Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Green tomato ketchup–a reprise, and other stories

Ok, I’m back. A slightly longer absence than planned and much to write about. In fact, I’ve been putting off posting for a couple of weeks, having come over all shy. And then I thought ‘Bugger it’ and so here it is – a random post to get things moving and then normal service will be resumed…

So: green tomato ketchup. I did indeed get it made and I did forego the 350ml water and added the vinegar/sugar mixture straight in with the tomatoes. It made sod all difference to the end product as I simply reduced it down (within a magical 40 mins if I remember rightly) and whizzed it up. So clearly Jamie’s editors have made a slight recipe typo with that one. More importantly it need not take you 4 hours to make a jar of condiment.

Pumpkin cannelloni: I had a craving on Halloween for something using of the rubescent squash sitting on my work surface. Now that I can face pumpkin, squash, sweet potato and chorizo again (pregnancy hormones are strange bedfellows), I’ve gone a little squash crazy and the occasion seemed appropriate.

I roasted the wedges of squash with garlic and rosemary and a chopped up sweet potato for about 40 mins until caramelized and sticky. NB DO NOT add your garlic in at the beginning; it will just burn, so stick it in 20 mins before the end. Allow to cool then scrape the flesh from the skins into a food processor and whizz up with the roasted garlic, a good tbsp of ricotta, a handful of whatever herb takes your fancy (I used rosemary) and some lemon zest. Filling done.

I then pre-soaked some fresh lasagne sheets for a couple of minutes in boiling water to make them pliable. Remove from the water and brush with a little oil to stop them sticking. (Can I add at this point I was going to make the pasta sheets myself – got the machine out and everything – only to discover my pasta flour had weevils in it. Oh. My. God. And it went out of date 18 months ago, so I had to give that up. But I was going to.) Spoon balls of the pumpkin mixture along one edge of the sheet and roll up into tubes and place in a baking dish. I then spooned over a roasted tomato and chilli sauce before baking for 25-30 minutes and topping with Parmesan. I think a creamy sauce would be too rich, but conversely some ripped-up mozzarella or even Taleggio would be divine.

I’ve also dabbled with beef en croute (Note to self – cook AFTER feeding the baby, as if they hang around too long the beef will completely over-cook. A simply mistake, one I’m normally careful to avoid, but I’m still on a learning curve with the baby/cooking/timing issues…) which I served with a fabulous Madeira sauce. I added depth by stirring in the remaining tbsp of mushroom duxelles – the rest of which was lining the inside of the pastry – and the resting juices from the beef after it had been seared before wrapping in the pastry.

In surprise news, MCD has made a luscious chocolate mousse. There is a clear division in the kitchen: I’m not a pudding cook, although I will if pushed, but something about the precise mathematical nature appeals to MCD and his mousse was extraordinary. He substituted the suggested flavouring of Earl Grey tea with peppermint (given I can’t stand tea) and it was just a subtle wash rather than in-your-face After Eight madness. There may be more to come – we’ll see.

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