středa 23. prosince 2009
750gr of chicken and duck liver - 50/50
2 small shallots
200gr of butter
120ml of cognac, marc or brandy
Leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme
1 cup of whipping cream
Carefully wash and clean the liver, cut off any hard parts and cut each liver into about 3-4 pieces. Pour half of the cognac over the liver and let stand for an hour. In a heavy pan melt about 100gr of butter and sauté the shallots that you have cut into thin rings until they become soft. Add the liver along with the thyme leaves and sauté for about 10 minutes on medium flame, stirring occasionally. Pour in the leftover cognac, season with salt and pepper. After about 2 minutes turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
Pop the whole lot into a food processor, add the cream and blend until completely smooth. Pour the pâté into serving bowls. Melt the leftover butter and pour over the pâté. Decorate with bay leaf, peppercorns or thyme. Let cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
Serve with bread and cranberry sauce or jam.
čtvrtek 17. prosince 2009
úterý 15. prosince 2009
Salmon - 500gr in this case
2 teaspoons of light miso paste
4 teaspoons of lime juice
2 teaspoons of maple syrup - or more if you're into sweet, caramelly tastes
1-2 teaspoons of regular soy sauce - be careful here as the miso is quite salty
sesame and chives for garnish - supposed to serve a mere decorational puspose but proved to fit in very well tastewise
You can always adjust the marinade to you personal liking, by tasting it!
Blend all liquid ingredients and the miso together and pour half of the marinade over the salmon pieces. Leave to stand in the fridge for at least 4-5 hours. Put on the grill function in your oven and heat it up onto 200C. Place the fish onto a baking tray and cook under the grill for 7-12 minutes, depending on how thick the fillets are. Smear the fish generously with the marinade you set aside for 2-3 times.
Serve with rice or any other side.
It all started the very moment we came in. I have reserved a table about 3 weeks ago, but they had no note of our reservation. I’ve made the reservation via email and got a confirmation. They looked in the computer and in the diary, our name wasn’t there. They were apologetic and reacted promptly by bringing in a table and 2 chairs from outside. BTW the place was fully booked; if they hadn’t come up with bringing in the table, we would have been turned away. The furniture is hard plastic and it’s obvious that the chairs were ice cold for another 30 minutes, I had to sit on my jacket. The waiter seated us, smiled and walked away not to return for 15 minutes. He hasn’t given us menus, hasn’t taken our orders, nothing. Husband walked to the bar and got us the menus. About 10 minutes after that the smiley and actually quite pleasant waiter came along and took our orders. We ordered 2 different Belgian beers, 2 kinds of mussels, French fries and 3 oysters.
Do you see the menu above? It quoted the prices for 1, 3 and 6 oysters, just as the official menu I was sent did. We’re absolutely not into oysters and just wanted to sample 2 pieces for the sake of it. But our waiter promptly told us that we could only order 3 or 6. He couldn’t answer why they quoted the price for singular oysters. We were “forced” to order 3. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not about money, it’s about the principle.
We waited and waited for our beers. A woman with a teenage boy and a baby that came in after us and who was obviously friends with the “manager” was served food earlier than we were served our drinks!!! We arrived at 7 p.m. and were served our first beers at 7.45 p.m, I’m not joking. Husband wanted to get up and leave, but knowing how much I wanted the mussels he stepped on his pride.
The beer was alright and although pricy (at 49-55kc for ¼ litre) we kinda enjoyed it. I think they only had those 3 Belgian beers on tap this night, I haven’t seen anyone drinking any other kind of beer.
The oysters were served on a spectacular plate with pebbles. As I said, we’re not really into oysters, but I quite liked those. They were meaty and smelled good, I ate the two of them. Husband still hates oyster BTW. The menu said that these were Belon oysters. Belon oysters are a delicacy and expensive, because the French AOC standard says that they should only be harvested in a certain region along the Belon river. Was this the case here? I don’t know, but hey were round like Belon oysters should be, and not oval like the usual oysters.
The mussels, steamed in wine and steamed in Leffe beer.
There was lots of them, probably more than the ½ kg quoted in the menu. So there are plus points for the portion size. They were very fresh, plus points for that too. But, the majority of them was half raw!!! We felt like idiots. I mean, I have eaten mussels for dozens, maybe hundreds of times but I’ve never been to Belgium and so I thought that maybe this is the way they are eaten there. For me, a mussel should be fully open, the majority of those was only half open and their shells were so brittle that it was a real problem opening them up without cutting yourself. They were slimy inside and you could not peel them away from the shell in one piece, they tore apart, revealing their slimy and unattractive guts. I thought that they were tasty, but something was terribly wrong with the texture.
Oh, the fries were great! Crispy on the outside and soft inside. The mustardy mayo was good too.
There was a number of other very annoying things, like the fact that we weren’t served bowls for empty shells, napkins, bowls of lemon water, we got the first two after we asked but never got the latter. Most other tables had to ask for those things too. The staff constantly forgot to bring us our drinks and had very stupid excuses for it. We weren’t asking for any excuses but the waiter felt that he had to comment on the missing beer with “Oh, I draught it but I forgot for whom it was! Hahaha” WTF? Just say “Sorry, I forgot about your order.”
But, what about the guy in the white shirt? He constantly kept returning to the table with the woman, the teenager and the baby. He asked them if everything was alright for at least 5 times, but totally and absolutely ignored the other 10 tables. He kept walking in and out from somewhere in the back and even though he clearly saw that the waiters had a hard time doing their job, he never helped them.
Now, I know this is all our fault. We should have complained about the service, sent back the food etc etc, but when it comes to it I’m always too shy to do it, as are most people around me. This is utterly and absolutely wrong and it’s about time we start doing something about this attitude of ours. I hereby promise to send back the next overcooked steak or non aldente pasta I get at a restaurant!
At least it wasn’t an expensive dinner. The mussels were 145kc each and if they had been good it would have been a major bargain.
sobota 12. prosince 2009
It’s cold and ugly outside. Time for a hearty soup.
Shurpa is a general name for soup in the cuisines of Central Asia. In Europe, lamb soups are not very popular, yet in Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Turkmenistan and most importantly Uzbekistan, lamb soups are cooked to perfection.
Shurpa is not really a soup in the European sense, it’s rather a main course, like Vietnamese Pho. Shurpa is a very rich and mildly spicy stock with tender meat and vegetables.
Lamb – 0.7kg, mixed bones and meat
2 tomatoes, cut into big pieces – I know it’s winter! But try to get some good ones
2 bell peppers, cut into big pieces
4-5 whole, peeled potatoes – waxy and firm ones
1 whole bulb, unpeeled bulb of garlic – just peel off the most dry, outer layer
fresh basil – about 2-3 stems
whole cumin seeds – a generous pinch, crush it with your fingers a bit
I am no claiming that this is the ultimate and authentic recipe, it’s not. First of all, the lamb is absolutely different here. Secondly, the vegetables aren’t as ripe and sweet, especially in winter. And finally, experts would say that this dish, just like most other central Asian dishes, should be cooked in a big cauldron called qozon, over open fire. But were not in Samarkand, so we will be cooking it in a cast iron pot, on a stove.
The chillies must be absolutely intact, otherwise you’ll end up with a fiery hot soup. Those who want their soup to be spicier can always scrape out some of the cooked chilli into their bowl!
You might use powdered cumin instead of whole seeds, but seeds are preferable. If you don’t have any cumin cook something else, it’s absolutely and utterly necessary.
Experts on shurpa, plov, manty and other central Asian dishes know which part of the lamb is good for each dish. I will not go into details because I’m not one of those experts. Just take some part that has both, bones and meat and also some fat. You definitely do need bones and please, do not cook your shurpa with expensive stuff like sirloin, chops etc. Take meat from the leg or the shoulder.
Cooking is very simple. Put the meat into a pot and add about 2.5 litres of water, bring to boil and skim the foam that forms. Add the other ingredients, cover and simmer on low heat for about 3 hours. Check the soup occasionally and remove any foam that might form. Season with salt.
Shurpa should actually be served in two bowls, one with the stock and one with the meat and vegetables, I didn’t do that this time. Make sure every bowl contains all ingredients.
It’s a great pity that Central Asian cuisine is not known in Europe. Especially Uzbek cuisine is one of the most complex, unique, and sophisticated cuisines in the world. It’s a cuisine completely dedicated to meat and it makes the best out of it, combining it with spices and vegetables that have been grown in a land where the sun always shines. It takes great pride in perfect ingredients, but uses up every last nasty bit at the same time.
neděle 6. prosince 2009
2 cloves of garlic
1 stem of celery
1 red chilli
1/5 litre of good white wine
Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a big pot or deep pan and heat it, add the chopped shallots, garlic, celery and chilli. Roast for about 3-5 minutes on a medium flame. Throw in the thyme and mussels, pour in the wine, raise the heat to maximum and cover. After 3 minutes or after all of the mussels have opened season with a tiny bit of salt and serve with a crispy baguette. A little chopped parsley garnish on top looks nice.
That's all I need to be happy.
BTW we reserved a table for the mussel night in Vozovna Stromovka this Friday, so more mussels are coming up this week I hope! There is still a possibility that we will have to cancel it though
pondělí 30. listopadu 2009
This is the original recipe and the result.
I used pretty much the same ingredients, except that I used dried mint (from our own garden) and sour cream with a high fat content instead of crème fraîche. I do admit that the substitution of the latter probably made a difference, but it was good nonetheless! It's one of those dummie recipes, but I cook it over and over again.
It’s quite spacious, and has seating for about 50 people, but might easily host a party for 70 if more chairs were brought in. It’s decorated with photos of scenes from Il Gattopardo movie, generally the décor is a bit eclectic, but not bad.
We were the first customers, we came at about 11.45. We were waited by a nice Italian gentleman, service is a bit slow but attentive. He handed us the menus and informed us that we could order from special menu only, it was the lunch menu for this week. This special menu offered 2 antipasto dishes (prosciutto and bruschetta), 4 pasta dishes and 4 meat dishes (2 pork, 1 chicken and 1 beef). All dishes in this menu ranged from 110czk to 170czk, which is acceptable IMHO.
We were after some pasta and so mom ordered tagliatelle with artichokes, chicken and cream (130czk), I ordered the lasagna (110czk) and we also ordered the tuna bruschettino (120czk) to share.
My lasagna was equally good, if not better. The photo is not too appetizing, in fact, it looks plain bad to say the least :)) The ragú had a pronounced meat flavor with a perfect amount of tomatoe. It looks like a small piece, but believe me, it was so rich that this smallish piece was more than enough.
The bruschettino was a bit odd IMHO. The huge piece of bread was smeared with some tuna paste that tasted very "sharp", it clearly contained tuna, onion and vinegar. On top of that there were small pieces of mozzarella, tuna, tomatoes and capers. The taste of the paste was very intensive and I’m not sure if I liked it. It’s probably an acquired taste.
We had espresso after the meal, it was extremely strong, it least for us. I’m not a big coffee drinker and felt like I drank 3 redbulls afterwards.
Here are some pages from the menu, I think it looks interesting although a bit too extensive.
neděle 29. listopadu 2009
fish fillets - I had cod and next time I will use a firmer fish
enough thin prosciutto slices to cover all fillets
Season the fish with salt and pepper, be careful with the salt as the prosciutto is salty. Cover each piece of fish with a suitable slice of prosciutto and put 1 sage leaf onto each piece. Secure the sage and the prosciutto with toothpicks. Heat up a pan with dome olive oil and pan fry the fish for 1-2 minutes on every side, depending on how thick the fillets are, mine were quite thin. Serve! I served the fish with some buttered rice which I mixed with sauteed baby spinach.
pondělí 23. listopadu 2009
Clara, an American lady of Italian descent, started making this show when she was 91 and by now she turned 94! She is cooking meals that she and her family cooked and ate during the Great Depression in the 30s. She also reflects on her childhood and teenage years and comments a lot on the fact that people ate simple but healthy food back then.
Clara’s family ate meat only once a week, and not every week too, they mostly lived on pasta, vegetables, beans, home made bread etc. They would turn off the heating to save money and sit next to each other to warm themselves.
Now, let’s reflect this onto the current situation. Have people started to eat healthier during the recession? No, the majority went from buying expensive ham (containing meat) to buying cheap ham (containing crap)! How many people started buying local, seasonal and cheap apples instead of bananas? It’s a rhetorical question.
Clara wrote and published a book and a DVD with her complete show can be bought online.
It’s never too late to start a career! :)
čtvrtek 19. listopadu 2009
pondělí 16. listopadu 2009
This St Martin's wine trend trend that came out from nowhere is amazing. Following the tradition of Beaujolais Nouveau Czech wine makers decided to give it a go and make this into a full scale wine festival. Restaurants caught on quick, more and more of them offering goose specialties and St. Martin’s wine. It’s a marketing trick from A to Z but it works well.
But why are geese eaten during St Martin’s day? My Culinaria Germany book says that geese gave out St Martin’s hiding place by squeaking and so during this saint’s day geese’s necks were wringed and the geese eaten. A bloody habit…
Not having eaten any goose during the St Martin’s festival we decided to check out the Letenská husa in the agricultural museum. It’s a small presentation of young St. Martin’s wines and some thematic food.
Unfortunately, there was no goose! Only duck, and it wasn’t particularly cheap. I thought that 160czk for a leg of duck was quite a lot, regarding the fact that there was no seating and the food was served on plastic plates. We decided that it was not worth the money. It always amazes me how inflexible some vendors are, they sell klobasa for 40czk or duck legs for 160czk. Why not sell duck paté or picked duck meat in sandwiches etc.??? But it's always either the cheap stuff or the expensive stuff, nothing in between. 160czk is simply way too much money to spend on stánek food and I don’t think I saw anyone actually buying or eating the duck.
We turned our attention towards the stall with ostrich meat.
We bought some Černá hora beer for my dad in law, he collects beer stickers, his collection holds more than 3000 pieces now. We bought just one bottle of rosé wine, we’re not into St Martin’s wine. It's all about the hype, not about the wine.
And then we headed to Lokal. I will not go into much detail about this place, it has been discussed by many before. It’s a spectacular place, I never thought that Dahab (the restaurant that occupied this space before) was that big. It’s HUGE. Even if all the tables would have been occupied it still would feel kinda empty. It was fairly dark inside, not good for photos.
I had boiled beef with horseradish sauce and bread dumplings. I now know that I’m no horseradish sauce fan :) IMHO the horseradish flavor is very weak and the sauce is floury, milky and bland. I’ve tried horseradish omáčka for a couple of times before and it’s probably just not my thing, because the people sitting at the table next to us said that the sauce was finger-licking good and better than their grandmother's. The beef was cooked perfectly and the dumplings were some of the best I had.
čtvrtek 12. listopadu 2009
Back in the days when I used to live in Barrandov, me and mom used to go to a local Chinese place called Dlouhá Zed’. The food was good and it did not taste like the cheapo Čínský bufet stuff, and they also made delicious home made dumplings. We also often saw Chinese families eat there. That was until mom found a dead fly in her beef and broccoli about 2 years ago. I haven’t eaten this dish since then, it gave me the creeps. I decided to cook it myself rather than eat out, if there will be a fly in my beef and broccoli I will at least know who to blame :-)
My recipe is a combination of several recipes from my cookbooks and it differs slightly from the recipe Pioneer woman used.
* For stir frying I use Rumpsteak from Makro. It’s not too expensive (under 200czk for 1kg) and is quite tender. I once tried making steaks from it and they weren’t good, but it’s totally fine for stir frying. It's sold in green plastic boxes in the aisle with steaks and "fancy" meats.
500gr of beef
500 gr of broccoli
light and dark soy sauce
starch - I use corn starch
oyster sauce - preferably without MSG (available in some stores selling organic food)
sesame oil – optional
Shao Xing wine – sold in bigger supermarkets and asian shops
sugar – preferably brown
1 large clove of garlic
just about the same amount of ginger
Cut the beef into very thin strips, the thinner the strips the softer the meat. Mix together 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce and 1 table spoon of the following each - dark soy sauce, sesame oil, Shao Xing wine, sugar and starch. Blend it all well together and pour over meat, mix well and leave to marinate. I usually marinate the meat overnight.
Cut the broccoli into small pieces and either steam it or boil it until almost done. Throw it into ice cold water so that it keeps its green color.
Chop up the garlic and ginger into tiny pieces.
Heat up a wok, preferably not non-stick, with a tablespoon of peanut oil (or other vegetable oil except olive). Throw in the garlic and ginger and stir fry until they become fragrant. The wok must be heated to the max! Add the meat and stir fry until it’s brown and soft. Pour in 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce, 3 tablespoons of Shao Xing wine and 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce. Let it come to a boil and add the broccoli. Mix well and serve with steamed rice or over noodles.
Duck fat is the most healthy animal fat! It’s content of unsaturated fatty acids is very close to olive oil. No wonder it’s so popular in France!
I often cook this dish when I know that we will have a couple of busy weeks ahead and I won’t have any time to indulge in any serious cooking. Just 10 minutes on a pan and a gourmet dinner is ready.
You need duck legs, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs.
Cut off as much fat from the duck legs as possible. Make cross like cuts into every leg and rub in some salt. Leave for 12 hours. Salt is a natural conservative and, if you want your confit to last for a while the meat must get through a proper salting process. If you are planning to consume the dish within 4/5 days then you can drop 10-9 hours, but still leave the duck to absorb the salt for at least 2-3 hours.
Melt the fat in a pan on low heat. It will take you about 40-50 minutes.
Put the legs into a big but shallow cooking dish. The dish should really be shallow because you want the fat to cover the duck legs. If you use a narrow and tall pan or skillet you will end up with lots of excessive space unfilled by fat.
Place the legs into the bowl along with 2-3 unpeeled garlic cloves and a few stems of marjoram, thyme or any other herbs you like. Pour the fat over them and cover with a lid or alfoil. Don’t worry if some parts of the duck are sticking out of the fat, the duck has some more fat underneath the skin that will melt and cover the meat properly. Set your oven onto 150C and leave the duck alone for at least 5 hours or more.
Take the cooking dish out of the oven, let it cool and put into the fridge. If some of the meat is still uncovered by fat then you will have to find another container for the duck. Don’t be afraid to squeeze the duck into a smaller container, it's much more flexible when cooked.
When ready to eat, just take out the legs and roast them in a pan until hot and crispy.
The side dish is potatoes sautéed in duck fat. Only 3 ingredients, yet so incredibly delicious! Slice the potatoes into relatively thin slices, melt a couple of spoonfuls of duck fat from your confit in a heavy pan and roast the potatoes until soft and crispy, add salt to taste.
The perfect meal for a cold autumn night!
* When I cook duck in a different way, I never throw away the fat I cut off. I freeze it and it often comes very handy. If you don't want to make your own confit you can buy ready made canned confit. I'm pretty sure I saw it in The Seafood store (both locations) and in the big wine store in Nový Smíchov mall.
úterý 3. listopadu 2009
Hungarian sausages, salami and spices. Where is the goose liver??
Many people’s prejudice against fresh water fish is closely related to carp’s muddy flavor. Amur or tolstolobik do not have this muddy flavor and are healthier and cheaper than carp, but for some reason they are mostly ignored by the public. In the end it’s always the cook who makes the difference, cooking fresh water fish simply requires more effort than your average salmon, but it’s good nonetheless and most importantly it’s local!
Here we have the famous carp fries from the famous Šupina restaurant. Crispy, greasy and filling, the ultimate fastfood.
Carp potatoe cake (Petr Stupka stall)
Petr Stupka is a fairly famous Czech chef, well mostly TV chef. He apparently cooperates closely with Třebonský Kapr , the biggest fish farmer producer in the country. He is a nice person to chat with, he loves his job and is a good source of information on freshwater fish. Here, he cooked the 3 dishes pictured above. The last 2 were prepared with an interesting innovation Třebonský Kapr came up with. I had mixed feelings about it, until the first time I tried it at the Ryby a Víno festival in Prachatice about a month ago.
The Kapří product has been promoted by Třebonský Kapr for a couple of years. It’s basically a frozen, raw carp sausage with oatmeal. What you do is cut off a piece, unfreeze it and use as you would use other mince.