Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Duck, Ginger and Orange Soup

Oh the joys of moving house - boxes everywhere, days spent packing and unpacking, trying to squeeze everything you own into the smallest space possible and then realising you accidentally packed the cat at the bottom of the box...

Yes I'm moving house, and one task that I have had to do is to empty the freezer in order that it can have it's once a decade defrosting before the move it.  It has turned up all sorts of fun things, like random bags of unidentified frozen herbs, Tupperware full of goodness-knows-what and the remains of a duck.

It was this bird that prompted today's soup.  The rest of the duck was eaten as part of Mrs Soup's birthday celebration - regular readers will remember I roasted it upside down - but as we never knowingly waste food, the rest of it was frozen for later.

Now, as I'm very un-organised, I forgot to defrost the duck in enough time, so to speed up the process, I hacked the frozen carcass into chunks.  When I had thawed them and put them in the pan, I noticed that the knife I had used to cut it up with had broken, and a tiny but pointy shard of steel had come off and was, presumably, in the soup somewhere, just waiting to shred someones insides like a Jagged Metal Krusty-O (Simpsons reference).  I was pretty sure that, having sieved the stock and shredded the meat with my fingers, the knife fragment hadn't had it to the bowls I served, but it still made for an interesting dining experience...

Anyway, on with the soup...

1 Duck
1 Orange
60ml Sherry
6 Large Cabbage leaves
Large Piece Fresh Finger
2 Star Anise
1tbsp Dried Mushrooms
1 Large Carrot
1 Large Onion
10 Pepper Corns
2 Bay Leaves

1.  Roast your duck.  I found that Hugh FW had all the answers when it came to doing this, so I'll leave you in his capable hands (But remember not to roast it upside down)

2.  Let the roast cool down then strip off the meat and save for later.

3.  Place the carcass, and the drippings form the roasting tray in a large pot, with a roughly chopped carrot, onion, the pepper corns and bay leaves, then add 2 litres of water.  Bring the pan to a boil and then simmer for 3 hours.

4.  Let the pan cool and then strain the liquid, removing all the bits of duck carcass and the vegetables.  At this point, you should try to skim off as much of the fat from the top of the stock, or even leave it in the fridge overnight, so the fat sets and can be removed easily (Don't throw it away as duck fat is amazing and can be used to make roast potatoes even more tasty...)

5. Heat up the stock, and add the sherry, dried mushrooms, star anise and the juice and zest of the orange.  Simmer the soup for 45 minutes.

6. Shred the duck meat - how much you want to put in is up to you.  A good sized duck should have enough meat for the soup and something else as well - and the cabbage leaves and stir them in about 5 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Pheasant Bombe and Marmalade Duck. A Week of Meals 005/6

It's been a while since I did one of these 'what I've been eating' posts.  For this delay you have my unreserved apologies, but between preparing to move house, assorted birthdays and trips to darkest Hull, things have been getting on top of me a bit.  Indeed, all I have to remind me of what I've been eating are a load of pictures from my digital camera, which I just spent half an hour trying to figure out what dishes they were actually of.

Anyway, in the spirit of CSI : Soup Kitchen, I think I managed to figure it out, so here we go

Pheasant Bombe

This is an Italian recipe from a book of 'celebration dishes' and it was meant to be pigeon, but we couldn't get hold of any of that particular bird on a trip to the butchers, so we decided to substitute pheasant instead.  It was baked in a sort of risotto, in a dish, and kind of resembles a steak and kidney pudding, but with a game surprise inside.  It got us thinking about what other fillings we could include in further bombes - rabbit seems like a good choice.

Asian Mushroom Risotto

Risotto using rice is my enemy, as I may have mentioned before.  However, using pearl barley it is a dream, easy to cook, tasty and with a really nice texture (also, none of the swearing that accompanies me trying to get the rice cooked perfectly)  I spent quite a bit on various exotic mushrooms, including straw, enoki, shitake, oyster and king oyster but it was worth it as they had such a rich, almost meaty flavour.  It's almost (But not quite) enough to make a boy turn vegetarian...

Fennel and Leek Gratin with Roasted Squash and Sage

This was a veg box meal, as I have started calling them, using up lots of vegetables.  I often think that vegetable dishes feel like side dishes in search of a steak and this was no exception, apart from combining two of them with some couscous made for a perfectly satisfactory meal

Duck with Marmalade

It was Mrs Soup's birthday and as is the time-honoured tradition in our house,  she got to pick what dish she would eat on her special day.  She is a big fan of duck, which was combined with some home made marmalade and then just roasted.  Which would all be fine, I was regularly basting to make sure the meat didn't dry out and it was looking amazing, smelling even better, when I realised that I WAS COOKING THE DUCK UPSIDE DOWN!!! How did I even do that?  I have no idea, but I spent two hours making sure the bird was perfect, only to has wasted my time as the breasts hadn't been basted at all...

All was not lost however, as it was perfectly tasty, but the swearing I had avoided whilst cooking the risotto returned with a vengeance after realising my mistake with the duck...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Lohikeitto - Finnish Salmon and Potato Soup

 Today's recipe is another one suggested by someone who sent me a postcard via Postcrossing.  I'm beginning to think this was the best soup related idea I ever had, as it saves me the hassle of trying to think of a new recipe every week - instead I just let someone else do all the hard work, and all I have to do is come up with a recipe, cook it and then eat it!

Some friends of mine spent a week in Finland on holiday, and when they returned they did so with tales of culinary horror. "The food's alright" they said, "But they put bloody dill on everything"  To me this sounds like heaven, as I love the taste of dill, especially with fish, which is another reason why this recipe appealed to me.  It's just so simple and can be whipped up in next to no time.  I guess if you were on a diet you could substitute some low fat milk for the cream and maybe thicken the soup with a little cornflour instead, or just mash the potatoes to break them up, which thickens the soup up a treat.

1 Leek
300g Potatoes
400g Salmon Fillet
1l Water
150ml Single Cream
1 Bay Leaf
Fresh Dill
1 Lemon
1.  Thinly slice the leek, removing the dark green bits, and cook in some olive oil until soft

2.  Add the water and bay leaf then bring to the boil.  Add the cubed potatoes, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and starting to break up slightly

3.  Add the skinned, de-boned salmon, cut into cubes and cook for a further 5 minutes.

4.  Stir in the single cream and some freshly cut dill and heat through but don't allow the soup to boil.  Taste and adjust seasoning and then serve, ganished with some more dill and a slice of lemon.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Creme Du Barry : French Cauliflower Soup

A cauliflower recipe, my kingdom for a cauliflower recipe!  A few weeks ago I had a surfeit of cauliflower, doe to getting them two weeks in a row in our veg box delivery and not quite getting round to eating them with anything.  I asked around on twitter and got quite a few suggestions for what to do with the vegetable, as all I could think to do was either cauliflower cheese or a curry, neither of which took my fancy at the time.

One of the recipes that I made was a Cauliflower cake, which was savoury and much nicer than it sounds - indeed, I mainly only made it as a challenge and due to the fact that I seem to be drawn to odd recipes.

Another suggestion, made by Jac on twitter (@clickerjac if you want to follow her) was Creme Du Barry which, contrary to my first guess, is NOT a soup made by or from a guy called Barry but instead a cream of cauliflower soup.  Anyway, Jac sent me a recipe, which I have to admit to slightly altering, just because it's cold and miserable and I felt like jazzing things up a bit to make it a bit more rich and comforting, and here it is...

You could always add some meat to the mix if you wanted - I'm thinking some crispy bacon or cubes of black pudding liberally sprinkled on top would be great too (In fact, what am I thinking, I have no idea why I didn't try that myself.  I must be slipping...)

500g Cauliflower
1 Large Onion
1 Potato
2 Leeks
3 Cloves Garlic
20g Butter
1l Chicken Stock
200ml White Wine
150ml Single Cream

1.  Heat the butter in your soup pan, then gently sweat the finely chopped leeks and onion for 5 minutes

2.  Add the cubed potato and garlic then cook over a moderate heat for a further 5 minutes.

3.  Add the wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.

4.  Add the stock and cauliflower florets, but put a few aside for later.  Bring the soup to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked through and soft.

5.  Take the soup off the heat, leave to cool and then blend until smooth, then return to the pan.

6.  In a frying pan, heat some more butter and then gently fry the remaining cauliflower florets until they are golden.

7.  Heat the soup up, then add the cream and season to taste.  Serve and garnish with the fried cauliflower florets.  Enjoy

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Haggis, Kidneys and Kievs. A Week of Meals 004

Week four of 2013 - A Stomach Odyssey brought us foods from around the world, exciting new ingredients and a rare food-fail.  How, what and why?  Keep reading as the answers lay within...

Friday - Haggis, Tatties and Neeps

Friday was Burns Night.  Not being Scottish in any way, shape or form, I nonetheless wanted to get in on the action, as I am a big fan of sheeps lungs boiled in their intestines, oh yes!  To go with the haggis, I made its traditional accompaniment, Tatties and Neeps.  There was some discussion on twitter about whether the Neeps in question should be Turnips or Swede.  I war reliably informed by someone what is an actual Scotsman that true Tatties and Neeps should contain swede, so with that rutabaga based question resolved, I whipped up a batch and t'was delicious

Saturday - Mole Poblano de Pollo (Chicken in Chili and Chocolate Sauce)

This was my recipe picked from a cookbook called 'A Mexican Celebration', full of festive foods from Mexico.  Predictably, I picked it because it sounded weird and wonderful, but I was worried that the chocolate that I got (80% cocoa solids) would still be too sweet when put into the sauce.  I shouldn't have worried because it turned out a great recipe - a little like a Mexican Korma.  If you are interested in making it, there's a recipe here that is very similar to the one I followed

Sunday - Chicken Kiev

Mrs Soup had a go at making the old 70's dinner party classic from a cookbook that I got way back when I was a student.  It was a first for me as I've only ever had those nasty ones that are made of mechanically reclaimed chicken.  Having them made fresh was a bit of a revelation, and I was impressed that the garlic butter staying in its meaty pocket during the frying process...

Monday - Kidneys in Sherry

A recipe from my Offal Cookbook "The Fifth Quarter".  Apart from Steak and Kidney Pie, I've never cooked kidney before.  Even after soaking in water and lemon juice to cleanse them, the kidney had an odour that could only be described as 'urine' or, as Mrs Soup put it "Like an old people's home" - an evil old people's home run by bad people , I should add.  There was at least one plate that wasn't cleared at the end of the meal, which is a rare occurrence, and I suspect that it will be a while before I try kidney on it's own again...

Tuesday - Thai Noodle Soup with Fish Balls

See the blogpost here

Wednesday - Chicken and Celeriac Stew with Harissa

This was a random, thrown together stew, using some veg from the veg box and the harissa paste that we recieved as part of a foodie pen pals box a while ago.  No dumplings with this stew, you may notice, and the Harissa was unexpectedly spicy, which almost overpowered the dish.