Monday, 25 February 2013

Beef braised in Guinness with whole wheat Pasta...

Apologies... I have been down with a bad flu. I don't think I have ever slept so much!  I am feeling a bit better today. A big thank you to my new 'joiners', very pleased you are here - so, on with the show...

Now, if the Guinness (or any dark beer) bit, is putting you off...  please try it, it really adds a depth of 'velvet' which goes so well with this. The next bit is the cut of meat : I always use the 'Hampe' in French or skirt steak (a long and flat piece of beef with long fibres of meat and a slight marbling of fat, that has great texture and taste).

For 4 :
700 g (1.5 lbs) skirt steak (or beef cut of choice - ground beef if you are in a hurry!)
330 ml (12 fl oz) can of Guinness
40 g (3 tablespoons) tomato purée
4 shallots (or 2 red onions)
2 finely grated carrots
1 litre (4 cups) of stock

Cut the long strip of meat into manageable sections (15 cm / 6 inches).   Then, for each one of these, you want to cut across (as in, across the grain) quite thinly - the meat will then be in strips, but will fall apart once cooked (see below). Chop the shallots.
In to a big pot, put some olive oil and brown the meat on a high heat; once just coloured, add in the shallots or onions and stir for a further four minutes reducing the heat, put in the tomato purée and cook for a minute; pour in the Guinness and cook for five minutes. Add in the carrots and stock, bring back to the boil and simmer for  around an hour and forty-five minutes (depending on the thickness of the cut beef, but the strips should be falling apart! - topping up with water if it gets too low)

Adding the Pasta should be done just before serving, as the beef can be cooked ahead of time.

I used a whole wheat pasta (Pennette Rigate) that I put straight into the same pot (enough for four) and let it take the juices of the meat (rather than precooking in water) - by cooking it this way, you will need to cook it a tiny bit longer as the juices are thicker so they take longer to rehydrate the pasta. I actually cooked as indicated on the packet, but let it stand for about six minutes off the heat with lid firmly on - if not about two or three minutes more (making sure the is enough liquid, add boiling water if it is drying out too quickly. Test before serving!)

Friday, 15 February 2013

The birthday lunch...

 We were  lucky enough to celebrate 'the' special birthday up the Eiffel Tower at the "Jules Verne" restaurant  located on the second floor of the tower (125 meters or 375 feet from the ground) - it was truly special!

Special breads, imaginative verrines, tasty and beautiful dishes followed by heavenly deserts -
all served with the Alain Ducasse style!

And.... vintage champagne followed by a velvety red wine to accompany the ultimate views of Paris!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Paris by night...

A view from the flooding Seine River from the Arcole Bridge bult in 1854 made of pure iron
 and from where the liberating allies arrived to free the Paris City Hall in 1944.

The dome of the French Academy and the famous Eiffel Tower!

A view of the Pont Neuf from the Pont des Arts!

Here it is : Notre Dame cathedral celbrating its 850th birhtday!
The nine new bells just arrived! (more another post!!)

 Metro signs in the "Art Nouveau" style by Hector Guimard!

View from the Pont au Change of the Pont Neuf (which is the oldest bridge of Paris finished in 1607).

We are having a really wonderful time with the family.  We are also enjoying the food and liquid bubbly refreshments Paris is so good at providing...

Friday, 8 February 2013

Paris by day...

Place des Victoires in the 2nd arrondissement.
Note that in the language of equestrian monuments,
 the position of the horse's legs is supposed to reveal how the cavalier died.
Two front legs up : the cavalier died on the battlefield (here not true as Louis XIV died naturally) ;
Front right leg up : the cavalier was murdered ;
Front left leg up : the cavalier died of his wounds ;
No legs up : the cavalier died naturally.

The famous Opéra house, where the legendary phantom is still busy haunting!

Two beautiful buildings adjacent to one another in the Haussmann style, near Place des Victoires!
In Paris, the first and second floors were considered to be the "noble floors"
 with higher ceilings and balconies!

The Vivienne Gallery built in 1823!
Abandoned after the second Empire, it has been revived by
the fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier!

One of my favourite kitchen supply shop in Paris : Dulherin ...!

The oldest pastry shop in Paris : Stohrer!
Opened in 1730 by the pastry chef of the King of Poland whose daughter, Princess Maria Leszczynska
got married to Louis XV!

Many pastries made all over France were created here (this bit is the savoury section - my personal favourite!)

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Paris here we come...

I am so very excited!  My parents arrived safely today to look after our naughty pug as we are off to Paris for a week for my partner's birthday. We have rented a big apartment and shall be meeting up with his siblings arriving from Canada.  We have much planned and many restaurants booked!   I shall be posting a few pictures along the way...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Mustard cod with curly kale.

 I was so delighted to find one of my favourite vegetables, curly kale, on the market this weekend, something we don't see often in France.  I was even more happy it was on the organic stand that has, over the last fourteen years, grown to three times its market pitch with the longest queue this weekend!

For two...

340 g /12 oz cod (skinned and fillet weight)
300 g /10 1/2 oz curly kale (you may want less if you want to serve rice or potatoes with it)
3 red onions
2 tablespoons of mustard (1 grainy and 1 smooth)
1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs

I simply mixed the two mustards, spread on to the top and sides of the 2 pieces of cod, sprinkle them with the breadcrumbs and seasoned.  Roast in an oven at 200°c /400°f for 12-14 minutes and let stand for 3 minutes.

Slice the onions and fry for about 15 minutes on a low heat until browned.  For the kale (as it was small and tender), I just cut down the length of each stalk so you have two halves.  Bring a pot of water to the boil with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (to keep it bright green) and put the kale in and cook for 5 minutes. Plunge into cold water and shake off the excess water and place on kitchen paper to dry. In a frying pan/skillet with the precooked red onions, cook together with the kale, mixing well for about 4 minutes.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Honey, lemon and rosemary cupcakes...

For 12 small cupcakes

100 g /  1/2 cup (less a table spoon) of non salted butter
2  tablespoons or 1/4 cup of olive oil
135 g / 1/2 cup (less a tablespoon) of honey 
150 g / 1 1/4 cup  flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3 tablespoons of lemon juice (and some zest)
1 teaspoon of fresh rosemary finely chopped (it's nice but optional!)

Pre-heat the oven to 180°c or 350°f

Melt, on the lowest heat, the honey, olive oil, butter and cool slightly (if you have very runny honey and very soft butter skip this part). Mix in the flour (and baking powder) to the honey and butter.  Add in the 2 eggs - once mixed,  add in the lemon juice and rosemary. Put in the cupcake cases (that are already placed in a muffin case tin).  Bake for about 22 minutes.

Topped with a lemon butter cream 
(it is also optional,  I only did half this recipe as I just love the cake without!! 5 cakes above and one below! The other six we ate warm with a pot of tea!)

for 12 (but not masses - you may want more!)
110 g / 1/2 cup soft butter
240 g / 2 1/3 cups icing/powdered sugar
4 or more tablespoons of lemon juice (check the texture before adding it all)
lemon zest to taste (optional)

Soften the butter.  Add the sugar and lemon - I used a spoon, adding more juice when you need it.  It should be fluffy and soft but not runny!!  Once the cakes are cool you can spoon it on or pipe it on.  You can chill them down (more the summer!) if you want the butter cream to harden a little but be careful it doesn't go too hard!

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One cake was saved... (he wasn't allowed any of the top and just a bite of the bottom!)

This was Aston earlier wishing Sophie a happy sixth birthday from far away....
You can meet the photogenic Sophie and she is also here a lot!!

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Welcome to my new members, very happy you are here, so thank you ...

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