Mains, Pasta

Pasta with Stilton, jalapeño and cavolo nero

This serves 2 hungry people.

Ingredients for Pasta with Stilton, jalapeño and cavolo nero:

225 g Stilton cheese
200 ml crème fraîche
5 garlic cloves
2 anchovy fillets
1 big teaspoon of Dijon mustard
Splash of Noilly Prat or similar vermouth
0.5 – 1 fresh jalapeño, deseeded and finely chopped
200 g Cavolo Nero
40 g butter
50 g vegetable stock
Olive oil
190 g pasta, fusilli or similar
Handful of hazelnuts, for garnish
Handful of walnuts, for garnish
Small amount flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Small amount of chives, for garnish

How to make Pasta with Stilton, jalapeño and cavolo nero:
Start by putting on water for the pasta.
Slice two of the garlic cloves in medium-fine slices and also slice the anchovy fillets. Heat a medium large saucier or pot on medium heat and sauté the garlic and anchovies in olive oil and half the butter, stir constantly with a spoon or fork so the anchovies break up and flavor the oil. Cut the cheese into chunks and add to the pan together with the vermouth and Dijon mustard. Stir and then cover the pan with a lid. Lower the heat to low. Let the cheese melt and stir from time to time. When the cheese is melted and smooth add the crème fraîche and the chopped jalapeño. Use at least 0.5 jalapeño and up to 1 if you like it hotter. Do not use the seeds.
Let the sauce bubble away slowly without a lid. Stir occasionally.

For the cavolo nero start with making a garlic fork to stir with, this will lightly perfume the cavolo nero with garlic. Put the remaining garlic cloves on the tins of a fork. Chop the cavolo nero roughly. Put a big sauté pan on medium to high heat and add the remaining butter and the vegetable stock. Swirl the pan to make a liaison between the butter and the stock. Add the cavolo nero and stir with the garlic fork and toss to coat with the butter mixture, season with salt. Put a lid on the pan and let the cavolo nero cook over low to medium heat. Stir with the garlic fork from time to time and try a piece to judge for doneness. I like them a little bit al dente but not too crunchy.
The cavolo nero takes maybe 5 – 10 minutes to cook.

For the nuts roast the hazelnuts first in a 180C oven until the skins are starting to blacken. Take the nuts out of the oven and put them in a clean kitchen towel, fold the towel over the nuts as to make a package and then rub the towel hard with the palm of your hand to loosen the skins. Unwrap the towel and pick out the nuts with the least skin on. Chop the nuts  coarsely and reserve until plating.
Roast the walnuts until darkish brown, chop coarsely and reserve until plating.

Salt the pasta water until it’s salty as the sea and then cook the pasta as per the instructions on the package. Drain the pasta by putting a lid on the pan slightly ajar, try to reserve a little bit of the pasta water in the pan.

Add the pasta to the cavolo nero pan and dump the sauce on top. Stir and toss to combine properly.

To plate put the pasta in a deep bowl, top with the roasted nuts, the herbs, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some black pepper.


Beef cheeks braised in red wine

Also known as Joues de Bœuf à la Bourguignonne in it’s native tongue, this was a great autumnal dish full of flavour and richness. As often with braises it’s better the next day so make it in advance if you can.

This serves about 4 people.

Ingredients for Beef cheeks braised in red wine:
100g plain flour
10g salt
10g pepper
700g beef cheeks, cut into 12 large pieces
50ml rapeseed oil
150g carrots, roughly chopped
150g onions, roughly chopped
1.1 litres good-quality red wine
4 cloves garlic, chopped

For the bouquet garni:
1 stick celery
4 stalks flat-leaf parsley
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
3 green leek leaves

For the garnish:

120g baby onions or small shallots
30g unsalted butter, plus extra to glaze
½ tsp caster sugar
200g baby carrots
120g, smoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons
12 button mushrooms

For the mashed potato:
800g potatoes, such as Maris Piper, King Edward or Idaho
1 litre water
25g salt
200g unsalted butter
100ml double cream
salt and pepper
flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, to garnish (optional)

How to make Beef cheeks braised in red wine:
For the mash, peel the potatoes, cut into quarters and place in a large saucepan. Cover with the water and add the salt. Slowly bring to the boil and simmer until tender – if you boil them too hard, they will take on too much salt. The timing will depend on the size of your chunks.

Drain in a colander and allow to dry by leaving them to sit and steam in the colander for a few minutes. Pass the potato and butter through a mouli or return them to the pan and mash until smooth.

Meanwhile, pour the cream into a small saucepan and warm it through gently. Place the pan of mashed potato back on a medium heat and stir to dry the potato out. Add the warm cream and mix it in with a spoon until very smooth. Check the seasoning, garnish with the parsley, if using, and serve immediately.

To make the beef cheeks, heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Place the flour on a plate, season with salt and pepper, then roll the pieces of meat in it until lightly coated. Heat the oil in a large, heavy casserole until very hot. Brown the meat quickly and evenly. Add the chopped carrot and onion, cover, and leave to sweat gently for 10 minutes.

Holding the lid over the casserole, pour away all the cooking fat. Add the wine and stir to deglaze. Bring to the boil, then add the garlic and bouquet garni, and season. Replace the lid and cook in the oven for about 2½ hours, until the meat is very tender. Stir regularly during cooking, adding a little water if necessary.

Meanwhile, place the baby onions in a saucepan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Cover with 50ml water, or enough so that the onions are only just covered, and stir in the butter and sugar. Place a circle of greaseproof paper (a cartouche) over the surface of the liquid and bring to the boil. Simmer until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions are glazed and shiny. Keep warm, covered, over a very low heat.

At the same time, blanch the baby carrots in boiling salted water, drain well, then return to the pan and toss in enough butter to coat them until they are shiny. Fry the bacon in a small frying pan over a high heat, until crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, then add the mushrooms to the pan, frying them in the bacon fat, until golden and tender.

Remove the casserole from the oven. Lift out the pieces of meat with a slotted spoon and discard the vegetables and the bouquet garni. Place the meat in a clean pan, pass the sauce through a fine sieve over the meat and gently stir in the bacon and mushrooms.

Serve the daube on plates with mashed potato, the glazed button onions and carrots, and the sauce over the top.


Fillet of beef stroganoff with riz pilaff

beef_stroganoff-1Beef stroganoff is one of my favorite beef dishes and it’s quick enough to prepare for a weeknight supper.
The secret to a good stroganoff is to saute the beef very quickly to keep it as rare as possible while still browning it. Another secret is to reduce the vinegar until almost evaporated, otherwise the dish can end up too sour.

Serve with a medium bodied red wine, like a Sangiovese or a Fleurie.

This recipe serves two [hungry] people.

Ingredients for the beef stroganoff:
450g fillet of beef
1 tsp hot paprika
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp vegetable oil
30g butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
115g button mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp tomato purée
50ml white wine vinegar
75ml white wine
200ml double cream
115g dill pickle, julienned
125ml sour cream
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 pinch sweet paprika

Preparing the beef stroganoff:
Sprinkle the beef strips with the paprika and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a large frying pan with the vegetable oil. Quickly flash-fry the beef strips, making sure you keep them as rare as possible, then tip the meat into a colander, reserving any juices that drain off.
Using the same pan, add the butter, shallots and sliced mushrooms and cook for one minute. Add the tomato purée and cook for few more minutes, stirring the ingredients together. Add the white wine vinegar and cook until completely evaporated.
Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half then pour in the double cream, bring to a boil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the seared beef and the reserved juice and gently warm through, taking care not to boil or you will overcook the beef.
To serve, pour the stroganoff into a large warmed serving dish and sprinkle with dill pickle. Drizzle the sour cream over the top then sprinkle with chopped parsley and dust with paprika. Serve with the rice along side.

Ingredients for the riz pilaff:
50g butter
50g onion, finely chopped
250g long-grain rice
500ml hot white chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the riz pilaff:
For the rice, preheat the oven to 200C.
Heat an ovenproof sauté pan until hot, add half the butter and the onion and cook gently for a few minutes until softened but not colored.
Add the rice and stir well then fry gently for another minute, again without colouring, and add the hot stock, seasoning and bay leaf.
Bring to the boil, stirring with a wooden spoon, then cover with buttered grease-proofpaper and a lid and place in the oven. Cook for 15 minutes until the rice is cooked but still firm.

Remove the bay leaf, add the last of the butter and separate the grains of rice with a fork.
Season with salt and freshly ground pepper then transfer to a clean warmed serving dish and keep covered with a clean piece of grease-proof paper until ready to serve.


Slow Cooked Fillet Steak, Pommes Puree, Braised Shallots, Veal Jus

steak_jus-1This was a nice dinner where I got to use a few different techniques.
I wanted to make a salad or something green to go with it but ran out of space and time.
Cooking the fillet steak at around 60C in the oven for a fairly long time (55 minutes) ensures that 95 % of the steak is medium rare (around 56C core temperature) and you also get a very uniform result throughout the steak.
It’s important to use a fairly hot pan when you sear the steak before roasting them in the oven since this step have to happen very quickly so you don’t overcook the steak.
The sauce is quite simple, just sauteing some mirepoix and then reducing veal stock. It has a fantastic umami flavor that really complements the beef.

This recipe serves two persons.

Ingredients for the steak:
2 fillet steaks, 175g each
Groundnut oil (or other neutral oil with high smoking point)

Preparing the steak:
Bring the steak out of the fridge at least one hour before cooking to ensure that the steaks come up to room temperature. Cooking the steaks from cold will lower the temperature of the pan.
Turn on the oven to 60C, preferably use an oven thermometer to monitor the temperature.
Heat a frying pan on high heat.
Oil, then salt and pepper the steaks on all sides.
Have a small oven tray ready for the steaks.
When the frying pan is very hot, sear the steaks one by one on all sides. It’s easiest to hold the steaks with a tonge when doing this step. This step should take maximum 30 seconds per steak. Once seared all over put steaks on oven tray.
Transfer to middle of the oven and roast for 55 minutes. Half way through the cooking time flip the steaks over. Once removed from the oven let the steaks rest on a rack for a few minutes.

Ingredients for the braised shallots:
6 shallots, peeled with root area left intact
500ml chicken stock
1 sprig of thyme
2 garlic cloves, peeled
25g butter
Rapeseed oil

Preparing the braised shallots:
Saute the shallots in a bit of oil until golden brown all around. Add the butter, thyme and garlic and cook for another two minutes.
Add the chicken stock, cover and let simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the shallots are very soft and tender.
Check for seasoning.

Ingredients for the pommes puree:
500g Ratte potatoes (or Charlottes), scrubbed but not cleaned.
125g unsalted butter, chilled
125ml whole milk
White pepper

Preparing the pommes puree:
Cover the potatoes with 1 liter of cold water and 0.5 tablespoon of course salt. Bring to the boil and once it reached the boiling point lower the temperature to a simmer and cover with a lid.
Boil the potatoes for 25 minutes. Drain and peel.
Put the potatoes (while still warm) through a potato ricer or a mouli fitted with the finest disk into a clean saucepan.
Put the mashed potatoes over a medium heat and stir vigorously with a spatula for 5 minutes to dry out the flesh a bit.
Meanwhile rinse a small saucepan with water, pour it out (do not wipe dry) then add the milk. Warm the milk until boiling point and then take it off the heat.
Lower heat for the potato pan to low. Add the butter bit by bit while stirring with spatula, keep adding until it’s all incorporated and the puree is homogenous.The potato and butter might separate a bit at this stage but keep stirring and it will come together.
Add the milk in a thin stream while stirring briskly. When all the milk is incorporated you should have a silky smooth puree. If you want it even smoother you can pass it through a fine sieve.
Check for seasoning.

Ingredients for the veal jus:
1 carrot, diced
1 leek (white part only), diced
0.5 medium onion, diced
1 sprig of thyme
Rapeseed oil
Red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz or something similar)
300ml veal stock

Preparing the veal jus:
Heat a saute pan (preferably the same one you cooked the steaks in) to medium high heat. Add a splash of oil and then saute the carrot, leeks and onions until golden brown, add the sprig of thyme. Deglaze with a generous splash of red wine. Boil until red wine is evaporated.
Add the veal stock and let this simmer for a few minutes. When the sauce had a bit of body, pass through a sieve into a small sauce pan. Reduce further until you achieve a semi-sticky consistency.


Chocolate Ice-Cream with Raspberries

chocolate_icecream2-1Chocolate ice cream is always great and if you make it with a good chocolate it will be fantastic.
I used Valrhona Guanaja 70 % chocolate that you can buy in 200 g bars for cooking with. The chocolate taste fantastic and melts beautifully into the Creme Anglaise, creating a silky smooth ice cream without any graininess.

I recently started using Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs. They are fantastic eggs with a deep yellow orange yolk.

This makes enough for about 2-3 persons.

Ingredients for the chocolate ice cream:
100 g chocolate (50 – 70 %), finely chopped
70 g caster sugar
3 medium egg yolks
150 ml double cream
150 ml whole milk

Preparing the chocolate ice cream:
Bring the cream, milk and 46 g of the sugar slowly to the boil in preferably a non stick pot while stirring occasionally. At the same time, whisk together the egg yolks and 24 g of the sugar in a glass bowl until it reaches light ribbon consistency.

Temper the yolk mixture by slowly poring over the warm milk mixture while whisking vigorously, when the first bit of milk is incorporated you can poor a bit quicker. A bit like making a mayonnaise.

You have to go slow at the beginning so that you don’t scramble the eggs.

When all the milk is incorporated poor the mixture back into the pot and heat gently over a low to medium heat while stirring with a wooden or silicone spatula. A bit like making a risotto.

When the custard thickens a bit draw a line with your finger through the custard on the spatula. If your finger leaves a line without the custard flowing back together it’s finished. Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted.

Set a glass or metal bowl into your sink or a bigger bowl and fill the sink with cold water and a few ice cubes. Poor the chocolate custard into the small bowl through a fine meshed sieve or chinois.

Stir occasionally until the custard is cooled down.

Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Ingredients for the raspberries:
300 g raspberries
25 g caster sugar
1 lemon

Preparing the raspberries:
Put the raspberries in a bowl and poor sugar and lemon juice over them. With a light hand, toss together the raspberries with the sugar and lemon juice.

Leave to macerate for 30 minutes in room temperature. This will boost the flavor of the raspberries.


Sourdough Bread

This is my first attempt at making sourdough bread using my homegrown sourdough starter based on water and rye flour.

How to make a rye sourdough starter:

Making a sourdough starter is quite easy. It takes about 5 days until the sourdough starter is ready to use for baking.

You need a jar to keep your sourdough in. I used a 0.5 liter glass Kilner jar. Make sure that the jar is clean and sterilized before you begin.

Once the sourdough starter is finished it needs to be fed about once a week (even though you can leave it for longer). I throw away most of the starter when I feed it, I keep about 50 g in the jar (weigh the empty jar so that you can weigh it with the starter to see how much starter it contains).

I feed it once a week with 60g rye flour and 100g tepid water to 50g starter.

Day 1
Mix 1 tbsp rye flour (I use stoneground organic rye flour) with two tbsp tepid water (30 – 35C, I use Evian spring water) in your jar. Put the jar in a warm place (between 22 – 25C).

If you have a cupboard above your fridge this is a good place since it’s a bit warm.

Do not close the lid, leave it slightly open.

Leave the jar for 24 hours.

Day 2
Look at the sourdough starter. It might be a bit bubbly and maybe a bit foamy. It should smell a bit sweet.

Gently shake the jar to mix it up a bit. That’s it for day 2.

Day 3, Evening
It’s time to feed the sourdough starter. Add 1 tbsp of rye flour to the jar and mix well. We will leave the jar for about 10 hours and then feed it again.

Day 4, Morning
It’s time to feed the sourdough starter for the last time before it’s ready. At this stage it should be bubbly and a bit mousse like in it’s consistency.

We need to throw away some of the starter to get the right ratio. If there is a lot of starter it will require more food (flour and water).

Throw away most of the starter, leave about 1 cm at the bottom of the jar.

Feed it with 2 tbsp tepid water and 2 tbsp rye flour. Leave the jar in a warm place.

Day 4, Evening
The sourdough starter is now finished. Keep the sourdough starter in the fridge. If your jar has a rubber seal, take it off so that the starter can get a small supply of air even though the lid is closed. 

The sourdough starter on Day 1, nighttime.

The final sourdough starter fed the night before the baking. Day 6.

12 hours later. The sourdough starter is alive and bubbling. Day 7.

Mixed with water, salt, stoneground rye flour and strong wheat flour. Left to proof for 2 – 3 hours.

After 2 hours of proofing.

Dough in 1.5 liter loaf tin. Left to proof for 1 hour.

After 1 hour of proofing.

Me and the bread having fun. 🙂

After baking. Returned to oven sans loaf tin for another 10 minutes to further bake the crust.

Final sourdough bread.


Wild Yeast

wildyeastWild Apricot Yeast, Day 1
125 g dried organic apricots (the brown ones, not yellow)
50 g honey (locally sourced, not runny)
25 g sugar
250 g tepid spring water (I used Evian)

wildyeast1Day 5
After five days in the jar we can see that the apricots have plumped up nicely and are floating on the surface. When shaking the jar lots of small bubbles (like Champagne) rise to the surface.
The liquid smells a bit boozy, like a liqueur.

wildyeast2The mixture is sieved.
This recipe yielded 150 ml finished wild yeast.

wildyeast3Finally decanted into a bottle. Apparently it will keep for about 2 months in the fridge but the yeast power will be best within a month.


Lamb burger with goats cheese and tomato relish

Being a big fan of hamburgers but often being disappointed about what’s on offer in London, even in the upmarket burger joints, I decided to give it a shot myself. The result was very nice and also quite light which for me is a nice contrast to bellybusting burgers.

Enjoy with a tempranillo or similar medium bodied red wine.

General stuff:
Two heads of little gem lettuce
Two tomatoes
One red onion
200 g of goats cheese

For the tomato relish:
(this makes about half a liter finished relish so have some jars around to store it)

800 g tomatoes
1 onion, finely sliced
200 ml red wine vinegar
200 g sugar
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 red chili, finely chopped
A handful of fresh coriander
Salt and freshly grounded black pepper
30 g capers in vinegar, rinsed in water and finely chopped
30 g baby gherkins, finely chopped
Olive oil for frying

How to make it:
Start by putting the tomatoes in a pot with warm water to later get their skin off.
Fry the garlic, onion and chilli in some oil in a big pot until soft. Skin the tomatoes, chop them finely and then add them to the pot. Mix welll with the onions.
Add the vinegar and sugar. Season a bit with salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes. When the relish is the consistency of jam add the capers, gherkins and coriander. Cook for a few more minutes but be careful not to reduce it too much. Check seasoning. Let cool.

For the burgers:
500 g minced lamb
6 or so leaves of basil, torn into small pieces
A tablespoon of capers, finely chopped
Half an onion, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

How to make it:
Mix the mince with onions, capers, basil, pepper and a pinch of salt. Make four patties.
Put flour on a plate and mix with a bit of pepper and salt. Put the patties in the flour mixture to coat on each side.
Heat some butter and olive oil in a big frying pan. Turn on the oven at approx 200 C on Grill to toast the ciabatta buns.
Fry the patties approx 4.5 minutes on each side in the frying pan.
While the burgers are frying prepare some lettuce, slice the tomatoes and the red onion.
When the burgers are fried, take a piece of ciabatta, spread with the goats cheese, then assemble with tomato, onion, lettuce and the lamb burger, add a sprinkle of pepper if desired.
Assemble on plate with some more lettuce, onion, tomato and tomato relish.

Mains, Pasta

Tagliatelle di Pollo

This is one of my favorite recipes.
Enough for four portions.

Ingredients for Tagliatelle di Pollo:
400g tagliatelle
250g chicken breast
300g leaf spinach
Half an onion
150g goats cheese
400ml cream
3 cloves of garlic
Fresh parsley
Fresh chive
Olive oil

Preparing the Tagliatelle di Pollo:
Slice the chicken in thin slices. Chop the onion, herbs and garlic finely. Fry the garlic gently in some olive oil. Add the chicken and let it fry.
Add the cream, herbs and goats cheese (in small pieces). Let this cook until the cheese is melted. Lower the heat.
Put on water for the tagliatelle.
In another pan, roast the pine nuts. Put in a bowl for use later.
Fry the onion with some olive oil in the same pan. Add the spinach leafs and fry this.
Put the cooked pasta in the sauce and let this cook together a bit.
Put the spinach on a plate, add some roasted pine nuts, add the tagliatelle on top of this. Add some more pine nuts, a string of extra virgin olive oil, some black pepper and maybe some basil.