Monday, October 25, 2010

heated-up leftovers

Some of my favourite meals are made from the leftovers from the previous day.

Isn't it enough that you know that? You wanted an example?

OK. Here's what we had last night:

Roast chicken, skirlie, cauliflower cheese. All quite delicious, and plenty left (except for the skirlie; that went very fast).

So, tonight, we ate the re-baked cauliflower cheese:
twice-baked cauliflower cheese

A pan of new potatoes, crushed in butter and parsley:

And pieces of roast chicken given a second life by coating them in panko breadcrumbs and frying them until crispy.
mmm, frispy

We thoroughly enjoyed it, until the cows came home. By which I mean the next door neighbour rushed round to say that one of our steers was in her garden. And we've only just had the fences fixed. An hour later we had returned the farm to peace and calm. And the food had gone cold. And LW had lost her appetite. But the dogs didn't mind a bit.
a bit of a dog's dinner (lucky dog)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

chinese soup & sandwiches

'Twas the last Soup and sandwiches of the season. Usually we 4 stop the S&S tradition once daylight saving kicks in, but I had one more meal up my sleeve, and unleashed it last night.

Chicken and sweetcorn soup: one of the simplest of all soups, and anyone who enjoyed meals from Chinese restaurants in the UK (and probably elsewhere) from childhood will be familiar with this soup. Here's what I did:
Poach a chicken breast in a litre (or, if you are in the USA, a fifth of a gallon) of chicken stock until cooked through. Take out the chicken and add a tsp (or 1 seventeeth of a cup) of sesame oil, a couple of tsps (yes, yes) of light soy, grate a chunk of ginger and add it, and also a couple of sprigs of spring onion. Simmer and add a can of creamed sweetcorn. Mix up 2 tsps of cornflour and some of the stock to make a paste and add it back to the stock to thicken slightly, and beat 2 eggs and drizzle them into the stirred stock to make fine ribbons of egg. Shred (not chop) the chicken and put it back in the hot stock and serve. This will bring back memories even better than rosemary.
a bowl of soup (reuters library footage)

The main course (the "sandwich") was crispy chinese spiced duck as seen here about which no more needs to be said except that we had 2 ducks for 4 people, and really ate too much. 1.5 ducks would be enough. But that would be unfair to the ducks.
that's not our duck. But it looks similar. Stolen image. Thanks, internet.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

cheesy goodness!

Here's a very quick post for a quick feast:

Take a good soft cheese, such as camembert (but ideally one of the alpine cheeses that come in a wooden box), and unwrap it, and then re-wrap it in foil with a bit of a high lip around it. Make a few holes in the top and poke in shards of garlic. Pour some red wine on top to let it soak through the holes.

Then bake the whole thing at 180 deg C for about 25 min, checking regularly to ensure that the molten cheese is not collapsing and creating another oven cleaning disaster tomorrow.
Camembert on the left, blue on the right

Serve with crusty bread that is dipped through the rind into the cheese in a confident, but not aggressive fashion.

Enjoy! We did; and experimented with a Mainland reserve double creamy Camembert and a creamy blue (that was less of a success because the taste was just too concentrated by the baking.) The Camembert was superb and we will do this again!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Insalata Caprese!

This post is backwards. It starts with a lovely salad of Tomato, Basil leaves and the best Mozzarella we can lay our hands on. And a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 the finished salad
It takes seconds to prepare it all, toast some good, crusty bread, and eat. But, in reality, this one took over 8 hours to make.
with all the trimmings...

In fact, the Mozzarella was very nice, tasted good, but the texture of it was a little rubbery, more akin to the blocks of mass-produced cheese you find in the section of the supermarket where all cheese is vacuum-packed, than the fibrous, soft and delicate balls of mozzarella in the delicatessen, flown straight from the buffaloes of Italy to the mouths of us mere mortals. But then again, the manufacturers of our Mozzarella were amateurs, and I know this because those makers were LW and I!

Jean Mansfield runs cheese-making courses, and, yesterday, we attended one at the Kerikeri Culinary Institute

which was excellent. It was an all-day affair, and in the space of only a few hours, we learned to make Mozzarella, Feta and Ricotta. At $195 each, I thought that it was going to be poor value for the day, but I was wrong, not least because the delightful Jean and her husband (who is a Dairy farmer) made the day really good fun, as well as teaching us well, and supplying excellent quality equipment, facilities and lovely, raw Jersey milk! And we came home with about a kilo of feta (which is currently sitting in some brine and will be ready to eat in about 3 weeks), a bagful of ricotta, which I will use for something... I'm not sure what yet, and 6 good sized balls of the Mozzarella, half of which is now sitting in some weak brine so that we can see if it softens as it get a little older... We also had a very good lunch of wine, cheeses, ham, chicken, olives and fresh fruit. By the end of the day we were tired, enthused, and keen to sign up to the next course which will involve making Blue Gouda, Camembert and Marscapone. We can't wait!

some milk. Waiting to become Mozzarella
on it's way.
closer still... 

and now the stretching...
and the final result!
I was wondering why our Mozzarella is so dense compared to the ideal; after all, it stretched beautifully, but I think the reason is that we didn't stretch it enough, and, in the process include more air and fibres of stretched cheese into the final product. We will know next time.

Having said that, the salad was really good, more so because it was our own home-made cheese that we were eating. I think we'll fire up the pizza oven and make some pizzas to do justice to the other half of the cheese.