Food Frenzy Holiday… ahem. Christmas ante portas! Before the feasting and button-popping may commence, I thought I’d go easy on you guys in preparation for the Holidays. Something quick and easy-breezy to cook up, light on the heavy and hip-hugging and heavy on the light, lean yet incredibly scrumptious, healthy and nutritious stuff your body might need to get you through the following week unscathed~
Here’s this seasons healthy dose of hugs-in-a-bowl for you guys, 4 servings in total:
The Venison Meatballs
Just for the record: try to prep these up to the pre-pan stage and have them hit the heat at the same time as the soup. That way both components will be done at the same time.
400g Venison Mince
Alt: 400g Fillet of Beef, cut carpaccio style – in case you’re a) lazy and/or b) don’t like venison
50g Walnuts, lightly toasted and salted, finely chopped
50g Panko Breadcrumbs – in case you just happen to have a day-old leftover walnut roll lying around, whizz up and use that instead~
1 Large Egg
1 Shallot, very finely diced
1 Tbsp Marjory, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Parsley, finely chopped
3-4 Lovage Leaves, finely chopped
A generous Pinch each of Salt, Pepper and freshly ground Tonka Bean
2 Tsp of Venison Spices, freshly ground up with the help of a generous pinch of coarse sea salt
2 Tbsp Clarified Butter
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Splash of Lemon Juice
1) Assuming you’re going with the meatball option, place all of the ingredients – sans the butter, oil and lemon juice – in a large mixing bowl, snap on a pair of CSI gloves and have at it.
2) Once you’re looking at a well-combined mixture, roll it into meatballs with a DIA of about 3-4cm.
3) Fire up your trusty heavy-based pan on medium heat and add the butter and oil.
4) Fry the meatballs, constantly turning them over and over for about 5-7 mins until they’re nice and crispy all around.
5) Deglaze the pan with the maple syrup and a splash of lemon juice, give the contents of your pan a gentle flip to gloss over the meatballs and set them aside while finishing up the soup.
6) By the way, should you be going down the carpaccio path – you’re done after telling your butcher to thinly slice it – simply add the spices to the soup instead, skip the rest and dip the carpaccio slices into the soup as you work your way though your share of it.
The Leek & Mushroom Soup
2 Leeks, light green and white parts only, sliced into thin half-moons
2 Shallots, finely diced
2 Small Floury Potatoes, precooked and skinned, sliced into thin disks or cubes
2 Dried Porcini Mushrooms
2 Dried Morels
100ml Low-Fat Cooking Cream
600ml Venison Stock
100ml Crème Légère
300g Wild Mushrooms
1 Tbsp Brown Butter
2 Tbsp Parsley, finely chopped
3-4 Lovage Leaves, finely chopped
75ml White Port
75-100g Panchetta, diced into ½-cm cubes
1 Tsp Lemon Juice
1 Tsp Lemon Zest
A generous Pinch each of Nutmeg, Tonka Bean, Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Walnut Oil
4 Tbsp Preserved Lingon-/Cowberries
1) Add the dried mushrooms to a small bowl holding about 4-5 tbsp of the stock and allow them to soak for about 30-60 mins before you begin prepping the soup.
2) Place a large, heavy-based pot on medium heat and add the bacon.
3) Allow it to render off for about 5 mins before adding the oil, onion cubes and leek ribbons.
4) Give everything a good flip and allow the lot to cook for about 3 mins until they start to soften.
5) Add the potato cubes and wild mushrooms, and allow them just enough time in the pan to take on a light, golden brown tan.
6) Take the dried mushrooms out of the stock, finely chop them up and incorporate them into the contents of your pan with a hearty flip.
7) Deglaze the pot with the port, the mushroom’s soaking liquid, and the stock – make extra sure to whirl up any and all bits sticking to the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
8) Stir in the lemon zest and allow the soup to simmer away for 20 mins.
9) Take the pot off the heat, add the cream and brown butter, and whizz the soup with a stick blender until it’s smooth and silky. Alternatively, transfer the soup into the jug of your blender and let it do the work for you.
10) Strain the soup back into the pot – or a bowl/second pot in case you went down the stick-blender road – and generously season it with nutmeg, grated tonka bean, salt and pepper.
11) Stir in the lemon juice, then have a test-taste and adjust the seasoning of necessary.
12) Stir a couple of drops of lemon juice as well as a pinch of salt and pepper into the Crème Fraîche and set it aside for just a few blinks.
13) Divide the soup into warmed bowls or deep dishes, arrange the meatballs on top, dust them with the parsley and garnish each serving with with drops of the Crème Fraîche and preserved lingonberries.
14) Grab a spoon and…