Salad Niçoise

Salad Niçoise2

This simple cold salad has a few ingredients that make it a whole meal in itself, not a side dish.

Good quality tinned tuna like Albacore in extra virgin olive oil

Cooked and chilled extra fine French beans

Black olives.  The real Provençale black olives are just unobtainable in the UK…just use a packet of convenience ones, ….but you could dust them in olive oil and a finely rubbed pinch of Herbes de Provençe.

Anchovy fillets, preferably those marinated in olive oil, garlic and herbs.

A large hard-boiled egg, cut into two halves.

Salad leaves

Tomato slices

Cucumber slices

Assemble the salad and drizzle a little of the oil from the tuna can over the leaves before adding the toppings as shown below…served here with a side bowl of hot new potatoes……have you SEEN the state of this Summer??!!

Salad Niçoise2

 

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Chicken Donner Kebab….sort of

chicken donner 2

Ok it isn’t donner it’s grilled on a skewer, but it tastes the same and has  a similar texture.  Chicken thighs are bought ready de-boned and skinned…currently £3.50 in Sainsbury ( June 2017). They are trimmed to a smaller size to more to cook quickly and the fat is left on, but scored to help it melt.

 

The marinade contains a few extras, but is basically the usual Greek ingredients:

 

Olive Oil

Lemon Juice

Red Wine Vinegar

Dried Oregano

Dried Mint

Salt.

Garlic Pepper ( a fine grind is best)

Meat Tenderiser ( Papain powder from dried papaya fruit)

Tomato Paste…a dab

Garlic paste…a dab

Honey…a tablespoonfull

The meat is marinated for at least 8 hours and then grilled gently so that the fat melts and goes crisp..if you cook chicken thighs too quickly they have a raw bouncy texture that some find unpleasant. Hence the slow grill and the meat tenderiser…..

 

When cooked…important this…baste with a mixture with a blend of olive oil, lemon juice and salt!

 

Serve on hot bread with the usual fixings.

chicken donner 1

 

Tandoori Treasures Pizza

tandoori pizza 001Friday night prevarication….do I want Indian or do I want pizza….?

Why not have both?

So I made chicken tikka, lamb sheek kebab, both of which I sliced and tandoori king prawns which I butterflied by removing the vein and miniature onion bhajis…some green chillies, some green pepper and onion strips…job done!

There’s already recipes here for everything except the bhajis, for them you need:

Sliced onion and grated potato in equal quantities.

Gram flour.

Medium curry powder

Ground cumin.

 

Add the spices to the gram flour and pour this over the onion and potato mixture, fork through to coat thoroughly. You may need to add just a few drops of water to caot evenly, but this is a semi-dry rub, not a wet batter.

 

Place a small portion into a frying pan of hot oil with by taking a small amount with a teaspoon and flatten the mixture into the oil. Shallow fry on both sides until golden brown and remove to kitchen paper to drain.

tandoori pizza 002

 

 

 

 

The simplest dessert in the world…Affogatto

AFFOGATO

 

The simplest and yet one of the most pleasing…it is still nice if you’ve eaten too much….in fact it’ll make you feel better.

It’s the simplest thing in the world to make…and it has three ingredients that you already probably have at home plus boiling water:

Instant coffee

Sugar

Vanilla ice cream

Boil the kettle, use the hot water to dissolve equal quantities of sugar and instant coffee together so that you have a thick coffee sauce…you’ll probably need to give it a few 10 second ‘pings’ in the microwave to get everything melted.

 

Drizzle a tablespoon of the hot sauce over a portion of vanilla ice cream…that’s it!  Job done…..

 

I don’t know why this works so well together…….the ultimate agro-dolce maybe? But it does…it far outreaches the sum total of its simple ingredients. Try it…it’s too easy for words……..

 

If you want to bling it up, shave some dark chocolate over the top and serve with an Amaretti biscuit….Affogatto Biscoti!

 

 

 

Potato Salad

 

 

Hot Dogs 2This is just one of around 40 potato salad recipes I have, but it’s the one I make time and time again…in it’s simplest form it’s unbeatable

 

Boiled new potatoes, done to fall off the skewer immediately…you don’t want firm spuds!

Finely diced raw onion…as fine as you can manage.

Herta hot dogs, cut into 4mm slices and dry-fried to get a little colour on each side.

Helman’s Mayonnaise…any type will do but NOT the ‘Lighter than Light’ which is tasteless……

Caraway seeds.

 

Optional:

Chopped small gherkins or cornichons.

Mustard seeds.

Mustard.

sugar and vinegar to taste.

 

Boil the potatoes in their skins until they are very well cooked indeed and can be easily crushed with a spoon. Leave to cool a little when drained.

Chop the onions and turn into the mayonnaise ( add the optional ingredients too now if using)

Add the caraway seeds….just a few.

Add the sliced hot dogs and mix the salad thoroughly with the potatoes whilst still warm. Cover to chill and then refrigerate overnight, preferably.

It doesn’t sound much I know, but the salt in the Helman’s softens the onions, the smoke from the hot dog slices gives a great flavour and the whole thing together is just great….do try it without the optional extras at least the once……..

 

 

Hot Dogs….again.

Hot Dogs 2

The buns we serve hot dogs in in the UK are awful!  Wet pappy, indigestible Chorleywood bread ( look it up!) that falls apart when a hot sausage touches it…you need the fried onions just to make the stuff wet enough to swallow!

So we’ve been trying some different breads….the above is a Panini cut in half from the side.

On the right here is a Panini again, ‘canoed’ out to take the sausage and onions…on the left is a Panini again, canoed as well to take the long hot dogs.

Hot Dogs

 

The hot dogs used above are the best I’ve found…from Marks and Spencer ‘Simply Food’ and have a great ‘snap’ to them as well as a pleasant natural beech smoke flavour.

My wife doesn’t like smoky food so hers had M&S chipolatas in……just £2 for 10 sausages….that’s 20p a banger….really good sausages too.

 

The reason these Panini and ciabatta breads are so light is that they have three raising agents in the, yeast, baking soda and a culture too. They make a far nicer ‘bun’ than ordinary hot dog buns.

 

Serve with potato salad and fried onions with ketchup and mustard as condiments…….

Steak Frites, part deux.

Steak frites the Paris way 2

I’ve written this one up before, but that time I was using expensive steak whereas the cafés of the Rive Gauche, the ‘left bank’ in Paris that made this dish famous use a far cheaper, seam -cut steak called ‘bavette’. You won’t find it in the supermarkets but you can create a cheap tender steak that is just the same by beating out some rump steak.

Just seam cut the steak, …. that is to say trim the fat and gristle you don’t want off the meat and separate it into the different muscles that make up the steak. Now beat the steak out thin with a steak hammer or a rolling pin, season it with black pepper and garlic granules and brush with olive oil and it’s ready for the grill.

You want the grill really hot and I think therefore this just has to be done outside. Turn as soon as it’s got some scorch marks on it and do the other side.( Now is the time to drop your French fries into the hot oil……oven fries you need to do beforehand).

When the steak is cooked with a bit of scorching both sides, move it to a warm plate and stand somewhere warm to rest..for at least 5 minutes…….maybe in an oven that has been warmed through to 70 or 80 degrees C for your dinner plates  and then turned off?

Steak frites, the Paris way

Now the important bit…..those two steaks above….cost me a total of  £3.50 ( March 2017) and were delicious…that’s £1.75 per person!   £27 for two at Café Rouge, Woking……..

 

Nice with a cold Brittany cidre……..( Aspalls were French Huguenots) but Sainsbury Taste the Difference stuff is brilliant!

We had them with simple oven ‘steak’ chips and a peppercorn sauce made with  half a beef stock concentrate ‘jelly’ by Oxo, some double cream and freshly crushed, bottled, pink and green peppercorns, a dash of brandy and some slaked corn flour to thicken.

 

 

 

Nachos Poco Loco

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Poco Loco:  a little crazy

My wife likes Nachos Grande when it has meat served with it as well as all the usual ‘fixins’. So this one has FOUR types of chilli on it.

Dry chilli beef made for pizzas.

Mexican ‘chorizo’, that is really dry minced pork with the whole spice cupboard in it

A chili with black beans and dark chocolate in it

Texas Red……a chili with no beans and no tomatoes…the sauce is pure pureéd red peppers…Poblano, De Arbrol and Guajillo

 

A layer of nacho chips in an oven=proof dish is layered with the above, mild salsa and chipotles in adobo…a chopped  smoked hot chilli with a little vinegar in the sauce. Then some chopped green pepper, spring onions and a layer of grated cheese.

 

A second layer of the above and then the whole lot is smothered with melted cheese from a saucepan…I used a Swiss fondue packet, flavoured with Ancho chilli powder and ground cumin.

 

The whole thing gets 20 minutes in the oven at 190 Deg. C  Gas Mark 5 and is served with dollops of sour cream and guacamole.

 

 

 

 

 

Queso Fundito . Tex-Mex / North American

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This is a warm, melty, spicy cheese dip for scooping up with nacho chips or soft tacos. That’s a ten inch cast iron griddle pan above with enough for two people. The silver foil is because I hate washing up and spoiling the non-stick layer on my favourite old pans. The champion of  several hundred steaks, that pan deserves better than soaking overnight in cold water…………

I’ve used Ree Drummond’s recipe here, The Pioneer Woman…straight from her blog:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/queso-fundido/

Basically you need to make some loose sausage meat called Mexican Chorizo,  you need some grated cheese that will melt without splitting and you need some diced peppers and onions and then soft tacos or nacho chips.

 

Mexican Chorizo:

Fry the following together and freeze for another day

500 gms Minced pork ( low fat is fine….just add olive oil, but higher fat is OK too …it carries those flavours)

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cloves ( grind them yourself or buy ready made in which case use double!)

1/4 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

1 and a 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Granules

3 heaped teaspoons Ancho Chilli Powder ( or use mild chilli powder and sweet paprika in equal portions)

1 teaspoon Dried Oregano

1 teaspoon Dried Thyme

1 teaspoon Ground Cumin

1 teaspoon Ground Coriander  ( seeds)

1/2 teaspoon of ground Black Pepper

When the above are all combined and the meat is cooked  ….( a huge spoon is best for crushing and separating the meat)…add the last ingredient…it’s weird but it works!

1 tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar ( or any vinegar if you have none)

Save this in a freezer-proof plastic bag and break off and thaw to use as needed.

Don’t clean the pan! …use the flavoured oil there to cook your peppers and onions

 

Melting Cheese:

This is a tricky one…the cheeses American cooks use aren’t available to us in the UK generally so we need to choose our cheese to grate carefully. ‘Processed Cheese’ grates well and it has a long shelf life ( that’s why the ‘processing’ was invented) but you can only buy it in the UK in sliced form for burgers nowadays, though there are other forms…but they are expensive:

001Processed cheese in tins from Jamaica, tubs from Scotland and burger cheese…all melt perfectly without ‘splitting’ and giving off fat.

Other cheese that don’t split are the ‘soapy’ ones…..Alpine cheeses like Emmental or Gruyere and Dutch cheeses like Edam and Gouda. I believe Havarti and Leerdammer will work too.

If you want to keep it economical you can buy ‘economy grade’ mild cheddar and Red Leicester to grate but you must warm them slowly. Ree gives an oven temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, equivalent to 200 Degrees Centigrade or Gas Mark 6…that is FAR too hot…use 160 deg.C or Gas Mark 3 and keep a close eye on it…it doesn’t want to bubble, just slowly tremble. Ree gets away with her high temperature because the cheeses she has melt easily.

 

Peppers and onions:

Dice and fry gently in this order, green pepper, onions and red pepper. When they have taken on a few brown edges and are softening crank up the heat and add a big splash of boiling water from the kettle to de-glaze the pan. Continue cooking until the water had almost gone and remove from the heat to cool.

002

 

The dressing for after cooking ( pure Ree this one):

Tomatoes with the seeds and water removed then diced.

Chopped Coriander Leaf ( Nothing wrong with frozen for this)

 

Assembling and cooking:

Layer the grated cheese into a griddle pan, layer on some Chorizo, more cheese, Diced Peppers and Onion, more cheese, dusted with Hot Chilli powder and Ground Cumin.

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If using soft tacos, brush a hot pan with melted butter, flop in a tortilla, brush the top and flip to cook the other side…repeat. If using Nacho Chips get them in a bowl ready.

003There’s also some left-over cut up Tortilla leaves brushed with butter and cooked in the oven there….

 

008Ready to rock!

 

Cook the Queso Fundito in the oven gently at 160 Deg. C Gas mark 3, for about 8 minutes, turning the pan around at least once to cook evenly. It might take a bit longer…ovens vary, but be patient and don’t turn up the heat if using cheaper cheeses.

009Note the little fork to load those soft tacos!

 

A little music to dine by:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austrian Supper…Goulash

goulash

Slowly braised beef, with added strips of feather steak which takes 7 hours to cook but imparts a glossy texture and a superb rich flavour to the sauce. Simply shred off the meat and discard the sinew ‘feather’. It can smell unpleasant whilst cooking but it does not taint the finished dish. It’s worth seeking it out……

 

Otherwise it’s just onions, a pinch of salt, and the ‘Hungarian’ flavour of a good quality mild paprika ( it simply must be Hungarian paprika..there are seven grades of mild…you want at least ‘Edelsuss’ or noble sweet, the middle grade….if you can find a better ‘delicate’try it. The Spice Shop in Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill does mail order ‘first class’ Hungarian paprika…….

 

The last seasoning is caraway seeds.  This dish is usually served as a soup in ski huts across Austria, but here it is served as a main course with buttered noodles. It seems strange that an Hungarian dish should be everywhere in Austria but up until 1914 they were the same great empire ruled by the Hapsburgs.

 

I cooked this to celebrate another skiing race, ….the famous Hahnenkamm from Kitzbuhel on the notorious Streif course.

 

We finished with another ski hut special…Kaiserschmarrn, or ‘Emperor’s Mess. Here’s a proper recipe

http://www.austria.info/uk/things-to-do/food-and-drink/favourite-austrian-recipes/kaiserschmarren

 

I cheated and used a packet mix from The German Deli…..:-) served with frozen raspberry schnapps( at least I made that myself)

 

kaiserschmarrn

Race highlights…..it’s a big party in Kitzbuhel….akin to the football World Cup in Britain..

A little music to accompany dinner……

 

 

You can make Goulash as a stew with dumplings too:

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The dumplings can be plain old packet mix ones, they are always light, but you can tweak them too…how about Tirolean Dumplings with fried bacon and onions in the mix?

I couldn’t find any feather steak this week so the above was thickened with cornflour and some low-salt gravy granules. It kills the vibrant colour a bit …. but not the taste.

 

Or maybe these…Käseknodel…Cheese Dumplings as in the image above:

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Make up the dumpling mix as instructed in a bowl, but add some dried thyme. With floured hands dab a small 1 cm cube of cheese ( I used Gouda) onto some caraway seeds, und place in the middle of a round of dumpling mix. Bring the mix up the sides and seal to exclude any air. Dust with flour to stop them sticking to a plate and add to the Goulash, cooking through for about 30 minutes. the mix makes 8, but with the cheese inside I got 10 dumplings. I think next time I shall use a cheese with a stronger taste.

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