Friday, January 16, 2009

Sumac Spiced Lamb, Preserved Lemon Puree, Arrugas Potatoes

I have been wanting to post this since I made it, I kept putting it off wanting to do it justice, taking my time to write a really in depth, but I love the photos and the look of the dish so much I have finally decided to put it on with just pictures really, the original idea started when in the seychelles with my favourite 3 chefs. We made a spiced lamb loin dish with a red capsicum muffin, filled with candied olive and babaganoush ice cream, plated with a puree of preserved lemons, it has developed into this and carries on a little bit more with the middle eastern flavours
England has a big thing about boiling Brussel Sprouts, always strong tasting and overcooked, I say just touch them in the pan
Fresh Madjhool dates, beautiful, a friend of mine hates them, using too many when working in Dubai, but peeled and take out the strings, great natural puree

Preserved lemons, a wicked spiced ingredient, but how about using them as a base for a cold sauce, remoulade like, soak them in ice cold water, puree and use as your base, add a tiny touch of vanilla sugar, takes the salty edge off

Babaganoush, nutty earthy flavours, flame roasted whole aubergines, tahini, pinch ras el hanout, confit garlic, blend, arab style is a little chunky rustic but I love mine smooth

Arrugas potatoes, I have come across several recently but have made mine the old way, almost rosti like with, pureed flame roasted red pepper, smoked paprika and pinch of cayenne

Loin of Lamb, welsh salt marsh lamb for me every time, there is no better flavour than this, you can taste it all way through the flesh. Sumac, my new found favourite ingredient, its buds are dried and ground into a powder in the middle east to add a lemony zesty falvour to meats, try it, its fantastic, part of the poison ivy family! Marinade your meat in the dried mix for an hour or two and cook.

And there we have it, plate it all up and I loved this dish from start to finish all comes together so well for me.

Little bit of sweet stuff next post, hopefully it won't take so long for me to get off my arse and get on with it. Our 3 friends will remember this and keep cooking guys, we'll be cooking together again soon!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Harissa Seared Beef Carpaccio, Kumara, Goji & Apricot Salsa

Carrying on the Middle Eastern theme, for this and the next few posts is this Beef Carpaccio, I love carpaccio as a gentle start, but find its always prepared the same way, don't get me wrong with some Parmigiano-Reggiano and rocket who wouldn't love it! Not all the time though and playing with the tastes of Africa, you need to trim a barrel of fillet, make sure you get the best aged fillet you can, I wasn't so fortunate for my dish, but sometimes you have to use the best you can get. If I had time I would choose Buccleuch I love the way it melts in the mouth, they have been producing for something like 300 years, another favourite being Glen Fyne brought to the market by Loch Fyne they also have the most fantastic oysters, I'll leave that for another day though.

Once the barrel is nicely trimmed, marinate in harissa paste for a good couple of hours, preferably overnight though. I like to make Harissa and keep it for when needed I use as a base dried red chili peppers, confit garlic, salt, rapeseed oil, ground coriander seed, ground caraway seed, ground cloves, ground cumin seed, cardamon powder, lemon juice and rose petal ghulkhand ground in pestle and mortar and keep in air tight container. When ready sear off the beef.
As said earlier, I am fed up of eating Carpaccio the same way, so I wanted to roll it and stuff it, its stuffed with an Apricots (fresh & dried) Kumara, Goji Berry, Thyme & Coriander Salsa. This is brought together with the flavours of ras el hanout mentioned last post, fantastic flavour, in fact add roasted peanuts and these ingredients make a fantastic vegetarian curry. Goji berries famed by the celebrity lot now as their favourite nibble etc are fantastic, as well as the Middle Eastern stuff, over the past year I have been working with superfoods and planning a diet around them with a selection of different dishes, they are reported to contain up to 21 trace minerals (the main ones being zinc, iron, copper, calcium, germanium, selenium, and phosphorus) and are the richest source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene (more beta carotene than carrots), of all known foods or plants on earth! The Goji berry is a deep-red, dried fruit about the same size as a raisin. It's very sweet and tastes something like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry. You find people using the normal ways in muesli etc, for the salsa I reconstitute them in some warm chai tea and the toasted ras el hanout spices.
When the beef is cooled the best way to get the thinest slices for the carpaccio is to freeze or semi freeze it. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and tie up sausage like. When its chilled down or frozen, on a sheet of plastic wrap, the thinly sliced and layered beef is topped with the salsa and rolled up again sausage like.

I have this shape in my head which if you look back over previous posts you will recognise in the plating long rectangles or batons or whatever you call them and circles, I find myself drawing these shapes all the time when doodling and thinking about plating my food, just the same shape over and over again, I think when I am happy with it I will move on, hopefully anyway! So back to the sweet potato (kumara) discs, to cut a long story short they go well with the barrel, there is the smallest amount of kumara in the salsa so it needs just a little more for the plate, I poached the discs in a court bouillion, just slight (you only need a drop) of rose water in there as well.
Dusting the plate with toasted and ground ras el hanout, just adds a little more spice.
I also like to add a little cardamon powder to the plate as and where the food eats with the few drops of coriander oil, I love cardamon its beautiful floral scent and mouth exciting taste, is something I have loved using recently reminding of old recipes of cardamon ice cream and fenugreek, I love spice and what it can do to the overall meal if planned correctly.

Thyme is the herb that features mainly throughout the dish, giving the earthy flavour it needs, bringing it all back together, its also a major ingredient in the mix Za'atar so finally finishing off the middle eastern tastes I have tried to achieve.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mackerel Hashwah, Rocket, Puy & Shallot Salad, Pistachio Pesto, Barberry

I thought I would miss the fresh Indian Ocean fish, but there is all the benefit of Cornish Mackerel being at home, gorgeous..

After scraping the scales, washing, filleting & pin-boning, dry the fillets well and dust with Taouk seasoning, normally used for a chicken shish, its a nice and light dry seasoning mix made up of cumin, pepper, cayenne, smoked paprika, ground coriander, clove, I like to add a little turmeric and vanilla salt, I find the vanilla justs smoothes the combination together, set aside to pan fry later and top the haswah

A hashwah is where I took my inspiration for this dish, although this doesn't exactly lend itself to a plated dish, I have a sushi press in my kitchen which if you combine the elements of a hashwah and pressed nigiri sushi then you can create something ideal for plating. The mould should be lined with cling film, first.
In Saudi there are two traditional fish dishes. "Hubul" a fried mackerel roe, served with rice or salad, is one, another is "Muhashsha" an elaborate rice and fish dish preferably prepared with fried kan'ad, mackerel. To start, onions are browned and spices are added to make the hashwah where the dish gets its name. The fried fish is laid atop the hashwah in a pot. Rice is prepared and piled on the fish and pressed down, and the pot is turned out onto a serving dish so that the fish and hashwah form the top.

After the rice is ready, dust the mackerel fillet in flour and Taouk seasoning again and pan fry in a little oil, making sure to hold down the fish so it doesn't curl, allow to cool and press for a few hours

I love crispy onions/shallots (especially that fairground smell) of cooking them, crisp onion layered together for garnish

With a hashwah in the middle east, the serve rocket and onion salad, I added puy lentils tossed just to give the salad a little body and some ground pistachios in a light pesto

The dish needs a little acid just to cut through the flavours and a citrus flavour dressing from barberries also add a little sweetness almost sweet n sour

The dishes I have been playing with recently, using middle eastern ingredients has been a great learning curve on using different foods and finding different ways of cooking I want to learn more about the ayurvedic philosophy attached to food, they use alot of the same ingredients and finding a way to use the two together will be great to experiment with.
The Ayurvedic cooking is more a philosophy of cooking based on developing wonderful flavours without the use of onions and garlic or fats to give body and “mouthfeel” using herbs and roots instead.
All of the recent pictures we have been taking are with the use of a lightbox I was given back in June after working with a great bunch of people. This is the first time I had started to use it and as we went through this menu the pictures became better all the time. I think some of them are fantastic, there is not nearly enoguh space to put them all on here, my favourite was the Lamb dish used in the title coming up in the next couple of days.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Za'tar Spiced Sea Bass, Tomato Dill Sauce, Cauli & Quinoa

I was about to embark on working with Middle Eastern Spices for a project and when researching I looked at and Linda was using Ras el Hanout for Christmas, bit of a coincedence thats another spice I am using with a dish of harissa rolled beef carpaccio, apricot & goji berry.

Back to the Sea Bass though, the fillet is dusted lightly with semolina and Za'atar and pan fried until crisp. I love the light fragrant taste, if you have used Sumac you will know what I mean, zesty citrus flavours, well Za'atar (zaatar) is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

I paired the Sea Bass with a nice and light riceless Caulifower and Quinoa Risotto, which I have made before but had found it missing something, I love the way the fish eats with the delicate nutty flavours of Quinoa and making the risotto out of the cauliflower as the rice grains.

On reading and researching fish is cooked in Saudi and surrounding areas with a dill tomato sauce, I made a harissa, tomato and dill puree and served it cold with a confit tomato, the whole thing finished with a Kebseh foam, Kebseh is a lebanese black pepper based spice used for Kebabs and shawarmas.

A touch of Olive Powder provides that little saltiness and coriander as used all the time throughout Arabic cooking.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

One of many new dishes coming from the 3rd!!