Stuffed Courgette Flowers
This is the recipe from my story Flower Power
If you are lucky enough to have your own vegetable garden you can grow courgettes and harvest the flowers yourself. If not, you will have to get them from a farmers market. This makes a light starter.
You will need:
4 courgette flowers per person
A soft sheep’s milk cheese. If this is not available you can use a soft goat’s cheese
2 egg whites
Zest of a lemon, preferably unwaxed
50g fresh breadcrumbs
A handful of finely chopped parsley
A pinch of salt
A thick slice of butter, melted
Begin by making the stuffing. Mash the cheese with a fork and add the lemon zest. Add about 50g of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Now add the breadcrumbs which you can make by whizzing bread – crusts removed – in a food processor. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks and fold in gently. Add a pinch or two of salt and a grinding of black pepper.
Now you need to carefully stuff the flowers. Give the petals a gentle wipe to remove any little bugs that may be nestling in the folds. Taking care not to tear the petals, stick your finger into each flower and break off the stamen that you will find at the base of the flower. You can discard these. Using a small teaspoon or your fingers, place some stuffing inside each flower and then roll up the petals so that the filling cannot fall out. Butter a baking dish just large enough to fit the flowers in one layer. Lay down the filled flowers. Pour over the melted butter and grate over some more parmesan cheese.
Bake at 180C for 15 minutes until golden and puffed up.
Squat Lobster Recipe
This is the recipe mentioned in my Edinburgh Farmers Market post
I cooked this for the first time in Edinburgh having come across these strange looking crustaceans at the Edinburgh Farmers Market.
I had assumed that I should cook the whole thing so I listened carefully while I was instructed to pull off the front section of the squat lobster by twisting off the body. Then I would be left with the tail which is what you want to cook. I have to admit to feeling a bit squeamish for this job especially as we had several kilograms to get through. It seemed a rather cruel way to dispatch these little creatures but I reminded myself that I have cooked many a live crab in my time and shucked endless oysters and put to rest loads of lobsters. It doesn’t help to be sentimental about one’s food. Which is not to say that one should not be respectful.
The kind stall holder gave us a pair of plastic gloves as the squat lobsters are rather spiny and hard going on the fingers.
In our small rented kitchen my husband kindly went to work on the twisting motion and I set to on removing the meat from the tail. This is simply done by squeezing the end of the tail so that the small nugget of meat pops out.
This is not a meal to prepare if you are in a hurry. We worked in tandem for some time to extract enough meat for a small helping for 4 people.
But it was a treat and I suggest you snap these up if you should find them. I have never seen them in a fishmongers so keep an eye out for them in farmers markets. They are very cheap too so a good way to eat some sweet, tender shellfish without denting your wallet.
When you are ready to cook, melt a thick slice of slightly salted butter in a pan. Keeping a gentle heat, add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and some lemon juice.
When the butter is foaming, turn up the heat a bit and add the meat from the squat lobsters. As soon as they turn pink they are done. This should take no longer than a minute or so.
Eat immediately with an extra squeeze of lemon juice, a simple rocket salad and a crusty loaf to soak up the garlicky sauce.
Cote de Boeuf Recipe
This is the cote de boeuf recipe described in my We’ll Always have Paris story.
I went to my local organic butcher asking for a piece of beef to cook cote de boeuf. He told me that what I wanted is called forerib of beef. Ok so I have only ever had it in Paris. He cut a piece that looked about the right size and it weighed in at 1kg. Bear in mind that this is meat on the bone. Still, there was quite a bit left over which was very tasty the next day served with mustard in a sandwich.
Various recipes I consulted suggested heating olive oil and butter but I found that this did not work for me. When I heated the oil and butter to a very high temperature the pan caught fire. I imagine that this was due to some oil catching on the gas. So I then proceeded to start again. This time I rubbed some olive oil into the meat itself, along with a grinding of black pepper, and heated up my stainless steel pan until it was very hot.
Then the meat went into the pan for 3 minutes on each side – don’t move it about. I added a few sprigs of thyme. A lovely crust developed on both sides. Then into a hot oven (200 C) for 10 minutes. I am assuming you will be eating it rare- medium rare. Is there any other way?
Once the meat is done, let it rest under some foil on a warm plate for 10 minutes. This is when I sprinkled on some Maldon sea salt. Don’t do it earlier or you may dry out the meat. Once the meat has rested cut into thick slices. I did try to make a sauce béarnaise to accompany the meat but it curdled and could not be saved. Next time I will give it another go according to the instructions for less experienced chefs as suggested by the great Paul Bocuse in his tome entitled The Cuisine of Paul Bocuse.
I served the meat with a simple potato puree. Boiled some peeled potatoes and when they were drained and dried (do this by putting them back in the hot pot for a few minutes on a low heat), I put them through my potato ricer. To this I added some butter and a little bit of milk. You want the consistency to be like the sort of puree a toddler would eat. I deglazed the meat pan with a splash or two of the cabernet sauvignon we were drinking for dinner and poured this jus over the potatoes.
This was very delicious – one top quality ingredient speaking for itself. Not what I would call a family dinner dish as there would be too much meat to cook all at once. Certainly a treat for an occasion when there are only two of you.
In summary: Get about 1kg of rib of beef from a good butcher. Bring it to room temperature before you cook. Heat a thick bottomed, oven-proof pan or griddle pan until very hot. Rub a bit of oil into the meat and add a grinding of black pepper. Add meat to pan for 3 minutes per side. Do not move it about. Add a few sprigs of thyme. Put pan into oven preheated to 200 C for 10 minutes – for rare to medium-rare. Remove meat to a warm plate and cover loosely with foil and rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle some Maldon sea salt on to the meat. Deglaze pan with a few splashes of red wine. Cut thick slices of meat. Enjoy!!
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