Jean Anderson’s Sweet Red Pepper Paste (Massa de Pimentão)

Pimentão

This blog was inspired by Food52 and a recipe by Jean Anderson taken from her cookbook “The Food of Portugal” (or is it Brazil given the spelling of pepper?). I suspect that many of you will already be familiar with Food52 but if not be sure to check out their web site with its wonderful recipes, inspirational photography (consistently well lit and styled but never, as is so often the case, over propped) and not to forget the amazing array of kitchen and dining “essentials” that they sell. I count myself lucky that they are not based here in the UK or I would be even more cash strapped than I am today faced with such temptations. I have always been attracted to what can be best described as kitchen paraphernalia but as I have become more and more involved with food photography my collecting of plates, cutlery, glasses, pans, etc, etc seemingly has no bounds! After all, it will all find its way into a shoot sooner or later!

slicing & salting red peppers

But to return to the recipe; peppers have long been a favourite of mine both to photograph and to eat so this recipe was clearly a “must try” all the more because of its simplicity. You can find the recipe here but essentially it involves little more than cutting the peppers into strips and placing them in a bowl with sea salt between each layer and leaving uncovered for at least 12 hours.

Sliced & salted red peppers

Any excess liquid is then poured off and the peppers roasted at 125oC for about two to two and a half hours after which the skins are removed

roasted and skinned red peppers

and the pulp homogenised together with a clove of garlic and a little olive oil.

sweet red pepper paste

By the time all of this was done the air in the studio was heady with the smell of roast peppers and I had a satisfactory stash of paste set aside to use over the weekend as a marinade and sauce as well as a number of new pictures taken along the way.

Roast Duck Legs & Stir Fry Vegetables in a Rich Plum Sauce

This dish is one of my favourites not the least because of its simplicity but it also tastes and looks great! However, be warned, it is not a quick meal to prepare with the duck legs taking 90 minutes to cook but actual hands on time is very short and the wait is definitely worthwhile! Although many would regard it as cheating the dish relies on a ready made . Sharwoods Plum Sauce, a gloriously sticky, sweet and spicy concoction. Strangely the sauce is becoming increasingly difficult to find here in Glasgow but both the Coop and Tesco continue to stock it.

Ingredients

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The meat

2 x Duck legs (I used ones from Gressingham which are widely available. Don’t use wild duck as the legs are much smaller and contain a lot less fat).

For the stir fry

1 x Red Onion, medium sized 

1 x Red Bell Pepper

1 x Yellow Bell Pepper

1 x Pak Choi

6 x Chestnut Mushrooms

You will also need

Soya sauce

Olive Oil

Plum Sauce (Sharwoods)

Maldon Sea Salt

3-4 Star Anise

 and rice; white long grain, 1/3 of a cup per person.

Method

  1. Place the duck leg in an oven proof dish, sprinkle about a teaspoons worth of Maldon sea salt over the skin of the duck legs, add the star anise, cover with a tightly fitting lid (I first cover the dish with a sheet of aluminium foil and place the lid of the dish on top of this) and placed in the oven at 180oC to cook for 60 minutes.
  2. While the duck legs are cooking cook the rice in boiling water, depending on the type of rice that you are using this will take around 15 to 20 minutes after which time the rice can be tipped into a sieve and be left to drain with the sieve hanging over the pan used to cook the rice and loosely covered by the pan lid. When it is time to plate up the rice is gently fluffed up using a pair of chop sticks and rinsed with a litre or so of boiling water. I am sure that many people will think that this way of cooking rice is heresy but it works for me and adds a great degree of flexibility to the timing of the cooking of the other dishes.
  3. After 60 minutes in the oven the duck legs will have released any excess fat and water and this should be poured off before returning them to the oven, this time uncovered, for a further 30 minutes.
  4. KG150413641a1bWeb1During the final 15 minutes of cooking the duck legs roughly cut the peppers, pak choy and onion into chunks about 2 to 3 cm square and stir fry in a hot wok in a little olive oil.Stir fry red and yellow peppers with red onion
  5. Once the onion and pepper begins to soften add  thinly sliced mushroom and continue to stir fry all the ingredients in the wok. I  prefer to keep working the contents of the wok with a broad wooden spatula while more accomplished chefs will  undoubtedly keep things moving with a simple flick of the wrist.Stir frying peppers onion and mushrooms
  6. As the sliced mushroom begins to take on a little colour add a splash of soya sauce and the pak choy, again cut into 2 to 3 cm squares, and mix well.
  7. Remove the duck legs from the oven and place on a chopping board and using a couple of forks pull the meat off the bones in large chunks and add to to wok together with a third to a half of a jar of plum sauce and continue to work with the spatula so as to ensure that the sauce evenly coats all of the vegetables as well as the meat.
  8. Finally reheat and rinse the rice that you set aside earlier with about a litre of boiling water, allow the rice to drain for a minute or so and then plate up onto a warm plate.

Sharwoods plum sauce makes a wonderful addition to a duck stir fry

Enjoy!

Chicory (endive) with Colston Bassett Blue Stilton and Caramelised Walnuts

Chicory or do I mean endive and then of course there is frisée or is it curly endive

Frisée - Curly Endive

and lets not forget radicchio,

raddichio

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escarole, treviso, witloof or do I mean Brussels chicory?! Clearly it’s complicated! Essentially there are two species of plant Cichorium intybus and Cichorium endivia and in the UK we call Cichorium intybus chicory while in the US and elsewhere it is perversely called endive and Cichorium endivia is called chicory! I can feel a smug smile of intellectual superiority developing as I write this but given the complexity of the names for these plants including names in local languages as well as the number of different varieties which have been created by plant breeders I could have it all wrong! If you feel inclined to learn more I suggest you start with the Wikipedia entry for endive and look forward to hearing back from you in a few months time!

Regardless of what they are called all of these vegetables are characterised by a rather bitter but not unpleasant taste and they have a real crunch to them, especially in the case of the white and red chicory and they can make the base of a really great salad or they can be sautéed or grilled as is often done with Little Gem lettuces or even braised like leeks. However, chicory only indirectly came into use as a vegetable being originally grown for its roots which were used as a coffee substitute and can still be widely found in Britain where it is sold as “Camp” coffee and chicory essence and is frequently used in baking. Of course when it comes to “salad” chicory it is not the root that we eat but instead it is a large tightly packed leaf bud. Like forced rhubarb, chicory is grown from root stocks which are arranged on trays and are left in the dark to sprout.

Belgium endive

The dish featured here is simplicity itself and there are countless variations making use of the boat shaped leaves as containers which can be made and served as hors-d’oeuvres or as an elegant starter.

Chicory (endive) with Colston Bassett Blue Stilton and Caramelised Walnuts

Chicory (endive) with Colston Bassett Blue Stilton and Caramelised Walnuts

Sweet walnuts, tangy stilton and biter nutty chicory with a light balsamic and olive oil dressing – flavours combining and and working together to make something greater than the individual ingredients.

Enjoy!

Schwarzwälder Schinken and Shopping at Lidl

The discount supermarket chains Lidl and Aldi are attracting increasing amounts of media attention and more importantly a rapidly growing share of the weekly food shop here in the UK. Fuelled by the recession we have all had to become increasingly “canny” shoppers, often sacrificing decades of brand loyalty for new and different sounding makes, only to discover that they taste surprisingly similar and all that has really changed is the price. That said I am probably far from typical in the way that I shop, not only do I do a weekly shop but there are daily forays and in extreme case several each day, to all of the surrounding supermarkets as I go in search of that vital something for the latest recipe and / or photo shoot. Apart from offering very competitive prices for a whole variety of things both Aldi and Lidl stock a small number of special and quite exotic items. Many of these special products appear around Christmas while others are available throughout the year and are simply very hard if not impossible to find anywhere else; for example which other British supermarket sells a whole Serrano ham; Lidl does (Jamon Serrano Reserva, 6.5-7.5 kg) and for only £39.99, mind you without some serious help you might be eating ham sandwiches every day for the next 2 to 3 months!. Apart from that the only problem with some of these promotions is that the stock can be quite limited and once it has gone there is no more to replace it until the next promotion. However, on a less grand scale Lidl routinely stock packs of sliced Black Forest Smoked ham (Schwarzwälder Schinken – protected geographical indication, sold in 200g packs (approximately 18 slices) costing £1.99). The ham can be eaten as is or it can be used in a variety of different recipes and it makes a wonderful and versatile addition to a large number of different dishes including the one described below.

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White Asparagus, Schwarzwälder Schinken and Boiled Potatoes with a Hollandaise and Chive Sauce

I have long considered white asparagus inferior to green asparagus with its vivid green colour and distinctively tangy taste. However, while I think that the green stuff has it by a short head I have become a convert to white asparagus and can only assume that my previous dislike of the vegetable was the result of too many business trips to Germany where every spring the restaurants would proudly serve white asparagus which had been boiled and then boiled some more and as a result had lost much of its taste and texture. White asparagus of course owes its colour or rather lack of it from being grown in the dark, as you drive through the asparagus growing regions you will see rows of earthed up asparagus beds the sides and tops of which are kept smooth with a plaster’s float trowel and as soon as an asparagus spear breaks through the walls of the bed the stem is harvested using a long screwdriver like tool – to get a better idea as to how asparagus is grown see the following link. Served together with black forest smoked ham, boiled potatoes and hollandaise sauce you have a simple but tasty dish with a variety of different flavours and textures which can be prepared in under 30 minutes.

White asparagus

This dish scarcely merits a recipe it is so simple all the more so because I use ready-made Hollandaise Sauce ( the one sold by Maille is my favourite and once open it keeps in the fridge for up to 6 weeks which, if you are cooking just for one or two people, is a great convenience and saving.

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1. Peel 2 or 3 medium-sized potatoes per person, cut in half if necessary, place in a pan of boiling water, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Using a “Y” handled vegetable scraper peel the spears so as to remove their rather tough and bitter outer layer. The individual spears tend to vary al lot in diameter depending upon the age of the plant that they came from but you are  likely to need around 6 to 8  spears per person. Once peeled cut-off the lower 2 cms  and discard. If the spears are dirty briefly rinse and then place in a saucepan of lightly salted boiling water and leave to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (you can even get a special asparagus saucepan for the purpose but I find a regular pan quite good enough and my kitchen is already crowded enough!)

3. Carefully warm the Hollandaise sauce in a bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water, be careful not to let the sauce get too hot or it will split.

4. Wash some freshly cut chives and “slice into small rounds, set the table, pour the drinks and the dish should be ready to plate up: potatoes, then asparagus, sauce and a sprinkling of chives, followed by 3 or 4 slices of ham, finally season with some freshly ground black pepper (the ham is quite salty so your doctor at least would advise no further seasoning with salt!).

Enjoy!

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Slow Food Week and Wild Garlic

Escargot and Wild Garlic Pesto

The 1st of June sees the start of Slow Food Week here in the UK to find out more visit Slow Food UK website.

Meanwhile, very much in the theme of slow food I have been exploring the various uses of wild garlic. Wild garlic, the latin name for which is Allium ursinum, has a variety of other names including ramsons, buckrams, ramp, bear leek or bear’s garlic and it is native to Europe and Asia, typically growing in damp shady deciduous woods where it will form extensive stands. The plant typically is at its best during April and May, this year with the hard winter and spring in this part of Scotland it is appearing about a month later than usual. At its peak the fresh green leaves are accompanied by delicate white star like flowers and even without actually walking through the woods you can smell the characteristic garlic smell from some distance! All parts of the plant are edible but most usually it is the leaves that are used while the flowers make an attractive garnish.

Allium ursinum

To show you just how versatile this wonderful plant is here are just a few of the wild garlic  recipes published by other WordPress bloggers:

Grab the Garlic (pesto recipe)

Beech and Wild Garlic Canapés

Herby Wild Garlic Tagliatelle

A Daring Cooks Challenge: Wild Garlic Stuffed Trout en Croute

Mashed Potatoes with Fresh Wild Garlic

Spring Salad: Wild Garlic and Dried Cranberries

Goat Cheese and Wild Garlic Muffin

Wild Garlic Season (uses and storage ideas)

Spring Butter

Wild Garlic Soup

I was a Ramp Virgin until last Sunday

Mussels with Wild Garlic, Grape Tomatoes, and Guanciale

The Stink of Spring: Creamy Wild Garlic Baked Eggs

Wild Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms

and my personal favourite given the opening shot to this blog:

 A delicious way of keeping vampires at bay – Escargot with Wild Garlic

Give them a try they taste great!

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Pasta With Love

Tagliatelle by “Pasta With Love”

Given that tomorrow is Valentines’ Day the title of this post my be regarded as a little contrived, however, the title has made itself in that it is the name of a small startup company which has been making a big impact on the farmers market scene in both Glasgow and Edinburgh ever since they first started business a little under a year ago. “Pasta With Love” is the work of a young couple, Duncan and Ness Fildes, who are clearly on a meteoric trajectory after winning a Great Taste Gold Taste Award for their linguine only three weeks after they started to trade!

“Pasta With Love” are to be found at the Mansfield Park Market in Glasgow every second and fourth Saturday each month and they also attend the markets at Queens Park, again in Glasgow as well as at Edinburgh’s Stockbridge Market. For more information visit their FaceBook page and see also Caroline von Schmalensee’s excellent article about “Pasta With Love” in her blog the “Edinburgh Foody”

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Tagliatelle with cheese sauce, tomato, mushrooms and bacon

This is a simple and quick dish packed with wonderful flavours and makes a perfect meal. For an even easier version use smoked Bavarian ham (Lidl) instead of bacon, a great taste and no need to cook it, though it is fantastic on pizzas!

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Serves 2 ready in 15 minutes.

Switch on the oven and set to 190oC, put a large pan of water, half full, on to boil, adding a glug of olive oil to the water; extra virgin (Is there any other? This will help stop the pasta sticking together once it has cooked). Wash a dozen or so freshly plucked basil leaves and 4 to 8 ripe tomatoes, depending on size, before slicing the tomatoes; crossways is best and leave to one side. Place 4 or 6 rashers of smoked bacon (pancetta or streaky bacon is fine too) in a baking tray lightly coated with olive oil and put in to the oven. Take 6 or so chestnut mushrooms, brush off any dirt and cut off the base of the stems before slicing vertically and placing in a frying pan with a good glug of oil and sauté. By this time the water for the pasta should be boiling, remove the saucepan lid and add the pasta, approximately 300g will be ample and boil for 3 to 4 minutes (4 to 5 minutes if cooking from frozen). While the pasta is cooking finish off the mushrooms by adding a dash of dark soya sauce and stir well. As soon as the pasta is ready tip it into a colander and allow to drain, covering with the saucepan lid. Return the pan to the stove and tip in 250ml of four cheese sauce (widely available from most supermarkets, alternatively make your own but we are keeping things simple!), reduce the heat to medium, tip in the pasta and mix thoroughly with the sauce. Put the plates in the oven to warm, (pasta hates cold plates!) while removing the bacon. Cut the bacon into stamp sized pieces and together with the mushrooms add to the pasta – cheese sauce mix and stir in. Take the plate from the oven and plate-up not forgetting to add the sliced tomato and basil! Season to taste and enjoy!

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Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Seared scallops, sautéed mushrooms & salad

Seared scallops, sautéed mushrooms & salad

Scallops are one of my all time favourite things to eat, or at least they are when they are cooked well and until recently that has been a rather hit and miss affair when it came  to my own cooking; all too often they ended up being boiled and not seared, which is something that should never be done to these wonderful delicacies. However, I have always taken comfort in that even professional chefs can sometimes also fail in cooking them, I especially remember some rather mean sized scallops being served to us in Rye but it was not so much their small size that we took issue with but the fact that they had been seriously overcooked on both sides giving a whole new meaning to the word seared, perhaps burnt would have been a better description! On another occasion we went to one of the restaurants on the edge of London’s Borough Market and while the scallops were perfectly cooked they were stone cold. On the first occasion we crunched our way through the scallops rationalising that as it was only one of a number of starter dishes that we had ordered it simply wasn’t worth the fuss and the inevitable delay if we complained. On the latter occasion we did complain only to be told that the dish was cold because we were sitting at the entrance to the restaurant and it was cold there! However, we persisted with our complaint and eventually we were grudgingly presented with a fresh serving on red-hot plates – all of which shows that professional cooks are fallible too but it does seriously beg the question how can dishes which are so obviously wrong ever be let out of the kitchen? I would love to hear about your experiences when you complain about a dish in a restaurant. And of course for all the “bad” dishes there have been many good ones and occasionally some really excellent ones: such as the small plates of scallops that you can buy as a take away from one of the fish stalls in Borough Market or here in Glasgow where Crabshakk serves bowls of sizzling scallops which are so fabulous that I have problems in ever ordering anything else when I visit the restaurant!

So what is the secret to cooking scallops? Well it’s two-fold, the scallops need to be fresh and as dry as possible and the pan needs to be really hot before you add the oil immediately followed by the scallops and they only take a couple of minutes to cook on each side. There are many ways to cook and enjoy scallops but as is so often the case with seafood the simpler it is the better it tastes and this dish is simplicity itself.

Seared scallops, sautéed mushrooms with a green leaf salad and a side dish of french fries

Total time 20 minutes, serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 large king scallops with coral (there is an increasing tendency to sell scallops without their coral which I think is a great shame given the contrast in colour, taste and texture that they give) On this occasion I used vacuum packed scallops from MacMillan’s at the Partick Farmer’s Market which have the advantage of having a longer shelf life, up to one week (though I always use them within 2 days), compared to lose fresh scallops.
  • 6 to 8 chestnut mushrooms
  • green leaf salad (in this case a ready-made Florette “Duo” Lambs Lettuce & Ruby Chard)
  • oven french fries (McCain Crispy French Fries)
  • olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing
  • olive oil
  • dark soya sauce
  • salt (Maldon)
  • freshly ground pepper (try grinding some pepper corns in a pestle and mortar for a real pungent blast of pepper. Don’t over grind or you will end up with dust and a totally different taste experience!)

Chestnut mushrooms ready to  sauté

Method.

  1. Switch on the oven and turn it up to 190 degrees Centigrade and place a shallow sided baking / roasting tray in the oven and leave to warm up
  2. Meanwhile  rinse the scallops under cold running water, cut off the hard piece of muscle that you will find on one edge of the scallop and discard. If the scallops are especially large you may want to cut them in half but don’t try to cut the coral in half, leave it attached to one of the two discs that you have just created and pat the scallops dry with kitchen towel and leave to one side.
  3. Place the salad in a colander and rinse under the cold tap (I know that the salad is supposed to be ready to eat straight from the pack but old habits die-hard!) shake off any remaining water and set to one side.
  4. Prepare the mushrooms, cutting off the end of the stalk and brushing off any dirt from the cap, then slice using a sharp knife and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Once the oven has got to temperature remove the baking tray from oven and tip the fries into the tray ensuring that they are evenly distributed over the tray and place in the oven.
  6. Place a frying pan on the hob over a medium heat, add a glug of olive oil and once the pan is a hot tip in the sliced mushrooms. Sauté the mushrooms moving them around the pan with a wooden spatula, ensuring that they are cooked on both sides. If required add more olive oil but don’t over do it we are not trying to deep fat fry them!
  7. While the mushrooms ar cooking place another non stick frying pan on the hob over a high heat and take the opportunity to give the fries a shake.
  8. Once the mushrooms are nearly cooked add a dash of dark soya sauce and work the mushrooms around the pan to make sure that they are all uniformly coated with soya sauce which will not only give them a lovely brown colour but will also give them an extra rich, meaty taste.Sautéed chestnut mushrooms
  9. Once the pan for the scallops is hot add a glug of olive oil (not too much!) to the pan followed by the scallops and season with salt and pepper. Shiggle the pan occasionally to ensure that the scallops don’t stick (I have yet to find a pan which is truly non-stick!). Once the scallops have been cooking for a couple of minutes they will be nicely browned on the lower side and they should be turned over, seasoned and cooked for a further 2 minutes (you may need to turn the heat down during the course of the cooking to make sure that the scallops are browned and not burnt!KG121209017aWeb1
  10. As the scallops finish cooking place the salad on the plates, drizzle with the oil and vinegar dressing and add the mushrooms and finally the scallops while placing the fries in a bowl as a side dish.

Serve and enjoy!

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Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2012. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.