Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lamb and aubergine stew

The latest in Grub Street's hardback reissues of Elizabeth David's works - as long as you don't mind weights in pounds and ounces, they are lovely editions to have - is Spices, Salt and Aromatics in the English Kitchen. The following is based on one of David's recipes. Of course, to insist that cumin isn't English is a bit like claiming that tomatoes aren't Italian.

Serves 4

750g stewing lamb (I used pieces of middle neck)
Sunflower oil
2 medium aubergines, cut into largish cubes
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2tsp cumin, toasted gently in a small saucepan, then crushed in a mortar
2 lemon husks (optional)
1/2 stock cube (optional)
2tbsp olive oil

Coat the lamb in a little sunflower oil, salt it, and brown it quickly on a ridged grill pan over a high heat. Remove to a plate.

Put the aubergines, onions, garlic, cumin, and lemon and stock cube if wanted, in a heavy casserole. (I had used the juice of the lemon to make some hummus at lunchtime; and I think that stock cubes, though often frowned upon, add savouriness to dishes.) Toss everything in the olive oil.

The onions and aubergines will stew, and don't need frying first, unless you think that this dish will benefit from the flavour of browned onions.

Tip in the lamb and any juice it has exuded. If you have used half a stock cube, be careful how much extra salt you add.

Cover, and put in the oven at gas mark 4/180C. If you have a heavy pan, the stew may take a good 45 minutes to get simmering. Once there is activity, you can turn down the heat - perhaps to as low as gas mark S/130C. You may want to give the stew another 90 minutes from that point. Stir it from time to time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Cannellini bean dip

This is hummus, only made with cannellini beans. You need the lemon, cayenne/harissa, and black pepper, or it will be bland and sludgy.

1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 clove garlic, crushed with a little salt
3dstsp tahini paste
Juice of 1 lemon
1tbsp plain yoghurt
Several pinches of cayenne pepper, or 1/4tsp harissa
Black pepper
1 1/2tbsp olive oil

Put all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor, and whizz. (You may not need more salt, because the beans have been preserved in briny liquid.)

Stir in the olive oil. In my view (as also stated in the entry on mayonnaise), the flavour of oil is damaged by the whizzing blade of a food processor.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Mayonnaise in the Guardian

The latest article in Felicity Cloake's very useful “How To Make Perfect...” series in the Guardian concerns mayonnaise. Online, you get readers' comments as well.

In Cloake's own recipe, she adds oil to egg yolks and salt. I have always mixed Dijon mustard with my egg yolk(s) first. (And I have used a pestle and mortar, which have never given me as much grief as she seems to experience with them.) But yesterday I found that I had run out of mustard, so I tried her method. I ended up with a thin yellow liquid - my first ever failure.

The mustard - I generally use half a teaspoon of it with one yolk - helps to emulsify the sauce. As soon as the oil is incorporated with the yolk, the emulsification occurs. But that was not the case when I carried out my sorry experiment. The oil and yolk combined but did not thicken - perhaps I should have used a whisk. Nevertheless, I carried on, rather as if I were in a hole and persisting to use a spade.

I never use a blender. Blades damage the flavour of oil, in my view.

Here is my mayonnaise recipe. Nowadays, I use a ratio of sunflower/groundnut oil to olive oil of 125g/25g.