A blog about cooking with a surprise set of ingredients.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


My mind, at least when I started thinking about the ingredients, was on the potential for tennis history to be made (and by that, I don't mean Roger The Smooth winning again). My person, unfortunately, was in Brussels in what appeared to be the onset of a monsoon. Either way, comfort food was likely to be required. By fortunate coincidence, we've just acquired yet another bit of kitchen kit, namely a pasta maker. So, a bit of a push towards pasta it would be. The bag consisted of prawns, pork mince, oyster mushrooms, dried porcini, limes, small red chillies, spring onions, cauliflower, pasta flour, raspberries and strawberries. And, of course, a nice single malt (Bruichladdich) to reflect the Scottish hopes of the day. Good luck alskling!

I thought this was quite an inspiring bag even if Murray only made part of the history
he was supposed to make (I’m convinced Alex Salmond told him if would be better to win next year — it would sit much better in relation to the referendum, now it would just have drowned in the upcoming Olympics). It was quite clear what Hazel wanted me to make: pasta, and as my new strategy is to follow the direction she has set out, I decided to make pasta, or at least to make use of the pasta machine.

The next issue was of course that Hazel had added a few classic traps in her bag — one of them raspberries and strawberries: few things are as difficult to mix as these two berries. In fact, strawberries are unusually difficult to mix with anything else. I decided to forget about them. Pork and veal mince on the other hand would mix well with most things, especially with oyster mushrooms. Of course, to make proper ‘siu mai’, I should maybe have added the shrimp to the mix, but that would have been too predictable. I started by making dough, three of them, one for dumplings, one for varenyky and one for ravioli. The dumpling dough is only normal flour and hot water (2,5 dl and 0,9 dl) mixed until smooth and non-sticky. The varenyky dough is egg and normal flour and the pasta dough egg and semolina. A whole spectrum.

While my doughs rested, I made fillings. For the siu mai, I chopped the oyster mushroom finely and fried it with some chilli and oyster mushroom, then I mixed it with the mince, some grated ginger and added soy and sesame oil. Making the dumplings is much easier than it looks. With the help of the pasta machine, I made a good batch of round dumpling skins. With the help of a glass of water and right hand index finger, I wetted the rim of the skins and then it was quite easy just to fold up the edges to form a little basket around the filling. After steaming them for about ten minutes, I served them with Chinkiang vinegar.

The ravioli. For the filling, I thought cepes and oyster mushroom. I started by soaking the cepes, then chopping both them and the oyster mushroom and frying it all before adding some cream to make the filling. For the picture above, I fell for the late years trend to make them quite big, to optimise taste, it would have been better to cut away the rim of pasta dough.

The next dish was the only non-doughy dish. I was struggling for a while with what to do with the cauliflower and the shrimp, but decided after a while to cut two slices from the middle and fry them slowly in clarified butter. If you do this slowly enough, the cauliflower will develop an almost nutty, caramelised taste. The shelled shrimp, I flambéed in the whisky and that’s about it.

For the finish, I made a raspberry, whisky and sugar jam to fill the varenyky made by folding over shells I hade made with the same mould as for the dumplings. After boiling for about 10 minutes, I served them with melted butter, mixed with some limejuice. I’m not sure whether this was enough to compensate for Murray’s defeat, darling, but at least you had to spend quite a lot of time eating complicated things so it should have taken your mind off it for that time at least. 

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