food for thought

by michelle

ribeye with mushroom sauce

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For you meat-lovers out there.

We brined this steak with leftover dill pickle brine. This can be from store-bought pickles or home-made. The pickle brine not only salts the meat but imparts some delicious flavour. Marinate for at least a few hours. Brush the steak with oil and cook it on the barbecue, not directly on the heat, until it’s done to your liking – you can do this by feel or with a thermometer. Rest the steak before cutting across the grain to serve.

To make the mushroom sauce use tasty mushrooms such as Swiss Browns. Finely dice a brown shallot and fry in some butter and oil until translucent. Add sliced mushrooms (more than you think you need), a sprig or 2 of fresh thyme, a sprinkling of porcini powder (an invaluable pantry ingredient to boost mushroom flavour and add umami) and salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook slowly until the mushrooms are quite reduced in size then add red wine and rich beef stock. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook until the the sauce is reduced by up to half. Adjust the seasoning, add some butter and add cream or sour cream to taste.

 

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Written by michelle picker

July 18, 2018 at 12:16 am

chocolate and brandied prune terrine + walnut tuiles

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Rich with dark chocolate and with a good hit of brandy, this was the perfect dessert for a French menu. The addition of a walnut tuile added some buttery crunch.

I always keep a jar of brandied prunes – a jar filled with pitted prunes and topped up with brandy. The prunes taste better and better as they age and the brandy becomes a gorgeous syrup. If you don’t yet have any brandied prunes, place 300g (10½ oz) of pitted prunes in a bowl or jar. Gently heat ⅓ of a cup of brandy (this will slightly speed up the process) and pour it over the prunes. Allow them to steep overnight. To make the terrine you will need a terrine or an oblong container to make a long narrow loaf shape. Lightly oil it and line it with cling wrap. In a double boiler over simmering water (or on low power in the microwave) melt 180g (6⅓ oz) of chopped dark 70% chocolate and stir it until smooth. In another bowl beat 90g (3 oz) of butter and 45g (1½ oz) of sugar by hand until light then add 3 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder and mix well. In a separate bowl beat 3 egg yolks with another 45g(1½ oz) of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted and slightly cooled chocolate to the butter mixture then fold in the egg mixture and finally fold in 225ml (7 fl oz) of thick cream. Add the prunes (I chopped mine into smaller pieces) with any remaining brandy and fold everything together until well combined. Transfer into the prepared mould, cover the top with overhanging plastic and chill until firm. To serve, use a hot knife to cut into thick slices and serve with crème fraîche. For the tuiles, preheat your oven to 180℃ (350ºF). Combine 200g (7 oz) of sugar, 45g (1½ oz) of flour, 135g (4¾ oz) of melted butter, 30g (1 oz) of finely powdered walnuts and 100g (3½ oz) of finely chopped walnuts. Spread the batter onto a silicone mat or baking paper in small disks (they will spread) and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the edges are browning. Lightly grease a rolling pin, carefully remove the hot tuiles with a palette knife and lay them over the rolling pin to set into a curl. Cool and store in an airtight container. 

*adapted fro this recipe

Written by michelle picker

July 11, 2018 at 12:13 am

chèvre omelette

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A simple dish of eggs and cheese might only take 10-15 minutes to prepare but it can still impress. This omelette highlights light and fluffy just-melted goats cheese.

Break up 1 cup of fresh chèvre, mix through 1 tablespoon of finely chopped chives and set aside. In a small frypan heat some butter with a little oil and fry 10 -12 sage leaves until crispy. Drain them on a paper towel and set aside as the garnish. Whisk 4 eggs with a little milk or cream, making sure to season them well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Over medium heat, melt a generous amount of butter and oil in a large frypan. When it’s sizzling, pour the eggs into the pan. Break any bubbles that form in the omelette and allow the egg to run through. When the egg is nearly cooked, place the chèvre onto one half and carefully fold the other half over the top. Continue to cook just long enough for the cheese to melt before sliding the omelette onto a serving plate. Garnish with the crispy sage leaves.

Written by michelle picker

July 4, 2018 at 12:29 am

chicken and peanut stew

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This African classic Huku ne Dovi comes from Zimbabwe where chicken is considered a delicacy. It’s always served with either rice or millet dumplings. An amazingly tasty dish despite the simplicity of its ingredients.

This might be better with bone-in chicken but I only had 4 chicken thighs to hand which I cut into large chunks. Season your chicken with salt. Heat some vegetable oil and fry 2 diced onions and 1 -2 sliced fresh red chillies until wilting. Add 2 peeled and diced fresh tomatoes and allow them to soften before adding about 200g (7 oz) of fresh mushrooms – if you have tiny ones put them in whole, otherwise cut them into quarters. Cook for a few minutes then add 1 cup or so of chicken stock, your vegetables (I used pumpkin and okra) and the chicken and simmer for 10 – 15  minutes or until the flavours are well combined and the vegetables are just cooked. Take some of the hot liquid out of the saucepan and mix it with ½ a cup of smooth peanut butter. Add it to the chicken and simmer until thickened.

*recipe adapted from A Taste of Africa by Dorinda Hafner.

Written by michelle picker

June 27, 2018 at 12:24 am

oat cakes

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Quintessentially Scottish, these savoury oat cakes are equally good served with a cheese platter or with butter and jam. A coating of dark chocolate works too. Read more about the art of oat cakes here.

Preheat your oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Mix 225g of instant oats, 60g of flour, ½ a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, ½ a teaspoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt (less if your butter is salted). Rub in 60g of butter then add 60-80ml of fairly hot water bit by bit until you have a thick but pliable dough. Sprinkle some extra flour on a work surface and roll out the dough to approximately ⅔ cm (¼”) thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds. Place them on a baking tray and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. 

*recipe from BBC Good Food

Written by michelle picker

June 20, 2018 at 12:25 am

miso grilled tofu and vegetables

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Here’s a lovely way to eat tofu and should appeal to both vegetarians and omnivores.

You will need a firm tofu for this meal. For the vegetables I used butternut pumpkin (squash), zucchini (courgettes) and whole Swiss brown mushrooms but the choice of vegetables is flexible as long as they keep their shape reasonably well. Combine white miso paste with some sesame oil, a little brown sugar and enough water to make a paste which is thin enough to spread and thick enough to stick. The amount of ingredients here are flexible as miso paste varies quite a lot and you must taste this mixture to make sure it’s not too salty or too sweet. Cut the tofu and vegetables to the size you wish to serve and coat them all with vegetable oil. If you don’t have a griddle or barbecue you can roast the vegetables in the oven. Cook them first until they are a little brown and softening then brush them with miso paste and continue to cook until coated and delicious. Watch them carefully at this stage as the miso and sugar can burn quite easily. Serve garnished with finely sliced spring onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Written by michelle picker

June 13, 2018 at 12:04 am

rabbit

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Rabbit is such a dense and lean meat that it’s difficult to keep moist and tender. David’s rabbit-cooking technique is a work in progress but he usually gets it right and here is one of his recipes.

Joint 1 fresh rabbit into 6 pieces. Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy casserole dish and very, very briefly seal the rabbit pieces. Remove them to a covered container. Sauté 1 diced onion, 1 diced celery stick and 1 chopped carrot until the onion is soft and translucent. Add ¼ of a cup of wine (red or white) and allow it to evaporate before adding 1 cup of chicken stock. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Now add the rabbit pieces, 2 pieces of bacon, 1 bay leaf, a few sage leaves, 2 diced cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and 1 finely chopped fresh tomato. Make sure everything is well dispersed. Cut a cartouche (a circle or baking paper) and lay it directly over the rabbit. Place the lid on the casserole and cook in a low oven for 1 – 1½ hours or until the rabbit is just tender. Rabbits do vary so the cooking time will also vary. During the cooking, turn the rabbit pieces once or twice, making sure there is enough liquid – the rabbit pieces should be almost immersed. Remove the pieces to a closed container to keep warm. At this stage, depending on how much sauce you have, you can either reduce the sauce or thicken it with a little cornflour dissolved in an equal amount of cold water. The amount of cornflour needed will vary depending on the amount of liquid and it’s acidity. Stir the cornflour slurry into the simmering sauce and continue to simmer briefly. Season again to taste and return the rabbit pieces to the sauce before serving.

Written by michelle picker

June 6, 2018 at 12:02 am