Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Third time lucky

Errk, is it really Tuesday already? Sorry about the paucity and brevity of updates recently; things'll improve once my dissertation's out of the way. (Incidentally, if either of my parents is reading this, my dissertation is going amazingly well. I rise at six every morning to start work on it, pausing only to escort elderly ladies across the road and help golden haired children in distress.)

Anyway, as Mike alluded to in one of his recent comments, we hacked a chicken into its constituent parts at the weekend (it was about as dignified as that makes it sound; my knife skills could charitably be described as "improving"), so expect to see various bits of its anatomy cropping up over the next couple of weeks. One of its breasts went towards:

22. Chicken Tortilla Soup with Avocado (Soupy Food)

A quick, light, tomato-y soup with finely sliced chicken, topped with avocado slices, red onion rings, tortilla chips and all the coriander I could salvage from my rapidly dying plant (I have a theory that they put something in the soil to ensure that potted herbs give up the ghost within two hours of leaving the supermarket. Even my horticultural instincts can't be that bad).

This was nice in an ordinary sort of way. I should probably elaborate on that if only to pad things out a bit, but I made this on Sunday which is sufficiently long ago that my ageing brain cells can't dredge up much more - it was pleasant but not all that memorable. (Clearly.)

23. Kheema with Peas (Easy Food)

Fittingly for something from the 'Easy Food' chapter, this is a very straightforward sort of recipe - you just fry onion, ginger, garlic and spices, brown some mince (the recipe calls for lean lamb or beef; I went for beef as I couldn't find lean lamb), add stock and tomato puree, and simmer for a bit. Simple! Except it turned out I didn't actually have any fresh ginger, so I ended up rinsing off a globe of preserved ginger and using that instead. (Ingenious, no? It's all that Brownie training at a formitive age.) Towards the end of the cooking time you stir in a handful of frozen peas and some garam masala - you're also supposed to scatter with coriander leaves to serve, but having dealt a mortal blow to my plant the day before I made do without.

Again, I thought this was just OK - nice enough but not really special. Mike seemed to like it though, and guzzled his down at impressive speed even for him. Ohh, and the portions were pretty good, even though I commited the Mike-Crime of halving the recipe.

Things really started looking up today though:

24. Smoked Trout Choucroute (Fast Food)

This had been on my 'to make' list for a couple of weeks (indeed it's been bouncing around for long enough to earn its own politically incorrect nickname in our flat: "Kraut trout"), but I had trouble getting hold of smoked trout fillets. Farmers' market to the rescue! Turns out there's a stall which more or less only sells smoked trout; I wonder what business is like.

But anyway! According to Jeffrey Steingarten, whoever he may be, all traditional choucroute recipes include black peppercorns, cloves, garlic, juniper berries, onions and potatoes, which would make the Lighten Up version cheerfully non-traditional as it only ticks three out of six boxes. Here the onion and sauerkraut mixture is flavoured with juniper berries (tick!), cumin and caraway, with some Riesling in there for good measure. Once this has been simmering away for fifteen minutes you add thickly sliced cooked potatoes and season, then lay the trout fillets on top of everything and cook for long enough to heat the fish through. Jill suggests mustard on the side (I'm beginning to suspect that she may be inordinately fond of mustard; it pops up a surprising amount).

Lecker! Don't let the name fool you; choucroute is staunchly Alsatian, i.e. essentially Germanic. But then the sauerkraut might have tipped you off to that. I know the thought of German food doesn't fill most people with glee, but just trust me, this recipe is lovely. And if getting your hands on smoked trout looks to be a problem you could always go down the more conventional route of sausages instead. Even plain old bacon would be delicious - just think of Bratkartoffeln with Sauerkraut and you'll get the idea. (Admittedly one of the commenters on that photo says the combination's an acquired taste, but shhh, ignore her!)

Mike on the soup: "I think tortillas should be left to finger food and dipping and not really put in soup, they were a bit awkward to eat with a spoon. The soup was, as far I remember, just tomato."

Mike on the kheema: "Mmmm comfort food, although not the most attractive of things, it was good and warming and a nice twist on mince and peas."

(Mike's opinion on the smoked trout will have to remain shrouded in mystery, as he hasn't chosen to share it with us.)

1 comment:

Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

Am very impressed that you are blogging AND doing a dissertation. Sometimes just blogging and existing at the same time is a bit much for me. The soup certainly looks pretty - just like the picture in the book! Will have to look out for a smoked trout stall of my own, that choucroute looks lecker indeed.