Monday, 7 June 2010

Newspaper trout

This isn't so much a recipe, more of a method for cooking trout. I was told about it by a fellow fishing from a bridge over the river Slaney. The fact he was fishing from the bridge & a story he told me about phoning fish(*) lead me to believe he was actually a poacher. Mind you since he had a bag of fresh river trout and this is a simple goto method for cooking trout, I'm happy to over look it.

You'll need some trout, 1 medium trout per person is the right amount in my kitchen, you might like to go for a larger trout & share between 2. Several sheets of newspaper, 1 sheet of broadsheet or 2 of tabloid is about right per fish. Seasonings e.g. salt,pepper, parsley or other fresh herbs. Gut (or get the fishmonger to) the trout and wash out the cavity, then stuff it with what ever you fancy (I'm using a little butter & a couple of lemon wedges).
Wrap the trout to make a nice parcel and then soak it through. Do this after wrapping the trout, doing it before will just leave you in a mess of papier mâché.

Then it goes under the grill, onto the BBQ or into a hot oven (gas 6 or equivalent). If you aren't using the oven you'll need to flip the parcels half way through the cooking (so after 5-8 mins). Once the paper is dry (and beginning to singe) the fish is cooked. This is where this method scores highly, as you unwrap, you'll find the skin sticks to the paper. The flesh should just come away from the bones, with a bit of patience/practice you can remove the fillets intact, usually at this point I'm too eager to get eating. That's all there is too it, perfectly cooked trout time & time again.
The Salad leaves on the right are the first produce from my micro salad garden (which unfortunately got devastated by the rain that started hammering down about an hour after I'd finished eating). Give this method for cooking trout a go, its easy & the results are very tasty.

(*) The fact he was fishing from the bridge, gives a clue that he wasn't entirely on the level, due to the very weird laws we have in England & Ireland about river ownership. By fishing from the bridge he wasn't trespassing, though he probably had no right to the fish. Phoning fish is definitely dodgy, but this act was carried out by a "friend" of his. An army surplus field telephone, a boat & a net are required. You drop the wire from the phone into the water over the side of your boat and crank like mad. The resulting current stuns the surrounding fish and you scoop them out with your net.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Peanut butter squares

It's not all cocktails and rich food over here at sybaritic towers, I do exercise, sometimes in extreme ways. Yesterday was the Wincle trout run, a 9km fell race so some kind of post race recovery fuel was needed.

Nigella has a recipe for peanut butter squares in "how to be a domestic goddess" which she describes as being "very rich" those of you who have experience of her recipes will know that this is a scary thought.

Anyway its a simple enough recipe, sugar and peanut butter are stirred together to form the base. If you are not using a machine this step is reasonably hard work and might just burn off enough calories for a finished square or may be two. This is then pressed into a baking tray. A mixture of plain & milk chocolate is melted with some butter and then poured over the base, the whole lot goes into the fridge to set. Cut it into small squares (it is very very rich, I don't think anybody made a 3rd square even post race) and enjoy.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Millionaire's shortbread part II

The first attempt went quite well but I wasn't entirely happy with the biscuit. Whilst the olive oil biscuit base might work very well in the context of one of Heston's menus it's not quite right for just scoffing. The quick shortbread I used for the Public sector version didn't really cut it either.

I found another HB recipe, that the Times published (which I found by a bunch of people complaining that the Dulce de leche step took  3 hours) for a simplified version. I used the short bread from that which worked out quite well (that's it to the left) and had much more of the texture that I associate with Millionaire's shortbread/caramel squares.

The salted butter caramel from the FatDuck cookbook was really good, I'd had a couple of issues with it, that I was hoping to resolve with the purchase of a sugar thermometer and an untextured pan. Whilst it worked better than before (and seems to have created a very rich sticky caramel) I still had issues with it sticking & singeing.
Once again rolling it out & cutting to size was very tricky, hopefully The big fat undertaking will be making the full recipe before too long (though I think the chocolate wine may require a centrifuge) and I'll have another source of reference. The tempered chocolate though is definitely a step not to miss out, there are several easy ways to do this at home, that don't involve water baths or marble slabs and the end product is glossy chocolate with a real snap.

Assembling the squares isn't to bad. This time round I'd decided to make one giant piece & then cut it to size, which makes working with the sticky slab of caramel easier, but means you have to have a bowl of hot water handy to slice the chocolate layer.

I've tasted the trimmings and its pretty much close to my ideal of Millionaire's shortbread, a crumbly base, sticky caramel and an intense chocolate hit. Given the richness of the caramel (it uses both butter & double cream) you have to be a bit careful with the base (I crossed off one recipe that used 500g of butter) and its best to use a high cocoa dark chocolate for the top (otherwise I think it could get too cloying).

I might have a go at the Dulce version in the future, but to be honest I'm quite happy to go to the trouble of making the caramel & tempering the chocolate.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Strawberry shortcake

I'm afraid strawberries are going to crop up quite often in the next few weeks, they are a personal favourite, and hard to beat in combination with fresh cream. I fancied a bit of a change so looked up strawberry shortbread.
I found this recipe from the BBC's ready steady cook. The shortbread looked quick and not too rich, and the ingredients looked like they fit into my minichop. The dry ones & the butter did, just. However I got a great sandy crumb texture, so did the egg yolk bit by hand.

Then its just a case of whipping the cream, folding in the fruit & a splash of bramble liquer. Build it on the plate/ dish and slap a whole strawberry on top. Another tasty strawberry dessert.