Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Orange Moon Affair - Afn Clarke, Author



Veal Marsala with Asparagus Tips
 An AFN Clarke Recipe

This recipe is based on a meal that my character Thomas Gunn has at London's Royal Overseas League in Chapter Six of The Orange Moon Affair.

Both my father, my mother and I were members of the Royal Overseas League and it was there as a family that we celebrated my father's award of the MBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace for his services to the British Community in Libya during the 1969 revolution. He enjoyed veal marsala very much and this recipe is dedicated to him. We lived in Libya for many years and travelled back to UK by car (ferry from Tripoli to Siracusa) through Sicily and Italy enjoying the food. Libya was once an Italian colony and one of my fondest memories as a teenager was enjoying Spaghetti Bolognese served in big white bowls in an Italian restaurant in one of the Italian style piazzas of what was then Istaklal Street in Tripoli on a balmy summer evening..


Ingredients
4 Veal cutlets about 4oz each and 1/2" thick
3 Eschallots
Butter
Plain Flour
1/2 teaspoon Fennel seeds ground
1 Brown mushroom
1 Porcini mushroom
1 Shitake mushroom
2 white mushrooms
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup Marco de Bartoli Vignas la Miccia Marsala Superiore Oro DOC
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
16 fresh Asparagus
4 medium roasting potatoes
1 Rosemary sprig
3 Green onions
8 small salad tomatoes de-seeded
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
Italian dressing
2 bottles of Pienantroj Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2007
Serves 4

Method
Preparation is the key word here. If you don't get everything in order then you're going to be behind all the way.

So let's start with the potatoes. Heat the oven to 180°C or 160°C for a fan oven. I use the Heston Blumenthal method, which delivers every time. Peel so they have sharp edges, cut into quarters and boil in well-salted water until they start to crack and are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Take them out gently, you don't want them falling apart, and cool in a colander.

While the potatoes are boiling grind the fennel seeds in a pestle and mortar until you have a medium fine powder, mix with salt and ground black pepper, then rub well onto the veal cutlets. Do not use too much fennel, you want a delicate taste not an overpowering one. Cover and set aside for a few minutes so the seasoning settles with the meat. Cut the asparagus stalks at the point where a sharp knife goes through easily. Slice tomatoes and deseed, then slice again into thin strips. Dice green onions. Cut mushrooms into 1/2 centimetre slices. Take the rosemary sprigs and strip off the leaves into a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix with a little salt and ground black pepper. Not too much.

Once the potatoes are cooled, toss them in the rosemary olive oil, lay on an roasting tray and put them in the oven. Cook for 1 to 11/4 hrs. turning every twenty minutes until golden and crispy.

Heat oil and butter in a frying pan and sear the veal cutlets on all sides. Do not overcook, the idea is to seal the outside and leave the inside still pink. It will cook to temperature in the sauce. Take out and leave to one side while the sauce is prepared. In the same pan sauté eschallots and mushrooms until they soften, cook a further two minutes to remove a little water from the mushrooms.

There are many ways to thicken sauce, but I always make a roux and then add the sauce ingredients to it. It's more time consuming but the texture is so much better and I don't like the flour on the meat. So take your vegetable stock that you so loving made yesterday and heat it to boiling, turn it down then melt the butter in a saucepan. Add flour stirring until the roux thickens to a soft glistening paste. Cook for two to three minutes stirring all the time to make sure the flour is cooked through so you don't get the taste of flour, then remove from the heat, stir in your vegetable stock and marsala a little at a time making sure there are no lumps. Add more stock and marsala until the sauce is the consistency you want.

Add the mushrooms and eschallots to the sauce and cook gently for about ten minutes. Taste the sauce and season accordingly. Bring back to boil and add the veal and cook for about five to seven minutes until the interior of the meat is to temperature.

Now for the asparagus. I like to saute them with the tomato strips, garlic and green onions and enough olive oil to coat but not drench. Use a high heat and cook until the outside of the vegetables are browned a little.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and plate up, drizzling Italian dressing on the potatoes. Garnish veal marsala with the parsley and pour generous glasses of Pietantonj Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2007 and enjoy.


Before & After
For an appetizer, a really fresh bruschetta works well.  Here's an easy recipe:

Fresh basil leaves torn and mixed with olive oil, finely diced garlic, diced plum tomatoes and diced red onion on slices of garlic and rosemary foccacia bread that has been drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven.

And to finish the meal, a cheese platter with grapes and black pepper crackers. Cambozola cheese is creamy with a hint of blue vein and goes very well with the rest of the bottle of Marsala. Add whatever other cheeses and grapes take your fancy. While not strictly Italian, Cambozola is a mix of French Brie and Italian Gorgonzola with just the right tang to set off the meal.

Serves 4


The Orange Moon Affair - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

 "I saw the FIM-92 Stinger ground-to-air missile spearing up toward us from the far ridge.  My reactions were slow and for a fatal moment I watched the white smoky trail from the rocket motor arc its way through the sky.  I pulled on the collective and kicked the anti-torque pedals to port, almost escaping the oncoming death, but the rocket slammed into the tail boom.  The earth spun in a lazy arc as the helicopter arched over backwards at fifty feet above the rocky desert as I lost control, spiralling to the ground, pieces flying in all directions, the only section remaining relatively intact being the forward cockpit, saved because the main rotor head deflected the impact.  There was no pain, just a smashing, grinding, splintering sound.  I felt a violent lurch as my head slammed into the side door, then silence."  

When Thomas Gunn's father Sir Ivan Gunn talked to him about taking over the family business, Gunn Group Industries, Thomas had declined.  He decided instead to join the military.  After eight years as an officer in the Special Forces Support Group, Thomas was injured and now spends his life on board his fifty-seven foot Fountaine Pajot with the love of his life, Julie.  But when his father was kidnapped and then murdered, Thomas was forced to take over the company.  It didn't take long for him to understand that someone had been transferring money into a project that only his father knew about, or so he was told.  And when Julie's father started tracking the project, its people and those running it, there was nothing to be found.  With billions of dollars being transferred to the project, someone was getting rich but who.


This book has more ups and downs than the biggest roller coaster.  There are government conspiracies that take in some of the top names all around the world.  Thomas and the few he feels he might be able to trust, find themselves running all around the world tracking those involved as well as the money.  Try as I may, I did not guess what was actually going on until it was exposed to me by the Author near the end.  This book was one I didn't want to put down.  It was one that irritated me (in a good way) because I couldn't guess the ending.  And it's one that I recommend, especially to the male readers who love a good espionage, action book as well as those female readers who want a book that will really grab them too.  I loved this and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series The Jonas Trust Deception.


 
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