Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Terrine of Pork and Venison, with dried Apricots and Pistachios.

I've been having a lot of fun cooking for other people these last 2 weeks. I usually get to play with ingredients and recipes that I don't do at home. When there are only 2 and a half people eating most nights, I don't make intricate Terrines for example. If I did, I would eat them and the resulting inflation would not be a pretty sight.
I was asked to cater for 18 people last Saturday. "Typically French," I was told, so I am showing the result of one of those dishes here. I had the help of my friend Victoria, who wanted to know how to make it. Unfortunately, I didn't get photos of the first steps, on account of some of our recently bottled Cabernet being opened We only took some the last few steps, so you will have to believe me when I tell you it is easy peasy lemon squeezy to make. I also made a Red Onion Marmalade to serve with it, which apart from adding color to the presentation, is just downright delicious

2 large red onions sliced thin.
2 large oranges juiced and zested.
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup red wine (or port if you are feeling extravagant)
Salt and coarse black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and reduce until there is little liquid left in the pan..
Refrigerate until needed.

For the Terrine, I used 2lbs of boneless Pork ribs (lots of fat) and put them through the meat grinder on a coarse setting.

To this, I added a cup of Pistachios, a cup of chopped dried Apricots, a slug of Calvados and some fresh thyme leaves and 3 cloves of crushed garlic.
Mix well and set aside.
Line a loaf pan (or a ceramic terrine if you have one) with strips of bacon and then press half of the mixture in the bottom. Cut the Venison loin into strips like your fingers and lay them on top of the mixture lengthways (the Venison, not your fingers). I added them like tram lines so when the terrine is cut, the dark meat shows up in the center.
Add the remaining pork and press down firmly. Cover with more bacon and then wrap in foil and place the pan into a hot water bath, The water should come about half way up the pan.
Place in the middle of the oven at 350F for an hour.
Once removed from the oven, I place a wooden board that fits inside the pan, and add some weight to it (2 cans of Heinz baked Beans works just fine) so the Terrine gets compressed. I make these a day or two in advance.
When needed, heat the bottom of the pan under hot running water to release the terrine, and turn it out upside down onto your serving platter. Please don't scald your fingers doing this, I don't want to be sued. :)

I warm the marmalade a little before serving and then add a huge slice of fresh crusty bread.

Maybe a glass of wine or two.

You can vary the meat ingredients, as well as the flavorings. Just remember, you will need some fat in it if you want it to set and slice.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Fall Harvest

This year promises to yield a bumper crop of apples and pears for our annual Cider pressing. The trees around our house are heavy with fruit, as are all the other orchards across the island. Sometime in the next week or two, our friends will start showing up with boxes of fruit ready to be crushed and turned into Scrumpy. On top of all this, it is also Chanterelle season. I can't hold back the excitement I feel when the first rain of Autumn falls and I don my old clothes and head off into the woods. Some years are poor, but this year I have already found a  shit load baskets full of the little beauties.
There is nothing better than combining the fruits of this season into a delicious meal, but first you have to go and find the main ingredients.

A tell tale sign

A bit more clearing reveals the subject of the hunt

OK, now for the rest. I know you are in there somewhere......
After a few hours of crawling around in the undergrowth, my legs look as if I have indulged in a bout of foreplay with a Bengal tiger (female of course) and my face has collected enough spider webs to knit me a small hammock.

Still, the rewards are plentiful. Enough to make a delicious Dinner.....Pork Chops a la Normande

Now for the rest of the recipe. This one feeds two.

You will need Bone in Pork Chops, (1 per person)
1 Cup Hard Cider,
A good slosh of Calvados if you have it or Brandy if not.
1 Apple, peeled, cored and sliced
6 Chanterelles
1 medium Shallot diced
3/4 cup of heavy cream
Sprig of Rosemary
S&P to taste.

Some garden greens to steam as a side dish. These are Collard greens

Season and brown the chops on both sides in Olive Oil for about 2 minutes each side. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

 Add the shallots and some of the Rosemary and stir until the onion is translucent, but not too brown.

No, the kettle did not catch fire.
  Add the Calvados and then add the Cider. No Calvados? Use Brandy.

I did taste the Cider to make sure it was OK, hence the glass.
 Add the sliced Chanterelles and apples and combine into the shallots. Reduce the liquid before adding the cream.

Put the Pork back into the pan, together with any juices and bring to a lovely thick consistency, then serve (here with steamed collard greens.)

I put both chops on the plate for this photo, as I was by myself, but I didn't eat them all....Honest.

Bon Appetite

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mung Bean cakes with Moroccan spices.

After my last attempt of trying a vegetarian diet, I am stepping very carefully. Actually, it is my wife who is dabbling with it, Vegan no less, and only during work hours. I have decided to try out some new ideas so she can have more than just salad for lunch.
I had already decided to make some veggie cakes/patties and was wondering what might be good to go with it, when my son brought home 2 large zucchini squash from one of our neighbors.

Here is the result.

Mung Bean Patties with Moroccan Spices served on shredded Squash and Harissa.
It turned out very tasty and was pretty quick to make. I made the Ras El Hanout myself but I bought a jar of the Harissa, as it is always handy to have in the fridge. I have made it myself before, but I couldn't be arsed this time.

Cook the Mung Beans in salted water (soak them over night) until soft and then drain into a bowl so you can use the liquid in a soup afterwards. Once cooked, they have a pale, unappetizing color, so the addition of other veggies will brighten things up a bit.

Once dry, I add the spices, grated and shredded veggies (your choice), then add some salt to bring out the liquid. Add enough Garbanzo/Chickpea flour to bind, and then form into patties with your hands. The size of the pattie is your choice, but smaller will hold together better in the pan.

I used a bit of the flour to help form them and to stop them sticking.

Shallow fry in the oil of your choice until golden brown on both sides. If you have to do them in batches, transfer them onto a paper towel lined dish and pop them in the oven until ready to serve.

The next step requires you have a Mandolin.

No, not one of these....

One of these

Cut the squash into 6" pieces, cut in half and remove any soft mush and seeds.
Select the fine shred blade, and without removing any fingers or knuckles, slide the squash length ways until you get spaghetti like filaments.

You can add any other veggies you have on hand, or just toss in olive oil with some shredded Beet Greens or Swiss Shard. Garlic, Pepper, whole spice seeds or seasonings such as Lea & Perrins or Soy Sauce can also be added.
Whatever takes your fancy really.

Once the Squash is done, make a bed of it on the plate and add the patties straight from the oven. Garnish with a bit of shredded carrot, and Harissa and serve immediately.

Any spicy wine will do to go with it. I used Viognier.

It is easy, cheap and very nutritious. It almost makes me want to go Vegan.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall comfort food- Ham and Egg Pie.

Yes, It's that time of year again folks. We have had as good a summer as I can remember, but with my memory, that's not too far. The warmth we have experienced is now showing up in a bumper crop of apples and pears, with which we will be pressing for our 2103 cider (hard) pretty soon. What better to go with a pint of dry cider than one of the tastiest savory pies known to man and woman. Of course, I am talking about Ham and Egg Pie.
Every now and then, we purchase a large ham. Towards the end of its life, I indulge myself with making one of these.

I cut the leftover meat off the bone (Pea and Ham Soup next) and stick it in the food processor with some onion, sage and salt and pepper then pulse it until the ham is coarsely chopped. I added 3 whole eggs to the mixture, then lightly folded it into the meat. I try and leave it so you can still see yolk and white, so you get a colorful striation in the finished pie.

I make my short crust with both lard and butter (about 60/40) and I use an egg as part of the liquid. This gives a wonderful color and texture. I also add a teaspoon full of English Mustard (the secret ingredient, Shhh, don't tell a soul.)

You can use whatever pie dish you want to and add ingredients the same as you would for any other pie. Bake at 360 degees for 30 minutes or until the pie turns a gorgeous golden brown.
Once cooked, let it to cool before serving.

I like to eat it with fresh garden tomatoes and pickled beets, or home made chutney, but you could serve it any way you like.

The bone is already in the pot with a bunch of root veggies and split peas.

Fall......bring it on.

Sorry, I had to take a bite.

If you want shorter but more frequent ideas, I have a facebook page called, "The cook in your kitchen."
Maybe see you there.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

From Sea to Table....Citrus Beurre Blanc and Dungeness Crab

This summer got off to a great start back in May, and the good weather shows no sign of relenting. One of the many benefits of living here in the Pacific NW, is the abundance of fresh food, either straight from the farm, or from the sea.
It is crabbing season here on Vashon, so I bundled my crab pots into the back of the Subaru, together with some stinky crab bait and one small complaining child, and set off across the Island to Dockton Marina.  With the boat loaded, we set off into Quartermaster inlet to set the pots. The fog was just starting to clear and the boats' masts glistened in the sharp early morning sun as we tipped the baited pots overboard. We would return later that afternoon to check our catch.

You can only keep males and only above 6 inches in diameter, so we selected the keepers and tossed the rest back. Cleaning them on the boat is easy and means you don't have as much stuff to lug back to the car. I couldn't get a shot of how this is done, as holding a large crab who is trying to snip your fingers off, and taking a photo at the same time is not a sensible thing to do.

With our catch of 5 per person secured and cleaned, we set off home to prepare for dinner.

This evening, we will be serving fresh Dungeness Crab with a Citrus Beurre Blanc, washed down by our Viognier. The North facing deck is the perfect spot, with a wonderful view up the North Sound. It doesn't get used much, on account of the winds that whip up in the late afternoon, but tonight will be just perfect.

Beurre Blanc is easy to make, can be prepared well in advance (just warm it up to serve), and tastes delicious.
Here is my twist on it.

2/3 small white shallots
8 oz of white wine
2 oz lemon and lime juice (keep some of the zest for garnish)
1 Tbs heavy cream
12 Tbs (stick and a half) of cold unsalted butter cubed
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf


Finely dice the shallots and add all ingredients (except for the butter) to a sauce pan and bring to the boil.
Reduce by half.

Reduce the heat to low/med and start to incorporate the butter, cube by cube, whisking continuously to prevent it from curdling.

Once you have incorporated all of the butter, strain through a fine sieve and set aside somewhere warm until you serve it. Season to taste.

You can serve in individual portions like this (just make sure you serve on a warm plate as the butter will set if it is cold;

 or family style like this.

Here, I also added some Mayonnaise Aioli as an alternative accompaniment.

You can experiment with the amount and type of citrus. It really is a personal taste. Just remember not to heat the sauce too much when adding the butter or it will split.
This is also wonderful with Scallops, Halibut, and many other wee fishies.

Have a go.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A two for one, Butcher and Indian BBQ

With the temp in the 80's here on Vashon, my mind turns to butchering chicken   Bar bee ques and deck parties. Actually, if it gets above 60 here, I put on my shorts and a T shirt and pretend it's summer.
Here's a little tip on cutting up a whole chicken, and a wonderful Indian marinade to go with it.

Step 1. 

If I have to spend time in the kitchen on a hot and gloriously sunny day, I try and prepare other things as I go along. In this instance, the trimmings off the carcass and some root vegetable go straight into a pot of water to make stock while the rest of the prep is under way.

Put the chicken onto a cutting board and pull the legs and wings away from the body in preperation for the dissection.

Cut the wings off at the elbow joint and toss them into the stock pot.

Next, pull the leg away from the body, and using a sharp knife, cut the skin enough so you can fold the leg backwards away from the body and dislocate it at the hip joint. This will allow you to cut the leg off without cutting through the bone.

Find the knee joint and cut the leg between the joint, using a little pressure. Once again, we are trying to cut it in half without cutting the bone. Put the 2 halves to one side and repeat with the other leg (the chicken's, not yours). You may have to turn the chicken round to do this. This should leave you with 2 whole breasts still on the bone.

Find a point on the breast half way between the breast bone and the outside edge of the breast. Cut down through the breast at that point. You can make a couple of incisions at the halfway point if it helps to visualize where the cuts will be made.
Slice down the middle of the breast and through the joint. It is easy to find if you have cut at the halfway point.

Once you have both breasts cut, you need to turn your attention to cutting the carcass off from the remaining breast meat. Hold the point of the breast and pull back as you slice the carcass off the meat. You may need to chop the bone with the heel of the knife to separate it.

Add the rest of the carcass to the stock pot.

You can now cut the remaining breast into halves. This will give you 4 white and 4 dark portions.

Put the meat into a dish large enough to hold it and cover and place in the fridge until you have the marinade made. Score the meat a couple of times on each piece to allow the marinade to penetrate the flesh well.

Step 2

You will need ;

  • 1 1/2 cups of plain Yoghurt
  • 1 Tbs Chilli powder
  • 1 Tbs Coriander seeds
  • 1 Tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbs veg oil
  • 1 Tsp coarse salt
  • 1 Tbs Ginger puree
  • 1 Tbs Garlic puree
  • 1Tbs Fenugreek (Methi) leaves
  • 1 large Lemon
Grind the salt and seeds, and add to all of the other ingredients  in a bowl.

Stir well and cover the chicken pieces, making sure it goes into all of the cuts. Use your hands to do this as it is the easiest and quickest way. Cover and leave for a few hours, or overnight if you want to prep well ahead.

When ready to cook, I thread 2/3 pieces onto a kebab skewer and lay them across a roasting tray so they are suspended off the bottom. Why???...... Because I say so. Actually, it stops them sticking to the bottom when you pop them in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.
Why????  Because   I find that pre cooking chicken a wee bit helps prevent burning while the inner parts near the bone get done.

Take the chicken out of the oven after about 20 minutes and place on the Barbie. Unless you have a Tandoori oven in your back yard, this is the closest you will get. We have gas, but anything that can get up to a good hot temperature would work.
Here's the chicken ready to serve. Sprinkle with some chopped mint and serve with wedges of lemon and a Yoghurt and Mint dressing.

You can also serve individually. Here I made a Turnip and Rutabaga curry, together with their leaves and served it as a side dish.