Archive for the ‘Slater’ Category

Day 31 – Sticky Birds

March 24, 2007

March 14th, 2007: Marinated Boneless Chicken Thighs

Another great recipe from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. This one is intended for whole quails, but it’s an excellent match with any grilled chicken. Tonight we did boneless thighs on the gas grill:

4 cloves of garlic
Tablespoon of neutral oil (I used grapeseed)
Teaspoon of cayenne (I left it out as I wasn’t sure if the kids would go for it)
Juice of half a lemon
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
half-teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons of grainy mustard

Peel and crush the garlic and then mix in all of the other ingredients. Pour the marinade over the chicken and light up the grill.

My daughter and I snapped some green beans, which we then placed on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkled with kosher salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Another sheet of foil goes on top and the sides are folded to make a nice, sealed envelope for the beans to cook in.

The chicken goes on a 400F grill and cooks for 8 to 10 minutes a side…the envelope of beans gets placed on an upper rack in the gas grill and stays on as long as the birds.

 

chicken

We also had plain basmati rice on the side…

The Verdict

Our little guy ate nearly four chicken thighs and my daughter ate two to three. There clearly was not enough prepped for the four of us. The next time I make this recipe I will double or triple it.

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Day 28 – Beef

March 12, 2007

March 11, 2007: Welcome back to Steak and Potatoes

After nearly six weeks touring about South East Asia, my in-laws missed their flight home.  Having recently dealt with an 11.5 hour time change, I felt tremendous sympathy for them, so we decided to pick them up at the airport and help get them home.

To make matters a little more interesting, my mother in-law, who thinks parsnips border on the exotic and hamburgers are spicy, claims to have not eaten for weeks (I can’t imagine the food she missed out on in Thailand…). So we also prepped a welcome home dinner of grilled strip loins, baked potatoes (sweet and plain old russets), roasted carrots and a green salad.

My daughter and I even whipped up a batch of Nigel Slater’s hot chocolate puddings as a quick dessert.

My mother in-law seemed like a very happy woman as she polished off her steak…I guess we won’t be extending an invitation to her when I make butter chicken later this week.

Day 15 – Roast Pork with Cabbage

February 25, 2007

February 25th, 2007: Roast Pork with Cabbage and Warm Chocolate Pudding

Hit the butcher store on the way home from my parents and grabbed a rack of pork. This has to be the cheapest Sunday roast option out there…

Gave the roast a nice crust of salt and pepper and put it in a 375 oven for about an hour.

To go with the pork, we had a great savoy cabbage dish from the Silver Spoon cookbook. This is quickly becoming a staple in our house, it matches beautifully with pork or chicken. Here’s our modified version:

2 tbsp olive oil 
1/2 cup pancetta (or lardons; or bacon etc.)
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 cups shredded savoy cabbage
1/3 cup white wine
2/3 cup stock (chicken, veg, beef – the original calls for game stock…)
11 ounces mixed diced vegetables (carrots, fennel, onions, new potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter

1. In a large saute pan over medium low-heat, warm the olive oil, sweat the pancetta and garlic. When the garlic begins to brown, remove it from the pan and add the cabbage.
2. Let the garlic cook for five to 10 mintues, stirring occassionally. You don’t want the cabbage to be too limp, but you also don’t want it to be raw…
3. Turn up the heat, add the stock and the wine – let it begin to reduce and further cook the cabbage, about 3 to five minutes.
4. Add all of the diced veggies, reduce the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes
5. Add the butter, taste and adjust the seasoning (salt? pepper?) and then serve…

pork roast and cabbage

For dessert we had Nigel Slater’s Baked Chocolate Hazelnut Pudding from the ever dependable Kitchen Diaries. I’m a sucker for all things nutella, that’s how this recipe first caught my eye…delicious and easy to make.

200g dark chocolate, chopped
100 g sugar
3 eggs
60 g butter
2 tbsp nutella

1. In a double-boiler, melt the chocolate (oh, and preheat your oven to 390F)
2. Separate the eggs.
3. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form
4. Combine the sugar and the egg yolks and beat until well creamed (think thick yellow ribbons)
5. Once the chocolate has melted, add the butter. Once that’s melted, gently stir in the nutella
6. Fold the chocolate into the egg-yolk/sugar mixture
7. Add a bit of the egg white to the chocolate/egg-yolk mixture and gently fold it in. Then add the rest, mixing it up gently and just enough so that there aren’t clumps of egg white floating about
8. Pour the chocolate mix into buttered ramekins (the recipe said four, but we got six out of it)
9. Bake for 12 minutes…if they’re still too wobbly put them back in, but the whole object of this dessert (for me anyways) is to have that soft, warm, wobbly centre…

hot chocolate pudding

Day 8 – Squash Soup; Braised Lamb Shanks

February 18, 2007

February 18, 2007: Squash Soup and Braised Lamb Shanks

The soup is based on Thomas Keller’s Butternut Squash Soup recipe from his cookbook Bouchon. The lamb shanks are based on  a recipe in Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries (the book that inspired this blog).

Another freezing cold day, -19C with wind chill. The weatherman promised it would be +7C on Monday. Same folks are now calling for it to be -14C.  A 21 degree swing this time of year is just plain cruel.

If it was a weekday, it would be time to crack out the slowcooker, but as it’s a lazy Sunday it’s time for a nice soup and a good in-the-oven braise.

The Soup Prep
A large butternut squash is split in half, the cavity cleared of seeds and the neck removed.

The cavity gets a splash of olive oil, some salt and pepper and a collection of fresh herbs. The split squash goes cut side down on a foil lined sheet into a 350F oven for an hour.

While it roasts, I slice and dice: 1 cup of leeks, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/2 cup of shallots, 1/2 cup of onions. The neck of the squash is peeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice.

Stage II
Once the squash is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, a neutral oil is warmed in a large pan and in go the leeks, onions, carrots, and shallots. After five or so minutes, the raw diced squash, six cloves of peeled garlic, salt and pepper go into the pan.

Here’s the secret to this dish – two minutes after the squash and garlic go into the pan, add 2 tablespoons of honey. This is a twist I never would have thought of and it gives this soup a really deep, complex flavour.

After that, the roasted, skinned squashed, 6 cups of vegetable stock go into the pot -the whole thing is brought to the boil – and then simmered for at least 30 minutes.

Working in batches,  the soup is run through the blender and passed through a sieve back into a waiting saucepan. Taste the soup, adjust the seasonings; if it’s too thick add a bit more vegetable stock. Then it’s ready to just re-heat and serve. To finish it, Keller calls for nutmeg infused creme fraiche and fried sage, but that will have to wait for another day…

The Shanks
Last night I trimmed up a couple of lamb shanks, removing the excess fat and cutting back some of the silver skin. They trimmed shanks went into a Tupperware with a cup of red wine, a bay leaf, a touch of salt and a garlic clove that had been passed through a rasp.

Shanks

This afternoon, the shanks get browned in hot oil and then a mirepoix hits the pan. Once the mirepoix has cooked off, the shanks, three smashed cloves of garlic, an onion cut into wedges, a cup of red wine and a cup of beef stock are added to the pan. The whole thing goes into a 300F oven for an hour.

After an hour, a tablespoon of grainy pommery mustard gets stirred into the mix, the shanks are turned over (wet side up, dry side into the mix) and it all heads back into the oven for another hour. 

Some garlic mashed potatoes go into the bowl and the shanks go on top…(with way too much steam for the camera to handle)
Shanks with a steamed lens

Dessert
K. made chocolate pots de creme from the December issue of Cooks Illustrated. She said they were very easy to make and they were delicious; however, they were really heavy. Way heavier than any pots de creme I’ve ever had, bordering on being solid chocolate…perhaps she overcooked the creme anglais. Still, a bowl of dark chocolate with whipped cream is never a bad thing.

The Wine
2004 Saintsbury Chardonnay with the soup (thank goodness for half-bottles) and Plan Pegau Lot 2004 with the lamb.

The Verdict
Both kids liked the lamb, though they weren’t so sure about the soup or the mashed potatoes. As could be expected, the chocolate was a the most popular dish of the night.

Day 4 – Valentine’s

February 14, 2007

February 14th, 2007 – Grilled Rib eyes with mushroom sauce, roasted beets a la Jean Georges Vongerichten and the best potatoes I have ever eaten (aka Nigel Slater’s pancetta and duck fat potatoes).

When I was down at the market yesterday, I set out to get some of K’s favourite foods.

She loves mushrooms so I picked up some fresh hedgehogs and an assortment of rather standard funghi (criminis, shitakes, etc.). She also loves beets, so I grabbed some golden beets just to shake things up a little (in hindsight, red would have been the way to go for Valentine’s, but gold will have to do).

I was going to grill veal chops for the main, but the butcher (who also sold me 17 pounds of brisket) talked me into buying rib eyes instead.  Upon seeing the steaks last night, K commented that old-school butchers may be one of the last bastions of sexism going. The steak the butcher designated for me has to be two inches thick and is easily half a kilo, if not more. It’s the type of thing dietitians hold up as a proper protein portion for a family of six or as a warning in a heart disease PSA.

The steak, “for the lady” as the butcher so kindly put it, looks like a minute steak by comparison. It’s probably 8 ounces, if not more, which is two proper servings. But next to the brontosaurus cut, it looks positively tiny.

Tonight’s menu is going to be busy at the front and back end, without about 45 minutes in between to drink a Kir Royale, play with the kids and queue up some nice music on the dining room iPod.

Prep
The oven gets set to 400F…

Ideally I’d use fingerling potatoes here, but I couldn’t find any at the market. Good old baking poatoes get scrubbed, cut into rough chunks and go for a cold water soak.

The pancetta gets cubed and two onions get quartered into wedges the size of your thumb.

The Beets get a spanking of cold water and are wrapped, individually, with tin foil.

The mushrooms get brushed clean and a rough chop and a shallot gets a fine dice.

The steaks get a whack of salt and rest on the counter.

This takes maybe 10 minutes…

Cooking Part I
The beets in foil get tossed into the 400F oven. They’ll need to roast for about an hour (this is the easiest and best method I have ever encountered for cooking beets. I originally found it in Jean Georges Vongerichten’s Cooking at Home with a Four Star Chef, which was written by Mark Bittman. Not surprisingly, the same recipe can be found in Bittman’s great book How to Cook Everything).

The pancetta and onion sweat it out in a skillet over medium-low heat. After three to five minutes, the potatoes hit the pan along with some fresh thyme and get tossed about. A dollop of duck fat (rendered and passed through a coffee filter on Sunday when I prepped the duck for the cassoulet) goes into the pan, once it’s melted the whole skillet goes into the oven next to the beets.

These potatoes, from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries, are supposed to roast under a cooking duck. The fat coming off the duck bastes the potatoes producing what might be the best potatoes I have ever consumed. Seriously.  Pancetta, thyme, onion, and duck fat – you could cook a shoe in that combination and I’d likely eat at least half of it. (The potato recipe can be found here – it’s about half-way down the page.)

The gas grill gets cleared of snow and lit leaving it plenty of time to warm up and it’s time for that Kir Royale and to catch up with K and the kids and exchange some Valentine’s day gifts.

Cooking Part II:
The beets have been in the oven about 40 minutes, the potatoes about 30 and it’s time to get cooking again.

The monster rib eye goes onto the grill and cooks for four minutes before being turned 90 degrees to cook for another four minutes (gotta have the beautiful cross-hatch grill marks – it’s Valentine’s day and presentation matters).

Some butter gets warmed up in a pan, as it foams in goes a finely chopped shallot, followed shortly thereafter by the chopped mushrooms and some kosher salt – let the mushrooms exude their moisture and soak it all back up.

The monster rib-eye gets flipped and the l’il Miss rib eye goes onto the grill.

Some red wine and stock are added to the mushrooms and the heat goes up to help reduce it to a thicker sauce.

The rib eyes come in off the grill and rest. The beets go from the hot oven to a sink of cold running water – the cold water protects your fingers and encourages the skin of the beets to slide right off.

Out come the potatoes and it’s time to plate.

A little butter goes into the mushroom sauce to give it a bit of a thicken, a great shine, and supposedly to clog all of our arteries. 

Some cherry tomatoes go on the kids’ plates along with some julienned carrots and dinner is ready.

Total work time for this stage is maybe 15 minutes.

Dessert
I’m not much of a baker (that’s K’s domain) but this is a fantastically easy dessert that I have used to trick many dinner guests into thinking I can actually bake.

It’s originally from Elle Decor magazine and I made it for New Year’s some time ago. It’s so simple and delicious that it’s become part of my repertoire.

1. In a double-boiler, melt 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
2. Add 4 tablespoons of butter to the chocolate and let it melt. Then turn off the heat
3. In a stand-mixer, slowly beat five egg whites; as they foam, slowly add three tablespoons of sugar until you stiff peaks form
4. Once butter and chocolate have melted, add three egg yolks, one at a time (the mixture shouldn’t be hot or you’ll scramble the eggs)
5. Mix the beaten egg whites into chocolate-butter-egg mix. The original recipe says, “don’t be timid, this isn’t a souffle.”
6. Pour the mixture into 8 ring molds (or small ramekins) and top each pile of batter with some chocolate pastilles
7. Bake for 6 or 7 minutes (until the pastilles have started to melt and the cakes aren’t too wobbly)
8. Gently un-mold the cakes and serve.

The Verdict
My daughter claims to only like take-out Greek potatoes from the Danforth, but she manages to eat a few of Slater’s best. 

The boy prefers the golden beats to all esle, quite the feat for a kid who’s usually a carnivore above all else.

The kids don’t dig the mushroom sauce, but eat up all of their steak.

K. loves the steak and mushroom sauce, the golden beets are a nice change and the potatoes are always a huge hit.

A fancy dinner in about an hour and 10 minutes (not including dessert). Of that time, about 25 was prep and cook and 45 was drinking a Kir with the fam. 

I completely buggered the dessert. It was nearly unedible. I mistakenly used unsweetened chocolate instead of bittersweet chocolate. The two of us grimaced through the rather bitter and dry dessert, piling on the ice cream and letting it melt into the cake to make it a little more platable.

The Wines
2003 Antech Blanquette de Limoux Grand Reserve – very citric, it was a great base for the Kir Royales.

2002 Two Hands Lily’s Garden Shiraz – We don’t drink much Australian wine and this was a reminder as to why. Completely over the top and hedonistic, this struck me as being rather out of balance, dominated by glycerin and a chemical finish. It smelled like a million bucks, but lost out to the 15% alcohol.