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BOOK REVIEW ‘Turkey – Recipes and Tales from the Road’ by Leanne Kitchen

I’ve been anxious to get my hands on this book for some time now and the minute I slipped  ‘Turkey – Recipes and Tales from the Road’ out of its padded envelope I knew it had been worth the wait. Fair dues to Murdoch Books; considering the author, Leanne Kitchen (a trained chef turned food writer, originally from New Zealand and now living in Sydney), is not a major media squeeze, the quality of production and finish is remarkable, from the sensuous padded cover, to the simple-but-stylish motif that adorns the edge of the recipe pages, not forgetting the photography. I’m not only talking about the ‘food porn’ although Amanda McLauchlan’s photos, shot mostly with available light, will have you salivating for sure. Leanne herself is no slouch with a camera and her own shots, taken on her travels, bring insight into this magical and, for many, mysterious country. Her felicitious name, by the way, is no nom de plume – “I married a guy called Mr.Kitchen”, she insists. Savvy typography gives the book a classical feel and allows easy access to the recipes.

‘Turkey…’ combines a cookbook and a travelogue. The recipes, in the main are simple, with most of the dishes well within the capability of the average home cook. There’s nothing super-cheffy or twiddly here. What you get is the real Turkey, light years away from the sad kebab shop offerings we’re fobbed off with in Ireland. As Leanne points out, Turkey divides into seven extremely diverse regions, each with its own culinary tradition.  In Istanbul, she says, mezze are elevated to the status of art. Within the pages of this book is a rich and varied cuisine with which the majority of home cooks will be unfamiliar and one that will reward exploration.

Leanne takes you  well off the ‘Turkey for Tourists’ route and writes beautifully about places many will never visit. “My new friend takes me on a ferry ride to Akdsamar to see the thousand year old Cathedral of the Holy Cross an architecturally-important pink sandstone church erected by the Armenian Catholics…  From the island we look back over the sparkling lake to the vast open expanse of land on the other side where farmers are fashioning dried grass into huge round bales of hay. Behind this farmland lies a string of snow-capped mountain peaks. It’s a place of dramatic and breathtaking beauty and it’s fitting that we finish our day trip off by gorging on the local delicacy, inci kefali or pearl mullet. “

Food, always back to food, great. I’ve already got the recipe for Yoghurt and walnut stuffed eggplant with tomato and pomegranate sauce on the go for tonight’s dinner. My quinces, now barely thimble-sized  will be under scrutiny until autumn, earmarked for incorporation into a sweet cheese pie. The slow-roasted lamb with apples poached in pomegranate will get a run out soon – how delightful is the instruction  “To serve, pull the lamb apart into chunks.” I’m going to get massive use out of this book, I can see.

To sum up, ‘Turkey – Recipes and Tales from the Road’ has got to be an early contender for Cookbook of 2011 and currently, for me at least, it’s the one the others have to beat and one I can’t recommend  or praise highly enough, as both a cookbook and a damn good read.

‘Turkey – Recipes and Tales from the Road’ is published by Murdoch Books at GB£25

Footnote: Leanne Kitchen, by her own admission, is by inclination a lone traveler and uncomfortable in groups. This is untrue. At Tasting Australia 2010 I was in her company for two days, both of us part of an unusually harmonious mob of food writers and chefs. Leanne, with whom I share an enthusiasm for hats, contributed a good deal to the travelling experience, not least with her on-bus rendition of Rogers & Hammerstein’s ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’ which I hope to hear her reprise in 2012.

 

RECIPE My stuffed peppers

Simple, tasty and one of my favourite dishes at the minute, I suppose because they are colourful and because the fresh oregano on the patio has recovered after a hard winter.

4 large red or green bell peppers

8-12 cherry tomatoes

16 leaves fresh oregano or  1 tsp dried

3-4 portobello mushrooms, diced (or a mix of reconstituted dried porcini and button mushrooms)

100g hard cheese (I’ve used Cheddar,Comté, Gruyere, Taleggio), shaved with a potato peeler

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 8

Preheat the oven to 200 C. Halve the peppers, lengthways and carefully scoop out any white pith from the inside. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and simmer the pepper halves for 10-15 minutes. Remove and drain. You can do this well in advance if you like.

Brush the skin of the peppers with a little olive oil. Put in a shallow oven proof dish or baking tray, Drop 2-3 cherry tomatoes, a dessertspoon of the mushroom mixture and a couple of oregano leaves into the cavity. Drizzle a little olive oil over each half pepper and season with a little sea salt – at the moment I’m using a truffle salt from significant Australian chef Tetsuya which really perks up the dish. Pile shavings of the cheese on top, add a couple of twists of black pepper and place in the oven. Cook for approx 15 minutes. If you then turn the oven down to 150 C and place the dish/tray on the oven floor they will keep warm but won’t spoil.

One half pepper makes a good starter or as a side dish to a main course. Or, with scrambled egg, a pleasant light lunch. You can eat them hot or cold, which is why I make more than I need for one meal.

 

RECIPE – Hake and scallops with a red pepper and fennel purée and grilled aubergines

 

Last night, herself brought home glistening fresh hake and “some scallops, for a treat”. Four whacking great kings, as it happened. Treat indeed.

Foraging in the fridge for potential accompaniments I came across a bulb of fennel, complete with fronds that looked like it could do with eating up. From the fruit bowl, a pristine red pepper winked at me. Improvisation, something I do a lot of, became the buzzword. I chopped both into small pieces, added a teaspoon of fennel seeds to get more oomph – a good tip, this – and boiled them in a light stock. Then, out with the stick blender, whizz them into a purée and back on a low heat. Taste. Add a little salt, must have been a very light stock. More blending, needs to be smoother. Taste again. Hmmm… not quite there. “Cooking on my feet”, I added a tiny splash of Cognac and a slight swirl of cream. Oh yes, joy.

While this was going on I was fettling aubergines on the ridged griddle. I always cut them on the bias into slices, looks pretty and, after experimenting, I’m convinced it gives a nicer texture and better flavour. Got the griddle raging hot. Put the slices on and sprinkled some cumin and some truffle salt on the topside, gave them a minute or so then drizzled a little olive oil over. When the underneath showed dark brown char-lines (3-4 mins) I turned them over and anointed the slices with more cumin, salt and oil. Turn them back and forth a couple of times, you can get a nice lattice effect with the charring if you want. As soon as they were cooked through I put the slices into a low oven to keep warm.

Meanwhile the matchstick chips were pirouetting nicely in the Actifry (see review http://forkncork.com/on-test-tefal-actifry/ here), aided and abetted by a tablespoon of goose fat.

The hake was lightly floured and then pan-fried 2-3 mins per side. The griddle sorted the scallops a treat, lovely caramelisation, two minutes tops. Re-heated the purée, brought it altogether and plated up.

What’s that? Oh yes, there are peas in the piccy. Yes, petit pois (frozen) with a heap of chopped garden mint, a little butter and a grind of black pepper. Because I thought the palette would be improved by a touch of green and surprise, surprise, I didn’t have any ‘samfer’ to hand.

 

This repast was accompanied a treat by Jeffrey Grosset’s Polish Hill Riesling 2008, a Clare Valley superstar and one of my favourite wines.

 

4 hake fillets

4 king scallops

flour, pepper and salt to dust hake

oil for frying (olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed to choice)

 

1 large aubergine cut on the bias into 20mm slices

truffle or sea salt

powdered cumin

extra virgin olive oil for the purée (which can be made in advance)

 

1 large bulb fennel, finely chopped

1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp fennel seeds

dash of cognac

1 tbsp single cream

2 cupfuls water or light stock

 

Something green!

Serves 4. Instructions in the text above.

RECIPE – Fillet of Pork in Milk

 

Sometimes my cooking gets into a rut and I have to shake myself out of it. When people come to dinner I tend to rely on the ‘tried and trusted’. Sometimes, though ‘tried and trusted’ morphs into ‘tired and disgusted’ (with myself, for my lack of effort). Last weekend , between waiting for FF to be annihilated and the hapless Greens to be composted, I placed a stack of cookbooks beside my favourite chair and browsed them, one by one. This idea, the result of that exercise, is a compound of Marcela Hazan and River Café, both rooted in Italian tradition. The recipe and method is pretty much Me.

The combination of milk and pork sounds unlikely but, believe me, it’s delicious. The addtion of lemon zest curdles the milk slightly and what you get is nutty, brown nuggets in the sauce.

1 medium-sized pork fillet

3 slim leeks, washed and cut into approx 12cm pieces

2-3 red onions, peeled and cut into quarters lengthways

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Milk (ideally whole milk)

Zest of a lemon

Sprig of sage, sprig of rosemary

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 220 C

Season the pork and sear briefly in a dry hot skillet or ridged griddle pan. Remove and place in a cast iron baking dish (I used a large Le Creuset). Surround with the leeks and onions and pour in the milk until it comes half way up the pork. Add the lemon zest and the sage and rosemary. Bring the milk to the boil then

Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove the pork and allow to rest. Return the dish to the stove top and boil briefly to reduce and thicken slightly. Scrape any brown residue from the sides or base of the dish back into the sauce. Slice the meat, either thinly or into medallions and serve with the vegetables, sauce and either mash or sauté potatoes.

 

LOBSTER and LEEK RISOTTO

LOBSTER AND LEEK RISOTTO

Preparing the beasts is not rocket science. Cut off the claws, as near to the body as you can. Whack them lightly with a hammer or the blunt end of a cleaver. Peel off the shell and prise out the meat (using fingers and a metal skewer). Twist off the head. Draw a sharp knife down the underside of the belly, splitting the body into two. Extract the meat and set aside. You can save the half-shells for serving the lobster in but I prefer to collect all the residue and make stock, boiling it up with water and any vegetable trimmings I can find.

For the stock

Place the residue of the lobster – head, coral (unless you like it in the risotto), shell – in a large plan with 1.5 litres of water, a chopped carrot, a small onion, a stick of celery and a handful of parley and thyme. If you want a stronger-flavoured stock, here’s a cheat – add a heaped teaspoonful of the Prawn Paste you can buy in the Oriental Emporium or Asian grocers. Boil briskly for no longer than 45 minutes or until the water has reduced by one third. Strain and reserve the liquid, keeping it hot but not boiling.

Ingredients

2 small knobs of butter and a little extra virgin olive oil

2 leeks, thinly sliced

1 small-medium onion, finely chopped

360g good Italian risotto rice (carnaroli, arborio, vialone nano)

1 heaped tsp dried oregano

1 good glass of dry white wine

1 litre lobster stock (above) or hot water

350g lobster meat

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Zest of two limes

Serves 4

Sweat leeks and onion in some butter and extra virgin olive oil in a large pan on the stovetop, under a low heat. Stir with a wooden spoon – important, according to all the top risotto chefs. When the onions just start to change colour, add the rice and continue to stir for one minute. Add the white wine and increase the heat. Keep stirring. When the wine has almost evaporated add some of the lobster (or chicken or vegetable) stock or water. Keep stirring, adding stock or water as necessary; don’t let it stick – as an Italian chef told me “Risotto is like an unfaithful girlfriend. Take your eyes off her, she’ll play you false.” Keep stirring with the wooden spoon, don’t move away from the stove. Add stock or water as necessary, a little at a time, stirring and keeping the constituency slightly soupy. Season to taste – if you are using lobster stock or stock cubes of any kind you won’t need much salt. When the rice is almost cooked, add the lobster meat. When the rice is firm but not grainy – the true meaning of the Italian phrase ‘al dente’ – finish with a knob of butter and lay out on a large plate. Grate the zest of two limes over the risotto and serve.

And, please… no cheese for this one.

The above methodology works for all kinds of risotto. It’s not difficult, it’s not time-consuming – approx 25 minutes from chopping board to table. Remember – stand-over/feed/stir and repeat until done.

Cooking The Blues

Health, history, novelty – but what do they taste like? Ernie Whalley cooks the Blues

Many of the original potatoes first introduced to Ireland in the 18th and 19th centuries have long since disappeared. Today, a handful of commercial varieties remain. However the Keogh family, who have farmed in North County Dublin for the past 200 years have re-introduced some of these rare and ancient varieties by developing seed from old agricultural archives. Each Heritage (as they term them) variety has an original colour, shape and taste – Blue potatoes, which were first grown here in the 1900’s, have a dramatic dark purple skin and the flesh within is deep blue, a colour it retains after cooking. Tom Keogh, from Peter Keogh and Sons reckons “The novelty factor of cooking blue mash or blue chips will raise many eyebrows at the dinner table. It is also a great way to get young children interested in eating potatoes.”

Recently, I received a sample box. I’ve come late to these violet and indigo wonders; it seems every food writer around has already been extolling their virtues. What virtues? The cynic might say “Well, they’re purple, aren’t they? So what?” But, bear with me…

Cook these potatoes and your guests will be eating a slice, or maybe a chip of history. Purple/blue potatoes have been linked to the Incas. Some say they were reserved for the king. People have speculated that the original potatoes brought back to Europe by (maybe) Columbus or (was it?) Sir Walter Raleigh were of this hue. I can just envisage the conversation:-

Elizabeth I: For godsakes, Walt. These things clash with my regal attire. Can’t you find some that tone with my new French robe? Green, yellow or something?

Raleigh: I can probably get white, your majesty.

Elizabeth: Do it, so. Begone.

(six months later)

Raleigh (bowing low, while doffing his hat with a flourish): Behold, your majesty. The white potato.

Elizabeth: Fool. These tubers are not white. They are a sort of muddy brown, with scab and big holes wherein some clumsy oaf has stuck a pitchfork. (To Burleigh, her chancellor, conveniently standing by at the head of a posse of tough looking dudes with shiny helmets and big spears) Seize him! Off with his head!!!

But, seriously, how do the purple spuds stand up to testing?

Well, they are not of the “Rush Queens, Pure Balls of Flour” ilk. Texturally, the purple spuds are, if not quite ‘waxy’, grainy or mealy, more like. ‘Compressed porridge’ was what came to mind when I baked them in their jackets. Roosters have nothing to fear. Roasted, they don’t have a deal of flavour – nothing to wean me off the Golden Wonder or the Kerr’s Pink, both of them fluffy within and crisp-crusted without. They make decent chips – with the caveat that the purple/blue hues metamorphose to mottled brown and navy. havern’t tried mashing them yet.

Novelty value apart, there is one very good reason for eating blue spuds. The strong blue colour is the same anthocyanin that gives blueberries, blackberries and aubergines their distinctive tints, a powerful antioxidant which protects cells from damage and so may inhibit certain cancers, heart disease and muscular degeneration.

So far as aesthetics go, perhaps the most sympathetic deployment would be as potato salad, cutting the boiled or steamed tubers into wedges and mixing with small, whole white salad potatoes (varieties like Charlotte or Nicola) would make for an appealing contrast in shape and texture. Some chopped scallions and a bulb of raw fennel would add bite and crunch, alternatively a handful of blanched mange tout. Potential for a “Wow!” factor at a dinner party here.

Currently my favourite salad dressing – and it works as well for potato as for green salad – is a 6:1 blend of good extra virgin olive oil and WHITE balsamic vinegar, with a scattering of chopped chives and thyme leaves, a little salt and a good grind of fresh black pepper. Of the white balsamicos the Belazzu brand is especially piquant (I get mine in Greenacres of Wexford but other good delis stock it). Another potato salad dressing I like is a 50/50 blend of homemade mayonnaise and Greek yoghurt.

Keogh’s Heritage Blue potatoes are now available exclusively in Superquinn stores nationwide from for a limited period, priced €2.99 for a 1kg box.

PORK PIE – after the Melton Mowbray fashion

I dug up my old recipe in response to my mates’  Harriet and Evan’s request for pie recipes for their food project on KCRW’s Pie a Day Blog Project.

This is my own interpretation of an English traditional dish. The methodology and recipe is a cross between that of my mother, Doris Whalley and Jane Grigson (‘Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery’ is one of my all-time favourite cookbooks). The recipe is complex, takes considerable time and is definitely a labour of love which is why I only make this pie about every five years! Nor is it for the diet conscious. Lovers of lo-cal should avert their eyes.

In the north of England these pies are often known as ‘stand’ or ‘raised’ pies. A local nickname, from the Manchester area, for a smaller individual-sized pie is ‘a growler’. And of course the pork pie has also made it into rhyming slang parlance as in the phrase telling ‘pork pies’ or, more commonly, ‘porky pies’, i.e. ‘lies’.

Melton Mowbray is a small town in Leicestershire, in the English Midlands. The town has strong culinary associations. Stilton cheese originated near Melton Mowbray, and is still made in the town today. Stilton cheese takes its name from the village of Stilton, 80 miles north of London, on the Great North Road. This was a staging post where the cheeses were offloaded by local deliverers for bulk transportation to London. No Stilton cheese was ever made there.

Although supermarkets routinely carry pork pies with the label ‘Melton Mowbray’, there is in fact a specific hand-raising process and recipe which marks a pie as a Melton Mowbray pork pie. On 4 April 2008 the European Union awarded the Melton Mowbray pork pie Protected Geographical Indication status, following representations from the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association. As a result of this ruling, only pies using uncured pork and made within a designated zone, are allowed to carry the Melton Mowbray name.

The phrase “painting the town red” is said to have originated in Melton Mowbray. In 1837, celebrating a good day’s hunting, the Marquess of Waterford and his friends, under the influence of alcohol, found several tins of red paint which they daubed liberally on to the buildings of the High Street. Were this to happen today and were the offenders inner city kids they’d have been sentenced to community service at the very least. I presume the Marquess and his mates got off scot free.

A hinged mould (mine came from my grannie) facilitates making this pie. Mine measures around 9 x 5.5 inches and is just over 4 inches deep. Otherwise, use a round or oval mould with parallel sides, like a deep Le Creuset dish of similar dimensions.

For the jelly

1,000g (approx) pork bones, plus a veal knuckle or a pig’s trotter.

1 medium sized carrot

1 onion, stick with 4 cloves

6 peppercorns,

Bouquet garni

Salt, pepper and lemon juice to season

The jelly can be made the night before if you wish and refreshed by re-heating it just to pouring consistency.

Put the ingredients (no salt) into a large pan, cover with water and a lid and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2-3 hours and strain. Return to stove and boil down to 500 ml. Season carefully with salt, pepper and lemon juice.

For the pastry crust

700g plain flour

1 level tbsp salt

2 level tbsp caster sugar

250g lard

Cold water

Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. In a saucepan dissolve the lard in hot water and pour the mixture into the well. Mix with a wooden spoon or electric whisk or combine in a mixer or food processor. Knead the warm dough until smooth. You need to be able to work it but it must not be so soft that it slides down the side of the mould.

For the pie filling

1 onion, chopped fine,

750g pork shoulder meat, coarsely chopped

250g pork sausage meat

200g chopped streaky bacon rashers (Melton Mowbray purists should omit – bacon is cured)

100g Leicester, Cheshire, Cheddar or Wensleydale cheese, broken into small chunks (optional)

1 Cox apple, peeled and finely chopped (optional)

2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped fine

1 tsp ground mace

100 ml English pale ale

1 large egg, beaten

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees C.

Cook the onion lightly in a little oil and reserve. Mix together the onion, pork shoulder, sausage meat, bacon, cheese and apple (optional), sage and mace and moisten with the ale. Season sparingly with salt and pepper.

Line the mould with the pastry, reserving about a quarter for the top. Spoon in the mixture until the case is filled about three-quarters of the way to the top. Roll out and cut a lid for the mould. Moisten the exposed edges, place the lid on top and crimp the sides to seal. Brush the top with the beaten egg. Lay 3 circles of baking paper on top of the pie and bake for 2 hours . Remove from oven and allow cool for 2 hours. Cut a hole in the lid large enough to insert a small funnel and pour in the stock until it just starts to overflow. Place in refrigerator until set.

Remove carefully from mould and cut into wedges to serve.

Boeuf a la Bourguignonne

bb-ingredsIn response to an inquiry on the forum, I’ve dragged up an article I wrote some years ago and a recipe, in fact, MY recipe, for this classic dish.  Enjoy!

The Culinary History

Burgundy, thanks to its inhabitants having an all-consuming devotion to colouring matters (plus a skilled publicity campaign conducted by the mediaeval dukes who ruled the province), has come to be regarded as the epicentre of French and astronomy. Strange then, that the dish that has become such a worldwide flag waver for the region should be a rustic peasant a thing.

The food writer Elizabeth David described Boeuf a la Bourguignonne as “a favourite among those carefully composed slowly cooked dishes which are the domain of French housewives and owner cooks of modest restaurants rather than of professional chefs.”

although Burgundian origin, it is now regarded as a quintessentially French dish, found on the bill of fare in restaurants as far apart as Paris and Marseilles, not to mention bistros from Manchester to Sydney.

In France itself you often find it written down on menus simply as ‘Bourguignonne’ and, what’s more, in French butchers shops you’ll often see a slab of meat marked out for its culinary purpose, i.e. ‘bourguignonne’ rather than “topside” or “shoulder”.

Simon Hopkinson and Lindsay Bareham have an excellent recipe in their entertaining review of retro cuisine, ‘The Prawn Cocktail Years’. I think it’s out of print but if you do come across a second-hand copy, it’s a joy. Paul Bocuse has a recipe in his maius opus, something you would hardly expect from the arch moderniser.

The first English-language edition of the ‘Larousse Gastronomique’ segregates ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’ and ‘Boeuf a la Bourguignonne’. The recipe for the former the mushrooms are omitted. This seems to be the sole difference. The “female version” must be the simplest recipe ever presented, if not exactly the cheapest containing the instructions just “lard the meat and marinate in brandy. Then braise in red wine.” Committing a bottle of cognac plus a bottle of Burgundy to a humble stew would give both  my wife and my bank manager palpitations so I feel I’ll never make this version!

Most culinary experts agree that it is de rigueur to incorporate a pig’s trotter or a calf’s foot to yield a nourishing, rib-sticking gravy. At the same time opinions are divided as to whether to marinate the meat or not.

What you include – according to the experts

The ingredients in this list are, by consensus, the common ones.

1. Well hung, sinewy beef- chuck, topside, shoulder and shin have all been mentioned by various chefs and writers. The beef should be sliced into large pieces, weighing-some recommend-up to 150 grams per piece. From this it will be evident that the miserable cubes adopted by the pub lunch trade clearly have no place in this dish.

2. Red wine – the general consensus is that the wine used should be Burgundy. Obviously, you don’t go rooting down the cellar for a bottle of your finest Domaine de la Romanee-Conti!

3. Pig’s trotter, split lengthways, or a calf”s foot. I can’t recommend this addition  highly enough. It makes the sauce rich, silky, and even more flavoursome.

4. Streaky bacon, cut into thick match length strips.

5. Onions. Around two dozen small round onions, peeled and left whole, seems to be the consensus. I tend to use shallots when I can get them.

6. Mushrooms. Again, around two dozen.

7. Bouquet garni. Parsley, thyme and a bay leaf are the favoured constituents.

8. Brandy. For the sake of authenticity, you would have to use marc de Bourgogne but, considering the small quantity involved, cognac, armagnac,  Greek or Spanish brandy would be fine. Almost every recipe I’ve ever read involves chucking in a glass of brandy and setting it on fire. The addition really does make a difference to the dish and the flames are welcome, alleviating the boredom that comes from slicing 2.5 kg of beef and peeling a mountain of shallots.

9. Garlic. When it comes to garlic, the pundits diverge on the subject of its quantity and even desirability, ranging from nought (Paul Bocuse) to 8 cloves (Simon Hopkinson). I’m somewhere in between.

The Recipe

Ingredients

One bottle of Burgundy, or other red wine

1 large onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped

4 cloves of garlic

bouquet garni – 2 dtdp parsley, 3 sprigs thyme, 2 bay leaves

2 – 2.5kg sinewy beef, chuck, shoulder or shin, approximately 15-20 mm thick

sea salt and freshly milled black pepper

2 to 3 tbsp plain flour

one calf’s foot or a pig’s trotter, sliced lengthways

120 g thick cut streaky bacon, cut into match length strips

1 glass of marc de Bourgogne, cognac or other brandy

500 ml stock

two tablespoons olive oil

200 g unsalted butter

24 shallots, peeled

24 button or small chestnut mushrooms

2 dessert spoons chopped parsley for garnish

Step-by-step

1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.

Put the wine, chopped onion, celery, garlic and bouquet garni into a non-reactive (stainless steel) saucepan and bring to the boil. Ignite the wine and allow the flavours to subside. Turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until the wine is reduced by half. Season the beef and roll it in the flour.

Melt the oil and butter in a large frying pan or saucepan on top of the stove.

2. Put in the bacon and fry until  brown, stopping shorty of crisp. Remove and reserve. Brown the beef, cooking only a few pieces at a time. Colour well on both sides, remove and reserve.

3. Put the pig’s trotter or calf’s foot into the pan and fry on both sides until well coloured. If there is a good deal of fat in the pot, remove most of it by skimming with a kitchen spoon. Turn up the heat, toss  in the brandy and ignite. Strain the reduced wine and pour into the pan. Add the stock. Return the rest of the meat to the pan.  Cover the pot and braise the meat for two hours. Remove and skim off any scum from the surface.

4. Add the shallots and mushrooms and braise for another half-hour or until the meat is tender. Added at this late stage they won’t shrink to nothing. Remove the trotter or calf’s foot. Check the seasoning.

Serve with plain boiled or mashed potatoes and a plain green salad to refresh the palate.

To drink… Burgundy?????

Caramelised pear, feta, rocket and scallion salad

This recipe is in response to a barbecue topic on the forkncork.com forum http://forkncork.com/content/showthread.php?t=1878

1 medium to large pear

salad bowl’s worth of rocket

3 oz good feta cheese

4 chopped scallions.

1 knob butter

1 dtsp maple syrup

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the dressing: Extra Virgin olive oil and wine vinegar 4:1

Peel the pear and slice thinly. Cut the larger slices in halves or quarters. In a saucepan, heat a knob of butter and , when it’s melted, add the pear slices. Drizzle the maple syrup over the pear. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat until caramelized, turning the slices carefully from time to time with a wooden spoon. Remove and allow cool to lukewarm.

Chop the feta into small cubes. Combine the ingredients. Season with the salt and pepper but go easy on the sea salt as some feta – usually the cheaper kind – is very salty to start with. Dress with the oil and vinegar.