Sunday, 29 November 2015

Sending you kind thoughts...

Honeycomb Cannelloni – good idea, bad execution

Carole's Chatter: Honeycomb Cannelloni – good idea, bad execution

I decided to show you this failed dish because the idea was a good one and it was my cooking to blame for the outcome.  I am going to try it again but need a smaller dish and more filling – it was my proportions of pasta to filling that was all wrong.

Carole's Chatter: Honeycomb Cannelloni – good idea, bad execution

My first suggestion is to consider the dish you are going to use to bake the cannelloni in first – you need one that is tall enough to allow you to stand the cannelloni up but not so large that you have to put more cannelloni in than desirable – my dish was too big and so I ended up using 2 whole packets of cannelloni but in the meantime I had carefully made enough meat sauce and white sauce for about half that amount!

Meat Sauce

You will no doubt have a favourite meat sauce for pasta.  I think the key to a good one is letting it simmer slowly for a long time and adding the liquid in stages as it starts to evaporate.

Ingredients – mince (ground beef), slice of ham, finely diced carrot, diced courgette (zucchini), 2 large mushrooms (chopped), small tin of tomatoes, passata, ginger water, red wine (shiraz), salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, oil for frying (I used a mix of garlic oil and chilli oil).  Most meat sauces will have onion in them but I can't tolerate it – love the flavour but they don't  love me back!

Fry off you carrot first, followed by the minced beef.  Then add your courgette and mushroom.  Then your finely diced ham and the bay leaf.  Season with salt pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

When it is all browned a bit, add your liquids – gradually alternating them until the mixture has absorbed it all and it isn't too sloppy.  A bit of a labour of love, I'm afraid.

White Sauce

I cheated with the white sauce.  I used a store bought cheese sauce as a base and then added cream, cream cheese, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to it.  It tasted quite nice.

Assembling the dish

I greased the dish and then put some of the meat sauce on the bottom.  On reflection I put too much on the bottom – I thought it would help the cannelloni stand up but it didn't make any difference.  Get your cannelloni into the dish and then pour just under half your meat sauce into the tubes – this is a bit fiddly but it is important that the tubes are filled – I found this out the hard way.

Then pour in your white sauce (reserving a little for pouring in a swirl over the top if you fancy that sort of thing).  Then finish off with your meat sauce – my cannelloni were only just over half full.

I tried to make up for this by putting grated cheese on top.

Carole's Chatter: Honeycomb Cannelloni – good idea, bad execution

So the end result was a nice pasta dish where the tubes were filled and horrible dried pasta where they weren't.  The pics make the dish look better than it was.

Good luck if you are going to try this yourself.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

And long boring flights, too!

Auberge de la Croix Blanche

Carole's Chatter: Auberge de la Croix Blanche

We arrived in Paris off a flight from Singapore and my better half valiantly drove to our super hotel in the Loire Valley – I don't know how he manages to drive on the wrong side so well especially after a long flight – I couldn't do it.  Despite being very tired/jet lagged we accepted the recommendation of the hotelier to have dinner at a restaurant a short drive from the hotel -  the Auberge de la Croix Blanche at Veuves (on the D952 between Amboise and Chaumont ).  It took about 7 minutes to get there.

It was a fine summer evening so all the diners were eating in the garden behind the restaurant rather than in the restaurant itself – which was an ancient posting inn.

The food was very good – this was not a fancy pants restaurant but it was good French cooking.  We had the set menu of 25€ each.  This came with 4 courses!
Carole's Chatter: Auberge de la Croix Blanche

The first course was a roulade of oxtail with a beetroot salad, sorbet and coulis with a divine tulle biscuit.  Bliss! 

Carole's Chatter: Auberge de la Croix Blanche

My better half's first course was a delicate salmon dish in a delicious sauce.

Carole's Chatter: Auberge de la Croix Blanche

The second course was  fish, John Dory (Dorade) with a tomato based sauce and a 3 rice mix with broad beans and the other one was a rather hearty pork dish.

Then a small cheese course.  There are so many great French cheeses that I usually ask the waiter to make the selection for us – and they are usually very pleased to be asked. He chose 3 white cheeses with a bluey sort of rind -very delicate and similar in flavour but of different degrees of softness. And also a soft blue veined one.

Carole's Chatter: Auberge de la Croix Blanche

Despite being stuffed to the gills and almost out on our feet we did have the dessert - a lovely crème caramel with whole cherries in it n and a chocolate slice thing w vanilla ice cream. 

Carole's Chatter: Auberge de la Croix Blanche

I'd go back to this restaurant in a heartbeat.

2 Avenue Loire
41150 Veuves
33 2 54 70 23 80