Monday, 27 September 2010

Weekend Cooking

 I haven’t posted on food recently because mostly I’ve been cooking lots of big meaty, family friendly dishes which are perfectly delicious but not at all photogenic such as Spag Bol, slow cooked shoulder of lamb with anchovies, lamb curry – you get the (meaty) picture… This weekend however I tried to be a bit more adventurous. On Friday I’d eaten at Côte in Farnham, a great new chain of restaurants which are based on French bistros and aim to provide simple and affordable food with classics such as Tuna Nicoise, Beef Bourguignon and Cassoulet. On the day I was there they had a special of pan fried skate wing with a caper and lemon sauce which I immediately chose as I’d been craving some fish due to my recent carnivorous bout. I wish I had taken a picture because it was great – a seriously large portion (I couldn’t finish which is unusual for me) cooked to perfection with a crisp skin and flaky underneath. However, I was horrified to find out that Skate is very unsustainable (it has been vastly over fished and on top of this only the wings and occasionally the cheeks are used so it is also very wasteful) and I now completely regret ordering it and am surprised that Côte were even serving it! 

So, to make amends, I cooked trout this weekend – perhaps not as delicious as Skate, but sustainable for now and a perfect match for a herby new potato salad and piquant sauce.
I also made some incredibly rich Millionaire’s shortbread to wrap up for a treat as I was watching friends and family (actually just friends as dad and brother’s boat got a hole!) in The Great River Race in London. To recover from these Sunday night supper was a virtuous but highly tasty Vietnamese salad which I adapted off Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop – you would never think raw vegetables could taste so good! I added some stir fried soba noodles and prawns for a bit more substance however.

Poached Trout with a Piquant Sauce and a Herby Potato Salad
Serves 4
For the potato salad
  • Boil 10-12 New Potatoes in salted water until tender. Leave to cool.
  • Cut into halves or quarters and place in a bowl along with 6 Cocktail Gherkins, finely sliced, 1 tbsp capers, chopped, a handful each of Flat Leaf Parsley, Dill and Basil, roughly chopped, Salt and Pepper, and enough Mayonnaise to coat the potatoes but be careful not to overdo it.

For the fish
  • Place 4 Trout fillets skin side down in a large, deep frying pan. Cover with the grated zest and juice of 1lemon , 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 tsp Soy Sauce, 2 tsp Smoked Paprika, a pinch of Sea Salt and 100ml fish stock (or water).
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, covered. Remove from the heat, turn the fish over in the liquid and leave covered for 5 minutes.
  • Remove the fish and keep warm. Boil the remaining liquid until reduced to 2 tbsp. Whisk the liquid into 100ml Fromage Frais and season to taste.
To finish
  • Serve the trout warm or at room temperature with a tbsp of the sauce drizzled over, a serving of the potato salad and a handful of Watercress on the side.

Vietnamese Salad
Serves 4

  • 4 large bok choi leaves, rough bottoms discarded, stems cut into ¼" bias and leaves shredded
  • 1 bunch watercress (discard thick stems), roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded into ribbons with a potato peeler
  • The leaves from about 8 stems each basil, mint, flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
  • ½ small cucumber, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 1 red Thai chili (or more…or less), thinly sliced
  • A handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Vietnamese Dressing
Mix the following together:
  • 2 Limes, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Fish sauce
  • ¼ Tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp Agave Nectar
  • 1 Tsp minced Garlic
  • 1 Tsp minced Ginger
  • 2 Tbsp finely diced Red Onion or Shallot

Toss the bok choi, watercress, carrot, herbs, cucumber, chili and a tbsp of the peanuts together with enough dressing to coat. Serve sprinkled with the remaining peanuts. 

Monday, 20 September 2010

Saké Steak with Cardamom Rice and Stir Fried Pak Choi

Before you think that I ate all that can I just say that this dish was for four! It’s an absolutely fantastic way of serving steak as it make the meat go twice as far and the 3 hrs marinating time leaves it melt-in-your-mouth soft. 

Saké Steak recipe - adapted from Nigella Lawson's 'Feast' cookbook
Serves Four
  • In a large bowl, combine 2 tsp English Mustard + 2 tbsp Soy sauce + 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce + 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 garlic cloves, sliced. Add 2 x 300g Fillet or Sirloin Steak and massage the marinade into the meat. Cover and leave for 3 hrs or in the fridge for up to 2 days. N.B Let the steaks come to room temperature before cooking.
  • Rinse 300g Basmati Rice until the liquid runs clear and place in a saucepan with double the volume of water and 4 Cardamom pods, bruised. Bring to the boil then turn the heat to the lowest possible and leave to cook for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a ridged pan until smoking and fry the steaks, out of their marinade, for 2 minutes on either side. Immediately take off the heat and wrap the steaks in a double layer of foil. Leave to rest for ten minutes on a wooden board.
  • For the sauce: Bring 120ml Saké to the boil in a tiny saucepan. Take the pan off the heat and add in 2 tbsp Soy Sauce + 1 tsp Fish sauce + 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce + 2 tsp English Mustard, and whisk to combine. Keep warm.
  • Heat 2 tbsp Sesame oil in a wide frying pan and then add 3 heads of Pak choi, leaves separated, and fry until wilted.
  • Unwrap the steak and slice thinly on the diagonal
  • Pile the rice onto a large serving dish and arrange the steak and pak choi on top. Drizzle over the sauce.