Sunday, 25 March 2012

Recipe L - Bread Sauce (on Turkey Steak, Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli)

Charles De Gaulle was a man obsessed with food. He famously said about France, "How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?" and then went on to say, "In England there are sixty different religions, and only one sauce," which shows you where his priorities lay. As long as the food is to his satisfaction, who cares about democracy and religious tolerance? However, in Britain, there are literally thousands of sauces. He obviously couldn't get a decent chef. This one is so easy to make, and yet people choose to get it from a packet. Things taste so much better when made at home.

Ingredients for the sauce:
About 80g sifted breadcrumbs
About 60g butter
Between 30cl and 50cl milk
1 whole onion
1 clove
Half a carton of fresh cream
Some ground black pepper
A pinch of salt

Take the peel off the onion and with a cocktail stick make a hole in the top. Using that stick, force the clove into the onion. Don't worry, all will soon become clear...

On a hot flame, heat up about 30cl of your milk. Turn down the heat and add the butter and two thirds to three quarters of your breadcrumbs. Put the onion into the mixture and allow to simmer for 15 to 25 minutes, making sure you stir regularly to stop it burning the bottom of the pan. You can, during this time, add more milk and breadcrumbs, depending on how much sauce you want. Once you are satisfied your sauce is runny enough (it's like a kind of lumpy custard), take out the onion and serve quite soon after, as a layer of skin will form on the top!

The rest of the meal:
I took 500g of turkey steaks, salted them and put them in very little butter for about 30 minutes on a low heat. Half way through, I added some freshly ground black pepper.
To go with it, I boiled some potatoes and on top, steamed some broccoli.

Bread Sauce: the onion in it truly adds to the flavour, giving it a tang that will really compliment your meal. This sauce is perfect for poultry or fish.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Recipe XLIX (1st Anniversary Edition) - Grated Cheddar (with Penne al Tonno)

To celebrate one whole year of RRotW, I would like to do something extra special - to dedicate this edition to the greatest, tastiest and most versatile of all the world's cheeses, Cheddar. Real Cheddar that is, not that revolting stuff they stick on top of burgers in some plastic-and-white-tile fast food joint. There are many foodstuffs that have been "copyrighted" through the EU's Protected Geographical Status scheme, like Gorgonzola, Brie, Feta, etc... Cheddar has not. It is seen as a generic name. For that reason, it is much maligned and many cheap imitations have arisen, particularly in the US, New Zealand and even China. Not so much in continental Europe, where there are some other hardened cheeses, like Pecorino, Manchego, Maasdamer and Emmental, all with distinct flavours. What marks Cheddar out from all the others, is it doesn't try to be cool or quirky, pretentious or arrogant. It is what it is - Cheddar, and I for one am so glad my local supermarket here in Germany stocks it.

250g Cheddar
A grater

Put one of the longer edges of your cheese against the grater on the side where the smallest holes face upwards. With short pressing movements, grate the cheese until you have enough to put over your pasta dish, details below.

To go with your Cheddar, there are many possibilities from a cheese & tomato sandwich (with fresh ground pepper and mayo), to a topping for your dauphinois. I have chosen an Italian number, a variant on the Puttanesca recipe. Puttanesca is a sauce made by the prostitutes of Sicily to serve their customers after they'd... well... exerted themselves somewhat, and needed a pick-me-up. Lots of Italian recipes come out of cans and packages, which is why the ingredients photo is a bit odd this week...

500g penne rigate
1 can of tuna
1 onion, sliced into large-ish pieces
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
250ml tomato passata
Some olives (usually black, but I'd eaten them all, so green will do)
Some ground black pepper (10 peppercorns or so)
Half a teaspoonful of chili powder
Some oregano (preferably fresh, but out of season, dried will have to do)

Heat up a saucepan with salted water. Once boiling, put in the pasta. Take a deep-sided frying pan and put in some olive oil. Once hot, sweat the onions for a couple of minutes. Add the tuna, olives, pepper and the chili powder, then just a minute before the passata, add the garlic. The garlic releases its aroma very quickly, but putting it in in the beginning burns it, ruining the flavour and consistency.

Add the passata (and if you like, some red wine), and put on a low heat for ten to thirty minutes, depending how much you would like your sauce reduced. Mine was only 10 minutes, because I like my pasta moist.

Once the pasta has cooked (TIP: don't believe boiling times on pasta packs - if you like it al dente, try a piece of it a couple of minutes before recommended cooking time) drain the water and pour the pasta into the sauce. Stir all the ingredients into each other.

Add it to the Cheddar by putting it into a bowl, carefully placing the cheese where it should be: on top, in pride of place.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Recipe XLVIII - Roast Cauliflower, Potatoes and Turkey Breast

The cauliflower, one of Nature's worst-treated vegetables. People boil the blessed thing until it becomes pulp. Wrong. Steam it with some fresh mint, at least, please... I love cauliflower cheese, and can still taste the skin from the cheese that formed on the top of (my old school cook) Diane's oven bakes. She could seriously cook. There were only about 75 to 80 pupils in my school, and Diane never failed to nourish us with the finest food. In this recipe, however, I have left the cheese off, partly because I'm trying to lose weight, and due to this, I haven't got the strength to make a seriously big effort this week...

400g-500g turkey breasts
2 onions
1 whole cauliflower, chopped into stalks
250g new potatoes
300ml chicken stock
5 cloves of garlic (2 cut into slices, the others just into 3 pieces)
Herbes de Provence (a decent tablespoon's worth)
2 glasses of white wine
Olive oil and butter
A handful of chopped chives (if in season)

Heat the oven to 160°C. Take a high-sided pan and fry the turkey, 2 cut cloves of garlic and onion until the meat is sealed and the vegetables are soft. Put in the chicken stock, herbes de Provence and wine, and let it heat up on a low flame. Take the turkey out of the liquid and cut it into bitesize pieces. Cut the new potatoes in half and parboil them for 7 minutes or so. In a baking tray, spread the cauliflower (still raw), potatoes and turkey around, and put in the other cloves of garlic at intermittent places. Pour olive oil over the combination, and put some slices of butter on the top.
Cook for 30 to 45 minutes in the oven, or longer, depending when you want to eat. When nearly ready, reheat the chicken stock from earlier and pour it over your creation, either on the plate or while it is still in the oven dish. Put the chives on top and serve immediately. It would accompany some peas and (baby) carrots really well.

If you have worked really hard (like me), indulge yourself with some mayonnaise or mustard.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Recipe XLVII - Beef and Ale Pie

The French often sneer when it comes to the cooking of that island off its northern coast, yet they only have one word for dough, pastry, batter and paste: la p√Ęte. The British can distinguish between all different types of flour-based substance, and in this one, they're coming up with one of the finest examples of traditional cooking anywhere. The method is so simple, very little needs to happen, but it requires a little timing. And at the end, it will provide your stomach with all the satisfaction it needs.

900g of steak, diced into bitesize pieces
2 large onions, sliced into rings
10 button mushrooms
6 carrots
75g butter
40g flour seasoned with salt, ground black pepper and dried herbs
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 250ml bottles of Guinness or other stout
275g puff pastry
1 egg

Cut up the vegetables and roll the beef in the seasoned flour.

Put the majority of the butter in a high-sided pan and when melted, fry the beef in it. Once sealed, add the vegetables.

Sweat them for a few minutes, then add the bay leaves and pour the ale in. Put on a low heat and simmer for an hour or more.

Towards the end of the beef's time in the pan, turn on the oven to a little over 200°C. Get your puff pastry and put your baking dish on top of it. With a knife, cut round the outside of the dish to make the top of the pie. Leave it aside until needed. With the rest, roll it into a ball and use it to make a base. Or if you prefer, to make some decoration on the top. I used mine for a base, because I absolutely adore stodgy pastry. Then, with a ladle, pour the contents of the pan into the baking dish.

Then put the top on, and with a fork, pinch the edges of the pastry onto the baking dish to seal it. Brush the egg onto the top of the pastry to glaze. Put it into the oven for 20 to 30 minutes.

Take the pie out of the oven and leave it for a few minutes to cool.

To take it out of the baking dish, cut through the middle with a knife and put the pastry upside down on a separate plate. Spoon the interior out onto the plate and put the pastry on top.