Friday, 23 January 2015

Bogus Café de Paris Sauce

A while ago I was asked what was the first ever recipe that I'd collected. I've been tearing recipes out from newspapers and magazines and jotting others down for a very long time but everything before about 1983 has been lost somewhere along the way. I did some digging and came up with this which is just possibly the earliest surviving recipe in my collection.

I can't remember where the recipe came from but I'm fairly sure it wasn't called “bogus” in the original. It is bogus, though, and has only a distant connection to the original Café de Paris recipe. This may be partly my fault because I think I played around with it a fair bit before I wrote it down but I believe that the real sauce served in the Café de Paris in Geneva is a creamy sauce that’s allegedly made using chicken livers. (Although maybe not - the actual recipe is still secret). To make things even more confusing, there are plenty of recipes for a Café de Paris butter around and that’s an entirely different beast.
Bogus Café de Paris Sauce
Sauces like this aren't very 2015 - not many people seem to make them these days. That's a shame because this is really useful, easy and versatile. This sauce was intended to accompany steaks and there's nothing wrong with that but it will also sit very well alongside pork and, my favourite, simply cooked lamb.

Making sauces might seem a bit of a faff but there's not much work involved, it can all be done in advance mostly using store cupboard ingredients and you'll get enough sauce from the amounts given here for around 6 servings. If you don't use it all at once, it will keep for several days in the fridge and freezes well.
Lamb with Bogus Café de Paris Sauce
If you don't have any tarragon vinegar then simply increase the amount of sherry vinegar, but I must admit that the hint of tarragon does add an extra something.

1 or 2 carrots (about 60 g), peeled or scraped
1 small bulb of fennel (about 120 g), any tough outer leaves and base removed
1 large or 2 small shallots (about 90 g), peeled
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
400 g tin of tomatoes
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100 ml marsala
300 ml chicken stock
Juice of ½ lemon

Put the carrots, fennel and shallots into a processor and reduce them to very small pieces. Place them in a large frying pan and fry gently with a little butter for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the crushed garlic and continue frying gently for a further 10 minutes.

Add the two vinegars to the pan followed by the tomatoes, stirring to ensure that the tomatoes are broken up. Add the sugar, tomato purée, mustard, marsala and stock. Season well. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Pour the contents of the pan through a fine sieve. Press down on the puréed veg to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Stir in the lemon juice. (Alternatively, you could just liquidise the whole sauce. It will be thicker and cloudier and personally I don't think the texture and flavour of the liquidised version is quite as good but at least you won't waste anything.)

There are a number of ways of finishing this sauce before serving. The simplest way is to reduce a little of the sauce to thicken it slightly and pour it around your chosen piece of meat. Whisking in a little butter at the last moment will give the sauce a gloss. Adding more mustard along with the butter will work well if you fancy a bit of heat. Or whisk in some crème fraîche for a slightly richer finish. You could also add fresh herbs: a generous sprinkling of parsley would be the obvious choice.

Serve with your choice of meat and imagine yourself in Geneva. Unless, of course, you are in Geneva, in which case I can't think what to suggest.

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Janis at Farmersgirl Kitchen has started a new blog event #RecipeClippings this month to encourage us to dig out recipes from our collections of cut out and copied recipes. I think this should fit in quite nicely even if I haven't the foggiest idea where I found it.



Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Vinegar Steak With Mango Sauce

Most years I try to grow at least one chilli plant during the summer and most of them suffer from neglect. Some do produce a decent crop, though, and last year it was the turn of a Scotch Bonnet plant. As the summer ended I carried it indoors and placed it on a windowsill, where it’s just about hanging on to life despite yet more neglect. Oddly the seriously hot little fruits made me nostalgic for the 1980s.
Scotch Bonnet
Back then I started to realise that Caribbean cooking could be exceptionally good as well as exceptionally hot. The big name in Caribbean (and African) cooking at that time, at least as far as I was concerned, was Rosamund Grant. As well as writing cookery books she ran the groundbreaking Bambaya restaurant in London at the time. The restaurant may have disappeared long ago but I still use some of her recipes from the 80s. Actually, this isn't one of them, but it's definitely inspired by her and uses a version of the traditional technique of creating a marinade based on vinegar. I serve this with the simplest possible mango sauce. (I'm not sure that RG would approve of such a basic sauce but it tastes good to me, especially when I'm short of time).

I put this concoction in a bun but serving it with rice or stir-fried veg would be good too. I know that it became trendy to use brioche buns for burgers a few years ago and, although I'll never be trendy, the sweetness of the brioche bun does work really well with this filling.
Vinegar Steak with Mango Sauce
This should serve at least 2 and is very easy to put together provided that you remember to start it the day before.

Vinegar Steak

250 g finely sliced steak (you can use the stuff sold for stir fries)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and very finely chopped
75 ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 Scotch Bonnet chilli, very finely chopped (if that’s a bit scary use ½ a SB)
A generous few turns of black pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce

Mix everything together in a non-reactive bowl, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for 12 - 24 hours.

Drain as thoroughly as is humanly possible then dry the steak on kitchen paper. (Don’t wipe away all the garlic and chilli if you can help it). Heat a little oil in a wok or large frying pan and stir fry the steak very briefly over a high heat until done to your liking.

Serve on a toasted brioche bun with a generous amount of the simple mango sauce.

Simple Mango Sauce

1 very ripe mango (small to medium ideally)
1 tbsp lime juice
a couple of turns of pepper
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
½ tbsp soy sauce
A little honey (optional)

Peel the mango and slice the flesh into a blender. Add all the rest of the ingredients and blitz until smooth. Taste and add a bit more lime if too sweet, a little honey if too sour and a some more chilli sauce if too mild. One mango should give you plenty for 2 people but it freezes well if there's any left over or if you have a lot of mangoes to use up.