Ahead of the (LA) Times
New Recipe experiments that took place in the Becks & Posh Test Kitchen during February 2007
The first of my resolutions for 2007 was to "Try a new recipe every week, if possible.". In January I started keeping notes, to remind myself which recipes might grace my kitchen table again in the future, and which ones I might rather put out with the trash. I continue the series today...
Oh verrines! Back in January, when Amanda and I started talking about plans for the first in our series of epic dinner parties, I told her that the next big thing were going to be verrines. I had fallen in love after seeing them on French language food blogs and I wanted an English-speaking verrine of my own. I insisted we put a verrine on our inaugural dinner menu. So when the LA Times declared the week before last that verrines are "the hottest trend you've never heard of", remember that if you were sharp-eyed enough, you saw it here first.
We used the recipe for Roquefort Trifle with French Butter Pear Relish in Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook. Keller's book is often accused of being to difficult to cook from, but some recipes, such as this one, are easy. It just requires some organisation and patience as there are four stages to complete before you put the
When following the Christine Manfield recipe for Honey & Sesame Beef with Rice Sticks from The Cook's Book edited by Jill Norman, I made a couple of bad judgement calls I would rectify if I were to make it again, which I might do - we enjoyed this dish, especially since we use Marin Sun Farms grass fed beef which was delicious. The recipe called for Thai chilies which I was unable to source so I used Serranos instead. The recipe said nothing about discarding the seeds so I kept them in and the end result was more spicy than it needed to be. I also cut the amount of (Marshall's) honey by half, scared it would be too sweet for our taste. It wasn't, and maybe more honey would have helped balance the heat a little better, so next time I should follow the instructions more carefully. I was unable to buy the required watercress at the market so I used rocket (arugula) from Star Route instead which was a successful substitute.
The foreplay between me and Nigel had really lasted too long. I needed to get down to the nitty gritty and do it with him. It wasn't hard to choose, I needed his pork.
Pork with Cashews, Lime and Mint. OK, this recipe sucked when I made it. It looked almost exactly like the tempting picture in the book, but the lime element totally overpowered the other ingredients. Here is a copy of the (unedited) notes I made at the time of cooking:
pork with cashew nits and lime from Nigel Slater
Disappoinitng - too much lime! fred loved it? did mise en place which really helped the organisation - don't like slater's suggest meanwhiele... (like chop all thos ingredients in the time it takes to cook the pork = < than 3 minuutes I dont think so) next time - less lime, more fish sauce, more nuts, more herbs, maybe extra herbs on top maybe by a ok or do it in the non-sick because it overcooked a bit on the bottome of the all-clad - all the other flavours were drowned out by the lime, check i read the recipe right - he said big juicy limes and CA limes really ARE fat and juicy
That was an apalling paragraph, I know, but it's about time you got to see what kind of material I have to work with here, seriously. You can't get the staff these days! When I was moaning about this recipe to a friend, she sensibly asked me "why didn't you taste it as you went along"? Normally I would, but because everything had to come together so quickly over high heat, I was far more organised than when I usually cook, getting everything ready in advance, mise en place. Less lime next time. I might give it another go with some heavy changes. After all, I couldn't say no to a second date with Nigel, could I now?
Pork Belly Medallions of Braised, Rolled Pork Belly
This was one of the most popular dishes from the dinner party we held in February. We found the recipes in [Englishman] Marcus Wareing's Meat section of The Cook's Book. Several people have asked me for the recipe. Since it is not my recipe to give, I recommend anyone who is interested should simply buy the book instead. You won't regret it. The fact that I have given away no less than nine copies of this book as gifts to friends and family in the past year should be enough to persuade you that I think this is a cook book definitely worth owning.
The recipe asks for an entire pork belly. Ask your butcher to trim if for you. We made two dozen medallions - which fed twelve people perfectly. It could even have been stretched to feed twice as many people. Once cooked, keeping the medallions warm in the oven until we were ready to eat them, simply made the fatty pieces of meaty even more gooey than they would have been had we served it straight after cooking. This is a fantastic recipe for entertaining crowds. We highly recommend it. But beware - you have to start it a day ahead of when you will need it.
By coincidence, not by design, Marcus Wareing was also responsible for me cooking this Beef Strogoanoff, also found in The Cook's Book. This is so easy to make, it hardly even needs a recipe. Making sure you only use top quality ingredients will ensure fantastic success. We used a Marin Sun Farms grass-fed filet tip which was the mutt's nuts, Bellwether Farms creme fraiche, mushrooms from Far West Fungi, butter from Straus and onions and parsley from Chue's Farm.
Pine nut rosemary tart from The Last Course by Claudia Fleming. I can't take too much credit for this tart because friend Amanda Berne made the filling. I just made the pastry - using my favourite pâte sucrée from, you guessed it, The Cook's Book.
Other February Recipe Experiments Already Posted on Becks & Posh
Three Citrus Bundt Cake
The Sweet Kiss of Almond Oil
PS. Apologies for not having posted for a few days. This post was actually intended to go up for Friday, explaining that we would be away for a few days, and to tide readers over the weekend. But we had internet connection problems on Thursday night, before we left town, and so I simply had to scarper and leave the blog untended. We were staying somewhere that didn't even have cell phone connection. It was blissful and there are small food stories to be told - I hope to fill you in over the coming days.