When not slaving away with only Twitter and mad dog for company, I occasionally have a 'life.' This usually entails cooking for friends, trying far too many wines, and the occasional entire day out. I will post my ramblings, recipes and recommendations here on the 'Gourmet on the Go' blog. Hope you find something of interest!
It’s Asparagus Season – the start of which is officially marked by St George’s Day on 23rd April and ends on Midsummer’s day June 24th. Well that’s the official take; the weather of course will have its own way. Generally, we have around 8 weeks to enjoy the asparagus season. Freshly grown sweet tender spears, preferably picked that morning – if you can get it! Your local farm shop will be your best bet.
When I think of asparagus I think of pancetta wrapped around it and a poached or boiled egg to dunk my green and meaty soldiers in. Although asparagus can be pricey, so I took the same ingredients and went down the risotto route – a main meal, where your asparagus is the still the star of the show.
It’s always worth making your own stock for a risotto – the base flavour of your dish will depend on it. I put some chopped carrots, spring onion, celery, a couple of bay leaves and the snapped off bases of the asparagus in the pressure cooker with 1.5ltrs of water – 1 hour on high pressure, job done. Keeps well in the fridge for around five days or put in ice trays and keep for a rainy day.
Asparagus, Pancetta & Egg Yolk Risotto
Recipe type: Main
Author: Sarah Fay
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
1 ltr vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 bunch of asparagus, bases snapped off
1 onion , finely chopped
2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
200g pancetta or streaky bacon, cut into lardons/chopped
300g Arborio or Carnaroli ‘risotto’ rice
1 medium glass of dry white wine (about 175ml)
A good handful (around 50g) grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
4 egg yolks
Bring your stock up to heat in a pan. Add your asparagus spears and poach for two to four minutes depending on how thick they are. Drain and then plunge your asparagus into cold water. Keep stock on a low simmer.
Heat the olive oil and butter in another pan and then add your onions and garlic – sweat over the lowest heat, for around five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.
Turn the heat up to medium and add your pancetta or bacon. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the fat starts to render down.
Stir in your rice and coat well with the bacon/onion mixture. Pour in your wine, give everything a vigorous stir and then let the wine reduce.
Add a ladle or two of your stock to the pan, stir well and then let reduce. Continue this process for around 20 minutes – add stock, stir vigorously, allow to reduce – until the rice is cooked and the all stock used.
Stir in your asparagus, a generous pinch of salt and pepper and roughly three quarters of the parmesan cheese. Turn off the heat, and cover.
Pour boiling into a pan (I just used the stock pan), boil rapidly and then add your egg yolks. Poach for just a few seconds until the yolk colour changes and is sealed. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Dish up your risotto, add the egg yolk, sprinkle over the remaining parmesan – eat.
All the recent talk of horsemeat ‘contaminated’ burgers etc., has made me long for one thing – a thick, juicy, dark crusted burger, its juices soaked up by a lightly toasted bun, melted cheese oozing out as you take a bite into the unctuous beast. Well, that was the picture in my head, and cause of much lustful salivation.
If you are looking for a burger recipe for a special occasion, you‘re in the wrong place, check out Heston’s rather complexly written recipe for Burgers here, a little too solid for my liking, due to the added salt and tight packing, though he does use sirloin steak, which of course has a great flavour, though is a little too high a price for what I seek in a burger, frankly I’d rather just have the steak thanks…
I’ll be using skirt steak, also known as flank. Taken from the forequarter, skirt steak is a lean cut and offers great value for money, although doesn’t lose out on the flavour stakes. However, this cut is a little on the tough and chewy side, so suits slow cooking, quick pan frying or mincing. Being a lean cut, you’ll need some fat – for flavour and to keep the burger juicy – ask your butcher and he/she will no doubt throw in a slice for free.
On with the recipe…
Home Ground Burgers
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 30 mins
450 grams skirt steak – roughly cut into chunks
100g beef fat (fat from the rib is good) – separated into 2 x 50g and roughly cut into chunks
1 tbsp oyster sauce
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
First of all render 50g of the fat in a frying over a low to medium heat for around 10 minutes, or until the majority of the fat has liquefied. Set this aside to use later for cooking the burger in, for an added boost of beefy flavour.
Next mix the other 50g of chopped fat with the chunks of skirt steak and the oyster sauce, and put through your mincer on a course grind. You could alternately use a processor or chop the mixture with a sharp knife.
If using a mincer/grinder, put the mixture through on a course grind again, this will tenderise the meat further.
Quarter the mince, lightly roll each quarter into a ball and then flatten with your hand and mould into a patty (about 2cm thick). You don’t want to overwork your burger, as you want to keep it nice and loose, so that the fat and juices have room to move when cooked, leading to a succulent burger.
Heat up your rendered fat on a high heat in a non-stick pan until smoking. Season both sides of your burger and flip them into the pan.
Cook them for: Rare: 1½ minutes each side; Medium rare: 2 minutes each side; Medium: 2¼ minutes each side; Medium-well done: 2½ – 3 minutes each side – Flipping half way through and pushing down with your spatula to ensure they get a nice even crust.
Leave them to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before popping them in your toasted bun with preferred accompaniments.
The oyster sauce adds a saltiness to the burger and enhances the flavour without drawing the natural moisture out of the meat, so you know you’re going to get juicy results.
If you can get hold of aged skirt steak & fat, the flavour and texture of your burger will be all the better.
If you have overindulged during the Festive period and require a dietary pick-me-up, this simple, healthy and very tasty Kedgeree inspired dish, may be just what you need. Smoky fish, eggs and spices, balanced with sweet peas and a fresh squeeze of lemon juice, well, no wonder this dish has lasted the test of time. Kedgeree is more than a breakfast dish of yesteryear; it makes a great lunch, dinner or supper.
I have changed just a couple of ingredients from my normal Kedgeree recipe (was a favourite dish of mine cooked by my Mum when I were a kid) to boost the health giving properties of the dish, yet maintain the great flavours.
Instead of using smoked haddock, I’ve used smoked mackerel for its high omega 3 fatty acids and reasonable price. I don’t know about you, although at this time of year I want to improve my energy AND bank balance, following the Christmas splurge. Mackerel being oilier than haddock helps to flavour the rice.
Instead of basmati rice, I use short grain brown rice (preferably organic) which is not only a good source of fibre and B vitamins essential for releasing energy from your food and improving your nervous system function, but this small whole grain also helps the movement of material through your digestive system; particularly useful if you are feeling sluggish and bloated – nice. Brown rice also brings with it a slight nutty taste that works well.
OK. Enough on the whys and wherefores and onto the recipe…
Energy Boost Kedgeree Recipe
Recipe type: Brunch, Lunch, Main
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins incl boiling rice
Total time: 1 hour
300g short grain brown rice (organic is good)
2 (approx 200g) smoked mackerel fillets
100g (frozen weight) of peas
3 medium eggs
1 medium onion
4 medium cloves of garlic
1inch thick thumb of ginger
1 green ‘finger’ chilli
1 heaped tsp garam masala
Bunch of Fresh Coriander
1 Lemon, halved
2 tbsp ground nut oil
Boil the rice until tender – you can do this ahead of time and store in the fridge until needed.
Peel skin off mackerel and then flake the fillets into large chunks.
Peel and roughly chop onion, garlic, ginger. Roughly chop chilli. Blitz in a mini-chopper or processor until finely chopped.
Boil eggs for 6 minutes from boiling point, transfer to cold water and leave to cool for a minute or so. Remove and set aside.
In a large non stick pan heat 1tbsp of oil. Turn heat down to lowest setting, add onion/garlic/chilli/ginger mix and sweat gently for 5 minutes until soft and the onion opaque.
Meanwhile, peel the eggs and cut into halves, then quarters. Chop coriander.
Then, add garam masala to pan and gently heat for a minute or two to release the spice oils and aroma.
Add remaining Tbsp of oil to the pan. Turn heat up to medium and add rice, gently stirring to incorporate the spices.
Finally, add flaked mackerel, eggs, and squeeze over juice of half a lemon. Fold in gently and allow to warm through.
Plate up, sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with lemon wedges.
Cooking Short Grain Brown Rice : Add double the volume of water to rice, bring to rapid boil, reduce heat to lowest setting, put a lid on pan and simmer gently for 35 minutes. Take lid off, put tea towel over pan, lid back on and let sit for 10 minutes to soak up excess moisture.
To quickly thaw peas, place them in a sieve & run under cold water.