It’s been a long time since our resident chef made a guest appearance on the blog. It was not that we did not have culinary experiments during that time, it is simply that we did not bother to take pictures and write up recipes.
Correcting that oversight, here is rather modestly named chicken with shrimp (it sounds more sophisticated in French: Poulet aux Crevettes). Trust me, there is nothing bland about this dish.
- 3 pound chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 12-14 large shrimp or live crayfish, with heads if possible
- 1 small onion, halved and sliced
- 2 tbsp flour
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 1 ¼- 1 ½ cup chicken broth
- 3 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- bouquet garni (bunch of herbs such as bay leaf, thyme sprigs, parsley stalks)
- 6 tbsp heavy cream
- salt, pepper
- fresh parsley, to garnish
Here is what it looks like in the pan when ready:
- Wash the chicken pieces, then pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole and cook the shrimp or crayfish over high heat until they turn a bright color. Remove the shrimp or crayfish, cool slightly and then peel away the heads and shells and reserve. Chill the peeled tails.
- Add the chicken to the casserole, skin side down, and cook over medium until golden brown, turning to color evenly and cooking in batches if necessary. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour off all but 1 tbsp of the fat.
- In the same casserole, cook the onion over medium-high heat until golden, stirring frequently, then add the wine and brandy and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
- Add the broth, shrimp or crayfish heads and shells, tomatoes, garlic and bouquet garni with the chicken pieces and any juices. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the casserole and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is tender and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the meat is pierced with a knife.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the casserole and strain the cooking liquid, pressing down on the shells and vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Skim off the fat from the cooking liquid and return liquid to the pan. Add the cream and boil until it is reduced by one-third and slightly thickened.
- Return the chicken pieces to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Just before serving, add the shrimp or crayfish tails and heat through. Arrange on warmed plates, pour over some of the sauce and garnish with fresh parsley.
Here is what it looks like served on a plate:
Have pieces of bread prepared to wipe off the sauce from your plate! You will not be able to resist!
Following on one of the notes from yesterday, we are expecting friends over tonight. Natasha is in her element in the kitchen, and here is a dessert she made:
Pear and Almond Cream Tart (serves 6).
- 3 firm pears
- lemon juice
- 3/4 pound shortcrust or sweet shortcrust pastry
- 1 tbsp peach brandy or water
- 4 tbsp peach jam, strained
- 3/4 cup blanched whole almonds
- 1/4 cup superfine sugar
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1 egg, plus 1 egg white
- few drops almond extract
- Roll out pastry thinly and use to line a 9 inch pie pan. Chill the pastry case while you make the filling. Put the almonds and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until finely ground; they should not be pasty. Add the butter and process until creamy, then add the egg, egg white and almond extract and mix well.
- Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 375F. Peel the pears, halve them, remove the cores and rub with lemon juice. Put the pear halves cut side down on a board and slice thinly crosswise, keeping the slices together.
- Pour the almond cream filling into the pastry shell. Slide a spatula under one pear half and press the top with your fingers to fan out the slices. Transfer to the tart, placing the fruit on the filling like spokes of a wheel. If you like, remove a few slices from each half before arranging and use to fill any gaps in the center.
- Place the tart on the hot baking sheet and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the filling is set and well browned. Cool on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, heat the brandy or water and the jam in a small saucepan, then brush over the top of the hot tart to glaze. Serve the tart at room temperature.
The tart should be equally successful made with other kinds of fruit, such as nectarines, peaches, apricots or apples.
As a bonus for those who don’t necessarily look forward to dessert in a meal, here is something else we’ll be eating:
Ed. Note: A new entry from our resident chef de cuisine.
I always thought that making one of my favorite Italian desserts is complicated and requires nothing short of a culinary degree. Guess what? It is not! Try it for yourself!
- 500gr fresh mascarpone cheese
- 5 fresh, top quality eggs (separated)
- Pavesini biscuits (or Savoiardi = “lady fingers”)
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- cocoa powder
- dark chocolate
- bitter coffee (I added a bit of sugar since it does taste a bit different with a sweet coffee)
- In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until creamy quite white, then whip in the mascarpone and mix gently.
- In a second mixing bowl, beat egg whites (with a little bit of salt) and whip until stiff (fluffy as snow).
- Gently fold mixed mascarpone cream with egg whites only enough to blend.
- Put a thin layer of egg/mascarpone cream at the bottom of a serving dish.
- Put a layer of Pavesini (quickly dipped in a bowl with coffee, one at a time) on it.
- Then spoon a layer of egg/mascarpone cream across the layer of Pavesini. (Use about 1/2 of the remaining mascarpone mix).
- Dust on the top with cacao powder and grated chocolate.
- Put another layer of Pavesini and put the remaining mascarpone mix on it and again dust on top with cacao and grated chocolate.
- Refrigerate for at least 5 hours before serving…
My lovely wife not only feeds me well, but she is also apparently eager to take over this blog with her culinary creations. I cannot say that I am unhappy about that – aside from the fact that I get to consume the results of her new forays, my sputtering blogging enterprise needed a bailout of sorts. I thought about creating a separate section on Burlaki.com specifically for Natasha’s recipes. Maybe, instead, I should let the household government simply take over…
Anyway, without further ado, a great recent hors-d’oeuvre: chorizo empanadillas.
- 250g / 9 oz ready-made puff pastry
- plain flour for dusting
- 125g / 4½ oz cured chorizo sausage, outer casting removed, diced
- beaten egg, to glaze
- paprika to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Sprinkle two baking sheets with water.
- Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface. Using a round 8 cm cutter (I used a large glass) cut out 12 rounds. Put about a teaspoon of the diced chorizo onto one half of each pastry round.
- Dampen the edge of each pastry round with a little water, then fold the plain half over the chorizo to cover. Seal the edges together with your fingers. Using a fork, press against the edges to give a decorative finish (if you want them to look fancy) and seal them further. With the tip of a sharp knife, make a small slit in the side of each pastry. You can store the pastries, covered, in the refrigerator at this stage until you are ready to bake.
- Transfer the pastries to the prepared baking sheets and brush each with a little beaten egg to glaze. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and well risen. Dust lightly the top of each empanadilla with paprika to garnish. Serve the empanadillas hot or warm.
At my second attempt, instead of chorizo, I used a different sausage mixed with leftover mash potatoes and mushrooms fried with onions. They disappeared at the same speed as the original ones.
Over the last decade or so, I have become very much a soup aficionado. Not that I did not eat soups before – even beyond borsch, various soups and broths are an essential component of East European cuisine. But it is only in fairly recent years that I started finding myself unable to refrain from ordering a soup when everyone else orders an appetizer, from having a soup-and-sandwich lunch more often than not, and then from having a bowl of soup at dinner at home as well.
The rest of the family shares my affinity, Becky especially (Kimmy is considerably more picky in what she eats, but she is known to wolf down a couple of bowls of her favorite bouillon or some such in a single seating).
Natasha is always happy to oblige, often experimenting with the recipes to create something different from what we tried before. The other day, she produced this fantastic Hungarian mushroom soup. I only got one portion – the growing organisms a.k.a. children consumed the rest.
Makes 6 portions
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 teaspoons dried or fresh finely chopped dill
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2-3 cups chicken broth (if you like it thick, use the smaller number)
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup sour cream (depends on you liking)
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onions in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 more minutes. Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce and broth. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Finally, stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.
You can add sour cream individually to the plate just before you serve, and garnish soup with either dill or chives.
This is a very rich dish, so if you want to reduce your calories, use low-fat milk and low-fat sour cream!
Kitchen experiments by Natasha and Becky continue in earnest. Here is the latest entry: Pork with Mixed Green Beans.
2tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
2 shallots, chopped
225g/8oz pork fillet, thinly sliced
2.5cm/1” piece of root ginger, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
300ml/10oz chicken stock
4 tbsp chili sauce
4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
115g/4oz fine French beans
115g/4oz frozen broad beans
115g/4oz runner beans, sliced
- Heat the oil in a preheated wok or large frying pan over a high heat.
- Add the shallots, pork, ginger and garlic and stir-fry for 3-4 minute until the pork is lightly browned all over.
- Add the stock, chili sauce and peanut butter and cook, stirring, until the peanut butter has melted. Add all the beans, stir well and simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until tender and pork is cooked through.
- Add Chinese noodles to the mix for 2 minutes before turning the wok off. Serve immediately.
Note: You can use other kinds of beans if you cannot find exactly the ones mentioned in the recipe. You can also use crispy noodles instead of Chinese, if you prefer, in which case you do not need to add them to the mix before serving.
Over the holidays, we had plenty of opportunities to expand on the series started with this post. Unfortunately, my efficiency in getting to the table ready to eat continuously interfered with any thought of making a food-related post.
Last night, as Natasha was making one of her favorites, she decided that I have been remiss in giving her a regular guest spot on this blog for too long. So, here we go, from our kitchen: Almond Macaroons.
1⅓ cup of blanched almonds, toasted
⅞ cup of superfine sugar
2 egg whites
½ tbs almond or vanilla extract
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting – optional
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper. Reserve 12 almonds for decorating. In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process the rest of the almonds and sugar until finely ground.
- With the machine running, slowly pour in enough of the egg whites to form a soft dough. Add almond or vanilla extract and pulse to mix.
- With moistened hands, shape the mixture into walnut-size balls and arrange on the baking sheet.
- Press one of the reserved almonds onto each ball, flattening them slightly, and dust lightly with confectioner’s sugar. (I did not do this last time and the cookies still came out great)
- Bake the macaroons for about 10-12 minutes until the tops are golden and feel slightly firm. Transfer to a wire rack. Cool slightly, then peel the cookies off the paper and leave to cool completely.
To toast the almonds: Spread them on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until golden. Cool before grinding.
By the way, by popular demand, the recipe for the original dish in the series, Chilies stuffed with fish paste, has been added to that post.
Natasha and Becky decided that they need to try making entirely new dishes at least once each week. Because of Becky’s affinity for spicy Oriental stuff, what waited for me as I came home from work today was this delicious plate of Chilies stuffed with fish paste.
Here is the recipe:
225g/ 8 oz white fish, minced
4-6 fresh mild red and green chilies
1/2 tbsp black beans (from can), rinsed and lightly mashed
1 lightly beaten egg
vegetable or groundnut oil, for frying
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
1 tbsp light soy sauce
pinch of sugar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
pinch of salt
pinch of white pepper
1/2 tsp vegetable or groundnut oil
Mix all the ingredients for the marinade together in a bowl. Add the fish and toss to coat the the marinade. Cover and leave to marinade in a cool place while you prepare the chilies and beans.
Cut the chilies in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and white veins. Cut into bite-size pieces.
Add the egg to the mixture and mix to a smooth paste. Spread each piece of chili with about 1/2 teaspoon of the fish paste. Heat the oil in a preheated wok or deep saucepan over a high heat. Add the chili pieces and cook on both sides until beginning to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towel.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil from the wok and heat over a high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry for a minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the beans and mix well (we did this part removing the wok form the heat since it was too hot and garlic had started to burn). Stir in the soy sauce and sugar, then add the chili pieces. Add the water, cover and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Well… we re-heated 2 hours later … still good!
We had more than needed fish paste (not enough chilies), so we just made small balls and fried it with the rest.
Do you know the most common form of greeting an acquaintance in England? It’s Are you alright?
That's England, Who's Hungry?