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Cooking and Loving
By Constance Hamilton
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Constance Hamilton
All rights reserved.
WARM SCALLOP AND PRAWN SALAD
This is an elegant yet simple salad. If you wish you can opt for only one of these shellfish, or mix them at will. Choose some seven pieces of shellfish per person, good-sized and fresh. At the same time prepare a salad with a variety of green leaves, fresh and tender (different kinds of lettuce, rocket, radicchio, etc.).
Season with salt and pepper and saute' the scallops and shrimps in 30 grammes of butter, a couple of minutes per side, depending on size. Deglaze the pan with ½ cup of Riesling white wine. Reserve in a warm place. Prepare the salad in a bowl and dress it with the following vinaigrette:
– 1 level tbsp Dijon mustard
– 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
– 3 to 4 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
– 1 tsp sea salt and freshly ground black
– 1 small shallot, finely chopped
– 1 tbsp fresh herbs (basil, chives, mint),
– 1 pinch of sugar
Combine all the ingredients, beating well, and just before serving dress the salad with this vinaigrette. Place the shellfish over the salad.
Boil the liquid left in the pan, reducing it until it acquires the consistency of a sauce, and pour over the shellfish and salad, tossing and mixing just before serving, making sure that the shellfish are still a little warm.
LEG OF LAMB BAKED WITH ROSEMARY
Nothing quite beats the delicious taste and aroma of a marinated and properly baked leg of lamb, the ideal choice for a special lunch, or a cosy dinner between friends or with the family.
– 1 leg of lamb (1 ½ -2 k), clean, fat removed,
ready for roasting
– 2 tsps fresh rosemary, chopped
– 1 tsp fresh thyme
– 1 clove of garlic, very finely chopped
– 1 tbsp good runny honey
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 glass of red wine
– 2 tbsps olive oil
– 30 g butter
– Salt and plenty of fresh and coarsely
ground black pepper (mignonette)
The previous night, mix the honey, rosemary, thyme, garlic, balsamic vinegar, oil and pepper in a small bowl and rub the leg of lamb thoroughly with this mixture, massaging well. Leave to marinade all night in the refigerator. The following day take the leg out of the fridge a couple of hours before roasting. Preheat the oven. Put the lamb in a baking dish, add salt and the remaining wine, as well as the butter, cut in small dice. Put the tray in the middle of the hot oven, at high temperature for the first 15 minutes. Lower the flame and continue cooking for approximately 40 to 45 minutes, basting the meat with its juices now and then, three or four times during cooking (should the liquid run dry, add a little water). Remove from the oven and leave to rest, covered with aluminium foil, in a warm place, for 15 minutes. Eliminate all excess fat from the pan and deglaze it with a glass of water, scraping the bottom of the pan to rescue all the flavours adhering to it.
Serve with baked new potatoes and minted peas sauted in butter.
Reheat the juices before serving them, separately, in a sauce boat. Carve the lamb at table.
STRAWBERRY AND CREAM CHEESE PARFAIT
The perfect finale to such a lovely meal.
– 125 g. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
– 125 g. fresh cream
– 150 g.sugar
– 2 egg whites
– ½ k fresh ripe strawberries
– 1 piece of fresh ginger (2 ½ cms.)
– Fresh mint leaves
Cook 50 grammes of the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water until the liquid turns into a syrup. Let cool. Beat the egg whites until they hold their peaks, adding the syrup slowly, in a thread. Continue beating until the meringue has cooled.
In another bowl beat the cream until it acquires the consistency of a chantilly; add the cheese, little by little, mixing well untill thoroughly amalgamated. Now incorporate the meringue, folding in well with a spatula. Pour the mixture onto ramekins and refrigerate.
In yet another pan put the remaining 100 grammes of sugar with an equal quantity of water, together with the ginger, peeled and cut in coarse chunks. Let boil for one minute and remove from the fire, leaving to cool. Once cold, strain onto a larger pan and bring to a boil, adding the strawberries and bringing the heat down immediately. It is important that the syrup does not boil, to prevent the fruit from turning into a mash. Once the strawberries have soaked up the syrup, which in turn has turned a lovely red, remove from the fire.
To serve, distribute the fruit prettily on each plate; then unmould the cream parfaits over it. Decorate with fresh mint leaves.
Note: Do not discard the ginger remaining in the strainer. Eat it. It's simply delicious!CHAPTER 2
ASPARAGUS WITH ANCHOVY SAUCE
I like asparagus to be decidedly green. And the right size. Those huge specimens are fine for the Guiness Book of Records; but not for our table, it is my belief. Some people peel asparagus, which never ceases to surprise me. If they are not very old, and therefore, to be avoided, there is nothing to peel. I, for one, eat them using my hands, and leave nothing on the plate, since I remove the lower part, which is tougher, before boiling them. And, for them to be very green, simply follow the instructions I provide below.
– Green asparagus, nice and tender
– 1 cup good mayonnaise (ideally home
– 4 anchovy fillets
– 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
– 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
– ½ tsp dried tarragon, rubbed between your
Cut and discard the lower, tougher part, (approximately 3-4 cm), of the asparagus after washing them. In a large pan or deep frying pan, where they can fit well horizontally, boil enough water to barely cover them. When boiling, add the salt, followed by the asparagus. Do not cover the pan!
Once the water resumes boiling, count 8 to 10 minutes at most, according to size, and remove the asparagus, immediately draining and refreshing under cold running water (This stops the cooking, which normally continues as long as the vegetables are hot). Place the asparagus in a serving dish, or individual dishes.
In a small frying pan with a teaspoon of oil, dissolve the anchovies, mashing them with a fork, over low heat (this takes virtually no time). Then, add them to the mayonnaise, and add the rest of the ingredients, blending well. Pour some sauce over the tip of the asparagus; or, if you prefer, pour it into a sauce boat to bring to the table. Ideally, the asparagus should still be slightly warm.
ROAST BEEF COOKED IN A POT
This is my favourite way with meat, since it never fails to be delicious. It is important, of course, that it doen't overcook but remains red-ish inside (according to taste).
– A nice cut of sirloin, about 1 ½ k,
– Salt and plenty of freshly ground black
– 2 tbsp good extravirgin olive oil
– 2 tbsp red wine
– 1tbsp dry sherry
– 1 tbsp good red wine or sherry vinegar
– 1 garlic clove, crushed
– 1 sprig of rosemary
– 1 sprig of thyme
– 1 bayleaf
Heat a deep frying pan (that also has a tight-fitting lid) and pour the oil over it. When this is almost smoking, seal the previously salted and peppered meat, about 5 minutes per side, thus envelopping the meat with a crust. Remove the meat from the pan and eliminate any fat left in it. Now return to the pan, together with the sprigs of herbs and bay leaf as well as the garlic clove. Then pour the wine, sherry and vinegar over it. Place over a high flame; once the liquid begins to boil, cover hermetically with the lid, bringing the heat down to a minimum. Let it cook for 15 minutes; then turn off the fire and let the meat rest, covered, for 10 further minutes; then slice and serve immediately. This beef is fantastic with a gratin dauphinois.
CHOCOLATE MOUSSE WITH CREAM
As happens with almost any recipe, there are myriads of chocolate mousse variations. This one is another Ritz cooking school recipe and it happens to be my favourite; besides, it is fantastically easy. I did introduce a few changes, to appropriate it!
– 150 g good bitter chocolate (Lindt is my
recommendation), cut in small bits
– 75 g bitter cocoa
– 120 cc. water, or orange juice, or water
mixed with some liqueur, such as Grand
Marnier, Amaretto, Kirsch, or any of your
– 150 g sugar
– 400 cc. fresh cream, very cold
Melt the chocolate, cocoa, the liquid of your choice and the sugar in a pan, au bainmarie, over very low fire, stirring permanently until homogeneous and smooth. Remove from the fire and allow to cool completely.
Beat the cream in a bowl over a larger one containing ice, until it reaches the consistency of a chantilly. Then, helping yourself with a spatula, blend it into the chocolate mixture, little by little, until it is thoroughly incorporated and homogeneous. Pour onto individual dessert glasses or into some lovely glass or crystal serving bowl. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.
Decorate with toasted slivered almonds and a small swirl of chantilly.CHAPTER 3
SPICY GRILLED PRAWNS WITH MINT SAUCE
These delicious prawns make much of an impression; yet they're as easy as pie.
– 1 k good size prawns
– 2 generous tbsp cane sugar
– The juice of 2 limes
– 2 tbsp oil, plus half a cup
– 2 tsp grated lemon rind
– 1 tsp cayenne pepper
– 2 cups fresh mint leaves
Clean and peel the prawns. In a bowl combine the sugar, lime juice and the tablespoons of oil; the lemon rind, cayenne and salt, mixing thoroughly. Add the prawns and leave to marinade for at least half an hour.
Put the mint in the processor with the remaining lemon juice and the half cup of oil and process until you obtain a sort of pesto. Add salt.
Heat the grill, or a griddle. Spear the prawns in bamboo skewers (in threes or fours, or in a single toothpick if you want them for cocktails). Put them on the grill, two minutes per side. Serve with a green salad, and put the mint sauce in a bowl to serve separately.
TOMATO AND GOAT'S CHEESE TARTE TATIN
This savoury version of Tatin is a winner!
For the pastry:
– 250 g all-purpose flour
– 100 g butter, cold
– 1 tbsp milk
– 1 egg yolk
– Cold water, as required
– Salt and a pinch of sugar
For the filling:
– 2 red onions
– 10 small tomatoes
– 2 level tbsp sugar
– 120 g best crumbly goat's cheese that melts
– Extravirgin olive oil
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper
– Basil (or another herb of your choice:
rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc. They all
combine well with both the tomatoes and
the goat's cheese)
Prepare the pastry as for pâte brisée and let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour.
Oil an oven or frying pan (I always use the latter, an old battered one I've kept exclusively for tarte Tatin). Make a caramel in a small pan with the sugar and 2 tbsp of water, without touching it; then pour it over the bottom of the oiled pan. Place the tomatoes, cut in half (without peeling them),skin side down, over the caramel.
Peel the onions, cut them into eight or so wedges and cook them in a pan with 3 tbsp of oil and a little salt, covered, and simmer for about ten minutes. Place them in between the tomatoes. Saltpepper. Spread over with the chopped basil (or other herbs) and goat's cheese, crumbled.
Roll the pastry until it matches the radio of the pan. Place over the filling, pressing the edges to seal completely and take to the oven, baking for approximately 30 minutes, or until the surface is a nice golden colour. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Cover with a flat dish only slightly bigger; grab together firmly and swiftly turn over, as for a tortilla. Do not remove the pan until after a while, making sure that the tarte has completely slid down. Serve warm or at room temperature.
BAKED STRAWBERRIES WITH BALSAMIC VINEGAR
This may raise a few eyebrows and some are likely to find it a weird combination. Fear not, however. Both vinegar and pepper, added discreetly, have the virtue of enhancing the taste of strawberries; so take my word for it; you shall be pleasantly surprised.
– 1 k of strawberries
– 100 g granulated sugar
– 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– Freshly ground black pepper
Place the strawberries in a shallow pan, where they fit closely and sprinkle the sugar over them, as well as the pepper and the balsamic vinegar. Bake in a preheated oven for no more than 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Put the strawberries in a nice glass or crystal dish; decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve with crème frâiche on the side.CHAPTER 4
ROCKET SALAD WITH PROSCIUTTO AND PEARS
– 250 g fresh and tender rocket leaves, better
still if of the "wild" kind
– 1 pear, ripe but firm
– 4 (or more, if you wish) slices of good
– 2 tbsp of good parmigiano shavings (with a
– 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
– 3 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Wash and dry the rocket. Peel the pear, halving it and remove the core and pips; then slice it thinly. With your hands, tear the prosciutto into irregular pieces. Arrange everything prettily in a salad bowl and dress with the salt, pepper, vinegar and oil. Scatter the Parmigiano shavings over the surface. Mix only when serving.
ROAST CHICKEN WITH HONEY AND PEPPER
– 1 whole chicken, perfectly clean, all fat
– 1 tbsp. best runny honey
– 1 tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
– 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
– 1 tsp. salt
– 2 Tbsps. extravirgin olive oil
– 1 sprig of rosemary
When what you really want is a juicy and tender roasted chicken, beautifuly golden at the same time, you must follow a few rules. First of all, roast it whole; for, by cutting it, the bird immediately loses juices and dries out when cooked in the oven, particularly the breast; when what we actually want is to trench it at table and let its juices flow, right?!
In a bowl combine the honey, pepper, salt, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, mixing well. Then, with your hands (the best kitchen utensil!), massage the chicken with the mixture, making sure it is well distributed over the whole bird, including under the skin. Put the sprig of rosemary, lightly crushed, in its cavity; tie up its legs with string and lay in a shallow oven pan only a little bigger than the chicken. Roast in a preheated oven, at high temperature, breast up for the first 20 minutes; then turn on its side, bringing the heat down, for another 15-20 minutes, after which you must turn it again on its opposite side for an equal length of time. Finally turn over, breast side down, and finish cooking for an extra 15-20 minutes. In this way the juices will flow towards the breast, thus keeping it moist and tender. When the chicken is ready remove from the oven and leave, covered, in some warm spot close to the oven. Before serving cut up into 4 or 6 conventional pieces and put them in a serving dish, pouring the juices in a sauce boat. Serve with roasted rosemary potatoes.
Excerpted from Cooking and Loving by Constance Hamilton. Copyright © 2015 Constance Hamilton. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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