05 January 2014

Réveillon 2013/14

With toasts to what we hope will be a year where all surprises are good surprises, here's how we celebrated.

Only one star course on New Year's Eve, an osso bucco to take advantage of the beautiful veal shanks available across the border at Tramuntana in Spain. We again made our Christmas lemon pasta, this time with spaghetti instead of linguini.

Osso bucco recipe, with gremolata 
from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/8828/osso+bucco. We used jellied veal stock instead of beef, fresh tomatoes instead of canned, eliminated the tomato paste, and added white wine and basil.

·        60g butter
·        4 tablespoons olive oil
·        2 carrots, cut into small cubes
·        3 sticks of celery, cut into small cubes
·        2 onions, finely chopped
·        3 cloves garlic, crushed
·        3/4 cup plain flour, seasoned
·        8 veal shanks (about 1.5kg)
·        1 tablespoon tomato paste
·        800g diced Italian tomatoes in juice
·        2 cups beef stock
·        1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
·        2 bay leaves
·        finely grated rind of 2 large lemons
·        2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·        1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

Heat 20g butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove to an ovenproof dish.Place seasoned flour into a plastic bag. Toss, two shanks at a time, in flour. Shake off excess and place on a plate.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Melt remaining butter and oil in a frying pan over high heat. Brown both sides of veal in 2 to 3 batches. Place on top of vegetables.
Add tomato paste, tomatoes, beef stock, thyme and bay leaves to pan. Bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour over vegetables and veal. Cover roasting dish with lid or foil. Transfer to oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours to 1 3/4 hours until veal is tender.
To make gremolata: Mix ingredients together. Sprinkle over veal and serve.

New Year's Day began with Michael's mousseline omelette with strawberries, a breakfast speciality since we first had a sweet omelette for dessert in Indian Village, Detroit, forty years ago. Obligatory accompaniment, as with our Christmas French toast: bubbly and orange juice.

Several hours later, we were ready to eat yet again. I'm not the fan of raw oysters that Michael is, so he searched for and found a recipe that even I loved:

Crispy Oysters with Mango Sauce and Red Horseradish (http://hogislandoysters.com/node/234). [We used a just-add-water tempura mix from Tramuntana that worked beautifully. Skipped the horseradish. The spicy mango sauce on its own was perfect (another keeper of a recipe).]

from the Hog Island Oyster Lover's Cookbook, by Jairemarie Pomo 

Hot, hot, and sweet is the best description for chef Bobby Flay's Southwestern oyster appetizer.  The mango sauce balances the snappy chili horseradish that tops each delectable cornmeal-crusted oyster. It's more than just a combination of wonderful spices: The colors in each shell look like a New Mexico sunset.
If you can't find fresh horseradish, prepared horseradish is fine, drain off some of the liquid. The mango sauce is so good that I've actually seen people lick the bottom of the shell to get the last drop.  
| Makes 20 oysters; serves 4 as a hearty appetizer |
Mango Sauce
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
In a food processor, combine all the sauce ingredients except the salt and pepper.  Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Red Horseradish
1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish
1 tablespoon chili powder
In a small bowl, combine the horseradish and chili powder; stir to blend.
The Oysters
20 small Hog Island Sweetwaters (Pacific) oysters, shucked and drained, cupped bottom shells reserved
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely minced
Preheat oven to 250 D Fahrenheit. Scrub and shuck the oysters. Place oysters in a shallow bowl, set aside.  Preserve the bottom oyster shells. Scrub, rinse and dry the shells and place on baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes to preheat the shells, which will be used to serve the oysters.
In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, cayenne, salt, and pepper and blend well. Drop 10 oysters at a time into the cornmeal and, using your hands, gently toss to coat. Shake off the excess coating and put the oysters on a plate.
In a medium saute pan or skillet, heat the canola oil until shimmering.  Fry 10 oysters at a time for 30 seconds on each side or until lightly browned. Be careful not to overcook. Transfer cooked oysters to paper towel to drain. Repeat steps with remaining oysters.

Spoon 1 teaspoon mango sauce into each warmed shell.  Place a cooked oyster on top of the sauce. Top with 1/4 teaspoon of the red horseradish and sprinkle with the minced cilantro.   Serve immediately.

Below is the magic tempura mix that we'll buy again. Can't be reused, though. A few nights later we tried some raw vegetables with a steak fondue (our new pot, center of table, was used on New Year's for a classic cheese fondue, accompanied by mushrooms stuffed with tapenade and pâté). Failure. The refrigerated batter slipped right off.

For dessert, cookies and the syrup from Kate's Moroccan pears with saffron and rhubarb that we had at last Christmas Eve's pull-out-all-the-stops dinner. Frozen for a year, this became a fabulous granita.

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