Monday, December 30, 2013

Beef Wellington

Sunday, 29th December 2013
We had our Christmas dinner together today, and I did Beef Wellington, which is something we had thought about for a long time. It turned out to be pretty straightforward and, barring the preparation, the cooking time was only about 40 minutes, so relatively quick to put together after the ceremony of the unwrapping of the gifts (which took quite a bit longer than 40 minutes!).
The beef was seasoned and seared quickly on both sides and allowed to cool. I also made mushroom duxelles - chop shallot, garlic and mushroom, fry in butter until the liquid is gone, then add a little wine and deglaze and again allow the liquid to boil away. These also need to be cooled. I made the pastry parcel with a slice of pate (pheasant in this case) duxelles and the beef. Seal the edges with beaten egg and glaze with more egg. Bake with the sealed edges underneath for about 20 minutes and allow to rest for a further 10 minutes.
I had two separate pieces of filet and was originally planning to do two individual Beef Wellingtons but, as one piece was quite a bit bigger than the other, I decided to put them both together in one pastry parcel. Good decision as the smaller piece of meat was much less good and a bit sinewy. We got to share the larger, good piece, which was beautifully lean and tender.
I improvised a sauce by reducing red wine and stock, with a spoonful of the mushroom duxelles, a chopped shallot and some tomato puree. The result was too tomatoey, so I added more stock, some port and reduced it again, and thickened it with a little cornflower. Came out pretty nicely, but could have been richer.
This was served with bratkartoffeln, buttered leeks and salsify (Schwarzwurzel) with lemon juice and nutmeg. Delicious.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Peppered Rabbit Stew

Friday, 20th December 2013
Joint the rabbit, coat the pieces in seasoned flour. Fry some bacon lardons in a casserole and add and brown chopped onion and garlic. Remove and add the rabbit pieces to brown all over (in batches if necessary. Remove the rabbit and deglaze the casserole with red wine, scraping up any bits. Put the rabbit, and bacon and onion mix back in, with some rosemary twigs and a handful of pink peppercorns, and add more red wine and stock to cover the meat. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 or 3 hours at 120°, so the gravy is just bubbling.
Add some sliced wild mushrooms and peeled button onions and cook for another 30 minutes. Remove all the meat, mushrooms, onions etc. to the upturned casserole lid and thicken the remaining gravy with beurre manie. Served with sautéed potatoes and steamed cabbage. Fantastic, especially the gravy. The pink peppercorns are peppery when bitten but not powerful, rather with a sweet, fruity undertone.

Cocktail Roundup December 2013

December 2013
Lots of Orange and Lemon this month. Blood and Sand was the winner I think.
Blood and Sand.
Elysian Fields.
Gin and Sin (1½ oz Gin, 1 oz Lemon Juice, 1 oz Orange Juice, Dash of Grenadine). I'm finding that Grenadine is too overpowering, even in small amounts.
Corpse Reviver (¾ oz Gin, ¾ oz Cointreau, ¾ oz Lillet, ¾ oz Lemon Juice, dash of Absinthe).
Orange and Peach Blossom (1½ oz Gin, ½ oz Orange Juice, ½ oz Cointreau, ½ oz Peach Liqueur, Juice of ½ Lemon, Dash of Orange Bitters). Peach Liqueur added instead of Simple Syrup made for an Orange Blossom variation.

Boar with Red Wine, Port and Balsamic

Sunday, 15th December 2013
Based on this German recipe, with Port instead of Madeira, and without the overnight marinade.
I coated a boneless piece of Boar, cut from the leg, with a mix of flour, cumin, salt and pepper, and browned it all over in a pan. Then moved the meat to a heated casserole, laying it on top of some bacon slices, with a few more bacon slices on top. That went into the oven for 15 minutes, at 140°. Meanwhile I browned sliced onions in the pan, deglazed with red wine, then added port, balsamic, stock and finally sour cream and some stale bread ripped into tiny pieces. The sauce, with a few mushrooms, went into the meat dish, which then cooked, uncovered for another 20 minutes or so. I removed the meat and let it rest under some tin foil and spooned out the onions, bacon and mushrooms to a separate warmed dish. The remaining sauce was whisked and reduced to smooth and thicken it. Served with boiled potatoes and steamed baby asparagus.
The meat was a little less pink than would have been ideal for me, and slightly dry at the ends. But the middle was very tender and flavours were great, especially the gravy.

Beer Braised Duck

Saturday, 14th December 2013
Based on this recipe, but without the yam cake.
That day, we happened to have bought some Kampot Pepper Beer, and I decided to indulge in the luxury of using some of the White Pepper Beer for this, which turned out very nicely. I overdid the soy sauce, but otherwise the duck came out with a great flavour and juicy texture. Served with rice (with plenty of white Kampot pepper) and Bok-Choy, which I cooked just by laying them on top of the duck for 10 minutes to steam.

Slow Braised Beef Shin

Sunday, 8th December 2013
Turn on the slow cooker with a little wine in it, to warm up. Season a slice of Beef Shin or Leg generously and then brown it for several minutes on both sides in a hot pan. Move it to the slow cooker, and add onion to the pan and brown it for a few minutes. Add a generous amount of red wine and deglaze the pan and then some stock, bay leaves and rosemary. Reduce by about a third and pour it all into to the slow cooker. Add some whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic. Cook on medium for several hours. Add some quartered mushrooms and whole button onions and cook for another hour.
On this occasion, I decided to serve the gravy as it was, but I should have removed some of it from the pot and thickened it.
I served this with mash, which was OK, and leeks, which I burnt and which were horrible. A wide pasta would probably have been better. Still the beef, mushrooms and onions were very good. The whole cloves of garlic do not overpower the dish when cooked this way, but are still pretty garlicky when you squeeze them out of their skins to eat.


Wednesday, 4th December 2013
Dragged out the Teppanyaki grill to do a burger. I should use this thing more often. I crumbled up a half a cracker to mix in with the mince, which seems to help the texture, and added a squeeze of Umami sauce for flavour.
Topped with bacon, onions, stilton and a little barbecue sauce and served between thickly cut, lightly toasted slices of a ciabatta style of bread. Yum yum.

Chicken Zurbian Rice

Sunday, 24th November 2013
I was looking for an opportunity to use a Zhug spice mix that I had in the cupboard and chose this Yemeni recipe.
Most of what I googled for Zhug suggested it should be a green sauce, but my spice mix was brown, probably due to being a little old. So instead of trying to make up a sauce by mixing it with water or oil, I used it instead of the spice mix indicated in the recipe. Served with turkish flat bread and a salad of lamb's lettuce and mushrooms.
Judging the amount of liquid needed when the rice was added was tricky, but I got it about right and the rice was nicely cooked at the end. The spices tasted quite Indian to us, rather than Arabic, but the mix is very similar to what I might use for a Curry, so that was no surprise. It was quite rich and pretty hot, so good for me, but a little too spicy for Monika I think.

Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa

Friday, 22nd November 2013
Largely based on this, but with salmon filet rather than steaks and a slightly different spicy mixture.
Cooking this at the temperature and time indicated filled the kitchen with aromatic smoke and took the skin side of the salmon beyond "blackened" to "burnt". And the centre of the fish was still slightly undercooked. So a slightly lower heat and longer cooking would be better (plus open windows). Very tasty though, especially the mango salsa, and not too spicy. Served with sautéed potatoes and a salad of lamb's lettuce, feta, walnuts and toasted pine kernels.