Sunday, 24 January 2010

Goats cheese and pear bruschetta with beetroot carpaccio

In London I worked briefly with an Italian chef called Alex. He was and is a great guy, cool, easy going and relaxed except when it came to the mispronunciation of Italian words. Ignorant to the correct way to say bruschetta I was pronouncing it brooshetta which you would if you are from the English speaking world. Every time I said brooshetta away on table whatever he would turn round and say brooshketta it's brooshketta. I now always pronounce it the correct way, and find myself correcting others, although I'm sure I used to say it wrong now and again just to wind him up.

Goats cheese and pear bruschetta and beetroot carpaccio

Beetroot is plentiful in the Winter in the UK and I like it so much that I feature it these days on most of my winter menus. If you get a chance buy your own raw and cook it yourself. Leave the skin on and boil it for about 2 hours. It will be much sweeter and earthier than precooked stuff (and cheaper!). Drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper it combines delightfully with the hot melted goats cheese. As if the beetroot wasn't sweet enough I've added some pears sauteed in butter and a sweet pepper chutney - a triumverate of sweet flavours assigned the task of pleasing your tastebuds.

This recipe is for four people as a starter but it could be served as a lunch dish.

For the pears
2 firm pears
a knob of butter
salt and pepper

If you have some slightly under ripe pears this is a great way to use them up - sauteeing them in butter or a little margarine sweetens and softens them up so they can be eaten as they are or used in a savoury dish such as a salad or in a dessert like chocolate and pear tart.

First of all peel the pears and cut them into flour lengthways. Take out the core and any frying the pearspips with a knife. Heat the butter in a frying pan and saute the pears slowly over a low heat, turning them regularly, until they are soft all the way through and have caramelised. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Lightly season them with some salt and pepper and if they aren't too sweet add a little brown sugar. Leave them to cool. These pears will keep for ages in the fridge so they can be made in advance.

For the sweet pepper chutney
1 onion, sliced
2 red peppers, sliced into strips
a little olive or vegetable oil
two cloves garlic, sliced
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 glass white wine
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper

This recipe was taken from Delia's website and and the wine substituted for the cider on her recipe. making the sweet pepper chutneyHeat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions, peppers and garlic over a medium heat. Keep frying until the vegetables a soft - about ten minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar and wine and simmer slowly until nearly all of the liquids have reduced out. This will take some time. When it is ready the veg will be very soft and syrupy. Season the mixture with a little salt and pepper and place it into a jar. It will keep for a couple of weeks in a fridge and even longer if you seal it in a sterilised jar.

For the bruschetta
8 thin slices of goats cheese
1 large ciabatta
2 cloves garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
4 beetroots
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Slice the beetroot as thinly as you can and drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar and season with a little salt and pepper. Leave to marinate as you prepare the bruschettas.

Cut the ciabatta in half lengthways and cut each slice into four. I use a round cutter to create a more interesting shape in the restaurant but this isn't necessary.toast the ciabattas Soften the butter, crush the garlic and mix them together in a bowl. Remove the small thyme leaves and add them to the butter.

Spread the ciabatta slices with the garlic butter and toast them in a hot oven for a few minutes until they are golden brown. If you don't have any ciabatta feel free to use anything you have to hand or your favourite bread.

To cut the goats cheese neatly use a hot knife. Just heat the blade of an old knife over a gas flame and cut the it into slices.
topped with the cheese
Place a slice on each piece of toasted bread. Place two pieces of pear on four of the brushchetta slices. This can be done in advance if you want and held in a cool place until you are ready to serve them.

Place the ciabattas on a baking tray and and bake them for ten minutes in a medium oven until the cheese is melted. To serve stack two of the bruschettas on top of each other making sure the pears are in the middle. Serve on the beetroot with a dollop of the chutney.


Andy T chef

Friday, 15 January 2010

Wok 'n' roll

Wok n roll

Every now and again me and my family will have a Chinese takeaway on a Sunday evening - it's the end of the week for me and I don't always want to cook. Last time I ordered a chop suey spring roll and was delighted by how delicious it was. I had to put it on my menu.

Inspired, I scouted the internet for a recipe, and found one. To be honest I thought it was unlikely to work as it involved using tomato ketchup and leeks which I thought would be too tough a vegetable to sit inside a delicate and crispy spring roll. I tried it anyway and I was quite amazed at how it came out - so amazed that it made it to my menu.

Here's the recipe for chop suey spring's very easy. This recipe should make about 6 spring rolls.

Chop suey spring rolls
large spring roll wrappers - largest you can find
1 large leek
1 onion
1 large carrot - grated
10 button mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
1 thumb of ginger - fine grated
vegetable oil for frying
1 small tin bamboo shoots
generous dash of tomato ketchup
a little soy sauce to taste
1 small bag beansprouts
2 teaspoons of cornflour
Oil for deep frying

First of place a little oil in a large wok and place it over a high heat. Add the sliced leeks and onions and start to wok fry them turning them over with a slotted spoon all the time. After a couple of minutes add the sliced mushrooms and grated carrot and continute stir frying for a couple more minutes. The picture below shows you how this would look.

wok frying the vegetables

Next add the garlic and ginger and allow it to hit the bottom of the wok so it gets a chance to fry a little in the oil. I know that the proper Chinese method would be to fry the ginger and garlic in the oil from the beginning but trust me doing it my way works well and and allows the flavours of these pungent roots to stay more in the forefront of the final taste of the dish. Cook this for a few more minutes.

Add the bamboo shoots, tomato ketchup, soy sauce and then the beansprouts. As this cooks away mix the cornflour with a little water to form a smooth paste and add it to the wok and mix it through well. The cornflour will thicken it. See below.

The finished chop suey

There you have it vegetable chop suey. You could serve this vegan dish with some noodles as it is but for this dish you will need to cool it to room temperature so you can fill the rolls. I forgot to mention you will need a deep fat fryer set to about 220°C or 440°F to cook the spring rolls.

When the mixture is cooled fill you spring roll wrappers with the mixture and roll up. Seal the end of the rolls with a little of the cornflour mixed with water. Deep fry until they are crisp and light brown. If you want to make the funky spring roll shape that I use in the restaurant you can as I have created a short video that shows you how to do it. Just follow the link below.

Wok n roll

In the restaurant I serve the spring roll on top of yakisoba - a Japanese style noodle dish - with a little Japanese style curry sauce. I will post the recipes for these at a later date.



Monday, 11 January 2010

Schnitzel bitte

Schnitzel or Weiner (Vienna) Schnitzel is a traditional dish from Vienna. Unfortunately the dish is made up of thin escalopes of veal, egg and bread crumbed and then pan fried.

I had been making an aubergine schnitzel for years and then a couple of years ago I realised that when butternut squash was fried or griddled on a hotplate it not only sweetens in flavour but it stays quite firm and, if cut thick enough, holds its shape well. I knew right then I could make a stuffed vegetarian version of the schnitzel.

Schnitzel, in German, apparently means cutlet without bones. Well this veggie version is a cutlet without the slices of 35 week old calf also.

Butternut squash schnitzel

As you can see in the image above on this menu at the Sky apple cafe I have been serving the schnitzel with noodles and a paprika sauce. However, I just ate the schnitzel with my family and served it with potatoes and a crisp salad and it was delicious.

Butternut squash schnitzel
2 medium sized butternut squash
Olive oil for brushing
salt and pepper
100g (4oz) of a strong blue cheese of your choice
bread crumbs
mixed seeds such as pumpkin, sesame and sunflower
flour for dipping
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
vegetable oil fro frying

First of all peel the squash with a sturdy potato peeler. Trim off the top and most if not all of the bulbous base and scrape out any leftover seeds. You can use the base in another recipe - it will keep for a few days in the fridge. With a sharp knife trim off the sides to make them flat and then cut the squash in to four lengths. Brush the slices with olive oil and then griddle or pan fry them on a medium heat until cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper as you do so.

Griddle the butternut squash

Place half of the slices on a work surface and and place some of the cheese on each slice. Place a slice on top and push down firmly.

Fill the schnitzel

Place the flour in a bowl or plate. Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl and whisk together with a fork. Mix the bread crumbs with seeds and place in another bowl or plate. Season the crumbs with some salt and pepper. Carefully holding the squash sandwiches together dip them in the flour, immerse them in the egg mix and then roll them in the crumbs. Pat them together firmly with your hands.

Bread crumb the schnitzel

Heat some vegetable in a frying pan and fry the schnitzels until crispy and golden brown on both sides.

Fry the schnitzel

Serve them straight from the pan or if your guests aren't ready you can keep them warm in a low oven for about 30 minutes. If you want you can hold them in the fridge at the bread crumbed stage for up to one day and then fry them when you need them.


Andy the chef