I've recently noted that the first couple of weeks after pay day, I eat very well. Better cuts of meat, more experimentation with new recipes. On the flip side, in the last two weeks I revert back to old favourites, cheaper cuts, and the tried and tested budget recipes.
Last week was one of the 'flush' weeks, so a Sirloin Steak Salad featured on the menu, as did some experimentation with a Chicken and Basil dish, and a Portuguese stew, and finally I had my brother and his wife around for dinner Saturday evening, where; against all my dinner party good sense I cooked two completely new and untried dishes.
First up the Sirloin Steak.
It was from my local butchers, (the better, more expensive one). And was outrageously expensive, but it really was excellent steak, deep red and marbled throughout.
My new Eagle recipe book got another airing, and I used their recipe for 'Tagliata' which is an Italian cut seared steak salad.
The recipe combined boiled small waxy potatoes and a heap of rocket dressed with a tarragon, olive oil and balsamic dressing. On top of this, the seared slices of steak are draped artfully!
Very nice it was too, I was pretty impressed with this dish - simple, quick and quiet light. But I think I'd shop around for less eye wateringly expensive sirloin next time.
Next we have Chicken Breast with Pesto and Bulgar Wheat Salad. Bit of experimentation going on here, I had leftover Basil so made some Pesto, I cooked the chicken breasts in the oven for 25 Min's at 200c, I then covered the chicken with the pesto and put it back in the oven for 5 Min's. It melted and formed a perfectly even, and pretty attractive 'crust'. I combined this with a bulgar wheat salad (The recipe for which can be found in the comments section of this post).
I think this worked pretty well, the chicken coated with Pesto tasted great. My partner reckoned I put too much lime juice in the accompanying salad, at least, that's what I think she was saying whilst I screamed and shouted at her for being ungrateful and having the audacity to criticise my cooking.....just kidding of course, I always ask her opinion on what I've cooked and normally ask for a mark out of 10.....this scoring method normally produces air punches and undignified whooping on my part, but on the thankfully rare occasions my cooking scores low, it generates sullen looks and frosty silences which can make for some interesting evenings!
Next up we have 'Potaje de Garbanzos', a Spanish chickpea and chorizo stew. Again, this recipe is from my recently acquired 'The Eagle' cookbook and I really enjoyed it. I think I've cooked something similar before from one of the Jamie Oliver books. No photos of this dish I'm afraid. I forgot and stuffed the lot before I remembered, and in any case it wasn't the most photogenic recipe. But saying that, it was gorgeous - so much so, we'll be cooking this again this week. It combines chickpeas, spinach, chorizo, pancetta garlic and interestingly a chopped, hard boiled egg!
Finally we have Saturdays Dinner party menu. As I mentioned previously, I took a risk and cooked two untried dishes, and one I've cooked before. Of the three courses, two paid off, the third went a bit wrong, but I don't think anyone noticed.
For a starter I cooked 'Petatou' which is a French dish of potatoes, thyme, chopped olives and topped with grilled goats cheese.
This was gorgeous, really impressed with this recipe. (From Anthony Bourdains 'Les Halles' cook book). Only negative thing I'd say, the specified portions were massive, I'm hosting another dinner party this weekend and liked this so much, I'll be cooking it again - only this time in much smaller portions.
For the main I cooked pan fried cod fillet from the local fishmongers, with Garlic Pomme puree and porcini mushrooms. No photos of this dish I'm afraid. The reason being, I was so stressed out and flustered cooking it, I was worried it would get cold... so served it straight away.
With hindsight, the Garlic Pomme Puree is a simple enough recipe, but for a dinner party would benefit being at least partly made in advance. I left myself too much to do.....and by the time I got around to cooking the Cod (and subsequently realising that I couldn't fit all four pieces in one pan, so had to have two on the go.....and then setting the smoke alarm off for good measure!...I was falling to pieces, well, I think we've all been there.
Thank God I made the desert in advance. This was the dish that went 'wrong'. A white chocolate and lemon mousse, easy enough. But, when I added the white chocolate to the sabayon mixture, it seized and formed a solid ball. I ended up folding the double cream through the hardened white chocolate mixture and breaking it up as I went.....I sort of got away with it, but the lemon flavour didn't distribute through the mousse completely as it should. Oh well. I've since found out that white chocolate is notorious for seizing up and basically being hard to work with. Lesson learnt. Although saying that, everyone seemed to enjoy it, and my Girlfriend even asked me to make it again this weekend. (I'm not going to though, choosing instead to make a much less temperamental tarte tatin!)