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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Fresh Summer Tomato Sauce With Stock And Olive Oil

This is one of the staple luxuries that makes me fairly content to be alive ; to have access to this flavour of slowly stewed ripe tomatoes and olive oil, it is just such a coincidence that the incredible culinary wealth of this dish is directly proportional to its sensual flavour ;with a skimmed chicken stock, theres little or no saturated fats, the oil is the only substantial fat, and everything else is just bunches of vitamin fibre and lycoprene, which in stewed tomatoes (in oil) is even more present and easy to absorb, than in raw tomatoes. .
And for me theres also a bit of Mama 's kitchen in this. I dont remember if i d loved it as much as a kid but i cant remember myself at any point in time not being delirious with the rich simplicity of the maternal pasta in a midsummer tomato sauce.

* my Great-grandmother would always add an anchovy with the onions, or salted capers, and my mom never did chicken stock with this, but would add rosemary instead of basil, and cinammon too, and oregano at the end. As a note. The variations are endless really, this is inspired more from the long painfully slow greek oven-finished meat or vegetable stews, always stocky and caramelised, but in a meat-less sieved sauce version with a stock which tastes more latin than greek.

For the Stock;

4-5 chicken bones from legs, or 4-5 drumsticks. (meet wont be needed)
2 red onions, quartered.
4 chunky ripe fresh tomatoes ( almost over-ripe)
1 stick celery, whole.
1 bay leaf
1/2 bulb of garlic, unpeeled but bottom bit cut off.
2 carrots, cut in 3rds
rosemary, dried, a pinch.


For the sauce ;

olive oil
5 chunky ripe fresh tomatoes ( almost over-ripe)
1 stick celery, whole.
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2 banana shallots, finely chopped.
black pepper
2 slices prociutto crudo
3  crushed cloves of garlic.
grana panado, or parmiggiano, or pecorino depending what you fancy.
Fresh basil, a handfull
splash of red wine

Spagghetti or chunky linguini, half a packet at the most.
Orzo pasta is also good in this, cooked in the stock itself.


- Step one ;

Take 5 of the tomatoes, and open in half, rinsing the seeds off them under a tap.
Put carrots, red onions, chicken, 5 of the tomatoes , bay and a bit of oil and salt & add the garlic unpeeled, in the oven at 200 for 25 minutes.
This will give the stock a roasty flavour.

Let the chicken cool down, then (if you used drumsticks with meat on them) remove the skin & meat and save for sandwiches or salads, or another ragu.. If you have just bones & cartilage, no need for that step.

Put everything including pan drippings (if anything is burns take it off, for example if the onions are too charred take the charred layers off them.) in a stock pot on a low flame.
Cover, add bay leaf, 1 celery stick, pepper, rosemary, add enough water to cover everything by 3-4 cm and let simmer for 2-3 hours. DO NOT bring to the boil.

After this, you can squeeze the veg and sieve the stock into a bowl. This should make you 2-3 cups of dense reduced stock.


Take the other 5 tomatoes, put on a bit of water and boil covered for 2-or so minutes to soak the skin. Take skins off, and crush them on top of a sieve, so you keep the juices.
Then rinse seeds under a tap and crush the flesh of the tomatoes or blend in a blended / or food mill / passatutto.

-Finely chop the shallots and fry with some salt, gently and covered for the first 1 minute , in 3-4 tbsp of olive oil until soft. I know it sounds like a lot of oil but it is the only fat in this meal and its glorious.
-Add remaining roughly crushed garlic, the last celery stick and the rest of the bay leaves
-and 2 tbspns tomato paste.
-splash of red wine, let evaporate.
-Add the Stock (2-3 cups) and the prosciutto chopped very finely. Bring to the boil and lower heat straight away, cover and simmer veeery gently for 1 hr at leats, until everything smells incredible and an emulsion of oil and tomato juices has been formed.

* Make sure its not boiling, or simmering agressively, we want it barely to simmer very gently.

If its too watery, keep uncovered and keep cooking on low flame. you want it a little thick, but not too much.
add basil just before serving.


Thursday, 22 July 2010

Pork Belly In Two Ways With Crackling Crisps & Soy

Pork Belly In Two Ways With Crackling Crisps & Soy

This is not as tough as it looks.
You basically make a nest for the pork to lay in, with veg chopped up and layed on a tray. The water that goes in (stock) keeps the fleshy part moist and lets things caramelise at the end, while the skin stays dry and crisps up until its separated etc.

you ll need;
-pork belly, one big joint whole or two (one cut in half).
-soy bean paste (korean is best, labelled Miso, its pure soy bean paste, or use a non-salty soy sauce if you cant find it)
-bay leaf x 2
-garlic crushed x 4 cloves
- banana shallots x 4 or 3 onions quartered / in 3-4cm thick cubes
 -2 carrots sliced in 2-3cm thick cubes
-stock (veg)
-cognac or white sweet wine
-Sea Salt (oodles)
-mustard, dijon
-rosemary, 1 bunch, fresh preferred.

Prepare the pork belly;
-score the skin well, in diamond shapes, making sure the skin is cut through but fat & flesh intact.
Prepare the brine;

Brine the pork belly ;
- bring a pan with water, 6-7 peppercorns 2 bay leafs and 1/3 cup sea salt, almost to the boil, and immediately take off the heat and rest - let cool.
This is the brine, emerse the pork in there and cover tight & refrigerate for a least 1 day.


When ready to cook, prepare the veg ; cut onions and carrots in 2-3cm blocks squareish, they ll function as a bed for your pork, so arrange them onto a tray, a baking tray that just about fits the pork bellies in.

clean the belly off the brine and pad dry.
Now sit it on the chopped veg already in the tray. Mix with the mustard and rosemary.

Heat up some duck fat or olive oil to Very very hot, smoking hot.
Carefully shock the skin of the pork with the hot oil, rubbing / pouring the excess off afterwards.

rub more salt into the skin and pad dry again. Real dry.

now carefully (DO NOT pour any of that water on the skin, it ll sog it) pour stock, enough to cover the veg and just about touch the lower sides of the meat 1-2 cm. It shouldnt touch the skin, i repeat.

 Put in a 180 celsius oven, if possible with fan on.

Leave it alone for a good 2 hrs, occasionally checking the pan hasnt dried out, always keep refilling the stock so that the veg s covered. Check often, its good to air the oven quickly so waters evaporate. No worries about the meat drying cause the stock underneath rehydrates it.

2 hrs later, check for any signs of crackling. The cut and age of the pork will make for differences in cooking times and crisping times.
Now you should let the water evaporate a little more, making sure theres no scortching but just about that , just a thin layer at the bottom. This allows the veg and the bottom of the pork to caramelise a little, and brown nicely with the sugars from the veg.

At around 2 and 1/2 hrs to 3, crackling should be forming hard & crisp.

Now take it out, and let rest.


Once the pork has cooled down, carefully remove the crackling. You want to separate the skin but leave the thin layer of fat attached solidly to the flesh!
Use a sharp flat thin knife, pulling the skin as you cut.

Let rest.

Now you have your sort of pave' of pork, and your crackling chips. Cut the chips in strips with a pair of scizzors,  in thin 1/2cm slices or so, leaving their width as it is.

Stick the crackling back in the oven until super crisp. 10-15 mins. Drain on paper towels for excess fat.

The flesh of the pork should be melted and supersoft. The cracklings crisp and dry.

FInishing;   salt the fat side of the pork pave' and heat a tiny bi of oil / duc fat in a non stick shallow pan ; on high heat, fry both sides of the pork, ending with the fat side down, Just for a few moments, you ll see the edges browning.
This will make a more gentle second crackling crisping the fat layer that was under the skin before you took it off.

Now take off the heat and let rest - take some of the stock and vegetables you ve reserved from the baking tray, and pour in the hot pan, deglaze with some sweet white wine or cognac, and stir to make a sauce. Add 1tsp of soy bean paste, and reduce gently not letting the soy cook.

Serve the sauce on the plate, put the pork pave' on top, then the crisps of the skin on the side.

You ll want a lot of crisp acidic salad with this, definitely french beans and a big appetite.

ps - the stock from this is a lot, you may want to keep some to toss noodles in or make a risotto. Its fatty but you can skim it to your liking by letting it cool and spooning off the fat top layer.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Garlic - Anchovy essence on Linguini

Purple Sprouting Broccoli & Garlic - Anchovy essence  on Linguni

Find good sprouting broccoli, although this works with tendersteam too, if you boil the stems soft first ; however they are endlessly more tasteful and better for this dish (they also cook easier, if using big broccoli heads, try cutting the broccoli stalks thin first).
* watch the salt on this, the anchovies should provide all of it, and the pecorino will add some more. So dont add any more.

-good thick linguini
-1 big bunch of p.s. broccoli,  or tenderspeam, stems separated from stalks, tops broken to florets.
-2 tbsp tomato paste
-dry white wine / or red *
-tin of plump peeled tomatos - Open the tomatoes with your hands and run under water, to remove the seeds.
-1 cup water
-6-7 cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of a knife and skin off.
-red pepper flakes
-pinch of flour
-2/3 tin of anchovies in oil. roughly de boned and split in halves.
-1 tiny drop of natural soy sauce
- Good olive oil
- Flat-leaf Basil, fresh

* Wine;
For this sauce you can use white or red, depending really on what you fancy drinking with it..  Either will make a great sauce, the white tangier and the red deeper.

Fry the brocoli stalks in a little oil, brown it lightly and then add hot water, cover and cook until al dente. 10 mins or so depending on broc type.
While the broc stalks are simmering, in another, smaller pan, fry in gentle heat, 6-7 anchovies, with the garlic (very gently) so it bubbles and makes a nice mess. 5-7 minutes in, when it gets dry and browny add the tomato paste, and brown a little more, then the whine and bay leaf.  stir the bottom so the anchovies are totally disolved. add red pepper flakes, a good pinch.

then add 1 cup water, and crumble the tomatoes with your hands into the mess. Cook the sauce for 10 miutes or so, then take out most of the broccoli & reserve. Add a pinch of flour and stir. Let the rest of the sauce simmer gently, until sauce is thickened, add a hearty laddle of olive oil . Right at the end add a 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves chopped & stir in.

When your linguini is ready;
Add a splash of the past water into the sauce.
Stir the pasta with the tomatoey sauce, and serve, adding the broccoli you reserved on top of each plate.
Grate pecorino

rich rocket pesto

you need;
-1 big bunch of italian rocket, washed & dried well
-juice of half lemon,
-juice of half an orange
-1 clove garlic, 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted (toast them without Any oils, for a few minutes on low heat)
- 1/3 red onion,
-1/2 teaspoon soy sauce,
-1 tiny pinch curry powder,
-1/4 cup olive oil,
-1/2 cup pecorino romano chunks, or grana Or parmigiano but pecorino is best.

-couple of leaves of basil optional.

Put in blender, blend.

This is a rocket pesto that works on its own right on pasta or as a dressing.

Anchovy reduction for lamb fillets / fish / poultry/ pasta

This is an extremely versatile sauce, which happily coats linguini, beef fillet, poultry, or sits on the side of a mild fish dish.

Put 1 -2 anchovies , 2 tbspns of their oil, 1 bay leaf and a garlic clove or two, smashed. And a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes.
Let gently heat up, on very low heat, and after 3-4 minutes start shuffling it around with a wooden spoon, pushing down and disolving the anchovies and garlic, like a heated-pestle-and-mortar.

As it becomes messy and darker add a splash of *white wine and a tablespoon of water.
Take off the heat and let cool.

* Cognac instead of wine is great for red meats, and so is butter in that case instead of oil.

-But you can substitute that stage with lemon for fish or poultry, and stock or water from a pasta pot if using as a pasta sauce.
-Another variant is to add 1 tspn of tomato paste in the beginning for a sweeter result to offset the saltiness of the anchovies.

Warm Salad Of Smoked Mackerel Topped With Poached Egg With Dijon Dressing

Warm Salad Of Smoked Mackerel Topped With Poached Egg With Dijon Dressing

For two as a main or hefty starter, you shall need;

-2 fillets Mackerel, smoked, peppered.
-2 tbspns mustard, dijon prefered (if your mustard is not too acidic add a tad of vinegar) -lambs lettuce -dash of soy cream or other light cream (dash = about 2 tbspns) -1/3 a big banana shallot, or 1 normal shallot -1 tsp olive oil, mild. -2 eggs, good uns. -splash of vinegar for the egg poaching.
-french beans, trimmed.
-Parsley to taste -red pepper flakes to taste.

-- Preheat oven to 220, and boil water in pan. stick mackerels when oven is hot for 10 minutes. Same time, bring a small pan of water (2 inch deep at least) to the boil, on High heat, it ll need it.
In that time; Boil beans til tender and drain. Less than 2-3 mins but it ll be about 10 mins if you count the mackerel bake. Start the water & over together.
-blend (in blender or by hand) the shallots, mustard, oil and cream. Thats the dressing!
-poach 2 eggs in the small pan of water, one each time ; remember to spin the water and add vinegar before putting in the eggs. Looks neater.
When 10 minutes are gone and your beans are done and your eggs are poached; (DONT HARD BOIL THE EGGS PLEASE, must be quite runny, the heat of the fish & beans will finish them off).
lay out lambs lettuce and roughly stir dressing in, onto 2 plates.
Place the beans on top of the lettuce/dressing.
Lay one mackerel on the centre of each plate (skin on or not, to taste).

Place a poached egg on each mackerel fillet.

dot with red pepper flakes and parsley.