Monday, 10 December 2012

Oven-baked pasta with guinea fowl, cherry tomatoes and soured cream

A couple of days ago, we had an amazing roast guinea fowl. I wanted to do something tasty with the left over meat and steamed asparagus and this is what we had tonight. It was a wonderfully satisfying meal on a wintry Monday night. You can use chicken for this as well.

(serves 2)

200 g cooked guinea fowl
300 g cherry tomatoes
1 red chilli, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
150 ml soured cream
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
a handful of freshly chopped coriander

200 g pasta

1. Boil the kettle and add the boiling water, pasta and some salt to a saucepan. Cook as per packet instructions.

2. Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the cherry tomatoes. Cook them over a high heat for 3-4 minutes. Turn down the heat and add the chilli and garlic. Season with pepper and salt. Cook for another few minutes, then add the chopped up guinea fowl, soured cream and coriander. Bring to the boil and take off the heat.

3. Drain the pasta when ready. Pour into an oven-proof dish, pour over the sauce and mix. Bake in the oven at gas mark 5/ 200°C for 15 minutes.

Friday, 7 December 2012

"Franzose" - Spiced hot apple wine with calvados

This is a nice alternative to mulled wine in the winter and pre-xmas season.

(serves 4-5)

1 bottle of still apple wine or French cider (4-5% alcohol)
1 large (15 cm) cinnamon stick, cut into 3-4 pieces
5-6 star anise
8 cloves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
6 cardamom pods, cracked
2 tsp honey or to taste
70 ml calvados

Place all the spices on a piece of muslin, gather the muslin and wrap with a piece of string to make a bag.

Add all the bag of spices, apple wine and honey into a saucepan and heat very slowly. Steep for 15 minutes but don't boil. Just before serving add the calvados and heat throught. Serve in warmed tea glasses or mugs.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Lamb ragù with fennel seeds

I love a good ragù, or bolognese as most of us would call it. And I now know that the quick way we tend to do it is not the tastiest way. Try and let it simmer for at least an hour-and-a-half, longer if you can. Normally, you'd add water to make sure the meat stays moist but I made this easy by adding 2 tins of chopped tomatoes to just 250 g of mince. This should serve 4 - 6 people. As there are only two of us, we had dinner for two nights: stuffed aubergine and couscous on Tuesday and pasta with ragù on Wednesday.

250 g lamb mince
1 onion, finely chopped
1 whole bulb garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
2 tins of chopped tomatoes in thick sauce
good glug of dry white wine
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp brown sugar

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, e. g. Le Creuset, heat some olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic and fennel seeds for about 5 minutes without browning. Add the mince and sauté until lightly browned all over. Add the tinned tomatoes, wine and sugar and season with pepper and salt. Simmer for at least 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with pasta and sprinkle with freshly ground parmesan. Alternatively, stuff halved peppers and aubergines. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 200 °C.

Red wine, mushroom and pancetta risotto

Having cooked this three times now, twice just for the two of us and once for a larger group at hour friends' in Holland, I have to say that it is currently my favourite risotto. It looks a wee bit strange, i. e. pink, but don't let that fool you. It is tasty as get out. And it only takes about 30 minutes to make, in total.
Unfortunately, British supermarkets don't have a good selection of mushrooms so I've only used ordinary mushrooms and oyster mushrooms so far. I'm dreaming of using a mix of wonderful wild mushrooms, chanterelles in particular, and perhaps a tiny wee amount of dried porcinis and the soaking juices of those... If you want to prepare a vegetarian version of this, I would definitely recommend using porcinis.
(serves 2)
200 g arborio rice
1/2 red onion, very finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 celery stick, very finely chopped
175 ml full-bodied red wine
1.2 l vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
50 g freshly grated parmesan
1/2 packet of pancetta
250 g mushrooms

1. First of all, heat a little olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the mushrooms and pancetta until crisp and golden. Set them aside.

2. Heat a couple of lugs of olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onion, garlic and celery over a medium heat for about 5 minutes without them browning.
3. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until it starts to look a little translucent.
4. Add the wine and stir until it's been absorbed by the rice. Then add a ladle of stock at the time and keep stirring. You want the rice to bubble but not boil so adjust the heat as necessary during this step. The rice will take about 15-20 minutes.

5. Once the rice is done it shouldn't be completely dry but still have some nice liquid left. Now season with the black pepper (I don't use salt because there is enough in the pancetta, stock and parmesan) and add the mushroom-and-pancetta mix.
6. Next, mix in the parmesan and a little olive oil. Put the lid on and leave for a couple of minutes. Then serve.