Sunday, July 30, 2006

Chocolate Mousse (with chocolate lumps)

Now the mousse went down very well. Served with strawberries (would have been better with raspberries) on the top it was a great end to a lovely summer evening where my friend Matt christened his new barbecue (my old one).

But when making it I didn't mix the mousse very evenly, so there were a few lumps. But hey, they were lumps of chocolate, and that is never a bad thing.

Another downside is that brown food which has a smooth texture is very, very hard to make look good in the photograph. Perhaps that's why they always add cream, and shiny spoons, and fruit, and women with beautiful teeth to angel delight commercials

DIY Rub (that's a seasoning thing)

During my weekly veg-out in front of Saturday Morning Kitchen on BBC, Jamie Oliver was waffling on about rubs for meat vs. marinates. Now I can’t remember what he said, but I felt inspired to dig out the pestle and mortar to make my own for my Sunday lunch of Beer can chicken.

The following went into the pestle and mortar:
  • 1 x teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 x teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 x teaspoon of dried chilies
  • ½ x teaspoon of paprika
  • ½ x teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • ½ x teaspoon of black pepper corns
  • ½ x teaspoon of coarse sea salt
Grind it all up, and rub on the meat of choice. It seems that this will keep for a few months in a Tupperware, but it is fun to make, and I like the way it is a bit different each time.

A Sunday afternoon of beer and smoking

For my birthday a couple of years ago, my step sister gave me a book called ‘Beer Can Chicken [and 74 other offbeat recipes for the grill]’. The book contains some real gems, but they can take a bit of practice. Recipes include Mussels Grilled with Pine Needles, Stoned Chicken, and Fish Grilled on a Plank of Wood. But most of the recipes involve perching a bird (be it chicken, duck, quail or even a turkey) on top of can which contains a liquid. Now the liquids vary from beer or wine to the absurd like Coca-Cola, Orange Fanta or Ginger Ale. Now not having tried them all, I can’t vouch for the strange ones, but today I had a feast of a crispy, smoky, beer can chicken.

The recipe is pretty simple. Wash a whole chicken and dry it, rub it with a spicy seasoning. Then wash a can of beer, pour half of it over some hickory wood chips to soak, and stick the half full can of beer up the chickens butt. The results is a rather odd looking orange bird, which sits up on a stool mad from a beer can, with it’s legs pointing forward to keep it’s balance.

The book also has lots of instructions for setting up the grill for indirect cooking, and calls for a 350oF (180oC) barbecue for about 90 minutes. Now in the past, my grill was pretty much what ever temperature it felt like being, and every time I opened the lid to check the progress, the temperature plummeted and the whole process took ages.

Now the new Weber was a completely different story. Using 2 of its 6 burners on low, and the smoker burner on full gave me the perfect heat, and I didn’t have to open the lid to check the temperature due to the inbuilt thermometer.

The result… Well try for yourself.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once: SHF #17 : Dairy

I saw Gary Rhodes create this some years ago and made it that day. It has been my quick and easy party piece ever since. Unfortunatley I have now forgotton how to make it, and stumbled across this recipe on another blog. So here is the link, and I will let you know how I got on later this afternoon:
Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once: SHF #17 : Dairy

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Crayfish and avocado salad with chilled Gazpacho

So, fancy towers of food in the middle of a plate is not really my thing, but James Martin made a fantastic looking Chilled melon soup with langoustines and mint on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen this week. I must say I was inspired. Today it was 36 degrees, and I am really, really hot. A cold soup could really hit the spot.

Now on the way to the local supermarket, I had ‘cold soup with sea food’ in mind, but not remembering what James had made on Saturday I bought the following:

  • 1 packet of pre-made Gazpacho soup
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 packet of cooked and peeled crayfish tails
  • 1 long red pepper
Supplementing this with some olive oil, sour cream, salt and pepper, fresh basil, chives, a chili, a lime, and the stainless steel ring I bought on the market, I came up with one of the best starters that have been served from my kitchen.

I grilled the pepper until it was soft, and slightly blackened on the skin side and cut out two circles of its red flesh. Mixing half an avocado with some fresh basil, seasoning, chives, olive oil, chives, some lime juice, and a piece of chili produced a zesty guacamole type sauce/mush.

Layers of guacamole, grilled pepper and crayfish were placed in the ring to make a round tower and refrigerated. Pouring the chilled Gazpacho around the tower, removing the ring, and placing a good dollop of sour cream on the top finished the dish

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Grilled Red Mullet with Basil and Pernod

There is something about small grilled whole fish that just conjures up memories of Mediterranean holidays. It is those moments that have inspired my cooking. If I could eat seafood, with a warm Greek sea breeze brushing my sun kissed cheeks every night, I would be a truly happy man.

Saturday morning at the Albert Cuypstraat market in Amsterdam, is a fish lovers dream. This morning
I found some lovely red mullet.

To marinate the mullet, cut to slice in each side, and sprinkle generously with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, shredded basil leaves, and a dribble of Pernod. Cover and leave for an hour or 2.

Grill on a medium heat for about 3 minutes each side.

Char grilled veggies

Last night was a meat free zone, as my guests were vegetarians. Now vegetarians are often excluded from barbeque events. However all of my best friends are vegetarians, so I have to rise to the challenge.

Apart from the cheesy mushroom, two other great favorites of mine are green asparagus and spring onions (or scallions). Just cover them with some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can cook them straight on the grill on a low heat, turning occasionally. If you are in a rush, you can microwave the asparagus for a minute or two to soften them before grilling.

Some like it hot

These are not for the feint of heart, and I am not sure if I will make them again. My friend Sarah took about 30 minutes before she could feel her lips again after eating one. They are certainly not something to savour in the mouth for a long time. For the recipe you will need:

The stuffing is easy to make. Cook the finely chopped mushrooms with some olive oil. When they are cooked, remove them from the heat and allow them to cool.

While the mushrooms are cooling, chop tarragon, feta and tomato. Then mix the ingredients into the mushrooms once they are cool enough not to melt the cheese.

To prepare the peppers, chop the tops off, and wash them in running water. The washing process removes some of the heat (with the aroma coming of these little beast it can sometimes be hard to breath during the washing). Depending on how much heat you like, keep washing and soaking them to make sure all the seeds are gone. I spent about 30 minutes doing this, and they were still a bit to hot. If you can find an alternative bit sized pepper with less fire please let me know. Perhaps the chilli man’s database of more than 3500 chilli peppers is a good place to start.

Once the peppers are washed, stuff them with the mushroom mixture, and bake them for about 20 minutes in a hot oven.

Once cooked, allow them to cool, and drizzle with more olive oil. I like them served cold with a very large icy cold beer.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Soaked and smoked Green Tea duck

Well the new Weber has been here for a week and a day (still no doors though). And I must admit I have spent more time playing with the new toy than worrying about blogging for both of my readers. Weber’s representative in The Netherlands has assured me the missing parts are on the way.

Anyway, having experimented on 7 out of the last 8 evenings, at last I can share some food. It took some ‘getting used too’, the new grill is different. But as Weber promises, there have been no ‘Flare up’, and for the first time chicken from the grill has had a fantastic caramelized flavor with no smoky burnt bitsm, but with a real grilled flavor.

Speaking of smoky, tonight the only item in the refrigerator was a breast of duck. Now many moons ago, tea soaked duck was all the rage in the restaurant I worked in. It seams that tea breaks down the fats in the duck, and makes it extra tender.

So the duck breast was soaked in Green Tea for about an hour. In the mean time some apple wood chips were also soaked in some of the tea, and mixed with the tea leaves from the brew.

The wood chips and tealeaves were added to the new smoker unit. The duck skin was dried (with a paper towel) and salted with sea salt. Once the grill reached about 250 degrees C, the chips and leaves started to smoke, and the duck breast was placed skin side down on the grill. After 5 minutes, flip it over, and allow to smoke with the lid down for 3 more minutes

The result… A smoky, tender, crispy skinned breast of duck to die for. Enjoy with a fruity red wine and some salad. Best duck I ever ate.