Tag Archives: foodie

Black diamonds of the kitchen – truffles…

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Our house is located roughly 30 minutes from one of the most renowned truffle markets in the France, if not the world – Lalbenque Truffle Market in the Lot.   If you look up ‘Truffle’ in Larousse Gastronomique it states, “The Black Truffle of Perigord and that of the Lot are the most highly esteemed.”  By all accounts the truffles were so highly rated that a railway spur was built specifically to connect Lalbenque to Paris so that the restaurateurs in the capital could enjoy this delicacy.

The truffle market is held every Tuesday from December to March and makes for very good ‘people watching’.  The few times I have been it has been easy to spot those who have travelled down from Paris as they wear smart clothes and have well-polished shoes in stark contrast to the locals who are dressed in weather-beaten clothes that are better suited for the cool winter days.

The market is divided up into individual and wholesale sellers.  Just outside the Mairie, two tables are set up where individual truffles are sold in small cellophane bags with the prices clearly marked. On the other side of the street the wholesale sellers line up on long wooden benches and present their bounty in wicker baskets lined with gingham material, normally a small piece of card is visible indicating the weight of the truffles inside.

At 2pm the sale commences for the individual truffles, you need very sharp elbow and a fierce determination to battle your way through the crowd in order to purchase your prize.  I have watched in admiration the old ladies who beat their way to the front to get a 20g truffle for a price in the region of €17-20.

 
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On the other side of the street it is a more serious affair.  There, the proud truffle hunters stand behind their baskets fielding questions about the weight and quality of their truffles.  A rope barrier separates the buyers from the sellers and creates a path for the council officials to pass ensuring that procedures run smoothly.  The all-important matter of price is not allowed to be discussed until 2.30pm once the whistle has been sounded.  Once this happens things turn somewhat frantic as the buyers rapidly negotiate a price to be paid in cash there and then.

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The last time I went to Lalbenque was just before Christmas.  At one end of the market there was a lot of excitement.  As I approached it soon became clear why – there was an enormous basket, filled to the brim with truffles, said to weigh 8kg.  It was estimated that the basket hamper would sell for around €7,500-8,000 – a little out of my price range…  I spoke with several people and they informed me that a bounty of this size is a real rarity and is unlikely to happen again.

Sadly, I was unable to buy any truffles at this market.  However, on Christmas Eve our local market at Caussade had a small truffle stand where I was able to buy 2 very small ones weighing 17g in total.  The first thing I have to say is the smell of the truffles was extraordinary – having left them in the car whilst I did the shopping when I returned the car was filled with the fragrant scent of truffles.

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On getting them home, I decided to use them as a garnish, firstly in an omelette (which I am pretty sure you’d all be able to make…) and then secondly on top of some smoked salmon bellinis.  Truth be told, the truffles lacked taste and were somewhat disappointing as they were very dry despite having been sliced into wafer thin slithers.  It is arguable that they would have benefitted from having been softened in a little melted butter, but I felt that this would have overwhelmed their flavour.  However, for me, I am pleased I bought them if only for the enjoyment I got from their smell as I drove home.

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Smoked Salmon Bellinis (makes – 15-20)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 3 heaped tbsp plain flour (roughly 100g)
  • 1 heaped tsp butter (melted)
  • 40-50ml milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 200g smoked salmon (cut into 1” squares)
  • 2-3tbsp crème fraiche
  • ½tsp horseradish sauce (optional)
  • pepper (for seasoning)
  • 5-10g truffle (finely chopped, for garnish – optional)
  • 15-20 small parsley leaves
  • vegetable oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1.  Firstly make your bellinis, by whisking the egg, milk, flour,salt and butter together in a bowl – add more milk as needed until you have a batter with the consistency of thick pouring cream.

2.  Heat a little vegetable oil in a non stick frying pan.  Drop a small spoonful of the batter into the frying pan (so that you have small bellinis roughly 1” – 1”½ in size).  Cook the bellinis on each side for 30 seconds to a minute, or until they are golden brown.  Continue cooking the bellinis in batches until you have used up all of the batter.

3.  In a small bowl mix the crème fraiche, horseradish sauce and pepper.

4.  Spoon a little of the mix onto each of the bellinis, top with a piece of smoked salmon and then garnish with either a pinch of truffle or a parsley leaf.

[Note:  You can vary the flavour of the bellinis by adding ½tsp if dill or ½tsp of finely chopped chives to the batter mix before cooking].

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Duck in a rich red wine sauce

After a snowy weekend the rain has well and truly arrived and how!  Hetti (the now somewhat longer Dachshund puppy) does not like the weather much.  From day one, she established that she could retreat indoors via the cat flap whenever it suited her, much to the bemusement of the cat and the other dogs.   On the occasions that she feels that she is missing out on something exciting outside, she merely peers half in/half out of the cat flap to assess whether it is worth getting her paws wet…

Due to the cold and wet weather we have been ‘hibernating’, taking refuge close to the wood burner and/or Rayburn.  Consequently, there has been time to ‘play’ in the kitchen and cook things that take a little bit longer.  This is a new recipe that I came up with before Christmas.  I think what makes this dish is the sauce that is made from the juices that the duck is cooked in.  The sauce has a lovely deep flavour which is lifted by a little redcurrant jelly that complements the duck nicely.  I tend to serve the duck with either mashed potato or chips so that you can really soak up the juices.

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Duck in a rich red wine sauce (serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1 duck (roughly 1.5kg in weight, with giblets)
  • 2 glasses of red wine
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  • ½ glass water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small bunch of thyme
  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into chunks (optional)
  • seasoning
  • 150ml duck stock (see guidelines to making a stock below)
  • 2-3tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 2tsp corn flour (mixed in a little water to form a paste)

Steps:

1.  Prepare your duck by removing the wings and the giblets.  (Use the wings and giblets to make a stock following the guidelines below).

2.  Place the duck in a large casserole pan along with the wine, water, bay leaves, thyme, juniper berries and celery.  Season well and then place in a preheat oven at 170C fan for 1 hour.

3.  After an hour, remove the duck from the casserole dish, cover with tin foil and allow to rest in warm place for 15 minutes whilst you make the sauce.

4.  Pass the juices from the casserole dish through a sieve to remove the celery and any other bits and pieces; then place in a saucepan on a high heat.

5.  Add the duck stock and the redcurrant jelly and bring to the boil.

6.  After about 5 minutes add the corn flour paste, stirring continuously so that you have a smooth sauce, taste and add more stock or redcurrant jelly as required.  Serve.

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Guidelines to making a basic stock

It is incredibly simple to make any meat stock for use in a soup, risotto, pie, gravy etc. Stocks can be frozen so are worth making even if you can’t use them straightway.  So, make sure you save the bones after a roast.

There is no right or wrong way for making a good stock. Below are merely the guidelines on how to make a basic stock which you can vary according to what vegetables you have lying around.

Ingredients

  • Bones and any scraps of meat left over (if making the stock after a roast) or giblets and wings (from a duck, chicken, turkey etc.)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and cut into 1” pieces)
  • 1 onion (cut in half)
  • 1 celery stick (cut into 1” pieces)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • small bunch of thyme
  • seasoning
  • water (enough to cover the bones)

Steps:

1. Place all of the ingredients in a large saucepan, add enough water so that the bones are covered then cover with a lid.

2.  Cook the stock on a medium heat for at least an hour but preferably 2+hours in order for your stock to have a lovely deep flavour before passing it through a sieve to remove any bits before using.  (Allow to cool completely if you are freezing the stock).

Fondant icing

First off I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas – I hope you all stuff yourselves silly with good food and drink over the course of the next couple of days.  I shall be eating roast goose and gammon (because one meat on the big day just isn’t enough) along with all the trimmings…

Secondly, I need to apologise for not blogging about how to ice your Christmas cake (see recipe) sooner.  Sadly, over the course of the last two days we have been moving into our barn conversion – consequently I have been between two kitchens and I only finished icing my cake about an hour ago…  Just in time to let it dry slightly before eating it with a cup of tea tomorrow.

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Icing your Christmas cake

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tbsp apricot jam
  • 350-450g marzipan

For the fondant icing:

  • 650-750g icing sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp glycerine
  • food dye (optional)

Steps:

1.  Use the bottom of the cake as the top – make sure the bottom is even by slicing off any excess cake.

2.  Cover the cake in apricot jam (sieve it if the jam contains pieces of fruit).

3.  Roll out your marzipan until it is 2-3mm thick and large enough to cover your entire cake.  Lay the marzipan over the cake and gently smooth over trimming off any excess marzipan.  (Ideally leave the cake now for 2-3 days to dry out but if you haven’t got the time then don’t worry).

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4.  After the marzipan has dried out, make your fondant icing.

5.  Place 650g of the icing sugar in a food processor, along with the lemon juice, glycerine and egg whites.   Blitz until it comes together in a ball adding a little more icing sugar as required (you don’t want it to be too sticky, but you do want it to be malleable).  Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

6.  Take a piece of baking paper, dust it with sugar then roll out your icing till it is 3-4mm thick and large enough to cover your cake (this will make it far easier to get onto your cake and stop it sticking to your work surface).

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7.  Carefully place the icing in the centre of your cake then peel off the baking paper.  Smooth the icing gently over the cake, easing it down the sides.  Trim off any excess and keep it to decorate your cake.  (Tip:  I tend to use a palette knife and the back of a metal spoon that I have heated in a little hot water, and then dried to help me smooth it down.)

8.  Once your cake has been iced, decorate it with the excess icing (which you can colour with food colouring) or with old Christmas tree decorations!  Enjoy!

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Lemon and Raspberry Soufflé

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If there is one thing that has always daunted me in the kitchen it is the soufflé.  For some reason it has been built up and built up and it has put me off trying it.  However, I am pleased to say that I have conquered my nemesis – as yesterday I made my first ever soufflé and honestly I have no idea what all the fuss was about!

I had done a lot of research, reading various methods for making a soufflé and decided that I would try to make a jam then add it to a simple meringue recipe and it was very successful.  The meringue was wonderfully light and had a sweet yet slightly sharp flavour due to the raspberry and lemon combination.

I will absolutely be making them again and will be trying them out with a variety of different fruits.  They are definitely worth giving a go!

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Lemon and Raspberry Soufflé  (Serves 3)

Ingredients:DSC_0236

For the jam: (will make enough for at least 6 soufflés, use the required amount and freeze the rest to use another time)

  • 100g raspberries
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1-2tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet the fruit is)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour (made into a paste with a little water)

For the meringue:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 heaped tbsp caster sugar

For the ramekins:

  • butter (for greasing)
  • caster sugar (for coating)

Steps:

1. Prepare your ramekins, by greasing them with butter and then coating thoroughly with caster sugar, then place in the fridge.

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2.  Make the jam by heating the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a pan until the raspberries have completely broken down.

3.  Pass the raspberries through a sieve and then return to the pan.

4.  Add the lemon zest and cornflour and stir until the jam has thickened then, allow to cool completely.

5.  Once the jam has cooled, whisk the egg whites until they are at the soft peak stage, then whisk in the caster sugar.

6.  Place 1 heaped tablespoon of the jam in a bowl , then add a heaped tablespoon of the meringue and carefully fold together.  Continue to add in a little of the meringue at a time until it is completely incorporated.

7.  Equally divide the soufflé mixture between your ramekins.  Use a palette knife to smooth the tops.

8.  Finally run your thumb around the rim of the ramekin (as this will help them to rise) and clean the outside of the ramekins.

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9.  Place in a preheated oven at 170C fan for 12-14 minutes, until it has risen and slightly golden brown on top.

10.  Remove from oven, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately with a little cream.  Enjoy!

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Turkey and Mango Chutney in Breadcrumbs

The last couple of days have been filled with multiple trips to Ikea (which is my idea of hell) and glossing doors and window frames.  Somehow I always manage to get more gloss on my hands and in my hair than on the actual object that I am painting – c’est la vie…  Annoyingly this means I have not had much time in the kitchen and I am desperate to marzipan my Christmas cake, alas it will have to wait for tomorrow.

Yesterday, I needed to think of something very quick to make for supper.  I decided to do a variation on my Chicken in Breadcrumbs, which is very straightforward to make.  The recipe below uses turkey as it is very easy to come by in France.  I often find turkey a tasteless meat, but by using the mango chutney as the “gluing” agent for the breadcrumbs it really lifts the flavour of the turkey.

When you make this dish, ensure that you press the turkey escalopes down firmly into the breadcrumbs and make sure that they are well covered as the breadcrumbs do have a tendency to come off during cooking.

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Turkey and Mango Chutney in Breadcrumbs
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Ingredients: (Serves 4)

Steps:

1. Cover the turkey escalopes with the mango chutney (make sure they are well covered).

3.  Combine the breadcrumbs and some seasoning together in a bowl.

4.  Place the turkey pieces into the crumb mix and coat thoroughly pressing the crumbs firmly into the chicken.

5.  Heat a good amount of oil in a frying pan.   Once it is very hot, carefully add the turkey in batches and fry on both sides for 3-4 minutes. (Check to see if it is cooked by cutting into the middle of one of the escalopes).  Place the cooked pieces in an ovenproof dish, keep the warm in the oven at 100C fan

6.  Once all the turkey is cooked serve with the vegetables of your choice.

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Festive Brussels Sprouts

If there was one vegetable that for me could sum up Christmas it would be the Brussels sprout.  Spouts are a much unloved vegetable; however personally think that they are great.  On Christmas day we eat them plain as there are so many other flavours going on – what with the gammon, goose, roast parsnips, roast potatoes, etc…  However, sometimes it is nice to do them slightly differently.

The recipe below mixes a variety of sweet, nutty and slightly salty flavours which work nicely with the sprouts.  The honey in the recipe acts as a glaze for the vegetables giving everything a pleasant shine.  This recipe could be eaten as a side dish to a grilled chicken breast, lamb chops or a piece of venison as the sweet flavours from the honey and cranberries would complement the gamey taste of the venison very well.

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Festive Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 400-500g Brussels sprouts (outer leaves removed and a cross cut into the bottom)
  • 100g lardons
  • ½ red onion (diced)
  • 100g chestnuts (pre-cooked, see chestnut preparation)
  • handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 heaped tbsp honey
  • 25g butter

Steps:

  1. Cook the Brussels sprouts in some salted boiling water for around 7 minutes, to test if they are cooked see if you can insert a knife easily into one of them, then drain. Be careful not to overcook because soggy sprouts are not pleasant!
  2. Whilst the Brussels sprouts are cooking, place the lardons and red onion in a hot frying pan and cook until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the chestnuts, cranberries, honey and butter, stir together.
  4. Once the butter and honey have melted add the Brussels sprouts and mix together.  Serve.

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Cauliflower and blue cheese soup

Cauliflower is fairly good value at the moment and I have been trying to think of some different things to do with it.  As cauliflower and cheese is a classic combination I thought I would try it in a soup.

I found that blue cheese works well in the soup as it adds a salty creaminess that doesn’t overpower the flavour of the cauliflower. By adding crème fraiche, I found that it enhanced the creaminess of the cheese and helps to make the soup silkier.  The lardons give yet another texture – especially if you can make them golden brown and slightly crunchy.  However, they aren’t strictly necessary but are a nice addition.

I served this soup with homemade cornbread which added a light sweetness which lifted the soup, however good French bread would work just as well.

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Cauliflower and blue cheese soup

Ingredients:

  •          1 medium cauliflower (cut up into medium sized pieces)
  •          1 onion (diced)
  •          2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  •          2 bay leaves
  •          1 small bunch of thyme (tied together)
  •          1 ½  litre stock (vegetable or chicken)
  •          50g blue cheese (e.g Bleu d’Auvergne)
  •          3 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  •          ½ tsp pepper
  •          50g lardons (for decoration, optional)
  •          oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

  1. Place the onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaves in a large pan with a little oil and sweat on a medium heat until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the cauliflower and stock, bring up to the boil and cook until a knife goes easily through the cauliflower.
  3. Remove the thyme and bay leaves then, liquidise the soup.
  4. Put the soup back into the saucepan and add the crème fraiche, crumble in the cheese and season.
  5. Cook for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Meanwhile cook the lardons in a hot saucepan until they are golden brown and crispy.
  7. Serve the soup with a few of the lardons scattered on top with some French bread or cornbread.

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Lamb Roast

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A Sunday roast has always been one of the meals I look forward to the most.  Tender meat served with crispy roast potatoes, loads of vegetables with a rich gravy – it doesn’t get much better than this.  I remember when I first started cooking roasts I found them fairly stressful due to all the component parts.  However, it is all about good preparation and timing- if you can get that right then it is a fairly painless process.

As we rear our own ducks we tend to make our own duck fat, which is then frozen in portions ready to be used for roast potatoes.  After plucking, drawing and butchering the ducks we render the unwanted skin of the bird down in a hot oven (180C – 200C fan) for about 40 – 55 minutes to draw out the fat.  The fat is then sieved and left to cool slightly before pouring it into small pots ready to be frozen.  If you can’t get duck or goose fat then use olive oil or vegetable oil in its place.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, as a family we prefer to eat lamb well done, consequently all timings recommended for the meat are made with this in mind.  If you prefer your meat medium or rare please see the notes.

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Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary

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  • 1 leg of lamb (1kg – 1.5kg)
  • 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 3-4 stalks of rosemary (cut into 2” pieces)
  • 1-2oz butter (softened)
  • 1-2tbsp olive oil
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C fan.
  2. Mix the garlic, butter and oil together in a bowl.
  3. Take a sharp knife and make deep incisions into the joint roughly 6-8 times.
  4. Smear the garlic butter all over the joint, push some gently into the incisions.
  5. Insert the rosemary pieces into the incisions and season well.
  6. Place the meat joint in a roasting tray.
  7. Place in the oven and cook the lamb for 1hr -1hr 15 minutes basting occasionally for a well done joint.
  8. Remove from oven, wrap in foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes in a warm place before carving.

Note:

If you prefer a more scientific approach to cooking meat and would rather use a meat thermometer to gauge how your leg of lamb is cooked work on the following principle:

  • 50C – Rare
  • 60C – Medium
  • 70C – Well done
  • 75C – Very well done

Alternatively, insert a knife into the joint and press down slightly so that you can see the colour of the juices, the pinker the juices the rarer the meat.

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Roast potatoes in duck fat

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces)
  • 2-3tbsp duck fat.
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place the potatoes in some salted water and par-boil for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and set above the pan to continue to drain for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Roughly 40 minutes before serving, place the duck fat in a roasting tin and place in the oven at 180-190C fan for 5 minutes to melt the fat.
  4. Remove from the oven and very carefully tip in your potatoes.  Stir and turn the potatoes in the pan to make sure they have all been covered in oil and then season.
  5. Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

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Red cabbage with sultanas

Ingredients:

  • 400-500g red cabbage (finely sliced)
  • 1 handful of sultanas
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2-3tbsp olive oil
  • 2tsp sugar

Steps:

  1. Place the cabbage and sultanas in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes (or until the cabbage is soft).
  2. Drain the cabbage well, then return to the pan and add the vinegar, oil and sugar and stir well.
  3. Taste and add seasoning as required, serve.

 

Honey glazed carrots with parsley

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 carrots (peeled and cut into batons)
  • 2 heaped tsp honey
  • 1 heaped tsp butter
  • 1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • seasoning

Steps:

  1. Place the carrots in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes (or until the knife goes easily into the carrots).
  2. Drain the carrots and return to pan, add the butter and honey stir together and add cover for 5 minutes.
  3. Just before serving scatter over the parsley and season with a little salt and pepper.

 

Roast onions

Ingredients:

  • 4 onions (peeled, and left whole)

Steps:

  1. Cook the onions in the same roasting pan as your joint.
  2. Remove the onions from the pan after about 40-45 minutes.
  3. Place in a small ovenproof dish, cover with tin foil so that they stay warm.
  4. If they cool too much, pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

Gravy (for lamb)

Ingredients:

  • juices from the meat pan
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 heaped tsp red currant jelly
  • ½ pt – ¾ pt water (or vegetable water)
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1-2 heaped tsp cornflour (made into a paste with a little water)

Steps:

  1. Having removed the meat, place your meat pan along with its juices on the stove and heat.
  2. Add the glass of wine and allow to bubble away for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add ½ pt of water, red currant jelly and crumble in the stock cube stir together.
  4. Pour in the cornflour paste and stir continuously as your gravy thickens, add a little more water if it is needed.
  5. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

 

Beef Stroganoff and Homemade Chips

I have wanted to make homemade chips for a while as my parents inherited a deep fryer from the previous owners of the house when they bought it in 2006.  Up until yesterday no-one had touched this fryer, partly because we all have a deep rooted fear of the possibility of a fat fire.  So I plucked up the courage as I really wanted chips to accompany a beef stroganoff and did some reading on the internet on how to operate our fryer before giving it a go.

The first thing I have to say is I honestly had no idea how much oil you needed to use a fryer, to the extent that I had to go out to our local shop and buy some more.  On the flip side, the oil can be re-used which is good as I hate waste!  The whole process of making the chips was fairly painless, I preheated the oil, added the potato chips, set a timer and let the fryer do its job.  The chips were superb, even if I do say so myself!  They were crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle, everything you want in a chip.

As I mentioned above, the chips were made specifically to accompany a beef stroganoff, which has a wonderfully rich yet slightly sour sauce.  When making a stroganoff I strongly urge you to buy the best quality beef that you can afford.  This is because the dish is greatly enhanced by using high quality beef (you will find if you use cheaper cuts that the meat can be fairly tough).   This really is a great meal to try and is a good option for a special occasion as it is slightly different but absolutely delicious.  If you don’t have a fryer I would suggest serving the stroganoff with potato sticks or roast potatoes.   Enjoy!

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Beef Stroganoff

Ingredients: (Serves 3)

  • 400g – 500g beef (steak if possible – finely sliced)
  • 1 red onion (finely sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 3 mushrooms (finely sliced)
  • 1 tbsp brandy
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 2 heaped tbsp crème fraiche
  • 75-100ml cream
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

  1. Heat some oil in a frying pan, add the onions and garlic and allow to soften.
  2. Add the slices beef and brandy to the pan season well and cook for 2-3 minutes then, remove beef from the pan and set to one side.
  3. Add the wine to the frying pan and reduce down, after about 5 minutes add the stock cube, mushrooms and paprika, stir together and cook for 3-5 minutes.
  4. Finally add the crème fraiche, cream and lemon juice, stir well and add more seasoning as required before placing the beef back in the pan and cooking for a further 2-3 minutes.

 

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Homemade Chips

Ingredient(s):

  • 6-5 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into equal-sized batons roughly 1cm thick)

Steps:

  1. Place the potatoes in some salted water and par-boil for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and set above the pan to continue to drain for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat your deep fryer to 150C.
  4. Add your chips and cook for 6 minutes.
  5. Raise the chips out of the oil and increase the temperature of the deep fryer to 180C.
  6. Cook the chips for a further 6-7 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Drain the chips before serving.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Boeuf Bourguignon is a French classic originating in the French region of Burgundy.  It is therefore not altogether surprising that is traditionally made using a red Burgundy.  This is my take on the dish, using local/home-grown ingredients.  This dish needs very slow cooking at a low temperature.  I tend to cook mine it two stages – I cook it in the morning for 3 hours at 140C fan , I then leave it to sit in the oven until the evening when I cook it for a second time for 1 ½ hours at 160C fan, as I find this helps the flavours to mature.

As with all slow cooking, meat becomes beautifully tender and falls apart.  One word of advice when making this dish – don’t cut your vegetables too small as they can fall apart, and half the beauty of a meal like this is finding a lovely piece of mushroom or carrot.  My tendency is to serve it in a large bowl so that none of the sauce falls off a plate.

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Boeuf Bourguignon

Ingredients: (serves 6)

  • 1 – 1.25kg stewing beef (gristle and excess fat removed cut into manageable chunks)
  • 750ml red wine (I used a local wine called Coteaux du Quercy but any full-bodied, fruity red wine will do)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 handfuls plain flour
  • 150g lardons
  • 1 red onion (thickly sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves ( minced)
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 6-8 carrots (cut into large chunks)
  • 6-8 small onions (cut in half)
  • 6 mushrooms (cut into large chunks)
  • seasoning

Steps:

1.  Put the beef, wine, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns into a large bowl and leave to marinate for as long as possible – preferably overnight.

2.  Once marinated, remove the beef from the red wine marinade (keep the marinade as you will need it later) and place it in a bowl with the flour and some seasoning.  Make sure it is well coated.

3.  Heat some oil in a large casserole dish, brown off the beef in batches.

4.  Remove the beef from the casserole dish and set to one side whilst you cook the red onion and lardons for 4-5 minutes.  Once cooked, add the beef and stir well.

5.  Add the marinade, stock, garlic, onions, and carrots and cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes.

6.  Cover the casserole dish and place in the oven at 140C fan for 3 hours.

7.  After 3 hours add the mushrooms, stir well and if possible let it sit for a while before cooking for a further 1 ½ hours at the higher temperature of 160C fan.

8.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with French bread or a jacket potato and the vegetables of your choice.