Monday, January 6, 2014

Pardon my French

This post is about the last two dishes I cooked before returning to Cambridge.  After this I'll be back to cooking without an oven, making do with my single hob and microwave.

The recipes are from the cookbook called 'The Little Paris Kitchen' by Rachel Khoo.  I fell in love with her cooking when I watched her cookery series on the BBC, especially as she was also trying to cook in a very small kitchen (albeit with a mini oven).  It shows how much I love what she does, that when it came to naming my blog I decided to name it after her book.  Although these recipes weren't cooked in my little Cambridge kitchen, I have brought her recipe book back to college with me and hope to try out some more of her recipes this term.

The first of the two dishes is called 'Boulette de viande avec une sauce piquante et des pâtes d'Alsace' or meatballs in spicy sauce with Alsatian pasta to those of you who don't speak French.  I cooked this for my family and it came out really well.  The meatballs were tasty (made from a mixture of mince and sausage meat) and the sauce (red wine, herbs, veg and tomato paste) was also yummy.  I couldn't get hold of 'Alsatian egg pasta' so instead I just used the pasta we had in the cupboard.  My only comment would be that contrary to the title the sauce is not actually that spicy.  There are plenty of herbs along with some cornichons (mini-gherkins) in the sauce but I'd be more inclined to describe it as tangy rather than spicy.  Nevertheless it was tasty!  I'm glad I tried this at home as although it would be possible in my kitchen in Cambridge it took quite a while to prepare as the sauce, meatballs and pasta all needed to be cooked separately, something that would be tricky in my one-hob kitchen in Cambridge.

So here's a picture of the finished dish, I apologise a little for the presentation, I was in a bit of a hurry as the meatballs were getting cold!

Home-made meatballs and pasta with a red wine sauce
The second recipe I attempted was 'Hachis Parmentier tricolore' or three-coloured 'shepherd's pie'.  This looks stunning in her photo as there are three different kinds of mash on top and she has piped them in beautiful lines.  I made normal mash, sweet potato mash (instead of using pumpkin) and tried to parsley mash as she suggests.  Unfortunately, whether it's because I didn't use enough parsley, or because I didn't blend it properly, the mas did not go the lovely green colour it is in her picture, instead it stayed potato-coloured with flecks of green.  She also suggests using leftover roast or stewed meat but as I didn't have any I just cooked some mince.  If you are ever substituting different types of meat in recipes to look at whether the recipe is giving you the raw or cooked weight and adjust accordingly as meat will lose water/juices when it cooks.  Thus, for 300g cooked meat I substituted 450g raw mince.  If you want to make a shepherd's pie more interesting but don't have time to make more than one kind of mash substitute your normal potatoes for sweet potatoes or simply add some nutmeg to your potatoes while mashing them to give them a bit more flavour.  Don't add too much though as you really don't need a lot of nutmeg to be able to taste it.

Well, you're about to see why I called this post 'Pardon my French'.  The pie may have tasted delicious but my piping is nowhere near up to Rachel's standards meaning it doesn't look amazingly appetising.  You'll just have to take my word for it that it tasted good and was perfect for a hungry family on a cold winter's evening!

Multi-coloured shepherd's pie
As I said earlier, I'm now back in Cambridge trying to write a couple of essays before term starts, however I'm still finding time to cook, so look out for my next post all about nachos.

À bientôt!

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