This was intended to be a post about whole baked carrots - purple, to boot - and I was half-way through when Simon confessed that he had deleted the photo from the digital camera before I managed to upload it onto the computer. This is the first time that this has happened and we had a debate/argument as to whether I should blog it without a photo or not. I didn't and don't want to because I want visual proof that I made these dishes and didn't hallucinate them, whereas Simon is more chilled about the whole thing and can't see why I insist on photographic evidence. I won because it's my blog, but I'm not sure I convinced my lovely husband. Never mind: I will repeat the carrot dish another time (it's nothing particularly special, but it's nice) and for today, I will turn to last night's dinner - steamed broccoli with beurre blanc.
Beurre blanc is probably a Weightwatchers nightmare - for 4 people, Jamie suggests 170g butter. It makes a huge slice of cake seem almost saintly... I have made beurre blanc before, following Rick Stein's recipe for grilled seabass (with crispy skin - mmm) and beurre blanc; I can't begin to describe how good that is. This time, Jamie pairs beurre blanc with broccoli, which, let's be honest, could do with an injection of flavour (I write as one who likes broccoli). Once my parents invited Simon's parents for a weekend lunch when the latter were up from Devon staying with us, and one of the vegetables served was broccoli. Simon's dad, never known for his table tact, mused 'broccoli is a very boring vegetable, isn't it?' I know what he means, but actually I like broccoli - and even so, it can only benefit from some luscious beurre blanc.
Everyone knows how to make beurre blanc (put white wine, chopped shallot, herbs (parsley and tarragon) and peppercorns into a pan, bring to the boil, and simmer until reduced by half, before removing from the heat. Pour through a sieve into a bowl over a pan of water on a low heat and add cubes of cold butter one at a time, whisking continuously. Use at once or carry on whisking over the pan of water (if you don't, it may split). Jamie has an alternative method - pour boiling water into a Thermos flask, drain, and sieve the wine liquid into it, adding the butter, putting the lid on and shaking. That way you can keep the sauce warm in the flask until you're ready to serve it.
Genius idea, clearly, since it removes the fear of the sauce splitting and the need to prepare it at the last minute. Genius idea unless you mess it up, which we almost did. Simon uncovered our flask (missing, presumed dead...) and poured in boiling water, draining it and then following instructions. But when he opened the lid, the butter began to ooze over the top. We think perhaps we should have left the boiling water in the flask slightly longer, or let it settle before we opened the lid; we aren't sure. After that, however, it seemed to work (although there was less of it, which may be a good thing for our arteries).
It was as nice as beurre blanc has to be (butter, wine, herbs... heaven, really) and it worked well with the broccoli (although I do prefer it with the grilled seabass - expensive tastes, me). I know the butter looks a bit bright in the photo but it wasn't quite that lurid yellow in real life. I will definitely try the flask trick again because it was a winner (well, after we'd spilt some, that is). I might even try serving it this way to my father-in-law, and see how he reacts.