100 Recipes for Entertaining by Raymond Blanc [free pdf books download]


  • Full Title : 100 Recipes for Entertaining (My Kitchen Table)
  • Autor: Raymond Blanc
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2012
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849904359
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849904353
  • Download File Format: azw3

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Baked Pancakes with Gruyere, Risotto with Mussels, Tomato Fondue, and more

Raymond Blanc has chosen 100 sensational but easily achievable recipes that will wow readers’ guests and impress their friends. From a simple, but classic French Onion Soup or Coq au Vin to the finest Roast Rib of Beef or Pork Fillet with Onion and Garlic Puree, these are foolproof go-to recipes. With perfect desserts, such as Black Cherry Tart or Strawberry Sorbet, this book will become the first book to turn to for a meal to impress, whether for a weekend banquet or weeknight feast. Includes dual measures.

 

About the Author

Raymond Blanc is the Michelin-starred owner of Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and author of many acclaimed books including Simple French Cookery.

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by now, I was completely preoccupied with calories and dizzied with the task of reducing my intake of fat to zero, if I could only figure out how while still chewing food. I consumed countless fat-free fads like a glutton consumes cake.

It wouldn’t be long before the unrelenting spoon in my father’s hand would rekindle my cravings. Living in Lebanon and spending summers in the south of France, my distant love affair with real, honest food would find its way back to my heart.

Eventually, my siblings followed suit to Lebanon and, as the eldest sister, I was promoted to chief household feeder. It’s here that I really began to appreciate my love for cooking and for feeding others. More importantly, though, I discovered a cheap and rewarding form of therapy.

Back Stateside again

Fresh into my twenties, I wandered back Stateside, hoping for a bigger poke at life. I drifted aimlessly, chasing lands with flashing neon signs to nickname home. It took a few extended pitstops in Montreal and Houston before I cozied up in Miami with my British flame, now husband, Chris.

Between finding houses for people to buy, flats to rent and mortgages to sign, I managed to gain a reputation as both a wild child and a snow trader to the Inuit. With a heavy workload ahead, I would spend long, therapeutic Saturdays cooking the foods of my homeland, not just to nourish us through the week, but also to satiate the longing. As I whisked, chopped and stirred, as I smelled, tasted and watched others savor each bite, I could fleetingly stumble across that comfortable feeling of belonging. Barbecues were alight nearly every weekend; stray friends, relentless sunshine and unceasing home-cooked Lebanese food meant we almost had it all figured out. And it was during those days in Miami that the idea of a cookbook came to exist, one day in my retirement.

As time passed, we moved on to the even sunnier shores of Maui, Hawaii, where I managed Lahaina Store Grill and Oyster Bar. Chained to the gates of a 500-seater restaurant, I gained force (and weight) by eating island-sized portions of oysters, tuna (poke) and seafood chowder.

But Island Fever would soon catch up with Chris and me, chucking us into the chills of London on an early February morning. Between the aching temperature drop, a brand new culture and a very naked wardrobe, I struggled to brace myself against the screeching and howling winds of change. So, I cooked and I cooked, because that was all that made sense, and here I am now writing that cookbook but not yet retired.

Aromas drifting from the past

The Middle East cradles an ancient cuisine; one of the oldest in the world. It is a cuisine engraved in the tablets of history, although foreign policies, the clash of civilizations and a concern to travel to the region, have kept it but a whisper beneath the dust.

Of course, that’s not to downplay a much-deserved tribute to pioneering cookery writers who have championed the cuisine of this region, most notably Claudia Roden, Paula Wolfert, Charles Perry, Arto Der Haroutunian, Anissa Helou, Najmeh Batmanglij and Margaret Shaida. The cuisines, however, have not yet achieved the celebratory recognition of the food of France, Italy, Spain, India or China.

Set the clock back several hundred years, and there was a time in Europe when Middle Eastern food was more than trendy. During the Middle Ages, Islam was the most advanced civilization in the world, contributing vastly to the advancement of Europe in the spheres of science, technology, medicine, art, architecture and food. Over time, with Muslim expansionism and the Crusaders’ travels to the Holy Lands, trade expanded and flourished, and spices and exotic ingredients flowed along the Spice Routes, greatly influencing the European palate. Plum pudding, gingerbread, coffee, almond paste, rice pudding, cinnamon, nutmeg and saffron can all be traced through the pages of old cookbooks.

Over the last decade, meze has settled well on Western dining room tables, and almost everyone knows its main ambassadors: hummus, tabbouleh and grape leaves. But there still exists a vast and distinct culinary heritage that remains unexplored: wholesome stews, exotic casseroles and a range of domestic cooking that routinely welcomes home hungry school children and soothes the appetites of tired workers. These are the dishes that feed the peasants and the affluent alike, and many are dishes that have drifted in straight from the past.

Culinary footprints

With Arabic being the predominant language of the territories that make up the Middle East, most dishes across the region share the same name, with their diversity concealed in the seasonings and preparation methods. This also lends a friendly culinary rivalry between the countries of the region, where the few dishes that are specialities of a particular country become integral to its national identity. Take musakhan, for example. While popular in both Palestine and Jordan, ask a Palestinian and they will swear it’s their own culinary treasure.

Middle Eastern food has also been influenced by visiting cultures, as peoples from both East and West have danced and mingled on Middle Eastern soil, each leaving behind a footprint from its own tradition without troubling the fundamental flavors. For example, Persian, Iraqi and Gulf cuisines share many similarities and, while they also show traces of Mediterranean influences, they are, in particular, more abundant in meat, overflowing with rice dishes, and have taken much of their use of spices from India.

The Mediterranean cuisines of Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan and North Africa use prolific amounts of pulses, grains, nuts, citrus fruits, garlic, fresh herbs, allspice and to some extent olive oil.

Eating the Middle Eastern way

In a Middle Eastern kitchen, fresh ingredients are celebrated in tune with the seasons or conserved as part of the ritual of preservation; simple yet clever. Real home-style dishes revolve around humble vegetables and grains, which are used to extend the limited amounts of meat that might be available. While an abundance of invigorating spices prevail in the cuisine, heat for the most part does not dwell in it. Exceptions can be found in some of the dishes of North Africa, Turkey, Palestine and Yemen.

Garlic, lemon and fresh herbs feature heavily and there is an affectionate respect for marrying sweet and sour tones with the use of verjuice, pomegranate molasses and citrus fruit. Yogurt is enjoyed on its own, as labneh, or as an integral part of many dishes—so much so it’s difficult to imagine this cuisine without it. Of even more significance, though, is the use of bread. Not only nutritional, it’s served with every meal, however humble or lavish, and used interchangeably with or even replacing silverware (for most in the region, eating many of the dishes without bread to mop up the juices is inconceivable). Moreover, it’s also considered a gift from God, to be cherished and honored. So intricate to the culture is bread, and the ritual surrounding its breaking, that a well-known proverb demonstrates the intimacy and unbreakable bonds of friendship it represents: “there is bread and salt between us.”

The generous table

Religion and landscape have contributed to the strict notions of hospitality in the Middle East, lavishing this ancient culture with virtues, customs and overwhelming etiquettes. A Middle Eastern meal is a titilating contradiction to the rigid, three-course Western meal. In fact, it begins well before anyone sits down at the table. Guests are always greeted with tea and a selection of dried fruit, nuts and pastries to unfasten their appetite for the real feast.

The meal that follows is relaxed and fluid and, depending on location and social class, diners might gather around either a table or a sofrah, which may be as simple as a cloth laid out on the floor. The table is adorned like a glistening Byzantine empress, with a wide variety of dishes, served in a quick procession. Guests use bread instead of silverware to scoop up food from the communal dishes or from their own plates. One can expect to be urged toward second and third helpings, so a wise diner eats less on the first helping. The more you eat, the more pleasure and pride your host experiences, feeling they have done their job well in taking good care of you. Desserts are not usually eaten after a meal, although guests might enjoy fresh fruits and sweet pastries with their tea. This overwhelming generosity is not only the preserve of the wealthy; genuine hospitality is shown right across the social scale, sometimes even beyond a family’s means.

A culinary marriage

Growing up, I repeatedly heard my father quote the Chinese philosopher, Confucius: “Study the past if you would define the future.” This would become a philosophy to which I prescribe, especially when contemplating Middle Eastern cuisine. I am as fascinated by the history of our cuisine, its ancient recipes, techniques and rituals, as I am by the new and wonderful dishes it can inspire.

This philosophy, though, is not always welcome when approaching such a deep-rooted cuisine. More than once, I have come up against relatives who have challenged the most miniscule alteration I have made to a dish, outraged by the fact that I dared to call it by the same name. “This is not how you make moghrabieh!” “No, no, you cannot put cumin in kebbeh! What, are you crazy?” You see, although Middle Eastern and North African culinary traditions celebrate an abundance of regional variations that have been passed down over the years without precise measurements, each family and each village has become chained to its own set beliefs.

A few brave chefs have begun dabbling with modern Middle Eastern cuisine, among them Greg Malouf, although this is still a fairly new concept. The result is that we now have a large blank canvas to begin working on, and this is what excites me: cooking the foods of my childhood while knowing that there is a vast expanse of wonder and innovation to look forward to. All we need to do is to grasp the opportunity without fear or hesitation. We are not disrespecting our past or our traditions but, rather, admiring where they have brought us and, when coupled with our present, where they might lead us.

The jeweled kitchen

Developing the recipes for my first book has been both a revelation of the Middle Eastern and North African culinary traditions and a tantalizing glimpse at the possibilities that lie ahead. I like to think of this book as an ode to the treasured dishes of the past, embracing a creative and contemporary approach. I hope it will ignite (and feed) your curiosity as it has inspired and excited my own.

Over the following chapters you’ll find ideas for marvelous meze, poultry, meat, seafood and vegetarian dishes. Some of these beautiful dishes can be thrown together from scratch in a matter of minutes, while more ambitious dishes are made easy with clear directions and clever cooking techniques.

I have also indulged the sweet tooth of my childhood to tempt you with recipes for irresistible desserts and delicate pastries. The final chapter will help you master the cornerstones of the cuisine, with recipes for breads, dips, condiments, spice mixes, stocks, cheese and pastry, as well as advice on how to prepare and cook rice and chickpeas perfectly.

With this book you can explore the Persian love of herbs and fragrance, the hearty and comforting dishes of the Mediterranean and the rich variety of ingredients celebrated by the cuisines of the Gulf, as you turn humble ingredients into a beguiling array of spectacular, contemporary dishes.

The Middle Eastern & North African pantry

All of the authentic ingredients used in this book are readily available online or from specialist grocers, but you might feel unsure about using some of the more exotic ingredients such as mahlab or Aleppo pepper. Don’t worry. The glossary at the back of the book will help you learn more about how to source, prepare and store any unfamiliar ingredients, as well as suggesting suitable alternatives.

It’s always best to use high-quality ingredients. Remember, too, all ingredients are not born alike. A tomato in Texas will taste entirely different from one in, say, Lebanon, and that can really affect the harmony of a tomato-based stew. An eggplant you purchased this week can taste very different from the one you enjoyed two weeks ago. The length of time your spice has been sitting on the shelf will, more or less, determine the quantity required, as its potency reduces over time. And then there is the fluctuating taste of lemons, some more acidic than others, while some of us have more or less tolerance for sour flavors. And let’s not forget the level of spice: if you are not an avid lover of spicy food and a dish sounds like it’s going to be too hot, reduce the quantity of spices and adjust as you cook. It’s all a matter of taste.

The breath of inspiration

Recipes, elaborate instructions, precise measurements; this is the stuff that fumbles me. For while I am very aware many do not feel comfortable without these specifics, I become stifled, flustered in my own domain, stumbling as I try to stay true to a recipe.

Middle Eastern recipes are passed down over the centuries, most often from mother to daughter or within the female community, but precise weights and measures are rarely part of the instruction. A large spoonful of this, an Arabic coffee cup of that, a squeeze of lemon, just enough water… these are the units of measure in a Middle Eastern kitchen, with the emphasis on constant tasting and adjustment.

In the Middle East and North Africa, cooking truly is an instinctive art form. In the Middle East we say a good cook has nafas which, directly translated, means “breath,” but when used in the context of cooking means “flair;” for there is an association with the sense of smell, too—of inspiration.

Although I have given precise measurements throughout, nothing is rigid or set in stone (baking aside). So rather than slavishly using scales or measuring jugs instead rely on the most powerful tools at your disposal: your senses. Listen to the bubbling liquid, look at the vibrant colours, feel the texture but, above all, smell the aromas and taste your dish as you cook—you can’t taste too much. Only then will you be able to see if your meal needs more nurturing or if it just wants to be left alone.

Whether you are cooking for your immediate family or a crowd of friends, the objective is to create an enjoyable meal that evokes comfort and happiness. As you’ve heard many others say, cooking is meant to be fun, not serious. Run with your senses and, most importantly, enjoy yourself.

Cooking and eating are among life’s greatest pleasures, and as my uncle always says to me, “Kelé w nsee hammeek” – “Eat and you shall forget your worries.”

Meze

Silky Chickpea & Lamb Soup

During the holy month of Ramadan, in North Africa, this silky textured soup is the first dish with which the fast is broken. It goes well with Pan-Fried Squares (see page 149).

SERVES 4

PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes, plus soaking the chickpeas, making the starter (optional) and making the stock and preserved lemon

COOKING TIME: 1½hours, plus cooking the chickpeas until tender (optional)

2 tablespoons rye flour (optional)

2 tablespoons white bread flour (optional)

12 ounces lamb shank

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1½ pounds tomatoes

4 teaspoons salted butter or smen

1 onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2-inch piece gingerroot, peeled and finely chopped

8¾ cups Vegetable Stock (see page 211)

a pinch ground saffron (optional)

½ cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked (see page 215), or 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1¼ cups brown lentils, rinsed

1 bay leaf

1 wedge Preserved Lemon (see page 212), peel rinsed and finely chopped, or zest of ½ lemon

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves, plus extra for sprinkling

sea salt and ground black pepper

a few pitted dates, to serve

1 lemon, quartered, to squeeze

warm Arabic Bread (optional, see page 217), to serve

1 If you are using the starter, which will give a thicker, smoother soup, early in the morning two days in advance, put 2 teaspoons of the rye flour and 2 teaspoons bread flour in a mixing bowl and mix together. Pour 1 tablespoon lukewarm water over and mix well, then cover with paper towels. Set the starter aside somewhere warm (72° to 77°F).

2 During the morning of the following day, “feed” the starter with the remaining flours and about 2 teaspoons lukewarm water, stirring very well to combine. Set aside, covered as above, 8 hours longer.

3 Rub the lamb shank with the cardamom, cumin, smoked paprika, coriander and cinnamon and season with salt. Set aside.

4 With a sharp knife, cut a cross in the skin of each tomato, then put them in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them to stand 2 to 3 minutes or until the skins split, then drain. Plunge into cold water to stop them cooking, then peel off the skins and discard. Slice each tomato in half and scoop out the seeds, then finely chop the flesh.

5 Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low, then leave to sweat, stirring often, 5 minutes, or until soft.

6 Increase the heat to medium, add the lamb and any loose spices and sear 3 minutes on each side. Add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute longer, or until aromatic. Add the tomatoes, stock, saffron, if using, cooked chickpeas, the lentils and bay leaf.

7 Cover the pan, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 1 hour, or until the lentils are soft and the meat is tender. Discard the bay leaf.

8 Remove the lamb from the pan and cut the meat into bite-size pieces, then return the meat to the pan with the bone. The marrow can be extracted with a narrow spoon or skewer, if wanted.

9 Dilute the starter, if using, with 7 tablespoons water, stir well, then slowly pour it into the pan, stirring about 20 minutes until the mixture becomes thicker. Stir in the preserved lemon and cilantro and season to taste with pepper. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with extra cilantro and serve with dates, lemon quarters and with warm Arabic Bread, if liked.

Kishk, Lamb & Kale Soup

This dish celebrates the basic ingredients available to a villager in rural areas of Lebanon, as well as in Syria, Palestine and Egypt during the winter months. Kishk is a fine powder made from bulgur wheat that has been fermented with yogurt or water and left to dry in the sun for several days. Kishk can be found in some Middle Eastern grocery stores and also under the Greek/Cypriot name trachana, which is often served with grilled halloumi. Trachana is usually sold in a coarser grain resembling medium bulgur and can be ground in a spice grinder to a fine flour. In Lebanon, awarma (lamb confit) is usually added to the dish, but here i’ve used ground lamb because it’s easier to buy.

SERVES 4

PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes

COOKING TIME: 20 minutes

3 tablespoons salted butter

1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and finely chopped or crushed

1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper flakes or crushed chili flakes

1 teaspoon ground allspice

2 tablespoons dried mint

14 ounces ground lamb

2¼ cups finely chopped kale or spinach

1 cup kishk (see recipe introduction)

4 tablespoons pine nuts

mint leaves, to sprinkle (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

warm Arabic Bread (see

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