Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Braised Turnips With Mustard And Chervil

The turnip has an image problem in this country. Perhaps that's not so surprising. I can remember some pretty terrible meals accompanied by grey and unpleasant turnips in the distant past. Fast forward a few years and I was eating turnips in France and realising that they can be absolutely delicious.

I've been growing an old French variety ‘Des Vertus Marteau’ for a couple of years now and the flavour and texture is probably the best I've found. Better still, they’re really easy to grow and quick to crop. So if you have a little spare ground, then I recommend trying some. Unless you live in France, you’re unlikely to find the seeds of this or other similar French varieties at the local garden centre but they are quite widely available from suppliers of heritage seeds. (Assuming that new EU regulations don't remove this option).
Des Vertus Marteau
Chervil has a bit of an image problem in Britain too. It never seems to be as widely available as other fresh herbs in shops and supermarkets. But chervil has a lovely flavour and looks good as a garnish so I don’t really understand why. Again, the good news is that it’s very easy to grow.

This is my favourite way of cooking the young turnips, which have a real affinity for mustard and lemon. It's an excellent accompaniment to simply cooked duck but it will also sit happily alongside other meats and poultry. It can even form part of a vegetarian mezze. The amounts given here can be varied to taste but this should serve 2 as a side dish. You could use parsley in this dish if chervil can't be found and if you don’t have enough turnips, then you can add some sliced carrots to make up the numbers. If you don't fancy these particular flavourings, I should add that the turnips also work very well in spicier dishes. For instance, a little honey and lemon juice with Moroccan spices can be delicious.
Turnips with Mustard and Chervil
Take 4 or 5 small, young turnips (around 400 g before preparation). Wash and either scrape or peel them. Cut them into thin, but not wafer thin, slices.

Add a little duck fat (or goose fat or butter) to a generously sized frying pan and place over a low to medium heat. Add the turnip slices and sauté gently, turning every now and then, until lightly browned (about 10 – 15 minutes, if you’re being really gentle).

Season well and add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and just enough chicken or vegetable stock to cover the turnips. Scatter over about 2 teaspoons of chopped chervil. Cover the pan loosely and simmer gently for 20 – 25 minutes or until the turnips are very tender. Keep an eye on them and don’t let the pan dry out.

Remove the lid, stir in another teaspoon of Dijon mustard (or half a teaspoon if you’re less keen on mustard than I am) and another generous squeeze of lemon juice. Continue cooking gently until the sauce has thickened and coated the turnip pieces. Adjust the seasoning and sprinkle over some more little pieces of chervil before serving.

Since chervil is so important to the dish, I'm adding this post to the August Cooking With Herbs Challenge over at Lavender and Lovage.

Cooking with Herbs

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Chocolate Chantilly – A Random Recipe

Some of the recipes on As Strong As Soup can be pretty simple, but I think this is the first with only two ingredients. For this month’s Random Recipe cookbook challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen asked ‘If you had 10 seconds to grab one book, which one would it be?’ I was pretty certain that I would either grab a comprehensive, general recipe book or one that would give me a nostalgic glow (Floyd on France, perhaps).

It didn't work out that way. When I gave myself 10 seconds, I panicked and just grabbed the biggest book available. On my shelves that’s Larousse Gastronomique. Not an obvious choice since it’s not really a recipe book as such. But I randomly opened the book and randomly selected a column and was somewhat disturbed to see that the first recipe was included in the entry for Molecular Gastronomy.

Fortunately, though, it turned out to be Hervé This's method for creating Chocolate Chantilly. Essentially this technique allows you to create a chocolate cream or mousse using only chocolate and water. It gives a purity of taste that’s impossible to equal by any more normal method. Conventional wisdom and experience tells you that water and chocolate never mix and this technique demonstrates just how wrong that is. You may have seen Heston Blumenthal demonstrating this recipe on TV and you can find it on the BBC site here, although sadly Dr This is not credited with its creation. I’d never tried this before, but I'm very pleased (and a little surprised) to say that it works beautifully.
Chocolate Chantilly
There’s not much I can add to Mr B’s version of Dr T’s recipe except:
  • Don’t expect it to work instantly. You could be whisking for 5 minutes or so – it depends on how quickly the chocolate emulsion cools.
  • You can substitute some other flavoured liquid for some or all of the water. Some fresh orange juice or coffee are probably the obvious choices. In fact a little orange heightens the flavour very nicely.
  • Mr B says that it will serve 4 and that’s true but it’s such an intense and pure flavour that it could easily serve twice that number alongside berries or something creamy.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Melon Sorbet or Something Like It

If you’re anything like me, then whenever you buy a delicious, ripe melon, you have the problem of leftovers. I wrap the excess melon and stick it in the fridge for the next day.  I then usually forget that it's there and discover sad, dried up melon some days later. So that's why I came up with this solution to the problem of excess melon. Actually, it turns out that this sorbet is so refreshing and so ridiculously simple to put together that I'm quite happy to buy yet more melon just to make it.

Unless my memory is playing tricks on me (yet again!), this sorbet is based on a recipe by the great Frédy Girardet. I'm sure that the original would have been more refined and would not have contained Malibu. But Frédy Girardet is a great chef and I'm most definitely not.

The sorbet will certainly be smoother if made in an ice-cream machine, but it will still be very pleasing if you simply freeze it in a shallow container and rough it up a bit with a fork once it’s frozen. I used a galia melon but any ripe melon with sweet, reasonably dense flesh will be fine. Watermelons, not surprisingly, are too watery for this technique and won’t produce a smooth texture.
Melon Sorbet
This is all you need to do:

Scoop out the melon flesh, discarding any seeds, and weigh it.

For every 200 g of melon flesh, add:

     65 g icing sugar  - I use unrefined icing sugar because I think it adds a little more flavour, but it’s not critical

     1 tablespoon lemon juice - you may want to increase this a little if the melon is very sweet

     1 teaspoon Malibu (or another coconut liqueur) - you could add a little more, but don’t overdo it, since too much alcohol will prevent freezing

Put everything in a blender or food processor and whiz until smooth. Pour into an ice-cream maker and freeze in the usual way.

Told you it was simple.

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Since this is a decidedly summery dish I'm sending it over to the Four Seasons Food 'Summer Puds' challenge.

Four Seasons Food
Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Chezfoti