Saturday 29 April 2006


Naan is a vital part of a curry feast. Not necessary for a curry meal, especially if that meal includes rice. But a feast is a meal with more than you need.

The method of cooking the naan is part of the recipe as more than just the source of heat. The method of cooking naan influences the flavour and the texture. The best and authentic method is to cook the naan in a charcoal fired tandoor. This is not entirely out of the question for the domestic cook - small tandoors are available for much less than a standard gas barbecue. If you do not have a tandoor fired up ready for the naan (which I do not), then a regular charcoal barbecue is a good option. The charcoal is the flavour that really makes naan naan. Good naan can also be cooked on a regular gas barbecue or failing that in the oven. Naan is a good addition to a summer barbecue the dough can be made ahead of time and then the naan formed and cooked almost instantly as you want them. They are just the thing to wrap around kebabs to pull the food from the skewers and straight to your mouth, no need for plates here!

The naan dough is different to other bread doughs I make ; it includes yeast and baking powder as well as yoghurt. These seem to make the dough more tender and able to be cooked quickly at a high temperature without turning in to crispbread.

I make naan like this :

for 8 naan

400g bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast
1 egg
1/2 cup yoghurt
1/2 cup milk

Make a dough with all the ingredients, adding more milk or flour if necessary. Knead until smooth and shiny. Leave to rise for about an hour to double in size.
Preheat the barbecue or oven to the hottest setting (my highest setting is 250°c). If you are using the oven put a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone in to heat at the same time.
Divide the dough into eight and form into teardrop shapes with your hands. This can be as rough as you like and the thickness you prefer. Thinner will be crispier and thicker will be softer. I like to have some thin and some thick areas on the same naan - the crisp for dipping and the soft for wiping.
Cook until they are just starting to turn brown in places - this will not take long, 3-5 minutes - so keep an eye on them.
You can sprinkle the uncooked naan with spice, black cumin seeds are particularly good. Or for garlic naan brush or smear the naan with garlic butter as soon as they come off thebarbecuee or out of the oven.

Saturday 15 April 2006

wild blue·ber·ry hot cross buns

I saw some dried wild blueberries at the organic shop this week, I thought that was such a good idea - a great addition to the world of dried fruits. I do not often buy dried fruit, except for raisins for the bircher. So I ended up with some dried blueberries and no idea what I was going to do with them. Not such a rare occurance, returning from the shop with a new and interesting ingredient with the hope that it will inspire me before it goes off.

And what else do you make with dried fruit at this time of year but hot cross buns? This year they are going to be dried wild blueberry hot cross buns.

I made the hot cross buns like this :

Wild Blueberry Hot Cross Buns

175mL milk
50g butter
Zest of a blood orange
2 cloves
3 cardomom pods
1 egg
500g bread flour
10g yeast
2 teaspoons mixed spice
heaped 1/2 cup dried wild blueberries

Cross paste
2 Tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of caster sugar

1 egg, beaten with a bit of milk

1 tablespoon of caster sugar

Put the milk, butter, zest, cloves and cardomom in a pan and bring to a simmer then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the cardomom and cloves and beat in the egg.
Mix the flour, spice, yeast and blueberries together then make a dough using the milk and egg mixture. Knead until the dough is as smooth as a dried fruit filled dough can be. Put in a greased bowl, cover with plastic and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled. Shape into buns and cut a shallow cross in the top and leave to rise again for 30 minutes.

Make a paste for the crosses with the flour and sugar and enough water to make a stiff, but pourable mixture.

When the buns have risen, paint with the egg wash and spread the paste in the cross marks. Bake for 20 minutes at 210°c.

Make a glaze by mixing the sugar with the same amount of boiling water.

As soon as the buns come out of the oven paint them with the glaze.

Happy Easter!

Tuesday 11 April 2006

pork rillettes

Rillettes are something I can only sometimes resist ordering when I find them on a menu. I love pâté and I love the meatier coarser rillettes. Yet, until now I had not made them myself - I don't know why ; they are straight forward, much easier than pâté, however they seem to be much more impressive on a "you made this!" level.

I decided to make a foray into the world of rillette making because I had some pork belly that was intended for sausages, but I didn't feel like making sausages. I wanted to make something that we could have during the week for lunch or an easy dinner - rillettes it was. Several of my cook books had a recipes for rillettes, but I ended up making a blended version of them all. I didn't have any pork fat, but I thought that the belly seemed fatty enough, and I wanted to cook the rillettes in the oven to make it easier on me!

This is how I ended up making them :

Pork Rillettes

500g piece of skinless and boneless fatty pork belly, cut into one inch chunks
100 mL of dry white wine
8 peppercorns, lightly crushed
8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
a generous grating of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Mix all the ingredients except the wine and put in a terrine or covered ovenproof pot, then pour over the wine. Bake covered in the oven at 140°c for 4 hours stirring once or twice, until the pork is very tender and cooked to perfection.
Strain the liquid from the pork pressing on the pork gently to help this along, keeping the liquid. Put the pork on a plate and shred with two forks . Remove the bay leaves, but the peppercorns, juniper berries and garlic will have been magically assimilated into the pork, or near enough so just pick out any bits you think you should. Taste the pork and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Pack tightly into small pots (or indeed one large one) pour over the reserved juices - the fat will form a layer on the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a day.
Serve with baguette, gerkins, radishes, lettuce and some red wine for a delicious, satisfying and easy week day meal.

This amount will make two ramekins full with a bit left over to eat on the day you make them, and allowing for the mouthfuls that you will have to try while you are shredding!

Sunday 9 April 2006

pheas·ant liv·er cro·sti·ni

I am having a pheasant phest at The Laughing Gastronome! I am determined to use every last morsel of this bird I can!

To recap :

Roast Pheasant
Pheasant Galette
Game Sauce
Game Soup

and now :

Pheasant liver crostini!

This is simple, and a bit of a treat to enjoy while the roast pheasant is resting. Albeit you need to have planned ahead so the liver is waiting for you. First of all make sure that you have rescued the liver and the other giblets from the pheasant before you roasted it. Secondly make sure you did not include it in the giblets you roasted for the sauce, and thirdly don't include it in the stock for the game soup.

If you have done all this you can then trim the liver of any sinews and fry it quickly in a hot pan in some foaming butter. Then squash it onto the crouton that you cleverly cooked under the pheasant, sprinkle with salt and a wee bit of pepper.

Warning : This is rich and sinful, but so delicious and frugal - I mean you could have just thrown that bit of offal away!

Friday 7 April 2006

game soup

If a pheasant galette is not enough frugality, here I present game soup ; a sure fire way to make yourself feel good. Good because this is a delicious, refined and just as restorative version chicken soup. And good because you have used almost all the parts of the pheasant you roasted earlier in the week. And the barley, not quite the same as the noodle in the chicken noodle soup but barley in the game soup is in many ways better. Barley in a soup makes the soup more of a meal. And this is a great meal with some hot buttered toast!

Game Soup
Adapted from a recipe in Meat by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The pheasant carcass from the roasted bird, cut into pieces
1 carrot, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
a splash of brandy
a large splash of port
a small glass of red wine
500mL of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bashed, but not minced
1 bay leaf
a sprig of thyme
1 tablespoon of chutney
100g of pearl barley, rinsed

Sauté the vegetables in some fat or oil until they start to caramelise. Add the carcass and sauté briefly. Add the rest of the ingredients except the barley. Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer gently for an hour and a half. Strain well, ideally once through a sieve and then through some muslin. At this point you can chill the soup and then remove the fat from the top before you reheat it. Bring the soup back to a boil and add the barley. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the barley is cooked.


Tuesday 4 April 2006

game sauce

If you are roasting a pheasant and you have saved the giblets you might like to make a game sauce to go with it. The liver will be used for other things, but the heart, neck, gizzard and wing joints are just what we need!

This is how I made the game sauce :

Lightly toss the giblets, a chopped onion, some chopped carrot, a couple of mushrooms, a garlic clove, a bay leaf and a twig of thyme in a bit of olive oil. The amount of each ingredient, and the ingredients involved only depends on what you have to hand and how many giblets you have.
Roast for about 20 minutes at 200°c until everything is looking golden.
Scrape the solids into a saucepan and then deglaze the pan with some sherry or wine, scraping well. Pour the resulting juices into the sauce pan. Add a squeeze of tomato paste, some whole peppercorns and cover generously with chicken stock or at a pinch, water. Simmer for an hour then strain, squishing everything to sqeeze out at much juice as possible. Leave to cool and then skim any fat from the top.
Reheat, reduce and season when you are ready to eat.

Saturday 1 April 2006

pheas·ant galette

When Lindy at Toast asked for delectable but thrifty dishes or Something Out of Nothing, I thought what could be more nothing (less?!) than the last bits, except for the bones themselves, of a roast bird. The first eating of a roast bird is a good roast dinner, the second some wonderful sandwiches, and the bones should always become a stock or soup. But if you can manage a third round of pickings you are being very thrifty indeed!

I love savoury stuffed pancakes, they are something that can generally be rustled up from what you have in the fridge and pantry - no special purchases are needed. A wee bit of meat can be padded out with vegetables, and if there are not enough vegetables, just have more pancake and sauce and less actual filling.

This recipe can include any type and amount of leftover meat, indeed none, whatever vegetable you might have and even the gravy (and the fat!) left over from the roast. The pancakes can be plain of course, but I really love the buckwheat version.

There are five easy stages :

1. The pancake batter.
2. The sauce.
3. The filling preparation.
4. The pancake frying.
5. The filling and reheating.

These are the perfect meal for a Tuesday night ; Sunday for the roast and Monday for the sandwiches.

This is how I make them for two people :

The pancake batter :
of buckwheat flour
of plain flour
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 cup of half milk and half water

Beat all the ingredients together and put in the fridge to rest for an hour.

The sauce :
1 tablespoon of plain flour
1 tablespoon of the fat from the top of the leftover gravy or butter
50mL gravy
50mL cream

Make a roux by melting the fat and stirring in the flour and cooking for 1 minute.
Slowly stir in the gravy, stirring well to keep it smooth and lump free. Then stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

The filling :
Some vegetables, e.g.
1 leek and 12 mushrooms or leftover roast vegetables.
Some left over meat.
If the vegetables are raw, sauté until starting to caramelise.
Mix the meat and vegetables into the sauce.

The pancake frying :
Fry the pancakes, there will be four, in a lightly greased pan.

The filling and reheating :
Roll or fold the filling up in the pancakes then reheat in a
200°c oven.

This pheasant version is obviously a bit extravagant, but also thrifty because you are using every last morsel of meat. This works just as well with regular leftover roast chicken.

I was going to call this post pheasant crêpe but La tartine gourmande put me right - pheasant galette it is!