Nov 27 2012

Potato Salad (Anna)

Anna

 

This is a really easy to make German cold potato salad that can be used as a starter or a side dish to a main meal. It’s also very good for picnics. It’s an ideal starter for any romantic meal you may be preparing as it can be made in advance and left in the fridge so that you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your lady when she arrives!

Guten appétit!

Anna

 

-o-oOo-o-

 

Ingredients

For a starter course for two, use the measures below:

  • 2 large potatoes (firmer new potatoes or waxy red type tend to be best)
  • Small bunch fresh chives – finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions – finely chop the white bulbs (discard the green)
  • 2 small pickled gherkins (pat dry with paper towel)
  • 1 frankfurter
  • 2 tsp pickled capers (drained)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp cream (thicker rather than runny cream)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (or similar milder mustard – not hot English style mustard)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (rock salt and ground pepper is best)

 

How To Cook It

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add salt and the potatoes still in their skins (you don’t need to peel them at this stage). Cook for about 20 minutes or until just tender (less time for smaller potatoes). Try not to overcook the potatoes or they will turn to mash. Drain the potatoes and wrap individually in silver kitchen foil until you are ready to use them (let them stand and allow them to cool for a little while).

Chop your chives and onions. Cut the gherkins and the frankfurter into medium-size slices.

Mix together the mayonnaise, cream and mustard – give it a good whisk (use a fork if you haven’t got a whisk).

Unwrap the potatoes and peel them. Cut them into bite-size cubes and place into a large bowl.  Add the onion, gherkins, frankfurter and capers to the potatoes. Spoon the sauce on top and gently mix together, taking good care not to break up or mush the potatoes.

 

How To Serve It

Split into two, onto your serving plates. Season each portion with salt and pepper and sprinkle the chives over the top. To make more attractive or into a larger lunch course, place the potato salad on top of some small crisp lettuce leaves…. and add a nice glass of Reisling too!

 

Variations

You can replace the frankfurter with bacon or pancetta but blanche in hot water for a couple of minutes first to get rid of some of the saltiness. If you prefer a vegetarian option, try some small chunks of cucumber or roasted bell peppers instead of the frankfurter.

 

-o-oOo-o-

Potato Salad


Nov 20 2012

Dutch Mussels (Breeda)

 

Hey, I’m Breeda from Holland and I’m a new recruit here on Alpha Dog Food – this is my first post.

I promised that I would add a couple of traditional Dutch recipes and today I’m gonna tell you about our equivalent of the French Moules Mariniere – ours is mussels with saffron and ginger and you can make it for either a starter or a main course. It’s great for a romantic meal with your lady because eating with your fingers is always that bit more sexier don’t you think. This recipe comes from a 15th century manuscript so it’s been tried and tested for a while.

If you are a lady over 18 and interested in joining in on Alpha Dog Food yourself, take a look at our ‘New Recruits’ page on this blog.

 

-o-oOo-o-

 

Ingredients

For a light main course for two, use the measures below (reduce by half to make it a starter). Try to fnd the largest mussels you can (New Zealand green-lipped mussels are just the best).

 

  • 1 kg (about 2 lbs) of large mussels
  • 2 handfuls chopped parsley
  • 1 onion chopped as finely as you can
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • A handful of grated fresh ginger (or ½ teaspoon of ground ginger if you don’t have fresh)
  • 4-5 threads of saffron crushed (try to buy it already crushed you don’t need much – a pinch or two)
  • ½ litre of dry white wine (about a pint)
  • A small cup of water
  • Knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

How To Cook It

Clean the mussels if necessary (remove any beards, outer debris or materials from the shells), in cold water.

Put a tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan and gently cook the onions until soft.

Add the mussels to a large saucepan (one with a lid) with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and the salt and pepper if you are using it. Allow to cook over a medium-high heat for a moment or two until it begins to sizzle.

Now add the white wine, water, onions, saffron and ginger (mix it all together first and give it a good stir) and put the lid on the saucepan, returning to the heat, shaking occassionally.

Once the mussels have opened (this should take just a few minutes) remove from the saucepan and put the mussels (still in their shell!!)  into a bowl – use a slatted spoon so that the broth drains back into the saucepan. Throw away any mussels that have not opened.

Reduce the broth by about ¼ over a medium-high heat then add the knob of butter  and stir in well.

 

How To Serve It

Place a portion of mussels in a wide bowl and pour some of the broth over them. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the mussels and serve with crusty bread, a side salad and a glass of white wine.

 

-o-oOo-o-

 

Mussels with Saffron and Ginger

 


Nov 16 2012

Quick Coq au Vin (Sally)

 

French cuisine is sometimes accused of being too fussy or over the top but if you know any woman who likes France or all things French, a quick way to her heart is to cook a traditional rustic Coq au Vin and invite her around for a candlelit supper with some crusty French bread and – given its Burgundian heritage – a nice bottle of Pinot Noir wine.

 

Coq au Vin is a classic French chicken dish cooked in red wine and is absolutely delicious. It’s also great ‘comfort food’ in the winter. Some recipes can get complicated and take a long time to cook (and involve old cockerels and putting their blood in the sauce!) but here’s a quick and relatively simple way –for a man! – of cooking it that can be prepared in advance and reheated later so that you aren’t spending loads of time working in the kitchen instead of paying attention to her.

 

Let me know in the comments below how you get on with it or, if you have any questions, leave them below and I will answer them for you.

 

Have a great weekend,

 

Sally

 

Ingredients

The ingredients and measures below are plenty for two people. I recommend blanching the bacon in hot water first to reduce the saltiness of the dish. Use the best quality, freshest ingredients you can.

  • 3-4 slices of thick bacon (smoked ideally) cut off the rind but leave a little fat on – or use a small packet of lardons
  • 12 small pearly onions peeled and left whole, 1 small red onion sliced
  • 12 button mushrooms (trimmed, peeled, cut in half – or used tinned ones if you want to cheat)
  • 2 good size chicken thighs and 2 legs, on the bone with skin left on (add a couple more thighs if you’re hungry!)
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and left whole
  • 1 ½ large glasses of good quality red wine and the same amount of chicken stock
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme and parsley, 2 bay leaves
  • 2 knobs of butter (salted butter is OK if you are not adding salt)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • A little pepper to taste (imho you don’t really need salt with this dish but that’s up to you)

 

How To Cook It

Put the bacon into a saucepan with a couple of inches of cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Cut the bacon into strips.

Brown the bacon on medium/high heat in the olive oil for about 5 minutes in a pan that is big enough to hold the chicken. You ideally need a pan with a lid. Remove the bacon, set aside. Keep the bacon fat/olive oil in the pan, reduce the heat to medium. Cook the onions for a few minutes until slightly brown. Remove the onions and set aside with the bacon.

You may need to add a little more olive oil if the onions soaked it all up. Just a dab.

Working in batches if your pan isn’t big enough to hold all of it, add the chicken, skin side down first. It’s best to work in batches of say 1 thigh and 1 leg if you don’t have a big enough pan as trying to cook too much meat in too small a pan is always hard work. Brown the chicken well, on all sides. Try and get the skin quite crispy but without burning it. Halfway through the browning, add the garlic and the pepper.  You don’t need to cook the chicken all the way through at this stage – just focus on getting a brown and crispy skin.

When it’s brown enough to your liking, spoon off any excess fat. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. Add back the bacon and the onions. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken, bacon and onions to a separate plate. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic cloves, and throw away.

Add the mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to medium/high (boil but don’t go mad so that it’s splashing everywhere or sticking to the bottom of the pan). Boil quickly, stir occasionally, and reduce the liquid by half to three quarters until it becomes thick and saucy. Lower the heat, stir in the butter. Return the chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with the sauce.

 

How To Serve It

Although everyone seems to think that white wine goes with chicken, I would suggest a decent bottle of red Burgundy to go with this. See the link here for some ideas as to which one. Keep the serving simple – a small portion in the centre of a plain plate with a little fresh chopped parsley on top. Serve with some crusty French bread with butter and that’s all you need. If you really want some vegetables with it, go for French green beans as a side dish or put some baby carrots in at the same time as the mushrooms go into the sauce when cooking it.

I think this dish tastes even better if left to stand for a day. You can cook this in advance – say, the night before – let it go cold, cover and put in the fridge for 24 hours then reheat in the oven the following evening when you are ready to serve up. If you want to be a philistine I suppose you could microwave it instead but she will be far more impressed if she sees you pulling it out of the oven!

 

Variations

I’ve put this particular approach up because I think it’s easy for a man (or any inexperienced cook) to put together and it’s a quick approach. There are lots of variations on this dish that involve longer preparation time and even longer cooking time. You can find one of my favourite longer recipes for it here. Kate tells me she likes to put a tablespoon of Tio Pepe (very dry sherry) in hers just before serving it up, some put a tablespoon of brandy in it.

 

Coq au Vin


Nov 14 2012

Naughty, naughty (Andrea)

 

I had to post this – it is so funny.

An employee at the Dublin restaurant Cinnamon has been terribly naughty and lost his cool with a customer on the restaurant’s Twitter feed.

 

 

If you can’t quite read that, it says: “Here’s something else for you to retweet. You’re an arsehole. Why don’t you come in and introduce yourself to us?”

You can find more on this story, as reported by the Irish Times, here. In fairness to Cinnamon, it is an exceptionally good restaurant….. and sometimes, customers can be….. well….. just….. ‘arseholes’

By the way, you can also follow us on Twitter @alphadogfood

Lots of love,

Andrea