Vegetable Stock

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Vegetable Stock

Introduction

Let's be clear, our goal is to produce a clear, clean liquid which will enrich and enhance anything that it is added to, without imposing a flavour of its own. It should not be good enough to consume by itself.

I use nothing more than the cook's "holy trinity" of roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery, also known as a mirepoix which provide pleasing sweet middle tones. You can substitute half the quantity of onion with leek. The only aromatic we will use is parsley and I use just the stalks for flavour.

Tips

The proportions: one part vegetables to 10 parts water.

You cannot produce a clear and clean stock without skimming the impurities that will rise to the surface. If you don't remove this scum it will simply boil and emulsify adding it's "flavour" to your stock, this makes it nigh on impossible to achieve a clear liquid, no matter how much you filter it.

Salt. Cooks to not add salt to stock. We wait to flavour the end dish, not this one.

Roasted Vegetables

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Roasted Vegetables

Introduction

For a great plate of roasted vegetables, you need a good balance of textures and flavours. Use too many root vegetables and it can be too sweet, though turnips will help offset that. Fresh herbs will give fragrance to the dish.

Use a combination of four or more of the following six categories: (1) potato and\or sweet potato, (2) squash and\or courgette\zucchini, (3) aubergine\eggplant, (4) root vegetables, (5) broccoli and\or cauliflower and (6) onions (red for colour) and a head of garlic.

We made the plate pictured above to serve alongside Porchetta and Aubergines\Eggplants with Oven-Dried Plums; for that reason we left aubergines\eggplants out. The roasted garlic at the center is always a crowd pleaser.

All of the vegetables needed are in abundance right now and should be inexpensive from now until the end of winter, so have fun with your choices and go with the best of the season.

Fried Eggs with Truffles

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Fried Eggs with Truffles

Introduction

It's fun when a friend from afar comes to stay, but it's fabulous when said friend brings truffles with her. Hot foot from Abruzzo and on her way back to Manhattan our pal Jackie brought truffles, so I had to share them.

I watched Rick Stein eating fried eggs with truffles on TV last week, he was on location in Puglia and out with a truffle hunter. I have eaten truffle omelettes here in France, it's a popular dish, but I preferred the purity of fried eggs with truffles.

Lola, one of our chickens, has been laying enormous eggs. I figured that these were double yokers and this was confirmed this morning.

The method for frying eggs I learnt from observing and listening to Albert Roux many years ago.

Chard Gratin

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Chard Gratin

Introduction

We have grown more varities of chard than I knew existed. In the kitchen garden you will see Rainbow\Bright Lights, Silverbeet, Spinach Beet. On the other side of the garden we have what the French refer to as Cardes. The wine bottle pictured is for perspective, not because of a wild party in the vegetable garden.

You'll see cardes in French markets with the leaves bundled on top of each other. The stalks have an excellent flavour and can be substituted in any recipe that calls for cardoons (for the first month, that's what I thought I was growing).

Most chard recipes will tell you to cut off the stalks leaving just the spinach-like leaves. The leaves can be treated like spinach, see Suggestion below. What the recipes neglect to mention is that when you discard with the stalks, you dispense with the essence of chard, because while the leaves are good, the stalks are wonderful. This recipe shows you one simple way to cook them.

Escalopes with Prosciutto or Dry-Cured Ham

Turkey Escalope with Dry-Cured Ham

Introduction

A dish rich in flavours but easy to prepare, I have been making this version for several years.

I like to use Turkey or chicken escalopes as they have a subtle flavour and absorb the other flavours used, but pork or veal will also work.

We were reading through Elizabeth David's 'Summer Cooking' yesterday, it was first published in 1955. It was surprising to discover that she had already started discussing the advantages of free-range poultry back then.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Chili & Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Garlic, Chili & Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Introduction

I was sorely tempted to show you a photograph of the empty plates follwing this dish, but that's not the point is it?

We have now stocked the Misse kitchen cupboard with oven-dried tomatoes to see us through the autumn and winter months. That will allow us to enjoy a taste of summer all year round.

I chose pecorino cheese for this recipe as it accentuates the earthy flavours of the dish.

Aubergines\Eggplants with Oven-Dried Plums

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Aubergines\Eggplants with oven-dried plums

Introduction

We have a large crop of aubergines\eggplants in the garden. Both the traditional purple and the creamy white variety. It is this latter variety which gave us the name 'eggplant' as the berries, technically they are berries, resemble eggs.

When I posted the recipe for oven-dried plums, I promised to put them to good use and here is one of the dishes. This recipe has been adapted from Ashbury's Aubergines.

Spaghetti alla Gricia

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Spaghetti alla Gricia

Introduction

This is my signature dish. The simplicity of it represents everything that I value about good Italian food.

At the Circle of Misse I use this dish to demonstrate recipe deconstruction. Once we have tasted the simplified dish, we then experiment with additional ingredients to identify and assess their contribution. With a small list of additions, this dish can be turned into three very different pasta 'classics'.

After curing the pancetta below, I took a slab of it to the market for Wes and Charlotte who supplied the raw ingredient. Charlotte, who was heavily pregnant at the time, was delighted. She cut off a slice and much to the horror of her customers tucked into it. 'Hey, this is from my pigs and I know what they ate,' was her response.

If you like this recipe visit lapasta.com for more pasta recipes. The site contains a collection of recipes that I began writing and publishing several years ago.

Hummus

Hummus

Introduction

Found right across the Middle East with subtle enhancements and now around the globe with some bizarre varations, hummus is the ubiquitous dip.

The variations are natural enough. Without the addition of Tahini (sesame paste) humus would be a dull offering.

I have gone back to basics and include two variations that are natural extensions of the original. Feel free to experiment.

Cacik & Tzatziki

Cacik or Tzatziki

Introduction

There are variations on this recipe from the Mediterranean to Indonesia, but it is essentially a wonderfully cool combination of cucumber and yoghurt.

The difference between cacik and tzatziki is in the yoghurt. Greeks favour a strained sheep's milk yoghurt, which like Camembert or Champagne, should have its own AOC, as there is nothing quite like it. In Turkey, where you will find cacik served throughout the meal, a natural runny yoghurt is used, which can be very refreshing. The Turks also produce an iced yoghurt and cucumber soup of the same name.

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