Wednesday, June 18, 2008

is there anyone out there?

a question and a song, favoured by elis our italian/albanian friend, by mighty mighty. i was speaking to kate last night about the blog and what a cathartic experience it is writing it; even if there is no-one reading. a glance at the google stats would suggest that that is the case but what the hey.

struck me that there was no recipe in the newsletter so i'll give you one here. this was the bane of the last three weeks for me, plantain empanadas. the filling was a veg chilli and everyone has a recipe for that so i'll not bore you with ours, rather i'll bore you with the  dough.

you will need

plantains, a couple
one sweet potato
flour (we used doves' farm gluten free)

either boil the plantains in their skin or roast. do not let them get too mushy as the final dough will be too sticky to manage. once cooled, process in a food processor and add some cooked sweet potato and blitz again. season with salt and pepper and add any other spices you like, cumin would be good. add enough flour to make a dough that is not sticky. don't add too much or the final product will be gluey, the star here is the plantain.

tear off a piece of cling film, about 18" in length and put a handful of the dough 6" in, then fold the cling film over. using the palm of your hand push the dough out to form a circle, pull the cling film back up then put your filling in the middle. using the cling film pull the dough up and fold the dough over, enclosing the filling. pinch the ends together and crimp with a fork. gently take the empanada off the cling film and either deep fry at 190C or shallow fry in hot oil. they shouldn't take much more than 3 minutes. drain on kitchen roll and serve with salad.

Monday, June 2, 2008


It's been some time since i've had time (and energy) to write some stuff. As a mnemonic i must write here the recipe i'm to supply for Sharon and Andy, the beetroot-merlot sauce for the gnocchi. Just made my coffee and 45 minutes to football, Rimmer's on the telly making wild mushrooms on welsh rarebit, a recipe we shan't be stealing off him, although there may well be a stolen one on the next menu, and now the end of the sentence.

The mexican menu has been absolute torture to prepare. It's funny because you don't get that from looking at the plate. My wife had been saying that over the last few menus we'd started to get our plating right. It's true that the gnocchi, the courgette canneloni, the teff/wat combos looked good on the plate but, with the exception of the true teff pancakes, the prep was not massively difficult. The mexican stuff may not be as pretty but the technical difficulty in putting the stuff together has been unparalleled. We are shattered (Gordon R language removed - Ed).  My frazzledbrain is currently 0 and 4 in sudokus, I have four lying around unfinished, and i need not start any crosswords. As hard as we have worked though, the flavours on this menu do it for me. I've thanked Leticia, our mexican cooking instructor, elsewhere but should do it again. The success of this menu will be hers. The chocolate mole was a revelation to me (i've got some of the chillies here and i'll be making it for myself today) and the soup is delicious. My only regret for you is that she hasn't cooked the desserts because her efforts were far better than ours, which are not too shabby.

On to the recipe. This is my memory of the recipe we stole off Eric Tucker at the Millennium restaurant in San Francisco. You'll need shallots, garlic, dried porcini, beetroot, veg stock, cherries, wine, a little red wine vinegar, sugar/agave nectar, saltand pepper.

pre-prep: for the dish we used roasted fresh beetroot but for the sauce the vacuum packed stuff, widely available, is ok. just take it out of the pack, if you've got a juicer, juice it, if not blend it and strain, reserving the liquid.

soak the mushrooms in hot water, reserving the liquor.

sweat shallots in olive oil for a couple of minutes until soft, add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. add wine and vinegar and reduce, add mushroom stock and reduce, add beet juice and reduce. add some cherries and soaking liquid (these cherries are not glace, but the slightly sweet and sour variety you can buy in jars), simmer and then blend. check for seasoning, you may need a little veg stock to flesh the flavour out.

I've just played football and am now going to settle down for the rugby league this afternoon, happy cooking.