Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Faisan au riz basquais

I had an amazing morning in the almighty Nailsworth today, one of those very rare moments where I fitted loads in before having to collect a child.  We started with a run along the cycle path, exercise and air for dog, babe and I, tick.  Followed by a good food shop where I got everything I needed and more for tonight's dinner.  A boiling sausage and jarred peppers from,  William will also try to get me Woodcock, apparently difficult this year due to the cold.  Plovers and thrush is still prooving difficult!  Blood oranges for more marmalade and sweet peppers from Bramleys.  I then had my haircut in C2 and still had time for a coffee and post exercise cake in Hobbs before child collection.  Dinner was amazing I was looking forward to this recipe and new it would be a winner with the family.  Elizabeth suggested a guinea fowl as a good alternative to pheasant.  The fowl was browned with onions then pot roasted with bacon and the boiling, bouquet garni in water.  I made a sauce of sweet peppers and skinned tomatoes( I love it that she never makes you seed tomatoes) and paprika.  This was all served on rice with some of the stock stirred through.  I have to confess I cooked the rice my foolproof way not Elizabeth's that involved a double saucepan.  It was then a thrill to serve as suggested all on one plate and bring triumphantly to the table with her green salad.
I haven't told you yet about the cauliflower soup I made yesterday.  You boiled the cauliflower to sieving point.  Obviously I didn't get this right and had to reboil it in bouillion, it was then sieved and a cup of milk and water added.  A lot of butter was then melted in and four egg yolks stirred and heated through.  I have never added egg yolks to a soup before but have seen it in eastern recipes.  I probably slightly
over heated it as it was slightly curdled.  It was still delicious and is titled Cream of Cauliflower soup despite no cream.

Monday, 24 January 2011

One lonely recipe and marmalade

Today I have only made one recipe, courgette and tomatoes.  I finally saw the point of salting courgettes: verdict still out on aubergines,  I salted them left them to rest in a colander for less time than it said, but when I shook them in a tea towel, there was water to be absorbed.  The simple lonely recipe today then involved frying the dry courgettes in olive oil, adding a crushed garlic clove and chopped skinned tomatoes.  So uncomplicated and delicious, we had ours with leftover lamb from last night, and the kids had theirs with pasta.  Why do they always eat pasta with such gusto and guaranteed empty plates?  Also on the go we have this years marmalade.  I normally use Riverford's sevilles and recipes but this year I got them from the farmers market and I am trying out a River Cottage recipe from their Preserves book.  I don't know why preparing marmalade is such bliss. the smell and chopping of the oranges fills me with sweet homely cheer.  The only downside is how can a recipe say it takes 15 minutes to set and mine is still going on a fast boil over an hour later.  I used to put this down to my aga but now I am on gas.  The method I am using is whole oranges, pith and all but no pips and caster sugar.  The River Cottage book also has a recipe for blood orange marmalade and one with demerara  sugar I will be trying, thats if I don't tire having stayed up all night waiting for setting point.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

roast salt marsh lamb finery

How can anyone write a food blog after watching come dine with me?  What part of that would you want to learn from or replicate.
I don't think I have told you about the Pissaladiere I made this week.  This was my appeasement with the kids, an attempt to fool them that I had cooked them a pizza.  They are groaning more about Elizabeth David.  I think they just like to groan.  The so called pizza was made from a buttery dough with an egg in.  Topped with onions, tomato, anchovies and olives.  The children enjoyed it but not as much as a pizza.  
Unfortunately, fortunately we were out Friday and Saturday that made little space for Elizabeth.  So on Friday a fried egg cooked under a lid, topped with brown(not quite burnt) butter and heated white wine vinegar, yum.  Then Saturday, another omelette, not just another omelette but one to be boasted by the husband, a black pudding one.  You fry off the black pudding, then fry off some shallots and parsley added these to the eggs.  Then made an omelette in "the usual way" with half the eggs, then another and sandwiched these together with the black pudding as the filling, totally simple and a very tasty breakfast.  Today I made eggs cocotte with cream (flying through the egg, cheese dish section) in a hurry which made rather raw egg cocotte.
The Elizabeth David finale was tonight.  Salt marsh lamb bought from Cullimores at Stroud Farmers market, grown in Slimbridge, was roasted in "the usual way", I wasn't entirely convinced what Elizabeths way was so I used mine.  Seasoned, a couple of garlic cloves poked in, olive oil drizzled and a splash of stock in the tin, nice.  I served this with lovingly sieved onion sauce, sweet and sour red cabbage, vichy carrots and her roast potatoes.  Her potatoes cooked in an oven are boiled whole in their skins to a little underdone(or overdone by me today), peeled and cubed.  Then seasoned and cooked in melted goose fat in an earthenware shallow dish.  A jolly nice dinner, Henry the chef was relieved the lamb wasn't from his new butchery but I thought it nice.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Four Elizabeth David recipes in one day

Last night I soaked chickpeas, in water with flour and salt.  This morning you added bicarb to the water and rinsed the peas, you boil the gloopy water then add the chickpeas.  Simmer until there is no water and they stick to the bottom of the pan, then put the chickpeas in 6 pints of boiling water until tender.  The chickpeas were yummy but I maybe didn't rinse them well enough as some were still gooey with flour.    I then removed half the chick peas for a salad as instructed and tossed them in olive oil and used the rest to make a Chick Pea Soup.  "this makes an interesting soup, although I suppose that the curious flavour of chickpeas would not  be to everybody's taste. "   It was a sieving soup(Madonna arms here I come)yummy and the youngest girls, the dog and I all enjoyed it.
I then had a proud moment as I made aioli by hand.  Her recipe was made in the pestle and mortar, I love serving things in the mortar, so authentic!  You crushed the garlic, I added salt at this point to aid the crush, then I just used one egg yolk and 1/3 pint of olive oil, greek I'm afraid Elizabeth.  It made for a beautiful green gloss. 
For dinner we had the green gloss, chickpeas, salad and Filet d'agneau au four.  The lamb fillet was roasted in a medium oven on top of bones with a few ladles of game stock.  I left this in the oven during piano lessons and a quick meeting at the bakery to return to a piece of meat that looked like it needed to brown  a bit so just as it was on it's way to the top oven I read Elizabeths instructions, 'remove the bones pour off the juice into a saucepan and leave the meat to brown", genius, how did she know.  What with the juices and all it was a jolly nice dinner, the kids even liked it.

Children and food

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Wet soup, slimy mussel and sourdough cake.

Must learn to follow recipes, still is my temptation to bypass ingredients, reduce amounts or not measure.
Yesterday in a mad rush when I should have been tidying the pig sty I decided to make Creme Flamande, cream of onion and potato soup.  I don't know why me and the smallest didn't just have a cheese sandwich.   Mistake number 1, double the recipe, then realise don't have double the ingredients.  Its a simple soup really boil potatoes, leek, onion, parsley(I forgot) in water (I added too much, didn't measure),  Boil until "sievable", fry another onion(not a manky one) in butter add to sieved soup with hot cream.  Probably add some more parsley somewhere and serve.  Mine was very thin, too much water or not enough determination with the sieve?  But still was pretty edible with Hobbs House baguette smothered in butter.
Today I attempted my first Elizabeth David mussels recipe, Moules a la Normande.  A yummy dish of mussels cooked on shallots, celery leaves, parsley and white wine.  Cook the mussels then remove, pass juices threw a muslin cloth, I even did this, impressed? Reduce the liquid by half add boiled cream and butter for luck.  Elizabeth advised removing the empty shell of each mussel, with all best intentions I started this then threaked that the mussels were overcooked and therefore best serve instantly.  Fortunately Henry the chef and Jessica were here for dinner and as we were left with slimy cold unopened mussels he informed me they weren't cooked not overcooked.  I know, d'oh you idiot, but apparently they solidify the longer you cook them not melt.  A very good lesson learnt and saved.  They were returned to the pan all eaten and the delectable juices were all mopped up with ciabatta.
Another experiment, can you make a classic victoria sponge with sourdough?  Yes... well kind of.  I made a classic victoria sponge today 6,6,6,3, but rather than adding self raising flour and baking powder I added 3 tbsp of sourdough.  This made for a dense but moist cake, topped with lemon glace icing it was pretty good.  Sorry Elizabeth but the next test is Chelsea Buns with sourdough.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A jolly nice meal at Hobbs House Bistro

A bias review of Hobbs House Bistro.
We filled the bistro on Saturday night to celebrate my Dad's 60th.  There was 24 of us of different ages and a veritable smorgasbord of eating habits.  The menu was fantastic, something for everyone, nearly all of us had three courses.
Baskets of great bread welcomed us to the table with Ant's superb tapenade, perfect washed down with prosecco.  I had a half pint of prawns, beautiful, with just the right amount of homemade mayonnaise.  Next I had a pork chop with honey gremolata and squash.  The pork chop had been cooked as a rack in the wood fired oven, so was incomparably tasty and moist, the gremolata was amazing, a perfect balance of herbs and honey that didn't cloy.  Served with a squash cake and pak choi.  For pudding, chocolate fondant gooey in the middle with orange caramel, need I say more.
The whole evening was faultless, we pre ordered the food, Annie quickly worked out who was who and everyone was delivered their food promptly and without error.
If I was you I would go now and take advantage of the free course we are offering.  I have seen this weeks menu and I am not sure I can resist a visit for the cornish fish stew and ash baked bread.  The problem with weekly visits to the Bistro is one less night for Elizabeth.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

the nicest one I have ever had

We have had a full on weekend of celebration, my Pa's 60th and four children's birthday parties.  I thought I was neglecting ED but managed to knock out 5 recipes today, that and expanding and perfecting my omelette range.  I have now made her mushroom one, ham one, cheese and fine herbs. The cheese has been the favourite so far.  She instructs you to heat your pan, then melt your butter at full heat until it is about to change in colour.  Then add your eggs and finely grated parmesan already very lightly beaten(just combined) with two forks.  Top with gruyere cubes then cook for a few minutes till just set, no popping it in the oven to finish, fold into three.  
Yesterday I used up the leftover partridge in a suggested salad of watercress and hard boiled eggs. Elizabeth says to hard boil eggs for 7 to 10 minutes from cold, these were very runny, I think I prefer Gordon's method of 6 minutes when added to boiling water. I think the salad would of benefitted from more texture roasted seeds or pomegranate molasses would have been delicious.
Today for a family lunch Faisan a la Choucroute.  I hadn't cooked choucroute before and Elizabeth was a bit assumptive that I knew what I was doing, I have cooked a red cabbage similarly slowly but this was white cabbage.  An onion was fried in goose fat, then I added washed cut white cabbage with juniper berries, then added stock and wine.  I added the grated potato too early which meant you probably couldn't tell it was there.  This was the simmered in my simmering oven for over an hour, kirsch was then sloshed in before serving.  We served this with Pheasant en cocotte, mashed potato(husband redeemed "the nicest one I have ever had") and carrots vichy(not fishy).  For pud we had chocolate souffle, potential beginners luck produced a beautiful upstanding moist dish enjoyed by us all.  
My Mum produced the classic line today "where is this recipe from?", but she's learning. Its funny flicking through the weekends papers and not looking out for recipes. This week presents the game challenge I am anxiously working my way through this so to complete it by the end of the season. I have already pot roasted two pheasant and stewed four partridge.  The list in full stands at 3 more partridges, 3 more pheasant, 1 woodcock, plovers, teal, thrush and 5 hares one with blood.  Already I don’t like the smell of game cooking and the kids and I have tired a little of the flavour. I don’t think I can bear to tell the children I need to stuff another cabbage, and this time with a partridge.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Mummy, I heard you swear

It was all going well, simple, Stewed Partridges, fry off some bacon in butter add the partridges breast down.  Add brandy set fire to it:sharp decline down hill, I couldn't light the brandy, it said to pour it in then set fire, this didn't work, I remember setting fire to brandy in a ladle before then pouring over, this may of worked better.  I then added wine and a bouquet garni and popped in a medium oven for 40 minutes.  Easy, simple.  Until in my wisdom I thought I would reattempt the boiling of a whole celeriac.  I got my Ma to buy me a celeriac and forgot to advice her to get a small one, so the beast would not cook to a sievable consistency.  Once again the potatoes remained Pommes Puree.  Some advice for you do not attempt to sieve a hard celeriac or hand whisk potatoes with a toddler whinging clinging to your left leg.
The partridges were then removed from their juices, the juices reduced and butter added.  All served with overdone old cabbage .  The kids weren't convinced about the partridge, "yuck", the baby loved it, particularly the bones, and feeding it to the dog,"sit". I simultaneously cooked Potage Crecy(carrot soup), grated carrot(?!), a shallot, potato and chicken stock.  I will now attempt to sieve this.
We have lots of partridge left and no one to eat it and 3 more partridge recipes to go.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Just steak

Well not just steak, not only Elizabeth David's Entrecote Grille, but Henry's steak.  The first steak from the Hobbs House butchery in Chipping Sodbury.  Henry and Jess joined us for dinner to celebrate.
So the steak beautifully cut to just over 1/2 inch thick was seasoned with just pepper, coated with oil and cooked on my hot plate for 4 minutes a side, perfection.  ED said to grill but my all singing all dancing oven doesn't have a grill!  But the hotplate worked a treat.  The steak was served with leftover ratatouille.  Definitely feeling the threat of the more challenging recipes.  Partridge stew tomorrow,.. take four old birds....Need to confirm that Tom is here for dinner tomorrow, not sure I can cope serving that one up to the kids on my own!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Tarragon and shallots

Things I have learnt, shallots and tarragon taste really nice.  I have probably only used shallots before whole in stews and would normally just use an onion, but in delicate dishes the shallot wins hands down.  Tarragon too is a herb I'm not sure I have ever used but its pungent aniseed flavour adds wonders to simple dishes.  Will definitely be adding to my herb garden this year.
Lesson learnt, do not try to bribe husband.  Attempted bribe, if you walk the dog I will make you an omelette for breakfast.  Quickly apparent husband not going to walk the dog, so I thought I'll make him "omelette fine herbs" anyway. Once again I am proud to show off my newly found omelette making skills, lightly beaten with tarragon and parsley added folded in three.  His comments are, "oh unusual do you separate the eggs to make this" followed by "I need ketchup", and not even my homemade, but Heinz.
For dinner I made ratatouille nicoise and scallops in white wine.  He then asks "does she recommend putting these together, fair point but Williams had sold out of mullet.  The ratatouille involved cutting things small, another cookery shortcut I don't usually take.  I even salted the aubergines, does it make a difference???
The ratatouille was 4 onions, 3 aubergines, 3 courgettes, 3 peppers, 4 skinned tomatoes, garlic and basil, simple, yummy.  Looking forward to eating the leftovers with steak tomorrow, I suspect that will be an improvement on the scallops.  The scallops were delicious, cut up(what?), sauteed with shallots and bacon then the pan deglazed with white wine and parsley.  Really good, but both dishes were good enough in their own right to not be eaten together.

Monday, 10 January 2011

She's a goody that David.

Over the weekend I  have cooked;
Eggs cocotte served with leftover chorizo good as The Providores turkish egg
Boiled sausages with a hot potato salad...easy way to cook sausages, kids suspicious of whiteness
Bacon and eggs with leftover hot potato salad and sausages...bacon too thick to be a real success
Shin of beef stew with potato dauphinoise and glazed carrots....legendary, mastered vichy carrots
Apple and chestnut stuffing.... for the freezer for a turkey at a later date
Ham omelette with,

Jerusalem Artichokes cooked in stock with leftover  Beef stew....impressed husband
Chestnuts in Kirsch.......mastered the art of shelling chestnuts,
Everything has worked, delicious, simple.  I haven't even used much butter.

Friday, 7 January 2011

You wash up, I'll write my blog.

Been busy busy, eating cooking, cooking eating.  Last night I made a chocolate cake, this reminded me of my aversion to cooking recipes that involve separating eggs.  I do have a daft contraceptive like object to separate eggs, but can't bear the extra washing up.  Last night my fear was overcome, the chocolate cake was simple, delicious.  You melted the chocolate in the oven then added this to a tiny amount of flour, soft butter, sugar and the egg yolks.  Then fold into the stiffened egg whites.  It made a tiny little moist cake, I cooked it in  a lardy tin then topped it with the same as the chocolate and chestnut cake.  I did under bake the cake so it did look like a bundt as the middle collapsed and the icing flowed through.
Today I shelled all the chestnuts, not as simple and easy as she makes out.  Today I roasted them but it's quite an art to shell them when they are still hot but not overcooked and crumbly.  We ate the Chestnut soup today, really nice, so when I have made all the chestnut recipes I hope to have some left for another batch of soup.
I shopped today in Nailsworth, great fish from Williams and a fantastic selection of game if there is anything Henry can't get for me.  I also did my basics shop in Horsley Community shop, such a delight.
Tonight was little chef friday so the children cooked themselves chicken nuggets, leaving Tom and I to have a fishy feast.  To start we had devilled chestnuts, the ones I managed to shell whole, boiled to tender then fried in olive oil, cayenne and salt.  I then cooked my two dover sole.  Tom skinned them, I must learn this, although Williams will always do this,  and I cooked them as two different recipes.  The first was in wine and shallots and absolutely divine melt in the mouth. We then had an interlude where we polished off the stuffed cabbage, must eat our veg, followed by the second sole.  This was cooked in a fishy stock and then topped with a parsley butter with lemon, this was also well tasty but not as melt in the mouth, tougher but not tough.  So does wine soften and add that melt.
Tomorrow I need to attempt an egg recipe, 51 to go, we are at the Bistro so do the kids and babysitter get leftovers or there very own Elizabeth David recipe?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

40 weeks

Can I cook this in 40 weeks;
30 sauces
35 hor d'oeuvres/salads
29 soups
51 egg, cheese or hot hor d'oeuvres
24 other pork dishes
85 vegetable dishes
64 fish
81 meat dishes
44 puddings
11 a week, easy, may have to reduce how many times we eat at the Hobbs House Bistro, so to up the cooking opportunities.
Today I cooked Saucisses a la Navarraise.  Probably the simplest recipe yet, a staple with no sieving.  Chorizos, peppers and a splash of liebfraumilch(what to do with the rest?) served with crostini baguette and brocolli(targeting the 5 a day). Very delicious, although the boy prefers spicier chorizo and they all ate but didn't scoff.  I think I'll just make a quick chocolate cake if I am going to hit 11, has anyone ever melted chocolate in the oven? Here goes...

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Stuffed cabbage, "I hate it"

Fortunately I foresaw the cries of "I hate it" from the objectionable children and had made them chicken pasta to accompany their stuffed cabbage.  Tom and I were pleasantly surprised and made a large indent into it.  I was quite excited by stuffing it, and pleased with how it worked.  You blanched the whole cabbage in boiling water and I underestimated how large my white cabbage was, so it was a little undercooked in the middle.  Then you peeled back the leaves and cut out the middle and filled it with seasoned bacon and chestnuts.  I then folded back in the leaves and tied it up with string.  You then add a clear stock(chicken stock?),  and simmer in the oven for five hours.  It filled the house with cooking smells with cabbagy undertones which we hoped cleared in time for the Mummers play dress rehearsal we hosted here tonight.
I also made a chestnut soup today.  Elizabeth had very sensible advice today, you made a vegetable stock to cook the chestnuts in.  She then advised that you make the leftover stock vegetables into a soup too, so today I have made two soups.  Tomorrow I am attempting the recipe that will go down a treat with us all, I just have to decide how to use up the rest of the cabbage.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cooked out

This cooking lark is exhausting.  Today I cooked her celeriac and potato soup, although I didn't exactly follow the recipe, so I am not sure it counts.  I realize toady how many corners I cut when I cook, not only an aversion to sieving but also washing up.  I always try to use as few pans as possible.  So when Elizabeth says to cook the celeriac and potato seperately I am bemused, does it matter, does it effect the flavour enough to justify a whole new saucepan!  My variation was using up leftovers, key if this project achieves zero waste.  I used up the celeriac that didn't cook properly on Sunday(will need to attempt boiling a whole celeriac to sieving point again),  I reboiled and sieved laboriously.  I then added leftover potato puree(mash), is this a disastrous move in culinary terms? I then added milk and seasoning and cream and made for a pale and tasty soup that could of improved on texture.  Although with baguette and butter, divine. 
My other contribution today was peeling chestnuts, another labour intensive task that I am yet to master.  I forgot we were out for pizzas tonight, light relief,  so we will have the stuffed cabbage tomorrow.
I am still shopping locally and today I found toothbrushes and deodrant in Green Spirit and Alistair Sawdays latest Eat Slow Britain in Emmaus Charity shop, success.

Monday, 3 January 2011

I can't poach an egg

I did know I couldn't poach an egg, but can I really not poach an egg.  Today I followed Elizabeth Davids method of blast boiling the egg in the shell, then creating a whirpool in the vinegared water.  The result was overcooked yoke and little white.  I can feel a Julie and Julie moment ahead of me, I will conquer it.
Today I have been feeling the effects of overeating,  I wasn't sure whether I could face an Elizabeth David dinner(already),  but I cooked her Chicken with Cream and Cheese sauce, not terribly light but we just had it with brocolli,( to the cries of "is that it?"( and of course Wild White.  I cooked her white sauce in a new way, not Delia's all in one.  Melt the butter, then add the flour, "no fire", then add hot milk gradually, then when thickened cook for another twenty minutes in a bain marie(a larger saucepan with water in). I then added cheddar, not quite the recipe, eek,  then layered in with leftovers from yesterdays chicken and baked, really delicious.  Nearly a week in I must attempt some of her more complicated recipes, stuffed cabbage with bacon and chestnuts tomorrow???

Sunday, 2 January 2011

one pack of butter and a roast dinner

Today I cooked my first all Elizabeth David roast dinner.  
Chicken roasted in butter,
I stuffed the chicken with butter (obviously), seasoned and with tarragon added.  I then smeared the bird with butter and roasted and turned it for little over an hour.
To accompany I attempted Puree de celeri-rave et pommes de terre, but it became pommes de terre or mash.  Elizabeth said to boil the celeriac whole, and then sieve but timings didn't work out and it wasn't soft enough, I'll make celeriac soup tomorrow.  The potatoes were boiled whole just scrubbed, when tender I peeled then I whisked these, electric whisk, not hand, sorry Elizabeth, adding hot milk and butter.
To accompany I made onion sauce, frying the onions in butter for 7 minutes then adding a spoon of flour and hot milk, you can use stock, I will try this to reduce the dairy intake.  I then reluctantly sieved it, but it produced an amazing delicious small amount of intense flavoured sauce.
For vegetables, Vichy carrots, didn't manage the knack of boiling down all the water but will try again.  Then green beans with butter!  We then carved and served the chicken with the buttery juices.  
To follow we ate the last of the christmas pudding and brandy butter, oops.  

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The pudding that didn't get eaten

I am not really used to making the pudding that doesn't get eaten at a party, but Elizabeth David clearly doesn't aesthetically tick peoples pudding box. The all english trifle and brownies were the clear winner.
Chocolate and Chestnut cake, not a cake.
It wasn't as easy to shell the chestnuts as promised, but far cheaper and more rewarding than the vacuum packs I'm accustomed too. This was sieved, easily, butter, sugar and water added. you then set this overnight in the fridge. The following day I made chocolate covering, melted chocolate with sugar water and butter. This pleasingly made the right amount, no Nigella icing to cake disproportions here. I liked the cake, surprisingly as I remember disliking Nigellas chocolate chestnut cake. So maybe I should stop feeling dejected and enjoy scoffing the lot myself.
Galette aux fruits.
This tart still failed the popularity test but met the need of the daughter wanting to make bread. The dough contains 5oz flour, 1/2oz yeast(baker since informs me to half amount if using dried yeast), 1 1/2oz butter, 1 egg and salt. This made a delicious briochesque dough, when prooved we pushed it into a tart tin until it looked very pretty. We then topped it with buttery sliced apples. Just before the end of the cooking we(the baker had got involved) added a topping of cream and a egg yolk, ten minutes a later an anaemic looking tart was cooked. He(the baker) gave it some extra colour with the blow torch. I liked this tart a lot and it makes a grand store cupboard pud/cake standby that can be topped with any fruit. It could maybe of been sweeter, a little sugar in the dough?
The rest went down very well today after a long family walk with cup of tea.