Oxtail Croquettes (Sous Vide)

Sous Vide Beef Fillet & Tail

 

This dish was a real labour of love! I was determined to use oxtail in something other than a casserole or stew and croquettes fitted the bill perfectly when I had some beautiful fillet in the fridge.

These croquettes do take considerable time and effort to make, but you will be rewarded with the most succulent meat encased in a deliciously crisp shell.

The oxtail was cooked sous vide for 12 hours at 82 degrees C before being shredded and combined with a little seasoning and chives.

The croquettes were fantastic with some slow-cooked caramelised onions but would make an amazing base for a rich risotto!

I paired the croquettes with sous vide beef fillet (56 degrees C for 1 hour), watercress emulsion, carrot purée, braised leek, caramelised onions and port reduction.

Oxtail Croquettes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 Oxtail – Cut into sections
1 Garlic Clove
1 Bay Leaf
2 Thyme Sprigs
2 Tbsp Chopped Chives
Salt and Pepper
Plain Flour
Beaten Egg
Panko Breadcrumbs

Method:

1) Vacuum pack the oxtail with the garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Sous Vide at 82C for 12 hours.

2) Remove from the water bath and shred the meat. Combine with the chopped chives and season well with salt and pepper. Transfer the shredded oxtail onto a large piece of cling film and roll into a thin log. Chill in the fridge overnight.

3) Pre heat a fryer to 190C. Remove the oxtail from the fridge and cut into equal sections around 3-4cm in length. Remove the cling film. Dust the oxtail pieces with flour and roll in the beaten egg. Roll each section in panko breadcrumbs.

4) Fry at 190C for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.

Enjoy!

Lamb Tagine

Lamb Tagine

 

Tagine is the ultimate in slow-cooked dishes – meltingly tender meat married with the striking spices of North Africa. This lamb Tagine is truly wonderful, the best of its kind – a dish of great depth and spice.

Homemade Ras El Hanout is the key to any great Tagine and beats shop-bought spice mix hands down. Not only will your Tagine taste more vibrant, you are free to alter the quantities of individual spices to create a dish unique to your tastes.

This Tagine is best served with spiced couscous, my Couscous for Lamb is the perfect accompaniment!

Lamb Tagine
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Ras El Hanout: 2tsp Coriander Seeds, 2tsp Cumin Seeds, 1tsp Chilli Flakes, 2tsp Ground Cinnamon, 1tsp Sweet Paprika, 4 Cardamon Pods, 1tsp Ground Ginger, 1tsp Ground Turmeric, 1/2tsp Ground Mace

For the Tagine: 700g Diced Lamb Leg, 1 Quantity Ras El Hanout, 2 Onions Finely Sliced, 2tbsp Olive Oil, 2 Garlic Cloves Crushed, Good Pinch Saffron, 1 Cinnamon Stick, 1 Can Chopped Tomatoes, 500ml Vegetable or Lamb Stock, 2tbsp Honey

To Finish: 1 Tin Chickpeas Drained, Chopped Rind of 1 Preserved Lemon, 75g Dried Apricots Chopped, Handful Chopped Mint, Handful Chopped Coriander, Seeds 1 Pomegranate, Natural Yogurt

Method:

1) Make the Ras El Hanout by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Place the seeds and all other ingredients in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and process to a fine powder.

2) Pre heat the oven to 180C. In a casserole dish, brown the lamb in the olive oil in batches over a high heat and set aside. Sauté the onions and garlic cloves in the dish for 5 minutes until soft and beginning to brown. Add the Ras El Hanout and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes.

3) Return the lamb to the dish. Add the stock, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, honey and saffron to the dish and bring to a simmer – stirring well to combine.

4) Cover the dish and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2-4 hours until the lamb is tender. You may need to add a little extra stock or water during cooking if the mixture appears dry.

5) Before serving, add the chickpeas, preserved lemon rind, dried apricots, coriander and mint to the dish. Stir well to combine and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

6) Serve the Tagine with a spoonful of natural yogurt and a scattering of pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

 

Frozen yogurt is one of my favourite ways to finish a meal. Lighter and more refreshing than ice cream, it packs all the flavour of a sorbet but with delicious creaminess!

The best way to make frozen yogurt is in an ice cream machine – removing all the hassle and having it ready in 30 minutes flat. You can add virtually any fruit based syrup to the base of natural yogurt and a little double cream – blueberry is my favourite, with a little vodka to stop it freezing hard!

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt
Serves 4

Ingredients:
300g Blueberries
150g Caster Sugar
3 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/2 tsp Salt
350ml Natural Yogurt
50ml Double Cream
20ml Vodka

Method:

1) Combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon stick and salt in a large saucepan and place over a low heat. Cook for around 30 minutes until the blueberries have started to break down and a syrup has formed. You can mash the blueberries with a potato masher at this stage for a finer texture. Once cooked transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

2) Once cooled, remove the cinnamon stick from the mixture. Combine the syrup with the yogurt, double cream and vodka. Transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours.

3) Transfer the mixture to an ice cream mixture and churn until ready.

Enjoy!

Scallops

Scallop, Pineapple, Cauliflower, Chive

 

Scallop with Pineapple, Chive Oil and Caramelised Cauliflower Purée.

Up until about a year ago I was obsessed with scallops – ordering them everywhere I went. But it was all too much of a good thing and I quickly went off them. Flicking back through the pages of Momofuku I stumbled across a dish of raw scallop with dashi and pineapple. Distaste aside, I knew this was the basis of a cracking little canapé.

Fearing I may be throwing myself in at the deep end by serving the scallop raw and with a shortage of dashi, I paired seared scallop with finely diced pineapple, chive oil and a little caramelised cauliflower purée. The slight tartness of the pineapple cutting through the sweetness of the scallop and cauliflower – a little smoked Maldon sea salt perfectly enhances the flavour of the scallop.

When cooked well the scallop is a glorious thing, but consume one which has been under or over cooked and you may well be put off for life. The secret is to sear them in a screaming hot pan to achieve a good crust on the outside, flipping them after only 30 seconds to 1 minute – anything more and you risk them being overdone.

Served in the shell, this makes a fantastic canapé but would scale up well for a starter or main.

Scallops, Pineapple, Cauliflower, Chive
Makes 6 Canapés

Ingredients:
6 Fresh Scallops
1/2 Pineapple Finely Diced
1 Small Bunch Chives
75ml Rapeseed Oil
1 Cauliflower into Florets
25g Butter
50ml Milk
Lemon Juice
Smoked Maldon Sea Salt
White Pepper

Method:

1) To make the cauliflower purée: Par-boil the cauliflower and pat dry. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the cauliflower for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a blender and blend with the milk to form a smooth purée. Pass through a fine sieve. Season to taste with salt and a little white pepper and keep warm.

2) To make the chive oil: Combine the chives and rapeseed oil in a small blender or spice grinder. Pulse until smooth and well combined.

3) Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and sear the scallops over a high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute each side. Meanwhile, combine the chopped pineapple with a little lemon juice.

4) To serve: Place the scallop on top of the cauliflower purée, spooning a little chive oil and chopped pineapple on top and around the scallop. Sprinkle with a little smoked sea salt to finish.

Enjoy!

Orange Granita

Orange Granita

 

A vibrant, delicious granita is just the ticket to welcome in the warmer weather. Soft as snow and bursting with the fresh flavour of summer, this orange granita is very simple to make and is the perfect thing to have sitting in the freezer – ready to pull out when the sun appears.

Granitas can be made out of just about any fruit; however, the sweet taste of freshly squeezed oranges rekindles childhood memories of eating frozen orange juice ice lollies in the back garden, the juice slowly melting all over my front!

The use of an ice cream maker makes this granita less icy than some, although the recipe would work equally as well with the traditional method.

Orange Granita
Makes Approx 1 Litre

Ingredients:
700ml Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
150g Fructose
200ml Water
15ml Vodka

Method:

1) First make a syrup by placing the water and fructose in a small pan over a medium heat and stir to dissolve the fructose. Once dissolved set aside.

2) Mix the orange juice and vodka with the syrup and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill down.

3) Transfer the mixture to an ice cream machine and churn for around 20 minutes until the mixture is not quite ready – holding together but not fully set.

4) Transfer the mixture to a small tub and place in the freezer overnight.

5) To serve, scrape the mixture with a fork to form the granita and spoon into glasses. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Beurre Blanc

Beurre Blanc

 

Beurre Blanc – literally ‘white butter’ is a beautifully delicate sauce which is perfect with fish and green vegetables. Although great left plain, adding fresh herbs just before serving gives the sauce an aromatic punch – ideal for stronger fish such as salmon.

Think béarnaise without the egg and with a little dash of cream. The secret to a great Beurre Blanc is the white wine and vinegar base, reduced down with a little shallot and lots of fresh herbs – it is what gives the sauce body and character. If a base lacks acidity this will be amplified when the sauce is ‘thinned’ with butter. Use a decent quality dry white and be liberal with the herbs and vinegar and you shouldn’t go far wrong.

Beurre Blanc was the ultimate accompaniment to salmon and braised leek – I only wished I had some fresh bread to mop up the remaining sauce!

Beurre Blanc
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Base: 300ml Dry White Wine, 4tbsp White Wine Vinegar, 1 Shallot Thinly Sliced, 8 Black Peppercorns, 1 Bay Leaf, 2 Thyme Sprigs, Small Handful Flat Leaf Parsley , 1 Strip Lemon Peel, 60ml Double Cream

To Finish: 225g Unsalted Butter Cubed, 1tsp Chopped Chives, 1tsp Chopped Tarragon, 1tsp Chopped Dill, White Pepper, Salt

Method:

1) Make the base by combining all of the ingredients except the double cream in a small saucepan. Place over a medium/high heat and simmer until reduced to 2 tbsp of liquid (around 20/30 minutes). Add the cream and simmer over a medium heat until reduced by half. The base can then be kept in the fridge for a day or so if making in advance.

2) To finish the sauce: Warm the base mixture over a low heat. Whisk in the butter cube by cube, keeping the heat low and allowing each cube to nearly melt before adding the next. Strain the mixture into a clean pan. Keep warm. Just before serving stir through the fresh herbs and season to taste.

Enjoy!

Honey & Cinnamon Pancakes

Honey and Cinnamon Pancakes

 

It is one of the best days of the year – Pancake Day! The best way to start and end the day, pancakes are incredibly simple to make and are guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

For me, crêpes are for morning and thick pancakes are for evening – both served with a big mug of tea! I am a purest at heart and favour plain pancakes with a little lemon and sugar. However, in the spirit of the occasion I paired local heather honey with ground cinnamon to make these fluffy, delicious pancakes which are not too sweet – perfect in the morning and evening.

Honey and Cinnamon Pancakes
Makes 12-15 Small Pancakes

Ingredients:
2 1/2 Cups Plain Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
2 1/2 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp Salt
350 ml Milk
4 Tbsp Heather Honey
1 Tsp Vanilla Paste
2 Tbsp Melted Butter
2 Large Eggs (Beaten)

Method:
1) Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer with a whisk attachment (or by hand) and mix lightly to combine.

2) Whisk together the eggs, vanilla, milk and honey in a separate bowl. Slowly add to the dry ingredients whilst mixing to form a smooth batter. Add the butter whilst mixing. Continue to mix until well combined.

3) Cook the pancakes in a well oiled pancake/crêpe pan – allowing 1 heaped tablespoon of mixture per pancake and smoothing out into a round shape with the back of the spoon. Cook for approximately 1-2 minutes each side or until well browned. Wrap the pancakes in tin foil whilst cooking the rest to keep warm.

Best served with a wedge of lemon and drizzled with honey. Enjoy!

Homemade Pasta

Homemade Pasta

 

There is little which is as rewarding as eating pasta made by your own fair hands. It really isn’t that difficult – just a little time and patience will reward you with some of the finest pasta you have ever eaten.

A great task for a leisurely weekend in the kitchen and for getting the family involved – this recipe for fresh egg pasta is the foundation for a bounty of dishes. You will no longer be restrained to the select few shapes stocked in the shops – once rolled, the pasta can be cut into any shape or size giving you complete culinary freedom!

Tipo (00) flour is the key to great pasta. Very finely milled and sieved, it is used widely in Italy for both pasta and cakes and getting your hands on some shouldn’t be an issue. It is also essential that you use the freshest of eggs. For reasons unknown to me fresh eggs make the silkiest and most elastic pasta – two qualities you most definitely desire.

Ignore assertions that you don’t in fact need a pasta machine and you can easily do it all by hand. You can indeed do the entire process by hand, but I assure you it will be the last time you bother making your own pasta. There is no need to invest in expensive kit, my simple roller and cutter cost me less than £10 and does a superb job. A pasta machine not only makes the job far easier, it also makes for better tasting pasta.

Once rolled and cut, the pasta can be either cooked straight away or dried and cooked later. To dry in the traditional way fold your cut pasta over a drying rack (see photo) or coat-hanger and place in a cool, dry room for a few hours or overnight until dried. Once dried store in air tight containers. It is also possible to place fresh pasta straight into the freezer in freezer bags, this pasta may then be cooked  from frozen.

Homemade Pasta
Serves 4/5

Ingredients:
400g Tipo (00) Flour
4 Large Free Range Eggs (Beaten)

Method:

1) Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a deep well in the centre. Add the beaten eggs to the well. Use the tips of your fingers to slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs. Continue to combine until the mixture is fully combined. Knead the dough together until you have one large lump of dough and no stray flour in the bowl.

2) The dough now needs to be kneaded. This stage is crucial to achieving silky smooth pasta. Place the dough on a large chopping board or on the table and knead with the palm of your hand as you would bread dough – stretching the dough away from you then bringing it back into itself. Knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Wrap the dough in cling-film and transfer to the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

3) To roll your pasta (with a machine): Clamp the machine to your table or workbench – leaving plenty of room either side of the machine. Dust the work surface lightly with 00 flour. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and follow the following instructions for each piece:

Dust the dough lightly with flour. Pass through the widest setting on the machine. Fold the pasta in half and pass through the widest setting again. Repeat another 2 times. Pass the pasta through the next widest setting on the machine twice. Continue to do this, reducing the width by one stage after the second roll, until the pasta is at the desired thickness.

4) Your pasta is now ready to cut. Cut tagliatelle etc on the pasta machine using the cutting attachment or by hand. Other shapes can be cut by hand and ravioli can be made from the lengths of pasta sheet – folded in half over the filling.

Enjoy!

Review: Baita Piè Tofana, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Dining whilst skiing is hit and miss – mountain restaurants worth merit are often hard to come by with many milking the tourist trade. However, many of the rifugios (huts) lining the pistes of Cortina d’Ampezzo offer some truly exceptional Northern Italian cuisine, allowing you to indulge in the afternoon sunshine in your grubby ski clothes!

Much has been written about Baita Piè Tofana in travel guides and blogs and its modern take on mountain cuisine is highly regarded. Situated at Rumerlo the restaurant is easily accessed by car or from the slopes.

Baita Piè Tofana is exceptional. Eating there twice during our stay confirmed the food was not only the best in the mountains but perhaps the best in Cortina. Service was friendly and professional and the atmosphere sublime – nothing quite compares to enjoying elegant cuisine at the side of a mountain, basking in the sunshine in your bulky ski clothes. Be sure to sit on the terrace outside: if it does start to get a little chilly waiters are quickly dispatched with blankets and patio heaters.

Baita Piè Tofana - Scallops

 

Little fault could be picked with any of the food. A special of Scallops was no exception. Simply baked in the shell with a little rosemary and panko breadcrumbs, the crunchy breadcrumbs were a great counterpoint to the soft scallop and a hint of crisp rosemary lurking at the bottom of each shell was an aromatic wonder.

Foie Gras terrine was served with a crunchy but not too sweet walnut and caramelised pear salad and brioche-like bread which tasted exactly like monster munch (much more delicious than it sounds). Rich and comforting – perfect for undoing all that good skiing exercise!

Baita Piè Tofana - Oxtail Ravioli

 

Homemade ravioli of oxtail with caramelised onions is one of the most glorious things I have ever eaten. Perfectly thin pasta surrounding sticky, sweet braised oxtail capped off with caramelised onions which were neither too sweet nor bitter. This was the food I had come to Italy to experience.

Baita Piè Tofana - Beetroot Ravioli

 

The local speciality is beetroot ravioli and various variations can be found at the majority of restaurants in town. At Baita Piè Tofana the sweet, earthy morsels bathed in a poppy seed and butter sauce finished with parmesan and black pepper. The poppy seeds and parmesan stopping the ravioli from being overly sweet.

Baita Piè Tofana - Rabbit

 

Ordering rabbit was met with responses of “rodger…rodger the rabbit” from the waiters – thankfully this did not put me off. Leg rolled and stuffed with liver was tender with the liver irony fresh. Roasted rack and foreleg was equally as soft and the accompanying sauce gamey and sweet. Served with some of the most butter laden mash I have eaten, this was a delicious plate.

Fillet steak with speck was perfectly cooked with a nice charred exterior, the speck not too salty or overpowering as can often be the case.

Suckling pig loin, with a strong porky flavour was served with beautifully crisp roast potatoes and fried red onions. Osso Bucco with saffron risotto was very good – a huge chunk of veal shin braised so long its fibres were strewn throughout the rich sauce.

Baita Piè Tofana - Ginger Dessert

 

Dessert of ginger ice cream in an amazingly thin basket with dried crisps of fruit may have been too fiery for some, but was a soothing accompaniment to the baking afternoon sun.

Mousse of passionfruit and raspberry was ridiculously light, the lightest mousse imaginable. Served in a tall martini glass, the sharpness of passionfruit and raspberry was curtailed by a sweet yogurty top layer.

Baita Piè Tofana  - Chocolate Fondue

 

Chocolate fondue was the ultimate finish to a decadent lunch – the fresh fruit making me feel slightly less guilty about the three rich preceding courses!

Baita Piè Tofana is the ultimate mountain restaurant. Beautiful food in comforting surroundings which succeed in making you feel warm and welcome – I only wish this level of cooking adorned the side of every piste!

Baita Piè Tofana, Cortina d’Ampezzo

www.baitapietofana.it

Food (For Four): €200

Dress Code: Casual

Reservations: Recommended, Essential during Peak Season

Recommended: Yes

Gnocchi Al Pomodoro

Gnocchi Al Pomodoro

 

My love for Italian food has been rekindled by a week of skiing in Italy. Of all the dishes I ate whilst in Cortina the simplest were always the best and most memorable.

It is unfortunate that gnocchi is often forgotten about in favour of pasta – gnocchi is not only more versatile but has a more interesting texture and flavour and can be paired with a myriad of sauces.

Suffering from severe post-holidays blues, gnocchi al Pomodoro was the ideal thing to cook – simple, delicious and quick. Pomodoro sauce is great with spaghetti and is good for simmer poaching eggs too!

Gnocchi Al Pomodoro
Serves 2

Ingredients:
400g Gnocchi
250g Passata
1 Tsp Tomato Purée
1/2 Medium Onion Finely Diced
1/2 Tsp Thyme Leaves
1 Garlic Clove Sliced
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tsp Sugar
Handful Basil Leaves Chopped
Juice 1/2 Lemon
Handful Freshly Grated Parmesam
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Method:

1) Make the sauce: Sweat the onion and garlic in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the passata, tomato purée, thyme and sugar and reduce over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until reduced by one third. Season to taste. Keep warm.

2) Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of salted water, draining when they have floated to the top of the pan. Reserve a little cooking water (3 Tbsp) and add to the sauce.

3) Stir the drained gnocchi through the sauce and transfer to serving bowls. Top with some chopped basil, grated Parmesam, black pepper and a little lemon juice before serving.

Enjoy!