Tagged: pepper

Pimping your Food – Onion Stylee!

This is going to be a pretty short post because it’s not really about a whole plate of food. It’s about how to take a simple family classic and give it a simple tweak that will elevate it to a whole new level.

So, the simple dish of the day is… SAUSAGES & MASH!

Doesn’t get much easier than that. You can start with the basics and mess around to your hearts content, but everyone who has even basic kitchen skills should be able to put together some sausages and mashed potato so I won’t be telling you how to do either of them…

Well, all right, I will make a few suggestions…

I always roast my sausages in the oven, turning a couple of times… it takes about 30 mins and gives a nice all round ‘cook’.

As for mash, I rarely have it plain. There are just to many ways to sex it up. You’ll see from the pictures that I actually threw a few carrots into mine, cooked at the same time as the potatoes and mashed together too. Easy and more colourful… and, of course more tasty.

You can throw a handful of peeled garlic cloves into the potatoes as they cook and mash them all up together to get a really subtle flavour. Alternatively, at the mashing stage add mustard, or creamed horseradish, or harissa paste, or smoked paprika, or marmalade, or … well you get the idea.

But to get to the real point of this blog I want to introduce you to a little bit of classical French cooking. If you were a ‘saucier’, this gem would be a key piece of your arsenal. Surprisingly though, it is a rarely heard of sauce. I should point out too that I am going to be showing you a bit of a cheats version rather than the full hit ‘Masterchef’ one.

The sauce you are going to be making replaces the key missing element from the S&M which, as we all know, would normally be ONION GRAVY! (And fear not, I still love gravy and will continue you to use it as part of my S&M routine in years to come)

“Get on with it!” I hear you clamouring.

You are going to now discover how to make a SAUCE SOUBISE.

Already, it sounds a bit posh… perfect for dinner party oneupmanship etc.

A Sauce Soubise is basically where you combine a classic bechamel sauce with a fine onion puree… and that would be the proper way to do it… but most of us don’t have the time to be passing ingredients through fine sieves etc which is what you have to do if you are going down the ‘Masterchef’ route.

This is how you make a simplified version… but you can now call it “Sauce Soubise au Paysanne” and still keep ahead of your poncey mates!

Get three large onions and chop them coarsely.

Add them to a pan with a large knob of butter ( and I do mean large… 1/3 of a standard 250g block).

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Now all you are going to do is sweat them down for 30 mins on a low heat. Stir them regularly so they don’t brown up… you want to try and keep them pale in colour.

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Next, add a heaped tablespoon of flour and stir it around in the pan until it soaks up all the butter and onion juices.

Then add about a pint of vegetable stock and stir well so that it combines thoroughly with the onions and flour mix. Raise the heat slightly and get the pan going on a rolling simmer. This will let the liquid reduce slightly and start to thicken.

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Add some salt and white pepper (if you have it – black is fine too).

After about ten mins, get your electric hand blender (C’mon… you HAVE to have one of these in the kitchen!) and blitz the mixture until the you have made it into as fine a puree as you can.

Finally, add about 300ml of single cream and stir thoroughly until everything has warmed through.

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And that’s it… it really is a simple few steps and creates a marvellously rich and more’ish sauce. All the elements of an onion gravy with enough sophistication to satisfy the most pretentious of guests and… it really is bloody gorgeous. I first had this in a swanky restaurant and was in awe of how lovely it was… and then when I found out that it was so simple to make this basic version at home… HALLELUJAH!!

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Anyway, hope you enjoy… and if you want to go full out for cheffy marks, try the true classical version… but this one will do me just fine for the moment.

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Salmon & Scallops with Pecorino and Lemon Risotto and Pea Purée

“What to do for tea tonight?” That was going round my head all afternoon. I didn’t have anything in specifically and I had no inspiration.

Then a rummage through my freezer unearthed the last of the Scallops my friend brought round and also the last of the Salmon side I had portioned up a few months back.

Then it hit me.

Last week I had bought some Arborio rice from Lidl. This is not a line they usually do. And also in the same shopping trip, I had bought some Pecorino cheese. Pecorino is the sheep’s version of Parmesan. I had a portion of frozen peas left and some lemons in the fridge. “It’s all there.” I thought.

Tea sorted!

I defrosted the Scallops and a large amount of liquid came off them so as not to waste anything this was the first liquid added to the rice.

To make a Risotto, first gently fry some finely chopped onion or shallot and a clove of garlic. Then fry the rice as well till it goes slightly translucent, then you can start adding your liquid. As I said the scallop juice went in first, followed by my home-made chicken stock.

Keep adding the stock and keep stirring – it releases the starch which makes your risotto creamy. Near the end of the cooking add a good handful of the cheese and the juice of a Lemon.

The Lemon and Pecorino

Then I put my salmon into a frying pan and, as before, I fried the skin side till it was nice and crispy and then turned it over.

When I turned the salmon over , I also put the Scallops in to fry as well.

While this was cooking, I made the pea purée.

I took my peas and microwaved them in some water till cooked. I then drained the water off and blitzed the peas with a knob of butter and some of my stock till smooth.

There you go, all your bits are made and ready to serve. All you need is a twist of black pepper and you’re away.

This cries out “Drink white wine with me!” which the missus did. I had a glass of Shiraz, which I thought was also a good partner, as the risotto had a pungency that could match the wine.

It was bloody fantastic. I do like that risotto/fish combination and I will be doing it again for sure.

Mugsie



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