I Can Conclude I'm No (Food) Prude
My beloved, who eats anything and everything, never complains and always says “thank you that was a delicious meal” (even when, on the rare occasion, we have deli pies, accompanied by a good dose of salts, for lunch) decided he had a weekend menu; comfort food. On the one hand I was delighted, I didn’t have to plan a menu, but I did want to balk, but only fleetingly. Inclement weather was predicted and I had visions of lying on the couch wrapped up in my Indian wool blanket, sipping hot chocolate while watching the rugby and movies on DVD while we had left-over soup and delivery pizzas. I laugh a lot, it’s no use sulking, so I got stuck in and now I’ll share our Slow Food weekend menu:
“I like a cook who smiles out loud when he tastes his own work. Let God worry about your modesty; I want to see your enthusiasm.” Robert Farrar Capon
Moroccan Lamb Shanks
Place cauliflower into a microwave bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, cover with cling film and microwave on high for 10 minutes until the cauliflower is soft. I pour and strain off all the liquids. Blitz until smooth. Remove from the bowl into a serving dish. Check flavours. Garnish with chopped parsley, a shaving of nutmeg and sometimes a sprinkling of grated Gruyere cheese tops this lot.
Note: Butternut baked in the oven until tender, scooped out of the skin and mashed with a knob of butter, salt and pepper is delicious with any stew or casserole, provided there isn't additional butternut used.
“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Vegetables In The Oven - Ideas
I opted for grilled oven baked vegetables this time, so instead of adding my carrots and pearl onions to Sunday's Oxtail Casserole I peeled a selection of jeweled baby carrots and onions, glazed them with olive oil, sprinkled salt and pepper, whole Cumin and sprigs of Thyme over the vegetables and baked them in a very hot oven 220C for 45 minutes until they were cooked through with a dark singe.
Vegetables to use: root vegetables, onion, new potatoes, butternut, cauliflower and broccoli.
Francois’ Famous Brown Onion Soup
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Remove the lid and continue frying the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown. Stir in the stock, sherry, salt and pepper. Taste. It is very important to get the flavours just right. Sometimes I need to intensify the stock by adding another teaspoon stock powder, salt or pepper. Replace the lid and simmer for 30 minutes. In a small basin mix the flour and water to a smooth paste. Add to the soup and stir until it comes back to the boil. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes until the soup has thickened, draw the soup off the stove.
Meanwhile spread the garlic butter onto both sides of the French bread; grate the cheese and sprinkle half over the bread. Bake the bread on a baking tray, in a pre-heated oven, at 180֠C until the bread is crisp and the cheese has melted. Arrange the bread in individual bowls and pour over the hot onion soup. Serve remaining grated cheese in a separate bowl.
“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.”
― Erma Bombeck
Oxtail for Father's Day
After a weekend in the kitchen I was privileged to share my meals with friends, family and especially my father on Father’s Day. He’s not one to accept compliments gracefully, but, it was special to laugh with my parents and to have my brothers and sister-in-law with us. Butch spent a long, teary afternoon in the kitchen chopping herbs, peeling and slicing the onions, but enjoyed the compliments flooding in from our impressed guests and his favourite son-in-law and daughter who made the effort to spend the day with us too.
We indulged in Sue’s scrumptious velvety chocolate mousse, a family favourite, and then finished it all off with hot Malva Pudding, custard and vanilla ice cream. Many hands made light work and without a fuss or me being aware of it, the kitchen fairies fired up the dishwasher twice. I returned to a spotless kitchen when they’d all left.
“Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn’t like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good.” Lora Brody
Bon appetito amigo!