I am Not Horsing Around!

Se rappellent de la France

With so many stories of horse meat in the press this week, and the weather turning cold again it seemed a good idea to cook something hearty. That mixed with unexpected news, time in the kitchen to escape things was just what the doctor ordered. Some excellent beef from Casey’s Farm Shop (guaranteed to really be beef!), has been marinating for over 24 hours in red wine, cognac, juniper berries and a bay leaf.
This dish is featured in Ripailles, an excellent book written by french chef Stéphane Reynaud.
I love this tome, traditional french food, intertwined with whimsical content, its stretches to 480 pages and really leads you into the french passion for food. This classic Boeuf Bourguignon used veal stock, luckily I had some in the freezer, but your could always use beef stock instead.
Le Boeuf Bourguignon sorted, what to accompany it. 
At the back of Rick Steins French Odyssey, there are over 10 different ways to cook the humble spud. One of my favourites involves using a Persillade, a mix of in this case garlic, parsley and truffle oil.  When added to sliced potatoes cooked in duck fat you have “Pomme Sarladaise” a truly scrumptious and tasty potato dish that’s going alongside Le Boeuf Bourguignon to add some crunchy texture and even more flavour.
To finish things off, green beans with a tomato Concasse and black pepper, tossed in a little butter.

So that’s it, Le Boeuf Bourguignon, Pomme Sarladaise et Hericot Vert, Concassé de tomatoes jeté dans le beurre.

C’est tout, délicieux.


Winter is the time for wholesome stews, curries and stomach lining food.  A recent food hero of mine is Yotam Ottolenghi, his ability to mix unusual ingredients a get a fantastic outcome is truly inspiring. Originally from Israel, he has teamed up with Palestinian Sami Tamimi and opened several eateries in London, as well as writing some excellent cookery books.

When I think of a stew, its usually Beef with Dumplings, a French Daube (preferable Boar if i can get it), or a Belgian Carbonnade. So this Yotam inspired stew really mixes it up with Butternut Squash, utterly delicious. The recipe is here. I am not keen on chick peas so replaced them with green beans for some added texture.

Butternut Squash Stew

It’s really easy to make, and uses mostly store cupboard ingredients, the interesting thing is the use of Madras Curry Powder to add punch!

So what to serve with this tasty dish………………?
Apple and Celeriac Salad with Quinoa,  red onion (soused in white wine vinegar sugar and salt, and rapeseed oil added to make a dressing after its steeped for at least 30 minutes). The addition of coriander and poppy seeds finishes things off nicely. You can find the recipe here.
Apple & Celeriac Salad
I first tried this about a month ago, but apparently according to the family, this time it was better. I used a Mandolin to cut the apple and celeriac this time round, so it was finer, guess that did it. 
The two dishes served together really have a feel good factor, you feel really ‘healthy’ after eating these two, and if like us you are getting over a winter cold really just hits the mark.

Venetians Delights

A Culinary Journey To The Back Streets Of Venice 
This week has been busy at work, so friday night was just the time to chill in the kitchen and travel to the culinary world of Venice, thanks to Russell Normans fantastic book, Polpo. Based on trips to back street restaurants around Venice, Russell now has several eateries in London, under the Polpo name and has received great reviews.

Cichéti is to Venetian’s as Tapas is to the Spanish

Mozzarella Bocconcini are a crisp cichéti based on mozzarella.  In my case Laverstoke Organic Mozzarella Balls that are produced by Jody Scheckter the ex formula one driver and were in our organic veg box order last week.  You can find them here at Laverstoke Park
Once rolled in Tipo00 flour (the extra fine pizza and pasta flour you can find in most supermarkets), then beaten egg and finally Panko crumbs, they are quickly fried and quite delicious. The flour is seasoned with pepper, a little salt and oregano. You should drain them briefly on kitchen roll!
Mozzarella Bocconcini
I have to admit I struggle with Pizza, unless served at a decent italian restaurant I generally feel disappointed with what’s on offer so this was the chance to have a go myself, something i’ve not before. 
Just before christmas I was donated a Kenwood Chef, complete with dough hook, so here was the chance to se what it could do, it was getting a bit late and didn’t have the time (or energy!) to do the kneading by hand!
So Tipo00 flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and 7 minutes in the mixer and hey presto, DONE!  
Venetians’ do Pizza differently, and I have been thinking about trying a particular variant, Pizzetta Bianca. There is no tomato sauce involved, just red onion, mozzarella and parmesan, fresh thyme, fresh black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Pizzetta Bianca
It was light, crispy and truly delicious. You can tell my rolling skills need some work, but it was homemade!
So, if you want to try real Venetian food, but don’t have a trip to Venice booked, go and buy Polpo, it was Waterstones book of the year 2012 and takes pride of place on my cookery bookshelf.