Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wanna fill a rat with the entire Gobi desert

Obviousy, after an introduction such as that (Oh how I love me some Eddie) it's hard to follow through. But I will try. This will be a posting dedicated to stuffing (hence the taxidermy reference). I haven't really had a lot of experience with stuffing, Turkey Day is not celebrated here and when poultry is stuffed it is usually with apples or prunes or what not - this stuffing that ends up as a side thing is not that common. But S bought a lovely young Hungarian duck and I decided to put it in the oven whole and come up with some stuffing. What I ended up with was freakin' fantastic if I do say so myself :D

Apple-rye breadcrumb and cranberry stuffed duck (Part õuna, selleri ja riivleivatäidisega):

1 duck
a handful of coarse sea-salt

For the stuffing:
2.3 sour apples
2-3 sticks of celery
1 handful of dried cranberries
100 ml port wine
a glug of dry vermouth
2-3 tbsp of dry rye breadcrumbs
1 tbsp of oil
a knob of butter
a knob of ginger
mango curry spice
chili flakes

Rub the duck with the salt, cover and set aside in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Peel and chop the apples and ginger, chop the celery.
Heat the oil in a deep pan and brown the ginger slightly, then add the apples and the celery, stir and sauté for 2.3 minutes. Season with the chili flakes and the mango curry powder. Add the knob of butter and stir until it melts in.

Add the port and the vermouth, let it reduce. If necessary (depending on how juicy your apples were) add some water. Then add the dried cranberries and breadcrumbs, stir and sauté for 1-2 minutes, until the cranberries and the breadcrumbs soak in the juices and you'll end up with a nice, soft, stuffing.
Taste, season with salt.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Remove the duck from the fridge, get rid of the salt, if necessary even wash the duck with some cold water. Then pat dry using paper towels.
Stuff the duck with the stuffing (about 1/3 full, I stuffed it ... with an entire Gobi desert - so it was really quite tight :D, but that meant that the stuffing ended up bursting out during cooking).
Bake in the oven for 1.5 - hours, covered with tinfoil.

Sorry about the duck pic, I had a serious case of wobblies that day, apparently, as this was the best one out of about 30 really blurry ones.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sunday lunch for one

I'm so behind on my posting, I made this a while ago. I was harboring carnivorous desires all week and made up my mind to make beef tenderloin for Sunday lunch and invite some friends over. Easy enough, right? Apparently not. For some unknown reason all three sets of friends I invited couldn't come, but I had already made up my mind so I went all out in the kitchen anyway. The result of which was that I was tired, exasperated and had inhaled too many foodie-fumes to be hungry anymore. So hubby got to enjoy this lovely plate of food all on his lonesome. How very Mad Men, huh ? :D

Beef Tenderloin with potato and butternut squash puree and mangetouts (Veise sisefilee kartuli-muskaatkõrvitsa püree ja suhkruhernestega):
serves 5-6

1 kg beef tenderloin
1-2 tbsp of oil
freshly ground salt and pepper
8 cloves of garlic
4-6 potatoes
~1/4 of a butternut squash
4 leaves of sage
~100 ml milk (I used soy)
a large knob of butter
200 ml port
100- 200 ml water or stock
1 fresh red chili pepper
1 tbsp flour
6-7 slices of fresh bacon
200 g fresh mangetouts (which I was miraculously able to find in one of the posh supermarkets)

For the meat:

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Heat the oil in a large skillet and quickly fry the tenderloin on all sides so that it's nice and brown and keeps all the juices inside.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, wrap into wet baking parchment (or tinfoil) and put it in the oven for 20-40 minutes (depending on the rareness you're aiming for), the one in the pics was in the oven for 40 minutes as S is not a rare-steak kind of a guy.
Make sure you let the meat rest for about 10 minutes before you cut into it.

While the meat is in the oven, fry the strips of bacon and the garlic cloves (don't peel the garlic - let them roast in the fat that comes out of the bacon). Leave the garlic on the pan until it's all nice, soft and mushy inside the peel.

Set the bacon strips aside on a paper-towel so you'll have nice and crispy strips. Cut them into smaller strips and scatter over the slice of tenderloin before serving.

For the puree:

Peel the potatoes, if you have time, do that about an hour before you start with the meat and leave them to soak in some water - this will make the mash better. Boil the potatoes (don't cut them up into small pieces, if you have the time) with some salt and the sage leaves. When they're half way to tender, add the chunks of butternut squash.
Heat the milk so it's warm, add it to the mashed potatoes and squash along with the butter and the roasted garlic (you can just squeeze the garlic puree out of the peels). Puree.
Drain all of the water and mash using a ricer or an old school masher.

For the sauce:

Deseed and chop the chili pepper.
Remove most of the fat that was left over from the bacon - I think I kept about 1/3.
Put the pan on medium to low heat and add the flour, whisk or mix until you have a choux like doughy substance. Add the chili and after a couple of moments the water or the stock, stir and heat until combined. Add the port, mix again and let it reduce until you have a nice semi-thick sauce and it smells as if you've gotten rid of the alcohol in the sauce.

For the mangetouts:

Bring to a boil, then immediately drain and pour over some cold water to stop the cooking process.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Utilising the X-mas gifts

So the pasta-makers turn finally came and I made my first batch of fresh home-made tagliatelle.
For the pasta I basically used the instructions that came with the machine and then I made a seafood Alfredo sauce to go with it.

Home made fresh tagliatelle with seafood Alfredo
serves 6

For the pasta:
500 g flour ( I couldn't find durum, but the recipe actually recommends 50-50 durum and regular wheat for best al dente)
5 eggs
No salt!

For Seafood Alfredo sauce:
300 g seafood mix ( I used shrimp and mussels)
3 tbsp cream cheese
a knob of butter (about 50 g)
grated Parmesan (about 75 g)
bunch of fresh rucola
fresh basil leaves for serving
200 ml dry white wine
3 large cloves of garlic
fresh chopped or dry parsley
freshly ground black pepper and salt

To make the tagliatelle:

Pour the flour in a bowl and make a dent in the middle, crack the eggs into the dent and gently whisk with a fork until combined.

Knead the mixture with your hands for at least 10 minutes. It's good enough when it doesn't stick to your fingers, if it's not right just add flour or mineral water. It's best if your eggs are room temperature before you start.
Cover the dough and set it aside in the fridge for a while (about an hour is the best).
Take it out, set up your machine and cut the pasta-dough into 6 pieces and roll into balls.
Start your pasta machine on the rollers farthest apart. Run the pieces through the rollers, 5-6 times on the widest section, folding the pasta top to bottom or side to side the achieve a long sheet slightly narrower than the machine rollers. If necessary add a little bit of flour between the folds.

Then pass it through the next setting twice and then once through each following setting until you reach the thickness you want. My machine has 9 different settings and I thought 6 was fine, although after boiling I thought that my tagliatelles ended up being slightly too fat, so next time I'll probably go up higher, to 7 pr 8 or even 9 which is the thinnest (should be about .2 mm according to the manual).
When each piece is ready in terms of how thick or thin you want it to be, hang it to dry a bit, you can hang it over a kitchen towel and an edge of the table or a chair or a laundry rack.
Let the sheets dry for at least 30 min, best if you have an hour. Then start making the pasta you want.

I went for tagliatelles and then you need to let those dry spread out on a clean kitchen towel for at least an hour as well.

And only then do you get to boil them - remembering to only do it for 2-5 minutes, as it takes a lot less time when it's fresh.

Meanwhile, after having twirled your thumbs for the first drying phase, you can get cracking on the sauce during the second one.

So in a large and deep pan, melt the butter and add the chopped garlic. Sautee until golden on medium heat. Add the wine and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until slightly reduced.
Whisk in the cream cheese and add the seafood (mine was frozen). Season with salt, pepper, parsley and add the torn rucola.
Heat through. Stir in 1/2 of the Parmesan.
Serve over pasta sprinkled with fresh basil and more Parmesan.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Having fun with the peas

As my last post was a homage to Nigella, it's only appropriate to continue with green peas, as far as I remember, she's been called something like the "Queen of frozen peas" by some fellow chef.
So peas. Yes. Frozen.
I wanted to make a green pea soup somewhere around Lenten, but I wanted something different, something I hadn't made before. And I did end up with this fantastic little zesty and energetic soup. And so simple to make. But in all honesty, I have to admit that this one was Pea Soup 2.0, the first one was glorious till the last moment when I completely and utterly ruined it. So much so that the entire pot had to be thrown away, and I have seriously never ever done that before. Scout's honor! The first one had bay leaves and white wine and stuff in it. And in the end, just before blitzing, I decided to add Parmesan. And it all went horribly wrong. I ended up with a pot-ful of pale green goo that smelled like ... vomit. I kid you not.

OK, on that mouthwatering note I should probably continue to the soup that did not go wrong, but actually to my great relief was very very good and smelled wonderful. (Probably should have left the vomit-intro to the end bit of this post, huh?). well I hope you believe me, this soup was lovely.

Green pea soup with a spark (Vürtsikas rohelise herne supp):
serves 3-4

~200 g frozen green peas
1 can of kidney beans
1 fresh red chili pepper
3 cloves of garlic
a generous bunch of fresh peppermint leaves
1 cube of organic vegetable stock
juice of 1 lime
some ground coriander

Deseed and chop the chili.
Peel the garlic cloves.
Bring some water to a boil, add the stock cube, stir, then add the peas, the garlic , the coriander, lime juice and the chili pepper. Let them simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the kidney beans.

Boil for further 5-7 minutes, this soup is good when it's not boiled to a mushy oblivion.
Season with salt and chopped peppermint leaves.
Let it cool slightly and blitz into a puree.

I found it very refreshing and light. Will definitely make it again.