It turned out that Kat is having Mondays-Tuesdays off as her restaurant is closed on these days – which is great, because usually I have days off in the first days of the week as well. Last Monday we spent the day in the kitchen, doing guess what…!
I don’t know… some people might think that we are dead boring with spending all of our spare time in the kitchen, but the thing is that we have to admit: this is a mindblowing hobby (which luckily we can share) and it gives us that certain flow. It’s like shoe shopping: you just simply can’t resist. (I know, I know I shouldn’t buy that pair in the afternoon… they look really… khm… inappropriate for everyday use, if you know, what I mean. I wonder where the hell could I ever wear them…?)
Autumn is here, so Kat preyed some venison, pumpkin, cabbage and pear, and turned them into a super-seasonal autumn dish:
Fillet of venison with dried fruits, red cabbage with adzuki beans,
vanilla pumpkin purée, poached pear and a chocolate-juniper red wine jus
From all the games I have tried so far venison is the only one I really liked. For me it tastes quite sweet, which is fun in terms of meat (I love duck for the same reason). I must be right on this, because Kat seasoned the whole dish in a warm and sweet way with vanilla, star anise, cloves and chocolate (and much love, of course).
* * *
By the way, today it’s Saturday already; it is amazing how quickly time flies when busy with working. Since Monday I didn’t have time to finish off this post and now I really have to pull myself together to remember everything.
(Note on side: right now I’m munching goat cheese dumplings with vanilla sauce, yummi!)
So, fifth time this week I’ll try to immortalize this venison-dish:
First of all Kat carved the pumpkin (these bloody things are so hard to peel) and arranged them on a tray, ready for roasting. The pumpkin was quite big, but more than half of it landed in the bin: the seeds and stuff from inside. It took a fairly long time for the yellow bits to get this lovely brownish color, but we weren’t sitting in front of the oven staring at them.
The adzuki beans took a nice hot water bath on the stove, together with a couple of bay leaves. The label says that the beans need to be soaked for at least 8 hours and then cooked or simmered for another 40 minutes. Well, I’m not sure if we were patient enough… And eventually they ended up in a huuuuuuge pot of steamed red cabbage – which was simply crap in Kat’s opinion. She said that despite of all the seasoning she forced into the pot the cabbage had absolute no taste. In the end she was still very unsatisfied with it ( me… well, that night I had a whole half a cabbage myself, I think it was allright… ;-) ).
The pear jumped into a pot, as well. The slices were poached with all sorts of winter spices and a hibiscus tea bag – the latest was a totally random choice as we had no other tea at home with red colour.
This is not part of the process, I just accidentally dropped a piece of star anise in my glass of wine. (Which was kind of a shitty cooking wine, in a very distant relation to real wines. Rio del Bio Bio Pinot Noir- tastes like some berry juice mixed with a drop of vodka to make it hardcore [wasn’t]. Not that we expected much from a wine costs less than a fiver… :| )
A mountain of dried fruits – apricot, prunes and cranberry – were previously chopped to cover the venison fillet while in the oven. I never knew before that animals have two different types of meat: working parts and tender parts – I found it accidentally on the internet when I was googling for something else (they say that you can not be in love with two at the same time… I can: Google and Wikipedia!) Working parts are meat that need to be cooked for a long time to make them nice and actually enjoyable, whilst tender parts are better cooked quickly, for just a very short time. Fillet is one of these tender cuts.
Meanwhile Kat created the pumpkin purée: she added real vanilla to make it taste even better.
* * *
Right. It’s Tuesday… Where have the days gone?? Sometimes life is only about working-sleeping-working-sleeping… not if I had a choice, haha. :D I always say it’s very important to find a place where you can actually enjoy working. You spend an average forty+ hours per week with certain people, in the same environment, doing this and that – and that is not the amount of time you should waste on people and places which are crap and just make you feel miserable. The first warning sign for me is when you start moaning and complaining about work… pfff… already too bad. If you don’t like it, don’t do it, babe…
So I just wanted to say how much I appreciate my place. :wink:
Back in time now – trying to remember what happened in the kitchen 8 days ago… oh yes, flavours of fall are looming from the distant past…
Whenever Kat says “chocolate” my mouth start watering. She used to use it for cakes and other obvious stuff (which is not bad either…) but recently she boosts up jus and sauces with it. If you have ever tried to add a bit of a white or dark choc to the sauce for the meat, you know what I’m talking about… The most delicious thing in the world!
Juniper is not used only to flavour gin, it goes very well with wild birds and game meats, such as boar and venison. The sharp, distinctive tart flavour come out best if the berries are crushed before use. Kat put a big spoonful of juniper berries in the sauce pan, together with some shallot, garlic, bacon, red wine (yes, the shitty, berry-flavoured one), chocolate!!! and a splash of cream, maybe.
When everything was ready, she plated up the dish and I had about five minutes to make the most out of it before it died and became a lifeless, wrinkly and dry pile of food.
This one up here was the hero-plate, ours did not look that good, haha. What we had on our plate was just a rather bad looking mixture of cabbage, pumpkin purée, watered with sauce and then the meat was sitting on the top.
What can I say, dinner was amazing like always! For wine we had a very random choice of an italian white – yes, we both know that white wine is not really the best choice for venison, but I liked the shape of the bottle so much, it literally jumped into my shopping basket in Tesco. On a wine training I heard that if a vineyard is willing to spend money on their bottle (=they don’t use the cheapest, average shape ones, but put some effort into a heavily built, nice bottle) they won’t do it to fill some crappy wine in it. And this bottle was beautiful!
And if the kitchen was Kat’s playground with me assisting around – the dining table was mine. Poor Kat, she had to keep pouring the wine into the hero-glass for me for an hour… I always wanted to take pictures about that very second when the poured wine is reaching the glass – and finally I did it!!! Ooo, I had so much fun, like a child, surrounded by toys! :))
In as less as 8 days, I managed to finish off the venison story. Kat is laying right here next to me and talking about the next project already…
Very DIY: my extra large black apron as backdrop :-)