Lamb Kebabs

DSC_0359Here’s another fantastic excuse for a bowl of saffron Basmati rice. 

I use lamb leg slices for the kebabs; one thick slice will be enough for two portions. Remove skin, bone and excess fat, dice the meat.

Finely dice two stalks of lemon grass and two gloves of garlic, add salt and pepper to taste, then mix with the meat.

Prepare the skewers with a piece of onion between each piece of meat, then grill gently on a griddle at moderate heat. Take your time, turn over occasionally and brush with chilly oil of necessary.

Serve with fragrant saffron Basmati rice, a piece of seared feta cheese and minted yogurt with cucumber or Tzatziki.

Oriental Occidental Lamb Ragout

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Here’s a lamb ragout, rich in the flavours of the Orient and Occident, and dead easy to make.

It is impossible to make this the right amount for one or two portions, so let’s make three portions. Left-overs reheat nicely for lunch on the following day.

Two lamb leg slices with skin, fat, meat and bone (~600 g).

3 medium-sized carrots, a bulb of garlic, two small red onions, 3 fresh tomatoes (or half a can of chopped ones). Star anise, Kassia bark (alt. cinnamon), red chillies, thyme. Salt, pepper, fresh herbs.

Preheat a frying pan to medium heat, melt some ghee or good cooking oil, then sear the leg slices until they begin to caramelise on both sides.

Meanwhile, clean and dice all the veg, crush the garlic. Leave the meat where it is, surround it with the onion and garlic, then add the remaining vegetables. Add five star anise, a good amount of Kassia bark (at least 20 cm worth), red chillies to taste. Add thyme, freshly ground black pepper and a teaspoon of salt.

Add 250 ml water, reduce the heat to a very low simmer, put the lid on and let it do its job for 3 hours.

When finished, remove skin, bones and excess fat, cutting the meat when necessary. Remove the chillies, anise and Kassia, then run the sauce through a blender.

Add some freshly chopped parsley, basil and perhaps a tough of mint.

Return the meat to the sauce, check the seasoning and you’re done.

I served it with grilled aubergines for a carb-free meal, but good quality egg fettuccine is certainly an option.

Steak Tartare

DSC_0239Not everyone’s thing but I don’t want to go long without: Steak Tartare, a spiced preparation of raw beef that goes well with fresh bread, French fries or Bretzeln. The leftover makes my favourite breakfast.

I use 150 to 200 g Beef Sirloin per portion, allowing some off-cuts for the cat and some left-overs for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Carefully clean the meat by removing all sinew, fat and skin, then mince it.

Add one fresh, organic, free-range medium-sized egg yolk per portion, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of mustard, a very small and very finely diced onion and two teaspoons of capers, drained and chopped slightly.

Mix with a fork, adding a drizzle of good olive oil as you go along.

Form into a ball, cover with clingfilm and keep chilled until supper time. Eat within a few hours.

We eat it with French fries and a side salad, or on a buttered slice of bread, and of course with fresh Bretzeln.

Slow Wonders

This is another one of those concept dishes rather than an actual recipe.

The concept here is to go over the Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning or stumble into the local butcher’s shop, then prepare a meal for slow cooking based on whatever was available or discovered in the fridge or larder.

Preparation takes about an hour, followed by an afternoon free for frolicking. Return hours later to a satisfying stew, on the table and ready to eat within minutes if you plan it right.

You’ll need a slow cooker or an oven with a low temperature cooking programme, or simply an oven which can hold 65 to 75 C for a couple of hours. You could even dig a traditional cooking pit! The trick is to stay below 80 C and leave the dish in peace for a couple of hours.

I like a piece of meat. Lamb shanks or leg slices, goat, mutton, high rib of beef or venison leg are my preferred choices. Clean the meat from sinew and remove skin, perhaps remove some of the fat.

Then clean a curiosity shop of vegetables. You will need onions and lots of garlic no matter what, also peeled waxy potatoes unless you wish to serve the meal with bread or other carbs, or no carbs at all!

Pretty much all vegetables that are in season are fine by me. Fennel, parsnips, savoy cabbage. Tomotoes, beans, peas. I’d stay away from courgettes or aubergines on this occasion but even cauliflower works thanks to the low temperatures.

Clean, peal, dice.

I caramelise the meat by searing in clarified butter on the cooker, using the same casserole dish that I plan to use for the whole process.

Remove the meat, then lightly caramelise the vegetables in the same pot with the help of olive oil or clarified butter.

Season to taste with salt, black pepper, red chillies, thyme, rosemary, lovage, star anise and cinnamon. Bring the meat back, add 75 ml of wine and 75 ml of water. Close the lid, put into the oven and forget about it for a couple of hours, four hours at least, five or six won’t give you trouble.

Allow for even longer if you are using tough meat such as ox tail, but for the types of meat listed earlier, four to six hours are just fine.

Game Terrine

DSCN4129This is not so much a precise recipe than a concept, a base for improvisation. I expect that no two of these game terrine will ever be the same, but they will all be rather nice as a starter, or as a light lunch with fresh bread and a light salad.

I use 200 g each of venison leg, duck breast and fatty minced pork, and 100 g butter. The pork is already minced, so I chop the venison into coarse mince and cut the duck breast into strips after taking the skin off just so that I get a variety in texture rather than a smooth blend throughout.

Put into a mixing bowl, and add on beaten egg, one tablespoon of breadcrumbs, optionally two tablespoons Brandy. A handful of chopped dried Apricots, a handful of toasted pistachio nuts, Macadamia nuts or pumpkin seeds.

I season this with a tablespoon each of fennel seeds, allspice and sea salt, all finely ground.

Mix thoroughly and let rest for a while.

Meanwhile, I crisp rashers of bacon enough to line the terrine tray. Baking parchment comes first, then the crisped Bacon, then the meat mix. Pack this firmly to minimise trapped air, cover with the folded over baking parchment and bake at 160 C for 60 minutes.

Let cool down completely before opening the terrine.

 

Pork Belly

P20160305194317.JPGIt’s roasted pork belly to you and me, it’s belly of pork if you’re watching Masterchef. In either case, it is super finger-lickin’ delicious. It takes a few hours to make, but the actual preparation time is minimal.

Everyone has his or her favourite and fool-proof pork belly recipe these days. I am sure many of these work just as well. This works for me:

Pre-heat the oven to 220 Celcius.

I line the bottom of a suitably sized pyrex roasting dish such that the meat can rest on it, and won’t sit in its own fat. Onions and juniper berries, apples and sage, or -my favourite- fennel and a very generous amount of star anise. Cut the fruit or vegetable in chunky bits and line the dish. Perforate the belly skin with neat parallel cuts no more than 10 mm apart – you will use those later to cut through the crackling skin, so get this right. Rub a tablespoon or corse sea salt into the perforated skin, and place the meat, skin-side up, into the dish. Add 150 ml of water

Pop into the oven and roast at 220 C for 20 minutes, then reduce to 140 C and roast for 3 hours. Finally, give it a 10 minute quicky at 220 Celcius again to crisp the skin.

I usually serve this with a noodle soup in Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese style, or with a seasonal soup of garden vegetables. Whatever you serve it with, the pork belly will be the star of the show.

Tarte Flambé

cropped-DSC_0564.jpgHere’s an all-time favourite. It’s Tarte Flambé to the French, Flammkuchen to us, and not very well known outside the southwestern Germany and northeastern French areas. But everyone loves it!

A very thin and crispy lean bread base with a sour cream, onion and bacon topping. Seriously, what’s not to like?

For 3 tarts or two people:

Kned a yeast dough from 300 g white wheat flour, 6 g salt, 8 g fresh yeast and 165 ml water, all at room temperature. Kned, let it rest for 15 minutes, then kned very thoroughly to develop the gluten. Gluten may not be fashionable, but it gives strength to bread. Roll out to three very thin sheets, as thin as 2 mm. Transfer onto baking parchment and set aside for 45 minutes.

Pre-heat to oven to as much as you can. Check the baking parchment for the maximum temperature (mine does 240 C), don’t go too much over as it might catch fire and generally gets brittle and of little use when overheating.

Cut 250 g striped bacon into thumb-sized strips, cut two medium-sized onions into thin rings. Mix 220 ml soured cream, a teaspoon of greshly ground corse black pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch or salt.

Prepare one tarte at a time, as you don’t want them to get soggy while waiting for the baking. Spread the spiced soured cream evenly across the base, sprinkly bacon and onions evenly across, then bake until the edges are almost burnt (a few minutes).

Cut into large pieces and eat right away. Use your hands.

Here’s a somewhat more detailed and not entirely serious version of the recipe for dummies

 

Croque Man

20151126094008Croque Monsieur is a ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Croque Madame is the same, with an added fried egg on top.

I say, forget the ham. Use 3 rashers of dry-cured smoked streaky bacon instead. Fry them in a pan until they begin to caramelize, then leave to cool on kitchen tissue so that they crisp up.

I say, forget the toast. Use a thick slice of Rye or Sourdough bread instead, rub generously with garlic, then rub both sides with olive oil. Fry the bread in the bacon fat until both sides turn golden, then leave to drain on kitchen tissue.

Crack a free-range egg into the very hot pan. Season with salt, crushed black pepper and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. Egg whites firm, yolk still runny, please.

I say, forget the subtle cheese flavour. Be bold, use blue cheese, or Reblochon, or at the very least use Gruyere.

Now make a sandwich: bread, then bacon, then cheese, then egg. Optionally top with a few capers or dress with a spoon full of Sauce Bearnaise or Sauce Hollandaise.

Voila. This is now known as a Croque Man. It’s my favourite bachelor meal, but it is so good that even the Missus would like it.

Pork Pies

DSC_0734Here’s our variation of Michel Roux Jr’s pork pies.

The concept is the same: make a pork pie filling from a mix of smoked and unsmoked ham and a fatty piece of meat, spice with apples and sage (Michel also adds chestnuts). Use ready-made puff pastry for the pie, bake and enjoy with a sexy herbal salad.

For the filling, I use 30% smoked ham and bacon, 30% unsmoked ham, and 40% belly of pork. Michel uses shoulder of pork; I find belly is easier to find and available in smaller portions.

Mince the lot, then spice it to taste. We like a very generous portion of freshly toasted then ground fennel and coriander seeds with added mustard powerder. Unlike Michel, we also add fresh white breadcrumbs. Not stale bread, but fresh, either torn into small irregular pieces, or diced really fine. Add one whole egg, and mix everything really well.

Line a cup or small bowl with a sheet of puff pastry and fill in layers of meat filling, thin apple slices, deep-fried sage leaves and whatever you fancy. Add a sheet of puff pastry for the bottom, seal around the edges and turn upside down for a nice iglo shape.

Apply an egg-wash made from an egg yolk and a similar amount of cold water, then carve a nice pattern into the surface. Bake at 190C for approximately 1 hour.

Apple Pork Roast

DSC_0423.JPGA delicious juicy pork roast with sage and apples. Perfect for autumn.

The basic idea is to cook a pork roast in its own steam, supported by some steaming apples.

Get Braeburn apples. Don’t fool around with another variety; Braeburn have the perfect mix of sweetness and acid, have a lovely flavour, are crisp when raw, and can hold a nice consistency even over 90 minutes in the oven. Take my word for it: get Braeburn. One per person, and an extra one or two in total. More if the apples are small.

Peel, remove the core, and cut into chunky pieces. Quarters or eighths work for me. Set aside.

In a saucepan, mix and melt one tablespoon of honey with juice from 1/4 lime per person. Add one star anise and 1/3 clove (per person). Bring close to the boil, keep it there for a few minutes, then pour over the apples. Let the apples marinade for a while. Toss them over a few times.

Prepare the pork meat. I use a leg or shoulder roast, but remove much of the fat and skin. Now rub the meat with a generous amount of sea salt flakes, crushed black pepper and dried sage.

Put the apples with all their spices and juices into a 2 inch deep roasting dish. Place your spiced meat on top of the apples, then seal the whole thing as good as you can with tin foil. You might want to punch a small (small!) steam hole into the top for venting.

Preheat your oven at 170 C (340 F). Allow for 30 minutes per pound of meat cooking time, plus 20 minutes extra. When removing it from the oven, allow to stand for ten minutes before you open the tin foil. When you do open the tin foil, take care not to scold yourself at the escaping steam.

Serve with good quality egg Fettuccine, which you toss about with lots of melted butter and plenty of quickly fried-up fresh sage.

Cut the pork, serve pasta and the apples alongside. Enjoy with a crisp white wine and a couple of friends.