Alasdair (Ali) will be heading back to England in a week for school and won't be back until his half term break in October so I took a day off work and we made plans to have a cook-a-thon. Ali's main intent was to play with the Thermomix(TM) and convince his parents that it is the next tool he needs in his arsenal.
With no clear plan for what we would do I picked up a mish mash of items including a whole pork belly from my pal Maggie when I placed my meat order for work that week.
I spent the morning plowing though my cookbooks to decide on a plan. I started with Bruce Aidell, Martin Picard, Ruhlman and Keller and in the end I took the pork belly brine from Ad-Hoc and combined it with aspects of the one in Under Pressure.
We cut a nice piece off the belly and set it up in a brine of kosher salt, pink salt, sugar in the raw, bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme and rosemary. We set that up in a cambro and it went into the fridge. I'll follow up on how I finished those later, but right now I have half of it in rendered pork fat in a 200F oven for 6 hours for confit and the other half in 82.5C in the circulator for 12 hours. Both will set up and chill overnight as long as Irene is nice and keeps the power on.
Then we mixed up the bacon rub from Ruhlman's Charcuterie and rubbed another nice piece. That one is currently parked in the upstairs fridge in a cambro for the next 7 days. Next weekend I will follow Aidell's formula for cold smoking it over hardwood sawdust in my Weber if I can get my hands on any. Too bad the thermomix won't grind up the chunks of my cherry tree that Irene is sure to knock down today. I could make my own dust.
I still have two other pieces tucked away in the freezer for later projects. Once we dispensed with the porkie items we wanted to get the cheesecakes in the oven.
These are gluten free (crust is GF flour, almond meal, melted grass fed butter and a pinch of salt) and the filling (1 lb cream cheese, 4oz sour cream abt 2 T sugar in the raw, lemon zest and juice, a tweak of vanilla and 2 eggs) we used little ramekins and cooked them in a water bath for about 30 mins.
Since we made all this up as we went along we realised after that we probably should have shaved 5 minutes off the oven time but they were still very good. We made a topping of Maine blueberries cooked down with a drop of water, a pinch of sugar, some stem ginger in syrup and a splash of port.
While these were baking we tackled the Thermomix projects. First up was making a homemade version of the crack known as NUTELLA. He toasted up some hazelnuts
and while they cooled some sugar went in the TM and was ground fine.
The nuts went in, and some dark chocolate and we milled it, wiped down the bowl and added some cocoa powder, butter and milk. Heat it up to 50C and set it to stir and 6 minutes later...
better than Nutella.
I cleaned it out and we made a quick mayo and then Ali wanted to make a custard so he whipped one up in under 6 minutes with nary a scarmbled egg in site. I want to apologise to Siân now, because he is going to be bugging her for the next 6 months for one of his own.
To make up for the pain of hearing about a TM and since Ali is Mr. Molecular Gatronomy these days with his textura, glycerin and maltodextrin I thought I would make him learn to cook a traditional, or as husband would say, proper, English dish to bring home for his parents.
Lancashire Hot Pot is one of husband's favorites and it is very simple to put together.
Salt and pepper and then sear off some nice lamb loin chops.
Remove them from the pan for now and add in 1 chopped Spanish onion, 1 diced rutabega (swede), 2 or 3 diced carrots and 2 or 3 stalks of celery chopped.
Keep the dice a good size maybe an inch or so, because these veg will cook for 2 hours later. Stir them around, season well with salt and pepper and when the onions start to soften sprinkle over 2 - 3 TBS flour. Stir well. Add 8 ozs veal demi (I get mine from D'artagnan, but you can omit this if you can't find it and use more veal stock) and 1-1/2 cups of veal stock. Add in 1 TBS chopped thyme leaves, 2 bay leaves and 3 TBS worcestershire sauce. Taste for seasoning.
It should have a kick from the worcestershire, if not add a bit more. Nestle the lamb chops back in. Make sure the stock comes right to the top of them, if not add a bit more.
Take some yukon gold potatoes, I can't give you a quantity here because it depends on the size of your vessel, but we had a 14" All-clad pan and we used about 7, and slice them about the thickness of a popsicle stick with either a knife or a manodline and then shingle them in circles to cover the whole surface. Season well again with salt and pepper. Dot with butter.
Put a lid on and pop this in a 325F oven for 1 hour. After an hour remove the lid and back into the oven for another hour until the potatoes are soft, some of the liquid has reduced and the potatoes have begun to brown. Gently stick a knife in and test on of the lamb chops. If everything seems ready and you want the potatoes a bit browner, pop the whole lot under the broiler for a few minutes.
Around 6:30 we packed him up and shipped him home to continue cooking his hot pot. We've already made plans for another cooking fest in October. I need to start plotting.