Friday, 16 July 2010

Duck with pomegranate

Genuinely one of the best lunches I have had in a long time. Although I probably say that quite a lot, I definitely mean it. I love days when I cook from a recipe that I am not sure about and sounds like an odd mixture of ingredients, and it ends up tasting amazing. They had lovely Gressingham duck breasts on special offer in Sainsburys the other day, and I found a pomegranate in the reduced section in Tesco yesterday (£1.25 full price for a fruit the size of a small orange?! I miss the days when they were five for a pound at Oxford market...fortunately I got this one for 50p, and it made me a little bit happy). I know duck goes well with pomegranates from my excessive reading of various recipe books (and because duck and sharp fruit is a pretty standard combination - cherries, quinces, oranges...) so I did a quick google and found a recipe that sounded quite nice.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Tuna meatballs and chocolate mousse cake

More homemade pasta last night, but this time tagliatelle rather than the more labour-intensive ravioli. I also managed to find some pasta flour to make it with, which made a dough that was much easier to roll out and work with. To have with it: tuna meatballs. Jamie Oliver has a divine recipe for meatballs made with fresh tuna, but I figured tinned tuna would make a nice (and cheaper) alternative. I love tinned tuna in pasta sauces: it's meaty but doesn't make the whole thing too rich. For the meatballs I just mixed breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, chopped spring onion, beaten egg and a tin of tuna in oil and shaped the mixture into little balls. I baked them rather than pan fried them: I find it annoying pan frying meatballs because you can never get them crispy all over; they just end up burnt in small patches.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Risotto, two ways

We sell a beautiful risotto at the restaurant where I work. It's wild mushroom, and served with parmesan shavings and a drizzle of truffle oil. As with anything containing truffles, the smell emanating from the plates is just sublime. It's enough to make me hungry even if I've started my shift feeling full. So, on my only night off and cooking opportunity last week, the craving got the better of me and I just had to make risotto.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Gooseberry and elderflower sorbet

There are plenty of green things around at this time of year to get excited about. Broad beans and fresh peas, as discussed in a previous post. Globe artichokes - possibly the most labour-intensive ingredient of them all, but immensely satisfying to prepare. The pale, satiny husks of corn on the cob. Asparagus, if you can still find some hanging around. Gooseberries.

The best bread in the world?

I made this black pepper rye bread today. I am truly convinced that it is the best bread I have ever eaten. It has everything I look for in a good loaf (yes, I do have a set of required qualities for a good loaf - I am that obsessed with carbohydrates): a chewy crust, the crunch of seeds, dense and doughy in the middle, and dark and nutty. It is yet another recipe from Dan Lepard, and I think the rest of my life will be greatly improved due to the fact that I decided to try it out. I had it, as he recommends, with cream cheese and smoked salmon. A perfect combination. It is also good with the smoked mackerel pâté I made a few weeks back, and, for that matter, with chicken pâté. So delicious and so perfectly textured...I cannot even begin to describe. BAKE IT, dear readers.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Tourte de Blette

I came across this pastry creation on holiday in Nice last summer. We ate dinner sitting outside at this tiny little restaurant (I believe it was called Lou Balico), and gorged ourselves on the 25 euro set menu. I remember eating delicious deep-fried aubergine slices, a salad with bacon and goat's cheese, and a plate of roast lamb served, rather bizzarely, with spaghetti and pesto. Except no ordinary spaghetti and pesto: we were given the pestle and mortar from which to help ourselves - it weighed a ton and was about as big as my head. Everything was delicious, but by the time dessert came around I was too full to even contemplate it. The waiter explained that the dessert of the day was "tourte de blette". Blette, he translated, is what we call Swiss chard.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Veal ravioli with a mushroom cream sauce

I bought a pack of minced veal from Boccadon Farm Veal at the Real Food Festival with the intention of using it to stuff ravioli, and finally got round to it this evening. I just browned the veal with chopped red onion, garlic and rosemary, added a splash of red wine and let it simmer. This went into the ravioli, and I made a mushroom sauce - sliced mushrooms sauteed with garlic and thyme, a splash of white wine added and reduced, and then some creme fraiche and parsley stirred in. Delicious with some grated parmesan on top. It was as if I had combined two of the best pasta dishes - bolognaise and carbonara. 

Broad beans are sleeping in their blankety beds

The title of this post refers to a true musical classic: the song "Cauliflowers fluffy, and cabbages green", sung at that esteemed educational establishment, Milton Road Infant School, Cambridge. I remember it being a highlight of my childhood, and it is possibly to thank for my appreciation of all things vegetable. I always remember the line about broad beans in their blankety beds, and a more accurate gastronomic observation, I think, has yet to be found. Because broad beans do indeed sleep in their blankety beds: the inside of the pod is soft as a feather. There is something rather nice about all the little beans snuggled up inside in their green duvet.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Apricot and ginger scones

I seem to have a sort of automatic reaction to being at home: baking. Perhaps this is because I don't really like the idea of baking in my student kitchen - you never know how clean the surfaces are, and I don't relish the idea of kneading bread dough on a surface that moments before has been home to bacon or some form of grease. Perhaps this is also because at the moment, given that I spend all mealtimes (except for breakfast, thankfully) waitressing, I don't have time to cook any proper meals (a fact that makes me very sad, and which I hope to rectify as soon as possible), and therefore need to consume maximum calories in minimum time. Baked goods seem like an effective way to do this.