Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rillettes de porc

Roasted garlic for roast lamb

In the spirit of posting something, but still not having eaten on High Street for a bit, I offer you the following visual evidence of food. Yes, I'm sure you've seen food before, but this is what it looks like in our house. Or at least what it looks like when it's worth getting the camera out...

So in the last post I was making quince jelly. It's now finished, jarred up and being eaten rapidly. We swapped a jar for Emma's quince paste, which was equally magnificent.

Quince jelly

I had a crack at making rillettes de porc for the first time in mmmyears. Next time I'm going to be the bunny and try rabbit rillettes - the pork was lovely (and I love pork) but this pig richness needs some rabid wildness for balance.

Pork, garlic, salt, pepper and bay leaves

The recipe is from the big orange book. A kilo and a bit of pork belly is skinned and chopped into pieces, and is then rubbed with about a tablespoon of salt and put in the fridge overnight. Dump into a heavy casserole with a couple of cloves of garlic, some thyme, bay leaves and pepper. *Just* cover with water and a lid and put into a slow oven for a couple of hours. Drain, taste for salt, shred, add the liquid back and pack into bowls or ramekins. Seal with a kiss and with lard. Eat with cornichons, crusty bread or toast and a glass of vin ordinaire. Have cholesterol tested. Panic.

porc de rillettes

Hopefully there'll be some more posting about High Street food soon.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Home Cooking is Killing Fast Food

Well, despite the objections of George, Madonna, Adam and Kylie et al, we continue to indulge in home cooking. Although we suffer constant threats of legal action from the restaurant industry we soldier on in the face of starving artists. Yes, I understand that every meal I cook at home is taking money out of the mouths of desperately thin restaurateurs and critics, and yet somehow I continue to live with myself. We shopped hard at Preston Market on Saturday and we enjoyed every moment. Relentlessly.

I'm not ashamed to say that this week we went nuts. We ate like champions. We snacked high on the food chain and when we looked down, we sneered. Like a God-like hungry caterpillar, we chomped our way through the lesser beings, one after another, and then we stood triumphant, slightly moist and quite salty, but we had devoured all before us.

On Saturday we ate oysters

We ate oysters with Guinness and bread

Later, okra was involved a prawn curry

The prawn curry was directly copied from a Television Production as aired the night before. It wasn't as good as I'd hoped - it ended up with too much tamarind and its fruity sourness was just a little too clever and not charming enough. And it was very, very brown.

But on Sunday night we had fish. Easy fish, because it was Sunday, but good fish, because it was flatheat. It was easy (as mentioned) and fried in a batter that included spices I really can't remember but look quite pretty in the photo.

On Sunday we made batter...

...for flathead. It was good.

On Monday we had veal. There aren't any photos, but it still happened. And then on Tuesday we had beans with speck and some German smoked sausages. They were fantastic. Mr 15yo had been nagging since the weekend, and with just cause.

...and beans on Tuesday. It was very good too; very good.

The other thing that happened on Tuesday night was the Significant Fruit Conversion. Some ugly yellow fruit was taken and elevated into something approaching rapture. Quinces were vigorously jellied with malice aforethought; their step towards the divine almost complete upon mad, mad boiling.

Quinces, pre-conversion

And it was fabulous.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cheese Club Six - Revenge of the Curds

Hardcore Neutrality

Cheese Club has returned, this time with revenge, vengeance, more revenge, a club with nails in it and a glass of wine. Oh, it's had sand kicked in its face by a buff lifesaver before, but now it's back with cheeses strong and ruthless enough to melt your head from the inside out. So surrender now, before Cheese Club gets all fromagier on your arses (or "asses" for our American friends).

Perigord goo

Besace Chevre Affine - After the damning-with-faint-praise disappointment of the Le Chevrot during the last Cheese Club goat experience, expectations weren't high for the Besace. Expectations weren't helped by the sight of this ugly, abstract beast of a cheese. Between the normal wrinkles of a surface-ripened goats cheese; a light dusting of ash; a protuberant, translucent layer of soft-ripened flesh; and a shading of blue and grey mould over the surface, this cheese would strike terror into the weak of heart. But not into mine, oh no. And lo, I was rewarded, for this is a cheese of Perigord and 0f glory. Although it had a modest heart of chalky fudge, it was mostly surface-ripened gooeyness. It was light on the goat tang (while still being balanced) and rich in the layers of mould and flavour. Oh, I love this.... Oh... Oh... I'll umm... stop now. People are watching.

Oh lord... Less than pretty. But so wonderful...

Rouzaire Camembert - As regular readers (I'll return your mower on Sunday) will know, I'm historically not a big fan of the surface-ripened white-moulders, but you know what? I'm beginning to come around. We've had some great ones (the Brie de Nangus in particular) with deep, earthy flavours, and this Camembert is close to its equal in raw power. Still with a stripe of chalky crumblation in the center, it was soft but firm with a rich flavour of mushrooms and cauliflower. This is glorious, but in a relaxed way. It's still got a week before it ripens properly but still, eh? Eh?

I want to believe

Saint Vernier - This episode of Cheese Club was turning into a lesson of surprising power, but this is the exception that proves the rule. Washed rind in name; washed rind in appearance but white-moulder in taste. Weirdly, this was a far milder cheese than the Camembert. A glorious orange tint underneath a white-mould fuzz, this looks like a small Camenbert that's been inadvertently tinted. And that's what it tastes like. It has a subtle washed-rind stink (if that's not a contradiction in terms), but once you taste it you wonder where all that smell went to. This still has some chalk in the centre, so I'll give this one a couple of weeks and see what happens. Sweet packaging by the way: it nestles softly in a plywood sunflower. Awwwwwww.

Nothing to fear here

Coolea - Coolea is an Irish, cow's milk cooked curd cheese in a Dutch style. Obviously. This was a couple of years old and was a luscious, buttery cheese with an intense nutty and caramel flavour. It still has a little cooked-curd smoothness, but with an almost imperceptible grain. It's not as an intense as the Lindenhoff, and thus isn't subject to enforceable standoff distances, but it is still wonderfully intense. Deep without being scary, like Radio National. Wash it down with a Toohey's Old or a 3 Ravens smokey one.

Coolea than you'll ever be

L'Etivaz - I have this ongoing problem reconciling my Cheese Club experiences with the proclaimed neutrality of the Swiss. This picturesque, peace-loving, clock-making nation, supposedly wielding nothing more dangerous than an implement designed to remove stones from horse's hooves, produces cheeses that our Aunt Agatha describes as "total ball-tearers". Of course, aunts have changed since Bertie Wooster had them, but these cheeses haven't. And L'Etivaz has all of the rich, grinding gorgeousness of an older, more voluptuous hard cooked curd cheese. Swiss cows that live downstairs in chalets; milk cooked over wood fires; banks that respect anonymity. What a life...

L'Etivaz. Stand well back.

Crozier Blue - Carrying on this edition's focus on intensity and approachability, the Crozier Blue is a blue sheep's milk cheese from Tipperary, meaning the UK is effectively surrounded by tart Roquefort-style cheeses, both East and West. I'd be surrendering pretty much straight away if I was them, hopefully to be welcomed into the creamy acidity. Lovely blue tart balanced with a soft texture, buttery but light. Again, a cheese intense but not overwhelming. This is an excuse to open a bottle of something sticky, and so I shall.

Crozier Blue. Nothing to add.