Sunday, 27 November 2011

Homemade black fettuccine with lemon buttered clams and tiger prawns, and roasted fennel

Slinky, inky, glamorous...the shiny black fettuccine elevates what is a relatively simple fish dish to something altogether more special. Ideal for feeding guests you want to delight, like my parents who were visiting this weekend. 

Making your own pasta is easy enough to do, finding the ink to transform it isn't so simple. I generally now get all my fish from the excellent Evans in Didsbury (where I purchased the delicious and juicy carpet shell clams and giant black tiger prawns - the best I've ever tasted) but sometimes they don't have everything I'm after.

Luckily the ace Fish Society sell cuttlefish ink at a great price, so I took advantage and ordered a few sachets when I placed an order for some other more unusual bits last week.

I cooked the shellfish in a simple and heady mix of white wine, butter, parsley, garlic and lemon rind, and then speckled it with flecks of roasted red pepper before serving it poured over the pasta, accompanied by some golden roasted fennel bulbs. 

It's well worth remembering that if you're making your own pasta that you'll need somewhere for it to hang with the strands kept nice and separate so it doesn't form unpleasant clumps. I don't have a proper pasta airer, instead I use one of those white clothes airers. It may look amusing to see the pasta draped all over it but it does the trick perfectly!

The various flavours and textures of the finished dish married brilliantly - let me know what you think of this little fishy dishy and if you get inspired to recreate it or something like it. 

For four:
For the pasta - 
600g 00 flour
6 free range eggs
A little glug of extra virgin olive oil
A scrunch of sea salt
2 teaspoons (2 sachets of what I purchased) cuttlefish ink (or squid ink)
For the fish - 
1kg carpet shell clams - soaked for an hour in salted water before draining and rinsing - any that are damaged or open must be thrown away 
12 giant black tiger prawns (ie raw), deveined and shell off - so three big prawns each which is just enough 
3 fennel bulbs, quartered
300mls dry white wine
a handful of fresh parsley 
Rind of two unwaxed lemons
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Black pepper
Olive oil for frying
Extra virgin olive oil
One red pepper, cut into strips
Sea salt and black pepper

- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, place your pepper into a roasting tin and bake until soft and just beginning to char at the edges - you'll need to move them around during the cooking so they dont stick as you're baking them unoiled, this means they'll dry out and become more intensely flavoured. Cook for around an hour then remove and finely dice once cool enough to handle. Set aside
- Into the small compartment of a food processor with a blade, add 3 tablespoons of butter, the lemon rind (I use a grater for this rather than big strips), parsley, a scrunch of salt and blitz until together, remove and set aside
- Into the large compartment of a food processor place your pasta ingredients and blitz until its come together as much as it will, which will be a slightly sandy texture. If you don't have a food processor, pour your flour onto a clean work surface, make a well in the centre and add the whisked eggs with the ink to the centre and bring together with a fork.  Whichever method you use, once you have that sandy texture, it's time to bring the dough together and give it a good kneading. This will take around 5 minutes and once it's feeling silky and smooth to the touch rather than rough, you know it's done. Wrap it in clingfilm and place it into the fridge for half an hour
- Take your fennel bulbs, take the tops of them off so you have nice clean ends, then quarter them and brush with olive oil and place into the oven for an hour. You'll need to take them out a few times as you're cooking them to turn them over, ensuring all the edges get nice and golden
- Attach your pasta machine to your work top and once it's ready to use, take it out of the fridge and cut it into 4 segments, this makes it easier to work with. You'll need some help with this so the pasta doesn't get overly stretched as it goes through the machine, but it doesn't take long to do. As you're rolling it through the settings getting finer and finer, if the dough gets slightly wet or tacky feeling you'll need to lightly dust it with some more 00 flour - this will stop it dragging and tearing as it goes through the machine. I don't go to the finest setting that rolls out the dough into sheets as it's too fragile, I leave it one before that and then put it through the fettuccine blades, before draping (elegantly, if I do say so myself) on a clean clothes airer
Time to cook the dish...
- When you think your fennel have around 20 minutes to go, bring a large saucepan of water with some salt in it to a rolling boil
- Whilst it's coming to temperature take a large sauté pan (needs a lid) add a tablespoon of butter, glug of olive oil and heat on a high heat, once the butter starts foaming add the clams and prawns to the pan - stir for a minute then add the garlic, stir for another few seconds as you mix the garlic through the fish, when you can smell the aroma rising out of the pan add the wine and give the pan a shake, put the lid on it now (the fish will take around 6 minutes to cook)
- Take the fennel from the oven and set aside
- Place the pasta into the rolling boiling water and stir gently with a fork. If your water stops boiling place the lid on the pan
- Shake the seafood pan and lift the lid, now add the diced pepper and lemon parsley butter mix, lid back on you need to shake the pan gently so the butter melts into the fish
- As soon as your clam shells have opened up (this will happen after the prawns turn pink) and all the butter and herbs have mixed through the wine and fish juices, take it off the heat and leave the lid on to keep it hot
- Test your pasta and once al dente drain it
Time to plate the dish...
- Move it straight from the colander into four bowls
- Divide the fennel bulb quarters between the bowls, placing them in the centre of the dish. Now ladle over the prawns and clams, and once that's done spoon the liquor over the dishes, using it all up. Give a little glug of your finest extra virgin olive oil and serve. Don't forget you mustn't eat any that don't open, and you'll need a bowl at the table to put the empty shells 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Italian style rosé veal pie

A special parcel arrived for me this week...Now, it's not unusual for special parcels to arrive at my house (the postman must hate me given the frequency of his visits), it seems like every week I have lovely purchases delivered - shoes, books, music, dresses, etc etc, but this weeks star parcel wasn't of any of those things, it was meat. Rosé veal to be precise. 10kgs of it. 

It came from the fabulous Heaves Farm Veal company, a lovely family run business that rear rosé veal in Cumbria. It's because of them that an ardent foodie like me gets to enjoy a meat previously avoided for ethical reasons because their meat is welfare reared - having a fantastic taste and being guilt free. 

There will be many veal recipes over these coming weeks and months as I work my way through the box of treats, but the chill that arrived in the air this weekend meant that first up had to be a pie.

Italian style is this creation; slow cooked rosé veal in white wine with pancetta, anchovy, garlic, carrot and celery - a light but substantial combination of ingredients that are made even more delicious when encased in puff pastry. 

Pie for four (or two VERY greedy people):
1kg braising rosé veal 
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 golden onion, peeled and diced
2 celery sticks, washed and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 rashers smoked pancetta or streaky bacon, snipped up
Half a bottle of Italian dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
8 anchovy fillets (not the fresh deli counter variety)
Half a pint of cold water
1.5 packets of puff pastry (I prefer the block rather than the roll)
A couple of tablespoons corn flour, mixed up with enough water to form a paste
A tablespoon sugar
A pinch of sea salt and several generous scrunches of black pepper
Unsalted butter
Buttered peas to serve 
Plain flour for rolling out 
1 egg for glazing the pastry

- Into a slow cooker or casserole dish place all the ingredients apart from the pastry, then turn on to cook slowly until the meat is tender and casserole like - this will depend on how you cook it and at what temperature, but somewhere between 3 and 5 hours ish
- Once done, remove the meat and leave it to cool (very important when you assemble the pie that you do so using a cold filling) and reduce the liquor on the hob on a moderate heat until it has gone down to leaving you with approximately a pint
- When you're at that point, mix in the corn flour very gradually (difficult to say how much is needed here as it will depend on how your pie has cooked) but add it a little at a time, stirring it in and waiting for it to thicken before adding more, you're looking for a gravy like texture
- When the thickness is as you like, continue to cook it for around 10-15 minutes to 'cook out' the flavour of the flour, then turn the pan off and add the veal and carrot mix to the pan, coating the meat in the sauce, then leave the lot to cool
Once the filling has cooled its time to make the pie
- Preheat your oven to 175 degrees
- Butter your pie dish and make sure your pastry has been out of the fridge for 30 minutes before you start using it
- Lightly flour a work surface and place the first full block of puff pastry in the centre, begin rolling it out remembering a couple of rules - keep running your hands over the pastry to see if its 'damp' feeling and if it is give it a little bit of flour to stop it sticking to the worktop or the rolling pin, and after rolling it one way, turn the pastry round to roll the other angle, rather than roll the pin the other way on the pastry whilst keeping it in the same place
- Roll the sheet out enough so that you can lay it inside the pie case (you might need to keep picking it up and draping it in the case to see if it's big enough) and once its done lay it in there and gently press into the corners and edges of the case
- Pick the pie dish up in one hand, and using the other hand with a sharp knife trim off the excess hanging over the edge, you do this by bringing the knife up from underneath and running the blade along the edge of the dish, slicing the pastry off
- Once done fill the pie with the mixture and then brush the edge that will join to the top layer of pastry with egg, before rolling out the remaining half block of puff and laying it over the top
- Make a cross hole in the centre of the pie so the steam can escape, then use the back of a fork to press the edges of the pie to the side of the dish, sealing it shut
(decorate as you feel appropriate or otherwise)
- Pop into the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbling (over the edge probably)

- Serve with buttered peas