Saturday, January 30, 2010

Roasting a bird with Anchovies on it - part deux

I did it!
I roasted a fowl using anchovies instead of salt. 
Given it was an experiment, and just me at home, I didn't want to do something large like a turkey. So I bought an organic cornish hen over at Whitehouse Meats at the St. Lawrence Market. It was only 1-1/4 lbs, so I wouldn't be wasting a lot of food if it turned out horrible.

Rinsed the bird, did the wing fold over so they don't flop, and placed it on its back, so it would be breast side up. Peeled and halved an onion, and stuffed it in the cavity. Opened a can of Spanish anchovies that I had at home that were wrapped around capers. They were harder in texture than most anchovies I've bought in the past. Still, I spread a few of them across the bird's breast and nestled some of the capers in places like the leg joints.  Not a whole lot of fat on the bird, so I used a bit of olive oil.

Basted a few times while it was cooking (I gave it 1 hour and 15 at just below 350F), and gradually the anchovies softened, and I smashed them around a little.

While it was resting, I microwaved some kale I had washed and torn into bite-sized pieces. Gave it a light sprinkling of sesame oil, tossed, and put them both on the dinner plate.

Verdict? I really enjoyed the taste. It wasn't overly fishy, but the anchovies provided some of that "umami" feel that makes food really mouth satisfying. I'll definitely do it again, and next time, I might smear some truffle paste on it, too!

Addendum: last week I did a 1.5kg organic chicken the same way. I needed to start basting earlier than I did, because the anchovy fillets didn't break down as much. But it was still very tasty.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Completed the oxtail soup

After roasting the meat for a couple of hours and then simmering it for another three, I finished making the soup today. I took it out of the fridge, scraped the fat off the top, and warmed it up: this was a necessary first step, as it was rich with gelatin, and quite solid.

After it was warm, I removed all the meat and bones (and bay leaves), and chopped and added the vegetables to the simmering broth:
halved grape tomatoes
sliced cremini mushrooms
chopped celeriac
quartered & sliced Jerusalem artichokes

and let them cook slowly in the broth while I stripped the meat off the bones.

I then added the meat back to the soup, and when it had come up to temperature, checked for seasoning. I added some more salt, some dried chives, parsley, a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce, a couple of dashes of liquid smoke (when I tasted the soup, I thought: "hmm. bacon would have been good" but I didn't have any, so just a little liquid smoke. Not enough that it's a strong presence. It lurks in the background).

Then the final ingredient: some chopped frozen spinach. It needed something green. At that point, I turned the heat off (it was hot enough to cook the spinach), and waited for it to cool down. I had intended to add some pot barley to the soup, but only remembered that when I was putting the spinach in, so much too late. The barley will have to go in another soup another time.

10 servings of soup have now gone into the freezer.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Going to make some oxtail soup

Bought about 2Kg of oxtails today, some shallots, some Jerusalem artichokes, a celeriac, red wine, and some pot barley. Have some carrots, celery, and onions. I think it's going to be a two-step process: slow roast the oxtails and shallots tonight, and sllllloooooooowly simmer the soup tomorrow. I may even add some chopped up spinach near the end, to put some green in it.
First, cut up a few large shallots.

Rinse and dry the oxtails.

Toss them in the pot.After roasting for a couple of hours, they carmelize quite nicely. When it cooled down, I put the pot in the fridge overnight.

No pictures, but the next day I emptied a half-bottle of red wine into the pot and enough water to cover the rivets on the pot, as well as three bay leaves, some juniper berries, and some thyme, and slowly simmered it for 3 hours, covered.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Time to catch up on my reading!

I asked for a couple of books for Christmas, and got three!

Michael Ruhlman Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

Michael Symon (with Michael Ruhlman) Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen

Parragon Press Perfect Tapas

So I've got lots of reading to do. I've dipped into all three books, and like what I see. Now it's time to get serious and try out some food things based on the ratios, techniques, and recipes I learn!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Little Kitchen: scrumptious dinner @skemsley's!

Oh, what a delicious over-the top evening. Sandy won a dinner for 4, prepared in her home, by Little Kitchen chef Matt Kantor. We had a great time.

Betty and I arrived at Sandy's a little on the early side, but Betty, being the wise sister that she is, had a bottle of prosecco in hand, so Sandy, Damir, Betty and I all toasted the evening-to-come. Sandy, feel free to comment about what the different wines were that we had with these courses!

Shortly after 6, Matt Kantor, proprietor of Little Kitchen, phoned up, and Damir helped him carry goodies and cooking items upstairs.

Although I took this photo at the end of the night, I thought I'd place it here as the first picture, so you know who Sandy is, and get to know Matt, too.

It was time for the festivities to begin!

First dish of the night was Beet and Orange a la Heston.
The beet gelée, surprise, surprise, is the orange-colored one. And the red gelée comes from blood oranges. Blumenthal, eat your heart out :-)

It was followed by properly toothsome Gulf Shrimp that gently yielded to a deliciously moist flesh once past the exterior, served with an excellent charmoula sauce. We didn't leave any on the plate. The charmoula recipe is on Little Kitchen's website. We started fantasizing about all the possible uses of charmoula...

Sun chokes (Jerusalem artichokes). Pretty much one of the best soups we've ever ever had. So lovely, rich, flavourful, and creamy that it made us swoon. The topping of double-smoked bacon lardons and perfectly cooked shiitake mushrooms added contrasting flavours and textures. Really excellent, excellent soup.

How do you follow something like that? In Matt Kantor's universe, you serve something even more outrageous. In this case, it was a perfectly seared scallop with a round of apple and some purée, and a side of raw scallop, fennel and purple potato. It's called batting 1000, folks.

The standard for multiple course meals is that one goes from light to heavier and richer dishes. The next one really knocked our socks off. I had only thought of cocoa pasta being served as a dessert: wow, was I limiting things! Matt combined a cocoa Fazoletti with a wild boar ragu for this stunning dish.

The next course brought more richness: braised lamb that had been cooked in a tagine, moulded in a cabbage leaf, served atop an eggplant puree, and a cucumber and citrus salad to the side. Wow. Extremely tasty. Taste of some traditional Moroccan spices in with the lamb really took us to North Africa. I loved the way the cabbage leaf translucently covered the lamb. It was glorious.

Ah, and on to the finale: French toast with an ice cream of banana and white chocolate, topped with toasted hazelnuts, and a caramel drizzle. Can life get any better?

Not much; really, this was so fine.

I ate for the first time today at 3pm: was still full from last night. Oh my, that was a fine meal, in the best possible epiglutton tradition.