23 December 2011

Running hard to catch up with the meal plans!

I am getting old.  I must be - because I'm sure time didn't slip away quite like it has done, when I was in my twenties!  It only seems like yesterday that I was telling you what's on the meal plan for the week - yet that was some eleven days ago!

So - to catch you all up with the results of various menu items, let's start with the Chicken Dopiaza.

It was nice.  That's the first thing to say, in the hope that all the negative stuff that's about to pour out will be tempered by the knowledge that it was nice - and we ate it all.  However, there's one thing that's stopping me from passing on the recipe - and that's the use of a Patak's Curry Paste in its production.

I know that Patak's Curry Paste is no different to Bipin's Curry Paste or anyone else's curry paste - it's still a collection of curry spices that you might use to create a curry dish.  However, I can't help but think that it's cheating to use something like this.  I know jolly well that I can produce a perfectly spiced curry without using a curry paste - in fact, making my own curry paste (which would qualify as a blog post plus recipe!).  I just opted not to do so in this case because of speed.

For all that the end result was nice (and we ate it all), it wasn't earth-shattering and there was a textural problem with the sauce that I know wouldn't have been there, if I'd have made my own paste.  However, I did enjoy the process of making the Dopiaza and the research that went into it was educative too.  It turns out that "Dopiaza" means "two onions" and there is an argument over whether that means "two onions" or "onions, added at two different times".  I felt the simple "two onions" left something to be desired in method terms - after all, why name the dish after its two onions, unless they made a particular difference to it?  Now, if you're cooking one onion in one way and another in another way - that made sense.

Hence, I took my first onion and cut it finely, then fried it in a mixture of sunflower oil and butter until it was a deep golden brown.  Just before it reached the depth of colour I was looking for, I added the second onion which I'd cut in a more chunky shape and simply sweated that until it was soft - and the first onion had taken on the depth of colour (and flavour) that I was after.  This effectively gave you the gorgeous, deep, sweet fried onion flavour along with a harsher, more tangy onion flavour - and once the sauce was made, left some large pieces of onion quite obvious in the mixture, as opposed to having melted into the sauce.

I was happy with this method and will try it again - this time with my own spice mix - before I blog the recipe.

Carmargue Beef Daube marinating in wine - pretty!
Next meal on the list was Trish Deseine's poor old Carmargue Beef Daube.  I say "poor old", because I strongly suspect that I killed the dish owing to adding a too large stick of cinnamon.  The cinnamon flavour completely dominated the dish, wiping out any evidence of the red wine or the brandy - so you can imagine how strong it must have been!

Hubby and son & heir both rejected the orange flavour provided by the 3 pieces of zest that I included, although I have to say that I enjoyed that aspect of it.

Carmargue Beef Daube with Parsnip & Apple Mash
The cinnamon stick was from a fresh packet and was absolutely enormous.  I broke it into two and then two again and only use less than a quarter of a stick, so felt that I'd taken precautions not to let it dominate.  However, we live and learn - and now I know that this particular packet of cinnamon sticks are dynamite!

I doubt I'll be trying this recipe again, owing to the shock that registered on hubby's face when I suggested I'd need 100ml of his brandy.  It would need to have been pretty darned exemplary, to warrant that much of a donation again!

I served the Daube with a new recipe for Parsnip & Apple Mash, which demanded that the parsnips and apples be roasted in the oven, then blitzed into a mash.  It was an interesting flavour - but not one that went particularly well with the Daube (regrettably) and was a wee bit sticky for comfort.  I suspect that if I was to serve it with some lovely butcher's sausages, it'd be another matter - so I'll be saving the recipe recommendation for after a second try at it.

Cheesy, bacony loveliness

The last recipe on last week's list (yes, this week's list has yet to come!) was for Ham & Cheese Pasties.  Now, as I have said previously, because of the anti-inflammatory diet that I'm following, potatoes are definitely off.  These pasties required the use of potato in their filling, which I'd decided to swap out for celeriac.  For all that the pasties were scrumptious both hot and cold, I have to say that I couldn't find any celeriac flavour in there, whatsoever.  It was a shame, as I felt that it would go particularly nicely and it seemed a disappointment to not be able to taste it - albeit that it was better for me, than the potato!

I'd also been forced to exchange ham for bacon, as all the ham available from our local supermarket had been cut on a slicer more readily used by faeries - to say that you could read Horse & Hound Magazine through each slice, is something of an understatement.  They obviously haven't heard of thick-cut ham, in Bournemouth.

Still, the mixture of bacon and cheese is always a good one - and for my money (and son & heir's) the pasties were delicious.  Hubby - who is something of a pasty fanatic - wasn't happy with them at all, though.  He prefers his pasties to have puff or flaky pastry around them and professed to not be able to taste the cheese.  I suspect that last point can be put down to the fact that he was on the verge of going down with an 'orrible cold and had lost the use of his taste buds, as both son & heir and I could very much taste the cheese - particularly in the cold version.  Personally, I'm not particularly bothered which pastry surrounds my pasties - I'm as happy with shortcrust as with puff or flaky, so my perspective on the little lovelies was totally at odds with hubby's.  It all comes down to your own particular taste and how you find the dish at the time.

Again, I think I'll have another go at this one.  This time, however, I will make a mash of the celeriac and mix the cheese and bacon through it before putting it into the pasty.  This will not only pad out the inside of the pasty (which tended to become hollow once the cheese had melted), but might encourage the celeriac's flavour to stand up and be counted.

It certainly worked that way for the Celeriac Slice, so I'm crossing my fingers!


1 comment:

  1. I think I'd prefer the term 'Pastie Officionado' to that of 'Pastie Fanatic' :-)


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