Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lamb shoulder braised with tomatoes

I'm fond of braised lamb. I've learnt that much. And better still, my butcher has it, all cut up and waiting for me to buy it.

I've been cooking Giuliano's Braised Lamb with garlic, white wine, rosemary and olives from his How to Cook Italian. This dish is similar, from his Every Night Italian.

It calls for a big piece of lamb, which is sliced at the end. I only had my cut up bits, and so went with them.

This one has sage in it, as well as rosemary, and includes more garlic. I couldn't use all the garlic, as I didn't have as much lamb, and I think I'm getting Marcella's aversion to too much of it. Having said that, the recipe only asked for 2 teaspoons of it.

I cook my lamb a bit longer than the 1.5 hours. I guess it is until the texture is right.

The taste is different enough from the olive dish to make it a change. Crusty bread is a must.

You only need a small portion, especially after Pumpkin Pasta.

Fusilli with Butternet Squash (Pumpkin)

Giuliano well and truly has my trust now. I'm cooking my way through his Thirty Minute Pasta book and I think I'm on to a winner.

Tonight was Pumpkin Pasta. Long wanted to make it. This was my chance.

Lots of butter. Well, 3 tablespoons. I didn't go for his mother's butter and tomato pasta as it was too rich, so I was a little apprehensive.

I need not have worried. This was delicious, and just rich enough to stop you from going back and grabbing another bowl, which I guess is a role rich food can play.

I was a little short on the pancetta, but that didn't matter.

Especially good as part of a multi course meal. I had a little braised lamb in tomato, white wine, sage and rosemary as a second course (from his Every Night Italian).

Fruit will follow.

Very pleased with this one.

Fricasseed Chicken with Walnuts

I think I've really cracked this fricasseed approach to birds and little beasts. It's really just cooking the blighters on the stove in some liquid until they are tender. You brown them, brown some garlic if you like, add whatever herbs or spices you like, and braise them in wine (deglazing the pan and letting the alcohol pass) or tomatoes or both with some salt. You can also add anything else to the pan you have available and think would be tasty - olives, cherry tomatoes, peas, chopped potatoes or sweet potatoes, or even nuts as I've done here.

I used walnuts because I had a jar. I just coarsely pounded a couple of handfuls and threw them in. I also used red wine because I had some, and rosemary from the garden and a bay leaf. I think the walnuts added their own flavour, and the sauce was very popular.

It did not elicit moans of pleasure like these dishes sometimes can, and I guess that's where 30 years of experience comes in, but it was a tasty lunch using what was in the house, which was not much.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spaghettini with Tomatoes and Olives

This was a case of what the hell's for lunch. I knew I had olives, parsley and a few tomatoes that were on their way out. I looked up olive in Hazan Jnr's 30 minute pasta, and here was a recipe that seemed to fit the bill. Minus the spaghettini, and I think I was 3 tomatoes too short.

I've long been wary of pasta recipes that call for real tomatoes. I'm sure I read somewhere that if you don't have tomatoes picked in Italy at the hight of summer then you're better off using canned tomatoes. But Hazan Jnr's view of the world is that canned tomatoes are for long simmers, and that short simmers should use real tomatoes.

Anyway, I thought I was out of canned tomatoes (I wasn't) so there was little choice in the matter.

Not that my cup ran over or anything. As I said, I only had 3 tomatoes. And one of them had an offputting black mark on it. I peeled them using a peeler. That isn't as obvious as it sounds. I think Neil Perry puts them in hot water with a little cut down the bottom.

I didn't halve the ingredients in the rest of the recipe. It didn't seem right to use 1/2 a clove of garlic. I also used fettuccini as that was the best of the pick.

Anyway, it turned out a cracker. I only tossed half of the pasta, as I only had half of the sauce, but it was delicious. Not as tomatoey as canned tomatoes, but that's a good thing. You also don't need cheese (NB).

Certainly going in my recipe stash, and to be cooked again.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lamb stew and minestrone

I cooked the Lamb Stew with Rosemary, Olives and Tomatoes from Hazan (Son) How to Cook Italian, and served it with the Hazan Minestrone from Essentials. I love this simple stew. I used red wine rather than white because that's what I had on hand and I don't think it suffered from it at all.

I added silverbeet (Swiss Chard) to the minestrone because I love the idea of eating it. It's used in Guilanos Every Night Italian (which doesn't use beef broth but is not perhaps as rich - he does use bread at the bottom and olive oil on the top though).

It was all very nice. I've got a lot left over for the week. The good thing is the flavour improves in each.

I need to make some more beef broth. I like my minestrone with it, and I'm yet to make risotto.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fricasseed Rabbit with tomatoes, bacon and herbs

Well this isn't in Marcella's books but it is hers in spirit. We spotted a rabbit at the markets and lugged it home. Being a little knackered, I wasn't inclined to go shopping to buy anything in particular for little thumper, and I didn't really have any recipe in mind.

But I did pop to the corner store to buy some milk, bread and bacon.

So this is how I cooked my first rabbit, sans recipe: first i chopped the blighter up, then I browned it in a pan with some olive oil, chopped rosemary, four garlic cloves, a couple of bay leaves and some juniper berries (I've always wanted to use them). It became apparent that a rabbit doesn't contribute as much fat as a chicken, and so I put in some more olive oil.

Meanwhile, I cooked some chopped bacon.

Once the rabbit was brown, I deglazed the pan with a good half bottle of red wine, since I had no white, and put the bacon in, and reduced it until the alcohol passed. It was about now the consensus was that some onion would be good, so I roughly chopped a red one and softened that a little in another pan before throwing it in the mix. Along with a can of tomatoes (mashed with my hands) and some salt and pepper.

I removed 3 of the 4 garlic cloves as they were a little too brown for my liking. I'm not sure why - I suspect it's got to do with a lack of fat in the rabbit.

Then I just cooked the little bugger for about 2 hours, turning every now and then, which is more than for a chicken.

The result: I would have been impressed if I was in rural france, or tuscany. This was one impressive looking, and tasting, dish, and I was all the more pleased as I just put it together with Hazan technique.

I served it with the Alice Waters gratin, which I'm telling you again is an absolute cracker.