Who? What? Where? When? How…?

2008.Nov.25 Tuesday · 2 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“First things first, but not necessarily in that order.”

– Doctor Who

Buenos Aires – There was much speculation, much buzz, much questioning… just exactly what were we going to do at Casa SaltShaker to celebrate 45 years since the pilot of Doctor Who aired – celebrating the longest running science fiction show on television – a show that every sci-fi technogeek nerd has watched untold episodes of – except me. It was very odd. I got all excited about the idea as a theme – it’s one of those wacky ones that basically make no constraints on what I do in the kitchen, they’re more of an excuse to simply play around with pots and pans (okay, a faint hint of English thrown in to this one, but very faint) – and then I realized, here I consider myself a sci-fi type of guy – it’s what I read for enjoyment most of the time (I’ve had a running subscription to Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine since its inception in 1977 – it’s one of only two magazines that I’ve kept my subscriptions to after moving to BA!), my preference in films and television, this particular one started up when I was five years old and has therefore been running consecutively with me most of my life, and… umm… err… I’ve never seen the show. I didn’t even know what it was about. Really. I think I’ve caught a few minutes of various episodes here and there, but no more than that. Crap. Now I have 45 years worth of episodes to start downloading and watching… not that I did that prior to this last weekend, but they’re now on my download list.

So, enough about all that – on to the food, right?

Poached lamb’s tongue with spring vegetables
Lamb’s Tongue. Yes indeed, the tongue of the lamb. Hey, you didn’t object when I made veal tongue for the Romanian dinner… did you? It sounded Englishish…. Poached Lamb’s Tongue. Besides, my meat supplier called me up and said, “You know those lamb’s tongues you wanted when all I could give you were veal tongues? I found some, I have five kilos of them, they’re yours if you want them.” I took three kilos. I cooked them exactly the same way – the veal ones came out so well – and so did these. This time, however, I served them warm atop a medley, or perhaps a ragout, of spring vegetables – asparagus, fava beans, peas – all blanched and then sauteed in olive oil with a couple of handfuls of fresh mint and basil leaves.

For the soup, I decided on a chowder. I’m not sure why. It’s really more of a cold weather soup, and it’s steamy hot here right now. But, I made a chowder, and to give it that slight britishism, it’s a curried chowder. The broth – in a pot, I simmered together: 1 pear, 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, 4 sprigs of thyme, a teaspoon of curry powder and one of turmeric. When nice and flavorful I pureed it in the blender and then strained it. Meanwhile, I sauteed together: diced bacon, potatoes, carrots and celery, and finely chopped shallots, flavored with fresh thyme and bay leaves. When the vegetables were starting to soften, I poured a cup or so of white wine over the mixture and cooked it until the liquid was mostly absorbed or evaporated. Then I poured the broth over it all, brought it up to a simmer, cooked it until the vegetables were done. I added about a pound each of chopped mussels and clams, cooked for just a minute or two, and then finished the soup with about a cup of heavy cream. Really good, but really, much too heavy for this time of year.

Next, I was thinking about the English dish cauliflower cheese – yeah, it’s about as appetizing most of the time as those boil-in-the-bag cauliflower and cheese sauce things I grew up with. Maybe less so. So I turned it inside-out. Remember those baked, puffed, golden agnolotti from our recent northern Basque dinner – I filled the agnolotti with cheese – mostly cheddar, with a little mozzarella and parmesan for balance – and then made a cauliflower cream to serve it with – a head of cauliflower cut up in florets, a large white onion, some coriander and sweet paprika, and cover the whole thing with milk, simmered until the cauliflower was soft, then pureed the whole thing – it becomes a medium-thick sauce. Season with salt and white pepper, ladle on the plate, place a couple of baked agnolotti atop, a few scattered chives…

Reimagined Chicken Kiev
As long as I was turning things inside out, why not do the same for that classic London hotel dish, the Chicken Kiev – a retro food if ever there was one. Okay, the original is something to behold – a chicken breast, breaded and fried, that when you cut into it releases spurts of melted butter because it’s been stuffed with butter, garlic and parsley until it can’t hold any more… usually served with some mashed potatoes and overcooked green beans. At least that’s the way I remember it. So, pound the chicken breasts thin, dip them in flour seasoned with salt, garlic and parsley, then into beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs seasoned with the same. Sauteed quickly to brown them and finished in the oven. Underneath, a green and white bean puree – soak and then cook those big white butter beans, here called pallares (unless you can find them fresh) – when they’re almost done add fresh green beans and a handful or two of celery leaves. Cook until done, puree, season with salt and pepper. The sauce, simmer the cloves from two heads of garlic in two cups of chicken stock, finish with a few knobs of butter (if you want it thick, you could mix a little flour in too, but I didn’t want it to be that heavy), and lots of chopped fresh parsley. Scattered across the top, finely sliced green beans sauteed quickly with chopped celery leaves.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
The one real nod to British cooking, and some things are best left as is – a Sticky Toffee Pudding. Not my recipe(s). The cake part, from chef Gale Gand, and the sauce part from the Food Network’s archives. Why the split? A couple of different comments on both sites, and other sites, that liked Gale’s cake in particular, but weren’t as thrilled with her toffee sauce, and vice versa for the other – someone even made a comment that they were going to try exactly what I did – and it worked out really well.

Now, I’m off to watch eight zillion episodes of Doctor Who….. well, not really, I’m off to research a couple of articles coming up….

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

David D. November 26, 2008 at 01:22

What a great meal! I will be requesting all my Chicken Kiev’s inside out from now on…

dan November 26, 2008 at 08:17

Let me know how that goes… 😉

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