Thursday, 22 May 2008

Veal Shankanigans – Long Post Alert!!

Ok …. Firstly much salutatious greetings with balloons and creamy icing birthday cakes to P!!! Hope he enjoys our pressie which was seriously outclassed by the shiny blue metallic ipod shuffle he got from T&S – welcome to the 21st century … finally!!! 1gb is more than ample for you, but its like pricking a large pvc balloon with a sewing needle for me!! (Hhmm … did this work? Oh Whatevs!!!)

This cook-up was a bit special in that we cooked for 2 extra peops … P’s housemate T and his gf S. (this initial thing is getting a bit ridiculous … no?) Its one thing to have ourselves as guinea pigs … but its something altogether more stressful having guinea pigs that aren’t in the plastic wheel with you. “Two men in … one men out”

As always, the day started with a “round-table” discussion as to what we were going to actually cook. P had made the executive decision (“it’s your birthday”) on the veal shanks and consommé, so we had to decide on sweets, another entre and sides.

I suggested a cheese soufflé as an additional entre and a clafoutis for dessert. The Veal Shanks recipe we were working off had a vegetable component which did for one side. There was also a suggested pasta dish – macaroni in veal stock, which we decided would work as well.

So we made our shopping list and then it was off to Vic Market … in cold icy wet weather I might add … YET AGAIN!!!

I’m always telling M that we should go to Vic Markets more often. We’re really not that far from the place but can you imagine the amount of money we’d spend each time??

We ended up back at the same deli and our friendly brie-dispensing chick served us again. She kinda recognized me. P bought a slab of butter big enough for a day’s worth of bread at a bakery .. hehe. We were looking for a type of cheese called Cantal, which was the recommended type for the Cheese soufflé – they didn’t have any, but suggested Comte instead. We didn’t really know how much we needed so it was just as well that we didn’t get any Comte. True to form M picked the larger of the 2 pieces which was going to cost us $33. And we only needed 80gm!!!

When we got back to P’s house, we popped a bottle of P’s “special” white wine and started on the stock. M was more concerned about stuffing cheese down everyone’s throats. We were all pretty excited about the Wenslydale that M got at the markets … cue pathetic Wallace and Grommit impersonations … sometimes I wonder ….

Its like when you mention Monty Python with peops like this …. Oh.My.God.

I shouldn’t be such a hypocrite, quite a number of phrases now pepper my daily conversations as a result of a less than healthy obsession with French and Saunders … for instance:

“How true!” “Done! Deal struck” “I’ve got arms!!!” “Squashy legs!” “A bit like the war … without the war”
but to name a few.

Anyways onto the stock. Apparently P had said that he was going to prepare this beforehand, I must not have been part of the conversation. Stock making is fairly straightforward ... usually a stand back and throw method of some description. BUT stock making for a consommé has the added process of clarification. I was very excited about this particularly the use of egg shells in the mix … its one of those magical chemical things that happens every now and then in the kitchen … like how egg whites froth up into a peak for instance. However it was not to be as we ran out of time …!!!
With the stock on the go we got down to the business of the veal shanks. Paul placed them in individual oven bags each with a portion of veal stock. I prepared the mirepoire (such a nice word for a what is basically a combination of vegetables sweated out in oil) which then went into the oven bags with the veal. These were placed in a bain marie and straight into the oven for 5 hours.
Now we started the day close to 1pm … so you do the math.

M worked on dessert which was the cherry clafoutis … apparently this is one of the many signature French desserts … fairly simple in its construction but absolutely heaven on the palate.

We had a bit of a spell discussing the intricacies of P’s ikebana arrangement – I think I zoned out a little (sorry P) but I caught something about condensation or other …?? Who knows. M crapped on about the Golden Mean and then it was time to sort out the veg and the pasta.

There was time for T to have a little snooze (yes people … the sun set some time ago) and the first course was on the table at about 9.30 – ish!!!

We had to ditch the idea of the consommé because we didn’t have time to wait for the stock (Part 1) to set so I missed out on the egg-shell bit. But I had enough to contend with keeping fingers and legs crossed as the soufflé mix went in the oven.

But finally SUCCESS!!

So the menu for the evening:

Entre – Cheese Souffle (using Wenslydale … the only way to say this is with a Yorkshire accent)
Main – Slow-cooked Veal Shanks served with root vegetables and macaroni cooked in veal stock
Dessert – Cherry Clafoutis
All in all it was yet another successful French cook-up.

Oh and I forgot to mention … I bought a 35gm lump of truffle for $35 … the only drawback is that its not quite ripe yet. So its wrapped up in gladwrap and aluminium foil in a Ziploc bag in the fridge. Very excitement!!!
Oh and also at some point in the evening we realised that we were all in "couture" of some description. M & P were in Paul Smith (I know M!!! Could you die? Well he didn't pay for it). But I trumped the lot in my Comme des Garcons.


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