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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Friday, 4 March 2011

Mackerel or Tuna Slow-Poached In Infused Oil

This is an updated recipe, from the point at which i tried it with mackerel. It gives mackerel an incredibly milder flavour, as you remove the skin after it cools down.

For mackere, get your fillets cleaned & pin boned (you can just cut out the mid section of the fillet where all the little bones are, in a thin strip and discard).
Use enough to fit snugly on the bottom of a small deep ish pot/ pan. You ll cover these in oil, so, think of how you ll be able to do that minimising oil amount / volume.

Get a fattier chunk of line caught tuna ; you can spot these from the shape. Toro or chu-toro (the bit just next to the uber pricy and hard to find O-toro, which is pure belly cut) is best, but you ll often see a 'loin' cut, which is smaller rounder and has a bit that sticks out ; This 'nose' of the cut is marbled with fatty rings, and thats the one you should get for this. You can even find a cut that has that nose left attatched on a fillet at a supermarket or your local fishmonger sometimes. It wont be as fatty but its what we need.

This is still worth doing with a lean loin steak, just dont use your freshest sashimi grade tuna for this, maybe buy a larger slice and reserve some you cant eat on the same day for this confit next day.

The Confit;

-pad the fish dry well, and salt and pepper it. let rest while you simmer the poaching oil

Poaching oil;

- Mirin riece wine, a splash.**
-Olive oil (enough to cover the tuna) good & sweet (not a bitter-ish new oil) but not your best
- 1 white onion or 2 banana shallots cut in 2 halves
- 1 clove garlic
-good oregano
-lots of fennel seeds
-1 big bay leaf
-salt and black peppercorns, a hefty pinch.
- Sea Salt - taste the oil, you want the oil very salty - its a preservative, but also the fish needs to pick up the flavour.

 First put the pepper oregano, seeds and bay - and fry them a little. Then add the rest of the poaching ingredients and get them to reach a boil, in a pan small enough and deep enough for the tuna to sit snugly on one layer, and be covered in the oil. ( Try it out before you heat the oil, with the onion halves, to make sure its the right size.)

Once it just about reaches a gentle simmer, turn right down and keep on a low simmer for the flavours to infuse. leave the infused oil alone to simmer for 20 minutes checking its not boiling.

Let cool a tiny bit, for another few minutes off the fire. It should be feeling warm to your touch (dont burn yourselves please).
Taste for saltiness. It does need to taste fairly salty.


Add the tuna, cut in thick chunks, like 2inch cubes, pushing it / squeezing tight and fitting it snuggly in the pot, making sure its all covered, and bring to a gentlest simmer. You ll see a buble or two once in a while but not a proper simmer - VERY LOW HEAT, turn your hob on and off if need be, letting residual heat do the cooking.
Around 7-10 minutes should suffice.
You ll see the tuna turn pinkish white and pale, staying pink in middle. after about 5 minutes of barely any cooking (remember you ll need to not even simmer this, just keeping it at around 70-80degrees celcius) take off the fire and leave at a cool place. You dont want it to stay warm for ages.

Take out some tuna and check - it should be pink, not white (dry) and not rare (red) -
strain the oil , and let both cool down - the tuna and the oil separately.


-put in your fillets in the oil once its COLD / room temp.
Then bring to a simmer and as soon as you see a buble turn it off. Let residual heat cook the fish mildly and gently. It takes much less time and heat than the tuna.

Crumbling the flesh in the oil after its cooled down a little, makes for a fattier but more infused flavour. You can do this with swordfish too. But the swordfish will keep less in the fridge (its leaner) and if you left the skin on, once its cool do take it off. Its preferd to leave the skin on to cook, and take it off later.

** Mirin wine is an edit I made recently, substituting the white wine as the latter is too acidic and will break up the texture of your fish after a couple of days in the kilner jar.

Once the oil is cool / room temp, you can put the  fish in it and jar.

Use at room temperature and serve on beans soy and toasted sunflower seeds, toss in linguini and parsley, on borlotti beans as in the ventresca recipe, or make a salad with it.

This, i think, is one of my favourite ways of cooking my favourite meat / fish ever.
Of course, hot seared tuna is delicious and probably the best thing to do with a good day-fresh sashimi-grade tuna. But this competes if done properly and carefully.
It melts like butter and the flavouring can vary as much  as your appetite - use allspice fennel rosemary saffron, try with brandy in the poaching liquid, the variations are endless. Just make sure you stay on top of that fire, and Not let the liquid get too hot.

- From recent experimentation, i d suggest to omit anything acidic in the infusion of the oil, like lemon peel or zest, white wine unless you ve burnt off every hint of acidity in a pan first, as it spoils the texture after a day or so, and its tanginess could suit it for a salad ingredient but it can be too strong as the flavours infuse, overpowering the other more subtle ingredients, let alone the tuna.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Soy & Honey marinated Calamari / Squid With Yellow Split Pea Puree from Santorini & Caramelised onions

you ll need;

 For the Squid Fillets;
-3-4 medium or 2 large cleaned squid.

For the Soy Honey Sesame Oil Marinade;
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1tbsp Honey pref. Thyme Honey
splash of sesame oil
splash mirin rice wine or white wine

For the fava;
-good fava (not broad beans, the greek one i.e. yellow split peas dried) from Santorini  or other good yellow split peas. In London, the cypriot brand one finds in well stocked corner shops outperforms most supermarket brands.

2 banana shallots, peeled chopped in half but bottoms left attatched so they dont fall apart.
1 big bay leaf
1 carrot chopped roughly
tiny splash of cyder vinegar
salt and black pepper
1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled
splash of olive oil

The Fava Puree;

Put the peas in a deep pan, and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and rinse / strain and rinse with fresh water again. This makes the beans easier to digest albeit losing a tiny bit of nutrients / potassium but also cleaning any scum.

cover with 4 times as much water, add onions salt pepper bay leaf and carrot, and bring to boil ; then simmer slowly until the fava falls apart / turns to a velvetty cream.

* Santorini Fava or other good greek yellow split peas will do this, they ll cream on their own.
 Remove herbs and onions, the carrots should be all melted in by now.
If after an hour this doesnt look like its happening, you should wait until the puree thickens, and pulp in a food processor until smooth.

You can store fava puree in the fridge for a couple of days, it will set well and taste kind of better the next day.

- The Squid;

Cut the squid bodies in half lengthways and widthways so you end up with square-ish cutlets. Score them well on the inside, dry them well on paper towels.

- 30minutes before you ll cook them, smother the cutlets in the Soy Honey Sesame Oil Marinade. Leave to marinade.

- When ready to eat, heat a griddle pan on very very high heat.
When its smoking, pad dry the squid really well, and throw in. Count about 30 SECONDS and turn, then immediately take off the heat. leave to rest in the pan for a few minutes more.

Plating up;

squid on Fava, Serve with parsley, splash some balsamic around the plate. Garnish with a handful salted capers or caper leaves.

- Note this works very well with some crushed cherry tomatoes raw chopped shallots and  salted capers and caper leaves on the side, as it binds well with the fava, and the oregano . Also sear a king scallop and add  to the dish, fava puree works well with most seafood.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Pink Beef Fillet Wrapped in Pancetta, On Cavolo Nero & Roast Garlic Aioli

- You ll need;
a good, hung piece of beef really.
'Pink' beef is what people in britain apparently call the young tender bovine meat you d get in italy or greece, its not veal but older and has had a nice life albeit shortish, and it is basically not the old fattier beef that you d get in the british isles but younger fruitier tasting lighter and indeed sweet, depending on the quality, of course.

This recipe works with either ends, be it marbled fattier beef or lean veal. Its hard to get it wrong.
The point of it is to combine the sweetness of the pancetta juices with the black cabbage / cavolo nero / tuscan kale whatevah you want to call it, and using the pancetta to moisten a very lean piece of meat .

- You get a good size piece of fillet, one or two slices about 4-5 cm thick. If less reduce cooking times.
1 bunch cavolo nero or thick older spinach if cant find kale.
2 big cloves of garlic.
sprinkling of chili flakes or black pepper.
mild olive oil.
thin sliced pancetta, smoked. You ll need enough to wrap around your beef/ veal.
1/2 twig of fresh rosemary
3-4 leaves of fresh sage.

* for the roast garlic aioli *
- eggs, good ones, about one per person if you like your aioli
- mild olive oil,  or groundnut oil, or sunflower or canola oil
- bit of lemon
-bit of garlic , a couple of cloves at least.

The principle is;

- You blanch the cavolo nero in some salted boiling water, for a couple of minutes max.
You rinse under a cold tap, for quite a while, so it retains its nice green colour. the cold water helps.

-You sear your fillet piece, in a super hot pan, with some rosemary / sage and chili flakes and black / mixed pepper and salt. When its sealed well on all sides, and the outside is becoming browned all over, you take off the heat.
You rub some garlic on the fillet, half-cut cloves, and put them on a shallow or open tray.

You sit the fillet on some slices of pancetta. Wrap them round, to form a parcel-ish construct. a  Union Jack shape is what we need -dont get me wrong here, i m using it as a schematic purely ..-

put the piece in a hot 200 celcius oven, for 10 minutes - if you want your fillet over done leave it for 2-3 minutes more but dont complain to anyone ever for dryness. By the way the red liquid oozing from a rightly cooked steak is not blood, its just protein.

 Basically, the pancetta keeps everything moistened with its sweet fats, and the rosemary sage etc is infusing the meat.

-Just about when the steaks are done, sautee the blanched cavolo nero  - let a garlic clove fry a little in a pan in medium heat and then add the greens. sautee for a minute or two until you see the garlic about to brown too much.

 Let the meat cool down, and slice.
Place slices on the cavolo nero, add the garlicky water/ juice thats sitting brewed around the cavolo nero around the plate.

Roast garlic aioli on the side. *

* For the aoili;

stick 2-3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled, in the oven in a pan with enough water to cover half the cloves. cut bottom touching the pan / immersed in water - leave at 180 for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile - one egg yolk , add a tad of lemon juice , bit of salt and pepper, and start dripping mild olive oil or canola or groundnut oil, very very slowly while whipping it vigorously with either 2 forks, or an egg beater.
-VIGOROUSLY in the beginning.
By the time you ll have added about 1/2 cup of oil, the mayonnaise should be getting pretty tight and solid.
Add water if you need to thin it down. By the droplet.

When its at a satisfying ratio / egg - per oil - flavour, add the garlic and stir. Make sure the roast garlic is by now cold, or the warmth will cook the egg and spoil your entire evening.

Fresh Agnolotti Filled With Wild Mushrooms & pecorino cream In Chive Broth

recipe to follow soon


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Asparagus Papardelle in Lemon Celery & Potato Sauce

This isnt really celery, its the leafier greek Selino, which is almost there but tastier, less stalk more leaf.

In effect, this is an egg-less version of my mum's Artichokes A La Polita (the making of which i do intend to document precisely some day) but with asparagus as the main hero. So it will work well with artichokes too, but then you want to add dill instead of chives.

Chunky asparagus works better in this, as the lemon may obscure the subtle flavour of thin ones.
you ll need;

1 bunch of asparagus
tagliatelle or papardelle or other flat thick pasta, broken spinach lasagne will also do
juice of 1/2 lemon
dry white wine
2 garlic bulbs peeled but whole
1 small pink or red onion, chopped finely
2 stalks of leafy celery chopped finely
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
red pepper flakes
1 large potato or 2 small, peeled and chopped in tiny cubes

Cut asparagus stalks in small thin slices, and cut the potatoes in tiny tiny cubes, like less than 1cm each sice. Cook / steam of boil the stalks and potatoes until just about cooked, then add the spears for the last minute or so. Drain and keep aside.

Heat 2-3 tbsp olive oil, add the garlic bulbs, chopped onions and chilli flakes, cook slowly until soft and almost brown / dont brown them. If you re using celery (not the leafier selino) add it now.Remove the garlic cloves.
Add the wine, wait until it evaporates, then add stock and let the sauce reduce a little.

You can prepare this a ahead, and finish it off when you re about to eat.

When your pasta is just almost cooked, toss the asparagus and the chopped celery leaves and chives, and cook very briefly on moderate heat, stirring to blend and thicken the sauce.

Add lemon juice, and the pasta - adding a tad of the pasta water (a ladle or less) to moisten the dish, and stiring around to release the starch of the potatoes which will bind the pasta to the sauce nicely.

Some grated pecorino or ricota salata in moderation suits it well.