Sunday, 24 November 2013

Recipe CXI - Veal Steak Strips with a Leek and Blue Cheese Sauce

That's not the full title, but on the Net one is supposed to be brief... The full recipe would be "Veal Steak Strips and Caramelised Onions on a Bed of Spiral Pasta in a Leek and Blue Cheese Sauce", but that would just look too unwieldy...

Anyhow, this recipe is perfect for a cold November evening when the nights are getting longer and the memories of summer are still not so far away. 

A third of a leek, cut into tiny pieces
100g Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola or some such blue cheese
1 or 2 onions, thinly sliced
200ml cream
400g pasta, preferably large
Some small veal steaks, sliced into strips
Ground black pepper
Lots of butter for frying

Put butter into a saucepan and a decent frying pan, and water into another saucepan. Switch all of them on medium except the water (high).
Put the steaks in the frying pan and add a tiny bit of salt. Fry gently, removing any leakages from the meat. Put the onions in towards the beginning.
Take the leek and pulse it in the mixer for a while until it is in small pieces. Fry gently in butter.
Put the pasta in salted boiling water.

With 5 to 10 minutes before the pasta is ready, put the blue cheese in with the leek. Allow it to melt, then add some cream and let it heat on a gentle temperature without bubbling.

Once the pasta is cooked, the rest should be ready too. 

When dishing up, think about making it presentable. I mixed the sauce with the pasta, put the meat on top in a small pile and the onions on top. But I'm sure you'll have a method that is just as attractive! Finish off with some rocket salad or such like to give it some colour.

I like my steaks nicely browned on the outside and red on the inside, hence the contrasting shades.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Recipe CX - Sauce Andalouse

I went to a café today here in Germany where there was a TV on in the corner. I don't have German TV at home so it was quite an experience to see what their cookery programmes looked like - I don't think I remember someone looking quite as orange or having such white teeth as the flirty presenter, who did a lot of pointing at the camera, which moved round the set making me queasy.

The camera settled on the presenter eating the food but there was not much camerawork directed at the food itself or its preparation. It was on silent, so I was saved from having my ears as well as my eyes violated by this daytime TV show for the colourblind. I think it was called Topfgeldjäger. What shocked me the most though was the food they were cooking. I couldn't believe the size of the portions and the monotone colour of the dishes they were proffering to the German public. One of the dishes was steak but it was a pallid grey colour, not a bit of red in it.

Considering the blandness of the dishes and the gaudy luridness of the studio, the presenter and the contestants, they could have filmed the whole thing in black and white, it would have saved the ZDF a lot of money in spraytan and studio décor. So that really got my back up and I wanted to rebel in my own little way in my kitchen.

I got the butcher to cut me off some mini steaks and I cut up and fried some chips, but I decided to make my own Andalouse sauce to go with it for a change, instead of mustard or mayonnaise.

Ingredients (makes 2 jars of it):
1 red pepper
1 green pepper 
1 onion
1 lemon (squeezed)
About half a pot of mayonnaise
Half a tube of tomato purée
A teaspoonful of chili powder (optional)
A pinch of salt

Put the onion, red pepper and green pepper into a mixer and blitz until it is virtually a paste. Add the lemon juice and the tomato purée and pulse a couple of times to integrate it. Then put in the mayonnaise and pulse gently until the whole mix is a bright pink colour. Add the chili powder and stir it in.

Put the whole thing in the fridge for a while (minimum an hour) for the flavours to run. Just before your chips and steak are done, heat the sauce up gently and serve either on the plate or in a small bowl for decoration.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Recipe CIX - Minestrone Soup

The many Italians I know have a penchant for telling me how much they yearn for their homes and all the wonderful cooking they are missing out on because they live in Germany or Luxembourg. "What is August for you is November for us", one of them said. Another admonished me for eating penne rigate with a spoon for practical reasons - it's a short pasta and fits nicely on the spoon. "It is forbidden in Italy to eat any kind of pasta with a spoon!" shrieked another with a face like I had just gone to the toilet on her pet cat. I mean, what's going to happen? Is it going to cause outbreaks of bunga-bunga in the Sistine Chapel? No. Get over it.

Well, this is my message to them: if you had spent less time obeying your rather superstitious rules of the kitchen and more time obeying the temporal laws of the state, the place you left might be in a lot better shape and you might not have had to abandon Italy in the first place... just a thought.

Although I am not a fan of celery, this dish would not be Minestrone without it.
It is very easy to make, and considering the few ingredients, it is rather tasty on a cold, rainy and dreary November afternoon. My November, not their November.

5 large carrots, sliced to your preference
Half a Savoy cabbage (shredded)
2 large onions (sliced)
2-3 large potatoes (peeled and cut into bite-size pieces)
5 cloves of garlic (roughly sliced)
4 sticks of celery (cut into small pieces)
Some butter beans
A tin of tomatoes (yes, Italian cooking is based on it!)
Some fresh tomatoes (quartered)
500ml to 1litre of vegetable stock (hot)
Ground black pepper

Take the onions, carrots and celery and fry them in a medium-hot pan in olive oil until they have sweated nicely and are a little softer. Add salt and pepper and stir continually.

Add the garlic and once it starts to release its aroma, add the potatoes and keep stirring. Add the fresh tomatoes and the tinned tomatoes and reduce the heat. Put on the lid and let the flavours run for a good 10 minutes.

Now you can add the hot vegetable stock and let it boil gently for a minimum of 20 minutes. At this point, you can add the Savoy cabbage and once soft (a couple of minutes), serve with some decent sliced bread.