Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kofta tagine

This is based on a recipe by Rick Stein from one of his many many travel cooking shows, the TV rather background noise than being watched when this dish piqued my interest, mainly because it was easy enough for me to remember to write down later, and a good excuse to drag the dusty tagine off the shelf and put it to use. The following is from memory, I did try to find a copy in one of his books I have, but no dice. It’s surprising quick and easy to throw together and perfect for the cooler months.

Lamb mince
Cumin, ground
Hot paprika (or sweet and cayenne pepper)
Parsley, chopped

  • Roughly work all the ingredients together and form into balls. Set aside.

4–5 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Onion, finely diced
1 can of good quality diced tomatoes
Hot paprika
1 egg per serve

  • Heat the tagine over a medium heat, add in a good glug or three of olive oil and thoroughly brown the kofta. Transfer to a bowl. Sauté the onion and garlic until translucent. Add the paprika and cumin, cook until fragrant.
  • Pour in the tomatoes, thin out with a little water if needed. Bring to the simmer, and adjust seasoning.
  • Arrange the kofta in the tagine, leave space for the eggs to be broken in, cover and cook for a couple of minutes, or until the kofta are cooked through.

  • Crack in the eggs individually, cover the tagine and cook for about 2 minutes, or until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve up with some crunchy crusty bread.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Pressure cooked polenta

I love polenta, the fact is it’s a pain in the ass to cook, it’s not hard or complicated, but standing there stirring a pot of something that ultimately wants to spurt and bubble and cover you in all sorts of pain just doesn’t do it for me. Heck even the 6 minutes of bubbling hell that “instant” polenta takes is about 5 minutes too long for my liking. It may seem like a strange attitude for someone who seems to spend an inordinate amount of time fussing about in the kitchen, but life is too short to suffer third degree burns for a bowl of creamy polenta. I guess you could say that it is fortunate that I now have a method that no longer involves any camping out stove side and the most hard work is sieve pushing or mouli turning, if that, you do need a pressure cooker though.

1 part (by weight) polenta (not instant).
5 parts liquid
Butter, cheese, oil, or anything else you want to enrich with.

Place about an inch of water in the bottom of the pressure cooker and place in a trivet. Mix together the polenta, liquid and fat in a bowl and then place the bowl into the pressure cooker. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, let the pressure drop naturally. I like to pass the cooked polenta through a sieve to ensure a smooth consistency. Once passed, you can fold in more butter or cheese to really enrich it, or if for example you’re serving it with a roast, I'd add some of the cooking fat/liquid. Taste and season with salt.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Beurre Monté and cavatelli

Well I could wax lyrical about cavatelli, yet again, and perhaps bore you all to death with yet another combination of flours, toasted grains and instant potato flakes, but not today, yes this ultimately ended up as a pasta dish, a cavatelli dish, but it’s not so much the pasta as it is the sauce, in fact I ended up trying this out on two different versions of cavatelli, popcorn grits variety, that had been languishing in the freezer, as a tester, and then the finished dish with roasted rye cavatelli, both good combinations.

The sauce, and the excuse for more pasta, was heavily influenced (read, copied and modified) from Ideas in food’s bullet proof beurre monté and their later post bean monté. I had for a while wanted to have to make this extravagant sauce, with guests coming I had an excuse, plans started forming.

The great thing about the sauce and the cavatelli is they can both be prepared the day before, if not two, so it makes for a much easier cooking experience when guests are due, and heck you can even cook out the cavatelli on the day and shock it in an ice bath then refrigerate until needed, sautéing it until warm through and crisp on the edges. With the sauce, unlike a traditional beurre monté, it can be cooled down and reheated without the fear of it splitting.

Beurre Monté
250g Water*
225g Butter, cut into 1cm cubes and fridge cold.
0.7125g (0.15%) Xanthan Gum
2.375g (0.5%) Salt

  • Place the water and salt in a pot over a medium heat.
  • When at a simmer, use a stick/immersion blender to mix in the xanthan gum, blend on high speed for about 30 seconds.
  • With the blender still running, start adding the butter a cube at a time, letting each piece melt and emulsify, continue until the butter is all incorporated and the sauce thickened.
  • Taste, adjust salt if necessary.
  • Transfer to a container, allow to cool and refrigerate until needed.

*I used water that I had cooked a batch of whole rye in, and then infused it with thyme and rosemary.

Infused oil
Over a low heat, infuse a large amount of rosemary leaves and half a dozen or so garlic cloves in about half a cup of olive oil and half a cup of canola oil. Let it bubble and warm through on the heat for about 15 minutes, then remove and cover, letting it sit for a further 15 minutes to extract all possible essential oils from the wood herb. Strain and transfer to a glass jar. Keep in the fridge until all used up.

Putting it together
Place a sauté pan over a medium heat and add a splash of the infused oil, when hot, add a sprigs worth of rosemary leaves and let them sizzle. Add the cooked, drained cavatelli to the pan and sauté until just crisp, and if chilled, warmed through. Reduce the heat to low, add enough of the beurre monté to coat the cavatelli and toss until warmed through. Plate up, finish with a smothering of finely grated sharp hard cheese and a few turns of black pepper.