Twenty quid cuisine by Silvena Rowe
All dishes serve four
Roasted beetroot, blood orange and asparagus
Wild asparagus, or corn asparagus, is in season, and is a very fine and crispy version of the green asparagus we are more familiar with. But the season is so short, if you blink, you miss it! Try and get hold of some for this recipe.
2 small blood oranges, peeled and sliced thinly
4 small beetroot, washed
12 green asparagus spears, peeled
100g beetroot salad leaves, washed
15ml red wine vinegar
2 tbsp walnuts, lightly toasted
15ml walnut oil
30ml olive oil
Trim the beetroot, wrap in foil and roast in a moderate oven for about an hour. Cool, peel and cut each beetroot into halves or four wedges. Cook the asparagus in boiling water but very briefly so that it keeps its colour and crispy texture.
To make the walnut vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, walnut oil and olive oil. Season to taste. Toss the beet salad leaves in the vinaigrette and place on the centre of the plate. Arrange the beetroot, asparagus and blood orange slices. Sprinkle with walnuts.
Roasted garlic- and mushroom-stuffed pork belly
Pork belly is rich and succulent, a much overlooked and underrated cut. Make sure you get the best possible quality and serve the belly in its own juices.
800g pork belly
150g wild mushrooms, cleaned
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 spring garlic bulbs
3 tsp butter
5 tbsp parsley, finely cut
200g ground pork
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F, Gas 6). Wrap the garlic in foil and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes. When ready, remove from foil and let cool. Cut just the top of each head of garlic and squeeze the soft garlic paste out.
In a saute pan, cook the mushrooms in the butter with the shallot until tender. Chop them finely and place them in a large bowl with the roasted garlic, parsley, ground pork and seasoning. Mix well.
To prepare the pork belly, place it on a board and insert a long, sharp knife through the side of the cut end of the belly, creating a pocket that goes through the other side. You can ask your butcher to do this for you. Fill the belly with the mushroom mixture.
Saute the pork belly in a very hot saute pan and cook on medium heat for about 12 minutes until golden brown. Then roast it in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve hot, cut into thick pieces, accompanied by its cooking juices, with new-season Jersey potatoes.
Pecan and white chocolate semifreddo
Semifreddo is a wonderful and quick dessert. You can easily prepare it the morning of your party and have it ready for the evening. Like pannacotta, it is cream based and you can add your own flavours to it. Instead of pecans you can use hazelnuts or walnuts.
60g shelled and chopped pecan nuts
60g white chocolate
300g whipped double cream
Place half the sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and let it caramelise over medium heat. You need to be very vigilant when cooking the sugar as it may burn and become very bitter. Once the sugar has caramelised, it should be a very light brown colour and of the consistency of thick sauce. Add the chopped pecans and cook for just a minute.
While it is hot, lay the mixture on a cold surface, preferably a marble or granite slab, and allow it to cool and become very hard. At this stage finely chop the "croccante" and keep to one side.
Whip the eggs and remaining sugar until very pale and creamy and place on the top of a bain-marie. Keep whisking until mixture becomes of a thick consistency and remove from the bain-marie to cool.
Now melt the chocolate over the bain-marie and add to the mixture, together with the whipped cream and the chopped croccante. Pour into individual small pots and place in a freezer for two hours before serving.
Ten quid tipples by Malcolm Gluck
I sometimes wonder where Silvena gets her ideas from. Does some kind of culinary succubus visit her in the dead of night? Did she discover these outrageous recipes at her mother's elbow? Does everyone eat like this in Bulgaria? (As if it were not obvious to readers by now, my dear colleague is a Bulgar.) And I, of course, am the Vulgar. I have to find demotic liquids for under a tenner to go with these devious luxury goods, and frankly, contemplating my primary dish of beetroot, blood orange and asparagus, I struggle.
But in my distress, a blessed succubus visits me and whispers: Tesco! Thus with one bound I am free and with our preposterously delicious first course I find the non-vintage, own-label Tesco Chilean white (16 points, £2.97). It offers chewy gooseberry fruit with a hint of calamine.
And with that wickedly stuffed pork? I cross the aisle and reach for two bottles of Tesco Chilean red (15 points, £2.99), which is juicy, as it needs to be with this dish, but dry, offering a hint of tobacco with its under-ripe cherries. Both these terrific bargains are screw-capped, so the fruit will stay fresh and feisty for months.
This leaves us with £1.05 in our purse for a dessert wine and though you can, as advised in my last column, consider it already spent on the 16-point, £3.79 bottle of Sainsbury's (or Tesco's) deliciously honeyed Moscatel de Valencia, it is possible, for those with an urge to be a little more adventurous in seeking the perfect partner for that pecan and white chocolate pud, to plunder the same Tesco wine aisles for a half-bottle of Muscat de Beaume de Venise (16 points, £4.49). This golden liquid is suggestive of ripe pineapple with honey and a touch of toffee apple. A small glass each will finish you off nicely.
· Suggestions, questions, beefs? Contact Malcolm Gluck at firstname.lastname@example.org