Saturday 24 February 2007

Recipe: Rabbit & Lemon Terrine

For Twelve.
Ingredients: Fifteen slices of Bacon or Pancetta; 1 rabbit; 250g Chicken Livers; 350g minced Pork; 3 pressed cloves of Garlic; 1 Onion, minced; rind and juice of 1 Lemon; 5 sprigs of Tarragon, chopped; 1 teaspoon French Mustard; 1 Onion, sliced finely into rings; a handful of finely chopped Celery Leaves; half a pint of dry White Wine; seasoning.

1. Remove all the meat from the Rabbit, and dice it into 1 cm cubes, or smaller. Put into a bowl and add seasoning.
2. Line a greased loaf tin or equivalent sized terrine with about ten of the slices of Bacon or Pancetta, reserving the rest to make a lid.
3. Process the chicken livers in a food processor until almost liquid, and then combine with the Garlic, minced Onion, minced Pork, Lemon, Mustard and Tarragon. Add seasoning.
4. Put one third of the Pork/Chicken Liver mixture in the bottom the prepared mould; cover with half of the sliced Onion, then half of the diced Rabbit, then half of the chopped Celery Leaves.
5. Repeat with another third of the Pork/Chicken Liver mix, and the remainder of the sliced Onion, Rabbit, and Celery Leaves. Finish with the remaining Pork/Chicken Liver mix. Make a few holes in the terrine with the handle of a wooden spoon, and carefully pour the white wine into the terrine.
6. Cover with the remaining slices of Bacon or Pancetta, and tightly cover with aluminium foil. Place in a bain marie, and bake two hours in a pre-heated 170 degree C oven.
7. When cool, weight it, and place the terrine in the fridge. (Careful in doing so - it will almost certainly exude liquid when you first press down on it, so be sure to do this in a place where the liquid can be dealt with and the base of the terrine tidied up before it goes into the fridge.)
8. Leave in the fridge for at least a week, and preferably nearer to two weeks before you slice and serve it. The longer it sits and waits, the more impressive the flavour will be. After the right amount of time, the flavour is sure-as-hell impressive, and in the meantime, the smell every time you open the fridge door to get something out will have your olefactory sensors working overtime!

Wednesday 21 February 2007

Lying Doggo.....

It appears that the fire was finally extinguished at around four o'clock in the morning, leaving almost half the building as a smoking and waterlogged ruin. Since we suspected that everybody was supposed to have left - but nobody had actually said as much to us, and we were leaving for Italy the next day in any event, and trying to find a hotel in London that would take two Welsh Springers for the night would be fairly impossible - we decided to keep our heads down, and lie doggo indoors for the duration. The fact that the gas was turned off halfway through the evening made dinner even more challenging than otherwise, but necessity was the mother of invention, and I discovered a way of making a tarragon-flavoured risotto in the oven, which went rather well with the last of the Duck Confit, and followed eggs baked with cream and Serrano ham, and preceded a sorbet which turned out to be Pear rather than Apple, but was no less good for being unexpected (one day I might start to label things that go into the freezer, and progress beyond every trip into its bowels being a voyage of discovery!).
When I emerged into the central hallway at about 7.30, a.m. with two enthusiastic dogs on leads en-route to their kennels in the country, I discovered a crowd of about thirty fire and police officers milling around, who looked more than a little startled as I walked through. Rather than give anybody the opportunity to be difficult, I said a very general 'Good Morning', and beat it, before anybody had a chance to say anything.

Many hours later, and at the end of the day, it felt rather surreal to be sitting at home in Italy, sharing a bottle of Prosecco with Louisa, our right-on socially responsible obstetrician neighbour, who was ranting about capitalist exploitation in the area of milk production for infants, and then presented us with about a bushel of bietole that she'd had from a friend in the garfagnana.!

Tonight's Dinner:

Black Ravioli with Sea Bass stuffing (Yes! The Pasta shop in Vettovaglie is open again......of which more later)
Bistecchie di Maiale, with (you guessed it) bietole in a lemon-bechamel sauce.
Pear and Chocolate Tart.

Monday 19 February 2007

When it's Black, it's Done.....

Well, I was going to write about 'Cooking with Fernet Branca' - especially the recipe for Otter in Lobster Sauce - and then I thought I'd mention Paul Bocuse's birthday celebrations, and ponder both Tetsuya Wakuda's latest publication and a recipe from Lea Linster for saddle of lamb in a thin crispy crust of potato.......which has reminded me of the Salmon and potato roulade (see below for the recipe)......
Except that it's all been put out of my mind by the fact that the
building is on fire! Rather dramatically, too..........The roof has been burning for the past six hours, and the entire London Fire Brigade seems to have descended on us. Apart from being mildly kippered from the smoke, there seems no immediate danger......although most of the the building has been evacuated to the Albert Hall, and we're keeping a low profile indoors, to avoid having to join them.....If we leave to shop for supper, then the police won't let us back in, so we're having to scrape by on wartime rations. Fortunately, I've just found a tub of apple and calvados sorbet in the freezer that I'd forgotten about, and I can see the makings of an interestingly rich risotto with some gloriously jellied Duck Stock, to follow potted shrimps , I think.....I suspect we 'll survive the crisis somehow. I can feel a bottle of something revivingly fizzy coming on....

Sunday 18 February 2007

Recipe: Smoked Salmon & Potato Roulade

For Four.
Ingredients: 2 medium Potatoes (something relatively waxy like King Edwards are fine for this); 4 slices Smoked Salmon; 3 oz melted Butter; 2 tablespoons finely chopped Chives; 12 oz Cream Cheese.


1. Peel the Potatoes and slice them wafer-thin on a mandolin, or using the appropriate blade in a food processor (a mandolin is preferable). Spread the slices out on a baking sheet which has been lined with aluminium foil and greased. Brush the slices with melted Butter on both sides, and sprinkle very lightly with fine salt. Bake twenty minutes or so in an oven pre-heated to 190 degrees C; take them out when the edges start to go brown. The slices should still be quite soft and malleable, and the edges slightly crisp.

2. Line a swiss-roll tin with cling-film, ensuring you have a good two inches or so overhang of cling film all round.

3. Empty the cream cheese into the swiss roll tin and spread it carefully to fill the entire rectangle of the tin.

4. Press the slices of Potato into the Cream Cheese, letting them overlap slightly, like scales. Once the cheese is entirely covered, place another sheet of cling-film over the top, press it into place and carefully invert the cheese and potato slab so that the potato layer is now on the bottom.

5. Remove the cling-film from the top of the Cream Cheese, then sprinkle it with Chives, and lay the slices of Smoked Salmon over the top.

6. Carefully roll the whole thing up, starting with one of the short sides. Roll quite tightly, so you end up with a compact roll, but don't roll so tightly that the Cream Cheese starts to ooze out.

7. Keep the roulade wrapped in cling film in the fridge until you want to serve it. Then slice through the cling film to make eight slices - two each - remembering to remove the cling film before you serve it. Grind black pepper generously over each plate before you serve.