her food his wine

Cooking for a wine fanatic


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Fast food

OK, the weather so far this year has been rubbish – the coldest winter, the wettest spring blah blah blah. The upside to that is that it’s the first time my wild garlic patch has continued to flourish into June.

After a morning in the garden battling the weeds a quick lunch was in order. With little more than a gnarly lump of cheese in the fridge the girls had to come to the rescue. Delia, Pi (Life of not chicken and mushroom) and Frank (yes quite an unusual name for a chicken – Frank Ocean, Agent Orange – orange/ginger chicken……….that’s my other halfs unusual sense of humour for you! ) keep us well stocked in eggs throughout the year until one of them gets broody and upsets the other two. Thankfully that is a rare occurrence.

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So the omelette – I’m not going to do a Delia and tell you how to boil an egg, or your Granny how to suck them. My preference for seasoning is a teaspoon of light soy sauce. I briefly sauteed a handful of wild garlic in butter before adding the egg, and then some grated double gloucester cheese before folding. I like the inside to still be slightly runny, however that isn’t for everyone. From field to plate 5 minutes!

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A delicious way of keeping vampires at bay!

Wild Garlic

It has been a long time coming however the wild garlic is out with a vengeance in the garden. It’s a travesty to waste it so when in season I am always looking for new ways to cook it. I got some snails courtesy of Dorset snails so thought i’d do a twist on traditional Escargot a la Bourguignonne and replace the garlic with wild garlic. I have to say it was a great success and went really well with a bottle of Pieropan La Rocca.

Dorset escargot

ESCARGOT WITH WILD GARLIC

  • 12 prepared snails
  • 12 snail shells

Filling

  • 4oz unsalted butter, softened
  • handful wild garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 200°c.
  2. Mix all the filling ingredients together well.
  3. Divide half the butter among snail shells. Stuff with snails (1 per shell) and remaining garlic butter.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.

LEMON SOLE WITH FENNEL SALAD AND ORANGE DRESSING (Adapted from food for a fiver)

Lemon sole

This recipe is adapted from a Jason Atherton recipe where he uses sea bream fillets. I picked up some freshly caught Lemon Sole from the Little Fish Company so decided to try it – while it didn’t look as refined as Jason’s version, the flavours were great. We served it with a Greywacke Chardonnay 2010.

Serves 2

  • 2 Lemon sole gutted and scaled and skirt removed
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 50ml olive oil plus extra to drizzle
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 small fennel bulb, trimmed
  • Dill sprigs
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 50g stoned marinated black olives, stoned and quartered lengthways
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil

METHOD

  1. Segment one orange. Squeeze the juice from the membrane into a small pan
  2. Grate the zest from the other orange into a bowl and squeeze the juice into the pan. Heat over a low flame until reduced by 2/3. Pour over zest and add the orange segments and chill. Once chilled add the vinegar and olive oil and a tablespoon of chopped dill and gently combine
  3. Slice the fennel and onion finely into ribbons using a mandoline or sharp knife. Plunge into a bowl of iced water and leave for 10 minutes or so until crisp
  4. Drain the fennel and onion slices and pat dry. Add the chopped olives, a tablespoon of chopped dill, a large splash of olive oil, a splash of vinegar and generous pinch of salt and toss together
  5. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and when hot, season the fish with salt and pepper and pan fry the fish for about 4 minutes per side.
  6. Drizzle the orange sauce around a serving plate and place the fish on top. Pile the fennel salad on top of the fish or in a separate bowl.

Lemon sole in orange sauce with fennel salad

PINK PEPPERCORN MERINGUES WITH LEMON AND LIME CURD (Adapted from Food for a Fiver)

Pink peppercorn meringue with lemon and lime curd and passion fruit

Serves 4

Pink peppercorn syrup

  • 1 tsp pink peppercorn cracked
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla syrup

Meringues

  • 100g egg whites
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g icing sugar sifted

Passion fruit syrup

  • 2 passion fruit
  • 20g granulated sugar

Lemon and Lime curd

  • juice of 2 lemons (save zest)
  • juice of 2 limes (save zest)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 80g eggs beaten
  • 80g egg yolks
  • 80g butter diced

Vanilla Syrup

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod

METHOD

For the Vanilla syrup

  1. Put the sugar and 200ml in a small saucepan over a low heat. When the sugar has dissolved increase the heat and bring to the oil. Split the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds and add to the sugar syrup.
  2. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Store in a jar in the fridge. It will keep for a couple of weeks.

For the meringue

  1. Preheat the oven to 90c and line a baking sheet with baking parchment
  2. For the peppercorn syrup, mix the cracked pink peppercorns with the vanilla syrup in a small bowl and set aside
  3. To make the meringues, whisk the egg whites using an electric mixer with 2 tbsp caster sugar on a high speed until thickened. Whisk in the remaining caster sugar 1 tbsp at a time. Keep mixing until the meringue is stiff, shiny and holding firm peaks. With a large spatula carefully fold in the icing sugar a quarter at a time
  4. Spoon the meringues into 4 mounds on the lined baking sheet. Dry in the oven for 40 minutes or until the outer shell has just hardened
  5. Take the meringues out of the oven and brush with the peppercorn syrup and return to the oven for 1-1.5 hours until they are dry
  6. For the passion fruit syrup, scoop out the flesh and seeds from the fruit into a small pan and mix in the sugar. Simmer over a medium low heat to dissolve the sugar. Set aside
  7. To make the lemon and lime curd, put the citrus juices in a heavy pan with the sugar. Dissolve over a medium heat, bring to the boil then take off the heat. In a bowl whisk the whole eggs and yolks together then pour into the hot citrus syrup in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Return to the pan and place over a low heat. Whisk in the butter a piece at a time then stir until the curd thickens. Pour into a bowl cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming.
  8. Carefully split the meringues. Spoon some curd onto the bottom shell and drizzle over some passion fruit syrup and around the meringue and replace the top. Sprinkle with pink peppercorns and serve with a bowl of curd on the side.

HIS WINE

2009 Pieropan La Rocca – Soave – 100% Garganega

A clear deep lemon appearance with some legs. The nose is clean with medium intensity, muted aromas include yellow stone fruits, apple, bread and a hint of lanolin. The wine is developing.

The palate is dry with medium alcohol, intensity, acidity and length. In addition the medium body and finish suggest a rather anonymous wine but you need to go looking for the subtle flavours – the wine opens up gradually in the glass. Aromas of melon, peach and honey eventually unfold.

In conclusion this Soave comes from limestone and clay soils, is of a good quality with an understated balance of subtle oak, fruit and acidity. Time to throw in good minerality?  We could if we were agreed on what it means! Can drink now but will improve, this wine  it is in the high price category.

Greywacke Chardonnay 2010

In the glass the wine has a clear medium(-)  lemon appearance with a few legs. The nose is clean with medium intensity of primary fruit aromas of a tropical nature including mango,pineapple and white stone fruit. The wine is more or less fully developed but may benefit from a few years in the bottle but no more. The palate brings  a dry wine with medium (+) intensity, medium acidity, medium alcohol, medium (+) length and flavours of mango, passion fruit, pineapple and white peach. Overall this a well made pretty wine with integrated components especially within the acidity and alcohol. Kevin Judd, ex Cloudy Bay, has many fans with this and his Sauvignon Blanc. Matthew Jukes in particular waxes lyrical in his usual OTT style. For around GBP18 this is not bad and certainly more subdued than some of the competition.


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Death by chocolate

Following on from the overall success of last weeks fish fest, I thought if it ain’t broke  don’t fix it. Fortunately i’d got some home made gravadlax in the freezer so only had to come up with a main and dessert (obviously not fishy!). I got some nice big plaice fillets and clams from Waitrose however despite a pretty large recipe book collection couldn’t find anything inspiring (sounds like an excuse to buy some more books), that was until I went back to Gourmet food for a fiver. Using Bourride of pollock as the base of my recipe I manage to seize victory from the jaws of defeat.

There was no tweaking dessert – not having a sweet tooth, and usually being fairly well oiled at that point of a meal, I tend to go for something pretty simple and having not done a huge amount of baking in my life, stuck to the recipe. Again, Gourmet food for a fiver came to my rescue and I made the chocolate brownie. Maybe brownies are meant to be really chocolately  – I think I can safely say that I have never eaten one before. Boy, I felt like I had overdosed on the stuff, and can see how people get hooked on it.

To go with the Gravadlax  I made pickled cucumber, mustard and dill sauce and Bentley’s soda bread – the black treacle in Richard Corrigan’s soda bread makes a huge difference to the flavour however I halved the amount of salt – 10g is far too much.

Gravadlax

We served it with a 2009 Belondrade Y Lurton from Valladolid in Spain. We had a private tour and tasting at the vineyard a couple of years ago, which is where the picture at the top of my blog came from – it’s made from the labels of their wines. This wine can be drunk straight away or aged for up to 10 years, which gives a completely different experience. It’s 100% verdejo and has lovely honeyed qualities.

On to the Bourride. It’s basically fish in a sauce that looks very similar to a bouillabaisse. It is thickened with an aioli which my garlic was a bit past its prime for, so I substituted wild garlic which is beginning to come out in the garden. Made with our own eggs it gave a great density, not to mention colour to the finished sauce.

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We served it with a 2010  Wine & Soul guru from the Douro valley in Portugal. It is a blend of Viosinho, Códega, Rabigato and Gouveio, and has a smooth and ripe lemony nose.

Finally on to the death by chocolate. It was topped with a vanilla salt and it is true what they say – salt really does bring out the taste of the chocolate. As Greg Wallace would say, it was like a great big gooey, chocolatey snog! I served it with a Wattleseed ice cream – i’d like to say i’d made it however I ran out of time so mixed a pinch of coarsely ground wattleseed into a couple of scoops of Green and Black vanilla. It has a very distinctive chocolate, hazelnut, coffee taste, a pleasant texture and comes from the seeds of a type of acacia tree found in Australia.

Chocolate Brownie

We served it with a 2005 Crociani Vin Santo di Montepulciano. As i’d used a 67% dark chocolate it was quite bitter sweet therefore didn’t need an overly sweet dessert wine.

Bourride of Plaice and Clams

Serves 2

12 clams

2 skinned plaice fillets

1 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot

1/4 red pepper

1 tbsp chopped celery

1 pinch of saffron strands

1/2 birds eye chilli

finely grated zest of 1/4 orange

250ml chicken stock

3 tbsp aioli (see below)

sea salt and pepper

2 slices of toasted baguette

1 tsp finely chopped chives

coriander leaves

Samphire fried in butter to serve

  1. Clean the clams under cold running water. Rinse the plaice fillets and pat dry. If you have both fillets from one side cut in half lengthways. Starting from the tail end, roll up the fillets and secure with a cocktail still. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat. Add the shallots, red pepper and celery and fry gently for 5 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add the saffron, chilli and orange and cook for a further 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the plaice fillets, put a lid on and cook for 4 minutes. Add the clams and cook for 2 minutes, or until open.
  4. Take off of the heat and carefully remove the fish and clams and keep warm. Discard any clams that don’t open.
  5. Blitz the broth in a blender until smooth and slowly add the aioli. When the mixture thickens pour back into the saucepan and add the chives. Warm gently and whisk with a balloon whisk or hand blender.
  6. Arrange the plaice and clams in a warm bowl on top of the samphire then pour the broth over and around. Place the toasted baguette, spread with some aioli on the side and sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Wild garlic & saffron Aioli

Makes about 200ml

pinch of saffron

handful of wild garlic, chopped

2 medium egg yolks

150ml olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Put the saffron and egg yolks into a bowl and whisk. 
  2. Slowly add the olive oil until fully incorporated. Season well and stir in the wild garlic

Chocolate brownie with vanilla salt and wattleseed ice cream (Jason Atherton from Gourmet food for a fiver)

Serves 4

CHOCOLATE BROWNIE

210g butter, plus extra to grease the tin

320g good quality dark chocolate (I used 67% Madagascan)

100g plain flour

80g cocoa powder

4 large eggs

260g caster sugar

VANILLA SALT

2 tbsp sea salt

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm square baking tin and line with baking parchment. Grease the parchment with butter.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together into a small bowl.
  3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and thick, about 7-10 minutes. Carefully fold in the flour and cocoa mixture.
  4. Pour in a quarter of the melted chocolate mixture and fold together. Repeat until all of the chocolate is incorporated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.
  6. For the vanilla salt, put the salt into a small bowl. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the bowl. Mix with the salt.
  7. When cool, lift the brownie from the tin, and cut into slices using a serrated knife dipped in hot water.