Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pan Roasted Halibut

Saturday, 29th June 2013
We are enjoying a very fishy weekend, after visiting this excellent Wild Salmon Smoker, and buying a large selection of smoked fish, and some lovely Halibut.
I used this recipe, for the Halibut, which was nice and simple, but very tasty. Browning on the stove-top and finishing in the oven, continues to be a winning technique. I did overdo the lemon juice in the sauce, but that was a minor problem.
We had this on the balcony, taking advantage of a few sunny hours amongst the recent incessant rain, with a salad of lamb's lettuce, tomato and walnut, and some olive bread.

The Sprightly Herring

We wanted a clear, schnapps-y cocktail with our starter of Matjes Herring, but I could not find anything that seemed right. So this is one I made up. 2oz Vodka, 1/2oz Dry Vermouth, 1/2oz Monin Original Triple Lime, 2-3 dashes of celery bitters. Stirred with ice and served with a slice of lime.
Wonderfully named by Monika, this went very well with the Matjes, but was less exciting on its own. Gin may have been a better spirit, or it needed something else in it, to round out the flavours.

The Brother Cadfael

Looking to try something a bit less intensely alcoholic and with some Pimms in, we found the Brother Cadfael.
After mixing the liquors, I completely forgot to add the grapefruit bitters, but it still came out very well. Less fruity than we expected and not dominated by the cherry, as I had feared. Mostly very rummy at first, although it mellowed over time.

Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino

Friday, 28th June 2013
I was looking for a bean soup recipe and found this one, which is more of a stew, but really just what I wanted.
Soften chopped fennel, onion and garlic. Then add and brown sausage. I used the pork salsiccia which I often get from the local Italian deli, and I didn't take the skin of, but just chopped it into small chunks. Add some wine and scrape up any bits. Stir in vegetable stock, tomato paste and bay leaf, and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and add shrimp, beans and herbs and seasoning. Cook until the shrimps are done, about 4 or 5 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.
The salsiccia was quite well spiced in itself and I put in a good amount of white Kampot pepper, so this came out quite spicy, but still with an excellent flavour and everything very nicely cooked.
As there are always so many new things to cook, we rarely repeat recipes, but this one could well appear on the table again.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Two classics and one inspired by.

Starting with the "inspired by..", the Battle of New Orleans. I didn't have Peychaud's so I substituted Spanish Bitters, hence my version doesn't have the same red colour. Still, as the man says, a "pretty agreeable companion". I enjoyed the way the different flavours of lemon, bitter, Bourbon and Anisette were all distinguishable.

Then a Dry Martini, long one of my favourite cocktails. Nothing unexpected here - a very little Noilly Prat vermouth and quite a lot of The Botanist gin. Stirred with ice and garnished with a single olive. The Botanist is an artisanal gin from Islay, made with 9 classic botanicals and a further 22 from the Islay itself. It is indeed a very enjoyable gin and makes a great Martini.

Then a Perfect Manhattan, made with 2oz Rye, 1/2oz Dry Vermouth and 1/2oz Sweet Vermouth. As I'm no fan of maraschino cherries, I decided for a twist of lemon. I've been unable to find any Sweet Vermouth in Köln apart from Martini Rosso, which I don't really want. But in Rum Kontor they do have Carpano Antico, which is an older style of vermouth with a more rich and complex taste. It certainly did make for an excellent Manhattan and I'm looking forward to trying it in a Negroni.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Salsiccia and chips

Monday, 24th June 2013
Nearly as simple as yesterday. I deliberately didn't cook the salsiccia as much as I normally would, so it was softer and moister in the middle, which was a success I think. When the sausage was done I turned the heat right up to quickly sear the tomatoes without cooking them to mush. Aubergine chutney and chips from a packet.

Swordfish steak with bacon

Sunday, 23rd June 2013
Bacon goes with everything. The swordfish was quickly pan fried with lots of white Kampot Pepper. I had it just with relish and some good bread. Delicious.

Quail Breasts with Wine and Rosemary

Friday, 21st June 2013
I had got hold of 10 quail breasts, which was just right for two, and found this recipe.
The wine sauce came out a little sour, possibly because I used a Pinot Gris instead of Chardonnay, but the meat was perfectly cooked, tender and flavourful. The roast potatoes were cooked just right, but a little dry for my taste. More sauce was needed. Salad of Lambs Lettuce, Bacon and different type of cherry tomatoes.

Two for the weekend

Firstly, a Maiden's Blush - 2 oz Gin, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 1 tsp Absinthe, 3/4 oz Simple Syrup, a few dashes of Grenadine. The original calls for more syrup but I have learned I prefer my cocktails with less. Nevertheless, it was then too sour for Monika and she added more Grenadine. The Absinthe came through nicely and the overall flavour was nicely balanced.
Then a Home Wrecker - 1 1/2 oz Rye, 1/2 oz Averna, 1/2 oz Elderflower liqueur (homemade), 1/2 oz Lemon Juice. The Elderflower got lost in the powerful Rye flavour, with the lemon and a slight bitterness from the Averna coming through. Very good to end the evening on.
While cooking I'd had a very nice Gimlet (Gin, lime juice and simple syrup) and with the meal a couple of glasses of wine, so I slept very well.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

More cocktails

We started the week off by adding a few more ingredients to the cocktail cabinet. One trip to the local specialist Rum shop Rum Kontor, which carries a lot of other high-class spirits as well. Then another to the supermarket to fill in some gaps. Still lots of things left to get, such as Creme de Cacao, Sweet Vermouth, Pastis and Arrack.
In the spirit of experimentation, we tried a grappa-based Chocolate Truffle Martini, substituting chocolate liqueur for the creme de cacao. Nice and chocolately, but not entirely successful as the powerful grappa came through very strongly.
Later in the week I relaxed after a long day with a Bennett, very nice indeed but a little too much syrup. I would have preferred more of the lime. Looking forward to trying some of the others on that page, especially the Debutante.
After the weather got a little hot and sticky I enjoyed a Witchy Woman. I like campari a lot, but the rum got lost somehow.
And the next day a Cold Blooded Fashion, which was an excellent way to enjoy the special flavour of Geneva. However, I need to get a proper measure, since I just based all the proportions on the amount of juice I got from squeezing one orange... so that meant I had a heck of a lot of Geneva.
Nevertheless, my lesson of the week was - go easy on the syrup.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Weekend in Cocktails

My partner and I have just returned from visiting and old friend in Boston and benefitted from his newly rediscovered enthusiasm for making cocktails, We also visited several excellent bars where they made them for us.
In a few short days we covered the Citizen, Eastern Standard, Drink and Green Street. All excellent and, although Drink would get my vote for idiosyncrasy (no menu, just tell them what kind of drink you want), Green street was my favourite as a place to go for an evening.
Including the cocktails whipped up at home, I counted 19 different ones for myself, so I guess that's probably 60 different cocktails we had between the four of us in that time.
Perhaps even more dangerously for my liver and my wallet, the trip rekindled my own interest in making cocktails at home, so I've been looking at what I can do with what I have, and what I need to bring the drinks cabinet back up to standard.
With what bottles I have and the help of the excellent Cocktail Virgin blog, I was able to concoct these three and one other (with no picture).
First was Theresa No 4., a nice balance of sweet and bitter, alcohol and refreshment. I had that one on my own on Thursday (bad habit!).
On Friday, my partner and I enjoyed a Veritas cocktail, quite limey (good for me), and again a lovely combination of flavours without the cassis overpowering everything.
After a Saturday evening out with a fair bit of wine, we sat on the balcony into the small hours and had a Toto, (no photo) very alcoholic but totally delicious.
And on Sunday we had variation on a Ménage à trois, to which I added a little chocolate spirit and some grated chocolate. Nice, but this was the least satisfying of the four for me, with not much flavour coming through the cream, I felt.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Friday, 8th June 2013
Al Fresco dining on the balcony today.
"Hunter style" means something else in Germany, but for this Italian recipe it was with tomatoes, onions and red pepper (Home book of Italian Cookery p124).
Brown the chicken then add chopped onion, garlic and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Then add chopped tomato, bay leaf, a little red wine, salt and pepper. Add enough stock to just cover the chicken and then some tomato concentrate. Simmer for an hour or so.
Served with pasta in this case.
Simple and very good. The chicken could have been slightly juicier, but that's a minor quibble.

Lamb chops

Monday, 20th May 2013
Simply grilled and served with double-fry chips and green beans boiled then quickly fried with a little vinegar and spices. The chops were a little over done. Still having trouble getting that timing exactly right.