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Friday, June 14, 2013

Lapin au Vin Blanc: Rabbit Stew with White Wine


One of the meats that I like to cook with is rabbit. Before I was a vegetarian, I loved rabbit or hare (although hare is tougher). However, I only had it in Vietnam, prepared according to the Vietnamese local cuisine. Today, I wanted to try a French inspired dish, a stew-like dish made with rabbit and white wine. It is similar to a coq au vin (chicken in wine, usually red wine) but I wanted to use white wine to encourage the gamey flavor of the rabbit rather then hiding it under a bold vin rouge.

 

We bought a frozen rabbit at one of our supermarkets and thawed it over night.
 
  

I proceeded to separate all the meat from the carcass except for the legs the next day and marinated it in white wine (I used Chardonnay), salt, pepper, some herbs like thyme, rosemary and parsley. I used the bones to make a rabbit stock to use later in the the dish, so I didn't waste much.
 

 While the rabbit marinated, I prepared some pearl onions, baby carrots and I sliced up nice chunk of lardon (salted pork belly) into tiny pieces. In a large pot, I cooked the pork, pearl onions, garlic and baby carrots until the pork belly got crisp and the majority of the fat was cooked off. Remove the mixture and after coating the pieces of rabbit with flour, I browned them in the bacon fat until nicely colored.


 

 
 
  

Using the fat in the pot, a small knob of butter, and a couple tablespoons of flour, I made a roux and added in the rabbit stock, wine, pork belly, carrots, garlic and onions, reserving a few onions for garnish. Add in the rabbit and braise for 1 1/2-2 hours on medium high heat. Season according to taste.

I served this dish with egg noodles and French bread for the extra sauce. Oh, and of course, more Chardonnay!

 

I made a kale and sausage stew with mushrooms, carrots and pearl onions for myself. :)


Monday, June 10, 2013

Superb Spiced Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Soup; Inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

 

Man, I have been so busy I haven't had the time to post much on here, my apologies for taking a month off. However, today I made something that was worthy of a post, a soup that is inspired by one of my favorite games, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In the game, our hero, Link, travels to a freezing territory of snow and befriends a Yeti named Yeto, who is out to gather ingredients to cook a soup for his ill wife, Yeta. The soup features Reekfish (which resembles our reality Sockeye Salmon), root vegetables, Ordon Pumpkin and Ordon Goat Cheese (Ordon being Link's village). The Reekfish has healing properties and the more ingredients that Link contributes, the more health benefits the soup acquires and can be used to heal the player during in-game damage.


I have come across a few recipes for the soup, many featuring some sort of fish, pumpkin and carrots. I have been inspired to make my own rendition of the soup, vegetarianising it, adding a little kick of spices and preparing my garnish vegetables by roasting. And honestly, this is the best pumpkin soup I have ever had; it is absolutely delicious and so easy to make.
I used kabocha squash as my "pumpkin" because I love the sweetness of it and how it is richer than the regular pumpkins. The skin is a bit tough to remove but it is worth it. Just cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, slice into 1/2 inch strips and carefully shave off the skin with a sharp knife. I left the skin on for the garnish because I wanted the slices to hold together.
 My other vegetables included carrots, yam, onions, and garlic. Of course, you could also add/use rutabaga, turnips, parsnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc. if you like.


Ingredients
1 kabocha squash or pumpkin (1-2.5 lbs)
3 large yellow yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
4 carrots
1/2 cup wild mushrooms
1/2 white onion, diced
1 elephant garlic clove, minced (or 3 garlic cloves)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp fresh basil, chopped or dried
4-5 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup soft goat cheese (1/4 of the log)
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper

Reserve 1/4 of the pumpkin, skin on, for garnish; 1 yam, for garnish; 2 carrots, for garnish; and mushrooms for garnish.
Peel and dice the remainder of the squash, yams and carrots. In a soup pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and sweat out the onions and garlic. Turn heat to medium and add the diced vegetables. Saute for 5 minutes then add bay leaves, cumin, paprika, turmeric, basil and cook for another 3 minutes; season to taste then add vegetable stock. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables begin to disintegrate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees C. Meanwhile, prep the garnish. Cut the reserved pumpkin piece into 1/4 inch-thick slices and cut in have to be roughly 1-inch in size. Cube the yam. Cut carrots in half and diagonally. On a baking sheet, drizzle on olive oil and sprinkle in salt. Add the garnish and season with more olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing it to evenly coat. Make sure you vegetables are not too crowded. Roast for 15-20 minutes, making sure to check and flip to avoid uneven cooking.
In a skillet, saute the mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper (you can add spices or other seasonings if you want to any of the garnishes).
When the soup is ready, remove the bay leaves and ladle the hot soup into a blender/food processor with crumbled goat cheese and blend until smooth (if you have to do it in batches, add the goat cheese in batches to ensure consistency). Add more stock or water if necessary. Make sure to blend it hot to ensure that the soup is smooth. Return to pot and place on low heat to adjust seasoning.
Serve hot with the garnishes either place on top or mixed right into the soup.


You can obviously avoid the garnishes and just have a smooth soup but for accuracy sake, I did the garnishes to make it look more like it was in-game. My goal for the near future is to make another reversion of the soup, with fish and all, for the family.
Have fun cooking and happy eating!
P.S. Check out these other recipes from the same inspiration, The Geeky Chef and Gourmet Gaming.