Zebra steak with gnocchi and salad

Z is for Zebra steak

I have finally reached Z (and therefore the end of this blog). Don’t despair however, as I will be starting a new blog about cooking food that’s in season very soon, so stay tuned.

This week I decided to go all out and cook something I’d never eaten before: zebra steaks, which I found at The Exotic Meat Company in Borough Market. They source their zebra products from a managed ranch in South Africa. It was expensive (~£10 for two steaks), but as this isn’t an everyday meal and has been shipped in, the price is justifiable for a one-off meal.

The Exotic Meat Company

The zebra steaks I bought were very lean and having done my research, zebra has a delicate flavour for red meat. Therefore I didn’t want to overpower the meat with other intense flavours too much, so I could enjoy it properly. I therefore decided to marinate the meat in a simple marinade, and serve with gnocchi and a crunchy, colourful salad.

The recipes below serve 2.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Salad

  • Half a bag of designer salad leaves (I used watercress, spinach and rocket);
  • Radicchio – finely shredded;
  • ¼ fennel bulb – finely shredded;
  • 1 stick of celery – finely cut;
  • 2 spring onions – finely sliced;
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar;
  • 2 tbsp (extra virgin) olive oil;
  • a pinch of salt
  • a squirt of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard

Salad with Safari servers

Gnocchi

  • 500g gnocchi (homemade or straight from a packet is fine);
  • 3 tbsp olive oil;
  • a pinch of salt;
  • 2 twists of pepper;
  • 1 tsp of rosemary – finely chopped;

Gnocchi - fried

Zebra steak

  • 2 x 150g zebra steaks;
  • 4 tbsp olive oil;
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice;
  • 1 tbsp yuzu juice;
  • 1 tsp salt
  • several twists of pepper

Zebra meat - defrosted

Zebra steak on the griddle

Recipe:

  1. Firstly prepare all the ingredients for the salad and toss together in a bowl. Then make the salad dressing by combining the white wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon, salt and mustard. The dressing should start to emulsify thanks to the mustard (as opposed to separating). Don’t pour the dressing over the salad until you’re ready to serve.
  2. For the zebra steaks, put all the ingredients in a shallow bowl to make the marinade. Place the steaks in there and leave to stoop for about 5 minutes a side.
  3. Put a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once it’s hot enough (the oil will start shimmering) tip in the gnocchi. They will take a couple of minutes to cook on either side. About halfway through the cooking, add the seasoning (salt, pepper and rosemary) and remember to toss / turn over so they get an even colour.
  4. Whilst the gnocchi is on the go, put a griddle pan over a high heat and leave to hot up, then add the steaks. As always, I oil the steaks (via the marinade), not the pan to avoid the kitchen filling up with smoke. It takes 3-4 minutes to cook on each side if you like your steaks somewhere between medium and rare, although tailor the times to your preference.
  5. Once cooked, take the steaks from the griddle and wrap in tin foil for 5 minutes. This resting time allows the steak juices to settle and makes the meat more tender.
  6. In the meantime, dress the salad and serve up the gnocchi, salad and finally add the steaks to your plate and dribble over the juices.

Zebra steak with gnocchi and salad

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Yuzu and prawn salad

Y is for Yuzu and king prawn salad

I’ve been away on holiday for a while, so haven’t had the chance to post the latest blog, but here it is at last….my yuzu and prawn salad. With the temperature reaching the high-teens in the UK this weekend, it’s got me thinking about light and fresh summer food. I hope this dish is just that…it’s very low calories, low-fat but high in flavour and colour. This is a dish for one, but is easily multiplied up if you need to make it for two people.

Some of you may be wondering what a ‘yuzu’ is? Well, it’s a fruit used in east Asia that has a strong citrus flavour that is somewhere between a grapefruit and a lemon. I’ve used it in this dish as it’s a very fresh flavour and compliments the prawns.

I have used Cos (or Romaine) lettuce in this recipe as it is crunchy and will hold its shape under the prawns. You may of course use a softer leaf, but at your own peril.

Yuzu and prawn salad - ingredients

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 180g king prawns – uncooked, frozen or thawed;
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger – peeled and finely diced;
  • 1 tsp soy sauce;
  • 1 tbsp yuzu juice (or yuzu seasoning);
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 spring onions;
  • zest of ½ lemon;
  • squirt of lemon juice;
  • zest of 1 lime;
  • ½ Cos (Romaine) lettuce – torn into small pieces;
  • ½ ripe mango – diced into 1cm pieces;
  • Pinch of salt.

Recipe:

  1. In a small bowl, make the yuzu dressing by adding the yuzu juice, olive oil, salt, lemon zest and juice and spring onions – finely chopped and give a little stir then set aside.
  2. Put a dribble of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and tip in the prawns. Prawns can be cooked from thawed or frozen, but will just take a couple more minutes if being cooked from frozen. Stir round and as soon as the prawns begin to change from a dull grey to their coral pink colour, add the ginger and lime zest. Keep moving round the pan until the prawns are completely pink and then tip in the soy sauce.
  3. On a large plate (or shallow bowl depending on how much of a messy eater you are – bowl in my case), pile up the lettuce and mango pieces. Then tip over the cooked prawns and drizzle over the yuzu seasoning.
  4. Serve immediately, as although the Cos lettuce is crunchy, it will become soggy if left in the dressing.

Yuzu and prawn salad

Poached pears

W is also for…Wine poached pears with honey and thyme

This is a very simple dessert, that looks “posh” i.e. looks like it took a lot more effort than it really did. You could serve this at a dinner party or perhaps even for Valentines day (or any other cosy night in for that matter).

I’ve used a sweet Moscato rosé wine from Barefoot Wines, which is perfect for this kind of fruit dessert. I served mine with vanilla ice-cream, which I think is best with pears, but if you’ve got your own flavour combination (e.g. crème fraîche, chocolate ice cream) don’t let me stand in the way.

The recipe is for 2 people, but can easily be multiplied up for more.

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 semi-ripe pears;
  • 2 tbsp honey;
  • 4 sprigs of thyme;
  • 250ml rosé wine;
  • 1 large knob of butter

Poached pears

Recipe:

  1. Peel the pears, then half and core.
  2. Put a frying/skillet pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Once it starts foaming add the thyme sprigs and the pear halves cut-side down. Fry for about 3-4 minutes until the cut-side has taken a bit of colour.
  3. Remove the pears from the frying pan and put on a plate whilst you make the poaching liquid.
  4. Add the wine and honey to the pan and turn the heat up high, all the while giving a good stir to bring up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan (as they have the most flavour). Cook down until the liquid  has halved in volume.
  5. Take the ice cream out of the freezer at this point so it has time to soften before serving.
  6. Turn the temperature down to a low-medium heat then add the pears (cut-side up this time) to the pan. Spoon a bit of the liquid over the pears then put a lid over the pan and leave to simmer/poach for 10-12 minutes until the pears have softened. The majority of the liquid would have cooked away/been absorbed.
  7. Serve two pear halves with a drizzle of the poaching juices, a fresh sprig of thyme and vanilla ice cream.

Poached pears

Veal served with gnocchi

V is for… Veal with fried gnocchi

Firstly apologies for such a long gap between the previous post and this one, I was very busy in December with quite a few Christmas parties and then the festive period itself; however I had not forgotten the blog, so here is the next instalment.

I know veal can be a somewhat contentious issue, but this is not the forum to discuss ethics. I enjoy all food and believe it should all be cooked well. This is a simple recipe, which allows you to appreciate the meat itself. I’ve served mine with fried gnocchi, but if you want to be healthier, it could equally be served with boiled new potatoes.

The recipe serves 2 greedy people comfortably.

Veal in marinade

 

Veal in griddle

Preparation time: 2 – 6 hours (for the meat to marinate)

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 300g veal escalopes;
  • 500g gnocchi
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 1 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • knob of butter
  • 2 handfuls of green beans
  • 100g tender stem broccoli

Recipe:

  1. In a shallow dish (or food-proof, sealable plastic bag) place the veal and pour in 3 tbsp of olive oil, the lemon juice, rosemary and chill flakes. Give a stir around until the meat is completely covered then cover (or seal in a bag) and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  2. When you’re ready to cook, you’ll need a griddle, a large frying pan and a small saucepan on the go at once. In the large frying pan, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and a knob of butter over a medium heat. As soon as the butter is foaming, add the gnocchi, string occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile put the griddle pan over a high heat. No oil is needed in the pan as the veal is already coated in oil. Once hot, take out the veal from the marinade (the remainder of which can now be discarded) and place on the griddle. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes on each side, then wrap in tin foil to rest whilst you are finishing the other dishes. The meat will keep warm and continue to cook slowly in it’s own heat.
  4. In a saucepan add the green beans and broccoli, a good pinch of salt and an inch or two of boiling water. Cook over a high-heat for a couple of minutes with the lid on , which will allow the veg to part boil and part steam. Give a stir round to make sure everything is tender, and it should only take a couple of minutes.
  5. Once the gnocchi are golden brown all over (which should take no more than 10 minutes), you’re ready to plate up. Any juices that have oozed out from the veal can be poured back over the meat on the plate – you don’t want to waste flavour!

Veal served with gnocchi

Red-wine braised lamb shanks - serving

R is for Red wine braised lamb with chorizo

This weekend I was lucky enough to have a friend round for dinner, so decided to slow cook something i.e. put in the merest effort in the preparation and then happily left the food to its own devices  (producing some powerful flavours) whilst we watched a film and caught up.

The recipe here is ideal for lamb shanks, but alas I couldn’t get any, so settled for cutlets. I have cooked it before with shanks and the only difference with the recipe here is that it needs 30minutes overall cooking time.

I’m very partial to a Rioja wine, but this time I used Barefoot’s Merlot, with it’s dark fruit flavours complement the meat very well. The key thing about the red wine is that you need to cook with one you enjoy drinking….after all you only use half a bottle in the recipe – you can’t very well leave the other half, it wouldn’t be proper

Barefoot Merlot

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 lamb cutlets – 2 per person
  • Olive oil
  • 400ml red wine
  • 200ml balsamic vinegar
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 1 bulb of garlic – cut in half horizontally
  • 125g chorizo (cut into chunks)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and chopped into 2cm slices)
  • 1 red onion (cut into wedges)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of black peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 tbsp honey

Lamb cutlets - browning

Recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Season the lamb with a little salt and pepper. Add the oil to a large frying pan, and once hot add the lamb cutlets (or shanks) and brown – turning every couple of minutes to ensure an even colour.
  2. Put a large ovenproof pan (with a lid) over a high heat and add the wine and balsamic vinegar and leave to boil for 5 minutes. Then add the browned lamb shanks, garlic, bay leaves, stock, paprika, peppercorns and 2 of the sprigs of rosemary.
  3. Leave the pan to come to the boil again (with the lid on). As soon as it reaches a boil, move to the oven and leave for 1hour 30 minutes. Set a timer and forget about it, whilst you enjoy the remaining wine…and perhaps another bottle.
  4. After the timer is up, take the pan out the oven. There may be an initial waft of balsamic vinegar as it escapes, but if you try the liquid now, you’ll notice the vinegar flavour has already mellowed a lot and there will be no trace of alcohol flavours. Add the chorizo, carrots, red onion and the remaining rosemary and return to the oven for another hour – again set a timer to be sure.
  5. After the hour is up, you’ll find the meat is almost falling off the bone. Using a slotted spoon remove the lamb, chorizo and vegetables – I put this on a platter and cover with tin foil to keep warm. Then put the remaining sauce over a high hob heat and boil for 10 minutes to further reduce and intensify the flavours.
  6. Serve up the meat, veg and a good slosh of the sauce with mash potato if you’re in the mood for it and presto – an impressive, warming and flavourful dinner.

Red-wine braised lamb shanks

Red-wine braised lamb shanks

Red-wine braised lamb shanks - serving