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Plank roasted salmon fillet with miso and soy

I received a gift of the new Tomasu Soy set from Big Green Egg Europe just before Christmas. The soy sauce itself is very interesting in that it is brewed here in the Netherlands, in comparison with traditional Japanese soy brands it has a lighter salt flavour and less anise notes. I decided to use it in this recipe as I wanted a good balance of flavours, between the saltiness of the miso and also the sweetness of the mirin. Roasting it on the cedar plank brought a nice smoky edge which rounded it off nicely.

20ml Tomasu soy
40ml mirin
30g red miso paste
2 150g salmon fillets 
1 cedar plank soaked in water for at least 2 hours

Mix together the soy, mirin and miso until the miso has dissolved
Pour about 3/4 of the mix over the salmon and ensure it is coated on all sides, allow to marinade for 3-4 hours
Set your barbecue up for direct cooking at 160c
Briefly place the plank logo side down on the griddle for 2 minutes, turn over and place the salmon fillets skin side down on the plank and place on the griddle
Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, basting every 5 minutes until the salmon reaches 63c core temp

Roast Poussin

I love a roast chicken, poussin which is a young chicken is one of my favourites. It's a great way of having a roast bird all to yourself. If serving with other side dishes then one poussin will serve two people quite nicely. I like to keep it simple, just stuff with herbs, garlic and onion and roast it on the BBQ. For those of you who don't barbecue the whole year round, then you can roast it in the oven.

1 poussin
15ml of oil or duck fat to baste the poussin 
Salt and pepper to season
5 cloves of garlic
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 small onion halved

Stuff the cavity of the poussin with the garlic, onion herbs and thyme
Pour over the oil/fat and massage all over
Season the bird with the salt and pepper
Place the poussin in the oven at 190c normal oven 180c fan for 45-55 minutes  or for BBQ set the Barbecue up for indirect cooking at 190c and cook for 45-55 minutes or until it hits 68c core temp 
Once the poussin is cooked, cover with foil and allow to rest in a warm place

Nigel Slater's cheese and thyme puddings

I've been a fan of Nigel Slater's for many years and this is one of my favourite recipes of his. I call it a cheat's souffle as it's almost like one but with a little less fuss. My favourite cheese is goats cheese for this recipe as it goes well with thyme, but you can also use a blue cheese or strong cheddar and change the herb to chives. I like to add dijon to the recipe to bring out the flavour of the cheeses.

10g butter
70g grated parmesan
2 eggs separated (Place the whites in a large bowl and the yolks in a smaller one)
120g goats cheese log
50ml  cream or creme fraiche

10ml dijon mustard
10g thyme leaves finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) 200c (Normal)
Butter 4 small 150ml ramekins
Mash the goats cheese and parmesan into the egg yolks, then stir in the cream, dijon and chopped thyme
Season with salt and pepper
Whisk the egg whites until they are almost stiff, then fold gently into the cheese mixture
Pour the mixture into the ramekins filling about three quarters full
Put the dishes onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the are lightly risen and have a slight wobble
Serve immediately

Apple and pear chutney

Apples and pears are at their best this time of year and this chutney is a great way of preserving them. This goes really well with cured meats, pates and mature or blue cheeses 

6 apples roughly chopped
6 pears roughly chopped
3 red onions roughly chopped
250ml cider vinegar
200g brown sugar

Place all ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil
Reduce the heat and simmer until it has reached a thick consistency, keep stirring to ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan
Place in sterilised jars when cool
Best to wait a couple of weeks for the flavours to mellow but if you can't wait, it can be eaten within a couple of days

Pot roast Guinea fowl

Guinea fowl is a great alternative to chicken, it has a gamier flavour. It does however dry out a little easier than chicken so pot roasting is a great way of cooking it and retaining flavour and moisture at the same time. They are a little on the small side so will feed 2-3 people.
1 Guinea fowl (approx 1kg)

Soy sauce brine
100ml soy sauce
10g brown sugar
10g salt
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 litre water

Mix all the ingredients together until the salt and sugar have dissolved
Place the guinea fowl in the brine and leave for at least 4 - 6 hours
Once brined, remove the guinea fowl, dry off excess moisture with kitchen paper and place in the fridge for 2 hours to air dry
Strain the brine mix and keep the star anise, the shallot, bay and garlic for cooking later

Pot roast
100ml rice wine or verdejo madeira wine
300ml chicken stock
30ml oil for frying
4 small carrots, topped, tailed, peeled and left whole
6 small potatoes, unpeeled and sliced in half
30g butter to finish the sauce
Salt and pepper to season

In a heavy bottomed casserole or cast iron pan, brown off the guinea fowl in the oil until you have a nice colour on all sides
De-glaze the bottom of the pan with the wine and then add the chicken stock
Place the shallots, start anise, bay and garlic in the pan
Place the guinea fowl on top and place the lid on the pan
You can either cook this on a medium heat on the stove top or in the oven at 170c (fan), 180c (normal) for 60 minutes until the core temperature reaches 68c
My preference is to cook it on the Big Green Egg, indirect 180c with the lid off for 30 minutes and then on for the last 30 minutes
About 30 minutes into the cooking time, take the guinea fowl out and place the carrots and potatoes in the pan, place the guinea fowl back on top with the lid on and continue cooking
Once the guinea fowl is cooked, remove to a warm place and allow to rest
Remove the vegetables and place to one side to keep warm
Strain the cooking liquor and pour back into the pan, allow to reduce until it thickens slightly, finish with the butter

Goat cheese and roast butternut squash ravioli

Butternut squash and goat cheese work so well together. You get the contrast of the sweet squash and the sharpness of the cheese. I like to roast the squash to intensify the flavour. It's a wonderful dish for this time of year with squash being in season. 

Pasta dough
200g '00' pasta flour
2 eggs
1 egg yolk

If making by hand, mix all ingredients together until it forms a ball
Knead for 1-2 mins
If using a food processor pulse all ingredients together until they form a ball 
Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge.

100g roasted butternut squash pureed until smooth
50g fresh chives finely chopped
100g goat cheese finely chopped
50g parmesan grated
Salt and pepper

With a fork, mix the puree in a bowl with the goat cheese and parmesan, ensuring there are no large lumps of goat cheese
Season with salt and pepper 

To make the Ravioli
Roll out the dough until it is "paper thin" or you can at least almost see your hands through the dough
The setting will vary from pasta roller to pasta roller, but the hand technique is a good gauge for ensuring your ravioli will not be too thick

If making by hand
Have two lengths of pasta dough the same size, side by side
On one, place your filling at intervals using a teaspoon along the pasta dough ensuring there is a good sized gap between each piece of filling
With your finger, wet the dough around the filling
Place the other length of pasta over the filling and press the dough around the filling, ensure there are no air pockets
Cut the dough into shape using either a pastry cutter or pasta cutter
Place on a tray dusted with flour in the fridge until you are ready to cook

If using a ravioli tray
Roll out two lengths of dough slightly bigger than the size of your tray
Place one on the tray and press the dough into the holes gently
Place the filling into the holes
Wet the pasta around the outside of the holes
Place the other length over the top and using a rolling pin roll the pasta on the tray so that it gets cut by the serrated edge of the tray
Remove the ravioli and place on a tray dusted with flour covered in the fridge
Repeat until you have used all the dough and the filling

To cook the ravioli
Place the ravioli in a large pan of boiling salted water and cook for 3 minutes
Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and allow to drain on some kitchen paper
I like to serve this with a sage butter (50g salted butter, gently melted with 5 finely chopped sage leaves)

Slow cooked rabbit with Dijon mustard and cider

Growing up my family ate a lot of rabbit. Mostly it was boiled in water and then fried and that was it. It was only when I bought a cookbook called Cuisine Grandmere and having spent some time in France that I realised there was more to rabbit than just a dry chewy piece of meat. Wild rabbit will require a long slow cook and can be quite dry, so is well suited to casseroles. Cider and mustard work really well together in the sauce, the tang of the mustard complements the sweetness of the cider. 

4 rabbit legs
2 shallots roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot finely chopped
100g pancetta or smoked streaky bacon cut into small cubes
20g dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1  small sage leaf
1 sprig rosemary
250ml cider (use an off dry cider)
250ml chicken stock
30ml creme fraiche
20g butter (I use this to help finish the sauce)
50ml oil for frying
Salt and pepper to season

In a heavy based cast iron pan, on a low heat fry the shallots, celery, carrot and garlic in the oil until soft and translucent
Add the pancetta and fry for at least 7 minutes until it starts to release its fat, you don't want this to get crispy
Remove these ingredients to one side, retaining the fat in the pan and turning the heat up high and brown the rabbit legs on each side for 1 minute, you do not want to cook them through, just give them a little colour
Remove the rabbit to one side and keeping the heat high, add the cider and allow to boil for about 1 minute, this cooks off the harsh alcohol
Using a pastry or silicone brush, brush the rabbit legs in the mustard, making sure to cover all over
Lower the heat and add the onion mix and rabbit back to the pan along with the herbs, top up with the chicken stock
Place in the oven at 140c (fan), 150c (normal) for 2 hours with the lid on
If cooking on the BBQ, set up for indirect at 140c, you can also add some apple chips for extra flavour, I like to keep the lid off on the BBQ as it allows the flavours to develop
One the cooking time is finished remove the pan from the oven or BBQ
To finish the sauce, remove the rabbit to one side and keep warm
Place the pan on a low heat on the hob, add the creme fraiche and stir through for about 5 mins, turn off the heat and add the butter to thicken the sauce
Place the rabbit back in the pan to warm through before serving and season to taste
I like to serve this with a rich and creamy mash.