Monday, 8 October 2007

Full on food

It's been a busy week and so I need to catch up on some posting. First thing to note: I probably weigh 5 kilos heavier than last week after several days of serious eating.

One positive outcome of not getting the pub job was that I could put some serious effort into cooking for the in-laws who would be visiting at the weekend. I've had a number of things in mind to cook so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out some new techniques and use ingredients I've never handled before. I composed the following menu for Thursday:-

Morrocan Aubergine Charlottes
Open Oxtail Lasagna with Cauliflower Cheese Foam and Asparagus
Strawberry Vacherins

An Aubergine Charlotte makes for a visually stunning starter. They can be prepared ahead of time in moulds and quickly reheated before serving so perfect for dinner parties. I copied the presentation from a Gary Rhodes recipe but changed the filling to a mixture of aubergine and courgette, lightly spiced with smoked paprika, cumin and coriander to give a more Morrocan flavour. This is one of those dishes where impressive presentation can really add impact to what is a fairly simple plate to assemble, and the fragrance on cutting into the Charlotte is wonderfully aromatic.

I'm a huge fan of oxtail, both its rich meaty flavour and its sticky and stringy texture and preparing it allows me to indulge in my current favorite method of cooking - braising. The thing I love about braising is that you can prepare an amazingly flavoursome sauce at the same time as cooking the principle ingredient, all in the same pot. Oxtail is fantastic for this because when braised in red wine, the high amount of gelatin in oxtail renders down over the prolonged cooking period to leave a lovely, sticky sauce ready to serve as part of the final dish. The last time I served oxtail on the bone to Emilie, she wasn't that impressed so I came up with my own take on lasagna using home made egg pasta and a cauliflower cheese foam instead of bechamel. Result? Oxtail is now back on the menu chez Lien. Apologies for the blurry photo!

1 comment:

Steven said...

That looks seriously good Mr. Lien. I hope your In-laws were suitably impressed. The Cauli-cheese foam sounds great too, I must have a go at that! S.