Sunday, 7 December 2014

For starters: Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute

I once had a Jerusalem Artichoke veloute, around 5 years ago, at a restaurant off Goodge Street. Sadly, I can't remember the restaurant, let alone get a copy of their recipe, but the memory of this incredible soup stayed with me. Only recently have I actually tried to recreate it. Luckily, I practically stumbled upon the Jersalem artichokes by accident in the Parliament Hill farmer's market, and remembered that I had already made a deliciously rich poussin stock - perfect. 

Recipe (enough for 4-5 bowls)
20g butter
1 red onion
600g Jerusalem artichoke
400ml Really good stock
200ml milk
3 tablespoons of cream
Black pepper
Small squeeze of lemon

To garnish:
Olive oil infused with lemon peel and garlic
A pinch of paprika

Finely dice your onion. Peel and dice the Jerusalem artichoke leaving the pieces in lemony water so they don't turn brown

in a thick based sauce pan melt the butter and sweat the onions for 5 minutes. Add the Jerusalem artichoke and sweat for a further 5 minutes. Add two ladles of stock and boil over a low heat, covered for 10 minutes, check and add more stock and boil for a further 10 minutes or until soft and mushy

Blend with a hand held blender and then sieve until velvety and smooth, I discard the bits that don't go through the sieve after I have had a really good go at it and blended the most stubborn bits again. 

Return the purée to the saucepan with the rest of the stock, pepper, milk and cream. Season with salt,  to taste, and bring to the boil. Reduce the soup to the consistency you like, whisking all the time to get a frothy texture

Ladle into soup bowls, drizzle with the oil and pinch of paprika. Ta da!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Flo's Signature Crab Ravioli

Crab is one of those ingredients I find hard to resist on a menu or at the farmers market. I have tried many different recipes with it over the years, and this has to be one of the very best. If done correctly, the beautifully thin sheets of pasta will encase a fresh and zesty crab meat mixture that flakes perfectly, and does the ingredient justice. 

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to crab ravioli - either fresh and crab-rich, or mousse-like with mascarpone or ricotta. The first way sounds simpler and involves a shorter list of ingredients but it is counter-intuitively richer too. If you use the brown meat to bind it, it has a creaminess of its own and the flavour remains pure. Needless to say, that is the type of recipe I have gone for.  

Recipe: (makes 9 large ravioli - enough for three as a starter or two as a main)

For the pasta:
When it comes to making pasta, Felicity Cloake has consolidated many different methods in her 'how to make the perfect...' column. I have always used Georgio Locatelli's recipe that uses 3 large eggs, 2 large yolks and 500g 00 flour which is also cited by Ms. Cloake, but will leave you to choose your own. I also like to make my pasta dough in advance and freeze it so that when I feel like making ravioli or making a great sauce, the pasta is already done. You will need an additional egg yolk for brushing the ravioli once rolled

For the ravioli filling:
125g of white crabmeat
25g brown crabmeat (sieved)
zest of one third of a lemon
1 clove garlic
4 basil leaves, finely chopped
2 pinches salt
1 pinch pepper
Half a small red chilli, finely diced

For the sauce:
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Half a chilli, chopped
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 basil leaves, finely diced

Once you have made your pasta dough, make the filling and sauce before rolling it. 

For the filling, crushed and gently pan fry the garlic in olive oil until soft but not remotely coloured. Then prepare all the other ingredients and mix them all together thoroughly. 

For the sauce, mix a crushed clove of garlic and the other half of the chilli in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to infuse for half an hour or so. Sieve and add 4 leaves of basil, finely chopped.

Now, roll your pasta into thin sheets. Keep the pasta you are not using straight away under a damp cloth so that it doesn't begin to crack and don't roll too much at one time.

Cut large circles out of the dough, ideally using a cutter and then place 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of filling in the centre.

Now brush the edges around the filling and one side of another circle of pasta with whisked egg yolk. Now place the second circle on top of the filling and carefully press the two sheets of pasta together around the edges until you have a neat, firmly formed ravioli without any air pockets.

Repeat until you have used up the filling and freeze whatever pasta dough you have left for a later date.

Finally, put salted water on a gentle boil and cook the ravioli for a few minutes until they float and the pasta is al dente (you can tear a little of the rim off to check) 

Gently drain, place in a warm dish and drizzle with the sauce.

We served it with a lightly oaked Furmint that we brought back from Budapest