A Pre Christmas Dinner.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a Pre Christmas Dinner chez Nous. Amazingly all were available and so to plan our meal. We decided to visit Smithfield, the London Meat market. but one has to go early, so off we trotted and were there at about 5.30 in the morning, but even so some of the traders had already left for the day. But what fun, oodles to choose from and the traders that were still there, all to a man ( and woman) were jolly.

A couple of these photos were taken in Mexico City, but meat markets seem to be the same world wide.

We thought that we would have a fillet of beef, something of a luxury, not usually cooked just for 2, and maybe not something that the kids could afford to serve. We also bought a 6 Kilo boned Turkey crown, for son who was doing his wonderful Turkey breast for Christmas day. A 6 Kilo Turkey breast is a tad on the large side, and so it was cut into 2 and frozen.

What else to have ? Well, I love Scallops and know that some of the others do as well. Right that takes care of starters, sautéed scallops with crisp pancetta and some Panko covered shrimp on a bed of leaves! Ah stop! Son in Law, allergic to shell fish, right, plan b) for him it is baked goats cheese on sourdough toast with the yummy deep pink ice cream that is Beetroot ice cream.
Onto the main event. Well roast beef, with a rich sauce, made with onions, port, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce and blackcurrant jelly, UMM! along with baked potato skins filled with cheese mash, braised red cabbage, French beans. Ah Ah, maybe not every wants beef, so another plan b came into force, a Salmon Coulibiac ( a kind of Salmon Wellington) was also made, along with a beurre blanc sauce, and maybe something else should be an alternative, YES! Biriyani Rice, chop an assortment of vegetables, cook the rice, sauté it in wok along along with curry spices, add the vegetables, umm umm the smell is Devine.

Right, so now we can move onto dessert.
What to make? Well, Miss Tess, her dad and himself all love crumble, actually Miss Tess makes a pretty mean crumble herself ( she is 8) . So crumble it is, apple and raspberry in individual ramekins. Next Master Alfie Just loves Meringues, and so it is going to be a raspberry Pavlova with him in mind. And the rest, well Molton Chocolate Pots with stem ginger ice cream. And that should do it!

Whilst I busied myself in the kitchen, himself set the table ( it is his job and knows exactly what to do and how to do it, it might seem pretty easy but I can be kind of OCD when it comes to table settings) and after that being at a loose end he wrapped the presents. We were being conservative this year and a mere 7 hours later he had finished. We always put cryptic clues on our gifts and this was exacerbated by himself deciding to  to write them languages other than English, so constant trips to computer and bablefish !
All duly arrived, dinner was served. I am pretty sure everyone knows how to make a crumble mix, BUT although I am not a crumble eater, I choose to make my crumble topping separately from the actual filling and put the filling on wen itself is ready. This way I can make multiples of the mix as it freezes well, and is ready for future use.
My Crumble Mix
12 oz ( 340 grams) plain flour
4oz (113 grams) brown sugar you can use more if you have a sweet tooth
8oz ( 225 grams)unsalted butter
very simply if you have a food processor, put the flour and sugar into the processor and then add the COLD butter which has been cut into chunks. Switch on the machine and when the clonking stops ( in just a few seconds) it is ready!! How easy is that. You can add then if you like some ground almonds or chopped nuts to the mix.
Spread out onto a baking tray and bake 180C/350F/Gas 4.for about 20 mins or so, occasionally giving it a stir so that it all cooks evenly. Leave to cool and then can be used straight away or frozen. To assemble the crumble, either use fresh or frozen fruit, cook the fruit first and then top with the crumble mix and bake until hot. Can be made for a more formal occasion in ramekins rather than one big crumble. When I make it for himself, I usually make one large one and then when cold cut it into portions, and freeze, so that it is there ready for his late night snack !!

The Hiatus is over!

I have been taking a Hiatus from the kitchen for a while ( about 3 months to be precise). Himself has been cooking, under supervision, of course. However, I have a new gadget and I need to learn how to use it. It is a “Sous-Vide” device. Have not quiet worked out the “How and Why?”, ( am working on that aspect) but so far so good. Have cooked chicken breast, result moist and succulent. Ongelet,  ( Hanger Steak) a cheaper, but full of flavour steak, and last night rack of lamb. All it requires is some forward planning, which in my case is sometimes difficult, as I tend to open the refrigerator or freezer and say, Ha yes, that is what we will have for dinner!

But with a sous vide machine, food is cooked vacuumed packed in a water bath for several hours, hence the need for advance planning. Chicken Breast only needs an hour, Rack of Lamb 2, Onglet 6-8 and Lamb Shank a whopping 48 hours!! however, once it is set up and on, it needs no attention ( only if there is a power cut ) and only needs finishing when the timer beeps at you. For example, flash fry or grill the Onglet. Himself on first experiencing Onglet, cooked Sous-Vide, thought he was eating a very large Filet Mignon!

Onto this Sunday, I decided that the menu, ( all of which was either fresh in the refrigerator or frozen) would be sautéed Scallops and Shrimp, with a Sauce Vierge, Rack of Lamb with Herb Butter and Parmesan  and Wilted Baby Gem Lettuce, and followed by ( and desserts are not really my forté) a Satin Chocolate Mousse.scallops

Very often shops sell scallops without the coral, I personally prefer them with the coral attached. When I lived in Normandy I could buy then quiet cheaply in the shells in the local supermarket, but today they tend to be much more expensive.

Allow a minimum of 3 scallops per person as a starter. brush them lightly with a little olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  heat a dry pan until it is very hot and sear the scallops on each side for a couple of minutes.  Finely chop together some green onions, some coriander, maybe a few basil leaves and a chopped tomato. Warm about 50 mls of olive oil in the pan and add  the above along with the juice of a lemon, spoon over the scallops and serve.rack of Lamb

This Rack of Lamb had been in the water bath at 134F for 2 hours. Then it was patted dry. A herb butter was made with soft unsalted butter, mixed with a clove of garlic, crushed and some chopped rosemary leaves and some herbes de Provence. The lamb then was seared on both sides in a hot pan, and  then browned for about three minutes, fatty side down. Pour over the herb butter, whilst till in the pan, spoon over the butter onto the rack on the plate and top with grated parmesan. For the wilted baby gem, simply wash, pat dry, cut into halves, and sauté in unsalted butter, turning once until wilted.choc mousse

This Chocolate mousse is called Satin, as it is very smooth and not so rich as a normal chocolate mousse as it only contains egg whites and not the yolks.

For this you will need

200 grams of 70% dark Chocolate broken into pieces.

pinch salt

a dash of vanilla essence

13/4 cups double cream ( about 400 mls)

3 egg whites stiffly beaten to stiff peak form

75 grams icing sugar. )

Pu the chocolate and cream into a pan and heat until just melted or can be melted in the microwave take care not to make it too hot, cool a little

Carefully stir the sugar into the egg whites, and then carefully stir the whites into the  chocolate mix that has been cooled for a while. Fold in with a spatula and then once all incorporated  spoon into glasses and chill until ready to serve. Can be decorated with chocolate bits, whipped cream, etc.


Bob Apétite