Sunday, 26 July 2009

Roasted Potatoes

Here's how to get deliciously golden and crunchy roast potatoes. Most British people would swear to using goose fat for roasting, but in this recipe, inspired by Heston Blumenthal's In Search of Perfection, I'll just use olive oil and a bit of butter. Heston served it with a roast chicken, but I went for a juicy, rare steak of entrecot with pan juice. I will post both the recipe for the entrecot and for my version of roast chicken soon.
Ingredients (2-3 people):
5 big potatoes (Heston recomends Maris Piper variety)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 twigs of fresh rosemary
Quality salt (sea salt, maldon, fleur de sel)

Clean and wash the potatoes well.

Peel them, but don't throw the peel. Put then in a clean cloth and tie a knot at the end. Bring a big pot of water to boil. Add salt as you would when boiling normal potatoes.

Cut the potatoes in to equally sized cubes about 2x2 cm. You want lots of edges, which are going to crisp up nicely. Then put the potatoes in a bowl with clean water to wash off the starch on the outside. Change the water once or twice.

Place the cloth with the peels in the boiling water. This will infuse it with all those lovely flavours from the skin. (The bag contains only the peels; the potaoes go in the pot normally).

Boil the potatoes with the peels for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just about to break up. Look at the edges. They need to be ragged and almost crumbly. This will create a great surface for the potatoes to fry. Drain the water and let them cool off in a colander for 10 minutes.

Melt the butter in the olive oil in a ovenproof tray on the stove.

Toss the potatoes in and move them around until they are all cover with the fat on all sides. Put them in a 190º oven for 50-60 minutes. Turn them and move them around every 20 minutes.

Cut the base off two cloves of garlic. Put them under the flat side of a big knife and crush them with a light punch. Then remove the paper skin, which is very easy now.

Put the twigs of fresh rosemary on a cutting board, and with the dull side of a chopping knife, bang it a few times. You don't want to cut them, just to release their oils.

Add the garlic and the rosemary to the potatoes, stir it and give it another 10 minutes.

The potatoes are done when they are golden on the outside, but fluffy on the inside. Remove the garlic and rosemary. Salt to taste.

Here I served the potatoes with some slices of entrecot and pan juice (recipe to follow).

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Wonton Soup

In continuation of the wonton recipe posted yesterday, I made some lovely soup to combine it with. It's simple and once you have the dumplings, it's a great way to avoid getting fed up with eating the same.
250g Shitake mushrooms
1 red pepper
1 tsp chinese 5 spice (find it in asian food stores)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 l chicken stock
Freshly chopped cilantro
16-20 uncooked wonton dumblings
Soy sauce
Sesame oil

Chop the msuhrooms and peppers.

Fry the mushrooms and peppers for 10 minutes. The longer you fry shitake mushrooms, the more flavour they develope. After 10 minutes, add the ginger.

Add the 5 spice.

Add the chicken stock and cook 30 minutes under lid. I used a pressure cooker so it took a bit less.

Add freshly chopped cilantro and dump in the portion of wonton dumblings. Cook for 6-8 minutes. Taste. If it needs salt, use soy sauce. Add some sesame oil for taste.

Serve and enjoy.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Wonton dumplings

Homemade wontons, how great is that? Again, it's one of those dishes that you might look at and think, "that looks like a lot of work". But apart from the filling of the wonton sheets, which actually goes quite fast once you have done a few, there isn't really much to it. But you will be surprised about the result. They are delicious. So next time you walk past an Asian speciality store, drop in and buy a package of wonton sheets. And if you never get round to making the wontons, I've been told they are quite good for using as ravioli pasta.
200g raw prawns
250g minced pork
Handful of fresh cilantro
2 chopped spring onions
7 water chestnuts
1 tbls ginger paste
4 cloves of garlic
1 tsp maizena
1 small egg white
1 tsp soy sauce.
1 pack of wonton pasta

Soy sauce and sesame oil for dipping.

Blend prawns, cilantro, chopped spring onions, water chestnuts, ginger paste, garlic, maizena, egg white and soy sauce.

Mix with the pork.

If it's too liquid, you can add a bit more maizena. Leave 1 hour in fridge to let the flavours mix.

Buy a pack of wonton pasta in your local Asian food market. Separate them carefully and place one in your hand.

Add a teaspoon of the filling.

Press up the sides and place it on a plate/tray with cornflour so they don't stick. Then do the next and the next. It takes a bit of time. Patience my dear!

You'll get there eventually. You can freeze them. Just make sure they are well dusted with cornflour so they don't stick. It's best to let them sit a bit and dry up.

Now you just need to steam them for 6-8 minutes. Don't pack them too close as they will stick together.

Drizzle them with sesame oil and serve with soy sauce for dipping.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Oh my Pork (Chops)!

I was looking for something to accompany my caribbean salad and I thought some sweet pork would do the trick. I'm getting seriously into pork. It's been out of fashion for many years, but I know it will have a massive renaissance, and I'm willing to make a bet that if you try this recipe you will agree with me that pork can be up there with any of the other meats. And to top it off, it's really cheap. I paid 2 euros for the two chops you will see below, I wouldn't get any other meat for that price. How is that for an economical meal.
2 pork chops (aprx. 500g)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp basil oil (olive oil blended with frsh basil)
1 clove garlic minced

Fleur de sel (or any quality sea salt)
Fresh black pepper

Mix the ingredients for the marinade.

Brush the chops on both sides and put them in a plastic bag. Pour over the remaining marinade. Put in the fridge for 24 hours.

Take the chops out 30 minutes before cooking. Dry them off lightly with a paper towel. Put them on a very hot grill with a bit of olive oil.

After a minute or two, turn them 90 degrees. This is only for creating a nice grill pattern. If you are frying on a pan, don't bother. Turn the heat down and fry them until you can see the meat has turned colour half way up the meat on the side.

Flip the chops over. Turn them again 90 degrees after a couple of minutes . When the juices start to come out on top they are done. You can also carefull cut down a bit and open it up to see if it's done. You want it slightly undercooked.

Then take them off the heat and wrap them with the two hot sides against eachother in tin foil. Wait 3 minutes. Turn the package over. Wait 3 more minutes. There's plenty of residual heat to finish cooking the pork. This way they get really tender and juice. Overcooking them dries them out. Finish them off with sprinkling some fresh black pepper and fleyr de sel.

And here is the final result served along with the caribbean salad, which by the way turned out deliciously full of flavour. It's very summery and would go equally well with grilled fish or beef.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Caribbean Salad

This is a recipe I've just seen on youtube and I thought I'd share it with you. It's by a Danish chef who has a restaurant in St. Croix in the Caribbean. It looks delicious, but I have yet to try it. You need to leave it 24 hours in the fridge, but I couldn't wait to post it. I'll be making some pork chops to go with it and will post the results later.
1 ripe Mango
1 cantalope melon
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
100g cashew nuts, toasted
handful of fresh cilantro
1 big, ripe tomato
basil oil (basil leafs blended with olive oil)
1 tsp hot chili sauce
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
To prep the mango, peel it with a potato peeler. Cut off a thin slice on the narrown end for it to rest on because it's very slippery. Cut down some slices until you get to the hard centre. Turn and do the other side. Then cut off any extra parts you can.

Then cube the slices and bits.

De-seed, cut into truangual boats, remove skin and the cube the melon. All four stages are shown.

Simple lesson in chopping onions. 1. Cut off as little as possible of the root end. This is what holds all together. 2. Cut the onion in half from top to bottom. 3. Lay the onion flat side down and slice finely, vertically from the root end while holding it together. 4. (Optional) Cut once or twice horizontally. 5. slice the onion from the stem end and you will have finely chopped onion. (Ok, I'd better make another post some day with pictures).

Chop the peppers into fine cubes. Add all to salad.

Hold the cilantro at the stem and "shave" off the leafs from down and up.

Then squeeze the leafs together and chop finely from one end while moving the fingers away. Over chopping will destroy the cells and all the good flavours will run out on your chopping board. Same goes for parsley and other fresh herbs. Add to salad.

Chop the toasted cashew nuts roughly. Add.

Remove the seeds from the tomatoe and chop it finely. Add it to the bowl.

Add the basil oil.

Add the chili.

Squeeze in the juice from the lime.

Mix well, add a bit of olive oil, cover it and leave it in the fridge 24 hours.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Cold Tomato Soup with Crab Salad

This is a delicious, refreshing starter for the summer months. It's a bit similar to a gazpacho in that it's served cold. But the flavour is different due to the roasting of the vegetables before hand. It's "borrowed" from Gordon Ramsay's Chef for all Seasons. I find the idea of mixing in a salad in the middle of the soup quite interesting, and the texture works really well. Give it try.
3 tbsp olive oil
2 large red peppers (aprx. 500g)
6 large red tomatoes (aprx. 500g)
4 challots
12 fresh basil leafs
1 sprig thyme
1 small bay leaf
800 ml tomato juice
100 ml cream
250g white crab meat
1 apple
1 baby lettuce (e.g. romaine)
1 ripe avocado
salt and pepper
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato pure
some drops of hot chili sauce
juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon
Chop the vegetables for similar sized pieces.

Sauté gently for about 5 minutes, stir and cover. Cook gently for 10 minuts.

Remove the bay leaf and the thyme.

Add the tomato sauce.

And the cream.

Let the soup cool off, then blend it with a stick blender. Taste it and adjust with salt if necessary. Place in fridge until completely cooled down.

For the salad, slice the lettuce finely.

Peel and chop the apples finely into small cubes.

Add the lettuce and apples to the crab meat in a bowl.

Mix the mayonnaise, tomato pure, a few drops of chili sauce and the juice of 1 lime or lemon.

Mix in the sauce and leave for at least 30 minutes for the taste to develope. You can easily leave it overnight.

Just before serving, add the finely diced avocado.

Place a form in the middle of the plate and fill it with the salad. Carefully lift it up.

Carefully ladle out the cold soup around the salad. Clean off any drops.

Drizzle a few drops of olive oil for decoration.

Ready to serve.