Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pancake DAY!

Today I was not at work, so took the opportunity to indulge my predilection for pancakes to the max.

I started with a breakfast of blueberry pancakes, bacon and maple syrup.

With the pearls of blue berries exploding in my mouth, whilst drowning in a sea of maple syrup, accompanied by the salty and savoury crunch of crisp bacon: the day was off to a GREAT start.

I had planned to have a galettes for lunch but apparently buckwheat flour is ridiculously difficult to come by. I'll have to save that for another day, whilst I track down the flour.

Dinner with Jess (a slightly more intimate affair shared with the Brit Awards than the pancake party I had planned) began with herb blinis and smoked salmon.

Now, I know I just said I couldn't get my hands on any buckwheat flour, so I know these weren't really blinis so, let's call them herb pancakes instead. Essentially they were my American pancakes with chives in the batter. These were topped with smoked salmon, a crème fraiche dressing (3tbsp crème fraiche, juice of half a lemon, 1tbsp capers and 1tbsp dill) and topped off with dainty dill fronds. A good starter.

Stuffed pancakes care of Monsieur Blanc followed. These were incredibly rich bur moreish: creamy and cheesy. The spinach and mushrooms were just enough to not make us feel too bad!

To finish we had stacks of proper English pancakes dredged with lemon juice and sugar. the recipe I use for pancakes is:

100g plain flour
2 eggs
200ml milk
2oz butter, melted

1. Mix all the ingredients together into a batter and leave to rest (refrigerated) for a while. Briefly whisk again just before starting to cook.
2. Heat a crepe pan with a tiny slick of oil. Once warm, take off the heat and wipe away the excess oil with a paper towel.
3. Add a ladle of batter to the pan and quickly circulate to create a round pancake covering the bottom of the pan.
4. Fry gently until the sides just begin to curl. Toss and fry gently for a few moments.
5. Turn out onto a plate and dowse liberally with sugar and lemon juice.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Partridge with lentils and pommes boulangère

One of the best things about working in a local town in the Cotswolds is that there are are proper local shops. This includes a proper butchers, Steve Betts. I was so excited when I found it (and it was game season) that I might have bought slightly more than I could cope with; thank heavens for the freezer. (I'm still not quite sure why I felt the need to buy the entire shop it's not like the butcher's is going anywhere, judging by the queue!).

Anyway today I finally got around to having one of the brace of partridges. And it was good.

A little individual roast succulent tasty bird (a gamier, richer and deeper flavour than chicken) with absurdly tasty lentils and rich pommes and jerusalem artichoke boulangère. I should really have carved before plating, but there's just something really quite magnificent about having a whole bird on your plate.

The lentil recipe was taken from Giorgio Locatelli's Made in Italy and the potatoes adapted from this Valentine Warner recipe.

Partridge with lentils and pommes boulangère

A partridge
For the lentils:
100g puy lentils
Onion, finely chopped
Carrot, finely chopped
Bacon rasher, diced
Sprig (or ½tsp dried) rosemary
Small bunch (or ½tsp dried) sage
2 bay leaves
500ml chicken stock
3oz butter
For the potatoes:
300g jerusalem artichokes, peeled and finely sliced (use a mandolin)
500g waxy potatoes, peeled and finely sliced (use a mandolin)
Onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
~500ml chicken stock

1. For the potatoes, gently warm the chicken stock with the peelings from the artichokes (and the potatoes, if liked) to extract the maximum amount of flavour.
2. Sweat the onions and garlic very soft and lightly golden
3. Lightly butter a shallow ovenproof dish. Using half the potato slices cover the bottom of the dish. Dot with ~½oz butter and season with salt and black pepper.
4. Spoon over half the softened onion and garlic.
5. Put down a layer of artichokes, butter and season. Repeat the onion layer and then finish with a potato layer, again buttered and seasoned.
6. Add just enough stock to come halfway up the vegetables. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1-1 ¼ hours at 200°C or until the vegetables are very tender.
7. While the potatoes are cooking the lentil can be made. Cook the vegetables and bacon in olive oil until soft but not coloured.
8. Add the herbs and lentils and cook for ~5 mins, stirring. Until everything is well mixed and the lentils are just starting to stick to the bottom of the pan.
9. Add the stock, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 45mins, until the lentils are soft and there is little liquid left it the pan.
10. Before serving beat in the butter. The lentils should be risotto consistency.
11. For the partridge, season the bird and fry (in vegetable oil) on each leg for ~3min until nicely browned. Fry on the breast for ~4min. Then prop it up on its neck against the side of the pan for a further minute. Take off the heat and leave it on to its back to rest. To finish place in an oven at ~250°C for ~4mins until cooked.
12. To plate, cut a circle of the potatoes and place in the middle of the plate. Put the bird on top. Spoon the lentils around the outside.

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