One of the South West’s most talented chefs, Martin Blunos was born and brought up near Bath, his parents having come to England from Latvia just after the Second World War. He has held two Michelin stars for more than 15 years and appears regularly on television and radio with regular slots as guest chef on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen with James Martin, BBC Market Kitchen, ITV Daily Cooks and ITV’s Saturday Cooks.
It’s hot there and cold here!
As winter extends its icy grasp, Martin Blunos sends us relief with a chocolately Spanish tradition…back to basics…
You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to know that autumn is upon us with a vengeance; trees are shedding leaves like crazy and the temperature has dropped big time. The notion that our Indian summer would last has been dismissed with a click of the central heating thermostat. The word on the street is that we are in for a stinking winter.
So what are folk to do? Huddle around the Aga, de-moth ball the thermals or in my case, fly off to the south of Spain. Alright for some I hear you say but this was business, honest! The weather was terrific although I didn’t get to see much of it as most of my time was spent behind a computer screen or on the road.
I was working with a (younger – he’ll love that bit) pal of mine setting up villa cookery ‘holidays’ for next year. Informal, laid back and above all fun is the ethos behind the week-long courses. Based in amazing villas, just outside Marbella, they entail market and producer visits and a live cooking experience in a local Restaurant (a la Hell’s Kitchen). Imagine though when it’s down time and you toss the apron on the chopping board, whack on the Speedos and dive into the villa’s pool, sipping on a cold one, catching a few rays while reflecting on the nuances of fish cookery – after all it is a holiday! (the picture, the view over the computer screen, shows said pool). The idea is, you come home with an armful of recipes, knowhow, a tan and a bunch of new friends to send Christmas cards to. I am looking forward to taking the courses and to sending a lot more Christmas cards next year.
As the cookery holidays are based in sunny Spain, this month’s recipe has to be a Spanish favourite – Churros n Choc. Similar to doughnuts, these fellas are great to eat dunked in a mug of ‘real’ drinking chocolate al fresco over there, or huddled around the Aga over here!
Churros n’ Choc Sauce
For the churros
5 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 tbsp Ground cinnamon
1 Lemon, microplaned zest only
200g Plain flour, sieved
½ tsp Salt
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
6 tbsp Caster sugar
For the hot chocolate
225g Plain bitter dark chocolate, broken into squares
175ml Double cream
Pinch of salt
- For the churros: place 300ml water in a saucepan with the oil, half the cinnamon and the lemon rind. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile, sieve the flour and salt into a bowl.
- Once the water mixture is at a rolling boil, tip in the flour, beating well with a wooden spoon over a low heat until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Leave to cool a little, then beat in the egg.
- For the hot chocolate: place chocolate in a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate has melted.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fat fryer to 180°C. Spoon the churros mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 2.5cm star-shaped nozzle. Pipe 7.5cm lengths of dough directly into the hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden, turning once. Cook in batches.
- Meanwhile, mix together the remaining cinnamon and sugar on a flat plate. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked churros from the oil. Quickly drain on kitchen paper, then roll in the cinnamon sugar. Pile on to a plate and keep them warm while you finish cooking the rest of the churros.
- To finish the hot chocolate, place the milk, salt and cream in a small saucepan. Using a spatula, add the melted chocolate, stirring to combine or ziss with a stick blender to make it frothy. Heat gently for a few minutes.
- When ready to serve, pour the hot chocolate into mugs, dunk in the churros and enjoy…