Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Demise of Gourmet

The one little treat I allowed myself on moving to the US was some food magazine subscriptions. An annual one can be had here for about $15, it certainly beats €5+ per issue back in Ireland. They do come filled with direct marketing blurbs but they just go straight into the bin in my house. I went for Bon Appetit, Saveur and Gourmet. I'd only received one issue of Gourmet when the news came that Conde Nast were to halt publication, I guess Bon Appetit was the more profitable of the two magazines in their stable. Personally Gourmet has always been my favourite, the one I purchased every time I travelled across the Atlantic. They have also published some nice anthologies of writing from the first 60 years of the magazine, one of which focused solely on articles about Paris. The one issue of Gourmet I did receive was the Thanksgiving one, with its multiple variations on the theme from traditional to vegetarian. I stuck with the traditional for my first Thanksgiving and made this pecan pie.

The quantities below make enough for one full 9" pie (to bring to Thanksgiving dinner) and two mini ones (for next day leftovers!)

Pecan Pie
adapted from Gourmet magazine Nov 2009

1 1/4 cups flour
1 stick butter, cold and diced
1/4 tsp salt
ice water, 3-5 tbsp
  • rub butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
  • stir in salt (no sugar needed, the filling is sweet enough)
  • add the water, starting with 3 tbsp, until dough just comes together
  • wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 mins
  • remove from the fridge and leave for 5 mins before rolling out
  • roll out into a circle and fit into a 9" pan, trim the edge of the pastry
  • use leftover pastry to line two small pie dishes
  • chill in the fridge for 30 mins while you make the filling
1 stick unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs, beaten lightly
10 oz pecans halves
  • preheat oven to 180 C
  • melt butter in a pan on the hob, add sugar and whisk until smooth
  • remove from the heat and add the corn syrup, vanilla, zest and salt
  • whisk in the eggs
  • scatter pecans over tart shell and pour mixture over them
  • bake until filling is set in the middle, about 50 mins
  • leave to cool before slicing

Sunday, November 29, 2009

One for These Winter Days

This pie is perfect for those cold, rainy winter days. All it needs on the side is some steamed broccoli or carrots. Curl up in front of the fire and tuck in.

Beef and Chorizo Pie
adapted from 'Favourite Recipes from Books for Cooks 4, 5 & 6'
serves 6-8
This recipe makes either six 350ml (or eight 250ml) individual pies or else one large one.

1 tbsp olive oil
200g chorizo, sliced
1kg stewing beef
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
250ml red wine
250ml chicken stock

175g unsalted butter, cubed
milk, approx 100ml
350g flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 egg, to glaze
  • put flour, salt, baking powder and butter in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs
  • add milk and process until pastry comes together
  • knead pastry for a few mins
  • wrap in cling film and refridgerate for at least 30 mins
  • in a heavy pot warm the olive oil and add the chorizo
  • cook until the orange paprika oil runs out, about 5 mins
  • remove chorizo and set aside
  • increase heat and add the beef until browned
  • remove beef from the pot
  • add the onion and cook until soft and golden
  • add the garlic and cook for a minute
  • add the four and cook for a further minute
  • return the meats to the pot and add the tomato puree, paprika and thyme
  • pour in the wine, bring to a simmer and add the stock
  • cook over a gentle heat (or in the oven at 160C) for about an hour until the beef is tender
  • transfer to a bowl and leave to cool
  • preheat the oven to 190C
  • roll out the pastry until it is 0.25cm thick
  • fill you pie dishes with the beef filling and top with pastry
  • crimp the edges of the pastry with a fork, brush with egg glaze and pierce a hole in the centre to allow the steam to escape
  • small pies will take 20-25 mins to cook while the large one will take about 40 mins

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Hear it's Raining in Ireland

Here are some pictures to cheer you up. They are of the market in Tashket, Uzbekistan taken by my dad while he was on a work trip. The variety and colours of the produce is simply amazing.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Grilled Summer Vegetables

There are a couple of Farmer's markets here in Houston. My favourite is the Bayou City Market, it's a producers only market and everything must come from a 150 mile radius. As a result the produce is truly seasonal, on our first visit every veg stall was teaming with courgettes and squash of all shapes and sizes. This dish of summer grilled vegetables quickly became a favourite in our house. I usually make a full batch and then mix half with some grilled chicken and cooked pasta for the following day's lunchboxes.

Grilled Summer Vegetables

Serves 4 as a side dish

500g courgette / small squash
olive oil
2 peppers

mix together the following ingredients in a large shallow bowl:
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp mint, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey
4 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

  • grill the peppers until the outsides are black and charred, this can be done under the grill but I just place them directly on the gas hob. Don't be nervous, they should be black all over.
  • place the peppers in a Ziploc bag (or a cling-film covered bowl), seal and leave too cool
  • slice the courgettes and squash lengthwise into 2-3mm thick slices
  • brush with olive oil and season
  • heat a ridged pan over a high heat, brush with olive oil
  • griddle the courgettes and squash in batches until charred on both sides
  • as you remove them from the pan place straight into the bowl containing the dressing
  • remove the charred skin from the now-cooled peppers, chop and add to the bowl
  • toss well to coat everything in the dressing

Texas Chilli

What have I been doing? I hear you say. The last six months have been pretty hectic, we've relocated 4500 miles away to Houston, Texas. Now that we're all settled it (and all my kitchen gadgets have arrived) it's time to start cooking again.

Where better to start our Texas adventure than with a Texas Chilli

I used a pre-blended chilli mix "Chilli 3000" available from Penzeys in the US. I'm not usually a fan of pre-blended mixes and would always make my own for Indian etc. I figured I couldn't go wrong in the home of chilli though.

Texas Chilli

Serves 4
olive oil
1 kg beef, I used chuck steak
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt + Pepper
1.5 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp cumin, ground down in a mortar and pestle
400g can tomatoes
2 tbsp flour

  • in a heavy pan brown the beef in olive oil, you probably need to do this in 2 batches to avoid overcrowding the pan
  • remove beef and set aside
  • add onion and garlic to the pan and saute until soft
  • add chilli powder and cumin and cook for 1-2 mins
  • return the beef to the pan and the tomatoes and season
  • simmer over a low heat for 40 mins
  • if sauce is too thin add a little flour (mixed to a paste with water) to thicken
serve with Basmati (or Texmati) rice

Monday, April 13, 2009

One a Penny, Two a Penny

It wouldn't be Easter without some Hot Cross Buns. This recipe come from Delia's "Complete Cookery Course" and is also available online. I made a double batch and I doubled the quantity of mixed peel also. If you can buy the peel that comes as a large piece that you chop yourself - much better flavour and a lot less dried out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Lamb Shanks

I bought a large jar or preserved lemons a few weeks ago and I was keeping my eyes peeled for a recipe to try them out when I spotted this one on Bibliocook. When I picture preserved lemons I instinctively think of Moroccan spicy food but it works really well in this dish, adding that little something which lifts it up from a mundane, everyday kind of stew. There was a lot of meat on our shanks and there was plently of sauce and vegtables to give me two extra dinners for the freezer.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tasting Menu Chez Moi

Mini quiches with gorgonzola and red onion confit.

Parsnip and honey soup shots with spicy crisps.

Celeriac Remoulade*

Tuna ceviche in corn cups.

Baked mini-potatoes with horseradish creme fraiche and smoked salmon.

Mini-corncakes with avocado and lime salsa.

We also at some point had "Cannellini bean bruschette with capers and slow roasted tomatoes" but they were all snaffled up before I could take any pictures.

Blancmange with Basil Coulis*

Mojito Cheesecakes

Both the Remoulde and the Blancmange came from the Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier (author of the food blog of the same name). It's a great book with very original recipes and flavour combinations - including chocolate and zucchini cake.

Celeriac Remoulade
serves 6 as a starter

700g celeriac
200g plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp string Dijon mustard
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
  • grate the celeriac - easiest way is in a food processor
  • mix immediately with the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice and garlic in a large bowl
  • season, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour min but ideally for a day
  • I used old beans cans as my mould - simply use a can opener to remove the bottom and you have a cylindrical mould
  • Spoon the remoulade into the moulds and serve immediately

Blancmange with Basil Coulis
serves 4 - or 8-10 of my small servings

Basil Coulis
20g basil leaves
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth
  • keeps for 1 day in the fridge
125g whole blanched almonds, chopped to small chunks
125g whole hazelnuts, chopped to small chunks
375ml milk
250ml cream
70g sugar
1 1/2 sheets gealtine (I used 3 as the sheets I bought were 1/2 the size of my normal ones, it gave a just barely wobbling set).
  • soak the gelatine sheets in cold water for about 10 minutes
  • add the nuts (minus 2 tbsp for decoration) to the milk in a saucepan
  • bring to a simmer, remove from the heat leave to cool (covered) for 10 minutes
  • whisk together the cream and the sugar in a mixing bowl
  • set a sieve over the mixing bowl and strain the milk mixture into the bowl
  • press on the nut to extract as much of the liquid as possible
  • rinse the saucepan and return the milk/cream mixture to it
  • squeeze dry the gelatine leaves and add to the saucepan
  • cook until the mix just starts to simmer
  • strain through the sieve into a mixing bowl and leave to cool for 5 mins
  • transfer to ramekins/glasses and chill until set in the fridge
  • remove from the fridge 5 mins before serving and top with basil coulis

Monday, February 16, 2009

Be My Valentine

I love Tastespotting but over the weekend there were a selection of rather dubious 'Valentine's' offerings, beet sorbet anyone??. The perfect Valentine's dessert should be just that little bit decadent and special, but not necessarily lurid pink. I found the perfect recipe in my Ice Cream Ireland book. I used a pink champagne which added just a hint of subtle colour.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meatless Feast

The word feast usually conjures up images of the traditional 'fatted calf' slaughtered to welcome home the prodigal son. However I think the picture above sums it up better - simply family and friends sharing food, wine and conversation.

On a recent visit home we wanted a 'feast' but having consumed rather too many heavy dinners of late I decided to forgo the meat element of the feast. Of assistance here was my new favourite book from 'Ottolenghi'. I have a rule that a cookbook, however nice, must bring something new to my kitchen before I can justify its purchase and this has certainly earned its place on my shelves of late.

We ate:

Roasted Butternut Squash with Burnt Aubergine

1 large butternut squash
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
10g sliced almonds
salt and pepper

for the sauce
1 medium aubergine
150g Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
(1 1/2 tsp pomegranate molasses - I left this out I couldn't get any in Wexford but I imagine it would complement the smokiness of the sauce)
  • cut squash into wedges, coat with 2 tbsp olive oil and roast in a 220 deg C oven for 30 mins
  • reduce oven temp to 180 deg C, toast seeds and almonds for 8-10 minutes - Watch carefully these burn easily
  • place the aubergine under a very hot grill for about an hour, turning occasionally, until the skin dries and craks (alternatively this can be done in 15 mins directly on the flame of a gas hob)
  • scoop the flesh out and place in a colander to drain for 10 mins
  • stir together all the sauce ingrediants and place in a bowl in the centre of a serving platter
  • surround the bowl with the squash, scatter over the nuts and seeds and drizzle the remaining olive oil
Courgette Cakes

Marinated Sweet Peppers with Mozzarella

6 sweet peppers
120 ml olive oil
3 tbsp corainder, chopped
3 tbsp parsly, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp cider vinegar
large ball mozarella
salt and pepper
  • preheat the oven to 200 deg C
  • drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil on peppers
  • roast for 15 mins
  • mix together herbs, garlic, vinegar, 80ml oil
  • put warm peppers in a bowl and pour over marinade
  • leave a room temperature for a minimum of 2 hours
  • lay peppers on a serving plate, tear up the mozzarella and scatter over

We also had a tomato and advocao salad, some olives to nibble on and this bread, which was good - but I think I could do a little better so you'll have to wait for the recipe.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Something to Warm Those Toes

My go-to source for substantial, comforting soups has always been the first Avoca book and this one certainly hits the spot on a cold winter's day.

Tomato, Lentil and Orange Soup

50g butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 orange, zested and flesh chopped
50g red lentils
1 x 400g tin tomatoes
300ml vegtable stock ( I use Marigold boullion)
  • melt butter and cook onion for approx 10 mins until soft
  • add garlic for 1 min
  • add orange zest and flesh, lentils, tomatoes and stock
  • bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins
  • puree, adding more stock if it is to thick

I Guess Somebody Liked It!!

At Christmas time it's always a good idea to have something in the fridge that can spice up those leftovers. I made this a few years ago and it disappeared in a flash so I decided to do it again, as well as being good with leftovers it really jazzes up a cheese sandwich. The recipe comes from Paul Flynn's 'An Irish Adventure with Food, The Tannary Cookbook', which has recently been re-issued with a new cover (and hopefully some more proof-reading - the font changes on random pages in the original).

Red Pepper and Chilli Relish
makes approx 5 jars (750g)

50g caster sugar
60ml white wine vinegar
5 red peppers, de-seeded and chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
2" piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, grated
2 x tins (400g each) tomatoes, blended
2 leaves gelatine
  • put sugar and vinegar in a pan and bring to the boil
  • add pepper and cook for 2 mins
  • add chilli, garlic, ginger and tomatoes, season, cook for another 15 mins and then remove from the heat
  • soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water
  • when gelatine is soft, squeeze off excess water and stir into pepper mix off the heat
  • fill sterilised jars with relish
To sterilise jars either:
  • run through a dishwasher cycle and fill while still warm, or
  • place in 150 deg C oven for 15 mins - again fill while still warm
In theory this should keep in the fridge for 2-3 months, however it never lasts that long in my house!!