Last weekend, we decided to scurry off to the farmer's market, get some Nice Stuff, and try out some recipes with it. The Nice Stuff in question turned out to be free-range veal, and some rabbit (hind leg joints). Whichever worked best would be the contender for last night.
We tried the veal on the Saturday night, with a mozarella and procuttio topping, served with rice (actually, some rather nice left-over apple-and-lardon risotto from the night before) and mange-touts. Nice, but a bit chewy. I suspect this means I fried the veal for too long, rather than not enough.
We tried the rabbit on the Sunday night, using a Nige recipe (in preference to another one which asked for hours of marinating). Mustard and cream sauce on top, grilled a bit, then roasted in the oven. More mange-tout and (IIRC) potato salad to accompany. All went well until we tried cutting the rabbit, and discovered that we couldn't find anywhere that wasn't bone. We ended up having to pick them up like meat lollies, and rip them apart. Way too taut. Next time, we'll marinate and stew that sucker.
Anyhoo, that meant neither of our plans panned out, and we needed something else for last night. So we went for an almost-entirely Nigella selection, from Nigella Express.
We started with salmon on potato cakes, which I haven't done before. It called for rapidly cooking the cakes on a hot griddle, which we don't have. "Drop 15ml portions onto the griddle," she said. Alas, the mixture had the consistency of dough two minutes into the mixing, where it instantly sticks to anything that touches it. The adhesion to the spoon, hands, etc. was far stronger than the feeble force gravity could muster. I fiddled with the mixture, adding more milk until the balance of power shifted. It also took me most of the mixture to work out the process: dump a portion into the frying pan, where it sits like a ball, looking faintly annoyed and threatening. Fry for thirty seconds, which seals the bottom. Flip over, then squash the bugger flat, because now the sealed side isn't going to fight back. Repeat a few times, getting flatter each time.
Quite nice, in the end, and definitely with that "natural product; variances in shape and texture enhance its natural beauty" vibe...
For main course, we had scallops and chorizo, fried and topped with a sprinkling of parsley. This was going to be the starter, but it got bumped up to first place in a field promotion when the rabbit option bought the farm. Accompanying that was a potato and mushroom gratin, which katlinel will tell me isn't really a gratin, on account of me cubing the spuds rather than slicing. But it means they cook better, so ner. And for veg, there was - in a shocking not-from-Nigella-Express revelation - a carrot, edam, beansprout and pinapple salad, which was jolly nice. I'm not convinced it went with the rest of the main course, but never mind.
We followed that off with lemon curd ice cream, plus strawberries with sugar and balsamic vinegar. The ice cream inspiration was from the Duchy Originals recipe book, but since it's "make vanilla ice cream, mix in Duchy Originals lemon curd before setting", we just took the concept and stuck to k's mother's trusty vanilla ice cream recipe from an old Dairy cookbook. The strawbs were done a la Nige, sugaring them and leaving to stand for a while, then sprinkling on the balsamic and serving immediately. I confess I don't know how well they worked, since I don't have anything corrupting my ice cream experience...
Anyway, the evening was lovely, with lots of plonk, entertaining company and searingly wise discussion (though I'm not necessarily including in this the iainjcoleman and sugoll
slur talk politics section in the wee hours bit). Marvellous.