Thursday, 23 September 2010

Duck egg

When I started using the farm shop, I noticed a larger than usual range of eggs. I'd heard a lot about how great Duck eggs are for breakfast so bought some. After scrambling , frying & omeletting I tried poaching. That's now my favourite way to eat them.  I absolutely had to try the ham, egg & peas at Sat Bains. Sat poaches his eggs in a water bath at around 60c for some hours, I'll be trying that on my next free weekend. Meanwhile I went for the traditional method (ish).

Here's how I normally poach a duck egg

Bring a pan of water to a rolling boil & add in a teaspoon of vinegar. Drop the egg (still in its shell) into the water for about 20 seconds. Fish it out with a slotted spoon and then crack it into the water. You should end up with a mostly egg shaped blob around the yolk & a bit of a tail/veil of white, with some breakaway bits floating about on the surface. I like my yolks soft so about 90s-2mins does the trick. Scoop out with the trusty slotted spoon, set on hot buttered toast and add maybe a twist of black pepper.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Bramble Gin Fizz

My little foraging adventure gathered more blackberries & some elderberries, so what better way to enjoy them than in a drink ?

First up make bramble cordial. Put blackberries & elderberries in a bowl and add a reasonable amount of sugar, then either microwave or heat over a simmering pan. Either way you should end up with a thick sweet deep purple cordial. You can use this in either alcoholic concoctions or temperance ones.

           Bramble Gin Fizz

10ml of bramble cordial
30ml of gin
5ml of St Germain or elderflower liqueur

stir down, add a couple of ice cubes and stir again.

Top up with soda water.

A nice long drink for the few warm evenings left.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Lamb lid pie

I am against "liddy pie" this is the thing usually served as a pie. A Lid or top normally made of puff pastry is floated on top of pie filling in and individual bowl. The one allowable savoury exception in my book is a hot pot pie. So I made one, having combined it with an idea I had whilst writing another post...

I mentioned lighter ales & lamb when I was talking about steak & ale pie and got to thinking about fruit beers. Being on a touch of an economy drive after Sat Bains I spotted lamb neck at the butchers & decided I'd give the idea a go. I added Liefman's Kriek to my basket.

First I melted & seasoned a bit of butter in my pan, tossed in garden herbs (mainly rosemary & bay) and half an onion and let it all sweat on a gentle heat.
I took most of the meat off the neck chops, cubed it & reserved one bone portion. The meat got dredged in flour  and then tossed into the pan to brown. That job done in went the beer and the bone, the whole lot was brought up to the boil. This is great fun as suddenly everything smells of cherries and your stew gains an excitable pink frothy head. Crank the heat back to a simmer, pop on the lid & go and enjoy yourself. Stews & pies are one of the best things about Autumn & Winter, they fill the house with a comforting cooking smell, the promise of filling food and allow you to loaf about reading whilst they simmer & burble away.

After an hour or two everything should be reduced down and cooked to tender. About 3/4 of the way through Chuck in a handful of chopped potato, you can do this at the start, but you need serious chunks unless you want the potato to just thicken the stew & not be a separate presence on the fork.
Turn the oven on to preheat, about gas 4 and break out the pastry. Roll it out to about 10-20mm larger than the top of your pot. Unfortunately the rim on my otherwise marvellous Le Creuset  pan is to thin to support the pastry so I had to transplant everything into a pyrex dish. Put the pastry over the stew and crimp to the rim of your dish, make a couple of knife slashes in the top to let the steam out and pop in the oven for 30 minutes or so.

I have to apologise for a couple of the recent photographs, they've been taken under less than ideal conditions, usually snatched with a phone cam in low light. Still they should give a reasonable idea of what I'm wittering about.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Mixmo Lime

It's MixMo time again, and Limes have been chosen.

I find Lime to be quite a tricky ingredient, it's acidity can be too overpowering at times, so I keep lime drinks for before dinner.

I think this is an underrated lime cocktail :- The Stiletto

 1 part fresh lime juice
 1 part ameretto
  4 parts Bourbon.

Juice the lime, I tend to use this as my base measurement, in general unless the lime is elderly it'll yield enough juice for two drinks.

Pour it into an iced bar glass, add in your ameretto and your bourbon. Shake, strain & pour.

This is one of those magic cocktails where all the parts harmonize with each other & you don't get too much of any one flavour. I'm always surprised that when DiSaronno are advertising this drink never comes up as it shows off very well indeed. I guess if you aren't a marzipan/almond flavour fan then this will look like a nightmare, however whilst the almond note is still present, it is fairly subdued. Give it a go, if you don't like it then don't order another. Maybe though you'll be pleasantly surprised.

The Stiletto

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Restaurant Sat Bains

Nottingham's only Michelin starred restaurant, Sat is also a molecular chef, so some comparisons with the Fat Duck are inevitable, so I'll deal with the 2 biggies straight off. Sat's menu is a lot more local & seasonal, he also is a bit less multi-sensory/theatrical than Heston. We'd got a package offer, so a
room, champagne on arrival and the 7 course tasting menu. The wine list is huge and roams from pretty reasonable (25-30) to stratospheric. Having had the paired wines at the Fat Duck we did the same here. First up was an amuse bouche from the kitchen of an oyster foam with a pigs head croquette and a smoked haddock one, both were really good. Next was Sat's signature dish of ham, egg & peas. If you don't know this is the only dish that scored a perfect 30 in the great British menu and consists of a slow poached duck egg, peas, pea & mint sorbet and pata negra ham. I've eaten a fair few poached duck eggs, this was glorious. The sorbet tastes incredibly fresh & green and provides a great contrast to the warm duck egg.
Then it was onto the menu proper and an Alsatian white that we ended up killing, that was for the starters and went incredibly with the first, Pork, pears, chicory & monkfish which came with a liquorice sauce. The pork was superbly cooked and the pears which ranged from raw to a pear gel really went with it, the monkfish & liquorice were good together, but might not have needed to be on the same plate as the pork. Next up was Organic salmon with coriander.This was a cube of raw salmon, incredible pickled vegetables where placed on top and covered in an oyster & coriander emulsion. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. 
Next came NG7 2AS, an enigmatically named dish, that turns out to be foraged from with in a mile of the kitchen. If you get to eat it, it probably won't be the same as this. A salad of mainly sorrels with pickled elderberries, textures of crab apple, hazelnuts and a hazelnut  sand. With a glorious horseradish croquette.

For me this was the stand out dish, and it took a while to eat as everything needed to eaten on its own and then in combination.
The "main course" turned up, Yorkshire grouse with blackberries and a home made faggot, paired with a premier cru Burgundy. If the dish was any bigger then it would have been instant gout. Lovely meaty flavours from the (very) rare grouse breast and the beef faggot, complemented incredibly by the deep blackberry sauce and matched to the kind of wine that makes you understand where Jilly Goulden & co are coming from.
Then came "Crossover" a bridge between the main course & dessert. Its a mix of ham, pineapple, maple syrup and Parmesan cheese. Sounds odd but really works. 
The first of the desserts was simply titled "Chocolate" and was a rich chocolate mousse with a thyme & salt caramel and a buttermilk ice cream paired with an Australian muscadet, another standout bit of wine matching. Again well chosen complementary flavours the acidity of the buttermilk cutting through the rich sweetness on the plate, the addition of thyme to caramel provided a pleasant je ne sais quois and is something I think I might give a bit of a try in future.
The final menu course was "Raspberry" which consisted of a dish containing various raspberry things (a granita, a gel, whole berries) dotted with hazelnut meringues, both hard and soft and a lolly of freeze dried raspberries a white chocolate shell and a beetroot ice cream. 

Beetroot is much loved by the modern/molecular chef as it has a very interesting trick, where its flavour can be flipped between sweet & savoury depending on what it's served with(*). If you know that you can play with it in this dessert. This was teamed with a Sauternes which was probably the most disappointing wine of the night, in so much as it was merely very good, compared with the excellents of the other wines. Finally the richest chocolate brownie I've ever eaten arrived on a small square slate. I managed half of it.
So go, it's highly recommended, staying over in one of the fairly luxurious rooms takes a bit of a sting out of the bill, but you are paying toward the top end of 1 star prices. That said I don't think it can be too long before a second star arrives. The dishes are innovative and very well made, the wines well chosen and the service spot on. There is a 12.5% service charge on the food bill, which is  reasonable at this level.

(*) A high degree of acidity flips the beetroot from beetrooty to blackcurranty. Eating the raspberry chocolate shell to expose the ice cream with in (as shown in the photo) allows you to taste the beetroot ice cream in its vegetable guise. Dipping it into the granita turns it fruity again. 

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Steak & Ale plate pie

Ahh autumn, I know Keats was fond of you, I am too, for different reasons though. Autumn means that the oven can be used with impunity & that stews are back on the menu, Steak & ale pie means both.

You'll need some shortcrust pastry, which you can make or buy. Steak (one of the cheaper cuts, its is about to be cooked for several hours) onions, mushrooms and Beer. Beer is an important ingredient in this dish, in fact it's almost all the stock/gravy so choose well. Ideally it'll be a fairly dark strong beer to go with the deep flavour of the beef (you could use lamb and a lighter ale if you like). I went with Theakstons "Old Peculiar" which I've always been fond of. So get you best stewing/casseroling pan out and melt some butter, season it as you like. Chop some onion and sweat it in the butter. Add a mushroom or 3 (these will probably melt into the stock, they are there to add body). Toss your steak in flour and brown it in the oniony shroom butter. Pour in the beer (500ml/pint) add some herbs and simmer. You have an hour or 3 to amuse yourself, stop simmering when the stock, gravy is just a touch less thick than you'd like.

Line a greased pie plate with pastry, and slice a couple more mushrooms. Stir the mushrooms into the steak stew & then ladle the lot into the pastry lined plate. Make a pastry lid, attach it & brush with milk. Into the oven on gas 4 for 30-40 mins. Enjoy.

If you can't eat the pie in one sitting, you can either eat it cold later or like the one above put it in a low oven to heat through whilst you cook some spuds & some veg.

Make this, if nothing else it'll make your kitchen smell awesome. Cheat & buy the pastry. Cheat more and use an ovenproof pan & just lay the pastry over the top of it. Just make the pie, its the thing now the nights are drawing in.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Blackberry Jelly

The blackberry glut is almost worked out, fortunately another glut is hard on its heels. Anyway blackberry jelly


On the left are macerating blackberries, plucked from various sources around work & home. On the right is a bunny jelly mould, something a number of commentators have told me I have to have to make "proper" jelly. I figured blackberry would be quite easy, since blackberries & raspberries are essentially the same. Set the blackberries & some sugar in a heat proof bowl over simmering water. After 45mins or so, you'll be left with a lot of juice and some shrivelled berries. Pour the juice through a sieve and make up to 500ml with water/sugar syrup (You'll have to do this bit by taste as there are way too many variables).

Use your 500ml to make up a jelly in the usual way (50ml of liquid is used to soften 5 leaves of gelatine, then melt the gelatine over a double boiler, add the remaining liquid, stir strain etc) and pass it through a fine sieve into your mould. Put it in the fridge for a few hours (overnight is best, it removes the temptation to poke about & see if everything is ready) and once set turn out.

Serve, ice-cream & small children are entirely optional.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Lavender Old Fashioned

This came up in MixMO as an entry from Backyard Bartender which intrigued me, especially as I still have lavender flowers.

I had a read of the recipe & thought since I'd give it a go. Then I had a read of The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks and decided to stick to a more standard old-fashioned. I'd used up all my Gomme making Jellies so I had to do it the hard way

First put 1//2 a barspoon of sugar in the bottom of your glass add 2 dashes of bitters an Ice cube & a lavender flower head. Stir gently to start dissolving the sugar. After a couple of minutes add 5ml of St Germain (Elderflower liqueur). Keep stirring gently, you want to dissolve the sugar but not break up the lavender. Add 10ml of bourbon and keep stirring. Once all the sugar has dissolved (5-10 minutes) add 35ml of bourbon and a second ice cube, stir for another 10-15 seconds and then enjoy.

You should end up with a very well balanced drink in which the lavender & elderflower florals combine and act quite nicely with the bourbon, giving a smooth drink with a bright aftertaste. It is always a bit of hassle to make an old fashioned from scratch, but this one is worth a go.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Blackberry Flip

This is a straight forward variation on Jamie Boudreau's Raspberry flip

Blackberry flip

6 blackberries
1 egg
3 parts Bourbon
1 part creme de murre
dash bitters

I've always been told when using egg or egg parts to put them in the mixing glass & give it a quick whisk with the bar spoon. So crack an egg into there and beat it to break up the yolk & roughly mix it into the white. Drop in the blackberries (whole) and the ice. Add bourbon & creme de murre. The original calls for peach bitters, I didn't have them so opted to leave the bitters out this time.

Shake HARD strain & serve

You end up with basically a blackberry smoothie, quite dangerously the alcohol bite is hidden away.

Don't be afraid of whole egg, most UK eggs are salmonella free (at least the lion mark ones are). The resulting drink is really worth it. Drink it now before Michelmas when Satan ruins all your blackberries

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tarte Tatin

Windfall apples, what to do ? A quick glimpse at Family Food suggested Tarte tatin, after all what could be nicer than a caramel apple pie ?

For some reason I'd never realized that tarte tatin is cooked upside down, the recipe also called for frozen puff pastry. I skipped that as I was making my own shortcrust for some other bits.
First off came lining the bottom of the dish with 100gr of butter. Then I sprinkled 80gr of sugar over that (Depends a bit on how sweet the apples are). Then I cut some wedges from my apples. This is great for windfalls as you can chuck the less good bits of the apple.

Once it's all set up put it on the hob at a medium heat & watch the butter melt & the sugar begin to caramelize. At this point the recipe suggested putting a plat over the apples to make sure they got nicely covered.

I looked at several pictures on the web and the apples are really deeply caramelized, to a very dark brown. I didn't go that far, taking it off the hob when everything was golden. Now came the tricky sounding part. Next time I make this (and its not going to be too long before I do) I'll roll the pastry & measure it first, it can rest at the right size.

I dropped it over the apples & tucked it in as best I could. You can see bits of buttery caramel escaping up the sides. So it wasn't going to be the worlds best looking tarte tatin (I think that goes to those with the regular spiral of thin apple slices), but hopefully it was going to taste OK. With that it went into the oven on Gas mark 4 for 30-40mins (depends on the oven, whether you've pre-heated it and all those other factors).

Then comes the nailbiting section, turning it out. Place a plate over your flan dish & quickly invert, perform what ever voodoo you regard as acceptable & tap the flan dish, if everything is going you way you'll hear a flopping sound & then the big reveal.

Eat with cream, or ice cream (I like ice cream when the tart is warm & cream when its cold). The next day I was idly poking around the internet and several websites suggested that Tatin was a difficult thing and reading some of the recipes I'm not surprised. This was pretty straight forward, and if you aren't good at pastry, Jus-roll and similar work fine. If you've an abundance of apples this is worth a go, and the anxiety of turning out hot caramel is always a spice to an afternoon in the Kitchen.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Blackberry "Bellini"

The Bellini is a simple concoction of Prosecco  and white peach. It does lend itself to variations & riffs. I had a bottle of Prosecco and having finished my run in the woods access to a whole bunch of blackberries.

I was feeling a bit lazy so I macerated the blackberries with the microwave. This is dead simple, put sugar on blackberries (slightly more than you think you need) and heat indirectly. The juice flows out and forms a strong syrup. (takes about 5 mins in the microwave 1min full power, 2 mins stand 1 min full power). For what I wanted a little too strong, so I diluted it with grappa (about 2 syrup to 1 grappa) and shared it between flutes. Top off with prosecco, garnish with a small berry and enjoy the autumn.