Wednesday, 19 June 2013

A Summer Shellfish Delight

Its so refreshing when the weather improves and we turn to the BBQ and salads. However one of my favourite things about Summer is the rich bounty of shellfish that is available particularly lobster and the brown crab. I am blessed to be able to buy both of these at very reasonable prices at my local farmers market and it helps that the fishmonger Martin is a bit of an old charmer.

I was watching a recent episode of Great British Food Revival where Angela Hartnett was talking about the delights of both the brown crab and spider crab. She did a a lovely spider crab gratin which inspired this dish.

Spiced Brown Crab Gratin

Serves 4.

4 Brown crabs cooked and picked (both brown & white meat) Retain the shells for the gratin.
2 Shallots finely diced
1 Stick lemongrass finely chopped
1 Red chilli finely chopped
1 tsp Ground cumin
1 Glass dry white wine
2 Tbsp brandy
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Dash sweet chili sauce
2tbsp rapeseed oil
Sea salt

100g Breadcrumbs
50 g Parmesan finely grated

Heat your grill to a high heat.
Saute the shallots on a low heat until they are translucent. Add the lemongrass, chili and cumin and allow them to cook for a minute or two. The add in all the crab meat and heat through. Add the brandy and flambe to burn off the strong alcohol taste and then add the white wine, zest and juice of the lime and the chili sauce and allow it to reduce down. Check the mixture for seasoning and adjust to taste. Spoon the mixture into the crab shells. Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan together and sprinkle over the top of each filled shell. Place under the grill for about 3/4 minutes and serve with a wedge of lime.

If you cant get crabs you could just use white crab meat, reduce the amount of white wine and put it in small gratin dishes.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Summer Time Dinners

At long last the weather is showing signs of improvement and this means its time to think of summer food. While I love the BBQ, I also love to have tasty bits in the fridge that can be pulled out for a quick lunch, a picnic or a midweek supper.
Whilst shopping last Friday I saw a ham hock and thought immediately of a terrine to have in the fridge in the hope of some of this elusive warm weather. This is the result!

Ham Hock Terrine with Apricot and Hazelnut


1        Ham hock soaked overnight and then boiled.
454g  Lean pork mince
150g  Breadcrumbs
1        Large onion finely chopped
50 g   Toasted hazelnuts roughly chopped
100g  Dried apricot quartered
1        Egg
1 tbsp Freshly chopped sage
Salt & Pepper to season.
6/8     Rindless streaky rashers

Heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (160 for fan).
Fry the onions until they are translucent and allow to cool. Flake the meat off the ham hock and if necessary cut into narrow long chunks.Put all the ingredients into a large bowl and bring together.

Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line with the streaky rashers with the ends hanging over the edge. Put the mixture into the tin and press in well. Then fold over the streaky rashers. Put the tin into a bain marie and put into the oven for 50 mins to an hour. If you feel it is going to brown on top cover with some tin foil. When it is cooked allow the terrine cool in tin. When it is cold wrap it tightly in clingfilm and return it to the tin. Then put something good and heavy on top of it for about 4 hours. Then refrigerate overnight and its ready to serve.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A Blast from the Past

I always enjoy observing the adventures that other people take on. Twitter is an amazing place to keep tack of the trials and tribulations of others. And one of the people I follow Laoise aka Cuisine Genie is currently having the adventure of a lifetime at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London.

Last week she tweeted that they were learning about pithivier. This was such a blast from the past for me. While I have eaten pithivier a few times over the last few years I haven't made pithivier since I was in college.

So Pithivier is the most delicious  puff pastry pie that can be either sweet or savoury and it originates from a place in France.  It has a lovely distinctive sundial on the top of it. On Saturday evening I set about making a lovely savoury pithivier which I hope you get a chance to try and enjoy.

Beef Pithivier with a Wild Mushroom Jus


400g  Beef Fillet in a 1cm dice.
1        Large Onion diced.
150g  Mushroom selection diced (I used a mix of chanterelle, oyster and chestnut)
 2tbsp Olive oil
3tbsp Brandy
2tbsp Sour cream.
1 tsp  Chopped fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper

2lbs Puff pastry - you can make it or buy it depending on the time available to you.

For the jus:

200 mls red wine
2     tbsp balsamic vinegar
50g dried wild mushroom soaked for 20 minutes in 50 ml  warm water
200 mls Beef Stock
1     sprig of thyme
2     tbsp brown sugar
       knob of butter

For the pithivier:

To prepare the pithivier sauté the large onion for a couple of minutes in the oil but do not allow to colour too much. Add the beef fillet and sear well. Then add the mushrooms and allow them to cook until just soft.
Add the brandy and flambé to burn off the alcohol. Finally add the sour cream and sitr. Allow the mixture to thicken and the cream to reduce for a few minutes because you don't want the mixture to be too wet.
Allow the filling to cool completely as if it is warm it will melt the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pastry. I just did 500g at a time. When you have it rolled out to about 3 mm no thinner cut out 2 x 6" discs and 2 x  4"discs. Do the same with the other 500g of pastry. Keep the trimmings for something else.

Lay out the 4 4"discs. Divide the filling between the four discs making sure to leave an outer rim of about 1 cm and stack the filling so that you will have a nice dome shape. Brush the rim with egg wash and put the 6" lid on. seal the edges by pinching them together so that you get a nice 'frill'. Place the 4 completed pithivier on a baking tray. Score the top so that it looks like sunrays (see pic). Brush with egg wash and bake for 20 minutes.

For the jus:

Put the wine and vinegar into a hot pot and allow to reduce by half. Then add the stock, chopped mushrooms, water and sugar and thyme an allow to reduce again by about half. It should have started to get syrupy. Finally whisk in the butter to give the sauce a nice shine.

I served this with some lovely cep mash with cep oil that I got from Ballyhoura Mushrooms and some green beans.