Sunday 30 September 2012

White Bean Bruschetta

I was asked for the recipe for my White Bean Bruschetta. I think this is based on a Phil Vickery recipe.

Toast thin, diagonally cut, slices of ciabatta, brushed with olive oil, in the oven (about 10 mins at 160°C, turning once).

Mix one tin of white beans (butter bean, cannellini etc) with a good tablespoon of freshly picked (eschew the supermarkets, there's always some in a neighbour's hedge!) and finely cut rosemary, a clove of fat garlic, olive oil, salt and white pepper. I use a hand blender so I can keep tasting. You want a coarse paste, much like hummus.

To this mix add: teaspoon of white wine vinegar, teaspoon (or more) of toasted sesame oil, pinch of cayenne and dry oregano.

Spoon (or pipe if you want fancy schmancy) onto the cool, dry toast. Drop or stripe each with a thin line of balsamic reduction. This last bit is important as it adds some essential acidity, sweetness and general stand-up-and-be-counted to the paste.

I wish I had photographs. I'm so rubbish at remembering to do so while I'm cooking.

Week three - party of eight... no seven.

An unfortunate incident for some of our guests en route reduces our numbers to seven. Get well soon SL. This also means we start a good 40 mins later than anticipated. No matter, the potatoes en papillote are very forgiving. Reduce the oven temp to 120°C and leave them in.

The soft polenta and mushrooms are good and, I think, my most accomplished dish to date. The polenta is cooked for (it turns out) 90 minutes. Anthony Demetre (of Arbutus) recommends cooking polenta for at least an hour to develop the grain's flavour. For the first time EVER, I get lumps. This is quickly resolved by Belinda remembering that we have a huge sieve hanging up in the utility room with a fairly coarse mesh (from our Thai cooking days - can't remember what we used it for - maybe draining vast quantities of jasmine rice). Polenta passes through sieve and meal is saved. I add lots of Jersey butter, parmesan, smoked salt and, at the last minute, white truffle oil.

The mushrooms were simple chestnuts, dry fried. I added a glass each of sweet Madeira and then nutty Manzanilla sherry and reduce this liquid to a glaze. Finally a little butter and a teaspoon of cep and truffle paste.

I piped the hot polenta (Ow!) in a ring on each plate and filled with the mushroom mix. Into the middle was pushed a roast shallot (30 mins on 180°C). These were wonderfully sweet Roscoff shallots; bought from Borough Market. The polenta was then sprinkled with fresh marjoram and parsley from the garden.

Saturday 29 September 2012

Even though profiteroles are easy to make, there's is still something very satisfying with making perfect rows of these little choux buns.

Thursday 27 September 2012

A bad picture of a very good tart

Charlotte's Higgledy Piggledy Tart in all its glory. 
In retrospect I think the walnut pastry maybe a tad heavy. Next time, I'll replace the walnuts with almond meal, or simply use a paté sucree. Looks delicious even with my awful photography. These people with food blogs, are they all very good mates with food stylists?

Sunday 23 September 2012

Brisket. Nailed.

This was my third go at brisket this week. The first one was AWFUL. You know that soggy grey rope that hangs wistfully from large ships when they are moored to bollards at port... yeah, that bad.
Second one was much better, using a HFW recipe. He normally knows about meat.
However, the third one was even better. Now, such is the nature of brisket (and skirt, flank, chuck etc) that the improvement might have been pure fluke. I will let you know about the repeat performances. For what it's worth, these are the changes I made.

I bought two 1kg rolled joints, unrolled them, put garlic, dried oregano and caramelised onion slices in the middle and rerolled the two pieces of meat together. I got some beef fat from my butcher, beat it flat, like sheets of paper and wrapped the new joint in this. The whole was then trussed together.
I used a heavy iron casserole. After 30mins of lidless roasting at 180°C, I added a half bottle of red wine, some chunky carrots and a bay leaf.
Lid on, and cooked for 4 hours at 140°C with basting every 30 mins. I also drained off much of the cooking juice, so not to boil the meat. These juices were retained and reduced, naturally.
Lid off for the last hour and temperature up to 160°C. Keep an eye on the juices/wine in the dish at this stage, don't let them get too sticky and burn.
After five and a half hours total cooking, I removed the beef and wrapped it doubly in foil and a blanket. This was rested for 30mins.

To the reduced juices, I added a splash of port and recurrent jelly.
I split the sauce into two pans. One was reduced even further to make a thick daub that I used to brush on the beef. The other I reduced slightly and then allowed to cool slightly before whipping in 50g of unsalted butter for gloss, mouthfeel and flavour. Both sauces were also seasoned.

When combined, this was delicious. Proper BEEFY flavour. The fat had all melted away into the joint. Great texture: soft and yielding and not even slightly tough. A huge umami hit. Like being hit in the face by a slightly charred but very polite bull. I'd say this was some of the best meat I've ever cooked. Of the eight people who eat it, none left a scrap.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Walnut Pastry a pig to roll out and even worse to try and lift. It's very friable and quite heavy. Tastes good though, an unexpected savoury hit in a fruit tart. I haven't made it for years. Now I know why.

I used this recipe: 

110g butter
140 g ground walnuts
220g flour
60g caster sugar
1 egg (ish) to bind.
Wap it in the FP and breadcrumb it. Then add the egg. Then curse and swear for an hour as you try and roll it out and transfer it to a tart tin.
25 mins @ 190°C

BTW. I have much in common with the walnut. Walnut and Welsh (for I am so) both come from the Anglo-Saxon word walh meaning 'foreign'.