Saturday, 31 July 2010

Zuchinni Fritters with Broad Bean, Pea and Mint

Do you need any more reason to get yourself a little patch of garden than beautiful baby zuchinni and their flowers? Looking at them makes me miss my little allotment. Somehow I have left it at just the point when things will be coming into flower and fruit. 

Luckily these little beauties were waiting at the cottage in france...perfect for stuffing for a delicate, simple starter.

For this dish I used both the flowers and also the baby courgettes themselves. Where these courgettes were still attached to the flowers I left them on, but split the courgette up the middle to allow it to cook at the same rate as the flower.

For the stuffed flowers mix a large handful of mixed herbs - basil, tarragon and parsley - with a soft fresh goats cheese, and the yolk of an egg. Season well. Open the flowers gently and check for bugs, these can be dusted out with a pastry brush but try not to wash the flower unless it needs it as this may bruise it. Use a spoon to gently fill the inside of the flower, and close the petals around the cheese mixture. Whisk the white of the egg and dip the flowers and halved courgettes in this, then dip into a shallow bowl of sifted flour and dust off. Repeat this dipping and dusting again to get a good even covering. Heat a large frying pan with a good slug of olive oil and when it is hot add the courgettes, and then after a couple of minutes the flowers. Fry until golden brown, then transfer to drain briefly on kitchen towel.

These can be served on their own with a wedge of lemon, but I sprinkled over them shelled garden peas and shelled and skinned baby broad beans, as well as a healthy handful of chopped fresh mint. Wish a glass of chilled Riesling on the terrace this was perfect

Bordeaux, a little countryside, St Emilion, Caneles de Bordeaux

A long lost post from a trip to France just before easter. This window for a Macaroon store in Bordeaux reminded me of a cross between something dreamed up by Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll.  I had to be restrained, and reminded that I'd already got my macaroon fix at Pierre Herme in Paris...

But aren't foie gras and milk chocolate macaroons exactly what the Mad Hatter ought to eat?

Rue des Remparts has some very overpriced, but beautiful, olive trees, along with my favourite place for breakfast: Pain et Cie. Wonderful bread and the best pralinee spread. Also, helpfully, the only place open for breakfast at 8am on a Sunday near the bus to the airport

Everywhere in Bordeaux, chocolate shops, cheese shops, flower stalls, and Baillardan, was readying itself for the easter rush, full of easter bells, and fish.

St Emilion, on the other hand, was readying itself to sell this years 2009 vintage. 

Sensible people avoid the wine shops in the town, which by and large seem to trap you with a tasting and a hard sell, and do their buying either direct from the Chateau, or through the Maison du Vin in St Emilion. L'Intendant in Bordeaux also seemed to be knowledgable, non-pushy and free of the uninflated prices some shops were charging.

We weren't doing more than a little buying this trip, so contended ourselves with replenishing our stocks of wines we know we like. Oh, and the second wine from Chateau Montrose, La Dame de Montrose 2004, which came highly recommended, and I couldn't resist. Time will tell if this was a sensible decision or just an expensive one. 

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Pulled pork with fennel and citrus salad

There is only so much soup and stew I can eat, even when there is as much snow as there has been in Oxford (above is a photo I took of the rather wonderful headington shark, looking all the more surreal for its dusting of snow). Sooner or later I yearn for something fresh, with bite, and hopefully crunch. So today I've been adding to my gas bill by slow roasting a pork belly, dry rubbed with spices, ready to tear to pieces for dinner. With finely shaved fennel, celeriac, red onion together with glistening grapefruit and clementine segments, and a healthy dash of chilli and lime, it looks like just the thing for the new year. I hasten to add that nothing about this was traditional, or culinarily authentic, but it was just the kind of satisfying, interesting thing I want to cook more of

New Years Slaw

one bulb of fennel sliced as thinly as possible
1/2 small celeriac cut into very thin batons
one grapefruit
two clementines
one red onion thinly minced
chilli finely minced

For the citrus fruit peel them with a sharp knife, taking the white pith away as well as the skin, then use the knife to slice out the segments of fruit, leaving the bitter membrane. You'll be left with quite a bit of flesh attached to the membrane, use your hand to squeeze as much of the juice from this into a bowl. With this remaining juice, and the onion, chilli and salt, make a dressing for the salad.

Pulled Pork

Pork belly (not sliced)
fennel seeds
garlic bulb

Heat the oven to 200 oc
Score the rind on the pork belly (this helps the fat crisp nicely) and salt it liberally. Cut the garlic bulb in two and place at the bottom of a roasting dish. Rub the pork with the herbs and spices and place on top of the garlic, skin side up. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 160oc and continue to cook for at least another 2 hours, preferably 3.