Saturday, 23 March 2013

Recipe XCIV - Carlsbad Dumplings

Who finds it strange that I'm publishing two non-meat recipes in a row? I certainly do. But this week's recipe is as good as having meat or potatoes, and is incredibly tasty, easy to make and is perfect with a nice creamy sauce, whether made of wine, mushrooms, or like I did, fennel and honey with a nice piece of duck breast. The Czechs call this recipe Karlovarský knedlík.

10 slightly stale white bread rolls (the Czechs use a roll called a rohlík, but half a crusty white loaf will do nicely)
4 eggs
250ml-300ml milk
3 slices of butter
A sprig of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

A large round bowl with a handle
A potato masher
Some clingfilm
A chopping board

Put the chopped up bread, including crusts, into a bowl. Put a generous helping of salt on it. Then add the eggs, milk, parsley, butter and pepper.

Get your potato masher and give it a thorough stamping until the mixture is consistent; it should not fall out of the bowl when turned upside-down.

Cut off some clingfilm and spread it over a chopping block. Then scoop the dumpling mix onto it, making sure it's long enough for everything to fit in.

Wrap the clingfilm round the dumpling mix, removing all the air and twist the ends until it forms a thick, sausage-like shape. You might feel more comfortable wrapping two lots of clingfilm round it, so any gaps will be in different places. That's what I did. Steam it for a good half an hour.

Remove the clingfilm and put it on a flat surface. Slice it up into 1.5cm-thick slices and arrange it nicely on the plate.

I made duck breast with fennel and honey sauce to accompany the dumplings, but rabbit, beef, pork or venison would go nicely too.

If you want to play around with the ingredients, I'd recommend sage and onion, or dried apricots and hazelnuts instead. Seasonal ingredients are always fresher and tastier, but go with your instinct as there are so many combinations. However, the Carlsbad version is pretty special.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Recipe XCIII - Carrot and Ginger Purée

This week, we're doing something nice and simple to go with your average meal. I have never seen the reason why people seem to boil the living daylights out of vegetables and serve them as they are, except hot, soggy and bland, especially for kids. You can steam them, fry them, roast them, pickle them, eat them raw or even barbecue them. But if you are going to boil them, at least make them interesting... This one is so simple, yet is really delicious, and the ingredients you wish to use are flexible. The timing is the most important.

10 medium-sized carrots, or 6 large ones
A teaspoonful of ginger
A teaspoonful of sugar
Some garlic (optional)
Some onions (optional)
A spoonful of butter
10cl cream (optional)
Some Savoy cabbage (optional)
Some new potatoes (optional)
Some chives, chopped (optional)
Some meat - pork cutlets, for example

Cut up your carrots and place them in some lightly-salted water, putting the new potatoes on top to steam and not forgetting to put the lid on.

All this time, you can be gently frying the meat and the Savoy cabbage (See recipe LXXXV). If you just want simple savoy cabbage, fry it in a little butter and olive oil, then once sweated add about 1.5 centimetres of hot water. Salt it and let it reduce on a medium-low heat.

Once the carrots are properly boiled (25 minutes should do it), place them in a mixer. At this point you can quickly sweat an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and put them in, but it is not essential. Add some sugar, some butter, some ground pepper and powdered ginger. Some chives are also welcome.

Blend them well, and add some cream if you prefer it that way.

While they are still hot, put some butter on the potatoes and the chives.

Serve as soon as possible before everything gets too cool.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Recipe XCII - Beef Rendang

I have a list of things I wish to do before I die. Some are probable, some definitely possible, but some are unfortunately both improbable and one is impossible, and quite frankly unspeakable and highly illegal, but such is the nature of our innermost thoughts. However, one of the things on my list is to taste all the great curries of the world, including a Thai green curry, a British tikka masala, a Jamaican goat curry, a Japanese chicken curry, a Lao curry with dill and a Malaysian rendang. But I mean I'd like to be there when I eat it. But that may take a little time and planning. I could always fly them in, but I'm sure there's only one thing better than being there eating it, and that's having it put in front of you on a plate. (Incidentally, did you know the British introduced curry to Japan?)

Anyhow, I decided to go shopping to the Asian shops in town and pick up the ingredients for a rendang and make my own version of it. It's basically everything traditionally in it, except I was unable to find the kaffir lime. But I'll add it to the list of ingredients. It was utterly worth the hard work making it, and I'd do it again tomorrow - my kitchen, indeed the street, smelled divine for most of the afternoon.

600g-750g diced beef, but that's for MUCH later.

Ingredients for the paste:
80g grated fresh coconut, but the packet version will suffice if you have no access to a fresh one
1 tsp of turmeric powder
6 hot red chilis, seeded and roughly chopped (I used half a sweet pepper because they had run out of small ones)
2 tbsp coriander seeds, or the same in powder (the crushed seeds are so much better in terms of flavour though)
1 tsp of cumin seeds, or the same in powder (the same applies here too)
5 shallots or small onions, chopped enough for the mixer
50g peeled ginger, sliced up for the mixer
30g garlic, chopped for the mixer

Instructions for the paste:
Put the coconut into a large, heavy pan and roast for a couple of minutes, continually stirring, until the coconuts turn a golden-brown. Pulverise the coriander seeds and cumin in a pestle and mortar for a long time, or if you have a spice grinder, put it through that.

Put all the above ingredients, including the coconut, into a mixer and give it a really good pulping. The mixture should end up looking something like this:

Put it to one side. You are now ready to prepare the rest.

Ingredients for the rest:
About 200ml tamarind paste + water (2 parts paste, 3 parts hot water)
4 thick pieces of lemon grass - break it with a rolling pin before you put it in
2 sticks of cinnamon - break in half to release the flavour
2 cans of coconut milk
3 spoons of brown sugar
10-12 kaffir lime leaves, chopped or broken up
and the beef, of course
Feel free to add a few vegetables. I didn't, but there's nothing stopping you.

Take your heavy pan and put some coconut oil or vegetable oil in it. When hot, add the beef and seal.
Then put in the paste, cinnamon, lime, coconut milk and lemon grass. Once stirred in and settled, turn the heat right down to simmering level, add the tamarind paste and let it reduce for up to two hours. One and a half hours should be more than adequate. Stir very frequently.

After 90 minutes, it should have reduced.

Serve with some aromatic rice.

I think this was probably the best thing I have ever cooked, although nothing beats the real thing - one day I will get there!

Monday, 4 March 2013

Recipe XCI - Pork Schnitzel

So normally, Wiener Schnitzel is made with veal meat and is deep fried. As you know, I never follow recipes to the letter - why would I? You can find a thousand of the same on the Net. This is a variation, and I must say, I find it somewhat more flavoursome than the original, because it has a few extras in it...

Equipment required:
A meat tenderiser (a hammer with a serrated surface)

600g sliced pork, about 15mm thick and 10-15cm long
Some flour and a decent amount of ground pepper
2 eggs, beaten and in a wide bowl
Some breadcrumbs, with a lot of finely chopped dried herbs (thyme, oregano, or whatever you want)
Goose fat or butter for frying

Arrange them as below, then you will always follow the correct order.

Take your pork and put it onto a flat surface, preferably not ceramic or glass, for what you are about to do next. Take the meat tenderiser and give your pork a good bashing so that it becomes very thin and twice the surface of its original state. Sprinkle salt over it then roll it in the flour and pepper, and set aside whilst you prepare your vegetables.

Once you are ready to proceed with cooking, dip the meat into the eggs, making sure it is totally covered. You'll be better doing it by hand than with a fork.

Put some oil into a large, flat non-stick pan. I used goose fat because it crisps up the outside very nicely, and fry on a medium-high heat for 4 to 6 minutes each on both sides. Turn it now and again, but leaving it to its own devices for a few minutes will let it crisp up. I also made some sautéed potatoes and Savoy cabbage.

Austrians also have lemon to add flavour to the breadcrumbs, but if you just add a few herbs to the mixture, you won't need the lemon. Mayonnaise was also welcome!