It’s not often I deem myself capable of recreating anything that’s made on Masterchef the Professionals, least of all when Monica Galetti sets a skills test (you know the one where they sweat and flounder for 15 minutes while she withers them with stares of bulgy-eyed horror). However, as this one involved nothing but a few canapés, off to Tesco we went, and then set about making blinis, vol-au-vents and crostinis with a variety of toppings, to have as starters before dinner. (Apparently this is what Friday nights become after you turn 30).
So we (Ian) whipped up some blini batter with a few chives, cut little circles of puff pastry out using the lid of the spray-oil (we don’t have any cutters) and cut thin slices of fresh baguette to fashion into crostinis.
After some frying of batter, toasting of mini bread slices and baking of vol-au-vent cases we had a veritable feast of beige vessels all warm and waiting for their bright, lovely toppings. The chive-y blinis got smothered in sour cream and a bit of mashed avocado, with slivers of oak-smoked salmon draped across the top, a sprinkling of dill and a tiny shaving of lemon zest. These we my favourites and I practically ate them all – there were about 30.
The little cases were filled with crab meat mixed with a tiny bit of sour cream and smidge of turmeric – not something you’d expect but delicious all the same, and who am I to argue with Monica. The crostinis had goat’s cheese, a slice of fig (meant to be fresh but they didn’t have any – works with dried just not as colourful) and a dribble of honey.
Needless to say we inhaled so many that they turned into a fairly hefty meal as opposed to a little early evening snack, but if there had been an actual party to cater for they would have been perfect. My derision of vol-au-vents is significantly lessened, and I’ve now made batter/baked things that were not only edible but delicious! (I’m crap at both these things). So an all-round success!
Catch the real chefs doing it here.
Having failed to get the pork cheeks required for the planned dish, and unwilling to spend any longer than necessary in a supermarket on a Saturday I grabbed a pork fillet, some Portobello mushrooms, asparagus and a trusty pinot noir and legged it as quickly as possible. Whilst it’s annoying when you specifically plan a certain dish and can’t get what you need, I quite enjoyed the little spread of ingredients (below), along with some fridge bits with which to create something passable, Ready Steady Cook style. (Although I doubt you can get more than 2 ingredients for a under fiver in London nowadays..) So I was aiming for tenderloin medallions with a Portobello, apple and bacon sauce. Too much already, so did away with the apple (will juice it later with my new juicer! Post to come). As it turned out the fridge was a bacon-free zone, but there was a bit of saucisson lurking at the back from a trip to Borough Market a couple of weeks back. In it goes.
I’m not one for noting intricate details when it comes to recipes (the reason I’ll never be a decent baker) so think of this a suggestion if you happen to have similar ingredients handy. I chopped the fillet into inch-wide medallions and fried them in butter (and a smidge of oil to stop the butter burning) on both sides until a little bit brown but still squidgy when poked.
Get them out, put the mushrooms and chopped saucisson into the juices, add a splash of red wine, another splash of chicken stock (I threw in half a cube and some boiled water), teaspoon of Dijon mustard, scrape of nutmeg and sprig of rosemary. Let it bubble for a minute then put the pork back in, cover and turn it down. Five minutes for the sauce to thicken a bit and that’s it!
I put some greens with it with a sliver of butter (it is Saturday after all), poured a fair bit more of the wine into a large glass et voila!
Not exactly Michelin worthy but pretty good for a ten minute job with mostly fridge leftovers. Probably also good with apples and cider instead of mushrooms and wine. Next time!
I’d love to be one of those people who jumped up early on a Saturday, got dressed and headed down to the market, then spent the weekend creating delicious and nutritious meals with seasonal local produce, having spent a fraction of what your average hungover zombie spends in Sainsbury’s Local on half the food.
Sadly, for reasons such as laziness, this is not to be – so a visit to Borough Market at the weekend got me disproportionately excited. It really has transformed in recent years, and is now partly housed in a swanky new building selling anything and everything food-related imaginable.
We went to get ingredients for a roast to feed my fiancé’s family, but I ended up spending an additional ridiculous sum on goose fat, goat’s cheese and mushrooms among other things. Still, sitting on the bus home with my first mulled wine of the season left me very pleased with myself!
The mushrooms became this:
A mixture of yellow chanterelles and oysters fried for a few minutes with a tiny bit of truffle oil on white buttered toast. Easy and delicious.
A couple of pumpkins became this:
I love pumpkin/squash soup, it’s so smooth and filling – cubes of a good stretchy cheese like Emmental (a la Delia) and some crispy smoked bacon (a la my mum) absolutely makes it. I’ve made it previously with a swirl of cream but it’s a bit too much – a blob of sour cream instead really compliments the sweetness of the pumpkin.
We also splashed out on a huge joint from The Ginger Pig, which was roasted medium rare and served with purple sprouting broccoli, cheesy leek gratin and huge Yorkshire puddings – heaven. Unfortunately I was so distracted by it I failed to take any pics.. but the in-laws were impressed so was all good.
So a successful trip overall! Must have wholesome Saturdays more often..
Jamie’s Comfort Food: AKA the best cookbook I’ve ever had. Going through it after tearing the wrapping paper open led to everything from delighted shrieks to actual drooling, and the general consensus that there is about 1 thing in the whole book that we don’t fancy.
These are the first few forays into Jamie’s latest, they are mainly pretty straightforward, and give spectacular results.
Lobster macaroni cheese is pretty much my idea of heaven. Jamie has you pour the brains with all the picked meat into the cheese sauce, which true to form is rich and delicious. Served with a green salad and plenty of wine, it’s a winner.
Super Schnitzel is super juicy, with crunchy breadcrumbs and nothing like the dry, grey versions I’ve had in the past. It’s served with an apple salad and blackberry jam – definitely too fruity in theory, but IT WORKS.
The pork and beef meatballs are huge and delicious, with creamy mash and fresh green kale – in the middle of each ball is a lump of melted cheese – never a bad idea in my book. They don’t necessarily photograph as well as other dishes (!) but are a great alternative to sausage and mash, and a general absolute winner.
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