March 15, 2010

Vanilla scented salsify soup

It seems that the season for warm soups are not yet over! Though the sun is shining, it is still so cold and there is a lot of snow on the hills. I thought it is a great opportunity to prepare the salsify soup, finally. After all the roots were waiting for almost 3 weeks in the fridge for getting cooked! Salsify, sea bass and vanilla? An amazing combination!

400 g black salsify
1 shallot

3 tablespoons white port wine
300 ml vegetable or chicken stock

350 ml milk
1 vanilla pod

olive oil
salt, pepper

Peel salsify under runing water ( I suggest to wear a pair of rubber gloves, because it is sticky) and dice. Heat olive oil and sauté diced shallot together with the salsify. Add white port wine and cook for a minute. Add stock and milk and cook for 10 minutes, reduce heat and let it simmer together with the vanilla pot for another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave it there for half an hour. Remove the pod, puree the soup and sieve.

March 12, 2010

Caramel banana shortbread

It just happens over and over again that I end up with over ripe bananas. Thanks to that I have learnt to love the chocolate and banana combination, I even cooked banana jam. So after all it is a not such a bad thing that I forget about them once in a while. Actually with these I only wanted to make a banana shake with loads of vanilla ice cream, but the snow outside made me freeze already when I only thought about getting out the ice cream maker from the cold pantry.

So instead I sat in front of my computer and started to check out some
banana recipes. I found a shortbread by James Martin, with caramel and bananas, and as I have never baked a shortbread before, it seemed to be the perfect first occassion to do so. I only made a tiny change: he serves it with banana ice cream and caramel sauce, instead I only sprinkled with some molten dark chocolate.

For the caramel
200g unsalted butter

100g caster sugar
800g cans condensed milk (I used heavy cream)
For the shortbread
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus an extra spoonful

150g caster sugar
150g cornflour
300g plain flour
4 large bananas, peeled and sliced

For the caramel, place the butter and sugar into a non-stick pan over a low heat, stirring until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Add the condensed milk and slowly bring to the boil, stirring continuously, to make the caramel. As soon as the mixture thickens and begins to smell of caramel, remove from the heat. For the shortbread, preheat the oven to 170°C.

Cream the butter with the sugar in a large bowl until it is light and fluffy. Sift the cornflour and plain flour into the bowl. Mix and gently knead the dough until it comes together in a ball.
Line a 20cmx30cm baking tin with non-stick baking parchment. Roll out two-thirds of the dough to fit the tin and lay it inside, pressing it neatly into the edges.
Spread three quarters of the condensed-milk caramel evenly over the base (the rest will keep
in a covered bowl in the fridge for up to two weeks). Lay the banana slices over the caramel and then crumble the remaining third of the dough over the top.
Bake for 20 minutes. Leave it to cool in the tin for five minutes before cutting it into squares. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.


March 11, 2010

Roasted beet salad with goat cheese

It seems that beets are the tomatoes of the winter to me. In summer usually I can't resist tomatoes, and now it is the same with beet. Specially, since I discovered the tonda di Chioggia by accident, though now when I do look for it, I can't find. Anyway, I still had one in the fridge and I decided to combine it with the common beet in a salad. I served the roasted beet among pistachio crusted fresh goat cheese and a light pear vinegar and mint oil dressing with fresh pear.

4 beets
1 pear

35 ml pear vinegar
35 ml mint oil
35 ml olive oil
olive oil for roasting the beets
salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 200°C. Sprinkle the beets with olive oil, salt, pepper add a bay leaf if you like, wrap in foil and bake for 50-60 minutes. Let them cool in the foil. For the dressing dice
peeled pear in small cubes and mix the vinegar and the oils. Slice the beet with the help of a mandoline, season, sprinkle the dressing over it and serve among goat cheese.

March 10, 2010

Blumenthal's roast chicken

Well, it has just happened. I bought a gorgeous free range chicken on Saturday, no not a Bresse, but a great quality Swiss chicken. Compared to a usual chicken it has a longer breast, longer legs, no wonder, after all it runs around outside for almost 3 months.

On the way home I was wondering if I should go for it. If I should go for Heston Blumenthal's way of preparing
the "perfect" roast chicken. After all perfection is totally subjective. Although, it was already quite late afternoon, I had the book in one hand, in the other the chicken and I started. I put it in a bowl and filled it with water to count how much salt it needs. In fact, I prepared two chickens: the so to say kind of deluxe one (though I believe that should be the only way to raise chickens) and an organic chicken (that one had a more round breast, and rather strange short legs, like most chicken have in the stores). After all, if I went for the preparation of Blumenthal, why shouldn't I experiment a bit, at least as far as it is possible in my tiny kitchen. So meanwhile I had both chickens having a bath of 6 hours in salty water. It was already late evening when I started to rinse them for an hour. Then around midnight I was dunking them in hot water. Finally, I put them in the fridge covered with a cheesecloth to wish them good night, well to let them dry overnight. The next day, I preheated to oven to the magical 60°C and left the chickens in there for about 6 hours, but I didn't quite trust them yet, so I gave them another 45 minutes. Of course this mission wouldn't been completed without the roasted potatoes, the carrots and the broccoli.

The potatoes are fabulous, but I must say the carrots were the best! I have never ever had carrots in my entire life like those! And they are so easy to prepare! On low heat, among butter, salt and pepper. Just leave them there for 40-50 minutes. That's all! And the chicken? It melts in your mouth! The only difficulty in the recipe is at the end, when you have to fry a chicken in a pan, that is quite a task! But the crispy skin worth it for sure!

March 9, 2010

French Toast

French toast is probably one of the most delicious sweet breakfasts, I guess I prefer it even more than pancakes. Usually, I dip a slice of leftover braided bread in a mixture of egg, cream and some vanilla paste, and after it is fried I serve it with maple syrup. Yesterday, I decided to try something else and prepared some Marsala butter. It was a lovely breakfast together with slices of orange, chopped pecans and a touch of maple syrup.

100 g butter
100 g sugar
3-4 tablespoons Marsala (or anything else you prefer)

Place the butter in a mixing bowl and whip until fluffy. Gradually add the sugar while the mixer is still runing. Slowly add the Marsala and whisk until combined. Serve or store in the fridge.

March 8, 2010

Winter Fantasy

It seemed that spring is here, but Saturday morning surprised us with snow! Lot of snow! Usually, if I cook fish, I never have a clear idea about the dish, at least not before I start. This time I had some leftover oven baked beets. Before I peeled them, I had no idea that I had a tiny little treasure in the folie. I am talking about tonda di Chioggia, that is a subspecies of the common beet. They look quite the same from the outside, but in the inside the Chioggia beet is rosa and white, if it gets cooked the whole turns rosa. It tastes slighlty sweeter than the normal beet. Both kind of beets ended up as a purée. I also had some really fresh sunchoke from the farmer's shop. I had the idea to coat the fish with thin slices of the nutty root. Now there was only a sauce missing, at least that is what I thought. I love the combination of beet and horseradish, so I prepared horseradish foam. But still, there was something else missing, something crunchy and light. The answer was right in front of my eyes: white cabbage, shredded and sauteéd in butter with pecan nuts. That's it. The fish? Well, it was again a organic see bass. So that is how this dish was born, a winter fantasy using winter vegetables on a snowy day.

(based on a recipe by Michel Roux)
1 shallot
1 thyme sprig
250 ml fish stock
50 ml crème fraîche
4 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
salt, pepper

Bring fish stock shallot and thyme to boil over medium heat. Reduce by half, add créme fraîche and cook for 5 minutes. Add horseradish, season. Sieve and mix it until it is nice and foamy.

March 4, 2010

The Experiment

Ever since I have seen the home cured duck prosciutto on Wrightfood, I couldn't get it out of my mind. It took almost a year, but finally I have prepared it! I started on the 13th of February and the prosciutto was ready last Sunday.

I was very excited about it, and nervous if it is going to work out. First of all I had no influence on the temperature. I hung it up in the attic, that opens right from my kitchen. I do not know where I would be without that part of the flat. Many people own a walk in closet, well I have a huge walk in pantry and for no
thing on the world I would give that away. Though my kitchen is tiny and old and I would love to have a huge new kitchen, which foodie wouldn't?! But not without my attic, no way.

Anyway, in the pantry it is more or less as cold as outside. I was hoping that the weather stays cold
enough, so that the prosciutto works out. Indeed it did! I love its flavour! It is so amazing. I am waiting for the next winter, so that I can try many other charcuterie recipes.

March 2, 2010

Oxtail Soup

This is definitely the most flavourful soup I have ever cooked. I bought the oxtail already some weeks before, but had no time to prepare it, so it ended up in the freezer. Actually, I wanted to serve it among oxtail tortellini, but when I had a bite of the meat, I decided to serve it without pasta because I didn't want to hide its intense flavour. So I only added some julienned root vegetables and served it real warm.

750 g oxtail (cut in 2 cm thick chunks)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 onions
2 carrots
3 parsley roots
3 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves

100 ml Madeira
100 ml Portwine
350 ml veal stock
1/2 tablespoon tomato puree
some twigs of fresh thyme
5 allspice berries

2 cloves
1 bay leaf
salt, pepper

Chop onion and vegetables. Heat olive oil and fry the seasoned oxtail chunks on both sides for 3-4 minutes. Set aside. Fry vegetables and tomato puree for about 10 minutes. Add madeira and portwine and reduce. Place oxtail chunks to the pot, add stock and about 2 liters of cold water. Cook for 3 hours, then add spices and herbs, turn off the heat and let it stand until it is completly cool. Sieve through a kitchen cloth and bring it to boil once more before serving.
Season if needed.

Related Posts with Thumbnails