Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

Foie gras mousse on toasted poilane bread
I dream a lot. Awake or asleep but especially when I'm asleep. I have had some seriously bizarre dreams which cause me to wonder if there is some deep, dark, twisted individual hidden underneath. Oh well, maybe not so hidden really. Sometimes I have epic dreams that seem to go on and on. Even after I wake up and fall back asleep the dream continues. And then there are some which are plain obvious. Last night I dreamt that Sabs and I went to the Frangipani Lazy Sunday lunch and I was too full to eat! I felt so full and bloated, what a nightmare! And they served us a whole roast chicken each. Needless to say, when I woke up this morning, I headed straight to the gym to make sure I worked up an appetite. Its the final Lazy Sunday lunch for the year and it was a Christmas-themed one. Mmmm my favourite! There isn't anything fancy, just really good, simple and gorgeous food.

For the amuse bouche we had foie gras mousse on poilane bread. Followed by a deliciously moreish jerusalem artichoke soup with noisette poached scallops and sage butter. Our starter consisted of sauteed girolle mushrooms with a wobbly, perfectly poached egg. The beauty is in the simplicity of the dish. I loved the chewy texture of the aromatic girolles against the soft, liquidy egg. It just really hit the spot! The mains consisted of roast chicken, prime rib and roast lamb shoulder. On the sides were all my favourite Christmassy things like pea and "ham" in cream, sauteed brussel sprouts, roast potatoes, parsnips and butternut squash and pan-fried stuffing (from the chicken). The roast chicken was just perfect. And the stuffing! My god, I could eat buckets of it. It was a chestnut, morel mushroom and foie gras stuffing. Y-U-M! The prime rib was deeevine! So flavourful and juicy. And the black truffle gravy that went along with it just brought tears to my eyes. It was almost sticky and with that unmistakable hint of truffle perfume. The roast lamb was pretty good too but the prime rib won hands down.

We were bursting at the seams by the end of the meal. Still we managed to fit in dessert. After all, how can one eat at Frangipani without eating their sickeningly decadent and brilliant desserts. I helped myself to the yule log which was like a lovely Victoria sponge cake in a roll. And I also had the egg nog ice cream with egg liquer. Heavenly! The fruit cake was way too alcoholic for me! It was like a shot of alcohol with texture. Whoah! I only wished that more of our friends could've joined us. Nothing like sharing a fantastic meal with friends. Oh well, their loss! Sigh. This is what Sundays should be like. Lazy and scrumptious!

Prime rib with black truffle gravy, roast potatoes, pasnips and brussel sprouts
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Monday Flues

The strangest thing happened between 10pm Sunday and 6pm Monday. I had the full blown flu-like symptoms and then it was gone! Poof! Just like that. I guess it must've been allergies or something. Anyway, while stewing in self-pity I tried to figure out what to cook for dinner to make myself feel better. I didn't want to make porridge because my porridge is terrible! Its either rice floating in water or starchy paste you can use to put up wallpaper with. Soup? No, I wanted something heartier so I decided on a beef and barley stew. I know, there are at least 3 people I know who will run away screaming at the sound of barley followed by stew. Somehow that sounded very lovely and healthy in my head. And what could be easier right? I love chucking everything in a dish and just leaving it on the stove. I couldn't find any brisket so I bought shin instead. Dang, I needed to sharpen my knives! The damn thing was so muscular and tough! I thought to myself, "Shit, not going to be able to eat this thing for at least four hours!" Two and a half hours later, voila! It was tender and bouncy like a baby's bottom. Patting myself on the back here but it really was quite good and just what I needed. The barley was a nice change to the usual spuds. Plus, it made me feel all nice and healthy eating it! Two days later, it tasted even better. Stew and curries are the same, they definitely taste better the following day.

If you want to be brave and try the recipe, here it is. Portioned for 2-3 people.

300g beef shin, biggish cubes
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into sizeable chunks
1/2 cup barley, rinsed
1 cup button mushroom, halved
1 can stout
1 onion, halved and quartered
3 cloves garlic
sprig thyme & 1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a casserole dish and stir-fry onions and garlic on medium heat until fragrant. Add beef and make sure its not sticking to the bottom of the dish. Pour in stout, herbs and 150ml water. Cover and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer for 1 hour.

Then add in carrots followed by barley 15 minutes later. I like my barley with some texture left. The barley will soak up most of the liquids leaving you a lovely rich stout gravy. Mmmm! About 10-15 minutes before the dish is done, throw in the mushrooms. Season liberally. I found this stew needed quite a bit of salt. And depending on your brand of stout, there may be a slight bittersweet after taste of stout left. I think next time I might add some tinned tomatoes to it to balance the bittersweet taste. Anyway, happy cooking!