Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Simple Quandry

Friday, 13th February 2015
We've been having a bit of a cocktail lull recently, although I'm sure it won't last. Certainly not when there are cocktails as good as A Simple Quandry.
I wasn't sure about the Gin and Aquavit base, thinking it might be a bit fierce, but I was really surprised how it turned out. The addition of Benedictine and Cynar (substituted for Punt e Mes), brought about a deliciously balanced combination of rich, herby and bitter fruit flavours. Definitely one to repeat soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pasta Carbonara

Sunday, 15th February 2015
I'm not normally a fan of eggy things, but I fancied a change and we had the ingredients for this. I looked at several recipes and some added the egg then the bacon to the drained pasta, and some the pasta then the egg to the bacon - a bit of an italian version of the tea-in-first vs. milk-in-first debate I guess.
I elected to add the pasta to the bacon pan, followed by the egg mixture. Although I had the pan off the heat it was clearly still too hot and the egg scrambled almost immediately. The flavour was good, but the texture and look was not very appetising. More care and more of the pasta liquid needed if I ever do this again.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pork Loin Chops with Apple Sauce and Reibekuchen

Saturday, 7th February 2015
These chops are great but it's tricky to find a way to cook the fat properly without overdoing the meat.
Actually the first problem is finding a recipe that does not start with "trim the excess fat", since that is really defeating the object.
I fried the chops fat side down for two minutes, holding them up with tongs, and then for two minutes on each side. The melted fat had to be poured off after each stage (and I stupidly didn't keep it!). Then into a medium oven for 5 minutes and resting for 5 more.
Meanwhile I made this apple sauce, although I grated my ginger into the sauce. There was a lovely gingery aroma while the sauce was cooking, but not really much of a gingery flavor in the finished article. Still very tasty though and a perfect accompaniment for the pork and Monika's delicious reibekuchen. The meat was in the oven a little too long and therefore cooked through and a little dry, while the fat was not cooked quite enough.

Pork Fillet with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Sunday, 1st February 2015
Standard approach for the filet. Brown all over in a hot pan with a little lard, transfer the whole pan to a medium oven for 5 or 6 minutes, then allow the meat to rest for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile fry a chopped shallot gently in butter, then add crushed peppercorns and brandy and reduce. Then add stock and reduce again. Then add cream and cook without boiling until the required thickness is reached.
Cook potatoes in their skins, cool and peel. Lightly fry them whole in a little oil with rosemary and salt.
Slice the meat and serve with the sauce poured over.
A lovely combination, although another spoonful of peppercorns and a bit more thickening of the sauce would have been even better.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Pork and Beef Rissoles with Spinach and Tomato

Saturday, 25th January 2015
Based on this recipe for Lamb Rissoles, but I used a Pork and Beef mix. I also added a few breadcrumbs to make them a bit lighter.
Essentially just fat meatballs, or small frikadelle, but a nice meaty, spinachy flavour, and very good with the double-cooked chips and a tomato and onion sauce.

Greek style Lamb Shanks

Saturday, 24th January 2015
Ultimate Slow Cooking p75. Brown the lamb shanks on all sides, and place them in the pre-heated slow cooker. Soften onions and add crushed coriander seeds, sherry, bay leaves and honey. Pour over the lamb and cook on the slow cooker high setting for 5-7 hours. Remove the lamb and keep it warm while reducing/thickening the sauce. Garnish with orange zest.
One of the few slow cooker things I have made recently where the meat came out as tender as expected, and properly falling off the bone. Possibly I need to use the high setting more often. Very good with simple mash.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bentheimer Rare Breed Pork Loin Chop

Saturday, 17th January 2015
Slice the fat through to prevent curling, then fry hot with the fat down for 2 minutes, holding the chops upright with tongs. Then 2 minutes more on each side, then transfer the pan to a 150 degrees oven for 5 minutes. Stew a mix of potato, celery root, carrot and garlic then puree with a little milk and butter. Served with some leftover red cabbage, which seems to benefit from reheating.
Lovely juicy and flavoursome meat, with perfectly cooked fat. The puree was still a little chunky, but very tasty. Excellent cabbage.

Mackerel with Spicy Orange Glaze

Thursday, 15th January 2015
Largely based on this BBC Good Food recipe, but since I had no harissa I substituted some Ras el hanout spices mixed with olive oil. The fish was firm and flavourful, despite what seemed like a long cooking time. The glaze was nicely tart and spicy, without being overpowering, although there was a slight harshness from the dried spices.

Lamb Cutlets with Roasted Garlic Pasta

Monday, 12th January 2015
We had some nice lamb cutlets to eat, which I like to grill hot and fast. But I wasn't sure about having them with pasta until I saw this recipe.
I grilled the lamb instead of frying, and wasn't well enough prepared to infuse the oil with rosemary. I also only mixed in a small amount of the garlic and just served the rest separately with the lamb on top of the pasta, since I like it more than Monika. The cutlets were tender and juicy, as expected, and went very well with the oily, slightly cheesy pasta.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lamb Kofta Kebab

Saturday 10th January 2015
Monika wasn't convinced about this idea, having had only some rather chewy and dry kofta before. However these turned out very well. The minced lamb was mixed with coriander, cumin, mint and a very small amount of breadcrumbs. Then formed into sausages around skewers, which turned out to be much easier than I expected. I brushed them with a little garlic oil and did them under a very hot grill for 8 minutes, turning once.
The kebabs were juicy and tender, with a lovely flavour, and Monika's cucumber and yogurt salad was a perfect accompaniment.

Wild Boar Goulash

Friday 9th January 2015
I wanted a recipe that was predominantly a red pepper sauce with sour cream, so I used this one.
It certainly had a very clear red pepper flavour. The wild boar was tender but a little dry, with a strong gamey flavour. The sauce was sadly rather sour, which we later put down to the rather poor red wine I used at the very start of the recipe. A good reminder that a meal is only as good as the ingredients, and that it is a bad idea to use cheap wine that simply doesn't taste nice. No need to use the best Pomerol, but you should always use a wine you would be happy to drink.

Tandoori Poussin with Sag Aloo

Sunday 4th January 2015
200 Curries p.42. Mix yoghurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cardamom seeds, chili, paprika, tomato puree, lemon juice and cover the chicken. It was supposed to marinade for a day, but I only had 2 hours before it went into the oven.
For Sag Aloo (BBCGoodFood) cut potatoes into small chunks, parboil and keep the water. Heat oil and add cumin seeds then onions and soften. Add the potato, garlic, turmeric, ginger and garam masala and fry until the potato is cooked, stirring often and adding some of the potato water from time to time to keep it moist. When the potatoes are cooked add the spinach and mix until it has wilted.
Very aromatic and tasty, although the chicken missed the marinading. The sag aloo was excellent cold the next day, as a sort of chunky, potato chutney.

Glazed duck with apples

Saturday 3rd January 2015
This was a mish-mash of different recipes from the web, but was really meant for duck breast and the leg portions we had were not a good substitute. Even with fairly long and slow cooking they came out rather tough and sinewy. Nice flavours in the source and sauteed apples though.

Swordfish steak

Friday 2nd January 2015
Simply fried for 2 minutes on each side. This time without finishing in the oven. As a result the inside was still quite uncooked (good), but cold (bad). Need to find a way to heat the fish through without cooking it.
Great flavour and texture though.
With saute potatoes and lambs lettuce salad. Some kind of salsa would have been good.

Catching up with the rest of 2014

Spareribs - glaze including orange marmelade, devon fire chutney and other random store-cupboard ingredients. Excellent.

Pheasant with glazed onions. Good flavour but the pheasant was rather tough.

Venison loin. Tender, flavoursome and delicious. Not quite as underdone as the photo suggests.

Shepherds pie. Very nostalgic, but perhaps a bit too cheesy.

Pork fillet flambé with apricots. Delicious and with some spectacular flambéing.

Meatballs and pasta. Lovely, fluffy but flavourful meatballs. Chilling before cooking helped to retain the right shape.

Herb crusted rack of veal. Looks good, but disappointingly sinewy veal, that needed at least 10 minutes more cooking.

Slow cooked pork with orange. Slow cooking resulted in lovely tender pork. The skin went into the oven separately at the end to crisp up and got a little bit too burned.

Venison with blueberries. Very nice flavour with the fruit, but not as tender as I had hoped.

Grilled mackerel. Simple and good but more attractive with the head and tail still on!