Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Braised Ham Hocks with lentils

Lu has been talking about cooking ham hocks for weeks now. I have been seeing them in butchers windows for around €1 each so I thought it would be a challenge to figure out what on earth to do with them. I couldn't find any recipes for what I had in mind. On Mothers day we went for lunch in The Arch in Churchtown, and I had the tenderest shreds of ham hock with lentils and lambs lettuce and a piece of crisp pancetta for a starter and it was oh so delish. This recipe does not quite make the grade, its not nearly as refined as they managed to make it in the Arch, but its cheap, easy and delicious in a much more down to earth way.

2 ham hocks
200 grams green or puy lentils
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 sticks celery
2 carrots
1 bay leaf
1 tbsps fresh thyme leaves

Begin by steeping the ham hocks in water overnight for at least 12 hours to get rid of some of the saltiness. Then in a big pot with a lid, cover them with fresh cold water and bring them to the boil. When the water has begun to boil, drain it and cover again with fresh cold water. Bring this to the boil and simmer continually for about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 250c

Chop the onions finely and dice the other vegetables. Drain the ham hocks and reserve some of the cooking liquid (about a pint) Fry the onion, chopped garlic and thyme in the same pot you used to boil the ham hocks (just needs to be big enough to fit everything and have a tight fitting lid). Then add the chopped vegetables and cook for a minute, followed by the lentils and bay leaf. Cover this with a mixture of water and the cooking liquid until you have covered everything by about an inch of liquid. Add the ham hocks and cover with tin foil and the lid, and place in the oven for 1 hour and 30 mins. Check every half and hour in case the liquid is running low, you don't want it to go dry!

When cooked, the meat should be falling away from the bones. serve with the lentils and some cabbage.

You can use any leftovers to make a delicious lentil soup with ham!

Yum yum pigs.... foot?

Lemon and Thyme Roasted Chicken

Chicken a la Stephen

Trying to look like we were just having a casual conversation instead of gossiping in work, me and Stephen started talking about the best way to roast a chicken. His suggestion sounded fresh with a touch of spring, so I gave it a shot!

This recipe comes from Stephen but possibly he thinks via Jamie Oliver - but I might give Stephen credit. It’s a really wonderful dish.

Stephen is the namesake for Stephen my canary - so if you haven’t met him already here a photo of his cute little yellow self. He was found by Stephen M, who was working late, one cold Sunday evening in May. He was hopping up Pearse Street, cold and lost. He opened the door of our office and in he came where he revived well and I adopted him the next day. Seems strange to put a photo of him in the same post as a roast chicken recipe, oh well! He eats boiled eggs so it’s the same thing really!

1 medium chicken
1 lemon
small bunch of fresh thyme
3 oz butter
1 red onion
3 parsnips
2 carrots
3 sticks of celery
1/2 a turnip

Wash the chicken inside and out - then pat dry. Pre-heat your oven to Gas mark 5. Peel your veg and chop into large chunks . Put into a large baking dish along with a good grind of black pepper, some salt and a few sprigs of thyme.

Make the herb butter by combining the zest of the lemon with the butter and 3 tablespoons of fresh thyme. Then gently press the butter in between the skin and the top of the breast - the skin needs a small amount of convincing.

Place the chicken on top of your bed of vegetables - give the outside of the chicken a little seasoning also. Cover the whole thing in tin foil, then cook in the middle of the oven for 2 hours.

Remove the tinfoil, drain away the excess juice and retain for gravy later. Pop back in the oven for another 30 mins to brown and allow the skin to crisp.

After 30 mins - remove chicken and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes, while the meat is resting take the veg to the top shelf of the oven and crank up the heat to gas mark 8/9 to get a nice crisp finish to your root veg.

Prepare the gravy - in the roasting tin, throw a large dash of sherry, scrape of all the nice juicy bits with your wooden spoon. Then mix in one heaped tablespoon of plain flour. Mix well so that it forms a paste with the sherry. Then the juices from the chicken that you removed earlier would have separated. Drain off the excess fat from the top, then stir the juices into your flour mixture a little at a time, until well incorporated, continue doing this until you have a nice thick gravy. Check the seasoning.

Then carve your chicken, a good sharp carving knife is always good to have around. Serve on a bed of roasted veg drizzled with gravy, the lemon. A fresh and subtle lemon flavor will be throughout the meat and gravy, the edges of your veg will be caramelised and crispy - wonderful! The butter above the breast made it fantastically moist and tasty.

Thanks Stephen, Lola declared it - the best roast chicken she’s ever had

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grilled asparagus salad with warm poached egg

Spring is here!

So, I was sick all last week and feeling very sorry for myself. My wonderful mother thought she needed to perform some real old fashioned motherly duties and arrived at our house bearing gifts: a care package containing bunches of flowers and two shopping bags full of lovely treats like papaya, grapes, chocolate Swiss roll, more baked goods than is good for me, a whole chicken, and loads of lovely fresh veggies including two bunches of asparagus. She even hoovered the hall stairs, what an amazing lady! I am now systematically cooking my way through all the delightful ingredients she brought, and last night I whipped up this dish for Lu and I. It tasted even better than it looks!

(for 2 people)
1 Bunch asparagus
2 eggs
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 large handfuls rocket leaves
6 leaves of romaine lettuce
2 slices good crusty Italian (or similar) bread
1 clove garlic
juice of half a lemon
olive oil

Hold each asparagus spear at either end and bend until it breaks where it naturally should break. Discard the woody ends. Toss the asparagus spears in olive oil and pepper and place under a hot grill. Grill for 4-5 mins on both sides until slightly charred and softened.

Meanwhile, bring a shallow pan of water (about 3 inches in depth) to a rolling boil. Wash the salad leaves and dry. make the salad dressing using 3 parts olive oil to 1 part lemon juice, and about a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of mustard (depends on how you like it). Use this to dress the salad leaves.

Toast the bread and cut the garlic clove in half. Rub the cut edge of the garlic all over the slices of toast.

Turn the heat down on the boiling water until it is just simmering. Add the vinegar. Break an egg into a shallow cup or ladle, and tip it as quickly as you can into the water. The idea is to try to get the egg to stay as 'together' as possible while you are tipping it into the water. Do the same with the other egg, you can cook the two of them together in the same pan. Use a slotted spoon to check if the egg is cooked. The white should be firm but the yolk still runny. Give it about 3 minutes.

To serve, assemble the salad & asparagus on the toast and top with the egg. This would also have been nice with some Parmesan shavings or some grilled pancetta.

Lu's new camera has really come into its own, hasn't it! So worth it, look forward to our photos improving even more from here on in!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chicken soup

For your sick chicken

I've been languishing in bed for the past three days- thank God for laptops! I even missed our St.Patrick's day party, which sounded like it went with a bang judging by the noises coming from downstairs and the state of my friends coming upstairs to pay me a visit. When Lu and I first lived together in College, I introduced her to the joys of a good chicken soup, which, according to my mother can cure everything from a broken heart to a broken toe, but its definitely the best comfort for a cold or flu.

So Lu, like the great friend she is came home from work last night and cooked me this, my Mum's chicken soup special. Joy! I had some for dinner and just ate this delicious bowl of goodness for my lunch-in-bed. I feel better already!


4 chicken legs
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 inch cube of fresh ginger, grated
1 red chilli, chopped and de-seeded
about 2 1/2 litres water
2 carrots, cut in half
2 sticks celery, cut in half
1 bay leaf
6 whole black peppercorns

In your largest pot, saute the onion, garlic, ginger and chili in some olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken legs and the water (the water should cover the chicken legs by about 1 inch, and will probably reach the top of your pot), followed by the rest of the ingredients. Bring to the boil, and then simmer at a low heat for anything from 1 -2 hours. depending on how long you have.

Remove the chicken legs from the broth and strip away all the meat. Discard the skin and bones and shred the chicken meat. Return this to the pot. Fish out the peppercorns. You can eat the carrots and celery too if you like, of leave them out if you don't fancy it.

Serve with noodles, rice, dumplings, or just by itself. Its nice garnished with spring onions.
Make a huge pot and eat it for a couple of days... until your cold is all gone!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Leek & Potato Salad

What’s good for the soup, is good for the salad

St Patrick’s day brunch was happening in our house, so me and Sarah knocked together a few salads and then asked everyone to bring a few things, and we’d see how it all came out. Lola had made a yummy whiskey cake a few days before and she was slowly basting it in a decadent whiskey syrup daily! It was included in the St Patricks Day Parade over at the Daily Spud - check it out, a throroughly impressive collection of Irish inspired recipes, enough to keep you going until next St Patrick's Day.

I wanted to make a potato salad for the day that was in it, but something a little different from the mayonnaise soaked standard, not that I am adverse to that version either. I decided on a roasted potato salad, which I teamed up with sweet and carmelised roasted leeks and salty sharp feta, and a rich roasted garlic dressing. I was delighted with how it turned out. It disappeared pretty fast, so I can only presume it was well liked.

20 or so baby potatoes
2 leeks
1 head of garlic
Two sprigs of rosemary
5 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Block of feta - cubed
1 tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon of Coleman's mustard powder

Cut the baby potatoes into little cubes - toss in olive oil, season and bake in at Gas mark 7 for an hour - tuck the head of garlic in amongst them. Cook the spuds until gold and crispy. Also slice the leeks into thin rounds and lay flat on a baking tray with some oil underneath them, sprinkle them with a little paprika. Cook these in the top of the oven for 45 mins, remove when they’re starting to carmelised, there’s a fine line between gold and sticky and burnt!

While you’re allowing you potatoes to cool you can prepare the dressing. Mix together the mustard powder with a drop of warm water to form a paste, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Take a sharp knife and slice the bottom off the head of garlic, you should then be able to squeeze the roasted garlic out of the bulbs - you’ll get messy hands alright - but your fingers will taste great!

Mix half of the roasted garlic into the dressing. When your potatoes have cooled, combine with the cubes of feta in a large serving dish. Remove the sticks of rosemary, you can leave the leaves in there. Carefully lift your rounds of leeks and place them on top of the potatoes and cheese. When you’re ready to serve, spoon the dressing over and mix well.

I put the other half of the head of garlic on some bread and ate it for my lunch. I thought that pushing a whole head of garlic on my hungover friends might have been a step too far, I showed a little garlic restraint for once!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mexican Chilli Soup with Black Beans & Corn

Blacker than the Fires of Hell

Look at these - they're pasilla chillies, yes they're black, they're the size of your head, and they're the main ingredient of this soup. I did take the seeds out. As me and Lola learned at the Mexican Embassy in August of last year, in real Mexican cooking they use chillies, like we use tea - everywhere and all the time - oh yes! I found these chillies in Fallon & Byrne, and snapped them up as I've no idea where else to get the in Dublin.
This is a genuine Mexican meal, unlike my interpretations of other Mexican dishes. This soup is amazing, not as hot as you'd think, though it does pack a punch. It's a whole range of taste that is new to me, which is very exciting

4 large pasilla chillies
4 large tomato - quartered
1 large red onion
1 teaspoon of dried garlic (there was no fresh - the shame!)
1 pint of chicken stock
1 can of corn
1 tin of black beans
1 red onion
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
2 flour tortillas - cut into strips
Some vegetable oil
Grated cheddar

Over a flame - hold your chilies, until they become a little bit more pliable, like leather. Break them apart and remove the seeds and stem. Cover them in a bowl with a little boiling water. allow to steep for 10 minutes or so. 

Cook your onion over a medium heat until translucent. Add in the garlic and paprika, cook for another minute or two. Then stir in the stock, tomatoes, chillies and soaking water along with the black beans, retaining a few of these for garnish. Cook for 35-40 minutes at a very gentle simmer.

Remove from the heat and liquidise. Then stir in the corn.

In a frying pan - heat up 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and when hot, fry the tortilla strips until golden brown. Garnish the bowls of soup with a few of these strips and a little grated cheese (none for you vegans). Divine, I do highly recommend trying this soup, also good served with some chopped avocado or fresh coriander. Or spring onions, feic I had them in the fridge and all - oh well, cooks regret ...

Jameson Whiskey Cake

Paddy Cake!

We stayed in Wexford in a big old farmhouse over New Years and Lu's birthday. Lu and I are kind of fans of naff 70s decor, which is just as well because the whole place looked like the house from Father Ted, In fact, I was watching Father Ted recently and Mrs Doyle has the EXACT same ceramic dogs as were in this place.

Anyway, I digress...
On the night before new years, which is Lu's birthday, we cooked a meal for 12 people and one of our guests, Camille, who had just arrived from the USA that day, produced the most delicious whiskey cake all the way from DC for dessert/birthday cake.

Here is Lu blowing out the candles on the original version We thought it would be the perfect thing to make for Paddy's day so after some advice from Camille I decided to merge the earlier ginger cake recipe from Nigel Slater with the recipe Camille gave me. It produced a heavier cake that really soaks up the booze. Its different to the original recipe, but its still pretty good, as anything that contains a whole shoulder of whiskey is bound to be! Here is the recipe:

300g self-raising flour
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
200g golden syrup
125g butter
1/2 cup Jameson whiskey
100g chopped walnuts
125g dark muscavado sugar
2 large eggs
240ml milk

For the glaze
1 cup jameson whiskey
4 oz butter
1 tbsp water
2 oz sugar

Sift the flour, bicarb, salt and spices into a bowl. In a saucepan melt the syrup with the butter and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add in the whiskey. It will bubble madly. Add this all to the flour and stir well. mix the milk with the eggs and whisk. Then add this into the four mixture. It will look quite sloppy but it will be ok! Pour this into a grease cake tin and bake at gas 3/160c for about 40 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, combine all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and melt until the sugar has dissolved. When the cake comes out of the oven and is still hot, pour 1/3 of the glaze over it. Allow the cake to cool and turn it out of the cake tin on to a plate. Pour a further 1/3 of the glaze over the underside of the cake. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate the cake for 2 - 3 days. When you are ready to serve, take the cake out of the fridge so that it can come back up to room temperature. Then gently heat the remaining glaze before pouring it over the cake and serving!!

Deicio! Our cake tin even is slightly reminiscent of a shamrock! Cant wait till tomorrow so we can eat it!

Thanks Camille

Monday, March 15, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Parmesan Sauce

For Pasta, Bread or Dipping

I say bread and dipping without having tried it myself, but I bet it's work, try it before I do!
Growing up my Dad would be traveling a lot during the week, so on Saturdays he would often make the lunch. I think he found cooking a nice way of unwinding. One of his signature dishes was pasta and tomato sauce. He was always sure to have the plates warmed and have plenty of grated cheese ready to lash on, it was eaten before watching the rugby beside the fire and drinking tea in Spring. Good memories.

After a lazy morning - I made a tomato and pasta sauce for Lola who was working away pretty hard. I think she liked it. We also watched the rugby long enough to see a try - perfect! 

12-14 small tomatoes on vine
6 cloves of garlic (in their skins)
1 small red pepper, cut into 8
1 small red pepper, cut into 8
2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan
2 handfuls of rocket
grated cheddar cheese
8oz pasta 
Olive Oil

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 7. In a baking dish put the tomatoes, garlic and peppers and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at the top of the oven for 45 mins until getting black at the edges. I use my stick blender for the next step, but if you have a food processor - use that. Pop the roasted garlic out of it's skins, if it's properly cooked it should just pop out easily. Then liquidise everything as well as the Parmesan together. It should make a good volume of sauce.

Stir into cooked pasta, serve in warmed bowls, topped with rocket and grated cheese. If using this as a dip, it could be cooked a little longer to just thicken it up a little.

Happy Saturday

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beetroot & Celeriac Gratin

This is a very simple recipe that I got from the Irish Times this weekend - by Domini Kemp. it sounded tasty and involved a turnip that had been hiding in my veg drawer for some time, so that was enough to convince me!

It's a nice simple dish that would be great served along side some roast beef and horseradish.

1 head of celeriac - finely sliced
2 small beetroot finely sliced
1/2 turnip - finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic crushed
300 mls of cream 
Some fresh nutmeg
Seasoning - quite a bit is neede

Layer all of your veg up in an oven proof dish. Mix together the cream, seasoning and the nutmeg. Pour this over the veg and bake at 150 or gas mark four for an hour and a half. Check that it's not drying out after about an hour - if it's getting too crispy - just pop the lid on.

The beetroot gives this dish a nice pink hue and celeriac a nice texture. It's covered in a thin crispy top which gives way to layers and layers of delicious creamy sauce and bright dashes of colour.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lemon & Ginger Green Tea

A kick for your immune system
If I ever feel a little yucky, I make myself a big pot of this and drink it all, beside the fire/computer/tv. The next day I'm feeling wonderful and dance my way to work! Well maybe not quite, but it's a big shot of vitamins and anti-oxidants and re-hydration that can't be bad for you. Sarah has a bit of a cold - so she added whiskey to hers, and said it was lovely.

makes one big teapot full
1 lemon - juiced
2 teaspoons of green tea
1 thumb sized piece of root ginger - sliced finely

Boil the kettle and heat your pot. Put in the tea leaves and ginger. Pour over the boiling water and leave to steep for 3 minutes. Then before serving add in the fresh lemon juice.

There's lots of variations for this, so if you like mint - add some fresh mint, add some honey if you'd prefer it sweeter - or have a sore throat. I've added cayenne pepper before and also a sprig of fresh rosemary makes for a nice brew also. Replace a lemon with a few oranges, the options are endless.

In other exciting blog related news - I bought a new camera - watch our pictures improve (I hope!) Big thanks to Kate and Brian for helping me out with the purchase - you guys rock!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saffron Spiced Bulgur Pilaf with Pomegranate

Anti-oxidant Rich and Quick

So I have a quick hour to prepare some dinner after work before nipping off to rehearsal. I’d also like some food for my lunch tomorrow, so decide to make up a kind of fancy bulgur pilaf. Something full on flavour and light on time. You can substitute the bulgur for cous-cous, quinoa or rice if you have them handy.

2 as a main - 3 as a side
1 cup of bulgur wheat
5 strands of saffron
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small red onion - finely diced
2 small cloves of garlic crushed
2 teaspoons of poppy seeds
1 large handful of cashews
1 handful of raisins
1/2 pomegranate - seeds
big pinch of garam masala

In a pan - add one cupful of hot water to the saffron strands, crush the strands gently with a wooden spoon to release the colour. Leave to steep while you prepare the rest of your dinner.

Fry the onion, in a non-stick pan, for two minutes over a medium heat for a few minutes before adding in the garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garam masala and cook for another minute. Stir in the bulgur wheat until coated with oil, then add in the saffron water, and then another cup of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for three minutes, add a little more water if this begins to stick.

Stir in the seeds, raisins and cashew nuts when you think it’s cooked. A big bunch of freshly chopped parsley would be great stirred in here, or some fresh coriander if you have some. Stir in the pomegranate seeds when off the heat, reserve a few more for garnish.

This makes a great side to serve alongside baked sweet potatoe falafel or hummus, or alongside some sticky ginger roast chicken legs. It would be a great little dish to bring along to a picnic or buffet lunch. The yellow from the saffron and the red little jewels of pomegranate seeds make it a very pretty side dish. I served it with some carrots that I parboiled and then glazed with honey and balsamic vinegar and popped under the grill to get rich and brown.

Roast Pear & Parsnip Soup

The Bare Necessities

My sister in law Jessica is the healthiest person I know. She's a veggie who rarely indulges in sugar, wheat or dairy and as a result she is never sick, has a figure that I would kill for and perfect, skin, hair, teeth etc etc. Her two year old has never had a cold or any other ailment in her life. Go figure...
Anyway, Jessica is also a great cook and over the years has become adept at making delicious recipes with none of the naughty stuff included, but you would hardly know. I'm talking baked goods here, chocolate brownies, muffins and the like with no sugar wheat or dairy but still amazingly light and delish. (I'm angling for a guest blog from her some time soon!). I was telling her about our vegetable box and the fact that we had a surplus of parsnips, and she suggested I try making pear and parsnip soup. So I did, and here is my version of what sounds like a strange combination... its pretty sweet but if you don't eat any refined sugar I guess it could be a nice treat if you have a sweet craving. In typical me - style, I ate it with toast slathered in butter and melted cheese, which kind of defeats the purpose of such a healthy, satisfying and filling soup.
1 onion
6-8 parsnips
1 pear
1 ltr veg stock 
salt & pepper
Cut up the onion into 8ths, peel the parsnips and cut them lengthwise into quarters and then cut these quarters in half. Cut the pear in half and remove the core. Place everything on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven for about 3/4 of an hour until the parsnips are soft all the way through.

Transfer to a large saucepan and add the hot stock. Using a stick blender, whizz everything together until smooth. If you think it's too thick, add more stock. Season to taste.

Reheat and serve!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Crepe Suzette

Nearly three weeks from Pancake Tuesday we bring you the second course of our Pancake Extravaganza 100% intentional I promise!

I don't usually recommend songs - but they sing about pancake batter! a cover of the White Stripes by the Golden Filter

Make the Crepes as follows (again, this is a recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking)

Ingredients Pancake Batter
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 tbsp caster sugat 
1tbsp cointreau or Grand marinier

Mix all the ingredients together and whizz in a food processor (I used my trusty stick blender) refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Make the crepes: Get a heavy bottomed non-stick frying pan really hot and melt some butter in it, wipe the majority of the butter away with a wodge of kitchen paper. Do this between each pancake. This recipe should make about 12 pancakes.

Spoon about half a ladle full (depends on how thin you like them, but for crepes, the thinner the better) of the mixture into the hot pan and swirl around quickly until evenly coated. Place back on the heat and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook for another minute or so on the other side until golden brown.

You can make the crepes up to 4 or 5 hours in advance. Don't refrigerate them. Just stack them up on a plate on on top of the other and they should be fine.

When you're ready to serve the dessert mix the following ingredients in a bowl: (this will make enough sauce for 8 pancakes so you can increase everything a little if you want to use up all 12 of your crepes from the recipe above)

Ingredients Crepe Suzette Sauce
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 3 oranges
1 tbsp cointreau/grand marnier
1 tbsp caster sugar

Transfer half of this into your frying pan and heat it up until warm and slightly bubbling. Ad 1 oz butter and swirl so that it all melts in. Place a crepe in this sauce, and quickly flip it so it is coated on both sides. Then fold it in half and half again. Leave the folded crepe in the pan while you heat up and fold another 3 crepes so you have 4 in the pan at once. 

Then quickly add in 2 tbsps cointreau and set in on fire with a match. Stand well back as it will Whoosh up and look very impressive. Bring it to the table and serve.

If you wanted to serve all 8 crepes at once you could probably fold them in 8ths...

We had this by itself and it was gorgeous, but if you wanted to be extra extra decadent you could serve it with ice-cream or Chantilly for an added French touch.

Boston baked beans

Boo to Hugh

I would regard this recipe as a semi-fail, as I wasn't too keen on it but Lu and Sarah both really liked it and ate it all up.

I think if I was making it again I would not use belly pork as its just too fatty for me. Yuck, whole bits of fat floating around in your beans = Not nice. I might use sausages instead (a la cake cafe) and add them halfway through the cooking time rather than at the beginning. Also, I don't think I would add so much sugar. It was just too sweet with sugar and treacle. I would probably just use some tomatoes instead of sugar and see how that worked out.

Another reason these beans were not as good as they could have been was because I forgot to buy the proper type - haricots- and had to make do with white kidney beans. I think these are a more robust variety, so they didn't go as mushy as would be required by me of a bean.

Oh the complaints! I guess I was just a little disappointed as my bean standards are so high, I had been wanting to try making this ever since I had a eureka moment at the cake cafe as to how amazing home made vs batchelors!

Anyway, here is the recipe, by Hugh Fernley Wittingstall. Sorry Hugh. must try harder. Also, this recipe says to cook for 4 hours but mine took at least 5, maybe 5 1/2. Again this could be down to using the wrong type of bean. Bah.

I might try this again some time but it takes a whole day so maybe a tin is the way to go after all.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Steak Bearnaise

Lets French!
Mastering the Art of Butter

A few months ago Lu and I dragged my long suffering fella Colm along to see the ultimate foodie/chick flick Julie and Julia. By the end of the film he had to grudgingly admit that, actually, it was a pretty enjoyable film. So for Christmas this year Colm bought me a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and inside was a ticket for two to Paris! Awww. So we are heading off on Thursday which had finally pushed me to blog this recipe, which I cooked from said book over a month ago for my friend Stuart.

Having read a good few of the recipes over the Christmas period, I came to the conclusion that Julia Child's main philosophy of cooking is as follows: 'First melt some butter. Then sauté some slices of butter in some more butter. Then add some chopped cubes of cold butter. Finish with some melted butter'

Anyway, Stuart is a good Naval man so I figured he would appreciate a steak. He arrived brandishing two bottles of Ruby port and proceeded to show Lu and I how to make the perfect Hot Port on the high seas. Then we drank them all. Oh dear.

Julia Child's sauce Bearnaise (straight and unedited from the horses mouth)

(NB- I recently invested in a set of American Cup measurements and teaspoon/tablespoons. They are invaluable and only cost 3 euro in Allrooms on Liffey st!)

(NB 2- I have used square and curley brackets to try to make a bit more sense of her extremely complicated recipes)

1/4 cup wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth
1 Tb minced shallots or green onions
1 Tb minced fresh tarragon or 1/2 Tb dried tarragon
1/8tsp pepper
pinch of salt
a small saucepan
3 egg yolks
2 tb cold butter
1 Tb cold water
1 Tb lemon Juice
big pinch of salt
1 Tb cold Butter
1 [another] Tb cold butter
1/2 to 2/3 cup melted butter
2 tb fresh minced tarragon or parsley

For 1 1/2 cups

Boil the vinegar, wine, shallots or onions, herbs and seasonings over a moderate heat until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons. Let it cool.

Then proceed as though making a hollandaise, page 79 [cut the butter into pieces and melt it in a saucepan over a moderate heat. Then set aside Beat the egg yolks for about a minute in the {other medium enamel or stainless steel} saucepan until they become thick and sticky. add the water, lemon juice and salt and beat for half a minute more.

Add a tb of cold butter, but do not beat in. Place the saucepan over very low heat or barely simmering water and stir the egg yolks with a wire whip until they slowly thicken into a smooth cream. This will take 1 to 2 minutes. If they seem to be thickening too quickly, or even suggest a lumpy quality, immediately plunge the bottom of the pan in cold water , beating the yolks to cool them. {I did this, it works!} Then continue beating over the heat. The egg yolks have thickened enough when you can begin to see the bottom of the pan between strokes, and the mixture forms a light cream on the wires of the whip.] Strain in the vinegar mixture and beat

[Immediately remove from the heat and beat in the cold butter [1tb, I presume] which will cool the egg yolks and stop their cooking. Then beating the egg yolks with a wire whip, pour on the melted butter by droplets or quarter-teaspoon-fuls until the sauce begins to thicken into a very heavy cream. Then pour the butter a little more rapidly. Omit the milky residue at the bottom of the butter pan.]

Correct seasoning and beat in the tarragon or parsley

I know, a bit of a palaver but actually it wasn't that bad when I actually did it. I got the vinegar mixture done ahead of time, and beat up the eggs well before I cooked the steak. then when the steak was cooking I made the sauce. At the end, I de-glazed the steak pan with one Tb white wine, which technically makes this a sauce Colbert, according to Julia.

I served with sauteed potatoes cooked in a stupid amount of butter, another Julia recipe, and some steamed asparagus. It was really super delish. It would want to be after all that butter.

Here's my translation of the potato recipe into modern day parlance, I cant take any more of those brackets!

Sauteed Potatoes
2 lb small new potatoes, peeled
3 - 4 tbs clarified butter (melted and milk solids skimmed off so it can't burn)
pinch salt

Peel the potatoes but don't wash them after or during peeling. Dry them in a clean tea towel. Pour the butter into a heavy skillet or frying pan which has a tight fitting lid. Heat until very hot but not coloring, or until it begins to foam. Then ad the potatoes. Leave for two minutes. Then give them a shake every now and then so that they sear on all sides. Cook for another 5-8 mins. Sprinkle them with salt. Lower the heat, cover the skillet with the lid and cook for about 15 mins, shaking every now and then to prevent sticking and ensure even coloring. They are done when they yield slightly to the pressure of your finger, or when a knife pierces them easily.

Ok, so now on to the
Hot Ports
Stuart reckons that the only way to make a good hot port is as follows
1) In a large wine glass heat the glass with some boiling water (make sure you have a metal spoon or similar in there so you wont break the glass)
2) Pour in a double measure of ruby port
3) Get a teaspoon of muscavado sugar (it has to be muscavado)
4) Hold it over the glass while you pour boiling hot water over it and into the glass, this way the sugar melts into the port.

No cloves or lemons need apply


Here's a pic of the book itself with its best friend, a big load of butter. {I had a full 500g package of butter before I started cooking this meal so this gives you an idea of how much I used!}