Monday 22nd May 2017

LIFE IN MÉDOC : MANAGER

I have just come across the most beautiful blog and the dream life all in one. Mimi Thorisson and her photographer husband Oddur Thorisson live in Medoc in France with their 6 children and 14 dogs! Mimi spends her days cooking the most incredible meals – every recipe is beautiful and very easy to repeat – and her photographer husband documents their life. Honestly I can not think of a better way of spending life. Follow her blog – it just encourages you to keep to keep dreaming…

Aside from the “dream” the photography is just incredible. The style has a renaissance feel to it and is so romantic. All the photographs below are from the blog by Mimi’s husband, Oddur Thorisson.

Máximo Bistrot Local

I – and some of my more intelligent boyfriends – have long known that the way to my heart is through my stomach. So when I found myself wandering down the Calle Tonalá in Mexico City’s trendy Colonia Roma neighbourhood and stumbling across Máximo Bistrot Local, it was love at first sight / bite! Everything about this little restaurant is perfect: cool yet cosy atmosphere, fun people and most importantly the most delicious food (and great selection of wines) I have had in quite a while. Which coming from a New York girl is saying quite a lot!

Fairly new to the Mexico City culinary scene, Máximo is already the talk of all the gastros in town. A daily changing menu offers up a selection of market fresh ingredients with a touch of Mexico thrown in. Think steamed trout with nut butter, a fanstatic Mexican version of beef carpaccio and many others more. I knew my love for Máximo was serious by the time I had fought off my dinner companion over the (supposedly shared) chocolate crème brûlée. Possibly the most divine dessert I have had the pleasure of eating in some time, and most certainly a very good thing that I do not live close by, for fear that it would transform into my breakfast, lunch and dinner as well.

Máximo, my favourite Mexican amor!

Stuffed Red Peppers

Today on Neon Cactus we have Anna Hedworth from Newcastle upon Tyne, in the beautiful North East of England. She cooks for herself, family and friends. The Grazer came into being in early 2011. Prior to that her food life was recorded in various notebooks scattered around the house… It now lives online as a place to document and share recipes, thoughts and experiences with friends and the wider world. Below find one of her recipes that she has shared with us:

Last Sunday I decided to make Turkish Stuffed Peppers full of herby spiced rice, pine nuts and raisins and some buttery couscous with toasted almonds. The peppers were pretty simple to make, but so full of flavour and not 70s dinner party at all…

This will make 6 stuffed peppers. Start with the filling by slowly frying a large chopped onion in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, until it is soft. Then add 250g of risotto rice, I used arborio, and stir until it is coated with oil and turning translucent. Add 450ml of water, some salt and pepper and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Stir this well and then simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed, but the rice is still slightly undercooked.
When it is ready stir in 3 tablespoons of pine nuts, 3 tablespoons of raisins, 1 large tomato chopped into pieces, a handful of chopped mint, a handful of chopped dill, a handful of chopped parsley, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, half a teaspoon of ground allspice, the juice of a lemon and 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. You can see where all the flavour comes from with this lot all hanging out together.
Now take 6 red peppers and cut a circle round the top to remove the lid and scoop out any seeds from inside. Fill the insides of the peppers with the rice mixture and pop the lids back on. Arrange them in a baking tray side by side, I had to slice a little bit off the bottom of some of the peppers to keep them steady. Pour about 1cm of water into the bottom of the tray and bake in the oven at 190°C for 50 minutes. Be careful when you take them out that the peppers don’t fall apart, be very gentle…
They are lovely warm, allow them to cool a little before serving, they are also good cold with a salad and some yoghurt. The warm spices and fresh herbs are delicious with little bursts of sweet raisins and creamy pine nuts all in a sweet roasted red pepper. I’ve just had a little one for lunch that was leftover – I’m glad I made too many.
[For more of Anna's recipes go The Grazer ]

Steak Tartare

Steak tartare is one of those things I regularly order in restaurants but had never thought to make myself until recently.  I did a little research to find out the various components and flavourings and played around with the proportions until I had a mix that suited my own palate.  Rather than just following recipes for things like steak tartare, I would suggest that you do it by taste.  I used a combination of garlic, very finely diced onions, very finely chopped capers, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, salt and pepper.  The Worcestershire sauce makes the meat brown which is not as aesthetically pleasing as the rich red of a well hung steak so you may consider leaving it in a little glass for people to add themselves but if your room is dimly lit, I don’t see that it is much of a problem. Alternatively you could stir a little paprika into the meat but be careful as it will change the overall taste.


Do cut the meat by hand rather than putting it through a mincer.  You want it to retain its integrity and be able to control the size of the dice.  I do like a little bite to my steak tartare and so I dice mine about the size of a baby’s fingernail but adjust this to your own tastes.

Once you have made your mix, it won’t keep for very long.  You should ideally be eating it within 5 or 10 minutes, but it will keep for up to an hour.

Ingredients

1 fillet steak per person

1 quail’s egg yolk per person

2 finely chopped cornichons

3-4 finely chopped capers

1 tsp finely chopped onion

1 finely chopped clove of garlic

Worcestershire sauce

Tabasco

Paprika

Method

1. Very finely chop the steak and stir in the cornichons, capers, onions and garlic.

2. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and seasoning to taste.

3. Add a little dash of paprika for colour and plate.

4. Sit the egg yolk on top.

Variations

You could use a hen’s egg yolk rather than a quail’s, add a little mustard, finely chopped anchovies.

[All photographs by Su-Li Chan]

For more of her recipes got to he website.

Seafood en Papillotte.

This dish is simplicity itself and looks and tastes of a lot more effort.  Many things are cooked en papillotte, seafood especially because it takes so well to steaming.  The term merely means “in parchment”.  As long as you choose ingredients that release juices, the whole package will steam in the oven, marrying their flavours together and retaining moisture.  I like to put a small, concealed square of tin foil in the middle on which to sit my ingredients, so that it doesn’t soak through the paper.

Over the course of the morning, I had braised some diced carrots with a little olive oil and white wine in the oven, very slowly, at a low temperature so that they retained as much of their goodness as possible.  I had par-cooked some diced potatoes, also in the oven, so that they were cooked through and ready to crisp for serving.  You could also caramelise some onions and perhaps a little garlic but I left my onions and garlic diced and raw so that they would release their flavours directly into the parcel.

The bottom layer was made up of the braised carrots, a few capers and some sweet cherry tomatoes, together with some finely diced onions and garlic.  On top of that, I put a small langoustine (claws, head and shell removed, tail left on for presentation), a piece of monkfish and a whole scallop (including roe).  I seasoned and added the tiniest drizzle of olive oil, wrapped up the parcel (like a present) and put it in a medium oven for about 20 minutes.  I am always very aware and worried about overcooking fish and seafood – there can be no worse crime than a dry piece of fish or a prawn that has been cooked for so long it sticks to its shell.  I am therefore slightly neurotic about it and check it for firmness (a sign of how cooked it is) every 5 minutes.  Opening the oven too often and for too long does bring with it the danger that all the steam leaches out so if you are going to be obsessive compulsive about it, be quick.

About halfway through cooking, put the potatoes in the oven or a pan to crisp and a few pieces of bacon under the grill.  It needs to be served as soon as it comes out of the oven so have everything ready.  It would go well with some beans or wilted spinach, or perhaps a peppery rocket or herb salad, or maybe just some crusty bread.

When it is firm to the touch, it can be removed from the oven.  Open the paper just a little, for presentation, drop in a few crisp potatoes and a slice of grilled bacon and serve.

Ingredients

1 large scallop per person

1 large langoustine per person, head and shell removed

100g monkfish per person

1 tsp finely chopped garlic per person

1 tsp finely chopped onion per person

1 tsp finely chopped carrots per person

3 pieces of sundried tomatoes per person

1 slice bacon per person

1 tbsp diced potatoes per person

Olive oil

Finely chopped parsley

 

Method

1.             Slowly braise the carrots, onion and garlic with some seasoning until they are soft.  Set aside.

2.             Cook the potatoes in a pan or in the oven until they are tender but not too dark.

3.             Cut a large square of baking parchment, and place in the centre, a small square of tin foil.

4.             Put the carrots, onions and garlic on top of the foil, and the scallop, langoustine and monkfish on top of them.

5.             Season, drizzle over a little olive oil and wrap up the parchment to form a parcel.

6.             Cook in the oven at about 180°C checking after 20 minutes and then at 10 minute intervals.

7.             When the fish is just undercooked, set aside and crisp up the potatoes in a pan.

8.             Cook the bacon under the grill until the fat is sizzling and crispy.

9.             Warm the sundried tomatoes

10.         Open the parchment package a little and serve the potatoes, bacon, sundried tomatoes and parsley on top of the fish.

Variations

You can use any fish or seafood that you have to hand  - clams, mussels, salmon, seabass, flavour with different herbs, a little lemon, a tablespoon of cream.

[All photographs by Su-Li Chan]

To see more of her recipes go to Su-Li’s website or join her Secret Supper Club. Su-Li is one of our new exclusive contributors – expect a lot more delicious recipes from her on Neon Cactus!

Victoria Sponge Cake

I have been dreaming of Victoria Sponge Cake for a couple of weeks now.. In fact this weekend I am going to put on my apron and bake! I will post the photographs of mine once its done. Here is just some inspiration for now, mmm I’m hungry.

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