Lemony Fusion

I wasn’t so fond of how this turned out; so I doubt that I will make it again.

It’s diced chicken, stirfried with a handful of mushrooms; and noodles. The liquid I used for the noodles was one tablespoon each of lemoncello and lemon vincotto. The resulting flavour was quite bitter.

No matter. Next time I’ll try something different!

A dish with rabbit; with a terrible name.

I have been thinking about the sorts of things I might cook over Easter weekend, and rabbit is something that seemed just perfect, in a perverse sort of way (don’t hit me!). I had a poke around some recipe books to see what I could see; and nothing I saw was compelling.

I thought some more. Stroked my chin; and pondered. Then it struck me: I could prepare rabbit loins using a tried and true method that I devised for chicken!

Bunny in MarinadeFirst: Create a marinade using a combination of verjus and honey with salt, and marinate the loins for an hour or so, stirring occasionally. I used two heaped teaspoons of honey and about 1/4 c of verjus making this dish for two people; but by all means vary this as you see fit.

Brown the BunnySecond: After the loins have finished marinading, heat up a cast iron fry pan. Once the pan is hot, take each of the loins out of the marinade, and place in the pan. Hold on to the rest of the marinade! Brown each of the loins.

Glaze the BunnyThen: Once all of the loins are nice and brown; and the honey is starting to caramelise, add the rest of the marinade back into the pan, and continue to cook until the marinade is all caramelised and the rabbit is coated in a delicious sticky glaze.

That, is all there is to it.
Eat the Bunny!

Of course, every dish needs a name. With this dish, however, the name came first. This, will be forever known as….

Honey Bunny.

Morepork

(Nothing to do with the owl)

Monday night, involved roast pork. Since there are only two of us, that means Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and by the looks of it, Thursday night also involve roast pork.

Tuesday night was roast pork sandwiches. Delicious, but hardly worthy of making a blog post about it.

Tonight, though, we had stirfry.

First up, make “delicious liquid #94” (Okay, so 94 is a somewhat arbitary number. Don’t ask me what the preceding 93 delicious liquids are.): So called delicious liquid #94 involves combining about a tablespoon each of soy sauce, golden syrup and mirin (It’s Japanese, sweet, white, rice wine) and mixing everything together.

Next, chop some stuff up! For the two of us, that was about two handfuls of roughly diced roast pork; Eight mushrooms sliced, and two bunches of pak choy (I used one. Two was the correct number, it turns out).

Finally: Fire! Heat up a wok with a little oil, and toss in the pork. Cook until it browns up. Next up, the mushrooms go in. When the mushrooms are starting to brown, add about 1/3 of delicious liquid and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated off. Add another third, and evaporate again. Add the final third of delicious liquid #94, and add the pak choy. Continue to cook until the pak choy has wilted.

Unfortunately, this smelled so delicious I forgot to take a photo. Oh Noes!

Mushroom+Bacon Risotto

Melt butter in a pan, and add chopped bacon. When the bacon is browned; add risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli), and fry until just starting to brown.

Deglaze the pan with a couple of glugs of vermouth; then add finely diced onion and saute until translucent.

If there is still fond on the pan (uh.. brown bits), use some chicken stock to deglaze further. Then, add enough chicken stock to just cover the rice.

When the stock has evaporated off; cover the rice with stock again.

This time, when the stock evaporates, add sliced mushrooms; and again, cover the rice with stock.

When the stock evaporates this time; the risotto is probably ready. Sample a grain of rice, and if it tastes about right; stir in grated parmesan cheese and serve. Otherwise, continue adding and cooking off more stock until it’s finished.

Beef Stir-Fry

– Marinate thinly sliced beef in a mixture of about 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of crushed garlic; a generous pinch of salt, and pepper for as long as you can bear.

– Slice up 3 spring onions quite small

– Chop the chunky stems off a bunch of pak choy; and cut the bigger leaves in half.

– (Here’s where most of the waiting for as long as you can bear takes place…)

– Heat up a wok with a bit of oil; then add the beef (leaving as much of the marinade behind as possible. The idea here is to brown the meat, not stew it.)

– When the beef has mostly browned; add the spring onions.

– Once the spring onions have wilted; toss in a package of noodles. I used hokkien this time; other times, I use singapore noodles.

– Once the noodles have had a minute or so to cook; add the pak choy, and the remaining marinade; and keep eveything moving until the pak choy has wilted, but is still a little crispy.

– Bowl. Eat.

Asparagus Risotto

This is just a fairly standard sort of risotto. I trimmed the asparagus tips off for garnishing, and chopped the stems thinly. I finely chopped the zest of a lemon, and set aside the lemon juice for deglazing. As an underlying flavour base, I used 4-5 shallots diced finely.

I blanched the asparagus stems in water, and once they were finished; cooled the water down with a block of frozen chicken stock from the freezer.

In the main pan, I heated some garlic infused olive oil; and added the lemon zest. Once that was fragrant, I added the shallots. When the shallots softened, I added four small handfulls of risotto rice to the pan; which I gently fried until it started to get a little colour. At this stage, I deglazed the pan with the lemon juice. Once the lemon juice evaporated, I started to incorporate the chicken stock. When the risotto was about half complete; I added the asparagus stems to the pan, and moved the asparagus tips into the stock to warm through.

Once the risotto finished; I put it into a couple of bowls, and topped it with freshly grated parmesan and the asparagus tips.

Next time around, I’m going to pass on blanching the asparagus – the idea behind that was to get some asparagus flavour into the chicken stock. It didn’t make that much difference flavourwise, and it was a bit brutal texture-wise.

Cherry Clafouti

Cherry Clafouti, I know you’re in there! Come out, with your hands up!

I saw a picture of a cherry clafouti when I was poking about on eGullet in the past week or so. It was handsome. So when I saw there were cherries at the supermarket this evening, I decided that I was going to make cherry clafouti!

There’s always a catch to any good story.

It turns out that I don’t have an appropriate dish for making clafouti. My first choice of dish, a springform pan, was a predictable mistake. Faced with a leaky springform pan full (but emptying) of batter, I had to find a second choice, and fast!

It turns out that I don’t have that much in the way of “things for baking food in”. However, among the things I do have for baking food in, were muffin tins. And by some bizarre fluke of the universe, a muffin tray was precisely the right amount of space for the reduced quantity of batter that I made! But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here.

At the supermarket, when I decided that cherry clafouti would be mine (oh yes, it would be mine); I wasn’t too sure what was actually involved – I knew there was some kind of doughy mixture with cherries poking out. I figured that to make the doughy mixture, I’d find the ingredients in my pantry. This was almost correct; but I wasn’t missing anything that I couldn’t substitute. I’m digressing again, aren’t I. Lets jump forward in time to when I started looking at recipes.

When it comes down to it, clafouti is batter over fruit (cherries, in this case). It shouldn’t be that hard to make. That doesn’t stop some people from having convoluted recipes with eggs and yolks, or ground almonds or all sorts of other little complications. I ended up going with the simplest batter recipe that I came across, with an important variation: There’s only one of me, and while I regard dessert as being the most important meal of the day, I can only eat so much dessert. Instead of making the dessert as in the recipe, I ended up making roughly a third of the recipe (One egg worth, non-divisible things that they are. (That’s not strictly true – it’s just a pain to split an egg)). On with the procedure!

Start off with roughly two heaped tablespoons of flour, with just a pinch of salt. Then, make a well in the middle, and add the egg. Whisk the egg into the flour until it’s a smooth paste. Next, take about one cup of milk; and whisk it into the paste. Once the milk has been incorporated, add a splash of kirsch (or in my kitchen, I decided the best substitute for kirsch was probably going to be cognac), and about a tablespoon of caster sugar (the fine stuff; but not too fine!).

Take a muffin tray with cups that hold about one cup. Place two to three cherries in the bottom of six cups (I’d read that leaving the stones in was better for dessert, but less good for guests; so left the stones in. Next time, I think I might pit them, though – having the cherry juice run through the batter seems like a good thing); then pour in enough of the batter to reach about 2/3 the way up the cherries.

Cook the baby clafouti for about 35 minutes in a 190C oven – until the tops have puffed and turned brown.

[Once the clafouti are cooked, doom awaits you! they’re a pain to extract from the muffin pan without making a mess. I have a feeling that lining each of the cups with aluminium foil (with handy tabs for lifting out of the muffin tray) will make this easier. Something to consider next time, anyway. You did read to the end of the recipe before beginning, right?]

Beetroot and Lamb

This is a spontanious sort of a recipe – I kinda made it up as I went along. I started out looking for something involving lamb; and came across several recipes which also included beetroot. This made me think that lamb and beetroot was going to be a fairly safe sort of combination.

So I picked up some lamb and a bunch of baby beetroot from the supermarket (in addition to a pack of singapore noodles, and a box of catfood. Singapore noodles? you might ask – I’d thought that perhaps stirfry noodles with beetroot and lamb might be a worthwhile endeavour… But not tonight.). In any case, on with the recipe!

At this point, I still hadn’t really decided on what I was going to do; but I figured that roasting the beetroot was going to be a good start. I trimmed most of the leaves off the beetroot, and placed them on a wire rack in a ~160C oven (Our oven seems to be about 20C off. Very annoying. Though there are certainly things which are more annoying). After about 45 minutes, not a lot of progress had been made; so I turned the oven up to ~190C. Fifteen minutes later, I decided to get on with the rest of what I was making for dinner (The beetroot took another fifteen minutes or so to get to a nice tender stage; but that’s not until after the next paragraph).

Here’s where dinner started to take shape: I took about half of the lamb I bought (about 150g), and cut it into thin slices, and placed it in a bowl. Next, marinade ingredients. I decided that since beetroot seems to appear in middle-eastern style food, that I’d make a bastardised middle-eastern marinade. To the lamb, I added a teaspoon or so of pomegranate molasses, about a tablespoon of lemon infused olive oil, and about a tablespoon of minced garlic (I’m a bit of a garlic fiend). I mixed the lamb around until it was all coated; and stashed it at the top of my pantry so that my feline friends couldn’t get their little furry paws on it.

While the rest of the preparations took place, the beetroot finished up cooking. The beetroot is done when there’s only very slight resistance when poked with a skewer. Take the beetroot out of the oven, and let it cool off for about ten minutes or so. Once it’s cooled off; peel about 4 of the beetroots – if your experience is anything like mine, the outer layer of skin dried out quite a bit; and became very loose, allowing easy removal. Chop the beetroot into quarters.

Heat up a frypan over medium high heat, and add the lamb and marinade to the pan. Toss the meat about gently until just brown. Add the quartered beetroots, and lower the temperature. Quite a bit of the beetroot juice will leach out of the beetroot; but that’s okay! at the end of this exercise it’ll turn a bit syrupy. Now is also a good time to warm up some pita bread to go with the lamb and beetroot (and especially good for mopping up the syrupy juice that gets left behind.)

That’s about it, really! It’s a shame that I don’t have my digital camera at the moment, because it really was a very pretty dish. The beetroot, for all their juice loss stayed very dark and very tender; and the lamb picked up a marvellous pink colour. It was definately delicious, and something I’ll have to try again when I do have my digital camera back.

Doing the Hokey Pokey

Sometimes, you just have an urge to make some hokey pokey.

Hokey Pokey? What is this so called Hokey Pokey; you might ask?

You take 5 tablespoons of sugar, and dissolve it in 2 tablespoons of golden syrup over a low heat. Then, once the sugar is all dissolved, increase the heat; and boil until it is a deep orange colour. Take it off the heat, then stir in 1 tablespoon of baking soda. It will puff up. Quickly get it into either a buttered tray, or onto a non-stick sheet. Leave it for a little while to get cold, then eat. Hoorah! Luckilly, since hokey pokey is made almost entirely of sugar, it’s extremely easy to get the pot clean – filling it with warm water will deal to most of it. Bonus.

hokey pokey