Thursday, 25 June 2015

Seafood sausage with chablis - Yapp's Drinks on Us Challenge

I'm really excited about the recipe I am sharing today. It's really delicious, a bit unusual, very impressive-looking and not as difficult as I was anticipating.
Paul was playing with his camera
I was invited by Yapp Brothers, a wine merchant specialising in French wines, to take part in their Drinks on Us challenge. They asked about my wine preferences (...in a glass), sent me a bottle and asked me to devise the perfect accompaniment to the wine.

They chose a chablis for me, described as "classy, unoaked & supple, delightful with creamy fish or seafood dishes". Chablis tends to be quite fresh and acidic, so I wanted to make something that would highlight that acidity, without being so rich as to make the wine seem thin.
Very young garlic scapes 
I decided to have a crack at a seafood sausage. A white fish mousseline with chunks of other seafood through it. I did a practice run on the mousseline and it was lovely - it reminded Paul of the pike boudin from the dearly departed Le Cafe Anglais - but he thought there should be something green and fresh in the mixture. Fortunately a few garlic scapes had appeared on our garlic plants in time to come to the party.

If you don't want to do the extra fiddle of making the sausages, I fried spoonfuls of the mixture to test the seasoning and they were very tasty too, so you could make fishcakes instead. Or put it in buttered ramekins or a terrine and cook it in a waterbath. But do have a go - the delicate, sweet seafood with the slight hint of garlic from the scapes is just the thing with a crisp white wine. And it makes a sausage elegant enough to be served anywhere.
Putting sausage skins on the tube is always funny
Seafood sausages (serves 3-4)

420g skinless boneless white fish (I used cod)
3 eggwhites
150ml double cream
300g other seafood (I used scallops and crayfish tails)
3 garlic scapes (or chives)
1tsp salt
Freshly ground white pepper
Sausage casings prepared according to type

Make space in your fridge. This all needs to be kept quite well chilled, so keep everything in the fridge until the last minute and between steps put the bowls back in the fridge.

In a food processor, pulse the white fish and eggwhites together until smooth. Gradually add the cream and blend until white, fluffy and quite firm. Refrigerate.

Chop the other seafood into small pieces. My sausage stuffer has a little spinning disc bit in it and the holes in the disc are just over 1cm wide - so the bits had to be smaller than that so they could get through the tube. Put the garlic scapes into a sieve over the sink and pour over a kettle full of boiling water. Drain, pat dry and finely slice.

Fold the fish mousseline mixture into the garlic scapes and other seafood. Season with salt and white pepper, cover and chill for an hour.

Feed the sausage casings onto the stuffing tube. A little cream may have oozed out of the filling while it's been chilling, so fold it back in. Fill the sausage skins, twisting to form links, and knot at both ends. Chill the sausages again for at least another hour before cooking. Fry very gently in a little oil until well browned on all sides. We had them with green beans and sugar snap peas, and a little beurre blanc. And of course, a glass of chablis.
Seafood sausages and chablis. Perfect match

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Mutton samosas and lamb burgers. Tasty Easy Fun

When I posted about the launch of the Lamb. Tasty Easy Fun campaign last week I mentioned that I had the recipe for the lamb burgers that Cyrus Todiwala had developed for the campaign, so I am going to share that with you today. I also have a recipe of my own to share, which is really delicious and I hope you will enjoy it.
Spiced lamb burgers stuffed with spiced blue cheese by Cyrus Todiwala for www.tastyeasylamb.co.uk
Blue cheese stuffed lamb burger (makes 6 burgers)

Burger ingredients
675g lamb mince
1 finely chopped medium onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 x 2" piece minced fresh ginger
1 slender-type minced green chilli (seeds included)
1tbs ground cumin powder
1 1/2tbs ground coriander powder
2tbs tomato puree
3 heaped tbs finely chopped fresh coriander
1tsp garam masala powder
1-2tsp salt
1tsp crushed black pepper

Stuffing ingredients
150g blue cheese, crumbled
2 finely chopped green chillies
1tbs finely chopped fresh coriander
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic

Rolls or bread, to serve

In a large bowl gently mix all the burger ingredients together. Divide into 6 evenly-sized burgers.

In a small bowl blend the stuffing ingredients together and shape into equal-sized balls to stuff the burgers.

Make an indentation in the centre of each burger with your thumb and fill with a ball of the cheese. Make sure the cheese is completely encased when you form the burger.

Cook on a prepared grill or barbecue for 6-8 minutes on each side or until any meat juices run clear.

Serve with your favourite bread or rolls with some sliced tomato, onion and lettuce and some relish.
Mutton keema
At the campaign launch Cyrus spoke so knowledgeably about the different breeds of sheep and the contribution sheep farming makes in communities with marginal agricultural land. You can raise sheep where no crops will grow, like the sturdy Herdwick sheep in the Lake District, and one job in farming stimulates something like seven jobs in the local community - all very worthwhile.

So I was feeling a bit inspired to make something from British mutton (as I mentioned before, we don't tend to eat lamb early in the season) with some of the spices Cyrus talked about, and Paul has been begging me to have another crack at samosas for him. I placed an order for some mutton shoulder with Turner & George, knowing that you get a card telling you what breed your meat is and where it was raised. And it turned out to be Herdwick, which was pretty perfect really.
Waiting for frying
The keema on its own is excellent, so if you can't be arsed folding and frying, just make that and have it with some rice or naan. You could bake them too, if you didn't feel like frying. And you can definitely use readily available minced lamb instead of mutton - don't be deterred!

Mutton samosas (makes about 18)

For the keema
600g minced mutton or lamb
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
1" piece of fresh ginger
1-2 chillies (I used 3 red chillies with hardly any heat at all - you know your palate)
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp sea salt flakes (to taste)
1 handful frozen peas
1 tsp garam masala powder

For the samosas
Filo pastry
Melted butter
2 eggwhites, lightly beaten
oil for shallow frying

Roughly chop the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies. In a food processor, blend them to a paste with the vegetable oil (and a slosh of water if it needs loosening). If you don't have a food processor just chop them as finely as you can (I think it is nicer to have a fine texture in a little parcel, but if you are just eating the keema on its own, you can have everything a bit coarser).

In a sauté pan or deep skillet, fry the onion paste, stirring to stop it from catching, for a few minutes or until it starts to brown. Add the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves and pepper and fry for just a minute until the powders are fragrant, then add the minced mutton. Brown the meat, breaking it up with a spoon. Add a little water if it starts to dry out too much. Add the peas and season with salt to taste. Cook for another 5-10 minutes until it is cooked through and fairly dry. Sprinkle with the garam masala. If you are going to make the samosas, allow to cool completely.

Filo has a slightly unfair reputation for being tricky. You can't take it too slowly but it honestly isn't that temperamental. To fold the samosas, take a sheet of filo and cover the rest of the pack with a slightly damp tea towel. With a sharp knife, cut the sheet into 3 long strips. I was a bit paranoid about getting them to seal properly, so I put a little eggwhite at each end of the strip, with some melted butter along the length for lusciousness and flake. Put about a heaped tablespoon of the cold keema at one end of a strip, fold the corner of the filo over it and then just fold and tuck to the end of the sheet. Repeat until you've used all the keema or all of the filo, whichever comes first. I had leftover filo so I made a little cherry strudel as well, because it doesn't store well.

Either shallow fry or bake the samosas immediately, or keep in the fridge until you are ready. If you need to keep them in the fridge, put a layer of baking parchment between each layer of samosas on your tray to stop them from sticking to each other. If you are baking them, brush the tops with a little extra melted butter before they go in the oven (I think 10-15 minutes at 200C should do it).

I served them with Mr Todiwala's minted mango and ginger relish and a sort of chaat-y salad of layers of boiled potato, yoghurt, fresh coriander chutney, chickpeas and other such deliciousness.


Monday, 15 June 2015

No-churn lemon ripple ice cream

I've mentioned that I hate food waste, haven't I? It feels so wrong to throw away ingredients because I've not made it around to cooking the dish I bought them for, or even worse, because I've misjudged use-by dates. This ice cream happened because a carton of cream was on its use-by date and I didn't have any other plans to use it for the next couple of days (I find that sealed cartons of cream are usually fine for at least a day or two afterwards, but I didn't want to push it too far). It also finished up a squeezy bottle of condensed milk that had been in the fridge for a while and the jar of lemon curd left from my raspberry and lemon dacquoise, so definitely a worthwhile, simple and useful little recipe. And delicious. Oh so delicious.

It uses the whipped cream and condensed milk base which makes a no-churn ice cream scoopable straight from the freezer, but I added a little vodka just to help it along. If you have a bottle of limoncello that you bought on holidays and have never got around to using, you could add that instead.

No-churn lemon ripple ice cream (serves about 4)

170g condensed milk
170ml double cream
1 lemon, juice and grated zest
2tbs vodka
good quality lemon curd

Put the condensed milk, lemon zest, juice and vodka in a large glass bowl and give it a bit of a stir to combine. Then add the cream and whip until it forms defined peaks.

Fold in the lemon curd (I had about 3 heaped tablespoons left from the dacquoise and dunking a spoon in the jar every time I went into the kitchen) very roughly, so it's rippled through the cream. Scrape into a plastic box, cover and freeze.
Now, Kavey's Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream event this month has a water ice theme - sorbets and granitas. So this doesn't qualify AT ALL. But it tastes so good that I am going to send it along to her anyway. And lemon is refreshing, so it's almost like a sorbet, right? Creamy, luscious sorbet.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Lamb. Tasty Easy Fun with Cyrus Todiwala

I am feeling somewhat elderly. The other night I attended a really fun event, the launch of a campaign to get people eating more lamb, but the big thing that stood out to me is that apparently lamb eaters are an ageing demographic. Then this morning I discovered that it's been 26 years since Naomi Watts made the wise choice of lamb over Tom Cruise. 26 years. Damn that makes me feel old. Bah (baa?) humbug.

Now, I don't know if it is because I am Australian and Paul is South African, and we're required by law to eat lamb, or if it is because we are old, but lamb has never fallen off our shopping list. I don't know the actual reasons for the decline and the AHDB representative didn't really suggest anything concrete but I suspect there may be several reasons. I wonder if people who were children during the devastating 2001 foot and mouth outbreak remember the horrifying news footage too clearly? Or if they associate lamb with mystery meat kebabs, takeaway curries and grey Sunday roasts rather than considering it something to quickly and economically cook at home? Perhaps the value-added options at the supermarket haven't been so tempting or as diverse as for other meats. Or maybe it is the price - lamb doesn't lend itself to factory farming, so the price hasn't been pushed down to pennies the way intensively-reared pork and chicken has been. I absolutely refuse to accept the "they don't learn cooking at school" argument because I didn't learn anything of value in school cooking classes almost 30 years ago and yet here I am, moderately competent.
Cyrus Todiwala - passionate ambassador for British lamb
Anyway, the event was held at Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala's restaurant Cafe Spice Namaste. We had some delicious canapés to get us in the mood before the serious stuff. Sheek kavaab (minced lamb kebabs with dates, sultanas and walnuts), skewers of diced lamb with chilli, garlic and cinnamon and very unusual and delicious lamb breast and cauliflower in short, fragile biscuit cases.

They were all very good, but I was particularly intrigued by the lamb breast. We cook boned breasts of lamb on the barbecue quite often, because with a long, slow cook the (copious) fat renders out and you are left with layers of crisp skin and meltingly tender meat. These canapes were made in quite a different way which again rendered out the fat and just left succulent meat behind: it was slowly cooked then chilled and pressed before being cut into slices and tossed in a hot pan.
Breast of lamb and cauliflower
Sheek kavaab
Having had enough food to tantalise and pacify us, Jane Ritchie-Smith introduced the campaign. It's a joint effort by the EU and agricultural boards in the UK, France and Ireland which will be running for the next three years. Then John Kirkpatrick talked about his experiences raising sheep in Derbyshire and working with local butchers to create interesting varieties of lamb sausage and other value-added products. The main attraction, though, was Cyrus demonstrating a couple of recipes he's developed for the Lamb. Tasty Easy Fun campaign.
Skills.
Other than watching Cyrus and Tony Singh's series The Incredible Spice Men, I wasn't too familiar with him but he is the most perfect person to champion British lamb. He spoke knowledgeably on the various breeds of sheep in the UK, agriculture and sustainability, interspersed with anecdotes about cooking for the Queen and the quirks of some of the farmers he buys from. All the while he chopped and sautéed and explained how spicing works in Indian food, the essential spices to get started and tips on food safety. He got an enormous amount of information into a relatively short and engaging presentation. As someone who hates food waste and loves using local produce, I found his approach very attractive: buying heritage breeds directly from farmers, butchering the carcasses himself and using every bit that he can.
Lamb cutlets 
After the demonstration, of course, came dinner. Starters of lamb cutlets simply flavoured with ginger and black pepper which I think Paul would absolutely love. Mini dosa, crisp on the outside, slightly crumpety in the middle, folded around deliciously spiced potato. Little samosas of lamb offal, drizzled with tamarind chutney and sev.
Mini dosa. Even at a lamb dinner not everything is meaty.
Samosa of spiced liver, kidney and sweetbreads
As a middle course we had the dishes which Cyrus had demonstrated. A pair of little lamb burgers stuffed with blue cheese and a quickly sautéed cannon of lamb garnished with coriander. They were both delicious - the cannon was incredibly tender and had cooked in moments - but I actually think I preferred the burger mixture raw, which we'd also tasted. This post is getting very long, so I am going to do another piece featuring the recipes, I think!
One mini burger on a bun, the other on a light tomato sauce
Cannon of lamb
The shared main courses were a rich lamb curry with a nice kick of chilli in the gravy, a delicate and delicious keema pilau and a fantastic dish of shredded Chinese greens with mustard seeds and coconut which I think would be considered a thoran. Apparently the veg dish is on their main menu at the moment.

The finishing touch was a dessert of kulfi and figs stewed in marsala. Pervin Todiwala was wandering around making sure all their guests were happy while Cyrus cleaned up his station, and she explained that the kulfi was so good because they make it in house. It was definitely the creamiest and most pistachio-y of the pistachio kulfis I have tried, and the almond and saffron one was also lovely - just subtle and perfect. Reminds me I need to dig out my kulfi moulds and have a go with Felicity Cloake's perfect kulfi recipe and see how it compares.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Toasted cheese three ways

In the absence of a plancha, our sandwich press
The need has been growing for a while now. It started when we watched Chef one night - which, if you haven't seen it, is an endearing story of how a chef finds redemption through sandwiches. The chef, whose name I can't remember despite having seen the movie twice now, is saved by very, very nice looking Cuban sandwiches and that kicked off a recent obsession with melted cheese in bread.
Mumbai cheese toastie
The need built when Diana Henry published a recipe for a Mumbai cheese toastie - an Indian street food sandwich with a fresh herb chutney for the all-important contrasting zing. At this point, resistance was futile and we gave in. It was fabulous. We don't have a panini press or jaffle maker, so for this sort of sandwich I do them in a frying pan with a bit of melted butter & oil and press them with a heavy mortar.
Ploughmans toastie
Of course, having yielded to the temptation, other things to go with cheese and bread started to come to mind. Leftover barbecued pork with cheese and piccalilli for a sort of ploughmans lunch version, for example. Inevitably, I suppose, I went back to where I began, and made something resembling a Cuban sandwich. Sort of. The thing is, apparently to be a proper Cuban sandwich you have to start with proper Cuban bread. Which I did not have access to. Instead I used demi-brioche burger buns, which apparently make it more like a medianoche sandwich. I had the sliced dill pickles, ham, roast pork (just bought, sliced roast pork, not lovingly marinated in mojo), Swiss cheese and mustard (home made Dijon-style mustard, not sweet American). And you know? It was OK. Definitely lacking movie magical qualities, but really very nice.
Medianoche. Sort of.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Sultana rum cake

You know that thing I have told you about, where all of a sudden Paul starts to moan that I never make him x, y or z, without ever having expressed an interest in them before? This time, out of the blue, he asked for fruit cake. I do love a bit of fruit cake - preferably the rich sort where the tiniest possible amount of eggs and flour glue together a dense slab of very boozy dried fruits - but it takes forward planning and usually I'd rather buy it. This is not that sort of cake. This is the sort of fruit cake you can knock up in less than an hour after lunch to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon: a lighter, more sponge-textured (in the good, cake way, not the bathroom product way) affair. I weighed the eggs in the shell and went from there to make just a little craving-satisfying fruit cake.

Sultana rum cake (makes about 8 slices)

30g mixed peel
50g sultanas
2tbs spiced rum
130g butter, softened
130g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs (which, as it happens, weighed 130g in the shell)
30g ground almonds
100g self raising flour

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line the base of a 6" springform pan with baking parchment and grease the base and sides.

Soak the peel and sultanas in the rum for as long as you can wait. Mine only had about 15 minutes so weren't as plumped as they could have been.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the ground almonds and flour, then the fruit and any rum that hasn't been properly absorbed. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake until well risen, golden and a skewer tests clean (about 35 minutes). Cool before slicing.


Friday, 29 May 2015

Bulgur & Spinach Pilaf


It's Potluck week again at I Heart Cooking Clubs, and it just so happens that last night I cooked a Diana Henry recipe, so I can join in. It's a bulgur and spinach pilaf, (from her first book, Crazy Water Pickled Lemons) layered up with lovely garlicky labneh, sweet and spicy roast tomatoes and cinnamon-scented frizzled onions. Which you must admit sounds like the most appetising thing in the world.

I confess, I took a few liberties. For one thing, I told Paul I was doing an Ottolenghi. Using Tim Hayward's phrase, we love to Ottoleng. It has become shorthand in our house for very pretty dishes that look beautiful piled up on platters and have lovely contrasting colours, flavours and textural elements. All of which this pilaf fulfils abundantly. But as we were having this conversation via facebook message it was just easier to use the shorthand rather than explain properly.

I committed a few more substantial crimes against the dish too. I was trying to use up a few things before today's grocery delivery, so I used frozen spinach, thawed and drained, instead of fresh. I used crumbled feta instead of making my own labneh. I used halved cherry tomatoes instead of plum. I used frozen chopped mint. So, despite the several processes involved in making it, it ended up coming together as a very useful little meal of pantry and freezer staples. It'd be lovely as a main meat-free dish, but the weather was nice last night so we sat outside drinking red wine while a boned shoulder of lamb, marinated in garlic, oregano and lemon, grilled over charcoal. Very Ottolenghi. Very Diana. Very delicious.

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