Saturday, 16 August 2014

Experiment - Recipe: Salted Sardines (Preserved like Anchovies)


Not long ago I moved into new digs and was given a challenge of doing something with 2kg of sardines!! Err, OK!? It’s the only way I could get any freezer space!! 2 kilos of frozen sardines takes up a lot of freezer space! Specially when they’re pointing in all sorts  of different directions!! 

I’ve been getting into my curing recently, so I saw the perfect opportunity to test what I’d learnt. Here’s how they came out!



ingredients (makes ~1kg)
for the salted sardines
2kg sardines
500g salt
1 tbsp smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic (crushed)

apparatus / equipment
2 tupperware boxes with lids 
One that fits inside the other - usually buy them like that!! 
Need the box from the larger and the lid from the smaller.

method
scale & fillet: You can get the fishmonger to do this, make sure he’s thorough they’re a bit fiddly to scale once they’ve been filleted.
If you’re doing it yourself use a fish scaler. Or, if you haven’t got one of those, the back of the knife to scrape them off. Rinse the fish and feel using your knife to see if there are any left.


layer in salt: Mix the salt, paprika and garlic together and put a layer of the mix in the bottom of the larger box. About 1mm thick is fine. Put the first layer of fillets in skin side down. Then give them a generous dusting of salt, remember, you want to use all the salt mix up by the time all the fillets are in the box. Put the next layer of fillets in, and do the same again. Press them down with your hands to make sure they are tightly packed (without damaging them of course). Keep going until all the fillets are packed in, and the final layer of salt goes on the top. Cover with cling film. 


press: Place smaller tupperware box lid on top of the fish inside the box. The lid will even the pressure of whatever you use as a weight.


cover with foil & fridge: Cover the whole thing in foil to keep things tidy and place in fridge with weight on top. The weight will keep the fish submerged, as the sardine fillets give up water. Leave them like that for 4-5weeks.



cover with oil: After the curing period unwrap the box, drain the brine that will have built up and replace it completely with oil. The oil acts as a seal, keeping the air (an oxidant) away from the fish and preserving them, in combination with the reduced water content.


thinking ahead
They take 4-5wks. So what every you plan to do with them, think at least a month in advance! Good thing is, done properly they’ll last 12months! 

what could go wrong? (notes)
“Ooooh, there’s the odd really hard transparent disc thingy, chewy little thing sticks to the inside of my mouth!!”

I see you weren’t listening when I said make sure you scale them properly! I wasn’t kidding about this. When you think you’ve finished scaling, rinse the sardine, and stroke the blade of you knife over the fish. It will be smooth and silent unless it runs over a scale, where it sort of rasps audibly. 
Remove the little blighter!

to serve
Remove a sardine or 2 from oil, pat dry and chop up, or leave whole. Serve with sliced tomatoes, chives and olive oil and chunk of bread or naan (for a bit of a culture remix).

techniques used
Curing. The aim of this process is to reduce the water content to a level that is inhospitable for nasties (bacteria). The salt draws water from the fish doing exactly that. The oil inhibits oxidation.

variations
These are very much like giant anchovies, the difference being that anchovy are £30/kg and these are more like £10/kg! Great with a salad nicoise for example or in and sardine mayo.



Sunday, 29 June 2014

Recipe: Cherry Pie, Chocolate Tart, Super Simple 5 ingredient BLISS!


This is the kind of recipe that’s I love writing about, those little triumphs in the kitchen that can really take the edge off a crappy day. Not just the relaxation and distraction of creating, but the “phoenix from the ashes moment” of having created something really very nice out of leftovers (and bits and things).

After the the supper club last week we had some left over cherries, I’d bought a box to go with the petit fours:



I new I’d have a busy week ahead, and I could just imagine them, the following Saturday, in the same bowl on the kitchen table, with a giant bloom of mould growing on them. So I had a look around the kitchen this is what I found: mascarpone cheese, a roll of flaky pastry, and a lemon.

Well pastry screams PIE (and smiles!) so I hunted around for a tart tin but the only thing I could find was this dingy sized pyrex dish which would have made a half decent glass bottomed boat! Kept looking . . . muffin tray? Maybe, could make 12 mini pies . . . kept looking and found a rather dinky pyrex dish, not exactly the tart tin I was looking for but about the right size, the sides were too high but, mheh, yeah, I reckon it’d do, so I rolled with it.

Found some sugar for a stock syrup, and an egg . . . right ready for action!



ingredients (serves 6-8)
for the cherry pie
375g flaky pastry (1 pack / pre rolled)
400g cherries (stoned)
400g stock syrup (200g sugar & 200g water)
250g mascarpone cheese
300g chocolate spread
1 egg
4 sheets (gelatine)
1/2 lemon (juiced)
3 star anise (optional)
pinch of cinnamon


for the garnish
soured cream (something sharp, to complement the sweet tart).


apparatus / equipment
22cm pyrex dish
pastry brush (or a bit of kitchen towel works well)


method - quick version 
Blind bake the pastry @ 180C for 20min. Seal it with beaten egg.
Mix the chocolate spread and mascarpone cheese until smooth and spread it onto the pastry for the bottom layer.
Soften the stoned the cherries in a stock syrup and infuse with star anise and cinnamon for at least an hour.
Once infused, strain, and place the cherries on top of the chocolate to create the middle layer. 
Add gelatine to the syrup, reduce by 1/2. cool and pour over the cherries. Allow to set.
DONE!


method
This is so simple! That’s what makes this cherry and chocolate tart even better. Turn the oven on to 180C.

Butter the pyrex dish, and unroll the pastry onto it. Lift the edges so the pastry can be pushed right to the bottom without tearing. (specially if it’s deep) I reckon a loaf tin would would work too. It would result in more of a terrine style pie.

At this point I’d normally line it with baking paper, and add some ceramic balls to blind bake the pastry. But, as I said, I was doing a bit of free styling in an unfamiliar kitchen. So no baking balls!! I did brush the pastry with a beaten egg though to water proof it from the filling. Bake for 20mins @ 180C


While the pastry is in the oven, put the water and sugar into a sauce pan and put it on full on the hob. Add the star anise and the cinnamon. While that comes to the boil, wash and stone the cherries. Add them to the boiling syrup (taking care not to splash yourself) and as soon as it’s back up to the boil take it off the heat.


Put the gelatine into some cold water, leave it for 5 mins then squeeze it of excess water and add it to the syrup.

Next, mix the mascarpone and the chocolate until you have a smooth and creamy chocolate pate.


Spread the mix into the bottom of the pastry lined dish. Then sieve the cherries, keeping the syrup, and place them on top of the chocolate. Then put the whole tart in the fridge to set. (Best to cover it in cling film so it does’t take up any weird flavours like kippers or blue cheese)


Reduce the the syrup by half, then add the lemon juice, allow to cool and pour onto the tart. (after removing the cling film obviously) Return to the fridge to set.


to serve
Once set, cut into slices and serve as is, or with a scoop of soured cream, or maybe a lemon ice cream

Sooo good! So so good!

thinking ahead
You can make this a few days in advance and keep it in the fridge no problem.


what could go wrong? (notes)
“I tried to warm up my portion of tart” - DO NOT do that unless you want a pool of chocolate sauce with a bunch of angry cherries looking up at you!! Last thing you want!

“My gelatine turned into gloop and I could’t get it out if the water!” - Soak the gelatine in COLD water NOT warm water.


techniques used
Patience (required for the setting of the tart)


variations
I reckon this would be pretty good with a mix of soft fruits, strawberries, blueberries etc
Use agar to make the veggie version of this, or reduce the sauce a little more and don’t use a setting agent at all!!

ENJOY!!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Recipe: Coconut & Cointreau Sorbet


This is one of those recipes that makes you look good, for very little work indeed! It has an amazing combination of flavours, and it's a really light finish to a meal.



Extract from the Movember Cook book which
you can get here: Cook Like A Man - Movember



ingredients (serves 8 x 70ml)
for the sorbet
130g caster
250ml coconut milk
150ml coconut juice
1/2  lime (juice & zest)
50ml cointreau

for the garnish
small mint leaves (tip of mint plant)
lime zest

apparatus / equipment
ice cream machine or 
food processor

method
sorbet
Put all the ingredients except the lime and the cointreau into a pot on the hob. 
Turn on to a medium/high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Take off the heat and allow to cool completely. Then add the lime juice and the cointreau, and mix them in thoroughly. 
Put the mix into an ice cream machine and follow its instructions. 
If like me you don't have an ice cream machine, freeze the liquid in a couple of ice cube trays. It will separate into 2 layers, pop out the sorbet cubes and put them into a food processor, run the motor until you have a slush puppy consistency. Refreeze immediately, in a tupperware box.

to serve
Serve in a decorative cup or a martini glass, put a couple of good sized scoops in.
Sprinkle a few zest strands onto the sorbet.
Pick the small leaves from a mint plant and place one in the centre of each sorbet.
Serve immediately!

thinking ahead
Best to make this in advance; at least one day in advance! It takes quite a while to cool and longer to freeze!

Why not try it with a raspberry liqueur

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More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes

More Techniques, Basics and Corker Recipes
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