Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Cajun spiced rosé veal fajitas with salsa and avocado sauce

A break with tradition. Veal fillets may spring to mind the Austrian classic, wiener schnitzel, but tonight they got the Cajun treatment. 

Not only does the meat lend itself perfectly to the crispy spiced panko breadcrumbs, the zingy salsa and the creamy avocado and coriander sauce, flattening out the plump little breasts with a rolling pin is a great way to relieve any frustrations you may have. 

For 4 fajitas
2 rosé veal - ours are from the mighty Heaves Farm Veal and you can buy them online. 
3 handfuls panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp sea salt flakes
Plain flour for dusting
2 eggs and a dash of milk, whisked in a large bowl
10 juicy tomatoes, medium to large sized, diced
Half a small red onion, finely diced
2 shots rice vinegar
2 shots extra virgin olive oil 
2 ripe avocados 
3 heaped tablespoons natural yogurt
A handful fresh coriander
Juice of one juicy lime
3 spring onions, top and tailed and quartered
Sea salt and black pepper
Oil for frying - vegetable or sunflower
4 wraps
Kitchen paper

- Place each fillet between a few sheets of cling film (on top and underneath) and hammer it out until it's around 4-5mm thick - a firm hand is required, but too firm a hand will tear the flesh so be careful 
- Into a food processor place the avocado flesh, spring onions, yogurt, lime juice, coriander and a scrunch of salt, then blend until smooth. You may need to stop the blending part way through to push the edges back into the processor so the whole lot is blitzed and smooth. Decant into a bowl and set aside
- Into another bowl place the diced tomatoes and their juice that may have escaped onto the chopping board, the red onion, a couple of scrunches of salt, grind of black pepper then the extra virgin olive oil and rice vinegar shots, combine with a spoon and set aside - not in the fridge, the flavours come out of this salsa best when it's at room temperature
- Into a large mixing bowl combine the panko and all the spices and 2 teaspoons of salt, mix through with a fork
- Into another large bowl place the plain flour with a scrunch of salt and grind of pepper, run your fork through this in the same way
- Pour around an inch of the frying oil into a deep bottomed saucepan and bring to temperature on a medium high heat for around 10 minutes, you'll know the oil is hot enough when you drop a little panko in and it sizzles and fries 
- Take your flattened veal steaks and in turn dust them in the seasoned flour, followed by the egg and milk mix and finally into the Cajun seasoned panko
- One at a time fry the breaded veal in the oil, turning once and cooking on each side for around 3-4 minutes - once golden brown they are done, remove them and drain on kitchen paper
- Whilst they're cooking heat a frying pan on the hob with no oil, and lightly toast the wraps in the pan until warm, then put them onto a plate ready for assembly
- Take the veal from the kitchen paper and cut it into strips, you'll get two fajitas out of each fillet
- Spread a couple of heaped tablespoons of the green sauce over the centre of the base of the flatbreads almost in a line running up the centre, then top with half the crispy veal, followed by a few spoonfuls of the salsa. Wrap the base up first and then bring the sides in - for extra security (but don't pierce yourself when you're eating in eagerness) push a cocktail stick through the top to keep the whole thing together. Try to eat it and not imagine yourself on some kind of Man V Food challenge that involves you covered in food and licking your fingers. 

Monday, 23 April 2012

Rosé veal osso bucco with Milanese risotto and gremolata

A big dish for a big weekend. Moving house is a royal ball ache, and to reward the scraped arms and legs, rough hands, fatigue, splinters (and to mark our arrival at our new abode) I wanted to cook something special. Well, that and we no longer have a freezer and I simply couldn't let the cross cut veal shanks go to waste.

Osso bucco is a classic Italian dish that's traditionally eaten just like this with Milanese risotto (a risotto made with saffron and Parmesan) and gremolata (a sauce with a pesto like consistency made from garlic, parsley, lemon rind and olive oil). 

I fell in love with it in a restaurant and searched out a recipe online so I could get some of this classic Italian comfort food at home. After looking through a few sites including BBC Good Food and UKTV food to get an idea of the basics, I then tweaked them to create what I'd be more than happy to serve to guests as a posh Sunday lunch.

I cook my version of osso bucco down very gently for a couple of hours in a mixture of white wine, pasatta and porcini liqour until the meat is soft, tender and tasty, and the marrow from the centre of the bone has created a shiny gloss to the overall dish. It's perfect along side the fragrant and simple saffron risotto (love that distinctive, honey-like taste it brings to the fat grains) and to cut through all that fragrant richness finally comes the gremolata, herby and bright and clean. 

For four:
For the veal stew - 
4 quarter cut rosé veal shanks - ours are from the mighty Heaves Farm Veal and you can buy them online 
250mls dry white wine
250mls pasatta
250mls warm water with 10g dried porcini soaked in them for 15 minutes. Porcini needs removing after 15 minutes and finely chopping up
20g sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
4 large ripe tomatoes, cored and diced 
2 golden onions, finely diced
2 carrots, peeled, quartered and finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
Unsalted butter
Olive oil 
sea salt and black pepper

Plain flour

For the risotto - 
1800mls light chicken/pork stock, hot (you may want more or less depending on how much your rice needs)
300g risotto rice
250mls dry white wine
3 big pinches saffron
70g butter
One golden onion finely diced
80g grated Parmesan
A glug of olive oil 
Black pepper 

For the gremolata - 
A large handful fresh parsley
The grated rind of one unwaxed lemon
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled
100mls extra virgin olive oil 
A scrunch of sea salt and grind of black pepper

- In a large saucepan or casserole dish with a lid, heat a large glug of olive oil and knob of unsalted butter, and on a lowish heat cook the celery, onion and carrot until they've really reduced and the onions and celery have become translucent, this will take around 15 minutes
- Whilst this is happening, season the shanks and dust lightly with flour, then fry in a separate frying pan that you have on a high heat, foaming with unsalted butter. Cook them for a few minutes each side until they're nice and brown, and remove from the pan and set aside
- To the casserole pot add the diced tomatoes, porcini mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, porcini stock, pasatta, wine and veal shanks and turn the heat up, once it's bubbling turn the pan onto a really low heat, put the lid on and cook for 1 hour 15 minutes
- After this time turn the shanks over in the pot and cook for another 1 hour 15 minutes with the lid off so that the liqor can reduce a little
- Whilst this is cooking down place the gremolata ingredients into a food processor and blitz until you have a pesto like consistency, decant into a small bowl and set aside in the fridge 
- 25 minutes before the shanks are done begin the risotto. Sauté in a large pan the onion in the butter and a glug of olive oil until it's turned translucent on a medium heat, then add the rice and toast on this medium heat for a couple of minutes, now add the wine and continually stir the rice until the wine has cooked in, then ladle by ladle add the hot chicken  stock and stir continually until the liquid has cooked in. Do this until the grains are plump and al dente. Then finish with the grated Parmesan 
- Spoon the risotto into bowls and top with the veal shanks and their sauce, finish with a generous dollop of gremolata, and scoff with a big glass of your favourite vino

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Ramen with oriental style seared pork fillet

Being a purist is a bit overrated. I really can't help myself when it comes to mixing up Oriental flavours, they just go so darn well together.

In this brothy noodly concoction you'll find ginger, sake, lemongrass, soy, miso and star anise, ingredients found in dishes all over the far east - they come together in this one aromatically and harmoniously, in fact, the flavours here are so delicious you'd think they were made for each other. Slurp.

Let's eat...

Asian style seared pork fillet over ramen noodles in lightly 
spiced pork and miso broth with crispy fried ginger

For two:
For the pork -
1 pork fillet - a lean and super economical cut, this little beauty that weighs 500g only cost me £3.20
1 really large knob of ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 heaped tablespoon ground star anise (grind it yourself in a pestle and mortar or you can buy it powedered in Asian supermarkets)
1 heaped teaspoon five spice 
2 shots Japanese soy sauce, I use Kikkoman - if you haven't got that just use a regular light soy sauce
2 shots sake
2 shots dark brown sugar
2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves discarded then cut into rings
Frying oil

For the broth -
Ready to cook ramen (as in the pic) as many as your greed demands (we do 3 packs between 2) 2 large tablespoons white miso
1l light pork stock
500mls water
A sprinkling of shichimi or Japanese seven spice pepper
2 large handfuls fresh bean sprouts
2 spring onions, finely sliced 
A big knob of unsalted butter
A few strands of coriander 
A knob of ginger peeled and cut into matchsticks 

- In a bowl big enough to accomodate the tenderloin  combine all its marinade ingredients (apart from the frying oil) and stir until thoroughly mixed. Take your tenderloin and pierce it several times all over, then lay it in the sauce and baste the top with the marinade. Place into the fridge for at least 24 hours, turning several times during the marinade process so that every side is covered
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, put a bit of oil into a frying pan and heat it on a high heat for a few minutes, then add the fillet (taken out of its marinade) and sear on all sides until browned, this should only take around 7-8 minutes
- Place the seared fillet into a roasting tin (again without its marinade) and pop it into the oven for 20 minutes
- Whilst that's happening, strain the marinade through a fine sieve into a saucepan and bring it to the boil, once it's boiling knock the heat back to really low for it to heat through and keep warm
- Now place the miso and pork stock into a deep saucepan and bring to the simmer, keep the lid on it and turn it low
- When the pork has been in for 20 minutes remove it from the oven and place the fillet onto a chopping board, let it rest for 10-12 minutes
- 5 minutes before it's finished resting pop the noodles into the broth and bring it back to the boil, at the same time heat the unsalted butter in a frying pan until foaming then add the ginger strands, tossing until they turn golden brown at the edges
- Turn the broth and noodles and the ginger off
- Carve the tenderloin and pour any meat juices back into the pan of hot marinade 
- Ladle the noodles and broth into two bowls, top each with a handful of beansprouts and lay the pork over the top. Drizzle the reduced marinade over the pork and finish off with some coriander, spring onion, shichimiand the fried ginger. Slurptastic

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Globe courgettes stuffed with giant cous cous, feta and sundried tomatoes

A simple and rustic dish, good as a side or lunchtime main. The last time I posted a recipe using the spherical courgette they weren't readily available (I snuck mine in from France) but this time I acquired them far more easily, at good old Sainsburys. 

They take various fillings, but we're soon to move house and are trying to use up as many dry ingredients as possible, and today it was the turn of the giant cous cous.

The super fat grain sits nicely inside the roasted flesh, bound with sundried tomatoes and crumbled feta, and they're just as nice hot as they are cold. 

5 courgettes - 1 each as a side or for 2 as a main
5 globe courgettes, their lids cut off
1 red onion, finely diced
150g giant cous cous
80g sundried tomatoes
Half a block of feta, crumbled
Juice of one lemon 
A large glass of white wine
400mls vegetable or chicken stock 
A handful crushed pistachos 
Unsalted butter and olive oil for cooking, and extra virgin for drizzling

- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
- Either using a melon baller or a teaspoon, spoon out the flesh from inside the courgettes, and roughly chop it up
- Lightly oil the outsides of the courgettes and their lids with a little oil, place into a non stick or oiled roasting tin, cover and bake for 40 minutes
- Whilst that is happening, fry the onion in a knob of butter and oil until soft on a medium heat, add the chopped courgette centres and cook for around 15 minutes, keeping turning them until they turn dark - this may take a little while as they are mainly water, but keep going because it will evaporate eventually
- Once this has happened, add the cous cous and continue to cook for a few minutes, then add the wine, stock and tomatoes, cook on a medium heat until all the water has evaporated and the cous cous has cooked through - if you try it and it's still not ready just add a little more water at a time until it is (like with cooking a risotto - little and often)
-  When the grains are ready remove them from the heat, add the lemon juice and pistachios and a glug of the extra virgin olive oil, and leave to cool a little
- When the courgettes have been in 45 minutes, remove their cover and cook for another 15 minutes to get them to dry out a little bit more and start to gently brown
- By the time they come out, the grains should almost be cooled, now it's time to add the feta and stir through
- Now spoon the cous cous into the hollowed courgettes, pop the lids back on them and bake them for 20 minutes to warm through, or 30 if you want them super hot
- Eat with a little salad and glass of white