Archive for January, 2011

Recipes For Swede And Parsnip Puree

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011
Parsnip Puree With Partridge And Mashed Potato

Parsnip Puree With Partridge And Mashed Potato

Yesterday, we ate a brace of partridges with mashed potato and parsnip purée.  I noticed a theme had crept recently in my cooking.  It was not to do with the meat or general cooking style, but that I had been enjoying my winter root vegetables.  We like to eat what is in season, or more particularly to veer away from flown in produce, where we can all have the luxury of beans or sprouting broccoli in the dark days of winter.

The problem is that we forget about classic ways of eating in the winter, dropping root vegetables, dried beans and pulses from our diet.  These foods, especially beans like haricot beans, are great for the stomach and circulation, so they make hearty casseroles full of goodness and taste, yet we focus on quickly cooked meats and greens that lack substance, however good they may be for your theoretical dietary needs.

Last week, for example, we complemented Steak And Kidney Pudding with Swede Purée, while this week I chose to make Parsnip Purée with the Roasted Partridge.  They are wonderfully simple recipes and taste so delicious, and can be varied with whatever ingredients you have or can easily lay your hands on.

Recipe for Swede Purée

1 dessertspoon sunflower oil
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
250g onion, chopped finely (medium sized onion)
500ml vegetable bouillon (made as 1 dessert spoon of vegetable bouillon powder plus 500ml boiling water)
700g turnip / swede, chopped into 3cm/ 1 inch cubes
Salt & pepper to taste, or 1tsp of Steenbergs Perfect Salt seasoning

Chop The Swede Into 1cm Chunks

Chop The Swede Into 1cm Chunks

1.  Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed pan, then add the garlic and onions and fry gently for 5 minutes until translucent.

2.  Add the swede and stir into the garlic-onion mix, then pour over the vegetable bouillon.  Bring the stock to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the swede is soft.  If needed, top up the stock with a little more water, but we are trying to get as little liquid in as possible.

Add Stock To The Swede

Add Stock To The Swede

Puree The Cooked Swede To A Thick Consistency

Puree The Cooked Swede To A Thick Consistency

3.  When cooked, transfer the cooked swede, together with the garlic, onions and stock, to a food processor.  Add 2 tablespoons of double cream and process to a thick purée.  Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

Recipe for Parsnip Purée

1 dessertspoon sunflower oil
1 dessertspoon olive oil
125g onion-leek mix, chopped finely (it could be just onion here)
300ml vegetable bouillon (made as 1 dessert spoon of vegetable bouillon powder plus 300ml boiling water)
450g parsnip, chopped into 3cm/ 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp crème fraiche 
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste, or 1tsp of Steenbergs Perfect Salt seasoning

1.  Heat the sunflower and olive oils in a heavy bottomed pan, then add the leek and onions and fry gently for 5 minutes until translucent.

Fry The Leeks And Onions In Olive Oil And Sunflower Oil

Fry The Leeks And Onions In Olive Oil And Sunflower Oil

2.  Add the parsnip and stir into the leek-onion mix, then pour over the vegetable bouillon.  Bring the stock to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the swede is soft.  If needed, top up the stock with a little more water, but we are trying to get as little liquid in as possible.

Simmer The Parsnip In Vegetable Stock

Simmer The Parsnip In Vegetable Stock

3.  When cooked, transfer the cooked parsnip, together with the leek-onion mix and stock, to a food processor.  Add 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche and process to a thick purée.  Add the chopped parsley, then check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.

Process The Cooked Parsnip To A Smooth Puree

Process The Cooked Parsnip To A Smooth Puree

Recipe For Steak And Kidney Pudding

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

As I reviewed fellow bloggers December posts over last week, I realised how active everyone had been in early January, as if a new start has been made and like January joggers everyone is making the most of New Year’s intentions so casually made during the festive period.  I have made no New Year promises to myself or anyone, except to survive the next few months, get Steenbergs through the issues thrown up by the destruction of our offices and, when we come up for air in March/April, we will deal with what things look like at that time.  So my blog has taken time to get going in 2011, as has my cooking inspiration as I feel as if I suffer from a humungous hangover (which for a teetotaller is well nigh impossible).

So with half an ear on the match between Newcastle and Sunderland (haway the lads!; pity it was a draw), I have been conjuring up comfort food for me and the family, Steak And Kidney Pie.  Steak And Kidney Pie is one of those rich steamed meat pies that confound the French and most other nations, as they confuse it with other steamed legends like Christmas Pudding.  Boiled puddings are ancient recipes, having built that firm foundation that underpins England; I use England here as in Scotland they have the cloutie dumpling, which is similar to the original meat puddings, which were really flour and suet wrapped around meat and then worked into a ball, tied up in a muslin and then boiled.

The key to this recipe is the addition of ox kidney that makes the gravy rich, juicy and aromatic, together with the long, slow steaming that allows a rich, thick gravy to develop.  There are many different versions of this classic and mine includes mushrooms as well as kidneys and steak, while in Victorian times you might have had oysters instead of the mushrooms.  Steak and Kidney Pudding is served to table still in its basin, wrapped in a white muslin, rich and delicious.  I served mine with mashed potatoes and warming, wintry turnip purée (swede purée).

Recipe for Steak & Kidney Pudding

For the filling:

700g / 1½ lb steak (rump steak is good)
200g / 7oz ox kidney
225g / 8oz mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms but champignons will do)
115g / 4oz onions, finely chopped
1tbsp parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste (or 1tsp Steenbergs Perfect Salt Seasoning)
450ml / ¾ pint beef stock

For the pastry crust:

35og / 12¼ oz  plain flour
3 level tsp baking powder
1tsp sea salt
195g / 6¾oz shredded beef suet
225ml / 8 fl oz cold water

Start by making the suet crust pastry.  Sieve together the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.  Add in the suet and mix together.  Add the cold water and mix together to a dryish paste, then knead for one to two minutes.  This will give you a stretchy dough that is just right for making Steak & Kidney Pudding.  Roll out on a floured board to about 5mm / ¼ inch in thickness.  Use it to line a well greased pudding basin, reserving one-quarter for the lid.

Prepare the steak and kidney separately by cutting into 1cm / ½ inch dices, removing the core from the kidneys.  Chop the onions finely; chop the parsley finely.  Clean the mushrooms, removing long stalks and trim them to a 1cm / ½ inch size.  Prepare 450ml of beef stock, either using a pre-made stock from Truefoods or a stock concentrate like the Knorr liquid stock.

Make the seasoned flour by adding salt and pepper to the plain flour.  Now roll the steak in the seasoned flour, remove and set aside.  Roll the kidneys in the seasoned flour, then mix in the onions, mushrooms and parsley.  Season the kidney mix with some salt and pepper.

Dredge The Steak In Seasoned Flour

Dredge The Steak In Seasoned Flour

Prepare the pudding by adding half the steak to the base of the pudding basin.  Layer half the kidney mix on top of this, followed by the rest of the steak and then the remainder of the kidney mix.  Pour over about three-quarters of the beef stock to the meat, then put on the lid.  Dampen the edge of the pie crust and place on the lid, firming the edges using a fork.

First Place In Half The Seasoned Steak

First Place In Half The Seasoned Steak

Finish Off With A Layer Of Kidneys, Onions And Parsley

Finish Off With A Layer Of Kidneys, Onions And Parsley

Put The Suet Pastry Lid Onto The Pie

Put The Suet Pastry Lid Onto The Pie

Tie down the pie with a round of buttered greaseproof paper, covered with foil and then a pudding cloth.  Steam for 3 hours, making sure that the water does not dry out.  Serve with mashed potato and turnip.

Cover The Pie In Greased Baking Parchment And Then Muslin

Cover The Pie In Greased Baking Parchment And Then Muslin

Rich Steak & Kidney Pudding

Rich Steak & Kidney Pudding

Even though most recipe books seem to be able to keep the pastry dry and crisp, steam does usually get in and make it damp and the pastry becomes like a dumpling.  I have not got an issue with this as that is really how these puddings were originally meant to be.  For a crisper pastry, we would traditionally make a Steak & Kidney Pie which is another of those great English meals.

Review Of December 2010 Food Blogs (Part 2)

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

At Mahanandi, Indira shared some innovative menu ideas for the Christmas Season, or holiday season as it is called in America – see Menu 1 and Menu 2.  Maison Cupcake was cupcake decorating in a Masterclass in Islington’s The Make Lounge with Mich Turner and I love the recipe for Sweet And Savoury Spiced Nuts at Not Without Salt as they remind me of delicious toasted almonds that I used to get all warm and wrapped in cones of paper from street vendors in Munich.  Also at Not Without Salt in December Ashley posted a Quick Puff Pastry recipe that makes me feel so inadequate as I do not have light enough hands for something as delicate as that, while the post on Homemade Truffles reminds me of promises made to myself and not fulfilled – there is always this year, I suppose.

Orangette posted a neat recipe for Whole Wheat Sablés With Cacoa Nibs.  Sablés are another thing that I really should make and maybe I will during 2011.  At Smitten Kitchen, Deb has been active baking loads of cookies, mostly baking with a Christmas theme like Roasted Chestnut Cookies, Iced Oatmeal Cookies and the most amazing Spiced Gingerbread Cookies that have been so beautifully created.  Savoury wise, Deb made classic Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms.

At The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I like Ree Drummond’s recipes for Mulligatawny Soup and Spinach Soup With Gruyere.  Then Ree gets into that Christmas spirit with Lia’s Dark Chocolate Truffles, including several photos of how to make a delicate chocolate butterfly from dark chocolate.  Then there are some offbeat ideas for the Christmas period including recipes for Meatballs With Peppers And Pineapple and Steak Au Poivre, but then in America they get the turkey over at Thanksgiving. 

At The Wednesday Chef, Luisa Weiss makes panforte which is one of those delicacies that I love, enjoying the familar chewy texture and nutty tastes, but perhaps I would settle for candied orange peel rather than quince.  I must admit that it is not something that I ever considered making, but maybe that is another good intention that I can put on my ever expanding list of things I would love to make, but never quite manage to get round to.  And at Wild Yeast, there is a recipe for Candied Lemon Peel which can easily be tweaked for orange, so now I have all the tools to make candied peel in 2011. 

Promises, promises…

Review Of Food Blogs – December 2010

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

At A Slice Of Cherry Pie, Julia Parsons has been relishing our wintry weather here in England with a warming, earthy Rabbit Casserole recipe that has a quaint olde worlde charm.  I love the taste of rabbit, especially farmed rabbit, which has a light gaminess that has more depth of flavour than chicken, for example.

At Cannelle et Vanille, Aran Goyoaga made a summery sounding Fennel Leek and Arugala risotto (rocket to you and me) that has an intriguing layering of flavours with the anise of fennel and the peppery bite of the rocket, but what I was really drawn to was the link back to an earlier Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcake recipe that has that deep richness that I love in baking – I am not a fan of light, airy cakes, but need a bit more moistness and body to the things I bake and the buttermilk will give that.  Then, there is a to die for Pear And Hazelnut Tart that uses a gluten free pie dough, but you could substitute this for a sweet pastry per my recipe for A Simple Sweet Pastry Recipe.

At Chocolate And Zucchini, there is an intriguing Black Radish And Potato Salad, which sounds a good way of adding colour and some bite to potato salad, something which I find often bland and stodgy.  If anyone can guide me to where I might find a black radish that would be great, or I could substitute a few of the smaller red ones and give it a whirl.  While Clotilde Dusouiler’s Christmas Sablés which have all that Christmassy spiciness coming through from cinnamon (you should use baker’s cinnamon a.k.a. cassia here) and vanilla extract, which are reminiscent of the Spekulatius biscuits that I indulge in over the holiday period.

I am intrigued by Jeanne Horak-Druiff’s recipe for Feta, Sage And Pappadew Scones at CookSister, but it might be a little overcomplex in the flavours that come through and I would be tempted to drop the sage and stick with black pepper as the only seasoning which should offset the cheese nicely.  However, I do like the taste image I have of Jeanne’s French Beans With Toasted Almonds And Garlic and you could substitute the pumpkin seeds for toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds.

But the Apricot, Almond And Lemon Cake at David Lebovitz’s Blog sounds a great melding together of sweet and savoury flavours into a sweet loaf that really might work.   I like the flavours of Gruyère cheese and fennel that would come through, but might dice the apricot up to make finer bites as the mouth feel of great chunks of apricot sounds unappealing to me.  And how about Chocolate Persimmon Muffins which sound so elegantly delicious and give that faint feeling of exotic Baghdad Nights way back when, but where to find a persimmon, except the local builders who also go by that name.  Or how about a link back to James Beard’s Persimmon Bread from 2005.  Then David conjurs up a rich, chocolatey Pecan Pie for a late Thanksgiving treat which is reminiscent of Pierre Herme’s Chocolate And Nutella Tart, or Barbra Austin’s rich Carrot Cake With Cream Frosting that are great for expanding your waistline in these austere times.  And finally, there is a fascinating account of How Comte Cheese Is Made.

While at Delicious:Days, Nicky has been busy with the finickety details of making finely decorated cookies for Christmas; I wish I had the patience and time to spare.  And at Fuss Free Flavours, Helen Best-Shaw has been making another cheese flavoured bread recipe (this seems to be an inadvertent theme for December 2010), making Serbian Kiflice Cheese Rolls, which sound wonderful and savoury.

So much wonderful cooking and so many great ideas overflowing in the final days of 2010…