Friday, March 29, 2013

Sage Flowers and Tomato Salad

Those of you who follow my blog will know how inspired I am by Kerstin Rodgers exceptional book Supper Club, There is a whole chapter on using flowers with Food old as the hills but I have never used them before and was keen to try.

This is based on her Nasturtium Leaf Salad which uses Cherry Tomatoes and Marigold Petals neither of which I could get yesterday but I have used sliced Tomatoes and thanks to the guidance of my tweeting chum @Janbillington of Edible flowers who's advice I took as this is a Lady who knows about such things I used Sage flowers, very pretty and a really nice burst of flavour.
Again it is really simple but with good ingredients a stunning vibrant little Salad. Simply slice fresh Tomatoes and put in a dish, scatter over the Sage Petals but perhaps if you had them Basil Flowers would be good, Whisk together a simple dressing of 1tbsp Raspberry Vinegar ( I didn't have so used Sherry vinegar) 4tbsp Groundnut oil and a sprinkle of smoked Salt Flakes I added some chopped Parsley too for Colour dressed the Salad and left in the fridge about half an hour before serving to get all those flavours in..Really delicious and so Pretty

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Salmonetes with Mint

As a cook I have always loved cook books and I have a great many which are a constant source of inspiration, however my latest addition by Kerstin Rodgers "Supper Club" is unlike any other book I have or have seen, It is beautifully produced the photography the Graphic design best I have seen.The recipes have a contemporary modern feel. I don't want to give all the secrets away but it is written intelligently with flair and includes more than a chapter on how you could open your own underground Supper Club something I would absolutely adore to do but fear she who must be obeyed will forbid!
Kerstin Rodgers or as Twitter knows her @Msmarmitelover is a proper Cook not a 'Chef' a 'Cook', I make this distinction because Cooks cook with love, Chefs cook for money. I know which I prefer.
This Lady has style, a Bon Viveur, a Lady who pioneered Supper Clubs in England in the spirit of Amy Johnson, a former Punk and a very talented Cook, a Lady you would absolutely adore to welcome at any Dinner Party.
Just buy the book, you will be as thrilled as I am!
Anyway take my word for it, Filled with inspiration I trundled off to the Fish Market in Marbella to buy Sardines for her Sardines and Mint recipe, only to find not a Sardine to be had for love nor money!
My fishmonger recommended a local fish of Salmonete. a baby Red Mullet to look at and I took a kilo on the spot.

After all cooking is about adapting, taking inspiration  and adapting to what you have or what you can get, but Jolly good they looked and I set off undeterred.

It's a very simple little dish, Simply wash the fish stuff the cavity with Lemon and freshly chopped Mint sprinkle with Smoked Sea Salt flakes another glug of Oil squirt of Lemon juice and place in a pre heated oven at 220c for ten to 15 minutes I went half way at 13 minutes and the fish was cooked beautifully.

The magic of the dish is the Mint, I have never used Mint with Fish before and more fool me the result is superb, it is a little like adding Pernod to Fish, it doesn't over power it complements beautifully. I served with a Tomato Salad and some Sliced Roast Potatoes that had a crispness to them and some Ciabatta Bread.
It was light flavoursome and delicious, try it. Thank you KerstinX

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Luxury Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie is so very much a Nursery classic, always takes me back to my childhood, this is a grown up version. Lord Jeffrey Archer is still well known for his Dinner Parties of Cottage or Shepherds Pie with Krug Champagne, and of course he is absolutely right, Cottage Pie cooked well is amazing and up there with any other dish you could imagine.

As in everything you cook start with first class fresh ingredients, I used half a kilo of ground Rib of Beef, it is expensive but worth it and it does bring this dish to life.
Start in a large Pot with a good glug of Olive oil on a high heat and add a sliced Onion, stir and reduce heat slightly when it starts to soften and become sweeter.
Now add Two Carrots finely chopped in half centimetre cubes and a couple of sticks of celery again finely chopped, cook on a Medium heat for maybe 15 minutes
Now add chopped Mushrooms some in Quarters some sliced and some Porcini, a couple of sprigs of Thyme and cook through
Now add your ground Beef, make sure you brown the meat and break it up with a wooden spoon
When its Browned add a spoon of flour stir and cook it out, then add a large glass of Red wine and about the same of Beef Stock couple of Bay leaves swig of Worcestershire Sauce a squirt of Tomato Ketchup and season well with Salt and Ground Black Pepper.
Now with a slotted spoon, add the mixture to a Pie Dish, then on a high heat reduce the sauce to intensify the flavour and add to the mixture.
Top with Mashed Potato and put in the oven at 200c for around 30 minutes, Mind blowing winter warmer comfort food, It is so good do try it before Summer

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Steak Sandwich

I am really busy at work at the moment, so I wanted something quick, I had a spare EntrecĂ´te steak cut a little thin for a steak Dinner but ideal for a decent sandwich.
This recipe is based on Jamie's Steak Sandwich from 30 minute meals, really good book by the way! but as ever I have changed it to what I like and what I had.
I started putting some chopped jarred Red peppers on a board, Seasoned with Salt and Pepper added some fresh Thyme, Oregano Parsley two fresh Red Chillies seeds and all a glug of Olive Oil,Then put some sliced Tomatoes in an Oven proof dish with Herb De Provence a glug of Oil and throw them into the Oven, not long 15 minutes before I start the steaks at 200c
I had already taken the Steak out the fridge, added a glug of Oil some Thyme, Seasoned and rubbed into the steak, Got the Griddle Pan really hot, then put a loaf of Ciabatta Bread in the Oven.
Griddle the Steak for two minutes one side one minute the other and placed on the board with my Peppers and Herb mix to let it rest.
Whiz up some chickpeas with a glug of Lemon Olive Oil and a splash of water to make a puree, Take the Ciabatta out the oven and with a bread knife cut in half lengthways, The bottom half spread with the humus add the sliced Tomatoes that you cooked in the oven, some Rocket would be best all I had was a leftover bag of mixed Salad to top it.
Slice the steak and rub it into the Herb Pepper mix, all the juices from the steak should now have seeped into the mix..glorious flavours, add the steak to the Ciabatta scooping up the Red Pepper Herb mix with a knife to put on top.
Take the top of the ciabatta and rub it into what remains of the red pepper mix and put on top of what has to be the most delicious flavour exploding sandwiches, enough to serve two.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Penne a la Carbonara

 I dont eat Pasta all that often, but when I do this is an old favourite I first had many moons ago at Mario & Francos Restaurant in London. I was told, not sure how true it was that this dish started in the Second War, Americans loved their Bacon and Eggs and they made this dish for them, after all it is Italian Bacon and Eggs.
It really couldn't be simpler put on a saucepan of water and bring to the boil, add a handful of rock salt and add your Penne cook to the instructions on the packet but normally ten minutes keep stirring ever so often so it doesn't stick to the pan
In a bowl break an Egg and whisk with a fork, grate in some fresh Parmesan, quite a lot and add some freshly ground Black Pepper.
In a frying pan add a little glug of good quality Olive Oil and when hot add your Pancetta or thin strips of Bacon and let them sizzle and Colour.
When Pasta is cooked Drain reserving some of the water and add the pasta to the Bacon a splash of White Wine and a spoon or two of the Water you cooked the Pasta.
Take the pan off the heat and add your Egg and Parmesan Mix stirring and serve onto the plate. I garnished with fresh Parsley and a little extra grated Parmesan and another turn or two of the Black Pepper.
Easy quick and delicious!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Toad In The Hole

 It doesn't get more English and more Winter comfort classic than Toad in the Hole. This goes back to the 16th Century, in those days made with bits of meat, it's in Mrs Beeton. This is loosely based on Jamie Oliver's version.

I always make it in a bread loaf tin, the high edges help it lift and look pretty. I use good quality Pork sausages, but would be equally good with Cumberland or even Toulouse Sausages.
Start by making the batter, Sieve a glass of plain flour into a bowl, crack in 3 eggs add a pinch of Mustard powder, Salt and black Pepper, and whisk in a glass of milk and half a glass of water, then put in the fridge for half an hour.

Now in a skillet heat a little Olive Oil and fry the sausages to give colour and set aside.

I put the loaf tin in a roasting tin, its just safer and put enough Sunflower Oil to cover the base of the loaf tin, Jamie suggests 1cm of Oil, but I think this is far too much I put the tin in a very hot oven about 240c to get the Oil smoking hot. Then carefully pour in my batter mix which will sizzle and bubble then add the sausages and a couple of sprigs of Rosemary and cook for around 50 minutes so the Yorkshire Pudding is cooked and Brown.

Whilst it cooks I make the Onion Gravy, Chop an Onion and add it to the skillet in which you cooked the Sausages, turn to a medium heat and let the Onions soften and sweeten.
After 15 minutes or so turn up the heat and add a good glug of Balsamic Vinegar and half a glass of beer followed by some Beef Stock and cook at high Heat To reduce.

I served with traditional Mashed Potatoes and Peas...Delicious not something I have often but once in a while a little treat

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Best Restaurant Lunch in Marbella

 I have never gone in for Restaurant reviews, this blog has always been about the food we cook at home, but I am going to make an exception.

I had the most fabulous Lunch on Saturday at Cafe De Ronda on the Av. Ramon Gomez de la Sena, Marbella. It was so good on so many levels I thought I would share it with you.

 Its well located in the smarter part of Marbella and expensively fitted out with cool white walls, cream tiled floors comfortable chairs and some banquet seating, flattering lighting. Its light its modern, its stylish as are the clientele, lawyers and Ladies who Lunch.

It's a Restaurant a Cafe a tapas bar and Lounge in one, you could have a coffee and Pastry or a serious Lunch.

We were shown to a comfortable table and ordered a couple of glasses of Cava (5e each) The service was polished and friendly Two delicious little complimentary Tapas dishes arrived with the Cava, the first was a dish of baby Merguez sausages cooked with Aubergine in a Paprika infused oil, the other a little delicately cooked Chicken Curry, delicious..really delicious.
 I ordered in French Brasserie style the Entrecot Steak with French fries (home made) and the famous original Relais de Paris Sauce, wow what a sauce it is too. which was accompanied with a fresh French Salad in a dijon dressing.
The Steak was superb cooked perfectly and the parsley tarragon Relais de Paris sauce irresistible, the cost 9.90e ...yes 9.90e unbelievable! I finished off with a Chocolate Fondant and drank a bottle of the house Rioja at 10.50e a bottle.

If you are ever in Marbella I urge you to go, Rosa the Manageress was wonderful. It was probably one of the very best Lunches I have had in Marbella and how they do it at the price is beyond me Telephone 0034 952 900 899

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Andalusian Leg of Baby Lamb

When it comes to Lamb we are all to a certain extent at the mercy of our Butcher, and mine did a sterling job with this Milk Fed baby Leg of Lamb, One Leg perfect for two people.

Couldn't be easier, take the Lamb out of the fridge about an hour before you are going to cook it, Pierce it with a sharp knife to make some little holes. Now chop one sprig of Rosemary very finely and put in a bowl with a good glug of Olive Oil,  grate the Zest of a lemon and add Salt and Pepper and spread this over the Lamb using your hands to rub it in.
Par Boil some Potatoes cut in to halves, and let the steam and cool. Slice an Onion and put into a clay casserole dish along with half a sliced Red Pepper, two crushed cloves of garlic a couple of Carrots and a glug of Olive Oil making sure they are all coated. Put the potatoes on top another glug of Oil some Dried Parsley sprinkled on  and then place your Leg of Lamb on top.
Put it into a preheated Oven at 220c, after ten minutes turn the heat down to 200c, Twenty minutes later  add a glass of white wine and a glass of Stock and let it cook in total for an hour.
I use this time to make a fresh Mint Sauce, not very Authentic but I like the way its acidity cuts through the Lamb.
After an hour take out the Lamb and wrap it in tin foil, let it rest for at least half an hour, I put the vegetables and Potatoes back in the oven to brown them all up. So delish all those meat juices have absorbed into the sauce and Potatoes so yummy.
I served with some fresh Peas.