Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Steak Bearnaise

I have always been a bit dubious about having any kind of sauce with my steak. If I'm going to eat a steak, then I want to be able to taste every last bit of it without it being masked by some other flavourings. To be honest, I'm not sure what changed in my thoughts, but I decided to try steak with a Bearnaise sauce. I think it was more to do with the desire to practice a new technique rather than the actual final dish. Perhaps not the most sensible of ideas but it did come out really well and we both really enjoyed this.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Paris Brest

The Paris Brest is a relatively simple French pastry treat made using a ring of choux pastry filled with a praline flavoured cream. Following the success of our Tarte Tatin, we have continued our education of pastry making by focusing on choux. In some ways this is a more simple kind of pastry because you don't need a delicate touch or certain technique when handling it. But because it is cooked twice, once in a pan and then in the oven, it is a slightly tricky process which relies on a certain level of concentration! Our effort was far from perfect but we think we know where we went wrong, so hopefully next time will be better. For now though, this was very tasty and did look the part.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Sausages with Puy Lentils

Going down the French route with this one. Try to use puy lentils if you can find them, but if not, then green lentils will be fine. I guess you should really use some French sausages such as Toulon sausage, but we just used some standard ones from the butchers. But they must be large ones! This is a dish full of strong flavours and is a real winter-warmer.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Porter Braised Beef Cheeks

My poor camera skills really haven't done this dish justice. I have eaten A LOT of cow in my life, but I think this was probably the tastiest piece I have had. The combination of porter, winter vegetables, herbs, 24 hour marinade time and 10 hours of cooking produced a lump of meat that was so full of flavour, soft and rich. Following the success of our Oxtail Pie, we decided to go to the other end of the animal and try to make something special out of the cheeks. In the same way that the oxtail needs very long and slow-cooking, likewise the cheeks also need similar preparation to be made palatable. Although this recipe does take a long time, nearly all of the time is either the meat marinading in the fridge, or cooking in the oven. So we urge you to give this one a go because it is delicious.

Monday, 12 November 2012

British Sausage Week - Proper Bangers n Mash

So last week was British Sausage Week and so when in the butcher we got a couple of links of big thick Yorkshire sausages. The best way to eat them is surely with a big pile of buttery mashed potato and thick onion gravy - good ole bangers 'n' mash. Apparently we so affectionately call the sausage a "banger" because during World War 2, when food was scarce, they filled the sausage full of cereals and water which would cause the sausage to burst open and "bang" when cooking. So, there you go.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pear and Vanilla Tarte Tatin

"Tarte Tatin" has now become an absolute French classic. It is traditionally made using apples, but I guess due to its huge popularity these days, people are looking for variations on the recipe. Our variety is to use pears in place of the apples. A tarte tatin is a layer of fruit coated in caramel with a layer of pastry placed over the top, with the whole thing being turned over after baking in the oven. We wanted to add another flavour, vanilla, into the finished product. There is no better smell than that of a vanilla pod. It is rich and creamy and works really well with pears. Some recipes suggest to just cook the pears for 10 or 15 minutes in the caramel first before baking in the oven, but we have again adapted this and used a poaching liquid to par-cook the pears and to infuse the vanilla flavour. When we turned over the pan and revealed the tart, we saw a beautifully crisp pastry with soft, sweet and sticky pears. Served with custard, it was delicious.