Thursday, 31 March 2011
Dauphinoise potatoes in their most basic form consist merely of sliced potatoes, cream, garlic and seasoning. Depending upon what I am serving them with, however, I often like to sprinkle a little ground nutmeg over the top, immediately prior to placing them in the oven. In this instance, served with a pork chop and honey glazed apple slices, the addition works very well.
Ingredients for One Person
1 pork chop
3 medium floury potatoes
2 1/2" thick slices of Bramley apple (cored)
5 fl oz double (heavy) cream (single/light cream or milk are not suitable substitutes - they will split)
2 cloves of garlic
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp liquid honey
Salt and pepper
Sunflower oil for frying
1 medium tomato and freshly chopped dill for garnish
Put your oven on to preheat to 300F/150C/Gas Mark 2. Such a low oven is necessary to prevent the cream from splitting.
Peel the garlic cloves and grate or crush them in to a bowl. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. It is a good idea to always have some extra cream on standby, as different dishes vary in size and the potatoes have to be all but covered.
Peel the potatoes and slice as thinly as possible, certainly no thicker than 1/4". A mandalin can be used if you have one and due care is exercised. Arrange the potatoes in layers in a round, oven-proof dish, 6" in diameter and around 1" deep. Press down gently but firmly, so as to compress the potatoes but not break them. Pour the cream and garlic over the top. The potatoes should be almost but not quite covered. Sprinkle the nutmeg evenly across the top. Place the dish on to a baking tray and on to a low shelf in the oven for one and a quarter to one and a half hours.
When the potatoes have been in the oven for around an hour, add a little sunflower oil to a non-stick frying pan. Bring it up to a medium heat. Season the pork chop on both sides and add it to the pan. It will take around eight to ten minutes on each side to cook, depending upon the thickness of your chop. (Although there are now suggestions in certain quarters that pork can in fact be eaten slightly underdone, this is not something I am personally prepared to risk. Make sure therefore that your chop is fully and properly cooked.)
When your pork chop is done, remove it to a heated plate, cover with tinfoil and set it aside to rest for around five minutes.
Wipe your pan with kitchen towel to remove the excess oil. Add the honey and heat gently while you wash, decore and slice the apple. Do not peel it. Add the apple slices to the pan and fry for about a minute and a half on each side. You want them softened but not to the extent where they will break when you attempt to plate them.
The dauphinoise potatoes should have browned nicely on top and softened all the way through. Remove them carefully from the oven and plate them with the pork chop to one side. Add the apple slices. The tomato should be halved by making alternate forty-five degree cuts to the core around the circumference. Twist gently to separate. Scatter the dill over the potatoes and serve.
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
This recipe is incredibly simple to prepare and the wonderful smells that will fill your kitchen as it is cooking will have you salivating long before it is time to eat. The dish can be made to serve two to four people but if preparing this for four people, you may wish to double the vegetable quantities.
4 chicken leg/thigh pieces
1 courgette (zucchini in USA)
1 large red onion
1 yellow bell pepper
8 cherry tomatoes
Salt and white pepper
6 black olives and flat leafed parsley to garnish
Crusty bread to serve as an accompaniment
Put your oven on to preheat to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.
The red onion should be peeled and quartered. The bell pepper should be halved, de-seeded and each half quartered in to strips. The courgette (zucchini) should be topped and tailed, cut in half lengthwise and chopped in to one inch pieces. The tomatoes should be left whole but a small slit should be made in the top of each of them to prevent them from bursting in the heat of the oven. Mix the vegetables and spread them out over the base of a large, deep baking tray. Season well with salt and white pepper and drizzle liberally with olive oil.
Lay the chicken leg portions on top of the vegetables. Season and drizzle with more olive oil. Place the tray in to the oven for forty-five minutes.
It is important to check that the chicken is properly cooked. Remove the tray from the oven and pierce the thickest part of each chicken thigh with a metal skewer or fork. Ensure that the juices run clear and that there are no traces of red or pink. If there are, put back in to the oven for another ten minutes and test again. Cover the tray with tinfoil and set aside for ten to fifteen minutes, to allow the chicken to rest.
While the chicken is resting, chop some flat leafed parsley and about six pitted black olives. Slice some fresh bread, which can be used to soak up the delicious olive oil, vegetable and chicken juices.
Use a large, slotted spoon to transfer the roast vegetables to a serving dish (see image at top of post) and lay the chicken legs on top. Garnish with the parsley and chopped olives and take to the table with the bread.
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Very briefly, before I proceed with today's recipe, I would firstly like to acknowledge the fact that this particular post is a bit of a special landmark...
I wanted to come up with something today that was a little bit special, appealing to a wide range of people, representative of one of my own favourite dishes and yet fairly simple to prepare. I gave it a little thought and decided to do this very different combination of fish and potatoes, so popular in the form of fish and chips. I also wanted to ensure that I took account of fish sustainability in the dish and decided to use fresh, sustainable sea bass fillets. I am using silver, European bass fillets but a sustainable equivalent will be available in most countries around the world.
Cooking fish a la Meuniere requires firstly that it be coated in flour and secondly that it be served with a sauce comprising browned butter, lemon juice and parsley. So many recipes of this type are overly complicated beyond belief and - in my eyes, at least - spoiled. I have therefore stuck to the literal principles while making the dish as simple as possible, to ensure it retains the delicious, natural flavours of the sea bass.
Ingredients per Person
2 small sea bass fillets
2 tbsp flour
Salt and black pepper
1 large potato
2 to 3oz of butter
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Juice of half a lemon
Accompanying vegetable of choice
The potato discs should be started first. The potato should be peeled and sliced to a thickness of 1/4". The slices should be placed in a wire basket in a pot of cold water and on to the heat. When the water begins to boil, the heat should be reduced and the potatoes simmered for five minutes. They should be drained, cooled and refrigerated in a Tupperware dish for half an hour. After this time, they should be carefully dried in a clean tea towel and deep fried in sunflower oil for five minutes. Drain them on kitchen paper, cool and again refrigerate for half an hour.
One ounce of the butter should be melted in a large, non-stick frying pan. Please note that it is imperative that real butter be used here. Low fat, vegetable based substitutes are - however sadly - by no means suitable and will entirely spoil the finished dish.
The flour should be spread on a plate and seasoned. The bass fillets should be patted on the skin side only in the flour and laid in the frying pan, skin side down. The butter should be spooned occasionally over the flesh side and the fillets cooked for four to five minutes until done.
While the fillets are cooking, the potato slices should be fried again in the sunflower oil until crisp and golden. Any accompanying vegetable of choice will also require to be prepared.
The fillets of fish should be transferred to a heated plate and covered with tinfoil to stay warm. The remainder of the butter should be added to the pan and cooked on a fairly high heat. The lemon juice and parsley should be added for but a minute or two.
Drain the potatoes on fresh kitchen towel and plate with the vegetable. Drizzle the sauce over the fish and garnish the dish with more fresh parsley and a lemon segment if required.
Monday, 14 March 2011
Rick Stein is my favourite celebrity chef, among the many I enjoy watching and learning from. It is his genuine passion for fish, seafood and simple, natural ingredients (which I share) that I most admire. When I came across a video on YouTube today of him preparing Moroccan spiced meatballs, I knew it was something I had to try. I have changed the recipe slightly here but the principal difference is that I did not have access to a tagine, the traditional Moroccan cooking pot, so I simply used a deep frying pan with a lid. I was so happy with the results, I am definitely going to be adding a tagine to my kitchen appliances in the very near future! (See bottom of post for further details.)
Ingredients for Two People
1/2lb minced/ground beef
1 medium onion
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp paprika
Handful of fresh coriander leaves/cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Fresh bread for serving as an accompaniment
The first step is to prepare the meatballs. The onion should be peeled and finely chopped. Half of it only should be added to a bowl with the beef and half of the roughly chopped coriander. The cumin seeds should be lightly toasted in the dry frying pan before being ground in a pestle and mortar. Half the cumin should be added to the bowl, along with one teaspoon of the paprika. Season with salt and pepper.
The most effective way of mixing this combination is by hand. Be sure to mix it thoroughly and squeeze all the different ingredients and flavours together. The mixture should then be split in to six equal portions and rolled in to balls, approximately equivalent in size to golf balls. The vegetable oil should at this point be added to the frying pan, brought up to a medium heat and the meatballs browned all over. Remove the meatballs to a plate and set aside.
The remaining half of the chopped onion should be added to the frying pan, along with the remaining spices, the very finely chopped garlic clove and some salt and pepper. This mixture should be gently heated and stirred with a wooden spoon for two to three minutes. The chopped tomatoes should then be added and brought to a simmer.
The meatballs should at this stage be re-added to the pan to simmer for twenty minutes, turning them half way through. The meatballs should then be moved to the side of the pan. The eggs should be broken one at a time in to a small bowl and gently poured in to the pan, separate form each other. It is at this time the pan should be covered and left for four to five minutes for the eggs to poach in the sauce.
While the eggs are cooking, the bread should be sliced and placed on a serving plate.
When the eggs are cooked, the remaining coriander should be scattered over the dish and it may be transferred to plates for immediate service.
Tagines and Moroccan Cooking
As I said at the beginning of this post, I was so impressed with this dish that I am definitely going to purchase a tagine and prepare more Moroccan recipes. In this connection, I searched Amazon (where all the best bargains are to be had) as to what was available and found dozens of possible purchases. Below are some tagines and Moroccan cooking ideas from both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk which, like me, you may wish to consider if you like the look and sound of Moroccan cuisine.
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
I find ideas for posts on this blog from a huge variety of different sources, adapting them as I do so to suit my particular purpose, cooking skills and tastes. A few nights ago, I happened to be watching a chef on TV allegedly preparing Beef Bourguignon. I couldn't believe how many ingredients he was using and how complex he was making his recipe. Beef Bourguignon is a simple, rustic, peasant's dish, not something looking to appear in an exhibition of modern art or complex cuisine technical manual. It does necessarily require a moderately long cooking time but to enjoy Beef Bourguignon to best effect, the ingredients should be simple and as few as possible in number, while the cooking techniques should be basic and known to everyone who enjoys to cook.
This is my own adaptation, therefore, of Beef Bourguignon and whatever else it may be, I can at least guarantee that it will be a lot closer to the original than the dish I watched prepared last weekend!
Ingredients for One Person
1/2lb shin of beef
1 pint fresh beef stock
1 pint red wine
1 small carrot
2 medium closed cup mushrooms
1/2 medium white onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 large potato
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp frozen peas
2 tbsp sunflower oil
The shin of beef should firstly be chopped in to bite sized pieces with a very sharp knife and browned and sealed in a large pot. Beef Bourguignon is traditionally made with the tougher cuts of beef, simply because they were and are less expensive to buy. One alternative to shin of beef would be shoulder steak but any similar cut will do. The stock, wine and dried thyme should be added to the pot and the liquid brought to a boil. The heat should be turned down at this stage to achieve a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for two hours, checking occasionally to ensure the liquid continues to cover the meat. Should it require topping up at any stage, boiling water will suffice, as the flavours will infuse as the water evaporates.
In many recipes for Beef Bourguignon and similar dishes, the vegetables will be added at the start. The reason why I choose to add them later is simply in order that they retain their substance and do not become mushy and less palatable. After the meat has been simmering for two hours, only then do I roughly chop the carrot and onion, slice the mushrooms and add them to the pot for a final hour of simmering.
When the vegetables have been added to the Beef Bourguignon, the potato should be peeled and chopped in to approximately 1" chunks. The pieces should be added to a pot of cold, salted water, which should be brought to a boil and then simmered for twenty minutes. At this point the potatoes should be drained and allowed to cool.
The sunflower oil should be placed in a baking tray at least a couple of inches deep and in to the oven to preheat to 425F/220C/Gas Mark 7. The cooled potatoes should be very carefully dried in a clean tea towel before being added to the hot oil and the oven. It is worth taking a minute to gently turn them in the oil to ensure even coating and a better final effect.
After fifteen minutes, the potatoes should be starting to brown nicely. The garlic clove at this point should be crushed and added to a large bowl. Using a slotted spoon, add the potatoes to the bowl and stir them around in the garlic juice. Return them to the tray and the oven for five more minutes only, or the garlic will start to burn and grow bitter in taste.
The peas should be simmered in water for three minutes before being drained and the meal plated up for immediate service.