Thursday, 29 December 2011

Slow-cooked Venison Ragout

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This is probably the last recipe I'm going to post this year, but I think it's also one of the best. I wish the picture could do the dish justice, but brown food really doesn't photograph all that well, especially on a dark winter evening with crap kitchen lighting.


Nevermind, I'll try to describe how good this was...

I was tempted to lick my plate clean.

I could have bathed in this.

As soon as it was finished I wanted to make it again.

I ate too much even though I still felt the after-effects of Christmas.

It was rich, dark, smooth, fall-apart tender with red currant sweetness, bacon saltiness and mushroom earthiness.

Slow-cooked Venison Ragout (serves 4-6)

vegetable oil for frying
1kg venison, cubed
250g shiitake mushrooms, cut in half
2 shallots, chopped finely
4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped finely (or pancetta)
2 tbsp flour
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 pint ale
1/2 pint beef stock
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
4tbsp red currant jelly
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 160C/Gas 3.

Heat the oil in a heavy based oven-proof pan and fry the venison in batches to seal and brown on all sides. Set aside.

In the same pan fry the bacon for a couple of minutes, then shallots and mushrooms (adding a little more oil if needed) for another 4-5 minutes.

Add the garlic and thyme and fry for another minute or so.

Stir in the flour, making sure it coates everything, before returning the venison to the pan.

Stir and add the ale, stock, soy sauce, Worcester sauce, red currant jelly and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and place in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, until the venison is tender.

Check the seasoning and serve with gnocci, spaetzle or mashed potatoes.


Saturday, 24 December 2011

It's time....

Pin It Now! wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten, God Jul, Feliz Navidad and Joyeux Noel.

Sylvie x


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Fish Pie

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My friend E has moved to Paris, but from time to time when something brings her back to Manchester she might stay at mine. Knowing that I can't possibly compete with French Cuisine and knowing what it means to live abroad and miss some things from 'home', I usually try to cook something very British on the nights she stays.

When E stayed a couple of weeks ago I decided to make a fish pie. I don't know why I don't make it more often, because it is delicious, comforting and if you keep yourself a little organised in the kitchen it isn't all that much faff either. You can also play around with it a bit. I added some steamed, sliced carrot this time and have also used prawns in the past.


Fish Pie (serves 4)

500g mixed fish (haddock or other white fish, smoked haddock, salmon), cut bite-sized
a little butter for the dish
500ml milk
a bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
a little nutmeg
75g butter
40g flour
a small bunch of dill, roughly chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped coarsly
3/4 cup of frozen peas
1 onion, chopped fairly fine or a finely sliced leek
2 - 2 1/2 cups left-over mashed potato (of course you can make it fresh)

Check the fish for any stray bones.

Place the fish in a shallow pan and pour over the milk to cover the fish.

Add the bay leaf, peppercorns and a very fine grating of nutmeg.

Place over a moderate heat, turning it down just before the milk boils.

Leave to simmer gently for 5-10 minutes, until the fish is opaque and tender.

Turn off the heat, remove the fish and strain the liquor to remove the bay leaf.

Set aside.

Melt 40g of butter in a saucepan, add the flour and cook till pale biscuit-coloured, stirring almost constantly.

Take of the heat and pour in the strained cooking liquid from the fish (adding more, if necessary, to make 500ml) little by little whilst stirring. Continue until you have added all the liquid and the sauce is smooth.

Return to the hob, bring to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Fold in the fish and peas.

Season with salt, pepper, dill and parsley.

While the sauce is cooking, cook the onions (or the sliced leek) over a low heat in a little butter until they are soft.

You want them to go soft but not colour. Placing a lid on your pan and stirring regularly will help.

Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

Gently fold the onions into the fish sauce, add the chopped egg and then transfer to an ovenproof dish.

Top the dish with mashed potato and rough up the top so that you'll have some nice crispy bits once it has baked.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven until crisp and golden, and the filling is bubbling.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Peppermint Creams

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If you don't like baking or your oven is broken, but you still want to make some sweet treats for Christmas you could make some peppermint creams. Of course you could also make them just because they taste great!

These were made by my friend L for the office and I quickly managed to take a picture and get the recipe of her before they all disappeared.

Thanks L.! x


Peppermint Creams (makes about 3 dozen, depending on size)

1 egg white
340g icing sugar
a few drops peppermint essence, to taste

Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Whisk the egg white lightly in a bowl until frothy but not stiff.

Sift the icing sugar into the bowl and stir it into the egg white with a wooden spoon until the mixture is stiff.

Knead in the peppermint essence.

Roll the mixture out thin, about 5mm and use a small cookie cutter to cut out shapes.

Refrigerate for 24 hour.

Drizzle with some dark melted chocolate if you like and allow to set.


Monday, 12 December 2011

The Best Coconut Macaroons

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What would Christmas time be without some baking? I had a really busy week last week and managed to doublebook myself nearly every night. On top we had a bit of Christmas afternoon for our final year students at work for which I wanted to bake something christmassy.

Being so short on time meant Coconut Macaroons were the perfect solution. No creaming eggs and sugar, no meassuring loads and loads of ingredients, no cutting out different shapes or time-consuming icing. So, if you're strapped for time or just a lazy baker, try them.

My colleagues and students enjoyed the macaroons. They are lighter than most macaroons as they are not packed with loads of coconut, so you still have the lighness of the meringue coming through and the lemon juice adds a nice bit of freshness. I drizzled them with some melted dark chocolate to make them a little prettier to look at, but that's completely optional, they are good without.


The Best Coconut Macaroons (makes about 20)

2 egg whites
120g caster sugar
1tbsp lemon juice
140g desiccated coconut

Preheat your oven to 160C/Gas 3 and line a large flat baking tray/cookie sheet with baking paper.

In a large clean bowl (avoid plastic) whisk the egg whites until stiff and you can turn the bowl on its head without them falling out.

Add the sugar and slowly whisk in.

Add the lemon juice and fold into the mixture.

Finally add the coconut and also slowly fold under until well mixed.

Using two teaspoons place small mounds of the mixture onto your lines baking tray and bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes. They should just start to colour and still be a little soft to the touch in the middle.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the tray, before carefully transfering to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you like you can melt some chocolate and drizzle it over the macaroons or half dip them in it.