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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Mussels with Saffron and Ginger

 


Oct 11 2012

Mushroom Risotto (Karen)

 

Mushroom Risotto

 

Darlinghearts, this is my favourite Italian dish and can be served as either a starter or a main course and is obviously a great choice if your partner is a vegetarian too.

 

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Ingredients

For a starter course for two, use the measures below. If you want it as a main course, add about 50% more to these ingredients.

  • 1 small onion – chopped as small as you can
    1 clove of garlic – chopped as small as you can (you can ditch this if you don’t like garlic)
    Fresh mushrooms – chopped into chunks about the size of your small fingernail – a handful or two once chopped
    1.5 pints of chicken or vegetable stock (use a cube such as Oxo that you add boiling water too)
    A large glass of dry white wine
    2 good cupfuls risotto rice (make sure it’s risotto rice – it usually comes in small cardboard boxes)
    salt and pepper (but not too much – a couple of pinches of each)
    About 3-4 tablespoons of good (extra virgin) olive oil

…..and a couple of handfuls of grated parmesan cheese and a handful of finely chopped parsley

 

How To Cook It

I usually do this in a wok as it’s easier to stir and the rice absorbs the stock quicker. Otherwise, use a large saucepan – and you need a stirring spoon (wooden is best).

Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat, add the onion & garlic and cook gently for 10 minutes, stir occasionally and make sure it isn’t sticking to the pan. Get them ‘cooked’ rather than ‘brown.’ Remove the pan from the heat. Add your mushrooms (and salt and pepper) and stir into the warm onions and garlic. Let the pan stand for 5-10 minutes.

Now raise the heat (but not up to full – about ½ way on your dial), add the rice and cook for five minutes – stirring gently – then add the wine and give it a good stir. Let it stand for 10 minutes while you go and make/boil your stock.

Put your pan back on a low heat (about ¼ of the way) and warm it up. Add a cupful of your stock and cook, stirring constantly, until it has been absorbed into the rice – the rice will ‘soak it up’ after a few minutes. Be patient and make sure it has been fully absorbed. If you don’t want to spend ages in the kitchen while your guest is here, you can do the prep up to this point before your guest arrives and then continue below i.e. partly pre-cook it an hour or two earlier.

Once one cupful of stock has been absorbed, add another and keep stirring until that cupful has been absorbed (keep being patient – make sure it has been absorbed).Keep adding cupfuls and letting it absorb until you run out of stock. It can take 30  minutes or so. Keep stirring – try not to let it stick to the pan.

As it continues to cook, test taste a couple of grains of rice occasionally once all the stock has been absorbed. When it’s almost cooked (90% of the way there – what’s called “al’dente”) turn off the heat, add ¾ of the parmesan cheese and also add ½ of the chopped parsley and give it a good final stir. Cover your saucepan and allow it to sit there for a few minutes until the rice is thick and creamy (not watery and runny)

 

How To Serve It

It’s best to serve rice dishes like this in a shallow bowl rather than a flat plate – spoon the rice into each bowl. Keep it simple and make sure you serve it warm, as soon as it’s cooked. Put a little chopped fresh parsley on top and drizzle a little olive oil over it. It goes nicely with a cold glass of an Italian white wine such as Frascati. Goes well with champagne too!

 

Variations

Be adventurous with your choice of mushrooms – try something different such as wild mushrooms or porcini (or mixed dried mushrooms that you have soaked overnight). Don’t just go for the bog standard supermarket ones. I use the big horse mushrooms to make this at home. If you used dried mushrooms, keep the water you soaked them in for your stock as it adds flavour to the rice.

If you know how to make fresh chicken or vegetable stock it always tastes better but cubes are fine. Mix in a little walnut oil or truffle oil to the olive oil if you like the taste of either of those. Truffle oil goes really well with it.

You can of course substitute the mushrooms for anything and make other types of great risottos: prawns, asparagus, chicken, peppers, etc. or even just plain with a little pinch of saffron and chopped chives. Once you have mastered this basic mushroom risotto, experiment and find out what you (and your lady!) like best.

 

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Hope you enjoy it.

Love,

Karen 🙂