Friday, 4 October 2013

Week 34- Chicken or egg?

The old question- which came first?

Answer for today- both.

My menu this week features eggs to start, chicken for main course, then eggs again used in the pudding.

I'm starting with eggs florentine- a toasted English muffin topped with spinach, a poached egg and drizzled with hollandaise sauce- mmmm!

Next is a coq au vin done in white wine, with bacon.

To finish off, we have a cafe gourmand- but featuring little pancakes and sauces (with various leftover bits of pud added to them.)

First, make your hollandaise:  Melt 60g of unsalted butter in a pan or microwaveable dish.Take one egg yolk, the juice of half a squeezed lemon, a pinch of cayenne pepper if you have it and half a teaspoon of salt and put them in the goblet of the food processor or blender. Start the motor running and quickly but steadily trickle in the melted butter. Just watch the sauce emulsify. If it gets too thick, add a squeeze more lemon or a teaspoon of warm water.

Don't throw away your egg white- freeze it to use in meringues or cakes later.

To make eggs florentine- steam or microwave some spinach leaves, squeeze them quickly in a J cloth, then lay them on top of a toasted English muffin. Top with a softly poached egg and a good slather of the sauce.
Eggs Florentine

Now, it's the chicken's turn to star.

I like to make coq au vin in the slow cooker, gently casseroled for 6-7 hours- but you can achieve the same effect in a moderate oven for 2 hours or so in a casserole dish.

You need- 2 onions chopped, 150 g of smoked bacon lardons, 2 chicken thighs and 1 drumstick per person, 2 bay leaves, a good large wine glass of white wine, 1-2 cups of chicken stock. I like to add mushrooms too- but leave those out if you're not a fan.

Simply soften the onions in some oil, brown the chicken pieces and lardons in the same frying pan and place them in the crockpot. De-glaze the pan with the wine and pour over the meat. Add the stock and the bay leaves and leave to simmer away.

About half an hour from serving time, add some lightly browned mushrooms and taste the sauce- adding more salt or pepper if you want. Thicken if you need to with cornflour or gravy granules and serve with either mashed potatoes or potato gratin.
Coq au vin

Pudding is one of my favourites- cafe gourmand or a cup of coffee with lots of little bits of puds.

You can make this dessert with any leftover puds you have- cake, tarts, rice pudding, a bit of chocolate mousse, ice cream, sorbet, cheesecake, fruit salad etc 
The only requirement is that they should be cut or plated up in dainty fairy-sized portions.

In the photo I have some tiny little pancakes ( think making drop scones or fritters rather than pan-sized crepes), some slices of lemon tart, fruit tart and chocolate tart (recipes for lemon and summer fruit tart on the blog- look in the cloud at the top of the page to find them) and an artistic swirl of sauces- chocolate, caramel, strawberry - whatever you fancy or have to hand.
Cafe gourmand with pancakes

By the way, a quick and easy way to make tartlets for this dessert is as follows: with leftover pastry trimmings,line some little tartlet pans and bake blind for 10-15 minutes or so
until just golden and crisp on the bottom. Switch off the oven. Spoon in a tablespoon of chocolate spread, jam, lemon curd or jam and coconut combi as I have here:
Return the tarts to the warm oven until the jam/chocolate spread goes liquid and fills the tartlet case. Take out and cool. Voila!
Chocolate or jam tartlets

Of course you will have leftovers from this meal- hollandaise sauce ( too good to waste a drop) and chicken.

I used the hollandaise with salmon the next day, and also poured over broccoli- which was as scrumptious as over asparagus. It's lovely over new potatoes too.
Salmon and broccoli with hollandaise sauce

With the chicken I made one of my latest favourite recipes- pastotto!

This is like a risotto- but made with pasta. It's a delicious way to use up any leftovers and make them do another meal- great with fish, mushrooms and in this case chicken.

All you need is the right pasta- so use orzo or avoine as it is called in French- little rice shaped pasta pieces.

Soften 1 onion and some garlic in a frying pan, add the orzo and stir well to absorb the flavours. Then add a little white wine and stir until absorbed. Now add your leftover chicken sauce and stir in well. Allow to bubble away for 10 minutes or so, then stir well and add more stock or liquid as you need to. Taste the pasta from time to time, and when all the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender- serve. (I stirred through some rocket at the last minute.)
Chicken Pastotto

So, I hope I've solved the problem of what's for dinner tonight- now, what about that chicken and egg?

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