Archives for the month of: April, 2017

For years we have been cooking beef fillet to precise timings and nervously standing by the oven waiting for precisely the right moment to take it out of the oven.

This recipe provides a wonderfully relaxed approach to cooking what for many is a special occasion piece of beef and produces a beautifully even, perfectly pink piece of beef that cannot overcook and is almost trouble free.

One fillet of beef, about 800g to 1kg (centre cut if possible)
Two cloves garlic
Fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper

For the jus

One onion
One stick celery
One carrot
One clove garlic
A little oil (olive or sunflower)
One bay leaf
Fresh thyme
500ml red wine
400ml fresh beef stock/consomme
50g unsalted butter
Salt & pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 75C or similar.

Crush the garlic up with the thyme and salt and rub into the beef with the oil. Cover with a good grinding of black pepper and dust over a little more sea salt. Sear in a hot pan to colour all over. Put into a roasting tin (best have it ready warming) and put in the oven for about 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours. Take out of the oven and cover with foil. Leave for about half an hour or so in a warm place. It should be soft and very pink all the way through.

Chop the vegetables and sauté gently in a little oil until beginning to soften and caramelise. Add the red wine and reduce by half. Add the stock, the herbs and seasoning. Simmer for about half an hour or until very well reduced.

When you are ready to serve, strain the liquid into a clean pan. Bring up to a simmer and make sure the jus is well seasoned. Add any juices that have come out of the beef whilst resting. Whisk in cubes of chilled butter and serve with the beef.

Or

Serve with a delicious salsa verde and roast or boiled new potatoes.
beef & salsa verde

Makes about 30 canapes

350g Maris Piper potato
2 balls\300g beetroot
100g butter, clarified
Fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper
Tub crème fraiche
Jar of horseradish sauce
One pack of smoked venison/beef/hot smoked salmon
Herbs to garnish (thyme, dill, parsley, chervil, chives)

Mix a couple of teaspoons of horseradish into the crème fraiche and season. Put back in the fridge to firm up for a few hours.

Peel and grate the beetroot, using a coarse grater.

Grate the potato using the same coarse grater into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the moisture. Put your potato into a bowl and add two good tablespoons of the clarified butter. Mix well and season. Add the beetroot and season again. Add some finely chopped thyme. Heat the oven to 180c.

Heat a non stick pan over a medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of the clarified butter. Take, if you have one, a 1.5 inch cutter. Put in the pan and half fill with your potato mixture. Start at 12.00 in the pan and work round, filling the cutter, pressing the potato down and then pulling the cutter off. Once you have filled the pan start turning the rosti over with a pallet knife, making sure they are turning golden brown underneath. Once you have browned them on both sides remove to a baking tray until you have cooked all the rosti. Keep an eye as they do burn!

Bake in the oven for about ten minutes or until tender all the way through. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes.

Top the rosti with some horseradish crème fraiche and a piece of smoked venison/beef/salmon. Garnish with herbs.

You can make the potato mixture the day before and the rosti can be made in advance and then refreshed in the oven if you think they need it. The raw mixture will keep in the fridge for 24 hours.
IMG_9590

The new season for British Asparagus arrives in late April; a highlight of the foodie calendar and one greeted with greedy anticipation by everyone in this household.

A perfect fat bunch of those tender green spears needs little more than a gentle boil or steam for a couple of minutes and is best served as simply as possible. Salt, pepper and a drizzle of melted butter is perfect, but if you want to go a step further and serve up something truly special, worthy of the freshest fat bunch you can find then try this lime and mint hollandaise. It’s a gorgeous lunch for a warm day or an elegant, simple starter. You can keep the hollandaise warm over a pan of hot(ish) water or an easier way is just to put it into a thermos flask (you will have heated it first with boiling water). It will keep well in there for a couple of hours.

A useful tip when preparing your asparagus is to take the stem, holding it at each end and snap in half. It will break perfectly at the point where the stem is no longer tender.

ASPARAGUS with a LIME AND MINT HOLLANDAISE
Serves 4

Two bunches of fresh British asparagus
2 free range egg yolks
Water
110g unsalted butter
A little boiling water
1 lime
Handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt and black pepper

First make the hollandaise.

Take a bowl and put in the egg yolks. Cut the butter into small chunks. Add a couple of teaspoons of cold water and whisk well. Sit the pan over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk the yolks for a couple of minutes. Then slowly add the butter, a piece of two at a time. The sauce will start to form, thin at first and then thickening up as the yolks start to cook. As you add the butter just be sure that the pan doesn’t get too hot. You should always be able to touch the bottom of the bowl with your hand with.

Keep whisking, adding the butter. As it starts to get very thick add a teaspoon or two of boiling water and whisk that in. Add salt and pepper and squeeze in the juice of half a lime. Taste and add more until you have the right balance. Keep whisking until you have a smooth, glossy and thick hollandaise. Put to one side while you cook your asparagus.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the asparagus and cook for two to three minutes depending on the thickness of your stems. Put the thickest in first.

Drain well (keep a little of the asparagus water if you can) and season. Shake in a few drops of extra virgin olive oil and toss through.

Back to your hollandaise. If it is still quite thick you can add in a little of the asparagus water. Stir through your finely chopped mint leaves and serve with the warm asparagus and some crusty bread. Delicious!

Asparagus and mint hollandaise

Makes about 12

For the Salted Caramel

60g soft brown sugar
40g caster sugar
50g unsalted butter
125ml double cream
1 teaspoon black treacle
Sea Salt (e.g Maldon flakes)

Brownies

200g dark chocolate
175g butter
250g caster sugar
75g light muscovado sugar
125g plain flour
3 eggs
50g pecan nuts, toasted and chopped

First make the caramel. Melt the sugars and butter together in a pan over a gentle heat and simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the double cream and treacle. Simmer for a minute or two more and then add salt to taste. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool, stirring every now and then until cooled and thickened.

Pre-heat the oven to about 160 fan.

Break the chocolate into a bowl and add the butter. Sit over a saucepan of gently simmering water and melt. Don’t allow the chocolate to get too hot.

Remove from the heat. Add the sugars and stir well. Stir in the plain flour (quickly whisk first to remove any lumps). Whisk the eggs and fold those through until the mix is smooth. Add the pecan nuts.

Take a 9 inch square shallow baking tin and line with baking parchment. Pour half of the brownie mixture in and spread out to cover the bottom. Top with spoonfuls of the salted caramel so that you have a thin layer. Pour in the remaining brownie mix and drizzle a little more caramel all over the top. You will probably have about half of your caramel left – don’t overdo it or it will be too much!

Bake in the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes or until just set – you want it still soft and if the top is beginning to crack it is certainly ready.

Cool in the tin and then set in the fridge. Although they are delicious warm with vanilla ice cream.

Cut into squares and dust with icing sugar.

Store any leftover caramel in a jar in the fridge. It will last for at least a week or more.

brownie

Wonderful Spring. At last, after the dark evenings and short days of winter the natural world is bursting into life and with that brings all sorts of possibilities for an opportunistic cook.

One of the first gems of spring is the wild garlic plant. It grows randomly and with great abandon in woodlands, fields and actually in one of my more formal flowerbeds. How it got there I have no idea but it is a very welcome guest and a wonderful addition to my spring kitchen. It makes a fabulous pesto; delicious with linguine and goats cheese or just wilt some through a risotto for an elegant twist. Or just make a simple soup, brilliant green and a tantalising overture of good things to come.

WILD GARLIC SOUP

Serves Four

Four shallots, finely chopped (Or one onion)
Two new potatoes (approx 150g, charlotte are good), chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 small leek, chopped
One clove garlic
One tablespoon light olive oil
Knob of butter
A large bunch of wild garlic leaves, picked fresh if possible
One litre of vegetable or chicken stock
50ml double cream (optional)
Salt & Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Wild garlic flowers

 
Take a saucepan and heat the oil and butter. Add the shallot, leek, celery and potato and cook for a few minutes until softened, pale and translucent. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Add the stock and simmer gently for about fifteen minutes until the veg is soft. Add the wild garlic leaves and cook briefly, about two minutes.

Blend until smooth and stir in the double cream. Season well with seasalt and pepper.

Serve with a garnish of wild garlic flowers and a gentle drizzle of extra virgin oil.

If you have any wild garlic pesto spare that would be rather delicious garnishing the soup as well.

If you can’t find wild garlic in your garden or surrounding countryside then I am fairly sure that a good greengrocer will have some at this time of year. It is a treat not to be missed.

wild garlic soup