Thursday, 19 May 2016

Pudding. Sumptuous orange and chocolate dessert.

Southwesterly 4 or 5, increasing 6 or 7 at times.

Slight or moderate.

Occasional rain, fog patches at first.

Moderate or good, occasionally very poor at first.




If you like “Messino “biscuits aka “Jaffa cakes, this is for you.
If you like oranges, this is for you.
If you like chocolate, this is for you.
And if it is your Birthday today, this is for you too.
But this is mainly for a wonderful person.
Another single gourmet by the sea.
Just on a different continent, by a different sea.

Rich and sumptuous orange-chocolate pud
For once, serves two. So I eat mine and I eat yours.
BTW, the idea for that recipe came from a little free booklet I picked up in France. You know, when you go on holiday and the local tourist office has a leaflet or booklet with recipes from the area? That recipe is from one of them. From the Cognac region. 

Of course it has Cognac (French Brandy) in it. But I bet it also tastes nice with Grand Marnier.
I did not like the original recipe which had mousse au chocolate on it. I found that the mousse was too light for the orange jelly. So I created a chocolate topping more like the chocolate pud known as Petit Pot au Chocolate. It`s a heavy dessert and a little goes a long way. But because it is heavy, it is important that the orange jelly is very firm and completely set. This can be achieved if you use tad more gelatine than usual and prepare the first setting in advance. I cant give the amount of gelatine. It depends if you use leaf or powder, just look at the back of the package and go for the amount to set 200ml of liquid. And then add a bit more of gelatine. Just a smidgen. And don’t forget to buy an extra orange just in case. First of all you never know how much juice they yield and second the juice is sometimes boring. And you want garnish.
If you really want to recreate a full “jaffa cake”, add at the bottom of your glass a soft biscuit, like Savoiardi biscuits (sponge finger or Lady finger biscuits), the one you would use for making Tiramisu 

180ml of freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2-3 oranges)
2 tablespoons of French Brandy or Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon of sugar
enough gelatine to set 200ml and a bit more
50gr dark (70%) chocolate
30gr unsalted butter
1 egg, separated in yolk and white
Prepare the gelatine according to package. If you use a leaf, soften it first in a bit of water.
Heat the cognac and the sugar, just so the sugar melts. Let cool for a bit, then add to the orange juice. If you use a leaf put it in a cup (without the soaking water!) and set the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the liquid gelatine to the orange juice/cognac mixture, fill into two glasses and let it set in the fridge for several hours (you can even do it the night before). Once it has set, you can break it up a bit to get a compote like consistency.
Add the chocolate and butter to a cup and let it melt twice for 30 seconds in the microwave, stir in between the two heating sessions.
Whisk the egg white to the stiff peak stage (this is a bit difficult with one egg white, but give your best. A sprinkle of salt might help). Add the yolk to the now coldish, but still liquid chocolate, stir and then gently fold the egg white in.
Top the orange jelly with the chocolate cream and chill for another hour or so. Remove from the fridge once you serve your main course and let it warm a bit (the chocolate will be quite hard if you take it out from the fridge). Decorate and serve.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A year later. The Hastings Fish Pie

Variable 4, becoming east or northeast 4 or 5, increasing 6 at times.

Mainly smooth, becoming slight or moderate.



It`s a year now since I moved here. And a year of food blogging.  A year in which I went from full Vegetarian to part time Vegetarian. A year in which I learned about fish, thanks to the Boys Ashore.
So I decided to celebrate this occasion by creating a Hastings dish. Of course it must have something to do with fish. Local fish. Fish you can buy at the Rock-A-Nore.
But if they don’t have the ones I have chosen, feel free to substitute. Just ask your fishmonger which fish would be suitable and has the smallest carbon footprint. Ask him to give you one which is not endangered. And if you are really scared to debone a fish yourself, be very nice and ask him to do that for you. Just make sure you take the bones and head with you.
But why not try to do it yourself? Here is a very good video how it is properly done. And if you make the first time a mess, who cares? It goes into a fish pie.

Why a fish pie? It is a rather humble fish dish..a bit like Hastings. There is something old fashioned about it. Deeply comforting. Forgiving. Easy to do. Not pretentious. Has seen better days but still holds its head up.
But it is not as cheap and cheerful as the countless Fish & Chips shops you find in Hastings. And quite a few are pretty bad!

There are several rules:
1. No salmon. I don’t think salmon works very well in any fish pie. It is ...boring. There is more to fish than salmon.
2. Don`t cook the fish in advance.
3. Use scalloped potatoes as a topping. This was a bit tricky, after all a good fish pie can be eaten with a spoon; and while the obligatory mash on top will fulfil that credo, scalloped potatoes have a bit more bite. But I think a fish pie can be a bit more adult. Not everything needs to be nursery food.
4. Don`t add peas to it. Yes, I know. Mrs Beeton`s fish pie has peas in it, but I prefer mushy peas. Another nod to Hastings` fish “culture”. However be warned. There is a reason I don’t show the fish pie on a plate on top of mushy peas. It`s a bit messy looking. But delicious.
5. If you don’t have anchovies, add a bit more parmesan.
6. English mustard keeps it regional, but if you don’t have it, use Dijon or any other strong mustard.
7. If you cant be bothered doing your own fish stock, a good quality fish stock cube is acceptable.
8. Dont skip the white wine.
9. Experiment. Why not add scallops to it, after all Rye is not far away. 
10. Enjoy.

Hastings Fish Pie

100g boneless Whiting fillet, skinned and cut into small chunks
100g boneless Huss fillet, skinned and cut into small chunks

150 ml fish stock (just boil the heads and bones of the fish in 250ml of water, add half a bay leaf, a bit of parsley, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and simmer away until it is 150ml)
50ml white wine
15g butter
15g flour
100ml double cream
1/2 tsp English mustard
1 splash of Worcestershire sauce
1 anchovy, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tsp chopped parsley

15g salted butter
200g white potatoes, peeled, and sliced into thin rounds
Freshly ground white pepper
10g grated Parmesan

Either do your own mushy peas or by a tin.

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan over a low heat, then stir in the flour. Gradually add the drained stock and wine, stirring well until it has all been added. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the double cream and the anchovy and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the sauce has a thick-coating consistency. Stir in the mustard and the Worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and freshly ground white pepper if necessary. Leave to cool for about 15 minutes. Add the parsley.
Gently fold the raw fish into the sauce, and spoon into an oven proof dish, to about 3cm from the top of the dish. Leave to set for about 30 minutes.
(This can be all done it advance. Just store it in the fridge, but take it out when you preheat the oven).
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling, salted water for 4-5 minutes.  If the potatoes are too hard they will be waxy and the butter will run off them.
Drain well and leave to cool a little.
Top the fish mixture with the sliced potatoes, overlapping them slightly (here is a good picture what I mean with overlapping, mine were a bit square-ish).
Brush the potatoes with melted butter; add a bit of white pepper and bake for 30 minutes, then scatter on the cheese, and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden.

If you have, unlike me, a very steady hand, take the whole pie out of the dish and place it over a good portion of warm mushy peas. Otherwise eat it side by side, one fork pie, one fork mushy peas.

Of course it is allowed to drink the white wine you used for the sauce. After all the bottle is now open, isn’t it?

And celebrate the sea. And the fact that Hastings still has a working harbour.