfying.
To go with the Mole I got a couple of chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper, placed 3 fresh oregano leaves on the top and wrapped them tightly in cling film. They went into a saucepan of water that was simmering VERY gently, and cooked slowly for about 20-30 minutes (size dependent).
The Mole was served on top, alongside Basmati Rice with Sweetcorn and Red Peppers (diced very finely), and a salad of Tomato and Onion. Have a go, its worth the effort.

Lemon Tart Revisited

You may recall in my last post ‘the accident’, I dropped my Lemon Tart as it was being extracted from the oven ( I have a small scar to prove it, ouch).
My good friend Anna-Rita in Italy, showed me how to make this delicious Lemon Tart, something that would be perfect after a warm spicy number such as the Mole with Chicken. The Tart consists of a sweet pastry base, top and bottom and a filling of lemon crème/custard. Its easy to make BUT the pastry is DIFFICULT to handle due to its short sticky nature and even some time in the fridge did not seem to make too much difference.

The crème/custard is made by putting a couple of eggs, castor sugar, lemon zest and juice from 2 lemons into a saucepan and whisking over a moderate heat until thick. Don’t have the heat too high or you will end up with scrambled eggs. When thick, turn off the heat cover with some cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool (you can put into a pan of cold water if you don’t have much time to speed the cooling process).

The pastry is a 3:1 ratio of Flour to un-salted Butter, Sugar, Eggs and Dried Yeast. This is mixed in a Kenwood to bring it together and then 2/3 of it rolled out on Baking Parchment. Once in a greased fluted baking dish, add the lemon crème/custard roll out the remainder and put on top, sealing the edges. You should have about 1cm of crème filling, cut away any excess pastry.
30 minutes at 160 deg (fan oven) and you end up with a delicious dessert fit for any dinner table. I served mine with Mascarpone and slices of Lemon Confit which had developed a beautiful intense sweet/sharp flavour since they were made a couple of weeks back.
That’s it for this time foodies….. I hope you enjoyed the blog and have a go yourself……

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