Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Hake, Ratatouille and Jerusalem Artichoke Tortellini

A couple of weeks ago I found myself with a completely free Saturday which has been quite an unusual thing over the past few months. In fact, I really haven't had huge amounts of free time which has meant that the majority of dishes that I've cooked have largely been ones that haven't taken too much time to prepare for or cook. I think this is one of the things that people who don't really like cooking think is just plain odd about people who do - I can think of very few things that I enjoy more than spending pretty much a whole day planning what I'm going to cook, getting the right ingredients, cooking it and let's not forget eating it at the end of the day.

I'm quite lucky that I live quite close to Portobella Road Market so off I trotted with a vague idea of what I wanted to cook, but also wanting to see what struck my fancy at the market. 

I really enjoy looking around all the stalls and putting together a dish in my head and it was the globe artichokes and Jerusalem artichokes that I first saw and wanted to use. I love the earthy and slightly nutty flavours that each of them have but using them meant that I wanted the main protein of the dish to be quite light as I didn't want to end up with a really heavy dish that made you feel like you needed to sleep it off afterwards. So, on to the fish stall looking for some sort of white fish with enough flavour that it wouldn't be lost in the artichokes. I also had a picture in my head about how I wanted the plate to look at the end of the day, so I went for a couple of nice thick pieces of Hake so I could get some height on the dish.
After a bit more wondering around I got everything I needed and headed back to start cooking. There's nothing too tricky in this recipe but it does take quite a while - the most difficult bit is timing everything so it all comes together at the same time. As you can see, there's a fair bit to do, but like I say, it's not a terribly complicated dish, but from start to finish you probably need to give yourself at least 2 hours.

Hake, Ratatouille and Jerusalem Artichoke Tortellini
(serves 2)

Jerusalem Artichoke Tortellini
125g pasta flour
5 egg yolks
4-5 Jerusalem artichokes
200ml whole milk
freshly ground salt & pepper

Roast Globe Artichoke
4 globe artichokes (as large as you can get)
1 lemon
75ml olive oil
1 large carrot, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
10 cloves garlic, crushed
50g mustard seeds
3 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
350ml vegetable stock
freshly ground salt & pepper

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 red, 1/2 yellow, 1/2 green bell pepper, diced (about 1cm pieces)
1/2 courgette, diced (about 1cm pieces)
1/4 aubergine, diced (about 1cm pieces)
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
250ml passatta
250ml vegetable stock

To Serve
handful green beans, steamed
handful asparagus spears, steamed
2 x hake fillets (aprox 125g each)
1 tbsp olive oil
small knob of butter
freshly ground salt and pepper

1. To make the pasta dough, put the flour and 3 of the egg yolks in a food processor and mix on a high speed for 1 minute. you don't need the mix to come together like a dough, it needs to look more like moist breadcrumbs.If it is all too dry add some more egg yolk. Bring the dough together, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least an hour before use.

2. For the artichokes, cut away all the woody leaves but don't try and remove the choke yet (the furry bit on the inside). Rub the artichokes with lemon as you go as this will stop them turning brown.

3. In a large saucepan heat 50ml of the oil and then add the carrots, onion, 2 garlic cloves, mustard seeds, 1 thyme sprig and bay leaf. Keep stirring to stop anything from colouring and after about 3 minutes add the artichokes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Then add the stock and cook on a low heat or until the artichokes are soft and tender. Leave the artichokes to cool in the cooking liquor.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. When the artichokes are cool enough to touch, remove them and with a spoon pull out the choke from the middle of the artichoke. Then place the artichokes on a large piece of silver foil and add the rest of the oil, thyme, garlic cloves and salt and pepper. Seal all the ingredients in a foil parcel and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Whilst the artichokes are cooking, prepare the Jerusalem artichoke puree for the pasta. Peel and roughly slice the Jerusalem artichokes (about 1/2cm slices). Place them in a pan with enough milk to cover them and heat over a low heat until soft. Place the drained artichokes with a bit of the cooking milk in a blender and blend for a 2 minutes. If the puree is a bit thick add some more of the milk and blend until the puree is smooth without any lumps.

6. For the ratatouille, heat the oil in a pan and add all of the diced vegetables for a couple of minutes without letting them brown. Then add the rest of the ingredients and cook on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. This can be kept warm for a good 20 minutes or so before serving.

7. For the tortellini, roll the pasta dough out to about 2cm thick then, cut out a 5cm discs from the dough. Using a pasta machine, roll out each disc until the dough is about 2mm-3mm thick. Rather than trying to explain how to fold the tortellini, it's much easier if you can see it, this video does the job. Just be aware, you have made your pasta in a different method to this video so yours will probably be more crumbly - this is fine and gives a better taste at the end, so don't get worried. don't cook the pasta yet, keep the ready on a tray covered with a clean tea towel.

8. Your artichokes should have been cooking for about 15 minutes now, open up the parcel and continue cooking them for about 10 minutes.

9. For the hake, heat up 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan and when hot, add the fish skin side down, pressing down to stop the skin curling up. When the hake has been cooking for about 2 minutes add the butter and baste the fish with the liquid in the pan. Then, transfer the fish to the oven to continue cooking for about 5 minutes, skin side up.

10. Place the filled pasta in a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until the pasta starts floating at the top of the pan - as soon as this happens take the pasta out of the water and drain on a piece of kitchen roll.

11. To plate up, place a couple of spoonfuls of ratatouille on the plate, topped with the steamed beans and asparagus. Place the hake on top of the vegetables, skin side up and finish by adding the pasta and globe artichokes.

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