Sunday 14 January 2007

What's for dinner?

And so........for today's menu:

To start with, crisp Phyllo pastry shells, with duck livers and mushroom. Simple preparation: bake the shells separately until richly dark brown; saute sliced duck livers and mushrooms in butter in two separate pans, and then add half a wine glass of marsala to the pan with the livers in it, along with half a teaspoon of ground ginger. Let the marsala bubble slightly, then pour in some double cream and stir. Add the mushrooms to the mixture, correct seasoning, and pile into the cooked pastry shells. Top with a sprinkling of chopped parsley to serve.

This is always better using mushrooms found growing wild - but conditions aren't right for that at the moment, so this evening it will be the ordinary cultivated variety instead.


Boned chicken, roast with a poultice of butter, minced shallot, coriander and chopped rosemary - half of it pushed between the skin and the flesh, and the rest pressed over the surface of the boned beast. Use the ribcage to make stock for future use. Prepare the chicken several hours in advance, and then roast for approximately forty minutes at 200 degrees C. The combined fat and melted butter that collects in the bottom of the pan is fantastic for future sauteeing of vegetables, and will keep for weeks in the fridge.
This is a variaton on a recipe that I've been doing for many years, originally - I think - seen done by Paul Bocuse on the Food Channel in the States . It works equally as well with duck, when some bitter orange zest included in the poultice is excellent. Not only does this method make slicing the bird extremely easy, but you get a lot more for your money, as none of the meat gets left behind in the process of carving.

And to finish:
Egg-white chocolate souffle. The fridge in this household generates its own egg-white mountain on a very regular basis, and so egg-white only dishes are much in demand. This one is as follows, for two: 50 g melted dark chocolate, 4 egg whites, one tablespoon sugar, 1 tbs strong coffee. Melt the chocolate, stir in sugar and coffee, and then fold into stiffly beaten egg whites; pour into greased ramekins and bake eight minutes in a bain marie in a pre-heated 175 degree C oven.

I always use Felchin chocolate - better by far than any alternatives, even the much hailed Valhrona. Difficult to find, but worth the search. Felchlin is an old family run swiss business, and from the first mouthful you'll find yourself saying 'THIS is what chocolate used to taste like!'. It's imported in the UK by Dohler, but after that heaven only knows what happens to it. You can sometimes get it through Vin Sullivan, I think. For the past couple of years I've been sourcing mine through Felchlin's distributor in Italy.

Fyi, when I mention sugar, it will nearly always in fact be equivalent-volume Splenda that I use - it works just as well as sugar for anything which is baked or where the finished product doesn't require the silky texture that only sugar can produce. It's no good for ice creams,or sorbets, for example, and is hopeless for meringues. Otherwise, it's an important element in ensuring that eating well isn't entirely inconsistent with having a waistline!

Equipment note: for melting chocolate or making sauces, I use an integrated bain-marie of german design called a zimmertopf. I'm not sure how widely known they are, but they are excellent for this kind of job, where you want heat, but with no danger of anything boiling. Excellent for jobs like Hollandaise, or Creme Patissiere.

No comments: