Sunday, 24 April 2011

Octopus Stew as seen on Ramsay's F-Word

I love cooking shows. Master Chef, The F Word, Kitchen Nightmares (The British version for sure), In Search of Perfection, Good Eats, Jamie Oliver, the lot. Great inspiration for the kitchen. In the recent edition of the F Word, Ramsay had local restaurants battle it out in the kitchen to become the best locale restaurant. He had divided the contestants into categories according to their cuisine. In the best Italian restaurant episode Ramsay went to Italy to catch some Octopus and ended up making a little octopus stew. From what I could see, this is how he did it.
1 octopus
Splash white wine
salt, pepper
Bay leaf
1 red chilli
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 plump tomatoes
1 tbsp. Capers
Fresh Parsley
1 to 2 cups of fish stock
Olive oil

Bring a big pot of water to a boil, add plenty of salt, a bit of white wine, and 1 or 2 bay leafs. Rinse the octopus and boil it in the water 10 minutes under lid.
Meanwhile, fry the chilli, onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil at medium heat until it's soft and translucent.
Take out the octopus, remove as much of the skin as you can. Cut the tentacles in bite sizes, and use the meaty part of the head. Discard the rest.

Add the octopus to the onions, along with the chopped tomatoes, chopped olives, capers and parsley.
Add fish stock and a bit of olive oil. Let it simmer without lid 30-35 minutes until the stock is reduced and thickened.

One tasty octopus stew coming up.

Asparagus Soup

Spring is here, asparagus season has just started, so there's no excuse not to go and make yourself a big bowl of soothing asparagus soup. Here's my version.
2 bunches of green asparagus
1 litre of chicken stock (vegetable stock can be used if vegetarian)
1 tsp butter
1 tsp flour
1 egg yolk
Salt to taste
Cut the dry end off the asparagus and cut then in to smaller pieces. Bring the chicken stock to boil, add the asparagus. I usually add the tougher parts first, simmer then for 10 minutes before adding the much more tender top parts and let it simmer for a further 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, I mix the flour and the softened butter into a ball.

After simmering the asparagus, blend them with a stick blender.

Stir in the butter/flour ball. Make sure it dissolves completely. Bring it back to a simmer so it thickens a bit. At this stage you can pass it through a sieve. This way you won't find pieces of stringy asparagus fibres in your soup.

Put your yolk in a cup, add a spoonful of the soup to temper it. Stir it back in to the warm soup and stir. This adds a bit of extra creaminess and taste. Just don't bring it back to a boil or the egg will coagulate.
Serve with bread.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Hot Chocolate (Out of Season Cooking)

Today it was 25ÂșC outside and not the ideal weather for a cup of steaming hot chocolate drink. Nevertheless, that was our breakfast with freshly made churros (Spanish doughnut sticks for the uninitiated) from down the street. It's probably one of the last chances before the weather turns really beastly hot, so why not. For the same reason we're eating hearty stews to clear out space in the freezer and cupboards. Anyway, to the recipe. Dead simple really, but lifts your average chocolate drink up a few nudges.
200ml cream
200ml milk
1 vanilla pod, cut lengthwise
1/2 chilli cut lengthwise
Small stick of cinnamon
2 pieces of orange peel
150g good quality dark chocolate

Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla pod, add them along with the pod itself, the chilli, cinnamon and orange peel. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and let it infuse 10 minutes. Meanwhile chop the dark chocolate finely.

Fish out the chilli, orange peel, cinnamon and vanilla pod. Add the chocolate to the still warm milk. Bring it back to a near simmer while stirring. You don't want it to boil, just enough to make all the chocolate melt.

Drink on its own if you can't find any churros.