Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Purple Rain

I did a lot of cooking last night. I made a half coq-au-vin, some beetroot soup and chargrilled some oil-free red peppers for fatless future snacking. I was up ‘til 2 am last night, and was absolutely buggered today. Mind you, I didn’t study at all last night, I was just cooking. I… am an idiot.

105. Beetroot Soup
106. Half Coq-au-vin

Both the beetroot soup and the stew are designed to be made in advance, and reheated as desired. I actually just made these recipes for the sake of it, without any concrete idea as to when we’d eat them. But when I opened the stew pot and saw the purple shade, I just knew that we had to eat it as soon as possible, with the (also purple) beetroot soup I’d just made.

To make the beetroot soup, you have to boil some beetroot in lots of water for a couple of hours until tender, then drain them. Once they’ve cooled a bit, you then peel off the skins and blend them with Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar, adding enough of the (now deep, deep red) cooking water to make it soupy. I had to add quite a bit of water to get a decent texture.

Beet soup in blender

The half coq-au-vin, (which I presume is called “half” because it’s reduced fat) is just an ordinary stew, and now that I’ve made a few stews, I’ve got into the swing of it. In general, it seems that you make stews by browning some meat, cooking up onions, carrots and/or celery, with herbs and spices, before re-adding the browned meat and some liquid. Then it’s just a matter of letting it cook slowly for an hour or more.

This one is actually very similar in flavour to the braised pheasant I made recently – they both contain red wine, bacon, onions, mushrooms and onions – but the half-coq au vin is heaps nicer! The liquid in question is a mixture of chicken stock and some reduced red wine (boiled up with various herbs), which gives an insanely purple shade to the chicken.

Purple Coq 1

Once it’s had its hour on the stove, Nigella says to heat some brandy in a ladle over a flame, let it ignite, and stir it into the stew. How fun! I love doing this kind of stuff. Once upon a time I would have found this step intimidating, but not anymore. I used to do this all the time at my old (crap) job, when I was a crepe flambeuse extraordinaire. I've left that job, but the pyromania hasn't left me.

And I’m not ashamed to admit (although perhaps I should be) that last night, when I opened the pot, the first words that popped out of my mouth were, “Oh my God! Look at that purple coq!”

This, of course, opened the floodgates for an onslaught of jokes. For example... today at uni with my mates…

“Hey, guess what I’m eating tonight!”
“Mmm… can’t wait to eat that purple coq.”
“I hope the coq tastes alright.”

… and so on. Well, I thought it was funny. And the stew gets more purple as it sits.

How purple!

So tonight when I came home, I didn’t really have to do any cooking at all. I just put some rice in the rice cooker, put the pots on the stove, and sat back to watch Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge.

The stew was good – salty and winey and, as Nigella says, “proper and comforting and old-fashioned”.

We weren’t super-crazy about the soup. I thought it was alright, but not spectacular. It did have a smooth texture and nicely mild beetroot taste, but I think we just don’t like beetroot. There are three beetroot recipes in the Low Fat chapter, and none of them have been fab. They were ok, but they’re definitely on the list of must-repeat-soon-recipes.

Beetroot soup - served with o% fat yogurt

Coq on plate

1 comment:

be_zen8 said...

Opps, sorry, the Green and Black's recipe (on my journal) calls for 300g of chocolate with no less than 60% cocoa. We used Lint 70% but in retrospect, I would have made it with half dark half milk.