Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Broccoli Rabe and Cauliflower accompaniment. Better post titles welcome.

Although we are 48 hours away from our winter solstice it's 23 degrees and bright sunshine this Sunday.I don't actually have my Australian Passport yet so I'd better make safe and spark up the barbie:- I can do without a visit from the Immigration Department and barbie-ing is The Law under these conditions.

But what to cook?
I'm going to work backwards today. I turn my back on the barbie (Icannot type that while I still hold a British Passport, it's got to be BBQ) and spy my vegetable beds. Raised zinc vegetable beds. Oi, oi Tufty - your number's up: Broccoli Rabe.

Rappini, Broccolini, Broccoli Rabe. Bitter, leafy, stalky and eventually I am told, flowery. But always full of vitamin C and iron. Erect outer leaves cut off at the stalks, plant still growing. Wash, cut in to four or five sections of 4cm lengths and blanched.

Moisture squeezed out and thrown in to a pan containing sizzling sliced red chilli, a teaspoon of roasted garlic and lots of olive oil. Let the greens steep in the aromatics and be coated with the flavoured oil. Add half a cup of water and put the lid on, simmer for 5 minutes, lid off for 5 to let water evaporate. (Hey, that's just like the Tzh Tzai Choi , guess this must be the best tried and tested cross-cultural fail-safe way to get the most out of bitter, dark green leaves! Why, yes, yes it is! Toast pine-nuts in the olive oil for curly kale leaves, add lots of black pepper and finish with grated parmesan).

So far so good, what's in the fridge? Boiled cauliflower florets. I sense a contrast of flavours, colours and textures afoot: Mild musty cauliflower and intense, fresh rappini. Darkest green broccoli rabe and anaemic cauliflower. Shreds of leaf still with a bite and mush. In fact I mush the cooked cauliflower between my fists to purge the water - few things do I detest more than watery food. In to the rappini pan with some oil from a jar of anchovies, a fillet or two set to melt in the bottom. Mix well and let bubble then splash in cream to bind. Salt and pepper to taste. In fact, and this almost never does cauliflower any harm in fact it is character building, let it get a crispy bottom. N.B. this is also superbly low-carb and will go with any well flavoured meat. You know who you are.

Time to think of the main act.
Not sausages. Not Australian BBQ snags. Don't get me started. The German butcher is shut and there are no boerworst at my fabulous GorBlimey local butcher, Steve, today. But there is steak. It must be steak.

You know how to barbecue steak right?
Well fill in your own captions to the following. And if you don't then beg me in the comments box below.

The gravy was made by taking the steak juices over the heat while the steak was resting on a warm plate and stirring in dijon mustard and straining directly over the plate.

Now I have earthy, salty vegetables cut with cream for texture which will mop up the meat juices and gravy, I need a blend of fresh/sweet/acid to finish the job.
Tomatoes with garlic chives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Perfect. You know how to skin a tomato, right? No tomato should be eaten with it's jacket on in winter. Too tweedy. Gah.

I do not stack or tower or deep fry shredded baby leeks nor do I smear or even sprinkle at the point of presentation. I 'm not technically a chef and I more concerned with ease of eating than with fuss.

Suffice to say the Holden full of officers from the Department Of Immigration and Citizenship drawn up at the front were satisfied. Plus my mother in law was watching The Dockers in her Uggs.*

* not really.

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