Eight Bells

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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Garlic press

I was looking through some old bloggage tonight when I came across this. It is still the best garlic press I have ever used so I'm posting it for those that may have started reading this blog recently and not trawled through the old posts. It is from tupperware, it is expensive and it has a lifetime guarantee. Buy one.

Cauliflower Soup

There is something really magic about growing your own vegetables and turning them into something like this delicious cauliflower soup. It's the kind of thing that makes people go hippy and start talking about 'going off the grid' and 'getting back to nature'. Not me though, I like my dinosaur drinking car and my sauvignon blanc and by the time the ice caps melt and we're deep in the poop I'm hoping to be long gone. I feel pretty sorry for the polar bears though, they are pretty damn cool, they would totally eat if you if they met you. The recipe below will easily serve six but it freezes well.

Cauliflower from the estate

The finished product

2 medium sized heads of cauliflower, thick stalks removed.
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut up
2 litres of chicken stock (substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian option but you may need a little more salt)
2 medium sized onions, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of clarified butter
1 cup of milk
1/2 a cup of water
Salt & ground white pepper

In a very large pot cook the onion and garlic in the clarified butter over a medium heat until soft. Add the water and boil for around 5 mins.
Add the milk, chopped potatoes and stock and boil for 5 mins before adding the chopped cauliflower. Boil until very soft and then remove from the heat and stand for 20-30 minutes until cool enough to whiz with your 'whizstick'.
Puree the soup with your 'whizstick' until completely smooth then taste and add white pepper and salt (only add the salt if really necessary the stock will bring a lot of salt to the dish). Serve with toast and butter and a little grated Parmesan cheese.

Fish Cakes

This is a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes or fish, in this case it was leftover prawns I wanted to do something with. I have to say I've never eaten a really good fish cake but I'm pleased to say these were an exception (of course they were I cooked them myself, I thankyou). This recipe will make 6 large fish cakes.

350g of fresh snapper
20 cooked prawns
2 medium sized potatoes
1 cup of bread crumbs
1/2 a cup of fresh flat leafed parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, squished through your garlic press
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Boil the potatoes until soft and set them aside until ready to mash them.
Mince the prawns in a food mixer with a metal blade and set aside.
Cook the snapper in unsalted boiling water for a few minutes until it is cooked through and easily comes apart.
Mash the potatoes and place in a large bowl with the prawn meat, flaked fish and the rest of the ingredients. Taste the mix and adjust seasoning.
Form into cakes, I used a round pastry cutter as a form for the cakes and then fry in a little oil over medium heat. Try not to play with the cakes too much or they will fall apart. They take about 20 mins to cook through (10 mins each side).
Serve with a salad of chopped cucumber, capsicum, tomato, red onion and strawberries dressed with a simple olive oil and red wine vinaigrette with a little salt and pepper added.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Barbequed Lamb and Panzanella

I had to show off my new toy, this is the Webber 22 1/2 inch charcoal burning kettle. I have always had gas barbeques in the past but I have been getting sick of the mess and the taste. The fat seems to get everywhere and the taste is nothing like a charcoal burning barbeque. The Webber lived up to the high expectations I had of it. The meat tasted fantastic and instead of the fat from the meat going everywhere it simply drips on to the coals and burns away. When I bought the barbeque I also bought the Webber brand skewers and skewer rack which turned out to be a great buy.

500g of lean lamb (I used thigh steaks so I could get decent sized chunks of lamb for the skewers)
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground paprika
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt & plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Cut the lamb into cubes roughly 2cm square trimming most of the fat as you go. Place the lamb in a bowl with the other ingredients and mix well to coat the lamb. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
When you are ready to cook the lamb place it on skewers and barbeque until lightly brown on the outside and still slightly pink in the middle. Serve with a dressing of unsweetened youghurt mixed with a little lemon juice.

Panzanella (serves 4-6)

1 small loaf of Italian ciabatta
2/3 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 red peppers
3 yellow peppers
1 small tin of anchovy fillets
6 large ripe tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1/2 a cup of black olives
1/4 of a cup of capers
Salt & pepper
Basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the ciabatta into 2-3 cm chunks and place in a metal baking dish. Drizzle the bread liberally using half the olive oil coating all sides of the bread and bake in the oven until lightly golden.
Put the peppers in a metal baking dish and bake for around 45 minutes until the skin begins to char. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl covered with cling film until the peppers cool slightly (this will help the skins to come away more easily when you peel them). Pull the skin from the peppers and cut them into large pieces. Roughly chop the ancovies and set aside.
To make the dressing for the salad remove the skin from the tomatoes by immersing for 5 minutes in water you have just boiled and then peeling them. Halve the tomatoes and scoop the seeds and central flesh into a sieve set over a bowl. set the emptied tomato halves aside after cutting them into large pieces. Use the back of a spoon to press the pulp into the sieve so that the tomato juice runs into the bowl. Once you have as much juice as you can get from the tomatoes discard the pulp and add the vinegar, remaining oil and garlic, salt & pepper.
In a large bowl mix the bread, peppers, tomatoes, anchovies, olives and capers. Whisk the dressing briefly, pour over the salad and mix well. Leave to stand for 30-60 minutes mixing occasionally. Garnish with chopped basil and serve with the lamb.

Monday, November 27, 2006

French Dinner Party

The day finally arrived after much procrastination mainly due to the fact that finding a spare Saturday night was très difficile. A marvellous time was had by all and the hosts finally got to bed at 4am. I'm not going to write up recipes for everything we had as I would be here all night and we all know I just haven't got the motivation or the inclination for that sort of nonsense.
Although I haven't detailed the recipes if any readers would like recipes for any of the dishes please don't hesitate to email me, the address is at the top of the page.

Sans guests

Avec guests



Cheese Soufflé – Gruyere Cheese

Escargots wrapped in pancetta with garlic, thyme and shallots in a white wine and stock reduction.

Pate – free range organic duck liver with Cointreau


Duck - with cherries and Pinot Noir sauce


Poussin - stuffed with roasted pistachio and pine nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, herbs and lemons

Mains served with lentils from Le Puy, baby carrots and asparagus


Chocolate mousse with baby toffee apple and vanilla seed rose water merangues

Cheeses of France with biscuits, dried cherries & figs

A selection of random food shots.

French Quiz (winners John & Nellie with 24 from 29! congrats)

1 Alexandre Gustave Eiffel designed the Eiffel Tower. What other famous structure did he design?
2 Where does L’arc de Triomphe sit?
3 Which river flows through Paris?
4 Who plays Marie Antoinette in the new movie ‘Marie Antoinette’?
5 Who is the current president of France?
6 Who wrote ‘Les Miserables’?
7 Who sculpted ‘The Thinker’?
8 What do the French call the English Channel?
9 If you were eating fois gras what exactly would you be eating?
10 On what island in the Atlantic did Napoleon Buonaparte spend the last six years of his life?
11 What famous Paris hotel did Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel call her home for more than 30 years?
12 Which famous French general said ‘How can anybody expect to govern a country with 325 cheeses?’
13 What is the approximate population of France, 60 million, 80 million or 100 million?
14 Where would you view the Mona Lisa?
15 What do a famous statue in The Louvre and a popular New Zealand drink have in common?
16 The line ‘Vote for Pedro and all your wildest dreams will come true’ comes from which movie?
17 A French man might become quite upset if you called him a ‘grenouille’ why is that?
18 Which French impressionist painter painted a famous series of paintings of water lilies?
19 According to Vincent in Pulp Fiction what do the French call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in McDonalds?
20 What does FCUK stand for?
21 France have won the soccer world cup just once, in which year?
22 The Tour de france started in which year, 1903, 1913 or 1923?
23 As a champagne maker what you be doing if you were ‘riddling’?
24 What is the highest number of Michelin stars a restaurant can be awarded?
25 One point each for naming the countries surrounding France, there are eight.
26 What was the name of Asterix’s canine companion in the comic book series?
27 What was the name of Tintin’s dog?
28 Which French philosopher, mathematician and scientist born in the late 16th century has been dubbed the ‘Founder of Modern Philosophy’?
29 Who wrote the theme music to the film ‘The Pink Panther’

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Beef Eye Fillet

We're obviously feeling very carnivorous at the moment, here is another big chunk of meat and some more pork products. Serves four.

700g beef eye fillet, room temperature
250g of lardons
6-8 large field mushrooms, quartered
6-8 long sprigs of fresh thyme
3-4 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of freshly ground salt
6 sage leaves, chopped

8-12 very large Agria potatoes, (or more depending on how many chips you want to serve)

1 large bunch of fresh spinach

200 ml fresh cream
1 teaspoon of black pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of clarified butter
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chives

Pre heat your oven to 180C and place oven racks one near the top for the potatoes and one in the lower half of the oven for the beef.
Peel the potatoes and make as many large chips as you can, you will have waste but keep the chips as straight and square as you can (see picture). Try to get an even thickness of chip, different lengths are fine.
Dry the chips and oil them. Place on an oven tray and put in the oven on the higher rack.
Oil the beef fillet and then pat the freshly ground black pepper and the salt all over (you will have to spend some time grinding the pepper, 3-4 tablespoons is a lot of grinding).
Lightly oil a baking tray and place the lardons in the centre to form a bed on which you can rest the beef while cooking. Place the beef on the lardons and put in the oven on the lower rack. If the beef fillet is thin you may want to wait until the chips have cooked for 15-10 minutes before putting it in the oven.
Wash the spinach and remove any thick stems, chop into large pieces and set aside in a large pot until ready to cook.
After 30 mins turn the chips (they will take about an hour). Remove the beef from the oven and add the mushrooms, sage and thyme to the lardons. Turn the beef and place back on the lardons. Return the beef to the oven. The amount of time the beef takes will depend on the thickness of the fillet, you are aiming for a medium-rare finish so check it to make sure it is not getting over done. The beef can be removed from the oven and rested for some time before serving if it is cooking too quickly.

Heat the butter in small saucepan and cook the garlic for about 1-2 minutes to colour very slighty but not brown. Add the cream and stir. Leave the cream to come to a simmer and cook for about 10 mins. The cream will change colour to a light yellow and reduce. Taste and add salt & pepper and then keep cooking till you have a good sauce consistency. Add parsely and chives, taste and season again if necessary. Remove from heat when done and reheat just before serving the meal.

When you are ready to serve, place the pan with the spinach in on a hot element and pour in some boiling water. Put the lid on and shake and then let the spinach cook it will only take 2-3 minutes. Drain.
Arrange your chips, beef, lardons and mushrooms on the plate. Add the spinach and spoon over the sauce.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stuffed Pork Fillet with Parsnip, Apple and Potato Puree

Here's a dish straight out of Homer Simpsons recipe book. Pork fillet stuffed with pork sausage and wrapped in bacon.
We used some leftover raviloi filling to stuff the pork fillet. The following will serve two.

1 350g pork fillet
Enough rindless streaky bacon to wrap the fillet
Pork sausage, cabbage and ricotta stuffing (from the ravioli recipe)
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
4 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
1 lemon
Salt & pepper
Stams tart apple syrup


The pork fillet needs to be slit down one side with a sharp knife and then laid out flat and beaten carefully till you have a flat fillet about about 1 cm thick.
Spread the stuffing on to the fillet and then roll up and wrap with bacon.
Cook at 160C for around 40 mins, cover with foil towards the end to prevent the bacon from over browning, it needs to remain tender. Rest the fillet for 5 mins when cooked while you make the puree.


Put your potatoes in a pot of water and boil till cooked. Put your parsnips and apple in a seperate pot of water with a little lemon juice and about a teaspoon of lemon zest. Boil until soft. Drain both when done and put in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of warm cream and some salt & pepper and blend to a smooth consistency with your 'whizstick'.
Serve with the pork and drizzle on a little of the apple syrup.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Time for some more machinery. A pasta machine is not really something that you need but making your own pasta from scratch and then using the pasta machine to make the pasta sheets for ravioli or lasagne or making fresh spaghetti is an almost spiritual experience. For a devout atheist like me that's got to be good right?

Buying pasta at the supermarket is a lot quicker then making fresh pasta and with the availability of so many kinds of dried and fresh pasta why would you bother right? In reality pasta is one of the easiest foods in the world to make and everybody should do it at least once in their lives if only to discover how those Italian women get their huge forearms. There is a real sense of achievement in knowing that you created what is essentially the Italian version of the staff of life. The following recipe will make around five pieces of ravioli for four people (20 pieces).


400g of plain flour
4 eggs
A pinch of salt

Sift your flour into a large bowl mix in the salt and then form a well in the middle. Pour in your egg mixture and with a fork begin to stir the egg gradually working in the flour. Once the egg and flour are mixed use your hands to form the dough. If the dough is a little dry add a very small amount of olive oil if too wet add a little flour.
Turn the dough out on to a flat surface and knead for a good 10 minutes, don't skimp on the kneading it is very important. Once you have your pasta dough prepared set it aside under a damp teatowel for at least 30 mins.


3 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped finely
2 tablespoons of flat leafed parsley, chopped
1/2 a fresh red chilli (or more if you're feeling brave), de seeded and chopped very finely
3 garlic cloves cut in half
1 teaspoons of tomato paste
1/4 of a cup of white wine
Salt & pepper

Put all the ingredients in a pot and cook until thickened. Once done discard the garlic cloves.


250g of spicey pork sausage, cabana or choritzo is fine just ensure the sausages are moist enough to mince in a food processor
200g of ricotta cheese, chopped finely
1/4 of a cabbage
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon of clarified butter

Put the sausage in a food processor with a metal blade and whiz until minced. Meanwhile cook the cabbage in a frying pan with the butter. Cook till most of the liquid is driven off and the cabbage is soft, do not brown at all.
Put the minced sausage, the cooked cabbage and the ricotta in a bowl and mix well. Taste and season with salt and plenty of black pepper.

Roll out your pasta using your pasta machine or if you have bought pre made pasta sheets then SWEET! Cut your raviloi, I used a 6cm round pastry cutter. Fill with the sausage and cabbage filling, you will only need 2 teaspoons of filling per piece. Press down the edges of the pasta very firmly and when you have 20 pieces (you may need to re roll some of the pasta trimmings) place in a large pot of salted boiling water for around 10-12 minutes.
Serve with the sauce and plenty of parmesan. Wipe a little olive oil on the plate to stop the ravioli sticking. Oh man, FOOD PORN!

Spaghetti Carbonara

One of the classics of Italian Cuisine and one of the simplest and tasiest dishes you can prepare. We started with a reduction of the broccoli soup as just a very light entrée.

Take the leftover broccoli soup and just reduce it to 2/3 of the volume, serve in a small bowl with one piece of buttered toast.


Spaghetti for 2
300g of streaky bacon or if you can find it pancetta cut into pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 large cloves of garlic, whole
1 tablespoon of clarified butter
Salt & pepper
1 cup of finely grated parmesan

Cook the bacon and the garlic in the clarified butter until the bacon is browned. Squish the garlic cloves a little to increase the flavour (not too much you need to remove and discard it). Discard the garlic and set the bacon aside.
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water, usually around 8-10 minutes. When al dente drain and then return to the pasta pot but off the heat. Mix in the beaten egg, half the parmesan and the bacon. Mix until the egg is cooked (around a minute or so). Serve in warm bowls with the rest of the parmesan and frshly ground black pepper.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Creamy Broccoli Soup

I'm almost running out of ways to use all the broccoli but I'm also almost out of broccoli so I think it will all work out. Here is a picture of what I hope will be a new world record for broccoli hugeness, seriously it was as big as my head.

500g of broccoli florettes
2 tablespoons of clarified butter (normal butter is fine)
1 large onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed (using a garlic press)
1/2 a cup of water
500g of potatoes, peeled and diced
6 cups of chicken stock
1 cup of milk
Salt & pepper

In a large saucepan heat the butter and then add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened and add the water, simmer for 5 mins.
Add the potatoes, stock and milk and simmer, partially covered for around 10 mins. Add the broccoli and cook for a further 15 mins and then remove from the heat and leave for 15 minutes. Use your 'whizstick' to blend the soup to a smooth creamy consistency (don't worry if you don't get every lump they will sink to the bottom anyway). Season with salt & pepper as required and serve with a little light sour cream and toasted bread and butter.

Crab Bisque

This is a very time intensive meal and will take around 5-6 hours from start to finish. A lot of that time is just waitng while the dish cooks and if serving for dinner at 7pm you really would want to start preparing the meal at midday. The following recipe will serve 4 as a main 6 as a starter.

2 kg of fresh crabs

Remove the legs and claws and set aside in a large bowl.
Place crabs on their backs and using a strong knife crack the shell on the abdomen.
Open up the crab and using your fingers or a small knife remove the flesh.
Discard the gills on either side of the body and the dark flesh. Keep the white flesh. Discard the crab carcasses.

In a large stock pot put the following
50g of clarified butter
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
10 black peppercorns
3 Bay leaves
Fresh flat leafed parsley, chopped

Cook until the onion is soft turning transparent, add the crab legs and claws and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours to make stock. Top up with water if the stock reduces too quickly. Taste and when ready strain the stock through a fine sieve and discard the waste. You should aim to produce 2-2 1/2 cups of stock from this. Set aside.

To make the bisque in a large stock pot put

1 red capsicum, finely diced (seeds etc removed)
1/2 a cup of brandy
The juice of 1 lemon and the squeezed lemon halves
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 litres of fish stock (not the crab stock, that comes later)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
100g of short grain rice

Bring to the boil and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours so that the rice breaks up and the soup thickens. Stir regularly so that the mixture does not stick and burn.
After 1 1/2 hours add the crab stock and the crab meat and continue to cook for a further hour adding extra stock if too thick.
Force the mixture through a sieve and discard lemon skins, lumps of garlic etc but keep any crab meat or capsicum.
Return the strained soup to the pot and re add the crab meat and capsicum. Blend using your 'whizstick'. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper if desired. At this point the bisque can be cooled and refrigerated for later use or served.

To serve

Ladle the bisque into warm bowls and stir in a little cream and a little olive or avocado oil. Grind over fresh black pepper and sprinkle with fresh flat leafed parsley. Eat with hot baguettes and olive oil spread or butter.

Kitchen Tools

I thought I might just start making mention of some of the tools we use in the kitchen to prepare the food you see in this blog. This tool is particularly relevant as the crab bisque and the broccoli soup really require it's use.
This is the Kenwood Wizzard Pro 400W 2 speed hot/cold hand blender. Note particularly the hot/cold feature. A lot of these 'whizsticks' have plastic blender arms and cannot be immersed in hot liquid. This is one of the cheaper 'whizsticks' on the market but so far is the best we have tried.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pasta with Creamy Broccoli Sauce

We have a surplus of broccoli at the moment thanks to all my broccoli plants being ready within the space of about 10 days so here is a tasty little pasta sauce using some home grown goodness.

Pasta (we used fettucini for this one)
1 small onion finely diced
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florettes
1 tin of Carnation light evaporated milk
2 tablespoons of oil
4 rashers of bacon, chopped
4 large mushrooms, sliced
Salt & pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and gently cook the diced onion until soft.
Add light evaporated milk and bring to a simmer, cook stirring regularly until sauce thickens (about 30 minutes).
Place the broccoli in a separate pan and cover with water, boil and cook until the broccoli is falling apart (again around 30 minutes).
Meanwhile heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and cook the chopped bacon until browned and set aside. Cook the mushrooms in the same pan and set aside. The bacon and mushroom will get added to the pasta sauce later.
Prepare the pasta as per packet instructions.
Drain the now very overcooked broccoli and add to the sauce (the onion and evaporated milk). Whizz with whiz-stick to blend the broccoli into the sauce. Add salt & pepper to taste and heat through. Add bacon and mushrooms.
Drain the pasta and serve in warm bowls, top with sauce and parmesan cheese.

Lamb Rump with Cauliflower Puree

Heart of lamb rump
Broad beans
Meat glaze or beef stock and red wine reduction
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 180C. Oil the lamb rumps and season well with freshly ground black pepper and a little salt.
Cook the lamb rumps in the oven for approx 30 mins and rest for 5-10 minutes prior to serving.
Heat your meat glaze, this one was from Gourmet Direct or prepare your reduction.

Cauliflower Puree
Take half a cauliflower and 3 potatoes.
Cut the cauliflower up into pieces and do the same with the peeled potatoes.
Boil potatoes and cauliflower together in unsalted water until soft.
Heat 1/2 a cup of low fat cream in a pan (no need to even bring it to a simmer, just heat it).
When ready to serve the meal, drain the cauliflower and potatoes and mash finely or pass through a potato ricer (this will cool the puree down somewhat though). Add hot cream and plenty of ground sea salt and white pepper.

Blanch, shell and reheat your broad beans in boiling water, and serve with the puree and the lamb.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Venison With Blackberry and Red Wine Sauce

This is a French dish and quite rich with some big flavours and a lot of butter. The seperate components are not difficult to prepare but the timing is a little tricky and may take some practice. The recipe below will serve four.

60 grams of clarified butter
16 pickling onions
150 grams of fresh blackberries (I couldn't find any in the supermarket so I used a tin of whole blackberries in syrup with most of the syrup drained off)
3 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly (again I couldn't find exactly what i wanted so I used a redcurrant and cranberry jelly I found in the supermarket)
12 venison medallions, approximately 750 grams of venison.
120 ml of red wine
400 ml of liquid beef stock
1 tablespoon of softened butter
1 1/2 tablespoons of plain flour
Salt & pepper

Peel the onions by slicing off the ends and removing the skin (just take a small slice off the base so that the onion stays together while cooking). Peel and cut your potatoes into pieces for roasting, here I used a star shaped pastry cutter.
The onions and roast potatoes will take around about the same length of time to cook 45-50 mins.
Boil the potatoes for about 2 minutes, oil and then put in the oven at 180C. Heat half the clarified butter in a saucepan and add the onions. Cover the onions with a sheet of crumpled baking paper which has been run under a tap so that it is wet and then place a lid on the pan. Cook on low for 45-50 mins stirring occasionally.
Put the berries in a saucepan with the redcurrant jelly and 4 tablespoons of water. Boil for 5-10 mins until the fruit is soft anf the liquid has thickened slightly, put aside.
Season the venison with plenty of freshly ground black pepper (the meat should be coated on both sides with the pepper) and a little salt. Heat the rest of the clarified butter in a frying pan and cook the venison in 3 batches over high heat. Turn the medallions once only and brown both sides (do not cook through, it should only take 2-3 minutes for each batch). Place seared meat on a plate, cover with foil and a tea towel to keep warm.
Add the red wine to the frying pan and boil for 20 seconds then add the stock and simmer to reduce by half, taste constantly to ensure the flavour is right, add a little more red wine if too strong.
When the onions and potatoes are about 10 minutes from being ready put the foil covered plate of venison into the oven.
Steam the asparagus.
Mix the flour and butter together to form a smooth paste (beurre manié) and whisk into the sauce to thicken it over a low heat. After 1 minute place the fruit mixture you prepared earlier into a sieve and strain into the sauce, mix, taste and adjust flavour. Serve on hot plates.


Chicken fillet
Plum sauce

Sear the chicken fillet in a little oil in a hot pan till coloured. Coat the chicken fillet liberally with the plum sauce, place in a baking tray and bake at 180C until done (around 30-40 mins). Slice the chicken and serve with the dressed salad.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

For The Masses

Scotts On Ward

'Scotts Epicurean' has been around for a few years now and is always a great place for breakfast or lunch, 'Scotts On Ward' is a recent addition to the family and sell the most delicious meal kits this one is their Pad Thai kit and at a cost of around $20 is great value. The preparation is incredibly simple and this one took about 15 mins from start to eating.

The kit

The finished product

Chicken Parmigiana

This is a repeat but again a fantastic meal and incredibly easy to make.

Chicken Parmigiana
6 boneless skinless chicken cutlets (you can use any chicken pieces for this)
1 large aubergine (eggplant)
1 jar of prepared tomato pasta sauce, homemade or shop bought (about 500ml/1 pint)
2 tins chopped italian flavoured tomatoes
1/3 of a cup white wine
The juice and peel of a large lemon
Salt & pepper
2 tablespoons of oil and spray oil
1/2 cup of tomato paste (optional)

2-3 slices of bread or 2/3 of a cup of breadcrumbs
A large handful of fresh chopped parsely
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper

Pre heat oven to 180C/355F
Slice eggplant to get at least 12 slices of even width.
Spray an oven tray with oil lightly and place slices of aubergine on the tray. Spray surfaces with oil and cook till very lightly brown on top. Take out of the oven and set aside. There is no need to 'salt' and draw out the moisture from the aubergine before cooking as the bitterness has really been bred out of the modern aubergine.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan or pot and sear the chicken till well browned. Don't mess around with the chicken by prodding it or inspecting it as this will cause it to stick. Cook it on a high heat and turn once only, this will prevent it from stewing (about 15 mins).
While the chicken is cooking prepare your sauce.
Pour the tomato pasta sauce into a large bowl with white wine, tinned tomatoes, salt & pepper and the lemon peel and juice (peel the lemon peel into one long strip and then cut into about 4 pieces).
In a food mixer whiz the bread until finely crumbed, add the chopped garlic, parsely, parmesan and coarsely ground black pepper and salt whiz again then remove.

To assemble
Spray a large lasagne or baking dish with oil. Lay 6 large slices of aubergine on the bottom of the dish. Place a piece of chicken on each slice and top with remaining aubergine slices.
Cover with tomato sauce including the pieces of lemon peel and then cover with the crust mixture.
Place tin foil over the dish and cook in a preheated oven at 180C/355F for 20 mins, remove foil and cook for a further 20 mins until the crust is golden. Bellissimo!
Serve with steamed green vegetables.
Again this meal is great frozen and reheated for work lunch or dinner.

Pasta Al Yummo

Serves 4

1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup of flat leafed parsley, roughly chopped
2 kransky or choritzo sausages, sliced
Salami, sliced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 bunch of asparagus
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Cook onion in a little olive oil until soft and then add the garlic and meat. Cook till the meat is very lightly coloured and then add the tomatoes, parsley, asparagus and salt & pepper.
Cook pasta as per packet instructions at the same time as you are preparing the sauce.
Cook the sauce until all the ingredients are hot and the asparagus is tender, drain pasta and serve with parmesan.

And For My Next Trick

I started this blog in March this year in part to give me an excuse to write every day (yes I hear you from here saying 'BUT IT'S NOT EVERYDAY!' meh so sue me) and in part to create a recipe database that my wife and I could access and you the paying public (what do you mean I'm not making any money from this!? What a gip) could use and search through for possible food inspiration and the occasional chuckle. So far we haven't had many repeats but here is one recipe that is worth doing again and again, it's not cheap and the resulting plate doesn't look like much but if you ever get the chance or inspiration to cook it please do you won't be disappointed.

Provencal Style Lamb
1 tunnel boned leg of lamb from Gourmet Direct
1 onion, chopped
1 bulb of garlic with the cloves seperated but not peeled
2 tomatoes skinned, deseeded and quartered
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
3 tablespoons of olive oil
300ml of dry white wine
1/2 a cup of black olives, stoned (if you're out of weed give them a margarita or two)
2-3 anchovies chopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/355F. Season the leg of lamb generously on all sides with salt & pepper.
In a large heavy casserole (we used the Le Crueset marmite again which is perfect for this) heat the olive oil and brown the lamb well all over. Add the chopped onion and continue to cook, stirring until golden. Add the garlic, tomatoes, thyme and half the wine and bring to a very gentle simmer.
Place the lamb in the oven and cook for 2 hours, taking out from time to time to turn the lamb and check the liquid has not evaporated. You may need to add more wine during cooking. Add the olives after 1 hour and continue to cook.
When you are almost ready to serve add the anchovies so that they melt into the sauce for a few minutes.

Gratin of Courgettes
1 kg of small courgettes
60g/2 OZ of butter plus a little extra to dot the surface
1 onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon of flour
250ml of milk
Salt & pepper
304 tablespoons of finely chopped flat-leaf parsely
1/4 of a cup of grated gruyere cheese
1/2 a cup of fresh white breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 180C/355F. Slice the courgettes lengthwise into 4 or 5 slices.
Arrange the slices in overlapping rows in an ovenproof dish. In a frying pan melt the butter and add the chopped onion, cooking over a low heat until it is soft and starting to turn golden.
Add the flour and continue to cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the milk and stir well until the sauce comes to the boil. Simmer over a low heat for 7-8 mins then season to taste, add the parsely and pour the sauce over the courgettes.
Mix the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the top adding a few small pieces of butter to keep it moist. Bake in the oven for 35-40 mins until golden. Serve with the lamb.