Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Giant carrot and cardamom soup.

Giant carrot and cardamom soup.

Dropping by work to collect my pay the other evening I discovered a very large carrot. Enormous. Must be on steroids. Or grown in radioactive soil. None of my colleagues has ever seen a carrot of such magnitude. It had been kept aside as material for the standard workplace sexual harassment (Oh I am thinking of you, DI) and sight gags, as much for it's novelty. So with beer fueled bravado, waving 12 extra fat inches of carrot in the air I announced:

"I'm going to cook this!"

It has been days. I just can't bear to bring myself to cut this split, gnarled monster, let alone peel away it's manhood. I had toyed with the idea of stuffing it, or roasting it, or removing the inner core, roasting that then stuffing the carrot, but I think soup. Soup will work. It's idiot proof.

1 x Litre basic chicken stock (recipe here)
olive oil
1 x giant carrot, peeled and diced
1 x large onion, diced
2 x French shallots, sliced finely
2 x cloves garlic, sliced finely
3 x freshly picked cardamom leaves (remove before puree')
1 x small knob of ginger, peeled, cut coarsely (to remove before puree')

Heat a heavy based pan, with a good whack of olive oil. Saute the onion and shallot until soft, season, add the carrot and garlic and knock back the heat. Cook out until the carrot caramelises a little, then add the stock, cardamom leaves, ginger and simmer for 20 minutes. Blitz 3/4 of the soup with a stab blender or liquidizer and add the rest to retain some texture. Garnish with some coconut cream or maybe some garlic chives.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Slow braised beef neck

Slow braised beef neck

It's Friday. We have the day off, so we take the kids to Brunswick Heads, fly fishing unsuccessfully on the low tide and tannic water. We find a wonderful little shop called "second hand rose" that has bits of old and new, wonderful soaps, enamel colanders, antique cutlery and this fab old Japanese made crock pot in red and white, just like the kitchen. 'Twas a little expense but so cute! Dinner for two size! How romantic. . .

Any ways, after a really shitty day at the coalface/cafe, I return home to find duck curry and Thai fishcakes from the Bruns takeaway "Rice", meaning I didn't need to cook. Still, theres a 400gm piece of beef neck that needs to be eaten and I'm dying to try out this pot.

Preheat a stainless steel fan forced oven (or similar) to 160 deg/c

400gm beef neck ("you can call me chuck")
1/2 cup plain flour
1x small onion, diced finely
2 x mushrooms, chopped
1 x tomato, chopped finely
1 1/2 x glasses red wine
1 x clove garlic, chopped roughly
1/2 ts smoky Spanish paprika
sage, thyme and bay leaves
olive oil to seal

Heat a heavy based pan and swirl around some olive oil. Coat the diced beef neck in some flour, both sides, season and seal in the pan. Remove from the pan and add onions. Saute until soft, then add the mushrooms, smoky Spanish paprika, and tomatoes. Simmer off until the tomatoes lose structural integrity and the mushrooms have reduced by half. Deglase the pan with half a glass of red wine and drink the rest yourself as you wait for the sauce to thicken a little. Lay the beef in the crockpot, add the fresh 'erbs on top then pour over your now rich and wonderful sauce over the top. Add a cup of water. Place in bottom shelf of oven and cook for 2 hours.

Enjoy with a glass of rich red, some crusty bread and the company of one other, perhaps fireside.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Veal Saltimbocca

Veal Saltimbocca

My herb garden has some very sad looking sage in it right now (see left image). It needs a heavy prune and a feed, so therefore: tonight we're having Veal Saltimbocca. Well, not the real, pale milk fed veal, it's a bit on the pink side, so we'll see how it goes. I usually do a chicken version, which is divine, poached in stock and finished in the oven. I haven't attempted this before, but I've seen the chef do it before, so how hard can it be?

What I do know is:
  • don't do it in a non stick pan, there will be no sauce!
  • Feed the small people in the house first, so you can put them to bed and enjoy this dish with adult groans. . .
  • prep ahead and mould the saltis so they stay together.
  • flour them just before you cook them off.
  • make enough for a main and serve them with a big salad of baby spinach dressed only with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
  • pre-heat your plates in the nuke-ro-wave or oven for two minutes just before service.
Veal Saltimbocca

many sage leaves
12 x pieces of prosciutto (6 to eat whilst prepping dinner, 6 for the dish itself)
6 x veal steaks
plain flour to coat prior to frying

Wrap the steaks individually in glad wrap and hammer out flat with a wine bottle or a meat mallet if you don't have a wine bottle. (Yeah right you say, no wine bottle, who the f@#k are you kidding?)

Incidentally, should you require a metal meat mallet, the manager of Mitre 10, Mullumbimby may merely manage to make a metal meat mallet available to meet your meat mallet needs.

Flour the individual packages and pile two by two in preparation to cook.

Heat a heavy based non-non stick pan, oiled.

Cook hot and fast, one minute on the first side and about 40 seconds on the other.

Deglase the pan with some wine and cut the heat. Add some butter to give the sauce some body.
Serve on a big white plate with sauce poured over and a salad as recommended.