Saturday, 22 October 2011

Pan Fried Venison with Braised Red Cabbage and Apple

Paid a visit to Pitshanger Lane today which has become a bit of a foodie heaven recently. In one street there are two very good butchers, a fine fishmonger, a proper bakery and a greengrocer. Spoilt for choice as to what to have for supper but setted in the end for venison steaks. Serves 2.

2 venison steaks
1/4 of a red cabbage (finely shredded)
1 Bramley apple cored and cut into wedges
1 small red onion finely shredded
2 potatoes cut into wedges
Slug of balsamic vinegar

First get the potato wedges in a hot oven with some oil, salt and pepper. Cook these for about 1015 minutes before starting on the rest. Pan fry the steaks in a little oil for 2-3 minutes on each side, you don't want to overcook venison or it can become a bit tough. Rest the steaks in a warm place while you braise the cabbage, apples and red onions in the juices from the steaks until the cabbage has softened then add the balsamic vinegar and serve.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Roasted Squash and Porcini Risotto

Another meal that was designed to use up the contents of my Abel and Cole vegetable box. A pair of onion squash in the box and I didn't want to make soup or roasted veg with sausages and so this risotto was born.
Serves 3.

2 small onion squash or one butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 sprig rosemary chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 an onion or a couple of shallots finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed.
2 knobs of butter
small handful of dried mushrooms
1 litre vegetable stock (maybe a little more or a little less)
250g risotto rice
large handful of grated Parmesan cheese

Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water until softened. 
Roast the squash with the rosemary, 2 tablespoons of the oil and salt and pepper in a moderate oven until softened and slightly caramelised around the edges.
Meanwhile fry the onion and garlic in the remaining oil and 1/2 the butter until softened, add the rice and stir to coat. Add the mushroom soaking water (avoiding any gritty residue) and stock gradually to the rice until cooked. Stir in the mushrooms and the roasted pumpkin. Add the Parmesan and the last of the butter and stir and leave to stand for a few minutes. Serve with some extra Parmesan shavings.

A Smoked Fish Supper

I love smoked food of all kinds, in particular smoked fish. I remember the bright yellow smoked haddock from my childhood and while today's undyed version looks less garish but tastes as good. This recipe is based on one of my favourites from Loch Fyne and works as well with cod or haddock.
Serves 2

1 thick fillet of smoked haddock or cod (divided into two portions)
1/2 pint milk
Large knob of butter
Teaspoon of grain mustard
small bunch of parsley finely chopped (reserve the stalks)
3 fist sized potatoes
100g frozen peas

Boil the potatoes and poach the fish in the milk with the parsley stalks until the fish is just done (about 10 minutes). Keep the fish somewhere warm (and away from hungry cats!). Mash the potatoes with some of the strained poaching milk, most of the butter and half the chopped parsley. Cook the peas. Add the rest of the butter, parsley and mustard to the remaining milk and then add the cooked peas.
Put the mashed potato in the bottom of a shallow bowl, place the fish on top and them pour over the pea sauce mixture.

Plum Crumble

I don't make many puddings as I don't have the time after coming home from work. During the week pudding is either a pot of yoghurt or some canned fruit. Puddings are normally saved for entertaining. However the veg box from Abel and Cole recently has had a lot of plums hence this pudding. Serves 2.

For the filling:
6 large plums, quartered and stones
1 tablespoonful of black current gin (optional)
1 tablespoonful of vanilla sugar
1/2 teaspoonful of mixed spice

For the crumble topping:
150g plain flour
80g brown sugar
100g butter

Stone and quarter the plums and layer in a oven proof dish. Sprinkle over the gin, sugar and spice. Make the topping by rubbing the floor and butter together to make a breadcrumb like texture and mix in the sugar. Loosely sprinkle the topping over the plums and bake in a 180C oven for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden and crunchy and the plums are bubbling through. Serve with cream, yoghurt or ice-cream.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Long Time No Blog

It's been a while since I've put fingers to keyboard. Several reasons, been on holiday in Wales, my better half has been away on various travels (so I've been living on home made chilli and curry!) and we have been busy in the garden clearing twenty years of ivy from a rotting fence so we can get a new one put up.

However there are a number of food related items to talk about.

The Garden
The garden has been a mixed bag this year; some thing have cropped well others not so well thanks to the odd summer we've had.

Success Stories:
Beetroot, Jerusalem Artichokes, Mixed Salad, Courgettes and onions have done really well this year and all will find a place in the garden next year though I may substitute red onions for white and I may reduce the number of courgette plants! Leaks are looking good for late in the year.

Could Do Better
Beans (French, Broad,Runner), Sweetcorn, Rhubarb. All suffered from the hot dry April followed by the humid cloudy summer. Harvested some nice early beans but quality and quantity dropped off rapidly. Sweetcorn didn't set well so carved off the kernels rather than boiling the cobs whole.

Very Poor
Tomatoes. Blighted by blight due to the humid dull summer (and having lots of water dumped on them thanks to a blocked downpipe/gutter!) I, for the first time, harvested no tomatoes, very disappointing! 

Newbury Show

I know I should call it the Royal County of Berkshire Show but for me it will always be the Newbury Show!

This is an agricultural show that Liz and I have been going to together for 20 years and Liz for even longer as this  the area in which she grew up. As well as show animals (huge bulls, primped sheep and pampered pigs) there are vast craft and food tents to explore. Amongst the food tents the highlights this year for me were: Watercress Pesto - great with sliced courgettes and pasta, a West Country butcher who always bullies me into buying more high quality meat than I can physically fit in my freezer, Fox's Spices where I stock up on my herbs and spices for the year ahead, WI jams and pickles and fine cheeses including Oxford Isis a rind washed cheese with a wonderful scent and flavour.