Posts Tagged ‘aperitif’

Fig leaf wine apéritif

1 September 2018

Some people will consider this the first weekend of autumn, but, succomb as I may to those plums and first apples, I am holding on firmly to summer for a few more weeks until the equinox.

I prepared this fig leaf apéritif about a week ago, and as it only takes three to five days to infuse, now is still the right time to make a bottle for those last late summer evenings. There won’t be much of a thematic clash, September is fig season after all.

This recipe is particularly exciting for those of us who live in the North, as it just uses fig leaves. So for all optimistic boreal gardeners and green city dwellers (most neighborhoods have a garden with a fig tree stretching its branches above the fence within reach of the sidewalk…), who monitor those fig trees with anxiety and trepidation, monitoring the evolution of each fruit, this is the solution. Even if the figs never ripen there is a path straight to Provence with this apéritif.

The recipe comes from Thom Eagle via Diana Henry about two years ago. It bears repeating every year.

Fig leaf wine

10 fig leaves
One bottle (75 cl) dry white wine
160 g sugar
One giant glug of vodka

Crumple the fig leaves and place them in a clean jar with the white wine, sugar, and vodka. Stir or shake well, and leave to infuse for 3 to 5 days.

Strain out the leaves and pour into a bottle with a tight lid.

Serve over ice.

Simple things | Radishes with butter and salt

24 April 2015

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Pleasures of spring. The weather entices away from kitchen and stoves. Eating becomes simpler. Food speaks for itself, cooking takes a sidestep.

This could be breakfast; an afternoon snack; apéro bites; the start of dinner. With a slice of good bread.

It’s just a reminder.

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Cookbooks | Moro The Cookbook (Roasted almonds with Spanish paprika

14 October 2011

I think I own more than a hundred cookbooks, and yet often, when I look for inspiration, I am tempted to reach for the same one (or four): the River Café Cookbooks. I know them, I trust them. Over the years, with their reliable support, I have become confident in their flavor profiles.

I don’t know all my cookbooks so well. I often use them as a reference, comparing similar recipes for a dish — braised rabbit? — from which to distill a personal take. In many I have found a few recipes I like. Some I’ve made once, some I’ve repeated many times, some I plan to make one day. But I don’t feel I know these cookbooks intimately.

I want to get better acquainted.

So I am delving into my library. And Moro The Cookbook is where October led me. Moro is a restaurant in London opened by two former River Café chefs, Sam and Sam Clark. The cooking is familiar in its simplicity, but while the River Café is Italian in inspiration, the Clarks look to Spain, and the Southern Mediterranean, and therefore use herbs and spices very differently. I was already enamored with Moro’s lentil soup and have often served hard-boiled quail eggs dipped in cumin and salt, but that was about it.

So I have plunged. In the past few weeks I have made many dishes from this cookbook, and here are some of the things I’ve discovered.

Roasted almonds with Spanish paprika (method below) is an excellent complement to marinated olives for an apéritif.

It’s okay to cook loin of pork in milk with bay and cinnamon rather than, more traditionally, sage and lemon. It’s heady, subtle, surprising. It doesn’t taste like cinnamon. It tastes pretty great.

“Beets with yogurt” sounds deceptively innocuous for something quite as good as this. The beets are simply boiled then drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. The yogurt is mixed with garlic. That’s it — but it’s incredible.

Given a great piece of pork belly you can make rillettes yourself, and flavor them with herbs and spices that are not French but completely addictive.

And the best mashed potatoes are cooked in milk.

The book’s 200-odd recipes are punctuated by personal anecdotes as well as history, and interspersed with information about Spanish ingredients such as pimentón (Spanish paprika), piquillo peppers, mojama (cured air-dried tuna), and the many different types of sherry.

In their introduction, the authors say: “We hope, like us, you will be excited by these flavours and enticed by the romance and tradition inherent in each dish. We […] want to impart something of the ‘language of spice,’ how a teaspoon of ginger or five allspice berries can speak of different continents. ” The book achieves exactly that.

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Roasted almonds with Spanish paprika fromMoro The Cookbook

2 cups (250 g) whole blanched* almonds
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked sweet Spanish paprika
1 tsp sea salt

***

*To blanch the almonds, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Drop the almonds in the water and let sit for about 10 seconds, strain immediately and wash under cold water. The skins will have blistered and can easily be removed.

Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).

Place the blanched almonds on a roasting tray at the top of the oven and dry-roast for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they just start to turn golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a mortar, grind the sea salt to the consistency of powdered sugar.

Remove the almonds from the oven and sprinkle with the olive oil, paprika, and salt. Return to the oven for just a couple more minutes.

Let cool before serving.

*

Related posts

Lentil soup with cumin   **   Pork rillettes

Chicken liver terrine

8 October 2010

I love this recipe for many reasons: it’s absolutely delicious, quick to make, can (or rather should) be prepared in advance, and, well, it’s liver. I find all sorts of excuses to make it. Tomorrow it will be lunch in the country; it’s been good for parties or Easter brunch; but more simply it is the recipe upon which I fall back when we have friends for dinner and I am undecided about what to make. It helps unlock my imagination and inspires the rest of the meal. Most often I serve it with baguette as a tapas-style apéritif together with olives and nuts, radishes or cherry tomatoes – depending on the season.

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1 lb (450 g) chicken livers

3/4 cup (180 g) and 2 Tbsp (20 g) butter

1 small onion (or large shallot)

Olive oil

1 large sprig each sage and thyme

1 Tbsp Madeira wine (Marsala also works well)*

1 Tbsp brandy

Salt and pepper

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Trim fat from chicken livers and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt 3/4 cup butter over low heat. Once melted set aside.

Finely chop onion (or shallot). In a large skillet melt 2 Tbsp butter together with a little olive oil (the oil prevents the butter from burning). Add chopped onion, cook over medium heat, and as soon as it becomes translucent add whole sage and thyme and stir to mix flavors. Immediately increase heat to high and add chicken livers. After a couple of minutes the livers should be slightly brown, turn them over. Sprinkle Marsala and brandy over the livers and cook for a few minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

When the livers are cool enough to handle, remove sage and thyme, transfer to cutting board, and chop finely. Place livers in bowl, add scrapings from skillet as well as the melted butter and mix well. Transfer livers to a terrine dish (any bowl will do) and place in refrigerator for a few hours and up to two days. It gets better after a day or so.

*The absence of Madeira or Marsala absolutely should not keep you from making this recipe. Just replace with a little brandy. On the other hand, it creates an opportunity to buy the wines, which deserve to be kept in your bar or pantry and will come in handy, for example when making stewed pears (recipe to come later this year).

Marinated olives

17 September 2010

We usually serve olives as part of an aperitif, but between dinner invitations, they often end up forgotten at the back of the fridge. To avoid throwing olives away, and to ensure a ready supply for any unexpected visitor, I started keeping a large jar of marinated olives on hand on my kitchen counter. It’s practical, avoids waste, and the olives are very good.

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Olives, any mix of green, black, Picholine, Kalamata, Cerignola, Niçoise, etc – or just one kind

Coriander seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar

Black peppercorns

Garlic cloves

Bay leaves

Dried red chillies

Lemon wedges

Olive oil

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Mix the olives with the coriander, peppercorns, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, lemon wedges, and chillies. Put in a jar and cover generously with olive oil. **Anything that is not submerged will become moldy.** Place a lid on the jar but do not close it hermetically, as the olives need to breathe.


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