February 8, 2009

Filed under: Far East, Japanese, Reared red meat, Malay/Indonesian — ros @ 4:39 pm

Well, maybe not, but this is as close as I’m likely to get.

So here we have some beef fillet steak, seared until just cooked on the outside as an attempt at beef sashimi, a hot peanut dipping sauce, tangy mango and papaya salad with lots of lime and a soothing contrast of coconut rice.

beef sashimi, coconut rice, peanut sauce mango and papaya salad

Many of the best meals I have made have come from absolute necessity. The realisation that you have a couple of pounds left in your bank account and only a few storecupboard staples can work wonders for your cooking inspiration. It was a similar mindset I had when creating the meal above.

No, I’m not for a second pretending that anything in the meal pictured above is a budget item but, at the end of a particularly long and tiring week, they were almost all sitting in my fridge and the fillet steak in particular needed to be used fast.

So how did I come to have some ’spare’ fillet steak sitting in my fridge. Exhaustion, that’s how.

Parents’ evenings are always tiring. The parents’ evening of the upper sixth year is the last one before the kids sit their A2 exams that determine which university, if any, they can attend. When you teach BOTH bottom sets in a subject like mathematics, you know you’re in for a long evening that will involve dealing with some emotionally fruaght parents.

In a school like mine, you can be sure that not even the bottom set kids are going to fail their A2 maths. However they are mostly B and C grade candidates trying to get into some very good universities to read subjects like medicine and engineering. They REALLY need As  and Bs. Their parents by this point are getting more than a little anxious about their child’s future and in particular their apparently incurable inability to do any work. 

I actually had one parent, scratching his head and looking perplexed saying, “Well he’s never done any work. He’s not going to start now but he needs an A in maths. So how do we make sure he gets it?

Ummm…… tricky one…… getting me to dress like a boy and sit his exam might work but unfortunately that’s called fraud.

Anyway, after three and a half hours of trying to console around 20 pairs of very worried parents,  I left, just caught Sainsbury before it shut and grabbed some fillet steak. Then I got home and passed out on my sofa before I even thought about what I was going to do with it.

A few days later, the steak needed to be used. Fortunately I had a little more time on my hands so I made up a dish inspired by a salad I’d had at my favourite local Thai restaurant which conveniently used up some of the exotic fruit my parents sporadically give me.

 Beef ‘Sashimi’ with Mango and Papaya Salad, Coconut Rice and Peanut Dipping Sauce

Quantities for One Person

For the Beef

  • 150-200g filet steak in one piece
  • A little vegetable oil or groundnut oil
  • Salt and pepper

Rub the steak with the oil so it is is just coated. Season with salt and pepper and sear over a high heat for 45s per side or until it is just cooked on the outside. Wrap in foil and leave to rest.

For the Rice

  • 2 handfuls of basmati rice
  • half a can of coconut milk (keep the rest handy in case you need some extra
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water. Bring the coconut milk to a boil, stir through the rice  with a teaspoon of salt and bring back to a gentle bubble. Stir frequently until the rice is cooked (about 8 minutes) - test a grain to see if it is cooked. Drain off any excess coconut milk and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

For the Peanut Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 chopped red chilli, deseeded
  • a quarter can of coconut milk
  • half a tablespoon chopped coriander leaf
  • fish sauce- just a little

Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat through for a few minutes until the peanut butter thickens the sauce. Taste and season.

For the Salad

  • half a ripe mango, peeled and thinly sliced
  • half an under-ripe (green) papaya, peeled, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a few drops of fish sauce
  • half a teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 small clove garlic, pasted
  • 1 small green chilli, deeeded and finely chopped
  • finely diced red onion- mi just used a heaped tablespoonful and kept the rest to use another time.
  • a tablespoon of coriander leaves

Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chilli and garlic paste. Toss this through the rest of the ingredients. 

Slice the beef fillet thinly and serve with the accompaniments.

January 31, 2009

Filed under: Northwest European, Reared red meat — ros @ 2:16 pm

steak bearnaise 

but oh, so good.

I’m aware that this blog is turning into a bit of a  red meat -fest. I make no apologies. This phase will probably wear off when it gets warmer.

Steak Bearnaise is my idea of treat food but at the moment treat food happens every time Goon visits. I really shouldn’t spoil him so much. In spite of my best efforts to get him to live like a civilised human being, Goon has reverted to eating ‘convenience’ food of the lowest order. By that I mean the sort of food that most of us would be reluctant to eat even if the only alternative was to chew off our own arm.

I’m serious! He eats tinned chicken curry on pasta. Or tinned steak and kidney pudding on pasta. Or tinned chilli on pasta. You think I’m joking? I didn’t believe it until I went around there and saw his bin.

Ah, well, at least he’s learned to cook pasta.

Even though these poor living conditions are entirely self inflicted, I feel the need to treat him when he comes to my place and, on school nights when I’m feeling uninspired, steak bearnaise is an obvious choice. It’s not cheap and it’s not healthy but it is tasty and  if the home made chips weren’t a safety issue, I could probably make it with my eyes shut.

Steak Bearnaise and Home Made Chips

  1. 2 sirloin steaks (200-250g each)
  2. 4 medium maris piper potatoes
  3. oil for deep frying

For the Bearnaise Sauce

  1. the yolks of 2 large eggs
  2. 100g unsalted butter
  3. tarragon vinegar - around 1 tbsp
  4. 1 level tbsp finely chopped tarragon

A green vegetable such as asparagus or green beans to serve

To make the sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a pan. .
  2. Bring a small pan half full of water to the boil
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in a heat proof bowl.
  4. Place the heat proof bowl on the pan so it is sitting above the boiling water
  5. Continue to whisk the eggs until they start to thicken, then trickle in the butter a little at a time while you keep whisking.
  6. When the sauce is smooth, fairly thick and light yellow, add the tarragon vinegar a little at a time. It pays to taste it after adding a teaspoon, to see that it isn’t becoming too tart.
  7. Finally stir in the chopped tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Take the water off the boil. The sauce can be left while you make other things but it needs to be whisked ocasionally to stop a skin forming on the top.

For the steak and chips 

  1. peel the potatoes and cut into large chips.
  2. Bing a pan of salted water to the boil. Boil the chips for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside. 
  3. Rub the steaks with olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and cook on a griddle to your preferred taste. I got a griddle pan very hot, then cooked on one side for 30 seconds, turned the steak around by 90 degrees then cooked it on the same side for another 30 seconds. then I turned the steak over and did the same on the other side.
  4.  Wrap in foil and keep at room temperature for about ten minutes.
  5. While the steaks are resting fill a large sauce pan one third full of sunflower oil. Heat over almost full power for two or three minutes. Keep a large plate covered with two or three layers of kitchen towel ready to drain the chips on.
  6. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a cube of bread in. It should sizzle and go brown in anbout 1 minute.
  7. Remove the bread cube with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the chips in batches to the oil. Remove with a slotted metal spooon as they turn golden brown. Drain on kitchen towel and allow to drain completely.

Serve each steak with the chips, a green vegetable and a big dollop of sauce. Garnish with extra tarragon. 

January 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean, Reared red meat — ros @ 9:36 pm

That’s an understatement. It’s f*cking freezing.

I swear there hasn’t been a winter this cold since I moved back to London. I have swapped my pretty fur trim gloves for big thick things that look like they belong in a boxing ring and still I can’t feel my hands by the time I get home. In fact yesterday I couldn’t feel anything below my knees either, which led to a very embarrassing tumble outside Tesco.

Even in weather like this, I still get bored of stews so I’ve been trying to vary them as much as possible. Veal blanquette has made an appearance as has a spicy root vegetable and lentil curry but this week’s favourite was the one below.It’s an interesting combination of flavours: slow cooked beef with warm spice, sweet sultanas and a slight bitterness from the pepper.I blogged it a few years ago before my hard drive crashed but that page is in quite a state so it is worth reproducing.

Cephalonian Beef Stew

cephalonian beef casserole

  • 3-4 large shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 very small, or half a large green pepper, cored, deseeded, sliced 
  • 200g stewing braising steak
  • half a small butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • a handful of sultanas
  • 3-5 cloves
  • a splash  (capful) of red wine vinegar
  • 400ml beef stock
  • a heaped tsp of crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cinnamon 
  • cooked tagliatelle, tossed in marscapone and nutmeg to serve
  1. Brown the beef in a medium suacepan (I needed to split it into 2 batches). Remove the heat and set aside.
  2. In the same pan sautee the peppers until soft. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the shallots to the pan and allow to soften.
  4. Return the beef to the pan and stir in the spices.
  5. Add the beef stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in the chopped squash, vinegar and and simmer for another 30-40 minutes until the beef is tender and the squash soft.
  7. Stir the peppers back into the pan
  8. Taste and season and serve over the tagliatelle.

December 31, 2008

Filed under: Northwest European, Reared red meat, Offal, Unusual meat — ros @ 12:55 pm

after several months of not being able to properly access your blog. When I finally opened up my admin page after goodness knows how long, I was pleased and slightly suprised to find some people had linked to me. Of course I was less pleased when I found they’d just been hotlinking my photos. Chuh! :roll:  

Then there were the forty or fifty comments largly made up by spam. Having been there when my spam filter was designed, I know that this spam isn’t made by spam robots as it used to be. There are apparently now many hundreds of trained spam monkeys trawling the internet and leaving badly disguised links to their websites, masqueraduing as gushingly complementary comments.  

Anyay, yes, hello, I’m back, at least temporarily. I still don’t have a real computer. Just a laptop with a screen I can barely read and no keyboard. Thank God the boredom of the Christmas holidays has finally forced me into typing on a barely functioning USB device to update this poor, neglected website. So now I can tell you about my recipe for sheep.

No, of course I couldn’t eat a whole one. Not in one go anyway. But this dish includes a fair number of sheep consituents.

sheep dish with offal

Towards the end of August, I went to the Covent Garden Night Market specifically to see Fergus Hendrson perform on their stage kitchen. Softly spoken and slightly awkward in front of the large audience, he was a far cry from what you’d expect from a ‘celebrity chef’, yet he conveyed his passion for good cooking and ingredients better than any popular household name. Two things in particular stick in my mind. The first is his assertion that recipes are merely guides, not rules, for a genuinely good cook. The second is what I have come to hold high in my list of cooking commandments:

Love Thy Butcher

According to Henderson, if you find a butcher worthy of your custom and let them know how much you love them, you can expect great things. In his case, he got pig trotters. I was after sonething slightly different.

I was expecting a negative reaction clutching my short but unusual shopping list but the gentlemen at H G Walters barely batted an eyelid when I handed them the piece of paper. One veal kidney, some lamb sweetbreads and two lamb tongues would apparently be no problem.The two latter ingredients were destined for a recipe that held my fascination for some time: lamb rack with sauteed tongue and sweetbreads.

The original recipe, from the first series of ‘The Great British Menu,’ had obviously been created in the summer and required fresh broadbeans and samphire. I made do with defrosted peas but otherwise the ideas are largely unchanged. 

Sheep Feast (Rack of Lamb with sauteed tongue, sweetbreads and peas)

For Two People

  • 1 large rack of lamb (wih about 6 rib bones in)
  • 2 lamb tongues
  • 350g lamb sweetbreads
  • 2 handfuls of peas, fresh or defrosted
  • 200ml fresh lamb stock
  • unsalted butter- around 30g
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley to garnish
  1. Prepare the sweetbreads: If they’re frozen, allow them to defrost. My butchers say that if you’re short on time, let them sit it some warm water to speed this up. Then soak them in cold water in the fridge for two hours.
  2. Drain the sweetbreads. Bring a pa of water to the boil. Drop in the sweetbreads, bring back to the boil. Drain immediately and refresh in cold water. When they’re cool, peel off the tough outer membrane, then pop them in the fridge until ready to cook.
  3. Prepare the tongues: Place in cold water and brinng to the boil. Simmer until tender (around 1 hour 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the cooking liquid.
  4. Roast the rack of lamb as you norally would. I brushed mine with olive oil, seasoned and roasted it in a preheated oven at gas mark 6 for15 minutes This gave me pleasantly rare meat. Wrap in foil and leave to rest.
  5. While the lamb is roasting/resting, cook the peas in boiling water then drain.
  6. Pat the sweetbreads dry and dust them with the seasoned flour. Heat half the butter in a frying pan and when it is foaming add the swweetbreads and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  7. Drain the tongues and cut in half. Sautee on both sides auntil golden brown.
  8. Add the sweetbreads, stock and peas to the pan Simmer together for a few minutes.
  9. Cut the lamb rack into cutlets and serve with the peas and sweetbread mixture. Garnish with parsely. Minted new potatoes made a good accompaniment to this.

 

All in all a good recipe. The slighly diappointing thing for me is that the sweetbreads weret te crispy type I’ve had before. Perhaps that is easier to achieve with calf sweetbrads. Still, the flavour was good and I imagine that if I’d had a chance to get my hands on some samphire, it would have been even better. Incidentally, lamb sweetbreads are CHEAP. Excellent value for money if you have a good butcher that can order them for you. The most expensive part of this meal was the lamb rack but, given the quality it was well worth it. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

August 13, 2008

Filed under: Mediterranean, Reared red meat — ros @ 7:10 pm

We’ve all been complaining a lot about the weather this summer. It has truly been a mixed bag, almost like Britain has developed a monsoon season.  To make it worse, the rain likes to make itself manifest at weekends or at around 6pm.

The weather is trying to spite office workers! How rude!

During the day, it has certainly been hot enough to go out with just a t shirt on, but my leather coat remains in my bag in case the heavens decide to open a little bit earlier than expected.

The rapidly changing temperatures really confuse my appetite. As I went food shopping last Tuesday, it was a very warm and humid 22 degrees. I had a bit of a bargain binge, picking up half price duck breasts, and some lamb neck fillet reduced from £5 to £2.05 and half price broad beans. I was thinking lamb kebabs using some super cheap veg from the Turkish grocers and a broad bean and feta salad (feta also seems to be one of the grocers’ cheap items).  Sadly, as I went to leave Sainsbury’s I saw that it had decided to storm properly, complete with a bit of thunder and lightning.

Half an hour later, when I got home, the rain had just stopped. I was soaking from the waist down and my hands were numb. I NEED to buy a bigger umbrella. I certainly wasn’t up for summery lamb kebabs with a light salad any more. I was more in the mood for a casserole. Time for another score cupboard raid, I thought, and so this came into being…

It’s essentially a twist on a lamb blanquette, kind of inspired by lamb avgolemono (which I’ve only read about but never actually had). It was cheap, which is the important thing right now, and it still tasted very good: good enough for Goon to ask for it again. The ingredients were
From the bargain bin: approximately 500g of lamb neck fillet and 400g unpodded broad beans.
From the storecupboard/fridge/freezer: a lemon, some garlic, frozen peas, fresh tagliatelle, a splash of cream and an egg
From the Turkish grocers: parsley
From the windowsill: the remains of the poor mint plant, which is now properly dead.
Total spent on the meal: £2.02 for the lamb. 40p for the parsley and £1.37 on the broad beans, so under £4 for two generous servings.

Summer Lamb ‘Blanquette’

  • Lamb neck fillet, around 450g, cut into bite sized pieces
  • around 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, zested and cut into quarters
  • about 10 mint leaves, finely chopped, plus a sprig or two to to garnish
  • 2 handfuls of frozen peas, cooked.
  • 400g of broad beans, shelled, podded and cooked (I’ve put a note on how to prepare broad beans at the end)
  • 1 large egg
  • around 20ml of single cream
  • two servings of fresh tagliatelle, cooked (around 200g) tossed in parsley and olive oil if you like 
  1. Brown the lamb in batches over a high heat.
  2. Place in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer.
  3. Over the next five minutes or so, skim the scum that rises to the top of the water off with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once no scum is left, drain the lamb and place in a pan with the vegetable stock. Bring back to a simmer.
  5. Add the lemon zest and the chopped mint
  6. After 30 minutes, the lamb should be tender. Strain off the liquid into a seperate saucepan, reserving all the solids and boil until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 or 3 minutes. This is to stop the egg mixture from curdling when it is added.
  7. Beat the egg and cream in a bowl. Add to the reduced stock, stirring constantly. This should thicken the sauce although you may need to return the pan to a low heat for this to happen.
  8. Stir the lamb and other strained solids back in. Add the peas and broad beans. Warm through, taste, adjust seasoning.
  9. Serve with the tagliatelle, squeeze over  some lemon juice, garnish with mint leaves and wedges of lemon.

Note: to prepare the broad beans: remove the outer pods and discard. Put the beans in their white casing into some cold water. Bring to the boil. After 3 minutes, drain and pour over cold water to cool them. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the beans. They’ll pop out of their casing and should be almost cooked.

 *************

If you’ve never tried lamb with lemon in a dish, you should try it. They pair up remarkably well. Sharp flavours cut through the natural fattiness of the meat. I noticed that the supermarket packaging suggested that lamb neck is grilled or fried. I suppose this works too, but it is amazingly tender when braised slowly like this.   Now, what to do with that duck….?

 

August 12, 2008

Filed under: Northwest European, Reared red meat — ros @ 12:20 pm

Just before I wrote my last little whinge about renting in London, I had just spent a day flathunting in Putney. I saw some painfully dire places. costing around £1,000 per month for really horrible dingy studios. Around two days later, when I was about to give up, we finally found a decent place, costing just short of £800. So I put down the holding deposit. Three weeks later the estate agents phoned. The Landlady had cancelled the deal. Apparently she’d decided to move back to London and wanted the flat back. B*tch. A week earlier and things would have been so much easier

So there I was, £500 poorer, until the agents returned my deposit, looking for a place to live in the most heavy season for letting. Further flat hunting in that area proved futile because I needed a place for the 20th of August and it was already the 7th: far too late to be looking, apparently.  I seriously considered going down to Putney in person to give my former landlady a big slap.

Turning my hunt to Hammersmith, I was given more promising news. In a fairly well known agency I was told “We’ve got two places. A studio with separate kitchen for £960 per month and a one bed flat for £1040.” I squirmed at hearing the prices but in spite of my better judgement, agreed to have a look.

The studio turned out to be very small and poky and situated in a basement. It was the kind of place I would end up sharing with a family of mice. ”No way,” I thought ”not for almost a grand.”  

The one bed flat looked much more promising. It was still being done up but it had a nice big bedroom and certainly had a decent view over some greenery. There was just one thing that confused me.

“So where’s the kitchen?” The agent shuffled uncomfortably. It appeared that he wasn’t expecting me to ask this. “I DID only ask for self contained properties with seperate kitchens” I reminded him.
“This does have a seperate kitchen” I looked around. 
“Where?”

He pointed to the back corner of the room where two flimsy partitions had been put up. “Just there.”
“THAT’S A KITCHEN?!” He nodded. I scratched my head in disbelief. “I thought it was a toilet cubicle! Or a boiler cupboard!” I opened the door. “WHAT’S THIS? IT’S TWO FOOT SQUARE!  In front of me was a tiny cubicle, not even the size of my arm span containing a two ring electric hob and a sink.  “This is NOT a kitchen! There’s nowhere to store any food.”
“Well, technically its separated from the rest of the flat and contains a hob and a sink. That makes it a separate kitchen.”
“Separated from the flat? It’s separated from the rest of the flat by TWO PIECES OF CARDBOARD!”
“It’s enough, I’m afraid” “I poked and prodded the walls. Nope, no cupboards hidden here.”What the hell do people DO with places like this?!” “Well, there’s enough space to heat up a tin of something” he suggested helpfully.
I gawped for a few seconds then came to my senses. “Right, well….thanksverymuchI’llbegoingnow!”

I left very, very quickly.

Now this was by no means the worst flat I saw, although it possibly was the worst value for money. Apparantly, if you live in London and want to live in a single person’s/couple’s accomodation, you DO NOT COOK.

That is unless, like me, you are very persistant. After much searching I did find a reasonable studio with a big kitchen and a gas hob that cost considerably less then the two places I mentioned in this post. Apparantly I was lucky. It had been on the market for around 6 hours. It took me roughly 5 minutes to put down a holding deposit.

Of course, agents’ flat descriptions never give you a true indication of what a place is going to be like so, if any of you find yourself in my position, I have written a brief guide to finding a decent one person flat in London.

First Some Vocabulary

  • Studio Flat: A single room with a sofa bed/pull down bed. 
  • Small studio: Really, you’re just going to have the bed.
  • Spacious studio: You can possibly fit in a T.V and sofa.
  • Self contained: you get a shower, toilet and ‘cooking’ facilities to yourself, you lucky devil!
  • Open plan kitchen: One wall of the studio has had a sink and a hob fitted with a couple of cupboards and a mini-fridge. 
  • Kitchenette: You have a two ring electric hob and a sink. No kitchen cupboards or washing machine.
  • Seperate Kitchenette. One of the corners of the room jutted out, so the landlord has put up a partition and shoved the hob and sink in there.
  • Close to all local amenities: There’s a small convenience store/Costcutter withing 10 minutes walk.
  • Good transport links: You are guaranteed that at least one bus stops less than 5 minutes away.
  • Close to tube: Your location has increased your rent by approximately £200 per month.

And some tips…

  1. Start approximately 4 weeks before your proposed move in date. Any earlier and your offers are likely to be rejected because you can’t move in soon enough. Any later and all the places have gone.
  2. Don’t bother looking online. The market moves so fast that the listings are constantly out of date. Get down to where you want to move and talk to the agents in person.
  3. Well known and respected estate agents rarely give you any bullsh*t. The little independant ones are a lottery. 
  4. If a place seems inexpensive but is near a tube station, be prepared for it to be rubbish.
  5. If the place has just been put up for rent by someone who used to live there, don’t be too suprised if they decide to move back in or sell it instead. Things are far more stable if the property has been let before.

And, yes of course I do have some food for you… comfort food of the highest order from my point of view. I was still budgeting when I took this flat, but after having such a grueling day, Dad, who’d been looking at flats with me gave me £10 to treat myself and Goon. He’s very sweet like that. So I popped down to Borough the next day to try out a recipe I’d had in mind for ages.

Sirloin Steak with Sauteed Girolles and Watercress Pureé (outline recipe, adapted from Ramsay’s ‘A Chef for All Seasons’)

a psychadelic puree with steak

  • 1 sirloin steak
  • 100g watercress
  • 25g spinach leaves
  • 15ml double cream 
  • 100g girolles mushrooms, halved if large
  • handful flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, minced
  • olive oil

Make the puree by boiling the watercress in well salted water for about 5 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and wait until they have wilted completely. Drain and squeeze as much water out as possible. Process the leaves with the cream until you have a very smooth paste. You can add more cream if you like to make it into a sauce.

Brush the steak with olive oil on all sides, season and cook to your liking. 

Sautee the girolles with the garlic in olive oil until soft, stir in the parsley, cook for about another minute.

Serve the steak with the mushrooms and watercress puree. We had some steamed broccolli as a side dish.

***********************

As you might tell from the ridiculous close up of this dish, I found this ridiculously hard to present well. Why? Because the sauce was GREEN. I don’t mean the nice dark forest green that Mr Ramsay somehow managed to produce for his book but bright, bright green. When Goon decided he wanted to have his sauce as a pouring sauce and I added more cream, it was positively luminous.  

Despite being a little ‘colourful’ this was a nice relatively simple way to serve steak. The sauteéd girolles were gorgeous and the pureé was good, full of flavour from the peppery watercress but with the  the spinach coming through with almost equal strength. Providing you process it for long enough, the pureé will have the perfect texture:absolutely silky smooth.

So in short, I certainly recommend this in terms of flavour but it possibly isn’t one to try for a dinner party.

These steaks are from Farmer Sharpe’s in Borough Market. They turned out to be a bit less expensive than those from my usual butcher and had a noticeably different flavour and texture. These Galloway cattle give a very ‘beefy’ steak (if that makes any sense) with a strong flavour that reminded me a little of buffalo. I recommend trying them out if you get a chance. 

July 28, 2008

Filed under: Vietnamese/Cambodian, Reared red meat — ros @ 12:41 pm

This post is really testing my memory. I was just going through my food photos from this year and foud a picture of a curry that I really wanted to post but never had time.

Cambodian Pork Curry

A whole 18 weeks ago, just before the end of the Easter holidays, I was contemplating what my final term at Highgate would bring. Late nights I suspected and bad moods at arriving home hungry and exhausted at 9:30pm. I had been ill prepared for these in the previous two terms. People kept telling me it would get easier and I’d cope better as I went along. It was true to some extent, but if I was to keep preparing a full worksheet for every lesson, leaving school before 7:30 wouldn’t be an option.

We decided that, in order to fend off the near psychotic rages that had ensued when Goon had promised to cook dinner but forgotten, it would be a good idea to stock up the freezer with home made ready meals. Goon exercised his training from the previous year and made a vat of bolognese which divided into 10 portions. I went down to Sainsbury’s and discovered that they had free range pork and stewing beef on offer. The beef became 6 frozen portions of beef in Guinness. The pork became the slightly psychadelic curry pictured above.

This is a Cambodian Style pork and butternut squash curry. The intense yellow flavour comes from the use of turmeric and a herbal paste called Kroeung, which is made from blending lemongrass, turmeric, ginger or galangal, onion, lime leaf and garlic.

Kroeung

The paste here is a lot wetter than normal, because I only have a crappy stick blender and so needed a bit of water to process the spices.

Kroeung is a classic flavouring in Khmer cooking and quite distinctive, being earthy and yet fresh and citrusy at the same time. It provides the principal flavouring to many curries, soups, stir fries and marinades. It certainly dominated this curry, providing a nice balance to the creaminess of the coconut milk.

I’m afraid I can’t remember exact quantities for this curry but the method went something like this…

Cambodian Pork and Butternut Curry (Adapted from The Complete Vietnamese Cookbook by Ghillie Basan)

Approximate method for making 8-10 Portions

For the Kroeung Paste, process

  • 3 chopped lemon grass stalks, trimmed with the tough outer leaves removed
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • a large piece of ginger (25g)
  • 25g fresh turmeric (I had to substitute around 4 teaspoons ground)

with a little water if necessary to bind. This paste will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Now for the curry…

The recipe suggests using pork loin but we had a 1.6kg boneless leg. This was cut into bite size pices and browned in batches over a high heat.

Stir fry a large knob (4-5 inches) of finely chopped ginger, 8 chopped green chillies and 2-3 very finely diced onions in some vegetable oil until the onion is soft. Add 6 tablespoons of the kroeung paste and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Throw in a 3 or 4 teaspoons of ground turmeric and a couple of teaspoons each of fenugreek and sugar and stir fry for a minute or so. Now add the pork loin and stir to coat. Add a couple of tablespoons of fish sauce, two tins (approx 1 litre) of coconut milk and bring to a gentle bubble. After 5 minutes or so add the diced flesh of 2 small butternut squash and 5 or 6 lime leaves. Allow to bubble until the squash is almost cooked. Adjust spicing at this stage if necessary. Continue to cook until the pork and squash are cooked through.

The portions we ate that night were garnished liberally with chopped coriander and mint and served on plain boiled rice. The other six portions went in the freezer and were almost equally good when reheated, although the squash disintegrated a bit.

********************

 

This was the first time I’d encountered this herbal paste, so it seems like a good idea to enter this post to Kalyn’s long standing event, Weekend Herb Blogging.  It must have been a year since I last took part but hopefully I can make more entries soon.  The host this week is Kelly from Sounding my Barbaric Gulp. Visit her site on Monday for a round up of educational and entertaining posts.

 

 

 

Apparently the paste I used is just one of a several different types of Kroeung. Variations include adding red chilli pulp, making the paste red or rhizome, making it a light green. Most pastes include lemongrass, galangal and turmeric or kaffir lime leaves, giving Khmer cooking its distinctive flavour.  

More detail is here at the Wikipedia page on Kroeung.

November 19, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized, North Indian, Reared red meat — ros @ 12:44 am

Not long ago,  I suddenly realised that one part of my cooking that had disappeared completely during the first weeks of my job was the home made curry. It’s not because they take too long to cook. I can pull together a decent Goan fish curry in about half an hour. Instead it’s the attention to detail that is the problem.

When making a curry I find I need to be really on the ball. The spice quantities in recipe books or on the web aren’t ever quite right and I find I need to be there tasting and adjusting constantly if I want it to be good. However, it has now got to the stage where Goon seems to have given up cooking completely so, it’s in the door at 9pm for me and straight into the kitchen.  Even after just a week of that it got to the stage where I managed to cook, serve up and then fall asleep on the sofa before I managed to eat.

I was woken up half an hour later by Goon who had managed to scoff most of my portion as well as his and was trying to shoo me away so he could get to his favourite programming spot in front of the television. Let this be a warning to you:never share a flat with a geek,especially one who doesn’t like cooking.

There’s no way I could manage to make something that requires concentration whilst I am in that state of exhaustion so home made curries might have to become a holiday treat. This half term, I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass me by so, during a Friday visit to Borough, I picked up my favourite currying meat, came home and made this.

Saag Gosht with Red Peppers  

 sag gosht

Ingredients 

  • 450g mutton, lamb neck or other red casseroling meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • vegetable oil or ghee for frying
  • 1 medium/large onion, thickly sliced into rings
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced,
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 birds eye green chillis, chopped
  • 300ml (or just enough to cover the meat in step 2 below) home made lamb or beef bone stock (nothing herby). Water will do as the mutton has a rich flavour of its own, but I much prefer using a simple bone stock. 
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 red pepper, cored deseeded and cut into small pieces
  • 200g fresh spinach, washed and thoroughly drained
  • a handful of chopped coriander leaves plus extra to garnish

Method

  1. Brown the mutton pieces on all sides over a high heat in the oil/ghee. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Turn the heat down and add the onions to the saucepan. Fry gently until they start to soften.
  3. Add the spices, garlic and ginger.
  4. Once the onion is cooked, return the mutton to the pan, barely cover with the stock, place the lid on the saucepan and simmer for around 2 hours. Keep an eye on the curry and, if it starts to become too dry, add a little more stock.
  5. In a seperate pan, fry the pepper until soft, then add this to the curry with the chillies. Stir the curry well and continue to let it simmer for another five minutes so it takes on the flavour of the peppers.
  6. Taste and adjust spice balance if necessary.
  7. Wilt in the spinach. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve over pilau rice, perhaps with a lentil side dish.

***

As far as curries go, this one has a relatively short ingredients list. it includes the staples of coriander and cumin, but contains few other spices. The distinctive flavour of this curry comes instead from the red peppers.  An excellent accompanient to this dish would have been a naan bread flavoured with garlic and cumin, but my baking skills still aren’t up to much, so I went with spiced pilau rice and some garlic dahl instead.

After a long seven weeks of no home made curries, this was a breath of fresh air. A take-away hasn’t got the freshness and vibrancy of  home made Indian food so I’d urge anyone to try making their own at least once, even if time constraints mean it can’t be a regular occurence. Start with a decent recipe, but always be prepared to adjust the spice levels to suit your own taste.

It looks like it will be another five weeks at least until I get another chance to do curry, but, given its game season that is probably for the best. It is now the season for rabbit pie and roasted pheasant, so I’d better get myself to Borough soon. 

 

June 24, 2006

Filed under: Central/Eastern European, Reared red meat — ros @ 12:49 pm

Look! I made a bad, almost topical pun! I bet James is proud of me now.

Last night, whilst browsing in Sainsbury’s, I found and bought a veal escalope for my dinner. When I got home Tanya, who is my housemate’s girlfriend and a very keen cook, enquired what I was making that evening. When I gave my answer she raised her eyebrows slightly. Like a lot of people she has been brought up to believe that veal is an unethical meat.

I’m not going to go into what I think about veal production. However I’m really bothered by the lack of decent unbiased information about this. I searched for an hour or so on the internet and I couldn’t find a single article that wasn’t a propaganda-laden emotive load of rubbish.

How are we supposed to know what is really going on when most of the articles are calling for a worldwide ban on meat and the others  are claiming that the animals are gleefully running into the slaughterhouses of their own free will? It is very frustrating.

Anyhow, I made a veal escalope with a parmesan and sage crust. It was very tasty. Tanya thought so too. She even helped me flatten the escalope. It is nice to have someone around who is at least open minded about trying new things. Shame the pictures didn’t come out this time.

June 23, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized, Mediterranean, Reared red meat — ros @ 7:13 am

I can’t believe I had to change the title of this post because no one has heard of Cephalonia. Honestly, if it isn’t Corfu or Rhodes, no one cares.  :roll:

This is another meal I really didn’t intend to blog, but it turned out really, really good! The recipe came from this Waitrose page and I only made minor alterations to it. I added a bit more of each of the spices and threw in more raisins.

I certainly wouldn’t have thought up that combination of ingredients myself but it really works. The raisins disintegrate completely in the stew, adding sweetness. The squash gives it texture and the peppers add a little bitterness.

I think I should cook Greek more often - I love savoury dishes that have cinnamon and cloves. I particularly liked the idea of tossing the pasta with marscapone and nutmeg. Delicious!

Next Page »