Sunday, 26 June 2011

Not my birthday

This is the year of the 60th.  In previous years we have been very wedding focused and since having children it has been all about weddings, to the point that our eldest daughter is being a bridesmaid for the fifth time this year.  The succession of 60th birthdays is not due to our age but our parents and their contemporaries.  This week was the turn of my father-in-law.  After a very successful party of pork, elderflower cocktails and great music, I followed with a subdued dinner for 10 on his actual birthday.  It is usually my privilege to cook this summer dinner ideally eaten outside.
This year the weather let us down and as I prepared the food I thought Elizabeth was going to too.  I had a topside joint of veal (I have 19 more veal recipes to complete), left soaking in a brine of lemons, onions, white wine vinegar, salt and salt petre for four days.  This was then boiled slowly to produce the tenderest of meat.  Veal is a delicious tasty tender light meat, a hit with the kids.  I then used the strained broth to make a beetroot consomme by reboiling it with raw beetroot in.
We started the proceedings with homemade elderflower champagne, this lot didn't fizz over like the last bottle:  disappointing. I then found the perfect accompaniment better than some salted peanuts, fresh home grown podded broad beans raw just sprinkled with sea salt.   Our starter was the beetroot consomme served with small bits of diced beetroot in and a dribble of cream.   I then served the veal with a cucumber salad, minus the nasturtiums I searched Nailsworth for and new potatoes.  In true french style we had a garden green salad and cheese.  All of this was served with the perfect loaf, a shepherds loaf.   For pudding I triumphed with the Elizabeth Classic St Emillion de Chocolat and apricot ice cream.  
The evaluation of the meal concluded in  a pretty good michelin starred meal straight from the 1970’s.  
Before the three 60th birthday parties in July I have my birthday, to start the celebrations I have just shared half a suckling pig with friends.  I can therefore tell you that next weeks article will be telling you mainly what to do with another half of a suckling pig, the veal chapter will have to go on hold for another week.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Real bread at Glastonbury

Changing my mind about my virtual Glastonbury,  Janelle Monae followed by Chemical Brothers.

Cracking on

I have knocked out a lot of Elizabeth David's recipes this weeks, and when I haven't I have found myself cooking much more instinctively with great results.  Tonight for supper we had Williams mackerel fillets.  Tossed in flour fried in olive oil.  I served this with an ED tomato sauce that I had already made which the kids loved.  Frying a chopped onion in butter with salt until softened and yellow, adding to this 6 skinned chopped tomatoes (never any deseeding thanks Elizabeth), a chopped garlic clove, torn celery leaves and some dried basil.  Simmered until soft then passed easily through a mouli.  With this we had pan roasted new potatoes just sauteed in butter with the lid on, on the hob.  I also cooked the last endive recipe with my expensive endives.  Slow cooked in butter in the oven.  
Last night I cooked one of the recipes I was really looking forward to, steak with bone marrow.  I was so determined to cook this I made us have a barbecue in the rain(the recipe sated cooking on charcoal). The bone was simmered gently in water for 20 minutes then the marrow was mixed with shallot and parsley.  The steak sat in olive oil and was well seasoned whilst the barbecue hotted up.  The steak was cooked on one side then flipped and the bone marrow mix was smeared over the top.  We had this with barbecued flat breads and garden chard fried with peppers and a splash of red wine.  I was thoroughly enjoying the steak but not particularly finding the bone marrow flavour until Tom suggested maybe he had just been cooking on coal and all the food tasted funny.  Unfortunately he was probably right, obviously I ate mine anyway.  


Whilst not at Glastonbury, I have been cooking. I came to make some meringues for tomorrow- the eating of the pig.  I normally make Ottolenghi's recipe but I have lent my book to the mother in law.  My first problem was the quantities I had a load of egg whites in the freezer in a measuring jug that I just kept adding too, this meant I needed to weigh them and work with the sugar proportions.  Unfortunately I didn't know the proportions so a mad google bought me to this blog that had the recipe for me, Not only did these girls provide me with my recipe but a beautiful blog, also living locally and some covetable wall paper.
Back to the Meringues, to make good meringues not as good of course as Sasha's at Hobbs House Bakery this is my secret recipe not hers.  Get some egg whites(always freeze surplus), weigh them, weigh twice as much sugar.  Put your sugar in a baking tray on greaseproof and heat until just colouring at the edges.  Meanwhile whisk your egg whites until stiff, then add the heated sugar gradually and whisk until practically cold (10 minutes). Dollop onto the same lined tray used for the sugar. Cook in an oven, either consistently in a low oven or start off in a hot oven until browning then transfer to a low oven.  Then cook for a long time until the bottom is tappable.

A Saturday not spent at Glastonbury

Last night whilst watching U2 at Glastonbury I figured whilst I would love to see U2 at a festival (hopefully without too many U2 fans), the rain may have got the better of me.  I can all too clearly see the predicament of wet, tired, grizzly children not lasting another minute in the rain, not even for us to watch U2, " you who".  Then today watching non stop Glastonbury - amazing job BBC- do we ever need to go again?  I was remaining neutral until they start to announce "later Paulo Nuttini, Friendly Fires followed by Elbow", and the sun is shining.  As a grey cloud hangs over Horsley, Glastonbury is suddenly so appealing.  We even allowed ourselves a game of who would you see, studying the line up in detail, we are left with a Saturday night gap, no to Coldplay, nah to Chemical Brothers, early night? We did go before in 2005 when it rained to Glastonbury/biblical proportions, I was converted, Tom who did more carrying of what was then just two children still needs convincing.  This week Tom delivered to Glastonbury a whole lot of bakery products and is now quietly sitting on the fence over a return visit.  I more proactively will be taking the children to Camp Bestival in July and taking a view as to whether festivals are our future?

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Porked out

After largely assisting with the consumption of 7 hands of pork and it's crackling at the weekend I am feeling  a little porked out.  The combination of Elizabeth and our new Hobbs House Butchery has massively upped our meat consumption, this morning I was imaging having some weeks off meat- once we had ate the forthcoming weekends suckling pig.  But no chance flicking through the book I realise I have  19 veal recipes alone to complete.  Classically I am guilty of leaving all the nasty complicated recipes to last, yes I still have to bone a duck, cook a calf's head and revisit the game waiting in the freezer.
Does anyone fancy dinner?

A birthday lunch and vague instructions

It was a friends 40th birthday so I cooked her lunch.  A Galantine of Pork and ED's crudites.  The galantine appears to be a lighter version to rillettes sitting in stock rather than fat.  The pork was boiled with vegetables herbs, bones, rind and a trotter.  Elizabeth then tells you to chop the pork "not too small", but how small is not too small, for me it meant generous dice, but in eating the galantine I suspect this is too large.  You then add some of the rind and strained stock to this and leave it to set.  I still can't decide whether I like these fatty pork composites.  Elizabeth then gives a recipe for a jelly made with the remaining stock, which I am currently eating for lunch and now have slimed on the keyboard.  The stock was warmed with whisked egg white as the eggwhites gathered grime and sat on the top of the simmering liquid I worked out that they clarify the stock-Thankyou Elizabeth for telling me! This was then strained through a warm rinsed cloth to make a jelly.  Tasty as it is I am not entirely sure of it's purpose, answers on a postcard please? 
As for the crudites, it was great to work my way through her suggestions.  Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers seasoned and dressed.  Young broad beans picked from the garden, raw with salt.  Carrots grated with shallot, sugar, lemon and oil, celeriac remoulade and radishes.  I also made an egg mayonnaise, thrilled with the mayonnaise I produced in my kitchen aid, with 6 minute boiled eggs on top and a sprinkling of parsley.  
For pudding I made ED's Melon aux fraises des bois, I hollowed out the melon diced the fruit mixed with garden alpine strawberries and raspberries, kirsh and sugar stuffed back into the melon, yum.  A friend made Nigella's lemon polenta cake which was amazing despite the fact the children had gauged handfuls out of it first.   

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Marble cake

I have been making marble cake from Peyton and Byrne's recipe book.  In googling the recipe I was surprised to find my blog as the fourth result, and thought I should probably add the recipe. I always used to make the Baker and Spice recipe but this one has the edge
So here it is the official one,
and here is my minimum washing up quick method,
125g unsalted butter(or omit the salt and use salted)
170g sr flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp vanilla essence
150g plain yoghurt
40g cocoa powder
60ml boiling water
I used my kitchen aid to cream together the butter and sugar, I then added the eggs alternately with the flour, bicarb and salt.  Then mixing in the yoghurt and vanilla.  In the bowl you have been weighing the ingredients in mix the cocoa with the boiling water.  Then add half the cake batter to the cocoa mix  (Not as the 10 yr old son did and added it all to create a light chocolate cake that didn't win the yummiest cake competition).  Grease and line a loaf tin and dollop alternate spoons of the mixes.  Finally zig zag a line through the mix with a pointed knife to create the ultimate marble effect.  Cook in the oven (180c or bottom right of a four door aga) for 40 minutes.  The proper recipe has a white chocolate icing but ours have always got eaten before I have iced it.

You can't kill a bechamel sauce

Even the greatest attempt to lump a bechamel sauce seems to be reversed by a good whisk.  This evenings attempt at an all in one method with flour not cornflour was salvaged.  I added all the ingredients ignited the hob, was distracted by something I needed to google and retuned to boiling milk but a harsh whisk makes a sauce that I am sure will suffice for a kids macaroni cheese.
Elizabeth recommends making a roux with the butter and flour adding warmed milk cooking then cooking again in a bain marie.
She is yet to convince me that my method of a lump of butter, a bit of cornflour and a slosh of milk is any worse off.