Sunday, September 26, 2010

Egg whites

I added a tiny bit of vinegar and some salt to these egg whites before I beat them, as the books advise (or you could use lemon juice, they suggest). But it occurred to me, as I beat away to no great effect, that my discovery about the influence of salt and vinegar on poached eggs (see entry and comments here) - that they soften the whites - holds good in this case too. As you can see, I managed to raise some soft peaks eventually; but the foam was not as firm as it would have been without any additions.

As you can see below, the souffle worked anyway. (Well, maybe it was a little toasted on top.) I've commented before that I seem to have luck with souffles; and this was another that worked in spite of the imprecision of my measurements.
Here is a previous recipe. This one consisted of four separated eggs and a bechamel made with: enough butter to form a sandy roux with a heaped tbsp of (gluten-free) flour; a third of a pint of milk; about 80g of Grana cheese; a few scrapings of nutmeg; and a third of a tsp of Dijon mustard. Thirty minutes at gas mark 6/200C. Enough for two greedy people; might have served three.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A sort of panzanella

In a restaurant review at the weekend, John Lanchester mentioned that panzanella was a dish he liked more in theory than when he actually ate it. The problem is that soggy bread is not appealing; and if you try not to drench bread such as the stale baguette I used above, you might get a salad with very chewy, dry lumps.

This is of course a cobbled-together dish, the infinite variations on which might have only the bread and the vinaigrette as common ingredients.

Hunk of baguette, torn into pieces
Half a pack of feta, cubed
2 tomatoes, cut into fork-sized pieces
1dstsp black olive paste
1dstsp wine vinegar
1/6tsp honey
1/3tsp Dijon mustard
Salt, pepper
2dstsp sunflower oil
1dstsp olive oil

Sprinkle the bread with water, and allow the pieces to soak while you make the vinaigrette and cut up the tomatoes and feta.

Stir the honey, mustard, salt and pepper in the vinegar until dissolved. Add the oils, and whisk until you get an emulsion. Gently fold in the bread and other ingredients, and leave to stand for 20 to 30 minutes, to allow the sauce properly to infuse the bread.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lamb chops with garlic and lemon, and roast potatoes

The lamb chops we ate this weekend were the most delicious I have tasted in a while, with a gamey depth of flavour that they do not have in the spring.

My favourite method is to marinate them, brown them for a minute or less on each side on a pre-heated grill pan on a high flame, and roast them for 10 to 15 minutes. The oven heats them through without charring their surfaces; and it offers the second advantage of enabling you to cook the chops in their marinade.

I used new potatoes, peeled, sliced about the thickness of pound coins, put into cold water, rinsed, and patted dry. I have discovered that salting them as you toss them in oil in the roasting tin helps them to crisp (because the salt sucks the moisture out of them) and therefore causes them to be less sticky. Even so, I line the roasting tin with foil.

Prepare the potatoes as above, and toss them thoroughly in a roasting tin in a good glug or two of oil (I used sunflower) and enough salt to be distributed among them all. Roast them for 60 minutes at gas mark 6/200C, turning them half way through. If you have an efficient non-stick surface, turning them will be straightforward, though fiddly; if, like me, you do not, you may need gently to prise them loose.

For three chops, I crushed a clove of garlic with a little salt, and stirred in the juice of half a lemon and a tbsp of olive oil. I poured this marinade over the chops, turned them in it a few times, and left them, covered, for a couple of hours. I heated the grill pan for five minutes, browned them quickly (with the marinade scraped off) as outlined above, and put them into the roasting tin with the potatoes, pouring the marinade over the top.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Beetroot in foil

I have written (here) that beetroot baked in a bath of water and covered seems to be moister and sweeter than when it is cooked dry, in foil. But I read again recently that the latter method produces the sweetest results of any. So I tried both again, with beetroot from the same source.

The beetroot above was cooked for an hour, at gas mark 6/200C. My impression was that it was slightly drier than the beetroot I cooked in a little water the day before, but that there was no discernible difference in sweetness. As the foil method is easy and involves no washing up, I may switch to it.