Sunday, 29 May 2011

Roasted Squash and Thyme Soup

What do vegetarians eat?  I haven't a clue how people survive on vegetables alone but I've been hammering the meat recently and need a break.  

Sometimes as well nature provides candy so sweet you don’t want to mess it around too much.  Squash is definitely one of those things that can sing on it's own and doesn't need much meddling.

I’ve used two types of squash here; Onion and Kabocha but it works well with any type you can get your hands on.  Just slice them up evenly; drizzle with Olive Oil, season with salt and some fresh thyme and throw them in a hot oven.

Whilst this is cooking make a Court Bouillon with some Carrots, Celery and Onions.  Bring this gently to the boil to soften the stock veg for a while.

When the Squash is nicely coloured and soft bring the two together and BLITZ till you've got something that looks like soup.  Throw in a healthy punch of black pepper to give it some kick and you are done.

I quite like to leave it chunky but this is just as good passed through a sieve.  Serve with croutons or some Crème Fraiche and if I was Joliver I’d probably drizzle on some Olive Oil as well.

One Onion and Kabocha Squash, or what ever you can get.
A good sprig of Thyme
1 ltr of Water or to cover the Squash – You might need more depending on the size.
Salt and Pepper to taste but go heavy on the Pepper.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Lazy Beef Shin Ragu

I love lazy cooking like this, you get all the flavour without much effort at all. Don't get me wrong this is going to take a few hours to cook but the only thing you'll need to chop is an onion.

This would work just as well with cheek but I'm very much in love with Shin at the moment. There's something about that wobbly marrow that's like smack to the cave man inside me!

You need to start with the Shin, choose a nice fat slice. With a nice shiny eye of marrow staring up at you. Get a thick bottomed pan hot and drop in the beef with a splash of olive oil.

While this is colouring on a high heat chop your onion any old way you like. This isn't fussy food just throw it in. Let it soften for a minute then add the Cherry Toms; add the herbs and pour in a large glass of decent red wine.

This is Italian food so use an Italian wine. You'll want to drink the rest when you eat you see? Pour in the stock, the tomato puree and the tin of GOOD chopped tomatoes.

Turn down the heat to low and put a lid on the pan. At this point you can go watch some tele or read the paper, maybe read a book for a while? Check in occasionally on the Ragu, you may need to throw some water if it reduces down too much.

It's done when you can shred the meat with a fork and spoon and usually after three or so hours. Once you've shredded the meat return it to the sauce and allow it reduce down a little if necessary without the lid on.

Cook up some nice fresh egg pasta in some salty water. Drain and add to the sauce and serve with a healthy dose of Parmigiano and a big glass of that Italian red!

Ingredients for the Ragu:
One big thick slice of Beef Shin
A good handful of Cherry Tomatoes
1 large glass of Red Wine - I used a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Half a pint of Stock - Beef or Chicken
One good tin of Tomatoes and a good Squidge of Tom Puree
2 tsp of Thyme and Oregano - You can use fresh or dry
1 tbsp of Celery Seeds - Instant Aromatics
Salt and Pepper to season

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

L'Aquarelle - 22 rte Cande 17920 Breuillet, France

If you are ever North of Bordeaux and have a few hours to kill I'd recommend you go to L'Aquarelle.  (it's really really good...)

Ballottine de Foie Gras et Anguille Fumee, Reduction d'un Vin Chaud - Creamy Foie, crunchy coating of nuts with smokey yet delicate Eel.  The little shots are Beetroot Puree and heavily reduced Red Wine.  I could have eaten two...

Carpaccio de Langoustines, Mousse de Lait Coriallee - Pure mouth sex, delicate langoustine interspersed with mustard seeds and sweet nuggets of Coral.  The mousse was impossibly light and worked perfect along side the sweet flesh.

Rouget Fumee aux Aiguilles de Pin, Bouillon D'Aretes et Olives Taggiasche - Amazingly smoked Red Mullet with Cockles.  Possibly one of the prettiest things I've ever eaten.

Mousse Citron, Cacao, Crumble de Petit Pois - Yep that's Lemon Mousse, Chocolate and a Pea Crumble...  The peas were dehydrated and it just bloody worked perfectly.

Tarte aux Fraises Meringuee, Glace aux Asperges Blanches...  The French really know how to make pastry but Asparagus Ice Cream (not pictured) was not pleasant.  It didn't stop me wolfing down the Strawberry and Meringue goodness though...