Monday, June 22, 2015

The Arnold Bennett, kind of…

Well maybe not, Arnold Bennett would probably be rolling over in his grave at this version of the omelette that he most famously became enamoured with at the Savoy, and insisted upon its serving on his travels. As Nigel Slater put it, "Stick with the classic interpretation unless you want the wrath of Arnold Bennett's ghost upon you". Well I've yet to feel it, and even so switching away from a béchamel to cream infused with horseradish, lemon rind and dill is well worth the risk of a little otherworldly wrath. Oh and not to push my luck, tempt fate or anger the spirits, there is no parmesan in this either, I'm more than sure the lack of smoked haddock will be forgiven as it is not readily available in this part of the world, smoked hoki is a fair substitute though.

You will need
20 cm heavy based oven proof sauté pan
3–4 eggs (per person)
Smoked Fish, Hoki (or haddock to appease the spirits)
Cream (thickened slightly)
Lemon (zest only)
Dill (if you have it)
Bay Leaves

  • In an oven proof dish, just big enough to hold the fish snugly, lay a bed of parsley, some of the dill, bay leaves and peppercorns. Deposit the fish on top, pour over milk so it just covers the fish and firmly secure with tin foil. Bake in a moderate oven for 20 minutes.
  • Whilst the fish poaches, mix together the cream, horseradish, lemon zest and a good portion of the dill (chopped). Set aside.
  • Flake the fish off the skin into a bowl and set aside.
  • Crank the oven to a high setting, around 200ºC, move the rack to the upper third position. When the oven is at temperature you can begin. Before starting to cook, switch your oven to the grill (broil) setting, fan forced if you have it, and increase the temperature slightly (220ºC).
  • Get the pan onto a medium high heat and with abandon dollop in butter.

  • Beat the eggs together. When the foaming has subsided pour the eggs into the pan. Working from the centre with a spatula move the eggs outwards.

  • When set around the edges and the middle moving towards half done, spoon over the cream, three or four large spoonfuls should do it, spread it out as you go so it covers the egg.

  • Drop flakes of the poached fish over the cream and move the whole pan into the now hot oven. Cook for five minutes, until golden and souffléed.
  • Slide the omelette on to a waiting plate, garnish with dill, shaved red onion and salad of watercress.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Spaetzle and Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is a definite guilty pleasure, it’s a highly unlikely the following recipe is at all authentic, but it’s an easy throw together meal. The rich mushroom-beef creamy stew was ladled over a bed of slightly crisp buttered noodles called spaetzle.

Spaetzle get made now and then when, I feel the urge and am willing for the clean up that follows, using a spaetzle press (or ricer) is no clean feat. The other method is scraping off noodles from a board one at a time into boiling water, a skill I have very little desire to practice and no one to show me anyway, plus it looks far messier than the noodle press. To compound issues, I also managed to misplace my recipe (or list of quantities) and as I haven’t blogged previously about it, I had to start from scratch.

I guess I may of put you off, all this talk of mess, well don’t worry I have solved that problem. All you need is a zip-lock bag, no need for spaetzle presses, colanders dripping over pots or ninja knife board scraping skills. Just a simple bag that you can nip the corner off and a large pot of boiling water. You don’t end up with one long noodle, as the dough hits the water they break into perfect lengths of noodle. The noodles can be made ahead of time and chilled in an ice bath before being stored in a container in the fridge, just remember to toss them in a little oil so they don't stick to each other.

250g Flour
195ml Milk
8g Salt
2 Eggs (130g)

  • Combine the dry ingredients together and form a well in the centre.
  • Whisk together the eggs and milk, pour into the well and beat well, you really want to work the gluten.
  • Allow the mixture to rest in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.
  • Get a deep pot with salted water on the boil.
  • Transfer to a piping bag with a thin nozzle, or as I do, a zip-lock bag with the corner lopped off.
  • From a height steadily pipe the bag into the simmering water, it will break up into noodles an inch or two in length, this will need to be done in batches (2-3 depending on pot size).
  • Cook for a minute or two, or until floating on the surface.
  • Scoop out and transfer to a colander set inside an ice bath (or to a waiting pan to sauté in butter).
  • Once cooled, toss in a little oil and transfer to a container. Refrigerate until you're ready to cook.
  • For the above, I sautéed the spaetzle in butter, crisping it around the edges then added arugula until wilted.

Beef Stroganoff
  • 400g of beef schnitzel sliced into half centimeter strips tossed in flour seasoned with garlic powder, mustard powder, hot paprika and salt.
  • Sauté in a hot heavy based pan with a good dash of butter and oil until crisp and golden, remove and set aside.
  • Generously dollop in another knob of butter, when foaming add in half a finely diced onion and generous amount of sliced button mushrooms. When cooked down, and colored, Stir through a couple of minced garlic cloves, paprika, Dijon mustard and tomato paste.
  • Pour in some beef stock, about 400 ml in total, when all has been incorporated and begun to thicken add the beef back to the pan.
  • Adjust seasoning.
  • Splash in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream, lower the heat, and stir, reduce slightly.
  • Before serving fold through some chopped parsley. Serve up with some spaetzle sautéed with rocket.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bath Oliver biscuits

Inspiration comes from many different places, I've recently finished rereading Brideshead Revisited, a book that regularly comes back in to my reading rotation, and for some reason Bath Oliver biscuits stood out to me, even though they are only mentioned in a passage in passing (below), so I set about finding out about and how to make them. I ended up finding a recipe I liked the look of on Ladies a Plate and adapted that for my use. These crackers store very well, which is what bought them to fame, not needing to reheat purchased crackers to get the desired crunch.

"We had bottles brought up from every bin and it was during those tranquil evenings with Sebastian that I first made a serious acquaintance with wine and sowed the seed of that rich harvest which was to be my stay in many barren years. We would sit, he and I, in the Painted Parlour with three bottles open on the table and three glasses before each of us; Sebastian had found a book on wine tasting, and we followed its instructions in detail. We warmed the glass slightly at a candle, filled a third of it, swirled the wine round, nursed it in our hands, held it to the light, breathed it, sipped it, filled our mouths with it and rolled it over the tongue, ringing it on the palate like a coin on a counter, tilted our heads back and let it trickle down the throat. Then we talked of it and nibbled Bath Oliver biscuits and passed on to another wine; then back to the first, then on to another, until all three were in circulation and the order of the glasses got confused and we fell out over which was which and we passed the glasses to and fro between us until there were six glasses some of them with mixed wines in them which we had filled from the wrong bottle, till we were obliged to start again with three clean glasses each, and the bottles were empty and our praise of them wilder and more exotic."
Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Bath Oliver biscuits
30 ml warm water
3g dried yeast
50 g butter
150 ml milk
5g salt
340g flour

  • Combine the yeast and water and set aside to bloom.
  • Gently heat the milk and butter together over a low heat, keep the temperature down, just warm enough to melt the butter.
  • Combine the yeast and liquid in a bowl and add half the flour.
  • Mix well, cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Combine the rested batter with the remaining flour and salt to form a ball of dough.
  • Knead the dough until smooth, allowing it to rest now and then.
  • Place into a clean bowl and cover tightly, allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 160ºC, and set up a rack in the top third and another in the lower third.

  • Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 2cm thick.

  • Fold into thirds and roll back out, repeat this 8 times. You will need to rest the dough every 2–3 folds as it will be resistant to re-rolling.

  • Roll the dough out to 5mm thick, dock the pastry all over, then using a cutter press out large circles.
  • Arrange on lined trays, spray the rounds with a light misting of water and sprinkle over some flaky salt.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, swap the trays over halfway through, until golden and crisp, this may take a little longer sometimes.
  • When cooked move the biscuits to a cooling rack and then store in an airtight container.

This recipe is based on one from Ladies a Plate