Monday, December 1, 2008

A trio of Unphotographed Delights

Bless me Father for I have sinned-I have been a bad blogger and have made three recipes without writing a letter about them- or taking any photographs. So, in an attempt to draw a line under this series of regretable events (and to avoid a long bunch of Hail Marys, Father) I have decided to write these three shadowy events up together.

First, late October seemed the perfect time to try out a pot roast, nothing like a big lump in the stomach and a thickening waistline to keep off the autumnal chill. With this idea in mind the "Red Wine Pot Roast" was attempted, with visions of french countryfolk preparing gallic soul food Or something. Anyway, a very American 3 lb chuck roast was first roasted on a bed of carrots and onions 30 minutes, turned and roasted for another hour and a half. Wine and broth were then added, and the dutch oven covered with aluminium foil, hanging down in the center to baste the roast with condensation. This was roasted at lower temperature for another hour and a half, before turning the meat and continuing for another hour ( this is one of those in-the-house-all-day recipes where you stir the pot with a spoon every hour and a half). The meat was then removed and the braising liquid strained and simmered with scum and fat scooped off. One third of this liquid was then poured over the roast which was then returned to a the oven. The roast was then basted with the rest of the braising liquid, and then regularly from the liquid in its own pot. About 30 minutes later a shiny glazed pot roast was ready to eat. A palava but the end result was very nice indeed.

Secondly, an excellent "no knead" bread recipe courtesy of the New York Times (and North-Tacoma) led to trying out Mr. Peterson's basic white bread recipe. Not the first time I have made an ordinary loaf, but it seemed like the place to begin in the bread chapter, being the first recipe and all. To begin, ingredients were mixed in Mr. T's stand mixer- which certainly beats hand kneading in my book. This was followed by giving the dough a very long, slow first rise overnight in the refrigerator, followed (after punching down) by a second rise over several hours at room temperature. Finally, the dough was shaped and baked. The final bread was pretty good, but it was a bit lacking in salt- I have been having difficulties chaning ordinary salt volumes into kosher salt equivalents- looks like times 2.5 may be about right. Learning how to tuck the dough into the "Pullman" shape for the loaf tin was really useful. Sadly, however, comparison with the "no knead" New York Times recipe did Mr. Peterson's loaf no favours at all. Unlikely now to use anything but the NYT recipe. But, hey, now we know!

Lastly, after a delicious meal at the local French Bistrot (reason for the extra "T" is unclear), the usually mild mannered Mr. T. started demanding that we replicate the excellent cauliflower soup that he had had there. To this end, Mr. Peterson was consulted, three leeks, a head of cauliflower, a large quantity of milk and a small pot of heavy cream were acquired, along with one lonely looking Yukon Gold potato. Leeks and potatoes were finely chopped and simmered in the milk before being joined by the cauliflower, broken into tiny flowers. These were cooked until soft. Up to this point all went well but the next stage of pureeing followed by straining was a right Royal pain in the ass. Pureeing worked satisfactorally in small batches in the food processor but straining, using a wooden spoon and a seive, was very very very tiresome. However, the end result had a very nice texture although the flavour was rather coarse and cabbagy. The addition of salt, pepper and importantly a 3/4 cup of cream, really tempered and refined the coarse flavour, resulting in an excellent soup. This will definitely be revisited, at which point I might actually take a picture of it!