Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Salmon Risotto

 On the meat front, the original EatingBritish project was actually quite easy.  A quick glance over almost any supermarket meat section will reveal that a significant quantity, if not all, of the meat was produced in the UK.  However, one of the areas that does become slightly questionable is fish.  When is a fish a British fish?  When it's caught in British waters perhaps?  I'm still slightly undecided on this issue myself, so instead I make do with sustainably farmed fish, which is definately produced in Britain!  In this case, I am using Scottish farmed salmon.  I quite like a nice piece of salmon every now and again, particularly pan fried (click on the 'fish' label to the left to see more recipies).  However, I thought I would try something a little different this time round and so I tried a salmon risotto.
 Salmon is ideal for a risotto because it requires only the gentlest of cooking, assuming its nice and fresh to start with, so it can go into the cooking pot right at the last minute.  Here is a nice piece of Scottish farmed salmon:
To make the risotto is really easy.  Heat some oil and butter (the oil raises the smoke point of the butter, allowing a higher heat to be used, but still giving the nice buttery flavour) in a pan and fry a finely chopped onion on a medium heat until soft.  Add about half a cup of rice.  Some would say to use risotto rice, which is certainly very good, but to be honest I used regular, long grain rice and it worked just fine for me.  Stir this around for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile, make some chicken stock (I just use cubes, but if you have fresh stock it would be awesome!).  After the rice has been in the butter/onion/oil mixture in the pan for a few minutes, start adding the stock.  You want to do this quite slowly, allowing it to be absorbed by the rice before adding a bit more.  For this amount of rice, I found 3/4 pint of chicken stock worked very well.  You can always add more water if the rice still isn't cooked by the time you've used up all the stock, but it's much harder to take excess water out without over cooking the rice!
 While the rice is cooking, cut the salmon into cubes, removing the skin first if it was still on.  Once the rice is cooked, add the salmon, some chopped basil (dried works OK, but fresh would be so much better!) and two table spoons of double cream.  I also added some pine nuts because I like them and some halved cherry tomatos.  Stir this all together over a low heat.  Continue to cook until the salmon has turned nicely pink and is starting to fall apart.  Most risotto recipies would call for Parmesan cheese to be added, but of course, Parmesan cheese is not British.  It's an excellent cheese, but I didn't have any and I was keen to try a British alternative.  So, I used some of the Winchester mature chedder I've blogged about before (see here), which was a nicely mature chedder with a fairly robust flavour which I think did it's job as a Parmesan replacement fairly well.
 This was the end result:

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Venison Steak Stri Fry

 The last dish I wrote about, the roast Venison rump steak, was rather more than I could eat in one go, so I had left overs.  A stir fry is often a good way of using left overs from a roast, or many other kinds of left overs come to that.  Anyway, in my opinion a stir fry requires relatively little meat, but with plenty of fresh and interesting vegetables.  On the subject of fresh and interesting vegetables, I have to say that I am finding the going a little difficult at the moment in terms of keeping to only British produce.  This time of year is something of a gap between the last of the previous seasons winter produce (see my posts from January, there was still quite a variety available then) and the next seasons early spring produce.  We have had an especially long and cold winter as well, which almost certainly will make things more difficult.

 There was actually an interesting article on this on the Guardian website that I came across today, which is worth a look (click here).  I had a good look round at the Sunnyfields farm shop when I was there to see what local vegetables I could pick up.  I came away with curly kale and purple sprouting brocoli, both of which are quite suitable for a stir fry.

 All I did was tear off some handfulls of the curly kale and purple sprouting brocoli and wash them under the tap.  I then heating some oil in the pan, added a chopped onion and fryed on a high heat until softened.  I then added the washed vegetables.  Continue to fry on a high heat until the leafy vegetables start to wilt. I then added a generous portion of soy sauce, some freshly ground black pepper and the sliced left over Venison.  I also added some frozen peas.  In the picture below, I have also added the left over roasted vegetables from the previous meal and as much as possible of the remaining juice, which will add a nice depth of flavour to the stir fry.
Continue to stir fry for a few minutes more to make sure that the frozen peas have defrosted, then serve on a bed of rice:

Monday, 22 March 2010

Roast Venison from the New Forest

On my last trip to Sunnyfields Farm Shop and Market, I picked up a pack of Venison rump steak.  I have to say that I am something of a fan of Venison, it's got a great flavour and it naturally very lean.  So, this is what I bought:
And out of the wrapper:
I'm not a butcher, but to me that looks like a good bit of bit of meat!  To make a nice roast from this, I lightly seasoned the meat with salt and pepper and then sealed it in a very hot frying pan.  This simply involves putting a little oil in the pan and getting it nice and hot, but not smoking.  Then, simply place the meat in the pan and leave it alone for a minute or so.  Then, turn onto the other side and leave for about a minute or so.  Keep turning until all the sides have been browned:
Here, I have placed some carrots, a chopped onion and 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped.  I added some cold pressed rape seed oil over the vegetables and then placed the sealed meat on top.  Put this in an oven at 180C, for about 45 to 50 minutes.  The exact cooking time will vary depending on the size of the joint of meat of course.  The best way to tell if it is cooked is to push a metal skewer into it, at the thickest point and check that the juices coming out are clear.  If not, then it needs another 10 minutes or so.  Once it's cooked, remove it from the over, cover it with more kitchen foil and leave it to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes.  This helps to ensure that the meat will be nice and tender.
When rested, slice thinly and serve!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

British Tomatoes

 I was pleasently surprised to find that British tomatoes are already available!

 These, as can be seen from the label, have been grown at Thanet Earth in Kent, which is the largest greenhouse complex in the UK (http://www.thanetearth.com/).  Of course, the important question is; Did they taste good?  They were really quite good, juicy and sweet as a tomato should be.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Richard Woodall Cumberland Sausage (Part 2)

 Having talked so favourably about the Cumberland Sausage from Richard Woodall's in the Lake District, I thought it was probably about time that I commented on the sausage itself, cooked by my own fair hand.  I think I mentioned that they sell sausages by the yard, so I brought 2 yards of sausage.  These are hefty sausages, they are probably nearly an inch in diameter, so there's a lot of meat in yard long one!  Cumberland Sausage is traditionally cooked in a coiled shape, and served with a kind of sausage casserole, so that's what I've done here.  First off, here's the sausage in the pan:

 Fry the sausage in a little oil in a good, non-stick pan.  It will probably need about 8 to 10 minutes per side.  While that's cooking, bring some lightly salted water to the boil in a pan and add around 200g of red lentils.  I find it best to wash these first, but not all recipes seem to mention that.  Simply put them in a sieve and rinse with plenty of cold water - the water running off will turn a milky white colour.  I think doing this for a minute or so will be more than enough.

 Once the sausage is cooked, transfer it from the pan into a baking tray and cover with foil and place this into a pre-heated oven at around 120C.  Add around 200ml of red wine to the still hot frying pan and boil vigorously until reduced by about half.  Pour the resulting red wine reduction into a bowl and set to one side.

 Add a bit more oil to the pan and bring back up to temperature.  Fry a chopped onion, three cloves of garlic and a generous measure of dried rosemary and oregano herbs.  Of course, fresh herbs would probably be better and one can usually get away with using smaller quantities.  If you are lucky enough to have fresh herbs available, you should definitely use them!

 Once the onions have softened, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, a chopped red chilli, the cooked lentils and the red wine reduction from earlier.  Whilst this is simmering, prepare around 5/8 litre of beef stock and add to the pan.  Continue simmering until the mixture has reduced to a thick, casserole like consistency,  Serve with boiled potatoes and peas!


Shown here is just half of the sausage!  This actually made three meals for me, which was good.  One last thing to mention, ideally metal skewers should be used to pin the sausage into shape during frying, but I didn't have any, so it tended to uncoil itself as it cooked.  It still worked fine, but it does look better when the sausage forms a nice, neat spiral.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Edinburgh, Chutney & Tebay Services

 On my way up to Edinburgh, for my recent visit, I felt I couldn't drive past Tebay Services without stopping there for a coffee and maybe to do a spot of shopping.  I've blogged about Tebay Services before (here), so I won't write more about it here and now, but surfice to say - well worth popping in should you find yourself on that particular stretch of the M6.

 Anyway, I had been very kindly invited to lunch on one of the days of my visit, so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to pick up a gift of some sort.  I was really looking for some kind of local food produce and after much browsing I found a selection of rather lovely sounding chutney:


 They looked rather delightful, though I must admit I don't know what they are like to eat!  However, I hope they are good.  In return for these, I not only recieved a really rather good lunch, but was introduced to a whole new world of chutney swapping.  This kind of made me wish I'd come armed with some of my tomato chutney from last year!  I shall have to try to make some smaller jars of it this year when the tomatos are back in season, to use as gifts.  Anyway, I received a lovely looking jar of homemade tomato and red pepper relish:

 Which I sampled this evening with some Pondhead Farm pork sausages which I picked up at the Sunnyfields farmers market when I was last there.  The relish was really rather good, with a subtle sweetness from the peppers carefully balanced with the vinegar.  Very nice indeed.

As I say, next time I make chutney or relish of my own, I shall certainly invest in some smaller jars - they really do make excellent gifts.