Monday 6 April 2009

Last weeks highlights

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!)


Hollow Legs said...

Cor blimey - what a mammoth cooking session! Really interested in that goats cheese dish, sounds really tasty.

Unknown said...

Hilarious that you get your girlfriend to score your cooking out of ten

Dan said...

Lizzie, the goats cheese dish 'Petatou' is lovely...and pretty simple.
The Recipe is....
900g Desiree potatoes, cut in half skin on.
225g nicoise olives, pitted and chopped.
1TBSP Fresh thyme leaves.
Olive Oil
2TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
225ML Double Cream
1 Egg Yolk
2 TBSP Flat leaf Parsley leaves, chopped.
112g Soft Goats cheese.

Boil the potatoes for 20 mins. Once cooked, drain and cool under running cold water. When they are cool enough to handle, discard the skins and cut into small cubes.

Combine the potato cubes, olives, thyme, 56ml Olive Oil + Balsamic vinegar. Season and gently toss.

Bring the double cream to the boil, and reduce by half.
While the cream is cooking, place the egg yolk in another mixing bowl and beat lightly.
When the cream is reduced, add the hot cream to the egg yolk whisking constantly.
Add most of this mixture to the potato/olive mix, holding back 4 TBSP.

In another small mixing bowl, make a parsley dressing using the chopped parsely, olive oil, salt+pepper.

Pre-heat your grill - shape the potato mixture into cylinders on a baking dish using a metal ring (recipe specifies 3")
top each cylinder with a medallion of goats cheese, spoon 1 TBSP of the remaining egg mixture over the top of each cylinder. Put under the grill and cook until the glaze is brown.

remove the petatou to individual plates and spoon the parsley dressing around each plate.

Gourmet Chick, I know.....I'm asking for trouble with the scoring LOL - but I like to know whether to bother cooking a recipe again, or consigning it to the dustbin.

Merlotti said...

I'm with Lizzie - Petatou recipe please! Looks delicious. And well done with so much cooking.

Dan said...

Hi Merlotti - look above your post.....I posted the Petatou recipe in the comments :)

The Ample Cook said...

My God that was a marathon bit of cooking! Well done! The petatou sounds wonderful. The warm beef salad looks fantastic. By the way I don't know what you paid for your sirloin but the price at Woodford's is £19.50 a kilo and it's really very very good.

Dan said...

Jan, I paid something £32 a kilo from Q-Butchers down near Chalkwell Station. It was outrageously expensive.....thing is, I buy Sirlion so rarely, I'm not aware of the price per kilo - the butchers stuff is amazing quality, but you pay through the nose for it. Just a pity that Woodfords is only open every other week. I'm almost certainly visiting the next time it's open (not this weekend, next I think?)

Graphic Foodie said...

The Potaje de Garbanzos sounds right up my street. Recipe request please!

Dan said...

Hi Foodie, no problem. I will post the Potaje de Garbanzos recipe for you in the comments section when I get home from work tonight.

Dan said...

Foodie, as promised.....

I've adapted the recipe slightly to use tinned chickpeas instead of soaking 500g of dried overnight, and omitted the piece of Serrano Ham fat and trimmings - replacing with a piece of chopped 'hard' chorizo, and leaving it in rather than removing at the end of cooking as with the ham.

Potaje de Garbanzos

Serves 6-8

150ml Olive Oil
2 Bay Leaves
2x tins chickpeas
2 Fresh cooking Chorizo sliced.
50g Pancetta chopped.
Piece of "Hard" Chorizo chopped.
50g Country style bread torn into small pieces.
4 TBS chopped flat leaf parsley
6 Garlic cloves, unpeeled.
1 egg - hardboiled and chopped.
300g Potatoes, peeled and chopped.
300g Spinach or Swiss Chard roughly chopped.

In a large pan bring 2LTR of water to the boil with 3 TBSPs of the Olive Oil and the Bay Leaves.
Drain the chickpeas and add them to the boiling water with the (Ham Fat if using) Chorizo and Pancetta. Simmer for 30 mins.

In another pan, gently fry the bread, parsley and garlic in the remaining Olive Oil until lightly coloured.
Add this to the chickpeas with the hard boiled egg, potatoes and spinach/swiss chard.

Cook for 40mins-60mins. (Take out the Ham fat if using) and roughly mash the stew to break up some of the chickpeas and garlic. Taste and adjust the seasoning, you might be suprised how much salt you need to add.

Final point - It tastes even better the day after it is made.

Graphic Foodie said...

Thank you very much Dan! Sounds divine. Almost tempted to cook it now.