A tribute to my rosemary plant, who sadly passed away after 4 years of loyally providing springs for many different dishes It was a very long Winter and… sadly, it just gave up waiting for the sun and the good weather, leaving a big empty to fill in my kitchen. I got it as a birthday present and, in the meanwhile, a lot had happened. It made my company during many hours of happy and unhappy moments, inspired and uninspired cooking, every day and festive meals… Dishes like this chestnut with rosemary pesto, this roasted chicken or this fish wrapped in ham, to mention a few. How to better to celebrate her life but to use it in a Thomas Keller dish?
For the brine
- 85g honey (app 1/4) cup + 2 tablespoons honey
- 12 bay leaves
- 3 fresh rosemary springs
- bunch of fresh thyme sprigs (about 15g)
- bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley springs (about 15g)
- 12 cloves garlic, crushed with the skin left on
- 2 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 150g salt
- 2L water
For the pork
- 2 pork tenderloin, silverskin removed
- Olive oil to taste
- salt & pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 garlic clove, crushed
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 fresh rosemary spring
- 8 slices cured lemon slices
- sea salt
Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a big pot, cover and bring to boil. Stir and let it boil until the salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.
Put the pork tenderloin and brine in a bowl just big enough to hold them. Let sit in the fridge for 4 hours. Be careful about the time – otherwise the pork will be too salty.
Remove the pork from the brine, discarding the liquid. Rinse it & pat the meat until dry. Let the pork rest at room temperature for about half hour.
In the meanwhile, preheat oven to 175oC/350 F.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan until piping hot. Season the tenderloin for salt and pepper, add them to pan and sear until golden brown in all sides (about 6min).
Add the butter, garlic, thyme, rosemary and lemon slices. Let it cook for another 2min, tilting the pan and using a spoon to baste the pork with the pan juices. r two minutes basting the herbs, lemon & garlic with the juices in the pan.
Transfer the pork to a roasting pan with a rack set in it. Overlap the lemon slices down the length of the tenderloin, overlapping them a little. Top with the thyme, rosemary and garlic. Roast for 20 minutes, until the core of the pork is between 60oC-65oC. Remove from the heat and let it rest for 15min (it should be medium-rare to medium).
Slice the pork in diagonal unto 1 to 3cm thick slices. Arrange the slices on a serving platter and garnish with the garlic, rosemary and salt.
If you are about my age, and studied organic chemistry, there is a very big chance one of your lab practices was the synthesis of anisaldehyde, a chemical compound which is found in anise, tastes like licorice and smells of sweet almonds. I don’t recall it as being excessively difficult, but what made this lab memorable was the strong aniseed smell of the whole experiment. It was like a haze that would stay with you for a couple of days, and sort of thing that would put you off of anything that might resemble it. For example, licorice, almond oil or even amarguinha, a Portuguese almond liqueur. Later, in my short (but intense) academic career, I ended up using anysaldehyde in my experiments for a good 4 years. It still smelled the same, and it still would give me headaches.
Needless is to say, my motivation for using anything that might be slightly aniseed was almost non existing. But, one day I took a picked a bit fennel salad in a buffet. And, much to my surprise, it tasted good. It was crunchy, fresh and it had a slight taste of anise, that just made it a bit more interesting. A vegetable you could see in a salad during Summer, or in a more autumnal roast. Or, all year round paired with fish – a combination of flavors made in heaven.
Baked salmon with fennel and tomatoes
- 2 medium fennel bulbs
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- zest and juice 1 lemon
- 175g cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 salmon fillets , about 175g each
- few black olives (optional)
Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Trim the fronds from the fennel and set aside. Cut the fennel bulbs in half, then cut each half into 3 wedges. Cook in boiling salted water for 10 mins, then drain well. Chop the fennel fronds roughly, then mix with the parsley and lemon zest.
Spread the drained fennel over a shallow oven proof dish, then add the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil, then bake for 10 mins. Nestle the salmon among the veg, sprinkle with lemon juice, then bake 15 mins more until the fish is just cooked. Scatter over the parsley and serve.
Mafalda, a 6-year-old Argentinian girl, who is deeply concerned about humanity and world peace, loves The Beatles and rebels against the current state of the world, hated soup. Totally and vehemently. And, her dislike of soup appears to have been transmitted to her fans, including myself. Not until recently I have started to appreciate soup. I might eat a mean gazpacho in the peak of Summer, but I used to welcome soup with the same enthusiasm than a double root-canal. Even away from my parent’s home, I could hear my Mother said “Oh, but is so healthy, it has so many vitamins and minerals…”. Probably today, she would have said something around the lines of “it has loads of antioxidants…” But, over the years my culinary tastes have changed, and I came to appreciate it. In Winter, a rich soup a rich soup nourish the soul and comfort the body. In Summer, it can be cooling and refreshing. At the end, it seemed to be our parents were right about it.
Before Summer is over, I decided to give it a go to this chicken and buttermilk soup I saw on The Guardian. Dishes by Yotam Ottolenghi very-very-rarely goes wrong, and this Summer soup looked refreshing, velvety and packed with different flavors and textures. I was not disappointed. In fact, I might even start to serve in Winter, to remind me of the long lost Summer.
Chicken and buttermilk cold soup
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
- 1 large onion, chopped into 2cm dice
- 3 small whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 free-range chicken drumsticks or thighs, skinned
- 2 small potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
- Zest of 1 lemon, half of it shaved into strips, the rest grated
- Salt and white pepper
- About 800ml chicken stock
- 250ml buttermilk (or whole milk)
- 15g each fresh basil, coriander and mint leaves, roughly shredded
- ½ tbsp sumac
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic on a low heat for five to 10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the chicken, potatoes, lemon strips, a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of white pepper. Pour in stock just to cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the chicken is cooked.
Remove and discard the lemon strips, and transfer the chicken to a bowl. Blitz the soup until smooth and leave to cool down. Once cool, stir in the grated lemon zest and buttermilk. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and refrigerate until cold. Take it out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving, so it’s chilled but not fridge-cold.
Just before serving, shred the chicken off the bones, and fry the shredded meat in the remaining olive oil on a high heat until golden and crispy. Divide the soup among the bowls, add the shredded chicken and herbs, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with sumac and serve.
If you want to serve it as a hot dish, warm it up very gently after stirring in the buttermilk, to avoid curdling