Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham?

Can we just have a second to bask in the glory of the title of this post? I thought of it while shopping for the ingredients and almost grabbed an unsuspecting shopper to inform them of it, such was my joy. ....done with the basking? Good. On with the recipe.

I have posted before about the absolute heaven on earth that is Moose Coffee in Liverpool. They serve American/Canadian breakfast orientated cuisine, and if it's one thing those guys know, it's eggs. One of their meals is the 'Liberty Moose'; scrambled eggs mixed with pesto served with cured ham. I sampled some of Gav's on my last visit and was hit by a taste sensation. The pesto gives the eggs a vibrant boost you don't usually get from this sort of breakfast, and the ham provided a solid porky base. I just had to recreate it at home. 

Initially, I set out to buy some pesto but when I got there I remembered that we had some pine-nuts in and plenty of olive oil, there's always room for a bit of fresh basil and Parmesan in our house so why didn't I just go the whole hog and make my own. And so I did. HOW BLOGGY AM I. I also decided to try a new sort of ham while Lidl offer such a range. I went for some Mortadella as I'd read about it in my 'Cook Italy' book.

Here's the recipe. Stop thinking about it and just bloody well DO IT.


For the Pesto (makes a cute little jarful, as pictured):
1 handful pine nuts
1 clove garlic, chopped
3 good handfuls ripped up basil leaves
1 handful grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Scrambled Eggs (serves 1):
3 eggs
Big old knob of butter
1tbsp crème fraîche
Salt and pepper
You'll also need a plastic spatuala thingy

Bread (for toasting)

First lets sort out that pesky pesto.

1) Lightly toast the pine nuts.

2) Whizz up the garlic and basil in a food processor. Add the pine nuts, whizzy woo again.

3) Add the Parmesan a bit at a time, stirring and adding enough olive oil to make it into a saucy pesto consistency.

4) Now it's just a case of tasting and adjusting as you see fit. Season. Add more cheese if needed. Bit more olive oil if the textures not quite right etc. The leftovers that you don't use will keep for a week in the fridge.

Now for the eggs.

I started using Gordon Ramsey's method for scrambling eggs about a year ago (after reading about them on lovely Shu Han's blog) and have never looked back; they produce a barely set, creamy, curdy egg so if this isn't how you like 'em just follow your own (substandard) method.  ;)

1) Put your hob on it's highest heat and crack the eggs into a cold saucepan. Add half of the butter. Don't mix them together yet. Don't season.

2) Put the pan on the heat. Wait a few seconds and let your worry about your poor cheapo pan build into the adrenaline required for all the stirring. Then get your spatula and stir and combine and make sure the eggs don't stick. Add the rest of the butter.

4) You don't want the eggs to get too hot and overcook so every 30 seconds or so take the pan off the heat, stir stir stir, put it back on the heat, stir stir stir, take it off the heat, etc. Do this for about 4-5 minutes and just when you're wondering why you ever listened to a blog chef named after a woodland creature, they'll suddenly come together into lovely scrambled eggs.

5) In the midst of all that you'll need to run over and put your toast on. Or you'll forget so do it now, quick!

6) Take the eggs off the heat and add the crème fraîche to stop them from cooking any further, and to make them sexy as owt. Nowwww you can season.

7) Add the pesto! Try 1 generous tbsp at first. Add a bit more if you want.

8) Serve with the toast, ham and a sprinkling of pine nuts.

9) Ask your mum, who is eying your plate with suspicion, if she wants a bit. Wrestle the fork back off her when she can't stop eating this bona fide taste sensation.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Rustique French Restaurant, York

My sister and I visited Rustique during our weekend away in York in February. This was prompted by an earlier conversation when we'd talked about our favourite cuisines. Both of us realised we'd never been to a French restaurant or eaten any authentically French cuisine. This would come as a surprise to those that know me and my love of butter, cream, sauces, rich food, red meat, cheese and the like!

Making a reservation a few days before wasn't as easy as I'd anticipated. Friday night? Nothing. Saturday afternoon? Nada. Saturday evening? Zilch. Oh dear. We ended up with a table for two at 12 o clock on the Sunday we were leaving. It wasn't ideal but I had a feeling it would be worth it. I was right!

The decor was warm and welcoming with lots of French artwork and lovely stained glass windows, one of which we were seated by. Complimentary bread and olives were offered, which I always think is a nice touch, and food came out very promptly.

I'd already decided that I would be having the snails, having never had them before. Our server, who was French and may have been the owner, was very helpful; showing me how to use the 'tools' and talking to us about each dish. I really enjoyed the snails and could have eaten a lot more of them. The actual taste is quite delicate, not earthy like I expected, it's more the texture that people enjoy about them. They're almost mushroomy in how they feel in the mouth, and the garlic and parsley butter they are served in is divine, particularly with the bread on offer. I would definitely have them again.

Jo has the Coquilles Saint-Jacques, another classic french dish that neither of us had tried before. It was traditionally served and beautifully cooked; with satisfying cheesy mash atop the hidden gems of juicy scallops in a light white wine and leek sauce. It wasn't a particularly creamy dish as I'd thought, and it all came together very well without being too rich.

When choosing our mains, Jo couldn't decide between the Venison and the Lamb before eventually ordering the latter. However, due to some error in the kitchen she was given the Venison. She didn't mind at all and was actually really pleased when she tucked in and it turned out to be one of the best meals she'd ever had. The steak was melt in the mouth perfect and complimented by a rich meaty gravy. Our server did walk past a little later, noticed the mistake and was very apologetic. He made sure she was okay with eating venison, which for some reason some people aren't, and told us that he would be reducing our bill. He really didn't have to do this as Jodie was really happy with her meal, but it was a nice gesture nonetheless.

I had the Confit de Canard with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans. The duck fell off the bone after being slow roasted to within an each of its life and the fruity redcurrant jus was a nice balance to the fatty dark meat. The dauphinoise wasn't the overly creamy, probably completely bastardised version of the side dish that I'm used to, and which I probably prefer, but it was authentic and tasty.

I can't remember the total of our bill including drinks, and with the £7 knocked off for the mistake, but we felt it was exceedingly reasonable for the standard of food and service, and left a big tip. I think the French just completely get it right with food. Top quality meat cooked perfectly, indulgent side dishes and sauces, fresh vegetables, and lots of bread and butter to mop it all up with. If that's what you want from a meal then this is the restaurant for you. It's also only a couple of minutes walk from the excellent York Castle museum. We will definitely be returning (but booking well in advance) when we take our Mum to York next month.