Sunday, 28 June 2009

My birthday meal tonight- cooked by me!

However, special but not complicated. The Osso Bucco follows a simple Elizabeth David recipe. Risotto is easy. The special ingredient tonight was fresh peas from the garden. Afters: fresh raspberries, again from the garden, with yogurt. Oh yes, and a bottle of 1998 Chateauneuf du Pape!

Osso Bucco
2 slices shin of veal
4 tablespoons dry cider
1 tin chopped tomatoes
stock, or water and a chicken stock cube

Brown the veal on both sides in vegetable oil. Pour off the excess oil. Add the dry cider and let it bubble until almost dry. Put in the tomatoes, add stock, or water and stock cube, to cover the veal. Let simmer for about 90 minutes with the pan covered. Reduce the liquid, if necessary, when the veal is cooked. Just before serving sprinkle with gremolata. (See labels)

Risotto with fresh peas
Arborio rice- about 300g- makes 4 servings, but I like to have leftovers
1 onion finely chopped
4 tablespoons dry cider
chicken stock(stock cube is fine)
grated parmesan, about 100g, or more to taste

First soften the onion in a little olive oil. Put the rice in the pan. Stir around for a couple of minutes, put the cider in and let evaporate. Add enough hot stock to cover, turn heat down and let the rice absorb the liquid. Add more liquid as it evaporates, and stir rice occasionally. After about 15 minutes, with the rice still tasting slightly chalky, add the uncooked peas. Add more liquid as necessary, and cook for about another 10 minutes. When the rice is cooked turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Successful first course, second course edible but not that enjoyable

Globe artichokes, one each for the first course. Shame they are so expensive in the UK. These were big ones that I steamed in a little water in the microwave for 15 minutes. Eating them is an enjoyable ritual: first pull off individual scales and dip it in a mixture of melted butter and lemon juice; the inner scales don't have much flesh, so they are just discarded; you need asbestos fingers to pull off the hairy choke; then the reward, the slightly cupped disc at the heart eaten with more butter and lemon juice.

The omelette was less successful. I fried some mushrooms, then added some chopped parma ham for another couple of minutes. I then added the beaten eggs. The parma ham made the omelette too salty, and the flavour was too strong.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Starting point tonight: sitting in my chair at 6pm. What are we going to have? I know: mangetout in the garden. But we need more. I found a pork fillet in the freezer, so decided on a stir fry. This is typical of my cooking: making a meal of what we have in the house or garden. I don't very often pre-plan.

The stir fry was pretty standard. Sliced onion, red pepper, and carrot sticks were separately stir fried, as was the thinly sliced fillet of pork. Then, to a little heated oil in the wok, I added crushed garlic and ginger. After 1 minute I splashed in chinese rice wine and soy sauce. I put the pork and vegetables back in the pan, covered it and gently reheated. The mangetout were stir fried separately in a very little oil. Once cooked I flavoured them with some soy sauce and a teaspoon of sesame oil. They remained nicely crunchy, patchy blackness along their green sides. I served the food with plain noodles.
To follow: the first raspberries.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

I've got more gooseberries on my bushes than I know what to do with. So far we've picked at least 12lbs of them. Last week I made gooseberry and elderflower jam. Tonight I've made a cake with some of them. First course was:

Broccoli and cheese sauce for pasta
(adapted from Antonio
2 heads broccoli chopped
2 cloves garlic
4 slices bacon
300mls milk
good handful grated`parmesan

First cook the broccoli in salted water until tender. Cook the bacon slices in a little olive oil . Remove from the pan, and cook 2 cloves chopped garlic in the same oil until just brown. Put the cooked broccoli in the pan, add the milk and chopped bacon and simmer while the pasta is cooking. Carluccio said orrechiette, but I just had penne. When the pasta is cooked mix it into the broccoli mixture and stir in the parmesan.
This tasted`surprisingly good, and was given a nice bite by the garlic.

Gooseberry and almond cake
125g chilled butter,chopped
250g plain flour
10mls baking powder
125g greek yogurt
125g ground almonds
125g light muscovado sugar
350g gooseberries
85g castor sugar
flaked almonds

Heat oven to 180C. Line a 27x18cm baking tin with baking parchment.
Put the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and sugar into a bowl. Rub in the butter to make crumbs, then stir in the yogurt. This makes a moist dough. Form the dough into a sausage. Use two thirds to line the base and sides of the tin. I just pressed it out with my fingers. Put the gooseberries on the dough. Sprinkle with the sugar. Roll out the remaining dough, drape over the gooseberries, and seal the edges. In practice the dough broke into pieces. I just patched them together, leaving a few berries showing through. Sprinkle with flaked almonds. put in the oven for about 45 minutes.
This recipe was adapted from a streusel recipe on the BBC Good Food site. Instead of using 250g butter, I used half butter and half yogurt, in a bid to lower the fat content. The result was very good: a tender dough with slightly biscuity edges; the gooseberry juices nicely soaked up by the ground almonds.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

An almost vegetarian supper tonight. Three large portobello mushrooms were more than enough for the two of us. Beautiful pink strawberry and yogurt ice cream to follow.

Portobello mushrooms with leek and cheese sauce

3 portobello mushrooms
cheese sauce, about 300g
leeks chopped and softened in butter

Rub the mushrooms with a little oil and grill each side about 5 minutes. Mix the leeks with the cheese sauce, pile on top of the mushrooms. Grate extra cheese on top. Put back under grill until nicely browned. We ate this with boiled new potatoes and mangetout peas freshly picked from the garden(the peas, not the potatoes).

Strawberry and yogurt ice cream
500g strawberries
125g castor sugar
juice half a lemon
200g full fat greek yogurt

Roughly crush the strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Mix in the yogurt. I don't have an ice cream maker, so I pour the mixture into a shallow bowl and put in the freezer. After about an hour and a half, take out the bowl and stir well, mixing all the just frozen portions with the rest. put back in freezer and repeat the mixture a couple more times at about half hour intervals. Divide frozen mixture into 3 or 4 containers and put back in freezer.

This is a lovely, relatively guilt free ice cream, I like pieces of strawberry in it, so I just roughly crush the mixture.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Staple tonight, Ragu made by G

To go with the ragu I made

Chinese style cabbage with cumin

I had a whole spring cabbage in the fridge which needed to be used. I fried half a chopped onion until it browned. I then added sliced fresh ginger, sliced garlic and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and cooked for another couple of minutes. I poured a couple of tablespoons of Chinese rice wine into the pan and let it evaporate. I then put in the cabbage, which I had cut into wedges, several shakes of soy sauce, and a little water. I covered the pan and let it cook for about another 10 minutes.
The taste combination was good. The cumin enhanced the other seasonings.

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