Friday, 22 March 2019

Tongue in cheek, the Cod father

Supper does not get much more simple than this

It must have come from years of adolescence,keeping goldfish in a tank in my bedroom, but when I first saw cod cheeks on a menu, I raised an eyebrow. Surely there's not enough meat on a cod head to get anything worth cooking? How very wrong could I be, as I found out last week when I bought some. Never one to resist an unusual ingredient, and after my success with pigs' cheeks I was eager to experiment with the facial flesh of mammals and fish, morbid as it may sound. Not only is there enough meat, but in some cases cod cheeks are pretty sizeable, about as big as a decent scallop. They look a little bit like scallops,too.Perhaps more oyster than scallop - thick, white medallions of flesh,ideal for
sizzling in a very hot pan until caramelised on the outside, yet sweet and juicy in the centre. And the taste is a mild and sweet pleasing fishy one, made even more tasty through frying.The beauty of them is that they have no bones, so can be used in things like fishcakes without having to faff around picking through the meat.
I am a little unsure however, despite their goodness, of the ethical issues regarding cod cheeks - cod has a lot of sustainability problems. I am wondering if it's good to eat the cheeks because they're a by-product of the cod process, and would be going in the bin if we didn't eat them (there is still a demand for cod, like it or not, and I suppose we may as well make the most of the whole fish if we're going to be catching it)...or if I should stop buying them and decrease demand for this endangered fish. Any ideas?
As for recipes, the best are the simplest.You can treat cod cheeks pretty much the same as any other when you’re cooking them.The best combination perhaps being with bacon and a tomato sauce.You will need about 300g cod cheeks for two, 5 or 6 each depending on their size.Now it’s time to throw your cheeks into your frying pan. Keep them there until one side turns golden brown, then flip to achieve the same effect on the other. The resulting meal is one of perfect texture variation, a crisp crunch covering up soft, flavoursome meat that comes apart easily in your mouth, topped off with the juicy, salt burst of the bacon and the contrast of the sweet tomato sauce.
In spite of their roots as the throwaway parts of the cod, cod cheeks have become a delicacy.Cod cheeks exemplify a classic, poor man’s recipe gone haute, a once cast-aside organ playing dress-up.
Cod cheeks with bacon and tomato
Finely chop a small onion and a medium size red chilli,de~seeded.Cut 150g of smoked bacon into small dice, each piece measuring roughly 2cm. Warm 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and bacon and let it cook over a moderate heat, stirring regularly, until the fat starts to turn a translucent gold.add the chilli and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.
Pull the leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme or lemon thyme and add them to the pancetta. Cut 2 large tomatoes into small dice and add to the bacon. Continue cooking, stirring regularly, and then add 300g of cod cheeks.
Roughly chop the leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of coriander and stir in together with a light seasoning of salt and black pepper. Continue cooking for 3 or 4 minutes until the cheeks are cooked and the sauce is thick and brick red. Serve immediately.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Roast rack of piglet, carre de porco no forno

Recently I have been making a list of things that I would like to cook and that I have not yet had the opportunity or the courage to attempt. Among these things are, for example, cod cheeks,meringues, fresh pasta (now recently achieved with the help of a donated pasta machine) and a rack of meat.Well rack of meat is about to be struck through as achieved also.In my butcher recently a handsome rack of Iberican black pig caught my attention through the glass.I duly purchased and came home to research recipes.Would I bake it in Flor de sal or roast it with shallots, lemongrass, ginger and wine and serve it with polenta chips.Or would I put provenance before preference and give it a smoked paprika and Mediterranean herb rub.Oh so Iberican I thought.I took so long cogitating and deliberating that the choice was forced on me by default.The majority of the recipes I looked up required an overnight stay in the fridge.The final choice was from
Stéphane Reynaud´s much loved tome "Pork and sons". Rack of piglet is a rare treat, particularly when the pig is a rare porco preto.This is a really simple but nevertheless flavoursome dish,and could easily be substituted with lamb.Your kitchen will be aromatised with a heavenly scent for many hours afterwards,making you yearn for more.

6 tbsp olive oil
1 rack of 6 chops from a piglet
2 lemongrass stalks,coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves,coarsely chopped
3 shallots,coarsely chopped
5cm (2inch) piece of fresh root ginger,coarsely chopped
1 fresh thyme sprig
175ml( 6fl oz )white wine
50g (2oz) butter

Preheat the oven to 160ªC(325F /gas mark 3)

Heat the oil in a roasting pan,add the rack of chops and cook over a medium flame,turning occasionally,for about 10 minutes,until golden brown all over.add the lemongrass,garlic,shallots,ginger and thyme and pour in the wine.transfer to the oven and roast,basting frequently for 11/4 hours.
Transfer the rack to a serving dish,carve the chops and serve immediately.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

The dish I ate more of than any other, and that is So ho it went

 just as I remembered it
Vast menus make me particularly nervous in restaurants, where they scream: "FRESH FROM THE DEEP FREEZE". I also find any mention of "chef's special sauce" offputting (don't ask). What dampens your appetite on menus? And how do you decide what to order? Gut instinct, methodically weighed up pros and cons, eliminating items with unwanted ingredients? Or do you always just get the burger?An influential psychophysicist by the name of Howard Moskowitz once said: "The mind knows not what the tongue wants." Indeed. Spaghetti and fried eggs might well seem taboo and become a bit of a guilty  pleasure when the fridge is bare, but in the end, I have to say it is something I have even succumbed to while eating out budget style back in the day.Well perhaps not the fried egg,more the chicken cutlet. How is it possible that a dish that is on almost every Italian restaurant menu and yet does not appear in any book about Italian cooking, didn’t even originate in Italy? And how did it become so synonymous with Italian food? Well, you are about to find out all about this iconic dish.Let me set the scene.Old Compton Street, Soho,London 1986.I had graduated Art College and was working in the art department of Vogue magazine.I  had a lot of friends still studying design and fashion. mostly at the then named St Martins College of Art on Charing Cross Road.My friends were on student grants and even though I had a good job,was not yet flush.My social social life seemed to focus around Soho.Centrale, Bar Italia The Cappucetto, Maison Bertaux, Ed´s easy Diner, Patisserie Valerie and "The French" pub.But one eating establishment I frequented more than the others the POLLO BAR.    Lets take a typical Saturday morning.After a progression of Fran Lebowitz style phone calls our set would rendezvous late morning
at Patisserie Valerie for one or more coffees, accompanied by an opera cake or a florentine,in my case most often the latter.A splinter group would then cross the road for a tuna Foccacia at the Cappucetto,and possibly another coffee.Having all gone our own ways for for weekend shopping therapy we would reconvene to take in a movie followed
by dinner at the POLLO.That well-loved, cheap eating place that had been serving enthusiastic boho- chic artisan customers like us for generations.Sadly "Sans I,Sans cheese,Sans everything,POLLLO closed its doors in March 2005, putting paid to the dorée years of my jeunesse. 20 Old Compton Street, with its ox-blood booths, Lapidus beanpole railings,contemporary ceiling,murals, top notch signage, and perfectly preserved light fittings no longer had hungry queues waiting outside.  
It had always remained the proverbial Soho institution for as long as anyone could remember. A proper bargain Italian with perfect 60s decor, friendly banter and a worryingly high turnover of chefs (there always seemed to be a 'chef wanted' sign in the window).It wasn´t fancy. It was an Italian restaurant. The inside looked something like a truckers caff, with Formica tables and little booths, and there was always more room downstairs if it looked full. There wasn´t a lot of space and the tables were closely packed together, but the food was hearty and the prices were laughable for central London. The coffee was rocket fuel - and the waitresses insisted on doubling you up in the booths with complete strangers.There was a choice of starters, either a smaller portion of any of the pasta dishes,soups (the gazpacho, although strictly speaking Spanish rather than Italian, is nice!),garlic bread  (a little disappointing, but then, it isn't really an authentic Italian dish),
and some lovely side salads which cost from £1.50 - £3.50.The main courses consisted of a variety (unsurprisingly) of pasta and pizza dishes, again the price range for these tends to be between £3 - £5. There were some risottos as well, and some meat dishes, such as chicken with rice or veal which were a little bit more expensive,but cheap and cheerful always remained the operative term at this Italian stalwart.Portions were generous and I was never ever disappointed by the food. Desserts included Tiramisu and Panetonne, and also ice cream.It was possible to buy carafes and half carafes of house wine, but there wasn´t a separate wine list as such. You could always ask for tap water as well.It beat fast food places like Pizza Hut hands down.

Pollo alla parmigiana with spaghetti marinara
Although not a typically authentic Italian dish Chicken Parmigiana is taste made for enjoyment following classic Italian combinations. Originated from Aubergine Parmigiana recipes this dish was created by Italian Immigrants in the 1950´s and has since become a favourite Italian dish around the world. The combination of succulent breaded chicken and parmesan cheese makes it hard to resist.Marinara sauce is the next key ingredient for the dish and a nice homemade sauce can’t be beat! Some canned San Marzano tomatoes, a few herbs, garlic carrot,celery and onions and you are well on your way to a perfect sauce. However, if you have a favourite canned tomato sauce you’d like to use, go for it! Pre-made sauce will undoubtedly get you an excellent chicken parmigiana
faster,possibly achieving that original restaurant flavour.
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 

1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano,
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces/120g each)
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups Marinara sauce
4 oz /120g cooked spaghetti
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Hot cooked fettuccine or pasta of your choice

In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon oregano, basil, salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, combine the egg and water. Dip chicken in egg mixture, then coat with crumb mixture.
In a large skillet, cook chicken in butter on both sides until a thermometer reads 170°.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, warm through the marinara sauce,
Cook over medium heat until heated through. Spoon over chicken; sprinkle with any remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve with the spaghetti.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Roasted stuffed onions

The humble onion rarely gets showcased centre stage
My mother used to stuff half onion shells with sausage meat,cheddar cheese and white breadcrumbs and serve them with a rich tomato sauce,something I will never forget.Sausage-stuffed onions turn a humble staple veg into the vessel for a warming late winter meal. Stuffed into a cored onion, this meaty melty creation is as delicate as it is delicious. Serve it with garlic mashed potatoes if you want to make it more of a complete meal,or just serve them on their own as a light supper.For all stuffing lovers - those who can't be bothered with the outside but dig through anything straight into the prized, comforting centre - this recipe is one for you.Thin, soft onion skins are the minimal casing for a deliciously robust filling. Stuffed veg is always a winner,and as the savoury filling seeps into its slow‑cooked casing it creates melting parcels of myriad flavours. Sausage and onion are a particularly good combo in terms of texture and taste.What a great joy to open up a rolled onion to find a savoury, meaty cheesy crumbed filling!There’s been a lot of old bread knocking about our bin since my New Year’s resolution. Luckily, I find it hard not to put breadcrumbs in and on everything nowadays.There are vegetarian renditions of stuffed onions, too.Look for large red onions. They have a robust flavour and look better than pale yellow onions when cooked.
Roasted stuffed onions 

Serves 4 as a main,perhaps with something else

brown onions 8 medium

1 stick celery,finely chopped
1 shallot,finely choppesd
stale bread 75g, cut into 1cm cubes
whole milk 75ml
sausages 4 (about 300g total)
thyme 4 sprigs
fresh sage 1 sprig
fresh oregano 1 sprig
fresh rosemary 1 sprig
mozzarella or taleggio 120g, diced

toasted breadcrumbs for garnish
Peel the onions and cut off the tops and bottoms so that both ends are level, reserving the cut ends. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the onions for about 5 minutes until the layers are softened and pliable. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Using a teaspoon, hollow out the inside of the onions, leaving a ¼-to ½-inch/0,06- to 1-cm shell. Finely chop the inner sheaves, together with the reserved tops and bottoms.
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. Cover the bottom of a small baking pan with coarse salt and add the onions, scattering with a little more salt. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tender. To state the obvious, the larger the onions, the longer they take, so use good judgement. Remove and leave till cool enough to handle. In a bowl, sprinkle the bread with milk. Cut the sausages open, remove the meat and add to the bowl.Mix in the cheese My sausages were garlicky already; if yours aren’t, add a chopped clove of garlic, too. Pick the leaves from the herbs and add half of them to the bowl with a twist of pepper.
 Use a teaspoon to remove the insides, leaving but a few layers. Chop the onion insides a little and add to the stuffing, before refilling the onions and baking once more for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and turn the heat up to 220C/gas mark 7. Toss the remaining herbs in a little oil and use to top the onions, along with the toasted breadcrumbs Return the pan to the oven and bake until golden – about 10 minutes.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Taco de chouriço verde com escabeche de cebolla,migalhas de presunto e chutney seca alho e piri piri moido

Remember your mother making mince and gravy or even curried mince? - well forward the clock and this is the "bang on trend" modern day equivalent.
Hispanic flavours,it seems, are permeating more and more menus, and it seems tacos are the new toast.These latino-inspired flavours, ingredients and techniques are reshaping the way Europe eats.This one is a real palate pleaser.Made with tongue-tingling green chillies and ,if going for authenticity and availability permitting, tonsil tickling tomatillo.It just rolls off the tongue so beautifully "to- ma -till-o,and they taste even better in your mouth.
If you ask for a tortilla and chorizo in Mexico City you'll get something very, very different to what you would get if asking for a tortilla and chorizo in Andalucia.
Chorizo / Chouriço sausages originated in Spain and Portugal, and versions of them exist throughout Latin America. Unlike most varieties of Iberican chorizo (which is  cured and dried in a way somewhat similar to salami or pepperoni), Mexican chorizo is actually a raw sausage that must be cooked before eating. In its commercial form, it generally comes in casings that are just broken open and discarded when frying the sausage, but it is also commonly sold loose without the skin, much as we would buy pork mince which is exactly what is used in this recipe.Although most Mexican chorizo is red in colour due to the dried chile pepper and paprika used in the recipe, the area around the city of Toluca (in central Mexico) is famous for the green chorizo it produces, which is made with tomatillos, cilantro, and/or green chillies.
If you want to make a healthier version of your own from scratch, without preservatives or additives this is the perfect recipe.This unusual spiced pork mince is easy to make at home, and once you have nailed it, it can be applied to many different dishes.
Taco de chorizo verde
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp Mexican oregano
2 tsp cumin seeds
10 whole cloves
17 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp fine sea salt
6 fresh jalapeños
130ml sherry vinegar
2 bunches coriander
1kg fatty pork mince

1/2 cup seville orange juice,or juice of fresh limes
tsp golden caster sugar

tsp flor de sal
8 x 10cm corn tacos

crumbs of oven dried presunto,for garnish
Dry garlic chutney,for garnish
In a pan on a medium heat lightly toast the peppercorns, coriander seeds, oregano, cumin and cloves until you can smell the spices, allow to cool slightly then grind to a fine powder.
In a blender, blitz the garlic, salt, jalapeños, sherry vinegar and coriander to a rough paste, and mix really well with the pork mince and the spice mix. For a better taste, allow to sit and the flavours to get to know each other (it’s best left overnight).

Escabeche De Cebolla vermelha
You wil need 1 x 0.35ml kilner jar
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 red chilli
1  small carrot,shaved
12 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 bay leaves
tsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp Flor de sal
1 cup freshly squeezed seville orange juice

Place onion,carrot peppercorns, cumin,  oregano and bay leaves in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, drain carefully, and transfer onions to a sealable container, such as a Kilner or Mason jar.
Add seville orange juice. Onions should be submerged at this point; if they aren't, top off with extra  juice. Stir to combine, season to taste with salt (they should be quite salty—use about 1 teaspoon Flor de sal , cover, and refrigerate until colour deepens, about 4 hour
Fry the green chorizo in a pan with a little oil for four to five minutes until cooked through. If you have an electric hob, turn it on to a medium heat and warm the tacos on each side for 10 seconds. Alternatively, warm them in a dry frying pan for 10 seconds on each side.
Place the green chorizo on top of the tacos, then finish with the pickled onion escabeche, the dry garlic chutney and the presunto crumbs.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

There´s more to the Seville orange than just marmalade.Almond poached pear tart with Seville orange creme fraiche

 a tart that tests the tastebuds
I love marmalade but,for a variety of reasons (indolence for one), I procrastinate when it comes to making it.Well my guilty conscience can now rest as this years batch has been put to bed.Made,jarred,labelled it now sits proudly on the larder shelf awaiting the first guests of the season to arrive for breakfast.
Apparently consumption of marmalade continues to fall – a pattern of decline that looks set to continue given that the majority of marmalade eaters like myself are over the age of 65.Oh dear,what a mine of trivia I have become. But what of the implications of bitter oranges falling out of favour in our own cuisine? Could it be, I wonder, a sign that we are losing our appreciation of bitter tastes as a whole? Bitterness adds a depth of flavour that is missing from fruit which is predominantly sweet or sour. By including it you will literally be activating more of the taste buds, so that the whole taste experience is more complex, less one dimensional.We are born with the basic ability to appreciate sweetness because it tells us when things are fully ripe, but also the addition of bitterness can prevent sweet dishes from becoming cloying. Sourness is the direct opposite of this and is often likened to the white in an artist’s palette, in that a little of it will lighten and lift a dish and actually enhance our perception of the sweetness that exists. Try squeezing a little lemon juice over strawberries rather than adding sugar and see which tastes sweeter. If sour is the white in an artist’s palette then bitter equates to black, allowing the cook to create shade and depth in a dish. Strangely people often confuse these two, perhaps because either, in excess, will cause one to wince and screw up the face in dislike. The two can also exist together, making distinction more difficult.Could it be that our basic taste receptors have adapted in response to industrial food production?   The main purpose of additives is to enhance the attractiveness of food to us, but it does seem that the majority of these are based on sugar or salt.  Consider our taste in chocolate for example.  Pure cacao is unpalatably bitter so a degree of sugar is needed to make chocolate for eating, but although we are beginning to appreciate chocolate with higher cocoa solids, the majority of that sold is still milk and quite sweet.  Palates do of course differ and gauging the degree of bitterness that others will enjoy is difficult – you have only to think about the differing amounts of sugar that individuals choose to add to tea or coffee.  A quick test to assess your own, or others, tolerance to bitterness is simply to add, one drop at a time, some Angostura Bitters to a glass of sparkling mineral water.In this instance you should choose a brand that is more salty because the combination of the salt and the carbonation, should make an enjoyably refreshing drink but exactly how much Angostura to add will be how you ascertain your personal taste.
To test this theory I have made a tart that tests the tastebuds.This tart has sweet,bitter and sour running every which way through it.
Almond poached pear tranche 
with Seville orange creme fraiche
For me, pear and almond flavours are a match made in heaven. Must be all the French pear and frangipane tarts I have eaten in my lifetime!
This is one of the tastiest and prettiest desserts you will ever make. Sweet, soft pears with a good hint of both bitter orange and sweet almond liqueur. And the best part? Its easy too. 
375g pack ready rolled shortcrust pastry
250g golden caster sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) almond liqueur
1/2 cup (125 ml) orange liqueur
1/2 cup (125 ml )Seville orange juice,strained
325ml water
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large orange, ½ peeled and ½ zested
4 small Rocha pears, peeled
125ml crème fraîche
100g  thick double cream
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
125g icing sugar, sieved, plus extra to serve
20g pistachios, finely chopped 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4
Use the pastry to line a 35cm x 12cm loose-bottomed tart tin, then trim the excess pastry. Leave in the fridge for 15 mins
Line the pastry with grease proof paper and fill with baking beans. Bake for 15 mins, then remove the paper and beans, and increase the heat to 200°C/fan 180°C/Gas 6
Bake for another 15-20 mins, or until golden and firm on the bottom. Leave to cool completely.
Put the sugar, almond liqueur,orange liqueur,vanilla,and orange peel in a pan over a medium heat then stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears and poach gently for 25-30 mins, until tender.
Drain, leave to cool, then cut each one in half and remove the core
Whisk the crème fraîche, cream, vanilla seeds, icing sugar and orange zest together until thick.Spoon into the tart case, then top with the pears.
Chill for at least 2 hours,or overnight, then scatter with the nuts and icing sugar to serve.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Muffaletta,o sandes perfeito para o carnaval e Mardi Gras

Where did the word “carnival” come from?
Hundred and hundreds of years ago, the followers of the Catholic religion in Italy started the tradition of holding a wild costume festival right before the first day of Lent. Because Catholics are not supposed to eat meat during Lent, they called their festival, carnevale — which means “to put away the meat.” As time passed, carnivals in Italy became quite famous; and in fact the practice spread to France, Spain, and all the Catholic countries in Europe. Then as the French, Spanish, and Portuguese began to take control of the Americas and other parts of the world, they brought with them their tradition of celebrating carnival.
So without further ado and before we put away the meat,lets make the most indulgent sandwich I know,the muffaletta,the origin of which came from Italian immigrants in New Orleans.The muffuletta sandwich was allegedly created in 1906 at Central Grocery Co. on Decatur Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, by its owner Salvatore Lupo.
The holiday of Mardi Gras is celebrated in all of Louisiana, including the city of New Orleans. Celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Usually there is one major parade each day; many days have several large parades and therefore plenty of chances to indulge in a mouthful of muffaletta.
This is not for the calorie conscious. It is, however,for people who embrace bold flavours.
The combination of the salty meats, the smoked cheese, the strong olive oil flavour and the crunch of the olive salad makes this the type of snack anyone – your friends, your gran or even your most difficult fussy eater friend Jennifer who likes only tinned ravioli could not fail to enjoy.
 A traditional muffaletta bread

One guideline;when it comes to making your own muffaletta the choice of bread is crucial. You’ll be hard pressed to find this outside of Louisiana.The muffaletta is partly defined by its bread, so when you swap out this element, it becomes more of a hybrid muffaletta/Italian sub.The density has to withstand the olive oil and olive salad without getting soggy.
Muffaletta bread is essentially a round Italian style dense loaf and you can certainly substitute a good quality Italian bread from a bakery when making this sandwich. The bread's real claim to fame is its form. You shape it into a round flat loaf, it comes out of the oven about 8 inches in diameter and about 1 1/2 inches high with sesame seeds across the top. It turns out these dimensions are the perfect amount of bread for a Mufaletta Sandwich. If you use a commercial loaf of Italian style you'll end up either throwing away part of the bread or having more bread than the sandwich needs.

green olives, pitted (fresh or jarred)
pimento-filled green olives (fresh or jarred)
anchovies, canned or jarred
roasted red peppers (fresh and /or jarred)
pickled Italian giardiniera vegetables
Pepperoncini,birds eye or piri piri stemmed and seeded
celery stalk
cherry tomatoes
pinch dried oregano
freshly ground black pepper,
Red wine vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil

Chop all the ingredients finely and mix together well with the olive oil


Provolone, thinly sliced (you may use any combination of mild cheeses)
Burrata or mozzarella, thinly sliced
Italian salami, thinly sliced
Mortadella, sliced
Prosciutto or similar cured meat, sliced
8" artesanal bread roll (see above) sliced in half
Slice your bread roll in half and drizzle both sides generously with extra virgin olive oil.
Layer all your ingredients except the salad in alternate layers until you have sufficient filling.When you have reached your final layer finish with a covering of the olive salad.Replace the other half of the roll and press with a heavy weight forabout 30 minutes but no longer than two hours.This allows the flavours to meld and the juices to soak into the bread.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Crispy potato nests with poached egg

 Breakfast will never be the same again!!
Italian cuisine has always mastered the art of making do with what you have and still being able to put beautiful meals on the table.Today I am taking a dish that playful Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco cooked to great adulation as a main course at Refettorio.
His dish was prepared in the form of a nest with a poached egg carefully placed inside and topped with a goats cheese sauce.It is something so beautiful that you are afraid to lift your cutlery for fear of ruining it.Then dispelling the reverence you discover like a child the joy of poking the runny poached egg and watching the plate become engulfed in a creamy yellow mess.
I love this recipe, particularly for its ease and simplicity – I’ve even been known to have it for breakfast. The whole dish can be prepared in five minutes and you’d be hard pushed to find a tastier bite to eat.If you love latkes and revere rostis this one is for you.
The key with simplicity is perfect execution and, as are there are only three main elements in the recipe, it would be a disaster if any of them weren’t perfect.The beauty of this food is in its near inability to be bad. After all, we are talking about potatoes crisped up in fat. If you can achieve that, any recipe is sure to be delicious.
With just four ingredients plus seasoning and garnish this is something so simple yet so delicious that it brings a smile all round.We always buy too many potatoes so what better way to use them up than to get grating and making nests for however many poached eggs are needed.Buon appetito!!!

Potato nest with poached egg and goats cheese sauce
serves 6
2 cups(475ml) sunflower oil for deep frying 
3 potatoes peeled
6 eggs
11/4 cups (300ml) goats milk
7oz(200g) soft goats cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium pan,or deep fat fryer heat the sunflower oil to 265ºF (130C)
Using a grater,finely grate the potatoes to obtain fine strings.Form 6 nests.One by one,carefully place the nests in the oil and fry until golden brown,about 4 minutes.Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil over a medium heat Crack the eggs into the boiling water one by one and cook for 6 minutes.Carefully remove with a slotted spoon.
In a medium pan,bring the goats milk to a simmer over a medium heat and reduce until creamy, about 10 minutes.remove from the heat,stir in the goats cheese,and mix well to obtain a smooth sauce.
To serve,place a nest on each plate and top with an egg.Drizzle the egg with the goats cheese cream.Garnish with salt,pepper.


Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Passatelli with ragu and parmigiano sauce

I have always been fascinated by passatelli ,but never got around to actually making it.It is a type of home made pasta which is a common dish in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.Whereas Spätzle (aka Spaetzle) are made with flour,these are made with breadcrumbs.Apparently spätzle translates as little swallows in German, which makes a lot of sense when you consider the shape of both these little pastas.
Athough passatelli are not made with flour, they're classified as a pasta. It is one of the best ways to re-cycle day-old bread.  These soft, normally homemade strands of breadcrumbs, grated cheese and eggs are an ancient tradition, born in the rural low income areas of Italy where leftovers and simple foods like stale bread, cheese and eggs were used often to create tasty dishes.In the past passatelli were considered a special dish because they were made with white bread; The original recipe called for breadcrumbs and parmesan in equal measure, but in the homes of the wealthy more parmesan was used, whilst in the homes of the poor more bread!
There is no way round it,making home made pasta is nothing more than an act of love,but then again if you´ve got the time what better way to pass an afternoon.
The dough is simple enough to be made by a child and actually turns out better when it is mixed by hand.There are just three main ingredients: breadcrumbs,eggs, and grated parmesan.the dough is formed into a ball pressed through the small holes of a ricer,or an implement which Italians call ‘il ferro di passatelli’ (passatelli iron).This is actually a handheld press with holes, similar to a spaetzle maker or potato ricer. It comes out the other end in long threads,much like Play-Doh.This recipe for passatelli follows the classic recipe to a point,but instead of pressing the pasta through the ricer or colander,it is rolled out by hand into long threads and then cut into bite-size pieces.I prefer this process by far and it is a lot easier and faster too.
Like their German counterpart these little micro lovelies cook in a just a few minutes, and are great plain with browned butter or topped with slowly braised meat.Passatelli are traditionally served in broth but there are many other recipes for them like this one.As a virgin passateli maker, for my first foray I decided to skip the broth making stage and make something more familiar.
 Even bette,r passatelli are a great vehicle to carry a meat-based ragú  and accompanied by a creamy lasagne bechamelly type sauce, made by infusing parmesan rinds into heavy cream. I came across this cheesy pasta recipe whilst reading "Bread is gold" and my first reaction was that I absolutely had to make it myself!The recipe below for ragu can be changed to suit whatever meat you have to hand.I actually used a combination of pork and beef and passed on the specified chicken.
How to make passatelli.
Although passatelli appear to be simple to make because of the few ingredients required, a certain amount of skill and practice is needed to get the dough to the right consistency.If the dough isn’t right then the pasatelli ,like gnocchi .will fall apart quickly when passed thorough the press and dropped into the broth, or they won’t pass properly through the press. In order to get a good dough you have to use normal white bread, well dried and finely grated. and the ingredients must be blended with care, until you get a compact and good textured dough. The dough needs to ‘rest’ for at least two hours before being pressed through the passatelli ‘iron’
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250g minced beef and chicken
3 medium carrots,chopped
200g celery chopped
1 medium onion chopped
400g canned peeled whole tomatoes
2 sprigs rosemary
tbsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

100g parmigiano-reggiano rinds,chopped
200ml milk
1/2 cup(125ml) mascarpone
120g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated 

150g dried breadcrumbs
120g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp flor de sal
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
In a medium pan,heat a tablespoon of the olive oil.add the beef and chicken and cook until lightly browned,about 7 minutes.remove from the heat and set aside.
in amedium pot,heat atablespoon of olive oil over amedium-high heat.add the carrots,celery,and onion and cook for 5 minutes.add the cooked beef and chicken,tomatoes and rosemary and gently simmer for 1 hour.Add seasoning.

In a medium pot,simmer the parmigiano rinds,milk and mascarpone over medium heat for 2o minutes.Remove from the heat and let sit for 1 hour.Return to the heat and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese.Using a hand held blender,blend until smooth.Strain through afine mesh sieve and set aside.

In amedium bowl,mix together the breadcrumbs,parmigiano and flour.mix in the eggs,salt and pepper.gather into a ball,cover with plastic wrap(clingfilm)and set aside for 20 minutes.
Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil over a medium heat.push the dough through a ricer or  colander and directly into the boiling water.Cook until al dente,about 12 minutes.Drain and transfer to the pan with the ragu and gently toss to coat.alternatively roll the dough out into long threads and cut into bite size pieces,Toss into the pan of boiling water and cook immediately.
Divide the passatelli among serving bowls and drizzle with the parmigiano sauce.