Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Menu 22 September 2007

  • Citrus Tiger Shrimp in Jar;
  • Bacon-wrapped Monkfish with Caper & Cornichon Mayo;
  • Home-made Tortelle stuffed with Fontina with Stewed Portobello Mushrooms and Reef Reduction;
  • Roasted Haunch of Roebuck Bourguignon style with Roast Garlic Mash and Green Pea Puree;
  • Cheese.

The Shrimp in Jar dish is my attempt at replicating something I had at Jade at 36 in Shanghai. Basically, Tiger Shrimp, Yuzu juice, orange juice, lemongrass and a pinch of salt and pepper in a firmly closed Kilner jar covered in boiling water for 45 minutes. This allows the shrimp to steam while releasing its own juices and absorbing the combination of herbs and citrus juices. 45 minutes also is a very long cooking time for shrimp as you would expect it to go chewy. This method however, has the classic stewing effect in that the shrimp basically goes through the chewy stage and becomes moist and tender again.

The Yuzu juice was my addition as at Jade they only use orange juice and I wonder if it made a difference as recipe although very, very good was not as earth-shattering as I remember it from the restaurant. I served the Shrimp with white rice that I flavoured slightly with Old Bay Seasoning so that we would have something to carry the juices. The combination of Old Bay and the citrus juices turned out to be perfect.

The monkfish was prepared by my friend David and I’ll post it if he can be persuaded to yield the recipe.

Both of the dishes above where served with a Pouilly Fuisse...

The Fontina stuffed Tortelle is made using what for me has become the classic method, namely I talk David into making it for me. What he does though is make your basic homemade tortelle i.e. bigish pasta parcels, filled with fontina cheese and black pepper. Portobello mushroom (they where actually a replacement for the black truffle shavings we did not have) where stewed with salt and pepper for an hour in a 180 degrees hot oven. They where then sliced thinly and added on top of the tortelle.

My contribution to the tortelle was the beef reduction. This was quite a fancy sauce as I bought two fairly decent steaks (about 250 grams total) from the Ginger Pig and fried them up before boiling the hell out of them. In with the steaks I put about 400 ml of water, 4 largish leaves of sage, a couple of carrots, an onion, a garlic clove, celery stick and salt and pepper. I then let the mix simmer until the water was reduced by 2/3rd and the taste was quite strong. At this point I put the reduction through a sieve to get rid of the vegetables and steaks.

I thickened the sauce with a large spoonful of the potato mash below. The final step is to reheat the sauce just before serving on the tortelle and melting about 30 – 40 grams of grated Fontina in the sauce.

Served with the rather excellent Barolo that Toby brought and we had intended to drink with the Roebuck!

The Roasted Haunch of Roebuck Bourguignon style with Mash and Green Pea Puree was a bit of an invention although none of the actual preparations are new in any way. Essentially, I wanted the taste of beef bourguignon without having to stew the venison which would have been a bit of a sacrilege. Given that my supply chain of Roebuck involves sending James to Scotland too shoot the things I am not going to waste it by stewing it. The alternative to stewing is to have the bourguignon taste in the sauce and, as I had it, in the potato mash.

To roast the Haunch of Roebuck I start by inserting a pairing knife into the large muscles on the haunch and pushing quartered cloves of garlic down the hole. It is very tempting to push some source of fat (butter or bacon come to mind) after the garlic but I resisted. Finally, season the haunch with salt, pepper and olive oil and let stand for at least an hour.

You then sear the meat on a very hot stewing pan for 3 – 4 minutes a side. It is very important to add oil to the pan before the meat as roebuck is so completely devoid of any fat that it won’t sear properly. Just before finishing the searing process I like to flambé the haunch in brandy. This is not strictly speaking necessary and actually adds more to the sauce than the taste of the meat but it sure is fun. When the alcohol has burned off the brandy add about 300 ml of red wine, a few sprigs of rosemary and roast for about 12 minutes per kilo of meat. When ready allow the haunch to settle for about 10 min before serving. Keep the red wine sauce.

The sauce has three basic components, a broth made from bones and meat of the roebuck, the sauce that comes of the haunch as it roasts and lardoons, shallots and spring onion that have been separately fried in butter. I made the broth by boiling the lower part of the haunch (roasted before use), some meat cuttings, carrots, onions, celery, bouquet garni and water. As the most important of these three is the broth it is imperative not to let David reduce it to nothing. This unfortunately is what I did so I had super concentrated meat broth but no volume. Luckily, there was enough of the red wine broth of the haunch to make up a sauce when I combined the two.

The final step in making the sauce is to fry lardoons (200gr), spring onion (full bunch cut into 2 cm pieces), and roughly chopped shallot (2 big ones) in butter at low heat. It is best to start with the bacon at higher temperature then lower the heat after a couple of minutes before adding the onions. When the onions are soft and yellowish transfer them along with the lardoons to the sauce but make sure to retain the remaining butter/fat in the pan.

Potato mash, I’m actually going to write up separately how I made that as I, being the geek that I am, conducted extensive research into how to make the perfect mash. So this post starts with the assumption that I’ve already got a large bowl of potato mash sitting next to the stove.

To roast the garlic I chopped three garlic cloves and a large shallot finely and put them in an oven proof ceramic jar with white wine, butter, salt and white ground pepper. I used about a table spoon of butter and enough white wine to cover everything or about 50 ml. Then I covered the jar with aluminium foil and roasted it for an hour in a 180 degrees oven. This produces a paste that you fold into the mashed potatoes.

The final step just before serving is to add the enough of the potato mash to the pan where you fried the lardoons and just swish it around until it’s absorbed all the remaining butter and fat. I never said this was health food!

The last bit of the Roebuck recipe was to make the Green Pea Puree which is essentially just posh mushy peas. I’ve made the recipe sufficiently complex to warrant a post by itself which I’ll post shortly.

Cheese was Anneau de Vic Bihl an un-pasteurised goat cheese from Arcachon in Aquitaine) & Saint Nectaire a Cow’s milk cheese from Auvergne. Both excellent and bought at the Fromagerie in Marylebone.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Friðrik V

Kaupvangsstræti 6
600 Akureyri
+354 461 5775

I vent hiking in Northern Iceland and used the opportunity to visit that most rare of things and exiting restaurant in Iceland outside Reykjavik. Fridrik V (the name not to honour some long dead Danish king, the owner’s name is simply Fridrik Valur) is actually some years old but has recently moved to an extremely smartly renovated former industrial building. I’m not sure but I believe it was an industrial meat processor of some sort.

Fridrik V is a pretty classic brasserie but very much with an Icelandic twist. So Icelandic ingredients feature very prominently and get used in innovative ways. I wanted to have their five course tasting menu but as we only managed to show up at 21.30 and it takes at least 3 hours to serve we decided to go a la carte. We had:

  1. Local lobster cooked in five different ways – this consisted of five lobster tails each cooked differently. The Icelandic lobster is properly known as Norway Lobster and it very much different from other lobster. It is the size of a large langoustine but tastes like a very tasty lobster and apparently it is of the same genus as regular lobster. There was lobster stewed in a cream sauce (very dull), lobster in teriyaki sauce (good, not great), grilled lobster with potato mash (very good, add some truffle to the mash and this would be great), and two other versions that I’ve forgotten;
  2. Carpaccio of beef with lemon oil and local cheese – ok. Reasonably good beef prepared properly;
  3. Lamb cooked in two ways served with Icelandic cabbage and wild thyme – The cabbage kind of disappeared but the wild thyme is the perfect partner for Iceland lamb that is just the most perfect ingredient. This is was lamb chops cooked perfectly and an absolutely perfect dish;
  4. Farmhouse ice cream from Holtsel in Eyjafjörður with fruits… locally made Italian Gelato… very good;
  5. KEA skyr a´la FRIÐRIK V - This dish was a real success. Icelandic skyr is a dairy product that resembles Greek yogurt or fromage blanc, it is however not the same. It is very versatile produce but rarely used as anything other than breakfast food. Fridrik however has worked out a method of using it as an absolutely brilliant dessert. The skyr was served as skyr brule (as in crème brule a really fantastic dish) skyramisu (as in tiramisu, this was also fantastic. Skyr is much more sour than the cream that would normally be used but I do not like tiramisu because its too rich), stirred skyr (skyr and local cream, this is a classic Icelandic dish and very good) … two short… do not remember.

A fantastic addition to the Icelandic restaurant flora.

Menu Saturday 11 August 2007

  1. Brandade aux Mojo Rojo
  2. Tiger Prawn Risotto
  3. Pan Fried & Lemmon marinated Cod with Asparagus and Coriander Mousse
  4. Mixed Berries with Mint and Sweet Wine

The Brandade is exactly as per the recipe of Mai 29 ’07 and the Mojo Rojo as per this recipe. Still tastes great. Served with Pinot Gricio from Alte Aldice that was a little bit overpowered but worked fine although the salt cod is strong enough that you could drink red.

The risotto was an experiment with a new method of getting the most out of ingredients. Normally I would make the stock for the risotto by boiling vegetables (carrot, onion, celery heart) and/or fish for a very long time before throwing them away but this time I used a food processor to pulp all the ingredients. I also pre-boiled the tiger prawns (3 per person) in the stock before removing the heads and completely bashing those in a mortar. I added bashed in prawn heads to the stock before involving the food processor.

This method produces a very rich and thick stock and this carries through to the risotto. I prepared the risotto in normal manner but poured the stock in through a sieve pressing down on the vegetable/prawn pulp to extract the maximum amount of stock goodness. Cooking the risotto takes about 20 minutes and just before serving I fried the now cold prawn tails in butter before serving with the risotto.

This produced one very fine risotto!

As the theme of the evening was fish I wanted to continue with something light and fishy for main course. I’ve not made cod for a long time and wanted to try my hand at pan frying it until the skin is crisp. The idea for the coriander mousse essentially came from the Dubai Restaurant Pisces where I had Pan roasted scallop with Lobster sausage and white aspargus tarragon emulsion. I figured that if I made mousse instead of emulsion and used the much less overpowering coriander for the tarragon I would have something that would perfectly complement the cod. I’m afraid this was not one of my most successful dishes.

The mix was very tasty but I could not get the mousse to set so in the end it resembled an emulsion more than a mousse. It was very runny but my guest at least all though it was very tasty. An very unmemorable dish however, but one I plan to perfect.

The desert was a much better story. Again the idea was to serve something light and summery. All I did was mash up mint leaves in the mortar and mix it up with Australian sweet white wine whose name I forget. I then marinated mixed summer berries in the resulting mixture for about 2 hrs. Served with whipped Mascarpone – perfection.