I need to clean out my freezer and refrigerator of bits and pieces.
I had some speck, some baby green peas, some onions, mushrooms, and a handful of cherry tomatoes on the cusp of blooming some mould.
Speck is smokey bacon and sold as a block rather than rashers. I had an open packet after I’d used some speck a few weeks ago for some other dish.
I also have some frozen baby green peas in the freezer because frozen peas are so versatile. When I make mushy peas, I use sour cream, and I had a little left after having it with avocado during the week.
Because I ate a sweet lunch on Friday rather than my usual caramelised onion and mushrooms on Italian bread I had some brown mushrooms getting a little dry in a paper bag in the refrigerator.
Baby green peas
Claire’s whiskey Seville marmalade
Speck and caramelised onions
Cut the speck into thick slices. When I write thick, I’m thinking, at least 1 cm thick. You want to be able to bite into the smoked bacon and experience the smokiness as your teeth cut through and the fatty meat juices burst from the moist, tender flesh over your tongue.
Quarter a brown onion with a sharp knife. I use a Chinese-style meat cleaver which I like to hone with a cook’s steel each time I use it. I love the sound of iron on iron.
Put the speck, onions and some cloves into a saucepan and pour over enough chicken stock to cover the meat.
Bring the chicken stock to a simmering boil and cook for about 40 minutes.
The idea is to get the speck soft and floppy.
After 40 minutes, take the saucepan off the hob and allow it to rest off the heat.
With a mandolin, slice a couple of white onions and remove the stalks from the mushrooms.
Begin to caramelise the onions in some olive oil over low, slow heat. Add in the mushroom caps and stalks and put a lid on the frying pan.
When the onions and mushrooms soften and begin to take some colour, add in a little balsamic vinegar and continue to cook slowly. For some extra kick add a dessert spoon of Claire’s whiskey Seville marmalade. Watch the onions and mushrooms because you want them caramelised and not burnt.
Towards the end, add in some golden syrup for a little extra sweetness. Adding the golden syrup is an optional step.
When the onions and mushrooms are ready, take the frying pan off the heat and transfer the caramelised onion and mushrooms to a bowl.
Remove the pieces of speck from the saucepan. Dry the surfaces of the meat and fat with a towel.
In the frying pan used for the onions and mushrooms, fry off the speck along with the cherry tomatoes. Fry the meat until it takes on some colour and a little crispiness.
Put the frozen baby green peas into a silicon mixing jug with a little water and cook using microwave radiation. Cook the peas until they just become soft.
Drain out the excess water and add in a nudge of butter and a dessert spoon of sour cream.
Blend with a stick blender.
The sour cream keeps the peas bright and green.
Serve the food
Put everything on a dinner plate.
Shoot a photograph.
Sit down and eat with a knife and fork.
What have I done this week?
I’ve been out twice. I know, right? What a gadabout. I like the description of gadabout in the British Engish Thesaurus (see below).
On Monday evening I went out with some pathologists (specialist microbiologists, as a colony) to XO in Narabundah and we enjoyed the Christmas menu.
On Wednesday evening, I went out with some work friends to Tipsy Bull in Braddon and enjoyed a collection of vegetarian tasting plates.
What have I watched this week?
I watched the food show Ugly Delicious produced and starring US-based celebrity chef, David Chang. David is of Korean heritage, and this is important to know when watching the program.
David spent the series highlighting the differences between the sophisticated Italian and French cuisines against the messy and ugly south-east Asian and Indian cuisines. The premise being there is inherent racism because Asian food is quick and looks sloppy, and the service is often curt. In contrast, Italian and French food is refined and sophisticated with the food elements and plating being elegant, and the service is polite and courteous.
I could see his perspective, but I don’t see it as racism. Eating at a fine dining restaurant with attractive looking food and courteous service is enjoyable with the right company. Likewise going for cheap eats in an Asian restaurant with cheap tables and chairs, newspaper for table covering, and disposable chopsticks can be just as enjoyable with the same company.
Have a good week. Let me know what you think in the comments section.
Rinse the lentils in cold water and then put the lentils into the saucepan.
Then add the water (three times the volume of lentils, e.g. 900 mL of water to 300 grams of lentils).
Bring the water and lentils to the boil.
Remove the scum floating on the water with a spoon. I have no idea what difference this does, but apparently, French cooks do this. Not that I care about what French cooks do or think.
Slice the carrot with a sharp knife or a mandolin and be careful not to slice your fingers open.
Half the onion with a sharp knife and again be careful. Blood in the lentils may add a little saltiness but is not usually required.
Insert a clove into the top of the dome of half of the onion.
Add the carrot, onion with the clove in situ, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme.
Add the speck,
Mix everything so that the water covers everything.
Do not salt early, salt after 20 minutes because the lentils will not cook properly (or so they say).
Cook for 30 minutes with the lid on with low heat.
After 30 minutes, remove the aromatic vegetables but not the carrot.
Remove the speck and pan fry it for the finished dish.
Take some of the hot fluid and mix with the dijon mustard to dilute the dijon mustard.
Then pour the creamy thin dijon mustard back into the saucepan and gently mix everything.
Serve the lentils in a bowl.
Add a nudge of butter. What is a nudge of butter? I have no idea.
Add the speck to the bowl.
Garnish with something green to make it pretty because all TV and YouTube cooks will tell you, “we eat with our eyes”. Now, what a stupid thing to say. I mean, sure you can pour small quantities of a liquid over your eyes to permit the collection of nutrients in your conjunctivæ. The nutrients will travel via capillary action down through the nasolacrimal ducts into your nasal passages where if you swallow hard, you can ‘consume’ the liquid. This approach is hardly an efficient way to eat a bowl of lentils.
Add some wholegrain mustard for a contrasting taste and mouthfeel.