Archive | Side Dish

Recipe | Grilled corn, fig and tomato salad with maple syrup and cheese dressing

whisk

Corn in the USA

I was excited to be whisked northwards from JFK airport, New York to the Hamptons, Long Island, famous for The Great Gatsby, Maria Carey, Billy crystal, Blue Oyster cult, Donna Karen, Billy Joel, Jackie Kennedy , Steve Madden, beautiful beaches and golden corn.

2016-07-29_0003

The USA produced in 2015 $49 billions worth of corn harvested from 88 million acres of land. That’s a lot.

2016-07-29_0001

Whilst doing my usual scouting trip around the local farms, markets and shops I found a roadside stall that belonged to the adjoining farm that boasted of its “world famous corn”. I think it would be practically impossible to start saying where the best corn was grown but what really matters when buying and eating it is how fresh is it is. Once picked that delicious sweetness starts turning into starch so time is of the essence!

2016-07-29_0004

Health wise corn has lots of antioxidants and vitamins and contains soluble and insoluble fibre. The insoluble fibre is good at helping the good bacteria in our gut.

2016-07-29_0002

When not eating corn or discussing politics we managed to slip in a fair few sugar highs with cookies, brownies ( it will always remain a mystery as to what happened to that second box ) shortbreads and ice creams nicely balanced with some simply grilled delicious local fish, fresh juices and salads.

2016-07-29_0007

For this postcard recipe I would like to share one of the corn salads we made, grilling the corn adds a delicious element and putting it in a salad helps stop the urge to smother the blackened sweet juicy corn in butter although thats probably the best way to eat it.

2016-07-29_0008

This week

Times Ive been told to ‘ Have a nice day’ : A LOT, luckily I generally was otherwise it would have been really annoying.

Corn cooked: 48

Dogs in crazy costumes seen: 2 ( check out my instgram @ phollowphilippa)

I’m reading : Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel , a Mexican emotional food feast.

Every home should have : bicycles

We are on : a sugar high

2016-07-29_0010

Grilled corn, fig and tomato salad with maple syrup and cheese dressing.

Serves 4

4 ripe figs cut in quarters

2 corn

300g tomatoes ( which ever are best )

150g leaves

100g roughly chopped almonds

Dressing

juice from half a lemon

1 tbs maple syrup

100g grated cheese – I used comte but you could use blue, cheddar or goat

1 tbs mayonnaise

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2016-07-29_0006

To make the dressing

Sprinkle some salt and pepper in a bowl

Whisk in the lemon juice then in this order the syrup, cheese, mayo and finally the olive oil.

2016-07-29_0009

Blanch the corn for about 8 minutes in a large pot of boiling non salted water, you want the corn to be just cooked.

Drain then grill for about five minutes on a medium heat so most of the outside has taken on some colour.

Leave to cool slightly then slice off the kernels

To assemble the salad, toss the figs, leaves, tomatoes , almonds and corn in the dressing and pile onto a plate.

2016-07-29_0005

Next Stop… Utah.

0

Raviules with garlic, reblochon, wild mushrooms and parsley

whisk

Apple of my Pie

Navigating airports at half term can seem a bit like playing a kid’s computer game. The route from departures in one country to arrivals in another is thwarted with challenges, obstacles and tasks to test your intuition and skill. On top of that it all has to be completed within a certain time frame or its ‘game over’ or in this scenario, a missed flight.

I didn’t miss the flight from London Gatwick to Geneva for my weeks ski job (it would certainly be a postcard lacking in scenic snow shots and plates of warming food if I had) but I did feel challenged. My very early morning check-in was littered with an obscene amount of suitcases, children, ski kits and parents whose morning coffee had not quite kicked in. My trick in these circumstances is to keep my head down, find the queue with the oldest average age and make sure my caffeine levels are fully dosed. It has to be said though, when you do finally reach the snowy peaks and get your first lungfuls of chilled mountain air there is that moment of clarity and the motivation behind the turbulent journey suddenly makes perfect sense.

2016-02-21_0002

I do also have to mention on a travel note that the transfer company, generally staffed by easy going young men on gap years, this time round were impressively prompt, speedy and swift. We were unusually briskly, but politely, herded from airport to car park. As soon as the mini bus was loaded the doors slammed shut and we were speedily on our way across the border from Switzerland to France. The rep proudly announced that this was the first time in the company’s history the departure was not only on time but also ahead of schedule! My neighbour nudged me and said with a wink:

“You can thank the Six Nations rugby match being screened at base camp this afternoon for that.”

2016-02-21_0009

When cooking in ski chalets daily menu planing with the client is essential. You want to catch them just after their morning coffee has kicked in and before the donning of the ski gear commences, quite a ritual for those in the know.   Shopping has to be done on a daily basis as even in the big private chalets there is not a lot of storage space and the evening menu will be dictated by where the group has managed to get a booking for lunch.   Imagine the anticlimax  of spending love,  time and effort on a delicious steaming hot tartiflette or cheese soufflé only to find out they all went to that trendy famous cheese fondue Alpine restaurant for lunch. Even in the mountain there is only so much cheese a person can eat.

A few ingredients made it on to each day’s shopping list including butter, eggs, cream and …apples. The first three are obvious hearty ski-friendly food that is very much desired and needed after a day throwing oneself down a steep mountain on two  planks in freezing conditions. The last ingredient, the apple, became my private nemesis.

2016-02-21_0005

No matter what dessert I made, after every meal child no. 3 of the group, declined dessert and requested 2 peeled and chopped up apples. I made a pear tart tatin, vanilla cheesecake, chocolate tart, fruit strudel, panna cotta and  Eton mess but nothing could persuade him. Even the Apple Pie got turned down. I know you are probably thinking why would  someone who spends half their career trying to help children and families eat more healthily be trying to persuade a child to have a sugary dessert over fresh apples BUT I believe it is just unnatural for a  vanilla baked cheesecake to be trumped by two chopped up apples, although I obviously chop a top apple ;).

 

2016-02-21_0008

Just as I was losing all hope and feeling despondent in the dessert department the answer hit me, quite literally. I was planning to make a batch of ice cream for that night and as I opened the treat cupboard to get some chocolate to melt for sauce, down fell a bag of Malteasers. Bang and Bingo! Chocolate Malteaser ice cream – if that doesn’t tempt child 3, I give up!

2016-02-21_0003

The moment of truth approached, the family had been fed a pot roasted chicken with garlic, bay and vermouth with a scrumptious  side of raviules with reblochon and wild mushrooms and it was time to offer dessert,  the chocolate Malteaser ice cream.  Would he or wouldn’t he….he would !

I would find it hard sending you all an ice cream postcard recipe from the chilly mountains as I feel you may all need warming up after these snowy scenes so for the postcard recipe this week I would like to share the cheesy laced side dish, raviules with wild mushrooms and reblouchon.

Raviules are the French equivalent of the Italian potato dumplings, gnocchi but they have the added luxury of being fried in butter ( oh how we love the French and their abundant usage of butter)! 2016-02-21_0004

 

This week

Battle of Apple vs. desserts: apple wins

Butter used : 14 packs

Mode of transport: unintentional skating

Eggs consumed: 7 dozen

Every home should have: green tomato Jo Malone candles

Every private chef should know: Unicorn in French is La Lincone

Raviules with reblochon and wild mushrooms.

I confess the Raviules are quite fussy to make so the perfect request when you have a private chef to hand or fancy a few hours in the kitchen.

Makes enough for 4 as a lunch or 8 as a side dish.

1 kilo of similar sized floury potatoes (King Edwards or Maris piper are good)

100g plain flour + extra for dusting

2 eggs lightly beaten

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

100g Semolina

150g butter plus 1 tbs extra

20g flat leaf parsley roughly chopped

200g wild mushrooms

200g reblochon

2016-02-21_0006

With their skins on boil the potatoes in salted water till cooked.

Drain, then whilst still hot, using a tea towel to hold them, peel and mash – this is best done through a ricer a mouli or a sieve into a large bowl.

To the potato add 2/3 of the finely chopped garlic, season with salt then stir in the eggs and the 100g flour. Knead lightly with your hand to bring together into a ball.

Lightly dust a tray with semolina then using the extra plain flour to dust your spoons make quenelles out of the potato mix (you will need to re-dust your spoons roughly after every three). Lay the quenelles on the tray and when you have finished the mix lightly sprinkle the tops with semolina.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and poach the raviules in batches – they will float to the top then leave them to cook for 10 seconds. Once cooked lay out to drain on kitchen paper. They can be made to this stage several hours in advance.

When ready to serve:

Melt 1 tbs of the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat. When the butter starts to foam add the raviules in batches and fry on the 3 sides until golden then remove and keep warm. Repeat in batches with the rest of the 150g of butter and raviules.

When finished, using the same frying pan add the extra butter, mushrooms and the last 1/3 of garlic, fry for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms are just cooked and you can smell the garlic. Take off the heat add the reblochon and parsley, stir, then tip over the fried raviules. Serve hot.

Delicious as lunch with a crisp green salad with French dressing or as a side to roasted beef or lamb.

2016-02-21_0007

Next stop, cooking for Shabbat in London.

 

0

Recipe | Roast Cauliflower, sour cherry and almond salad

whisk

Getting the party started…

If you are prone to muttering ‘bah humbug’ at the first sightings of fairy lights / Christmas wrapping paper or mince pies you probably want to skip reading this blog and just enjoy the photos. Though on second thoughts anyone who ever bleats ‘bah humbug’ at the sight of a mince pie probably needs help. My work diary definitely suggests the festive party season is here with parties galore coming up over the next few weeks and I for one cant wait to get the Christmas decorations down from the attic.

2015-11-18_0005

Before that happens however all my focus is on planning menus, working out logistics and where to source the best produce for the rest of this year’s jobs.

My latest one was cooking for a dinner party then a ladies lunch in West London. I have a good knowledge of London food shops and always find it relatively easy whirling around town getting my hand on the desired produce (though occasionally lose mini battles trying to navigate the tube at Earls court). I almost came a cropper when out shopping this time ‘round though when I was on the search for a gammon for the lunch party the next day.

2015-11-18_0010

The first butchers I visited, who is usually very good, quickly turned into a Monty Python sketch.

“Hello, I’d like to get a 3 kilo gammon, you know, to make ham.” Says I and off the nice lady went to open the door to the butchers out the back and shouts out my order.

Then a butcher comes out with a leg of lamb.

“3 kilo lamb for you Miss?”

“er… no I said gammon for Ham”

“ah, Miss here did not say lamb” he shouts at the nice lady.

“Pork”! she shrieks .

He then trots of again and came back with a rolled leg of pork.

Deep breath… anyhow it turns out they didn’t sell gammon.

So next I get out my phone and start googling local butchers, its getting dark and I am keen to get back to base to crack on with further supper prep. The first one that comes up on the list is shutting in five minutes and doesn’t answer the phone so I ring the second that doesn’t look too far away.

2015-11-18_0006

“Oh, hello’ says I “Do you sell gammon, you know for making ham”

“ No madam, we are halal” he politely tells me.

“Ah , I see”.

2015-11-18_0008

I ended up ringing one of the best butchers in town, Lidgates in Holland Park and ordered a 3 kilo gammon to collect super early the next morning.

Lidgates is quite an experience, so much so tourists and meat lovers make pilgrimages to ogle and worship outside its window, or take mini-mortgages out to go inside and actually buy something. I bounced up to the service desk to collect my order and tentatively asked to see inside the already smartly packaged joint just in case we were not on the same page. I explained to the lady that I had had some trouble getting hold of this and just wanted to check.

She totally understood and mentioned how many of their American clients had confusions ordering their Thanks Giving and Christmas hams as for them the terms ham, gammon and bacon are all interchangeable.

2015-11-18_0007

In the UK gammon is the cured back leg of a pig and once cooked it can be called ham. I have had experiences in Scotland of butchers calling ham gammon and in the states butchers calling gammon ham. So I have now ended up whenever ordering these cuts getting into a conversation about what I plan to do with it, probably slightly boring for the poor butcher but at least everyone ends up happy.

2015-11-18_0009

Once the gammon was successfully bought I arrived nice and early at the client’s house to prep for the ladies lunch party for 30. We had created a lovely menu that was perfect for the occasion and it read as follows.

 

Rare roast fillet of beef with thyme and sea salt

Quinoa herb and seed salad with roasted aubergines and romesco sauce.

Baked ham glazed with maple syrup.

Roasted turmeric, cauliflower, sour cherry and almond salad.

Baked side of salmon with watercress mayonnaise

Beetroot, honey glazed carrots, kohlrabi and beluga lentil salad

Desserts

Lemon tart wit crème fraiche

Baked fruit with honey ricotta, lemon and pistachio praline.

Flourless chocolate cake with mascarpone

 

The super chic ladies piled in bang on time and the party quickly got underway. The food went down a treat (especially the ham) and I couldn’t help but feel the festive season had begun.

2015-11-18_0003

This postcard shares the recipe for the roasted cauliflower salad which, as it happens, goes really well with ham!

2015-11-18_0004

 

This Week:

Every home should have: Faberge China

Festive feelings: warming up.

Ratio of gammons ordered successfully : 1 in 3

I’m listening to : Macklemore and Ryan / Monterverdes Vespers.

Party dress envy levels: High.

Cocktails invented : 1 (Mexican hibiscus flower with lime, sugar, tequila, gin and prosecco).

 

 

Cauliflower, turmeric, sour cherries and toasted almond salad

Serves 6 as a side dish

1 cauliflower

1 dsp turmeric,

1 dsp ground cumin

1 crushed garlic clove ( peel and crush with salt with back of knife)

Olive oil

1 handful sour cherries

1 large handful of toasted almonds, skin on.

Splash of orange or apple juice

1 radicchio

1 small box of coriander sprouts

½ lemon

2015-11-18_0002

Pre heat the oven to 180 ° C.

Soak the sour cherries in the juice.

Floret the cauliflower and place in a bowl.

Season with salt and pepper

Add the turmeric, cumin, garlic and a splash of olive oil.

Toss well.

Roast for 20 – 30 mins flat on a baking sheet till golden and soft.

To serve squeeze the lemon over the radicchio and toss through the cauliflower almonds and sour cherries.

Next stop… its party time over in Dublin.

 

0

Recipe | Grilled Goats cheese salad with beetroot, figs and mint

whisk

 Uzès charm from every door.

2015-09-19_0008

On the wild off-chance you didn’t spend your childhood watching My Fair Lady,             “Oozing charm from every pore” is a line from one of Professor Higgins’ numbers. I would heartily recommend the movie if you haven’t seen it in a while and enjoy a good sing along. This tune was not however what I have just spent the week listening to…

2015-09-19_0002

I arrived to the Languedoc region in the South of France to one of the small but very pretty villages just outside Uzés, a day before my clients. This doesn’t often happen but I have to say it was a change not having to do a mad first dash to the shops and get supper on the table for a gaggle of hungry people within 3 hours of landing (though of course those circumstances are not without their great elements of fun). The job was to cook for a group of friends that had been holidaying for a week together for the last 16 years.

2015-09-19_0011

With no one in the house for the first 12 hours it occurred to me I could have carte blanche on the sound system. I then discovered that there was no internet and only 3 cds to choose from. Still with Frank, Abba and Mr Morrison to keep me company while I got the prep underway and laid the table ready for the guest’s arrival the time flew by.

2015-09-19_0005

As the week went by it rather amused me that by the last day at some point or other all of the guests had commented on how much I must like Frank Sinatra.

I finally replied to the host that yes I do like Frank but there are only 3 cds to choose from.

“What about the big shelf of them by the cupboard?” she replied.

“@**@!!!!, I thought, I clearly missed that but on the up side I can now sing his top 20 hits off by heart.

Fortunately I was much more on the ball when it came to the food.

2015-09-19_0003

After morning one, I made an executive decision to change alliance from the local bakery to the one in the adjoining village due to distressingly below par croissants. I find it a slightly dream shattering reality that this is the third bad bakery I’ve come across this year in France and find it hard to believe that the locals haven’t started a riot. Actually in two of the cases the bread was still very good so perhaps locals don’t really eat croissants and only care about their daily baguette.

2015-09-19_0007

I have learnt that in France between the hours of 7 am – and 8 30 am, when most people do their bread run, that there are no rules on the road within 50 m each way of the boulungere -park wherever you like in which ever direction, and not to worry about blocking people in or cutting them off, as what is important is that we all get our morning fix of dough.

2015-09-19_0006

As for the Markets I felt totally on form as not only did I triumph in buying the most beautiful stashes of chanterllles mushrooms but I am also proud to announce I feel I have truly mastered the art of beating the elderly female French shoppers at their own game. Let me explain.

2015-09-19_0012

Picture the scene, a bustling charming southern French market, the sun is hopefully shooting bursts of dappled light through the plain trees onto the various tables and boxes of local goodies. I am there early with the locals (golden rule number one of market shopping) and am standing in line, probably wearing a bright summer dress and some oversized earrings. I wait till it is fairly my turn to place my order or pay and then some little old French lady behind me barges me out the way with their boney elbow, jumps the queue and has the bravado to give me a glass shattering death stare. Well not any more, I now dodge that arm, always make sure I make firm friendly yet assertive eye contact with the stallholder and stand my ground. This has totally worked out and so now all I have to put up with is the old French ladies tutting that I am buying the very item they wanted and that they don’t have all day. In response I bat them off with my perfected French style shrug.

(This is all said with true affection as I very much hope to be as canny as these feisty old ladies in years to come).

2015-09-19_0009

As for the cuisine, the star dish of the week may not have been the luscious chaneterlles cheese and lardon omelettes, or the chilli prawn linguini they couldn’t stop eating and possibly not even the vervaine and pistachio praline ice cream it was probably (according to the owner) his home grown grapes.

2015-09-19_0004

He had a point, they were perfectly ripe, very juicy and sweet, and so successful this year we all wondered about turning the land (as it happens a similar size to Petrus) into a vineyard…we shall watch that space!

In the Languedoc it is around now the farmers are harvesting their grapes for wine making and eating and at the markets I noted there were some amazing sweet and delicious varieties on offer that are well worth looking out for in your local shops back in the UK. We all noted that similar to strawberries although you can buy grapes all year round there are only certain times of year they are truly worth serving.

With several days of heavy rain we all wondered what it might do to this months harvest. After much research (well actually I just sent an email to my good friend at the amazing Yapp Brothers Wine Merchants in Mere) I learnt that,

2015-09-19_0010
“A little rain at harvest time isn’t a major problem in a good, ripe vintage (which this one is, by all accounts) but continued and lengthy rain at harvest time would cause the grapes to swell and even split, allowing such problems as mildew, mould and other nasty things to attack and destroy the grapes. In short rain isn’t good at “vendange” time.”
The weather did turn for the better mid week so I will await with interest what this years harvest brings.

After much feasting, festivity and a few al fresco lunches the week ended all to quickly. On my way back to Montpellier airport I reflected on the dishes I cooked and which one I would like to do for this postcard recipe. Initially tempted by the bouillabaisse which went down rather well I have finally decided on the goats cheese crostini, beetroot, fig and mint salad that I had to stand my ground for to buy the ingredients.

This week:

Home grown grapes picked and eaten: 176

I’m driving: a Fiat 500 L, it’s ok but I expected more power for this ‘super sized’ version.

Every home should have: their own vines (and more than 3 cds).

We are making the most of: the last of the summer peaches and tomatoes.

Grilled goats cheese salad with beetroot, fig and mint.

A major part of my job is knowing how to shop, by this I particularly mean being aware of the seasons and local specialties. When you see something that looks extra special at the market it is always worth buying and then deciding what you want to do with it. When I saw these goat’s cheeses and a tray of what I knew would be the last of this summers figs, that night’s starter just fell in to place.

Serves 4

1 small raw beetroot

4 slices of bagette

2 rounds of goats cheese (a tangy one works well with the sweetness of the figs but creamy is also delicious).

1 tbs olive oil

4 ripe figs (green or black) cut in half.

12 mint leaves

1 head of chicory split into leaves

2 tbs pomegranate seeds ( ours was pockled which made them extra sweet)

For the beetroot dressing

1 tbs red wine vinegar

2 tsp honey

1 tbs olive oil

For the salad dressing

1 tbs white wine vinegar

2 tbs olive oil

. 2015-09-19_0013

To make the beetroot dressing:

Whisk the vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper

Then the honey and finally the olive oil.

To make the salad dressing

Whisk the vinegar with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Then whisk in the olive oil.

Turn the grill on medium

Peel and thinly slice the beetroot, use a mandolin if you have one, then toss through the beetroot dressing. Leave this to one side while you

Smear the goats cheese on top of the sliced pieces of baguette, drizzle with a little of the extra olive oil and place under the grill for a couple of minutes till they are bubbling and golden on top.

Toss the chicory, mint and figs through the salad dressing then layer on a plate with the beetroot and goats cheese toasts, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

2015-09-19_0001

Next stop, the Wyvis Estate in the Scottish Highlands…

0

Recipe | Fried ceps with baked polenta and gruyere

whisk

Did I ‘over cep’ the mark?

The week was not as planned. My diary had me in the dramatic depths of wild Scotland cooking for my first grouse shoot of the season, slapping on the mosquito spray and cooking up a variety of game themed feasts. Tweed cap, puffy jacket, gloves and various layers were ready to be packed.

With a last minute change due to lack of grouse reality had me in the bucolic rural Gascony countryside cooking mostly vegetarian food, slapping on the sun cream, darting round the prettiest of French markets and swimming in a magnificent lake.

2015-09-06_0013

I will save the sad tale of what’s happening in the grouse world for a future postcard. As for now it’s all about the gastronomic delights of Gascony.

The job was to cook for a family and their friends just west of Toulouse. Despite the area being the home of cassoulet and famous for its duck and foie gras my brief was to focus mainly on vegetarian food. This turned out to be an extremely delightful and easy request to fulfil as the markets at this time of year in this part of the world have an impressive over lap of summer and autumn ingredients. My main joy however was that I had arrived in time for the very start of Cep season, that wonderful mushroom so abundant in these parts.

2015-09-06_0004

Ceps as they are called in France or Porcini as they are called in Italy ( meaning piglets) or Stienpilz as they are called in Germany (meaning stone mushroom) or to be ultra highbrow Boletus edulis in Latin are mycorrhizal. Meaning they have a symbiotic relationship with the plant roots they grow around, this in turn means they are pretty hard to cultivate so have to be wild and foraged.

2015-09-06_0012

Not having to do breakfasts I had the chance to go every morning to a different local market in the various medieval towns, all of which seemed more idyllic then the last. Perfectly charming covered squares, roofed with tiles and supported by large wooden beams, bustling with locals doing their weekly shop and catching up on gossip over their morning pastry and coffee.

2015-09-06_0008

At every market I would be drawn towards the cep seller and couldn’t help but buy a few. By the end of the week I had managed to slip them into most of the meals but as they are so special I don’t think anyone minded. My personal favourite was serving them roasted whole with butter and garlic with frites and rocket on the side although this postcard recipe of ceps with baked polenta Gruyere and butter was another triumph.

2015-09-06_0009

Mid way through the stint I was given the chance to take the journey back into Toulouse to shop at the famous Victor Hugo market, the city’s culinary pride. Knowing that you have to be there bright and early to get the best I set off just before the sun was casting its first light over the many sunflower fields and arrived into the city in what I thought was good time.   I dashed straight to the market to find half of the stalls still shut and the other half leisurely getting out their wares. According to the internet and guidebooks this place should have already been open for 3 hours, according to them they were still enjoying their morning coffee and paper.   When the market finally was up and running (about 10 am) it was impressive. Besides the market itself the surrounding streets are dotted with more gastronomic genius, there is Xavier – one of France’s best cheese shops and Olivier, apparently one of the oldest and best chocolatiers in France – though as they were on their two month summer vacation I am yet to form my own opinion.

2015-09-03_0001

The main event of the week was the client’s end of summer party. With mainly vegetarian dishes requested the menu read as follows:

2015-09-06_0006

Cocktails

Watermelon margarita

Canapés

Crispy prawns with chilli and mint

Pea and feta fried pastry with garden mint yogurt

Speck, chateau honey and ricotta

Main

Fried ceps with baked polenta, butter and parmesan

Grilled aubergine and pepper salad with garlic and Bandol vinegar dressing

Baked squash with pomegranates, tahini and tabbouleh

Green fig and tomato salad with pinenut and green herb dressing

Roast potatoes with rosemary

Roast fillet of beef

Dessert

Summer pudding with vanilla cream

Chocolate roulade

Cheese board

 

2015-09-06_0003

It was a beautiful evening and from the cocktails to the obligatory cep dish and the chocolate roulade (amusingly/cheekily billed as a cousin of the artic ‘swiss roll’) to the cheese board everyone had a rather jolly time.

2015-09-06_0002

When not at a market or in the kitchen I was encouraged to take a swim in the beautiful pea green lake. So after lunch had been cleared away and supper prep was under control I took myself down for a cooling dip. I happily jumped in and leisurely swam out to the raft in the centre. Surrounded by the tranquil setting of weeping willows, woods, fig trees and lines of apple trees I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was until… I heard the most enormous splash from the other side of the expanse of water. After the initial surprise I rationally thought it could only be one of two things.

  • A child throwing something into the lake then hiding to tease me

or

  • Mr Darcy

With only one way back to shore I swam back keeping half an eye out for movements in the water not made by me. On return to the house I learnt I had in fact only being sharing the lake with otters and giant carp – harmless!

2015-09-06_0010

I did have to slightly force myself back in the next day and was fine until I heard again that giant splash. I turned in time to see the body of a large fish submerge into the water. Harmless or not it did wonders for improving my time in my swim back to the shore.

2015-09-06_0007

This week

I’ driving: Landrover and a Citroen with an impressive tardis like boot.

I’m in: Equestrian heaven

Dishes cooked with ceps: 9

Attacks by giant carp: 0

Encounters with Mr Darcy: 0

Every home should have: a lake

Job high: no Ketchup required

Job low: not knowing what lurks in the lake.

 

Fried ceps with wet polenta and Gruyere

 

This would make a great starter although I used it as part of the feast for their end of summer party.

For polenta sceptics just try it and think of it as a vehicle for butter and cheese and then make your minds up.

 

Serves 6 as a starter

For the baked polenta

200g Polenta

1 litre whole Milk

150g Gruyere plus extra

3 Egg yolks

150 g Butter

 

For the Ceps

800g Ceps approx 4 /5 large mushrooms sliced fairly thick.

50g butter

2 tbs olive oil

2 cloves garlic

2 tsb finely chopped parsley

 

Place the polenta in a jug (this helps with the pouring).

Heat the milk in a heavy based saucepan, just before boiling pour in the polenta in a steady stream whisking continuously.

 

Stirring constantly, cook on a low heat until no longer grainy in texture – the quick cook usually takes about 5 minutes and the proper stuff takes about 50 mins.

Then add 100g Gruyere, the egg yolks and 100g of the butter. Stir well.

Pour onto a tray and leave to cool and then place in the fridge for 1 hour to firm up.

Pre heat the oven to 180 ° C.

In a wide frying pan melt the butter with the olive oil, when hot add the chopped ceps, fry for a minute then add the garlic. Fry till you just start to smell the garlic ( about 1 minute) then take off the heat, season with salt and pepper and stir through the parsley.

Cut the chilled polenta into shapes and lay slightly overlapping in a lightly buttered baking dish, top with the fried ceps, extra cheese and butter.

2015-09-06_0005

Bake for 15 mins.

Serve hot.

  2015-09-06_0011

Next stop… Lisbon.

 

 

0

Climb every mountain

whisk

Climb every mountain…

If one felt so inclined (or capable) the area surrounding St Remy de Provence is perfect for getting on a bike and busting up some crazily steep hills and mountains. Numerous cyclists of all ages get up early to miss the blazing sun and test their endurance to reach the tops. My week was spent in a state of perseverance, determination and effort… on the tennis court.

Though of course my main focus was the food.

2015-08-23_0009

Cooking here is always a pleasure and ideas come easily due to the mass of perfect produce available. There are few places I have been that can match the abundance of tasty fruits and vegetables. The peaches are always juicy and for lack of a better description ‘ peachy’, the cherries are shiny and sweet, the figs fleshy and perfect, the Provençal Rosé is famous for good reason and the olive oil is so good you sometimes need nothing else to finish a simple salad.

2015-08-23_0003

Having been here at various times of year I am always impressed with how seasonal the shops and markets are and noted how that one day the boxes of tumbling cherries suddenly stopped appearing. Season over. The sadness was only eased by the appearance of the next ingredient coming in – the most extraordinary green figs.

2015-08-23_0002

The working day started early with the bread run to the local bolangerie. It wasn’t the closest of the bakeries but my alliances had to change when we noted that the croissants at our local now lacked that flaky butteryness our morning cafes demanded. Our new bakery of choice was clearly the towns favourite as there was always an impressive queue of people by 7:30 , 95% of whom were French. There was then the food shop dash where I have started to play ‘spot the private chef’ as there seemed to be a collection of us down there (if you ever want to play look out for extensive shopping lists, speedy trolley manoeuvres, skills at catching the fishmongers eyes at 50 yards and speed packing). Lunch was long and chatty then siestas and swims were had before the evening amusements began.

2015-08-23_0007

With long warm evenings (I promise I’m not trying to rub it in for those of you back in Blighty where I understand you have had an abundance of wet stuff fall from the sky) dinners were served later in the evenings. This was also due to the fact that the clients and chef were battling it out on the tennis court. An improved performance was hoped by all from last year and rumour had it that one of us had taken time off work just to get in extra practice.

2015-08-23_0005

Culinary highlights of the week included a fig, honey and mascarpone tart and this postcard recipe of grilled aubergine and tomato salad with anchovy and lime dressing.

2015-08-23_0008

This Week

I’m driving: A Nissan Note – zippier than expected but easily bullied by the Mistrals.

Tennis game victories: 1

Tennis game defeats: too ashamed to say.

Every home should have: a collection French grey table linen

We are drinking: Angelina and Brads Rosé

Espressos drunk: 124 (not all be me but I had my fair share).

Skin tone: has turned from blanched almond to lightly toasted.

Mountains climbed: 0 (unless you count success in getting children to eat new vegetables).

2015-08-23_0011

 

Grilled tomato, aubergine and olive salad with anchovy and lime dressing

This has been my favourite new salad this summer, the anchovy should be very subtle and only add base notes rather than dominate the flavours. It is a perfect BBQ salad.

Serves 4 as a side

3 aubergines

4 large tomatoes

1 salted anchovy, rinsed, deboned and finely chopped

1 lime

2 tsp sherry vinegar

4 tbs pitted green olives

3 tbs olive oil

20g coriander finely chopped (stalks and leaves)

1- 3 dried chillies, crushed (depending on how hot you like it)

2015-08-23_0004

Light the BBQ, when the coals are grey with ash grill the whole aubergines on all sides until soft (this will take about 10 minutes and the outside will look a bit burnt and the inside will be soft). Place in a colander over a bowl to cool and drain.

Grill the whole tomatoes till just blacked all over.

In a large bowl whisk the anchovy with the zest and juice of the lime, the sherry vinegar and olive oil. Add the coriander and olives. Season with salt, pepper and the dried chilli.

Peel the skin from the aubergines and tomatoes and roughly chop (adding any tomato juice in to the dressing). Mix into the dressing and leave to mingle for at least 20 mins

Serve at room temperature as part of your BBQ spread.

  2015-08-23_0006

 Bags packed and my adieux said I am now heading west to Gascony …

2015-08-23_0001

0

Recipe | Slow cooked lamb in whisky with saffron and bay potatoes

whisk

Far from the Madding Crowd…

Well actually it was the complete opposite as last week went a bit like this…

Sorry? Philippa who??
My Edinburgh chef friends might have wished they said when they got the call.
“I need to you to come and help on a job… You will? Lovely! Meet me Sunday at 09:11 under the clock at Waverley station. Bring raincoats, sun cream, and midge spray. Oh and get plenty of rest…”

Our mission was to cook feast after feast for a large group of young revellers having a 4 day party in the Highlands. Our train journey up was spent checking through lists and finalising our battle plan. We needed to leap into action as soon as we had arrived in order to stay on top of our task. I had spent the week before tapping furiously at a calculator working out how much food to order and giving the execution orders on various beasts from a local farm. The on-site front of house team and organisers were primed and ready for our arrival.

The first evening was spent serving a supper for 20 and prepping for the next day: a BBQ for 50, afternoon tea for 90 and dinner for 100. The BBQ was to take place out in the wilds, so there was carful packing, double checking lists and lots of prep. It was a late (but jolly) night and we only briefly came unstuck after midnight when I gave each of us a flavoured jelly to make and we all had to do the relevant conversions. It turned into one of those mind boggling maths exam questions along the lines of: If Jenny had 2 pints of sloe gin that she wanted to set into jelly at a 45 % stronger ratio than Peter but could only use gelatine sheets that were 67 % the normal size what would her recipe be? The situation soon turned into every chef for themselves and we all made our part of the 100 jelly boat armada and filled our eclectic mix of jelly moulds.
2015-06-28_0008

Day 2 started early with final prep and packing for the BBQ for 50 (after we had all individually made casual but hasty bee-lines to the fridge to check each of our jellies had set). They all had, so we fully turned our attention to the mission of heading out into the wilds to become free-range chefs and cook the BBQ.

 

2015-06-28_0007

Fuelled by the fresh air nothing could stop us getting ready for the arrival of the guests. Not the deep fast flowing river we had to cross, not the hills we had to climb or the rain we had to battle against when trying to light the coals. At 1 o’clock we had the first set of vegetable kebabs nicely charring over the coals, the venison burgers were ready to grill and the jugs of Pimms were all set to pour. The guests arrived just as the sun passed the yardarm, a sound system of moderately load music was switched on and the eating began.

Day 2 part 2 started and ended in tidying up lunch and setting out an afternoon tea of smoked salmon blini, venison sausage rolls and 90 rice crispy cakes (only 10 of which made it back). The chefs then dashed back over moor, mountain and river to the kitchen to finish off prep for that nights dinner for 100.

The menu read as follows:

Slow cooked lamb in Whisky with salsa verde
Baked wild salmon with lemon butter
Cyprus potatoes cooked in white wine and saffron
Puy lentils with asparagus, broad beans and peas.
Green salad with garlic chilli broccoli

Dessert
Jelly and Ice cream table
Salted caramel ice cream
Chocolate ice cream
Pineapple and rum sorbet
100 jelly boats, sloe gin and raspberry, lime and ginger and elderflower
Eton mess

The diner was to take place in a beautiful teepee tent with a makeshift (but nifty) kitchen attached. It was only a short drive away from our base camp and conventional kitchen we so we did as much prep and cooking as we could before loading up the trusty Landover (again) and heading over. The stunningly dressed guests all spilled into the marquee pretty much on time and the next set of feasting began.

2015-06-28_0004

As soon as dinner was over the music got pumped up and some serious dancing began. Us chefs headed back to start the next task of making a 2 am sustenance pizza drop. We returned to the party around 1am and it wasn’t long before we had several visitors storming the kitchen drawn by the smell of our slow cooked tomato sauce and the first wafts of melting mozzarella .
Pizza !!! The word had got out and we had to hold off the baying dance floor until we had our first few trays ready.

2015-06-28_0005
Having satisfied the crowd we left them to it while we headed back to base to catch a few hours kip before the big breakfast.
Day 3 … With the buoyancy of youth the revellers where bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for breakfast by 11am. Sausages, crispy bacon, fried eggs and home made baked beans were gratefully wolfed down back in the teepee tent that had magically been whipped back into shape by the  morning fairies and although the dress code of the crowd had somewhat changed, spirits were still high.

2015-06-28_0003

Day 3 part 2 was to be Curry Night for 30 so once breakfast had been polished off we headed back to the kitchen so we could delve into the spice racks to make our Thai prawn curries, chicken kormas, Bombay potatoes and saffron rice.

2015-06-28_0010
Every one was ready for a relatively early night however they still managed to summon the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy the desserts of chocolate and praline torte, ice cream and the spare text-book wobbly jelly.

Day 4, the grande finale was a brunch. Platters of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and brown toast and stacks of American style blueberry and banana pancakes with jugs of warmed maple syrup and double cream.

Then that was that, party over.

2015-06-28_0002

This Week:

Alcohol cooked with: 6 bottles white, 2 bottles red, 3 bottles whisky, 3 bottles fino, 1 bottle sloe gin, ¼ brandy.
Every home should have: a river crossing.
Clothes are out, glitter paint is in.
Sleeping : is not an option
Its all about : 2 am pizza sessions.

Slow cooked lamb in whisky and rosemary with potatoes cooked in saffron, bay and white.

Assuming you probably wont want this recipe for 100 I have scaled down the portions. It is however great for a large gathering as is great to make in advance, easy to serve to a crowd and most importantly is super delicious. As it is a rich dish it works well served with an an acidic side salad (dressed with balsamic or sherry vinegar dressing) and works perfectly with a salsa verde. When slow cooking food with alcohol I often add an extra splash in just before serving to lift the flavour and give it a final punch.
2015-06-28_0006
Serves 6 – 10
1 large lamb shoulder
3 tbs. olive oil
4 red onions
1 head garlic
40g rosemary
40g thyme
400ml bottle whisky
½ bottle white wine

Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
1)Season the lamb with salt and pepper and rub all over with about 3 tbs. olive oil.
2)Peel and chop the onions and garlic into thin slices and lay in a big roasting dish.
3)Take the rosemary and thyme off the stalks and put ¼ of it aside.
Finely chop the other ¾ and scatter over the onions.
4)Lay the lamb on top and roast in the oven for 20mins, (it should start to be turning golden).
5)Remove from the oven, pour on all the wine, 1 pint water and 300 ml whisky.
Cover with baking paper then seal the dish with foil.
Turn the oven down to 160° and cook for 3 -4 hours or until the lamb easily shreds off the bone.
6)Once cooked remove the paper and foil and leave to cool slightly.
Once cool enough to handle shred the lamb in chunks discarding the bones. Add the rest of the whisky and check the seasoning.
It is now ready to be served or can be cooled and refrigerated for another day.
To serve finely chop the remaining herbs and sprinkle on top serve with the saffron potatoes, a vinegary salad and salsa verde.

Potatoes cooked in saffron, white wine and bay.
These potatoes are very pretty and make a great side dish as are so delicious and keep their heat really well, which is perfect for serving a crowd.

Serves 10
400ml olive oil
3 white onions, peeled and diced into 2 cm squares
10 gloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half
6 green peppers (I used a mix of green, red and yellow) deseeded and cut into 2 cm squares
15 bay leaves
2 kilo potatoes ( Cyprus are fantastic as have lots of flavour and hold their shape but otherwise other waxy varieties will work)
½ bottle white wine

1 heaped teaspoon of saffron mixed with 200ml just boiled water left to infuse for at least 10 mins

1)Wash and ¼ cut the potatoes lengthways.
2)Pour the oil into a big pan and add the onions, peppers, garlic and bay.
Sauté for 10 – 15 minutes until starting to soften.
3)Add the chopped potatoes and white wine.
Season with salt and pepper then cook on a low heat with a lid on, gently stirring occasionally until the potatoes are cooked through ( about 20 – 30 mins).
4)Once cooked stir through the saffron water and check the seasoning.

2015-06-28_0001

Next time ….

Well with the job successfully accomplished the A team can now part their ways; I’m packing my summer suitcase and heading to the East Coast, State side.

0

Recipe | BBQ wild salmon with grilled baby gem and salsa verde

whisk

Quite the catch…

This week I headed to the Scottish Highlands to cook for a salmon fishing week on the River Findhorn, lots of big breakfasts, afternoon teas, help yourself suppers and best of all bbq s by the river …

“Oh, its easy to find, you cant miss it !” My client called from the Landy Defender as they headed off to the river.

So I jammed the trusty old Range Rover to the brim with boxes, bags of charcoal and food supplies and headed to the ‘middle beat fishing hut’ wherever it may be (for you non -fishing folks a ‘beat’ is a part of a river you fish). On the upside I knew the that it was going to be by the river, what worried me was getting lost in part of the 70 000 acres of estate I had to drive through to get there and then possibly not being found till the grouse season started in August…

2015-05-30_0007

I found the hut (fear not, I am not posting this from the wilderness) unloaded the kit, laid the table, set up my outdoor kitchen and fired up the bbq. As I was in Scotland it of course started raining as soon as I had struck my first match, it then got a little windy and then to my delight/relief the sun came out.

2015-05-30_0002

On the first few days nothing was caught so I ended up cooking lots of meat on the coals; chicken marinated in thyme and lemon, pigeon with zataar and lime , Gressingham duck breasts with just with a sprinkling of salt. All delicious but no fish!

2015-05-30_0012

On day three spirits were still high amongst the group, despite the changeable weather and lack of salmon. I began to feel I was more keen for them to catch one then they were, I even briefly considered going on strike until they had but then   with the intervention of St Peter, the skill of the fisherman and with help from the ghillie ( a knowledgeable attendant to the fisherman) the group triumphantly bought back that night to the kitchen two silver beauties.

Hello tomorrow’s lunch!

2015-05-30_0010

Wild Scottish salmon really are quite extraordinary creatures and have the most challenging of lives and seemingly endless name changes. They start as one of around 7000 eggs laid by the ‘hen’ salmon deep in river bed gravel. 90 % of these generally survive and once hatched they are then called Alevins. Born with their own pack lunch (a yolk sack) they lurk in the gravel for a few weeks then once ready start to fend for themselves. Sadly with limited feeding grounds and a lot of competition at this point only about 10% make it to the next stage.

2015-05-30_0004

The fighting few that survive (now called ‘ Parr’) spend a year or two in the river but with threats of summer droughts and / or floods they still haven’t hit easy street. After a couple of years, come spring time some of the larger fish that have made it start drifting out towards the sea and you guessed it they change their name once more and now answer to ‘Smolt’. The smolts travel in shoals and as they reach the estuary they are often picked off by predators or fall victim to human pollution.

2015-05-30_0015

Those that make it to the sea for their first winter are obviously not called salmon as that would make it far to easy, no they are called Grilse. Our British Grilse can be found anywhere from Faroes to Greenland so its no wonder they build up an appetite and can double in size.   The 10 % that survive their sea voyage then start to swim back to the river (cleverly very close to where they hatched as eggs) in order to do some breeding of their own and are called….Salmon !

2015-05-30_0016

Spawning generally takes place from October to January. Once back in the river the fish do not eat at all and they start to loose their knight like silver and develop a colourful breeding dress (pinks and red ARE the new silver for these guys). Once a fish has spawned its called a kelt (come on keep up!) they look really thin and are not allowed to be taken from the river.

2015-05-30_0014

If the salmon survives all this (though few do) it will head back out to sea and bravely attempt the same routine again the next year.

2015-05-30_0005

As you can imagine with this precarious lifestyle their numbers are not huge so, as like with many country pursuits, there is much etiquette and rules to abide by which I shall delve into in my next postcard.

 This week;

Salmon caught: x 2 , a 8 lb and 9 lb

Salmon released: x 3

Pears eaten : 45

Puppies on lap helping to drive: 2 cocker spaniels

I’m reading ; The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton

Transport : Range Rover, Kia estate (zippier than you think), Fly B airplane, Airport bus ( with an unusually cheerful driver).

 

2015-05-30_0001

 

Bbq salmon with grilled lettuce and salsa verde.

 A few years back I cooked for a fishing week (but much further up north) when they came back with their first salmon the triumphant fisherman reluctantly handed it over to me.

“Please don’t do too much to it..”

they then proceeded to hover around the stove while I prepared supper.

I totally agree that when the salmon is this good very little should be done, some heat and a wedge of lemon at most. I also think when its really good it works best served ‘medium rare’ so if you are lucky enough to get some wild salmon don’t be too keen to cook it completely through.

2015-05-30_0003  

Prepare the bbq so its hot , the coals have gone grey and the grills are clean.

 

Grilled salmon

Salmon, allow about 200g of salmon per portion

Maldon Salt

Olive oil

Lemon

Check the salmon has been properly descaled and that any bones have been removed ( a pair of tweezers works perfectly for this job).

Season with a pinch of salt and brush lightly with olive oil (salmon is naturally fatty son doesn’t need to much cooking fat)

Grill skin side down first and only turn once the skin lifts off the grill.

Best served medium rare and by the river it was caught from!

 

Grilled lettuce and hallumi

You can try grilling most lettuce but for this lunch I used baby gem (frisse, romaine, iceberg and even rocket – when kept on its root also work well).

 

Baby gem, allow ½ per person

Salt

Olive oil

Lemon

Pinch of red chilli flakes

 

Wash and dry the lettuce,

Cut in half and sprinkle with salt, pepper and a small drizzle of olive oil

On a hot grill cook on all sides till slightly blackened and starting to wilt (a couple of minutes)

Remove from the heat and serve warm with a squeeze over some lemon and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.

  2015-05-30_0008

Salsa verde

I really think this is the best sauce with this fish as the tangy acidity pairs particularity well with the fatty rich salmon.

 

1 big bunch of flat leaf parsley (about 30g ) washed and dried

1 tbs. tiny capers from brine

5 salted anchovies fillets, rinsed and bones removed

2 tsp. mustard

5tbs Olive oil

Juice from half a lemon

 

Finely chop the parsley and pop into a bowl

Add the mustard, capers and anchovies and mix

Stir in the olive oil and finally the lemon and some pepper.

Check for seasoning but as anchovies and capers are salty it generally doesn’t need much.

  2015-05-30_0013

Having had much fun on the river all week, learnt a lot and bbq ed practically everything I can think of I have waved good bye to my clients I am now changing beats to cook for another fishing week but this time turning my attentions to packed lunches. For this postcard recipe I will share with you my bbq salmon lunch recipes.

2015-05-30_0006

 

1

Recipe | Tips and tricks to perfect lamb chops and Quinoa salads

whisk

School of wok…

Travelling East from the blossoming West Country towards the big smoke for my latest job my mind was speeding along faster than the train (although admittedly that’s not always difficult). The days ahead were really going to challenge me in different ways and my skills and knowledge were to be put to the test…I was excited.

2015-05-19_0001

Was I about to cook for a tyrannical tycoon using only ingredients beginning with the letter Q?…no.  Perhaps create an entirely aquamarine coloured menu for a stroppy model?…nope.  It wasn’t even to whip up lunch for 50 with only ingredients bought at Waterloo station. No, I had been commissioned to teach my client how to cook.

2015-05-19_0005

I have done various classes before including cookery parties for kids where their main objective seems to be how much chocolate they can eat before I object and Christmas cookery demonstrations that inevitably end in festive cocktail making.

2015-05-20_0001

In professional kitchens you are of course continuously learning and teaching and in my experience although knowledge and enthusiasm is essential, clarity is also important. I remember once a very busy lunchtime shift at the café I set up for the Mudchute city park and farm.  I yelled out at my new trainee to grab the box of broad beans from outside and shuck them.

He looked at me startled then seeing my stare scuttled off.  He came back 10 minutes later empty handed.

“Where are my broad beans?!’

“I chucked them… on the compost.”

He didn’t make the grade as a chef but you will be glad to know he did go on to be a rather successful actor.

2015-05-19_0006

Teaching someone at home to cook is a lot more tranquil. My client was starting from scratch confessing never having cooked before.  I felt we had a head start as they were certainly knowledgeable about various foods and I had noticed the house was always stocked with top notch produce.

2015-05-19_0008

The first session was how to cook various types of fish, including fried sea bass, seared scallops, cod En papillote and salmon. (I have lots of tips on cooking fish published in this months issue of The Field Magazine). We then moved onto cuts of meat including some spectacular lamb chops, slow cooked lamb shoulder, butterflied chicken and juicy rump steaks. We did a session on stir fries, soups and sauces and for our ‘grand finale’ we rustled up an entire lunch for a group of her friends.  The menu read as follows :

2015-05-20_0002

 Baked side of salmon, with lemon and fennel

Served with a Salsa verde and a hot black olive and anchovy sauce.

 Tomato and hazelnut pesto with mozzarella and nectarines

 Quinoa salad with roasted courgette, lemon, avocado and herbs.

 Flourless chocolate cake and salted caramel ice cream

 

The lunch was a great success and I was delighted my client, who swears they have never cooked before, knocked out plate after plate of delicious food.

2015-05-19_0003

Job done, mortarboards tossed and (school)bags packed I am now heading on for the next job….

For this postcard recipe I will give you some tips on cooking lamb chops (as we agreed we totally nailed it) and a recipe on how to properly cook quinoa.

 

This week;

Gold stars given :5

Detentions : 0

I raised an eyebrow at: The price of meat from the local butcher.

Range rover to Porsche ratio spotted in W11:   5:1

I have had: My postcard recipe from Provence published in the American journal ‘The Cooks Cook’  and an article on a day in the life of a private chef (this can be found in the Cooks World Section).

The word is : Aquamarine IS the colour to be seen in.

 

For more snippets and photos of my week you can follow me on

Instagram @phollowphilippa

and

Twitter @phollowphilippa

 

Tips and tricks for cooking chops

My first job in London was at the amazing Lidgate butchers.  Amazing for many reasons  – the meat is renowned for quality and I know that any meat aspiring to be sold from their blocks has to endure vigorous scrutiny and have impressive credentials before being allowed even in the front door.  Its also amazing that it’s the kind of shop that passers by stop and peer in just to have a look at the old fashioned splendor from the meat displays to the quaint staff uniforms.    The price unfortunately is also quite amazing.

2015-05-19_0009

 To cook a great lamb chop:

 When to buy lamb?

You can obviously buy it all year round but for those in the UK Spring lamb is great for its tenderness but as the animal hasn’t had much time on lush grass it can lack flavour.  I prefer to wait till summer when they have had time to graze and build up a more interesting taste.

 How to store your lamb.

If vac packed remove from the plastic as this draws out moisture and flavour and wrap instead in parchment.

Before cooking generally with meat you want to bring it to room temperature however if you like your lamb chop pink keep it in the fridge, this way you can cook it long enough to render the fat but the meat will still stay pink.

 Marinades

Marinades really only add a layer of flavour to the outside, start with a good piece of lamb and don’t always feel tempted to swamp it with too many spices and herbs.

 How to cook

Start cooking the chops by placing them on their edge fat side down in a cold frying pan  Turn the heat to low  / medium and slowly let the fat render (cook down) . If you start in a hot pan it is too easy to nicely colour the outside of the fat but still leave it pretty inedible.

Once you have rendered the fat, which can take about 7 minutes turn the heat up drain away the excess then sear both flat sides for about 1 ½ mins each.

If you only decide to take one piece of advice from this list let it be this one…

Once cooked, LET IT REST.  When you cook meat the fibres firm up and the water is pushed out, if you cut it immediately you are likely to lose a lot of this and end up with dry meat. Resting lets the juices redistribute and so keeps it moist and flavourful.

We served our with a cardamom and cumin roasted aubergine and a chilli mint yogurt.

2015-05-19_0004

 Quinoa salad

Many would have you believe it has a delightful nutty taste (which it kind of does especially the darker coloured types) but I definitely think it is one of those ingredients that needs as much help as it can get or it is very boring.

 Despite the way we cook Quinia it is actually a seed and not a grain so great for those of you with wheat allergies wanting to bulk out your dishes.

Unusual for a vegetable it has all 9 amino acids and so is a balanced source of protein (great if you don’t eat meat). It also has a good dose of fibre and iron.

  2015-05-19_0010

To cook Quinoa

Rinse before cooking as it is naturally has a bitter coating to protect to from predators (many varieties available have been pre rinsed but it cant hurt to do it twice).

Simmer 1 part Quinoa with 2 parts cold liquid (either water, a light vegetable or chicken stock).

Cook for about 10  – 15 minutes or until just soft then drain.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes then fluff up with a fork.

Once cooked there is a huge choice of what you can add making it a great solution to using up odd bits of herbs, vegetables and fruit you may have lurking in your fridge.

We added

Roasted courgettes, avocado, mint, parsley, coriander, chilli, olive oil, fennel, radish, celery and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Other favourite additions include; pomegranates, cinnamon, cardamom, apple slices, dried cranberries, toasted nuts and seeds.

 

 Next stop…I’m off to the river Findhorn to cook for a salmon fishing party

0

Recipe|Roast beetroot, Umbrian lentil, blood orange and honey ricotta salad

whisk

The Ladies lunch…

I have been cooking for the week in various impressive kitchens in West London for ladies lunches. With not a Cosmopolitan in sight – in reading or drinking format it was not quite what you would expect.

2015-02-10_0001

All the clients had chosen to have a relaxed buffet style with lots of dishes to choose from.   Cold cuts of meat, baked fish and lots of interesting winter salads and yes desserts and bread baskets too.

2015-02-10_0009

Feeling delighted to be back in the big smoke with an enormous choice of amazing food shops, buying the best ingredients was easy, navigating the Circle and District line around Kensington less so. Zooming around to various markets, fishmongers and trusty Waitrose I managed to get exactly what I was looking for (and more as is usually the way).  I am also beginning to discover the glory and usefulness of our Thames river bus service, which I would highly recommend as a mode of serious transport or for a fun jaunt.

2015-02-10_0004

With more FT’ s than G&T’s at the party I was most impressed by the…well I was actually most impressed by the beautiful shoes…but food wise, that for dessert an entire lemon tart got demolished pastry and all.  Sometimes it is sadly left while the filling gets scooped off.

2015-02-10_0007

There was however a noticeable shift in my cooking style veering away from the shoot style hearty lunches and rich dinners and turning towards the fresh new produce now in season, like blood oranges, purple sprouting broccoli, and forced rhubarb. Olive oil was very much replacing butter, yogurt replacing cream and an even greater use of fresh herbs and citrus to keep bold but fresh flavours.

2015-02-10_0006

Platters cleared away and the ladies having scooted off (though I hope not too fast in those heels!) to do various school runs and to get back to work, the parties finished up and then it was time to get on with prep for the next feast…a dinner party for 10 in the city of Westminster.

2015-02-10_0005

 This Week

Shoe envy levels: seriously high

It’s all about Greek Olive oil from Olive Tree London

Every home should have: an Alexander the Great

Mode of transports included boats, trains, planes and busses.

2015-02-10_0002

 

Next I’m heading off across the channel to the Alps and the ski resort of Tignes.

 

Roast beetroot, Umbrian lentils and honey with ricotta winter salad.

 

Serves 8 as a side salad

4 raw beetroots (I used golden and red ones)

1 tbs olive oil for cooking

 

200g Umbrian lentils

1 garlic clove

a few parsley stalks

½ a chilli cut lengthways

 

200g ricotta

2 tsp honey

 

3 sticks celery

20g parsley

20g dill

20g mint

2 blood oranges

2 avocados

 

To dress the salad

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbs olive oil

2015-02-10_0003  

Pre heat the oven to 180°C.

Scrub the beetroots and boil in water till cooked (depending on size this can take 30  mins- 1 hour

Drain then scrape away the skin. Cut into wedges and drizzle with the cooking oil. Roast on a tray till slightly caramlised (about 30 mins).

 

Meanwhile place the lentils in a pan and cover with water to 1 inch above.

Add the garlic clove, chilli, parsley stalks and bring the boil.

Simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes or until just cooked.

If there is still lots of water left once cooked drian away most of the excess then season with salt and pepper.

 

Mix the ricotta with the honey and season with salt and pepper.

 

When ready to serve remove the skin and pith off the oranges and slice into thin rounds

Chop the celery into 1 cm pieces and the avocado into small chunks.

Finely chop the herbs and add them to the lentils along with the lemon juice, chopped celery and avocado.

Layer the lentils, beetroots, oranges in a bowl and top with scoops of honeyed ricotta.

0

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes

css.php