Wed Jun 19 17:01:00 BST 2013
Right then, this ones all about Greece.
Inspired by my love of kebabs, this dish is all about those smashing flavours, of a Greek taverna, things like taramasalata, barbecued squid, beautiful fresh fish, char grilled vegetables, tomatoes and olive oil.
And summer in Oxford.
But before that I'll tell you how nice it is in my new kitchen at The Randolph Hotel, and that having a big kitchen brigade allows me to do things like this.
Order loads of fish for a start, so we've got some wild brill, John Dory and squid, they are both for the "honey honey" dish and some, rather large, quite lively cock crabs.
I wonder who would win in a fight, a lobster or a crab?
I think the crab, they have massive claws, which, when cooked provide me with loads of nice white meat.
So all I had to do was get one of brigade to crack all the bodies, make sure he reserved all the brown meat from the bodies, and then pick through it all.
It's the first dish I changed at The Randolph, and it's going really well, as summers perfect for crab, and because of the rubbish start to the year lobsters are a bit too expensive to use at the moment, but we are getting our monies worth as we use every last bit of the decapod.
That's to go on the warm toast, some more brown meat is mixed with thick, homemade mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and Tabasco sauce and lemon juice.
This will give the white meat a nice, creamy kick, which has been dressed, very simply with just olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
And the bashed up shells are quickly roasted in a hot oven, and then added to a soup base that has sweated down leeks, garlic, onion and carrots, tomato puree, white wine, herbs and saffron.
Covered with chicken stock, and simmered for a couple of hours, I'm left with a beautiful crab broth.
This could then be clarified and served as hot consommé, or set with gelatine for a cold jelly, or blended with some agar for a warm fluid gel.
I'm keeping everything nice and simple at the moment though, and just reduced it a bit and finished it with a touch of cream and a knob of butter, foamed it up with the bamix, and there you go.
A few compressed cucumber balls, caviar, little lemon segments and a flower!
We serve a lot of these, but it's all Ok, as most of the preparation is done in advance, and the presentation is quite simple, so at the moment it's not too stressful for all my new chefs!
So the next day I ordered in some summer truffles, bone marrow, sweetbreads and girolle mushrooms, although at that point I had different plans for all of them, but in the end I didn't have time to sort out all the new dishes, but I needed a meat starter for the menu, so just as luck would have it, all those ingredients work perfectly together, all I had to do was work out a way to serve them all.
Now I think sweetbreads are absolutely brilliant, and as these were veal, it made sense to serve them with beef, deep fried in breadcrumbs, to add another dimension of temperature and texture to my carnivore's delight.
I'll tell you all about preparing them when I get back to my original plan for serving them, along with suckling pig belly and morels.
It's great being in Oxford!
But back to the emergency dish, and a steak Tartare was needed, of course, topped with some egg yolks that had been cooked in the water bath, seasoned and then whisked with a touch of truffle oil.
Bone marrow was prepared in the usual manner, and just warmed in a little bit of red wine sauce, the girolle mushrooms were pickled with Champagne vinegar, olive oil and herbs, along with blanched salsify and very thinly sliced sweet white skinned onions.
There're expensive though aren't they?
Yes they are!
And I'm using them, a lot.
A few breakfast radishes were sliced, along with my summer truffles, and the rest was simple, a bread wafer, some picked tarragon and pea shoots, the seasoned, chopped sirloin of beef, warm bone marrow and hot, crisp sweetbreads.
And, as it turned out a real success on the menu that night.
So back to the Greek inspired fish dish.
I managed to procure some smoked cod's roe, which, is, of course, used for making taramasalata.
Ever so simple to make, it is just the cod's roe blended with milk soaked white bread, that was been squeezed out of excess milk, some onion juice, lemon juice, a tiny bit of grated garlic and olive oil.
It's best to use a milder olive oil for this as it might end up overpowering the delicate smokiness of the roe if you're not careful.
So, just a couple of minutes of blending, and there you go, homemade taramasalata, or as it's now referred to with my international kitchen brigade, "pink stuff"!
It would be a perfect partner for the John Dory that arrived that day.
I blackened some onions under the grill, ground them to a powder, as this would add a nice barbecued effect to the Dory.
A thick piece of courgette was char grilled, seasoned with thyme, salt and pepper, while the green skin was cut into julienne and blanched.
Fish stock was reduced with a clove of crushed garlic and then squid ink was whisked in.
Plum tomatoes were peeled, quartered, seasoned with salt, sugar and olive oil, and left under the hot plate lights to semi dry out. Not too much though as I wanted their juicy, intense flavour and slightly chewy texture there, and if they are left too long they go like little bits of hard, red rubber.
Potatoes were cut into rounds, and cooked, very slowly, just like fondants, but I used olive oil, some thyme and more garlic, as I didn't want any butter near this dish.
The cleaned baby squid was seasoned and put on a red hot ridged cast iron pan, as I was still trying to get those slightly burnt, charcoal elements into the assembly.
The Dory was steamed at 60oc in one of the Rational's for eight minutes, seasoned with Maldon salt and lemon juice and then a dusting of the burnt onion powder was all that the fish needed before plating up.
A couple of baby onions and micro basil are the finishing touches, one of my first in Oxford.
I, of course, enjoyed some more proper Greek food that night, on the way home, from the Kebab Kid, and I loved it!
Right that's it!
Tasting menu starting next week, and I'm changing all the desserts as well, but before that I'm just going to wander up into Oxford, to meet Sophie from work, take her for a drink and decide where to go for dinner tonight!
I'll tell you about my new, improved, Coronation chicken starter next time, and if I've got away with ordering some very expensive, new white plates for the restaurant!
Today I recommend that you listen to "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thice feat.T.I and Pharrell.
We're loving it down at OX4.
Mon May 13 14:52:00 BST 2013
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So, here I am, just lounging around at home, wondering what I should put on the menu tonight.
I'm off work for a few days, and thinking of new menu ideas, I thought I'd cook Sophie a nice little mid week five course tasting dinner.
And I wanted to try out my new Persian blue salt crystals, and as I'm such a rubbish bloke, I hardly ever take Sophie out to eat, so I could kill two birds with one stone!
Asparagus was always going to be on the menu somewhere, and I thought that some nice, young tender Derbyshire lamb might be nice as well.
A couple of fish courses and a classical French pudding and we would be sorted!
Luckily for me some people in Derbyshire are still enjoying fine food and wine, well at my house we are.
So, as usual, I'm a little bit in it.
First things first though, and I'd managed to get my hands on some nice, plump chicken wings.
Now I love wings, but just cooked like that would have been far too messy for the meal I had in mind, so what I did was just chop them in half at the joint, as I was going to use the middle section.
And that means I can fry the knuckle ends off tomorrow night and have them with some scampi in some sort of Mexican themed delight.
All I had to do then was salt them for a couple of hours, just to start the seasoning process, and it will draw out a bit of moisture, making them go nice and crisp when I fry them off later.
Right that's one element of one course done!
Next I had to sort out my fish courses, and as I wanted to serve them both cold, it means that most of the preparation had to be done in advance.
With a nod to Japanese sashimi I got a couple of mackerel, whipped off the fillets and pin boned them.
A pickling liquor was made by dissolving some sugar with horseradish cream, yuzu juice, which has a nice, sharp, citrus flavour, wasabi powder and some cracked peppercorns.
This was going to poured, warm, over the mackerel, to take away some of the rawness.
You can do this and leave the fish in the marinade for longer, and fish will keep for longer, so it's a great way to plan in advance, as the longer you leave the fish in the pickle, the more it will "cook", so it doesn't taste raw at all.
A piece of salmon fillet was skinned, pin boned and
trimmed of all it's fat.
And I mixed equal amounts of caster sugar and smoked Viking salt together, as I wanted a background smoky flavour, but don't have a smoker at home!
Left for a couple of hours, and then washed off it will work well with the other oily fish as a starter.
But as it's also quite rich, we need something to cool it down a little, so cucumber was peeled, deseeded, and chopped into pretty diamonds.
These will be marinated in a splash of white wine vinegar and a pinch of salt, just to make them nice and crunchy.
So, the salmon is ready to be washed off, but I'm just going to blot the mackerel fillets on some kitchen paper, as I want to keep the horseradish, and anyway there was not much salt used in the cure so I don't need to.
A couple of Jalapeño chillies were sliced, as were a couple of red radishes, and then the easy bit.
Plating it all up.
On my new Himalayan salt blocks!
Which, in truth, is the reason for this first dish!
It was alright actually, a bit of a kick from the chillies, cool cucumbers, the nice juicy salmon and fatty mackerel, and I sprinkled on a few more drops of yuzu juice and finally some blue Persian salt crystals.
Now the next course was a nice easy one.
First thing was to sort out a potato salad.
And, as with most French dishes, a couple of shallots are required, these are just peeled and chopped, covered in white wine vinegar and then reduced, until almost dry, as if it's not reduced enough the finished dressing will be too sharp, and then finished with some olive oil, that's the dressing sorted.
Now I first learnt how to do this salad at Le Ritz in Paris, and
it's brilliant, as it goes with so many things, but then we served it, warm, with soft poached eggs, Morteau sausage and black truffles.
It's quite simple in a way, but it's important to get everything just right, or it can be a bit of a mess.
I was checking out the hotels website yesterday, but they are closed for a two year refurbishment, so I'm sure it's going to be stunning when it reopens.
And I'm going to take Sophie!
Now what I should have done is cook the potatoes in their skins, and while still warm, peel and slice them and then put them in the shallot dressing.
But I didn't, I just sliced them and blanched them quickly, and that's why you need waxy potatoes for this as they are less likely to fall apart when they are cooked.
So that can be cling filmed, and left at room temperature ready for the next course.
Now I know I'm in the middle of Derbyshire but I still wanted another fish course, and I've found out about this company called Seafood & Eat It, which sells this amazing fresh white crab meat, so I picked some up from Waitrose in Ashbourne and course number two is just about there.
All I had to do was season the crab with a touch of lemon, some salt and pepper and olive oil and away we go.
I added a julienne of salami to the potatoes salad, quartered some sweet cherry tomatoes and chopped a bit of parsley.
And that's it!
Sorry about the fuzzy picture, and maybe I should have used a different plate, but it was delicious, really light, and as I'd served some potatoes with it I didn't need any with the main course.
And how easy was that, it's not really cooking at all!
Right the next one does involve a bit of cooking, and I wanted to try out my new Japanese Agemono - Nabe cooking pot.
It's actually meant for deep frying but I think it's
a bit small, so I intended to cook my asparagus in it.
English, of course, and all I had to do was put a healthy amount of butter, a splash of water and a pinch a salt.
Lid on, and then put on a high heat, the water would start steaming the asparagus, emulsifying with the butter giving it a nice glaze, and it's easier than blanching it and then reheating it, as it saves on washing up, although now we are moving to a house with a dishwasher I 'm going to find out just how pots and pans I can use for one dinner, for two people in Oxford!
Quite a lot, probably.
So, I've washed off the chicken wings, covered them with some duck fat, and I'm going to gently poach them.
Only about thirty minutes, or so, and then, all that was needed was to de-bone them.
And you have to do that while they are still warm, as if they get too cool the flesh starts to harden up, and you might rip the skin, and that, darling, would be a disaster!
Just a bit of gentle pressure and the bones just pop out.
What I might do, when I start using these as a garnish in the restaurant is stuff the cavities with some herbs and bacon, and then I've got some little stuffed chicken thingies for a new tasting menu.
Right, they're going into a nice hot pan to brown them off, and these things make the most superb nibble, it's impossible to stop snacking on the hot, salty, crispy little pieces of poulet!
I had some thin slices of Parma ham that I was going to use as well as it's another great match with both chicken and asparagus
So, that's course number three out of the way, and it can't have been easier, smooth Parma ham, roasted chicken wings and some asparagus, what a spring time delight, and there was no work involved at all, I think anyone could knock up this dish, easy!
Ok, so with a nice bottle of red wine decanted, it's time for that lovely
And as so many lucky people will be enjoying Italy this summer, I thought I'd do Sophie an Italian inspired main course.
Wild garlic, from my garden.
Home made, warm focaccia.
And a jus!
And an onion, or two.
One rack of lamb should do.
And all I've done is remove the skin, cleaned the bones and cut it in half, diced up all the meat from between the bones, that will be browned off and turned into a stock, and then reduced for the jus, scored the fat on the four bone rack, and I'm going to dice up all the fat and render that down to whisk back into the sauce.
You see I'm going to use every last bit of the lamb, wringing as much flavour as I can from it.
So into one pan goes the lamb trimming, and a lamb stock is on the way, and by dicing up the lamb fat and then cooking it in water, we can render all the lamb fat out.
Now this is very important as lamb fat has a delicious taste, and it seems such a shame to waste it.
Think of dripping on toast, well that's all this is, only served in a liquid form, and it's going to become a classic "jus gras", gras meaning fat in French.
At work we have tub of this on hand, just to melt into hot lamb stock, so that it splits out on the plate, giving a massive lamb hit to the sauce.
And because fat coats the mouth it will linger on the palate for longer, making the dish taste even lovelier.
The focaccia was started in the normal way of a bigga ferment, well fermenting, then being mixed, by hand, with more pasta flour, warm water and olive oil.
This was easy as all I had to do was, every thirty minutes, or so, just lightly knead it with some more oil, no bashing around or heavy mixing, a final prove, and then baked in a red hot oven for twenty minutes.
And because the oven was cranked all the way up I had cook our lamb "en cocotte".
I like cooking like this, as it's browned off, with a couple of crushed garlic cloves and rosemary, the lid is placed on, but slightly ajar, so the steam can escape, and I've just turned the lamb around every few minutes.
I have been known to forget about things that go in the oven sometimes, so this way, it's on top of the stove and I can carry on enjoying my wine without any fear of overcooking the meat!
Rested for half an hour, it's going to be perfect.
So then Bagna Cauda.
It's an Italian delight, but really easy and as anchovies and lamb are such great friends, I thought that along with some wild garlic, blanched cauliflower and nice sweet roasted onions it would be spot on.
Especially as I had some warm, soft bread to mop all those lovely lamb juices!
Basically it's just olive oil warmed with crushed garlic, salted anchovies that will melt into the oil, and then some butter is whisked in, so it's a warm dipping sauce, normally raw vegetables are served with it, as a sort of crudités, Hayden I hope your getting all this, and haven't forgotten my Italian lesson the other night - now repeat after me "Ti amo mi chica bella"!
And as cauliflower is also so good with anchovies, everything would marry beautifully.
So the lamb was carved into nice thick chops, the warm cauliflower was dressed with wild garlic, crushed anchovies and a touch of lemon, the focaccia was sliced, the onions sprinkled with sea salt and there you go, Italy on a plate.
Right we're just hopping back over the boarder now for pudding, and it's another dead easy one to knock up, as long as you have some eggs and sugar you're there.
So, whites in one bowl, yolks in another.
And then a classic creme Anglaise was prepared, just by warming milk and cream with a split vanilla pod, then whisking it over the egg yolks, that had been already whisked with caster sugar, poured back into a pan, it was then cooked very gently until it started to thicken.
You have to be careful when you do this, if it gets too hot you'll end up with some messy scrambled eggs.
Strained through a sieve, and covered with cling film, all I had to do with it was cool it down.
If I had an ice cream machine all I would have to do then is churn it, and then hey presto, vanilla ice cream!
Meanwhile the egg whites are whisked with more caster sugar and turned into a classic meringue.
Now, everyones got different ways of doing it, but I think the best way is to start whipping the whites and then start to add all the sugar, quite quickly, and then just let the machine do it's thing, and you'll end up with thick, glossy, stiff meringue.
Now this can be piped out and baked in a low oven, but I'm making some "iles flottantes", lovely little light poached meringues for our pudding.
You see, poor old Simon's only got one oven at home, and as it was getting super hot for the bread I had to come up with a pudding that could be done on top of the stove!
So, using two dessert spoons, I shaped the meringues, and poached them in a mixture of milk and water until they were firm to the touch.
If the milk is too hot they will inflate and souffle up, but when they cool down they will deflate and look all small and sad!
I'm going to try steaming some at work and then baking them, I think they might go all crunchy on the outside, but stay nice and soft in the middle.
But for this dessert the crunch will come from a dark caramel that is poured over the cold Anglaise and poached meringues, so that it sets and goes all crisp!
A bit dangerous to do, its just caster sugar and a tiny bit of water, boiled to a dark caramel, you have to watch it mind, as in a second it can go too dark and then its ruined.
A handful of raspberries cut through the rich custard and sweet meringues.
I know it looks a bit homely, but I'll tell you what, it's a great way to end a five course dinner.
Right that's it!
Dinner at my house, and all because I'm such a rubbish bloke, and never take poor little Sophie out!
Although I've got a feeling that's all about to change, because I've heard there is one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Oxford, oh aren't we lucky!!
Next time I'll tell you how Sophie blagged two birthday dinners, and I discovered the world's best drink!
Todays music choice "I can see clearly now" by Jonny Nash, it's all down to my amazing vision you see!
Sun Mar 31 19:24:00 BST 2013
Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard
While we're in the mood
Cold jelly and custard
Right then, I think you get the idea now.
This one's all about what I ate last weekend.
At my house.
In my kitchen.
At the table.
And a case of red wine.
And some white as well.
Just for a few hours, as I had to salt my pork belly and duck legs before cooking them.
A head of garlic was smashed up, some thyme was sprinkled over, black peppercorns crushed and sea salt mixed in.
Rubbed all over, it will remove water from the flesh, and make it juicier to eat.
Don't ask me how, it just does, that's all you need to know.
But it might be because the salt alters the fibres of the protein in the meat, allowing it to hold onto more moisture, or something like that!
Next time I'll tell you how the universe started as well.
The skin was removed from the pork belly, as I had another use for that later, but the duck leg skin remained in place.
And don't start worrying about all that salt giving me a heart attack, it won't.
Most of it is washed off, and it's done it's job of removing loads of excess water from the meat.
This is how we can make food last longer, think of anchovies, olives and capers.
They are all just salted, and left in their own brine.
Good idea, eh?
And, while on the subject of salt, I've just ordered some Himalayan salt blocks and Persian blue salt crystals to vajazz a couple of new dishes that I'm playing around with.
How gay is that!
The duck legs and pork were cured overnight, washed off and dried.
So the first stage of Friday night's dinner was sorted.
I was going to poach the duck in duck fat to make a classic confit canard, as it's a vital part of a cassoulet, or French baked beans if you prefer.
So, after two or three hours the duck legs should be super soft and melting, in fact a pin or needle should be easily able to go through the flesh, just to make sure.
Which is pretty much all this supper was.
A one pot wonder, full of lovely, rich, warming, fatty, moist,
It would be perfect for tonight actually, as now I'm stranded in Shottle, with a blizzard kicking off outside, ah well "c'est la vie".
Dried white haricot beans had also been soaked, in water, overnight, and all I had to was simmer them for a couple of hours, just to start the cooking process.
If I could have got my hands on a smoked pork Morteau sausage that would have gone in as well.
Because even though this is a peasant, country style dish, it will still have bags of flavour, and because in Europe they have access to lots of different cured pork produce, just by putting a piece of smoked sausage or ham in will really improve the finished dish.
Try it yourself, you'll see what I mean, if when you're making a tomato sauce you put in a couple of chopped up slices of smoked streaky bacon in with the onions, the finished sauce will taste much richer.
I was shown once, by an Italian chef, I worked with in London, how by getting hold of some beef bones, just roasting them and cooking them very, very slowly with lots of herbs, tinned tomatoes and garlic, in a covered pot, for about ten hours, he would end up with the nicest tasting, rich, beefy tomato sauce ever, and it didn't even have any beef in it!
Some pasta, Parmesan and that sauce, it was all you needed.
Anyway back to my simple dinner dish, the belly is cut up, and is going to be browned off, in some more duck fat, then it was simmered for a couple of hours, again to get it nice and soft, ready for the final cooking process.
It's got to prepared this way as there are too many different cuts of meat, and they all have different cooking times, so perhaps one would be overcooked and some other undercooked.
And, anyway, what else did I have to do?
All different sorts of meats can go into a cassoulet, such as goose, pheasant, lamb or wild boar.
It won't be long before someone tries sneaking some horse or donkey in to it, just to be a bit different!
Those sneaky French eh, but they don't know we've been eating all that exotic stuff for years, at Ikea mainly!
And at The Taj Mahal, down on the A 4567.
I also had a small French "meat" salami that I was going to dice up and cook with the beans.
Now, this a dish from France, so apart from horse, and snails, and frog's legs, they eat tons of onions and garlic.
So that's what I did, chopped up about five sweet white onions and another whole head of garlic was crushed.
This was going to be sweated down, in yet more duck fat, ready for the final assembly.
And remember the piece of pork skin that I cooked with the beans, well I diced that up, nice and small, and it was mixed with breadcrumbs and chopped parsley, ready to be sprinkled over the cassoulet.
All that was left to do now was put it all together.
A big cast iron pot is best for this, so with the onions and garlic nicely soft, a couple of spoons of tomato puree are added, now there is a difference of opinion as to whether this should be added, but I like it in mine, it adds some sweetness to the dish, and it makes it even richer.
With the part cooked beans, confit duck legs, poached pork belly and diced salami it was a nice lazy Friday night dish.
But, with all those soft textures it need a bit of texture, and luckily that's exactly what I had.
When you bake pork skin you get crackling don't you?
Well that's what I had on top of my baked beans, mixed with the herb breadcrumbs, was a delicious, crunchy, pork scratching sort of topping.
Easy, and as I've used some of the cheaper cuts of meat it means tomorrows dinner can be something a little bit more extravagant.
This should do.
A nice bit of sirloin, some of Derbyshire's finest.
Now it's very fashionable to just roast them as they are and scoop out the marrow, spread it on some toasted sour dough, a pinch of salt and away we go.
And jolly good it is too!
This will loosen the marrow and then all you have to do is push it out from the bone.
And now you know how to do this you can you use it with so many things, it's very good stirred into a saffron risotto with grated Parmesan, or breadcrumbed and deep fried it's a good garnish for a braised beef cheek dish along with some spinach, or as I intend to use it this summer with some scallops, Jersey Royals and caviar.
On a long, crisp butter puff pastry tart.
Luckily for me I had everything I needed to make my life complete.
Shallots, capers, some herbs,anchovies, gherkins and all the other condiments required for my steak tartare, now I won't bore you with how to make a perfect tartare, and anyway, it's quite a personal thing, depending on how you like it, maybe with extra Tabasco, or with no anchovies, or whatever you like really.
Once I had it sitting by Lake Geneva where it was prepared, correctly in my opinion, at the table, where the maitre d' could ask me if I wanted extra capers, or less shallots.
Although I just left it to him and it was superb!
Some sour dough was sliced and toasted, the cold steak tartare was spooned on top, and then a slice of hot bone marrow to finish off.
A sprinkle of smoked salt and we were done.
This is also great with dark, sticky, red wine based dishes, like a slowly braised haunch of venison with lots of black peppercorns and bacon, and left overnight in a very low oven.
This was the end of my road last week, but as you can see, Sophie and myself were never really in any danger of going hungry.
So, a quick cheese sauce was made, it's easy, all you need to do is boil up some milk and cream, chuck in a load of grated cheese, whisk it up, and then thicken it with some cornflour.
Much easier that doing a roux and it works really well.
Mustard and garlic can be added if you want to liven it up a bit, but I didn't as I'd had enough garlic the night before and I knew that the next nights dinner was also going to pretty garlicky.
The steak was cooked in the usual way, plenty of salt and pepper, nice hot pan blah, blah, blah, you know by now don't you.
The macaroni has been baked, warm sour dough is ready for the tartare, I quickly cooked some spinach and I dressed some chicory and radishes in a mustard dressing.
We do sometimes have something heathy!
So, there you are, Saturday night steak at my house.
And now on to our Sunday roast.
This is a prototype of a dish I'm planning to do for Sophie's birthday a few weeks time, and as it's such an important day, I'm taking personal control of the entire menu.
And, that, of course, means lots of testing, and eating!
And I can't wait to start the cocktail and punch development!
So a half shoulder of lamb was sorted, but this time i actually wanted the blade end, so I could whip off the neck fillet, and serve that nice and pink, while the rest was cooking in the oven.
I peeled loads of garlic, added some salt, and crushed it to a paste, then the same amount of peeled, grated ginger was mixed in.
Along with some other, top secret, well actually I've forgotten what they were, Indian spices, this marinade was rubbed into the lamb shoulder.
I'm sure some yoghurt was in there somewhere as well.
I sliced loads on onions and these were cooked down, in lots of ghee, until they were starting to blacken around the edges, tinned chopped tomatoes and red chilli powder were also involved, as I wanted to end up with a really dark, rich sauce.
The marinaded lamb shoulder was placed on top of this, then I covered it with a lid, and into the oven it went.
The neck fillet was coated in more red chilli powder, cumin and various other delights, and that would then be ready to be pan fried a bit later.
I boned out some skinned chicken thighs and diced them up.
This was going to be for the biryani.
I wanted to have a pop at this as it's something I could do a bit in advance, and even though I just sealed the pot with pastry, if I do end up cooking it I will cover the whole pot with some raw bread dough, so it will be a bit like a pie!
And I'll mix in some onion seeds and cracked pepper to give the bread a bit of a boost!
So I fried off the chicken with some finely chopped onions, more garlic and ginger paste was added and then about twenty different spices, and also some chopped up Indian pickles.
This was a great idea, as it gives the dish a nice salty and spicy kick, more yoghurt was stirred in at the end, not much though, this should be a dry curry.
Basmati rice was cooked in water that had been flavoured with cloves, turmeric, cassia bark and green cardamon pods. I made sure the rice was just a little bit under cooked, as it was going to finished in the oven.
The lamb neck fillet is carved, and I made a little salad with some cucumbers, tomatoes and red onions, and I know it's a bit naughty, but I got some asparagus and stir fried that with a bit of lemon and garlic, although in fairness, it was a trail for the party remember.
A couple of chapatis and naan bread were warmed up, and that's it.
Sunday night dinner, all with Sophie in mind!
Although we have loads more things to taste and try, but, some how I think we'll get there in the end!
Right that's it!
A brilliant weekend, doing what I love most, cooking, eating, dancing and being snowed in with Sophie!
And now, finally it's over.
TB, BW and SAB, and everyone else who was part of the E.L.B.M.C for the last five years, it's been mental!
Nearly had a couple of heart attacks over the last half decade, but we always got there, so thank you all for making it all so much fun!
Tonights musical delight - High by the Lighthouse Family, Francois K vocal 12" mix, parts 1 & 2.
Sat Mar 16 18:27:00 GMT 2013
Right, listen to this then.
I went to the doctors a couple of weeks ago, and, you're not going to believe this, do you know what he told me to do?
Lose some weight.
Looooooooooooooooooooooooossssssssssssssssssssssse some weight!
Now then, I've actually never understood what these alien sounding words really mean, but I know a man that might.
So off I went, up to see David up at Highfield House Farm, where we discussed, over a cup of tea and a slice of warm pork pie, just what my doctor might have meant.
Well, we were both completely stumped, but after much thought we arrived at this.
EAT MORE MEAT.
So I got some, well quite a lot as you can see, and this is not even all of it, as I'm going up tomorrow to pick up some beef and lamb, for our weekend dinners, which I'm going to tell you all about later.
And it's not just me that enjoys a nice healthy appetite, as last week we changed the tasting menu for the chef's table up at East Lodge, so just eight courses to get through, but everyone seems to like it, and I think that some of the dishes might even be good for you, well, perhaps just one!
A couple of weeks ago, for about five minutes, the sun came out in Derbyshire.
So the next day four nice, lively crabs arrived, although the one at the back looks a bit fed up, I was also a bit miffed as it had starting snowing again, and was down to about -58 oc!
Anyway, this was only ever going to end one way, and that was with the crabs being put into a pot of seasoned boiling water to kill them.
So cooked for eight minutes, removed and left to cool down I was going to break them down, and start rewriting the menu!
Crabs are my favourite shellfish, they are a bit of a bore to break down and then pick through all of the white meat, to ensure there are no bits of shell left, you also have the added delight of the brown meat, which has a lovely deep flavour, and of course the shells can roasted off to make a beautiful, rich crab bisque.
So, the first course is taking shape, and as we are always going to have our smoked salmon on the menu in one way or another, we have jazzed it up a bit this year, and remember I did think that, at last, spring might be coming.
So, here it is.
We used a much smaller amount of smoked salmon, so as not to overpower the crab, we also made a thick, spicy mayonnaise with the brown crab meat, small baked croutons were added, as I didn't want to serve bread and butter on the side, as it would be too much of a faff for our guests, trying to get the crab and the other bits and bobs onto a piece of bread.
And, anyway, I'm re-thinking the way we serve bread for the tasting menu this year.
Then you get a couple of amuse bouches, so you don't need bread with the meal yet, and then a couple of the courses have their own, specially made breads, baked to order, and served still warm!
Say we did a dish with some Indian spicing, we would make a small, griddled flat bread, and if we served some beef I would make a small bacon loaf and some beef dripping, so that everything complements each course, and I think it would make the dinner more interesting.
I mean, can you imagine getting a freshly baked, truffle laden mini sourdough loaf and some Parmesan butter, to go with little grilled lamb cutlets, or some toasted, garlic rubbed semolina baguette along with your ragout of lobster and leeks.
It's just a thought at the moment, but sounds as though it might work.
Anyway, back to the crab, with a small dice of pickled lemon, cucumber diamonds, caviar and some picked chervil and tarragon, it's a nice, pretty way to start dinner, and we've used up every bit of the crab.
Just like this one as well.
I salted the legs and shoulders overnight and then poached them in duck fat, it keeps the rabbit flesh, which has a tendency to dry out, nice and moist.
White haricot beans were also soaked in cold water and then cooked in the ham hock stock, which was reserved from the ham hocks, that I intended to mix through the rabbit confit.
The rabbit saddles were cooked in the water bath and then quickly seared on the plancha, along with some thin leeks and baby shallots, to add some sweetness to the warm salad.
The rabbit kidneys and livers were also served, pink, of course, a few black trompette mushrooms were added and finally, the rarebit.
Just posh cheese on toast really, but made with the addition of Dijon mustard, cider and grated Cheddar and a couple of egg yolks, and then thickened with cornflour.
So, anyway, we've got a nice, warm, savoury rabbit and rarebit salad garnish, dressed with a light rabbit juice, made from the rabbit bones, and a beautiful, rich, dense rabbit and ham hock terrine, which as you will see in a few days time is exactly the same as I had for my dinner last night, well sort of.
And, it's also a nod towards Wales, what with the leeks and Welsh rarebit, and who, in about an hours time we are going to stuff down in Cardiff this afternoon!
So, now all of a sudden Derbyshire was right back in the grip of winter the next course was a bit richer.
Still using scallops, as we often do, on the tasting menu.
Want to know why?
Because they are nice, our guests like them, and they marry well with lots of different things.
I got hold of a couple of celeriac's, covered one in salt, and roasted it whole, ready for service, and the other one was peeled, chopped up and slowly caramelised until dark and sticky.
I had some really reduced brown chicken stock and a tin of black truffles so they were used to finish cooking the celeriac in, as I was trying to have a bit of Yin and Yang going on, whereby some of the celeriac would be really clean and pure in flavour, and one would be really warming and rich.
Penny Bun mushrooms were sauteed off, and the left over black truffles, their juices and the brown chicken stock were seasoned with aged sherry vinegar.
The scallops only take a couple of minutes to cook, so with the salt baked celeriac still pipping hot from the oven, it's a quick dish to put together.
And it worked on that day as it was all cold outside again.
In fact one of guests that day was saying she had only ever tried scallops with things like lemon, garlic and parsley, and even though they are superb like that, in the cooler months different garnishes also work well with their sweet, juicy flesh.
Right, on with the next one now.
This is a prototype of a dish I want to do on the main menu, but using celeriac, but as I've just used that with the scallops I need another vegetable.
Salsify was the answer.
A really interesting root vegetable, it's also known as the oyster plant, as some people think it tastes like oyster, although I can't see it myself.
Easy to prepare, it just needs washing and peeling, and then cooked "sous vide" with some lemon juice, chicken stock and olive oil, so it stays nice and white.
What I wanted to do with the original dish is prepare some celeriac "chips", by steaming a whole celeriac, and then cutting it into thick batons, marinating them in herbs, rolling them in blitzed panko crumbs and then deep fry them.
With some sort of bearnaise sauce I though the might a nice side dish for a braised veal dish.
But as I was stuck with salsify I cut thinner batons for the fries and kept some back for a little salad garnish.
A couple of months ago I made some bacon "marmalade".
I think I was reading another food blog last year and stumbled across it.
Ever so easy to make, we used it with thin slices of brioche as a sort of fried club sandwich to garnish a pheasant dish on Christmas Eve.
It's got maple syrup and black coffee in it, loads of cooked smoked streaky bacon, shallots and thyme, so it's got bags of flavour, and it's a pretty original way of adding another layer of loveliness to a pork dish.
So, using our "Bath Chap's", which are, by the way, a great thing to have in your larder, as they last for ages, and can be used in so many different dishes and ways.
I think that with time they could become the English equivalent of the French duck confit!
With some of the pork jowl cut nice and thick, ready to be grilled on the plancha, the remainder was thinly sliced, like fatty ham, ready to dressed and mixed with plan salsify, meanwhile the breaded batons were deep fried, some praline crackling was defrosted, ready to be sprinkled over the finished dish.
I'd made a smooth apple puree, as this dish, which was going to be a rich, warming, crunchy, soft and salty needs a bit of sharpness, so blobs were put around the plate.
I love this one, as on the tasting menu I can get away with doing a dish like that, which would be too much as a normal serving, and it's got everything going for it - local pork and apples, different textures and temperatures, just using a couple of main flavours and it's familiar at the same time, just a Sunday lunch really!
Duck's up next, and like the scallops it's good to use on the tasting menu, often because people don't cook with it at home, and it's a luxurious meat as well.
Ours are from Reg Johnston, over in Lancashire, so it's almost local! The breasts are cooked on the bone, left to cool down a bit and then removed, ready to finished at the last minute.
After the pork dish I wanted to lighten everything up a bit, so some not so local Sicilian blood oranges were required. Duck with oranges you see!
to use some sweet potatoes, and cooked them a caramel that was deglazed with orange juice, blended and with a knob of butter whisked in, it was ready to go.
Butternut squash was also poached in a honey and cracked peppercorn scented stock, ready to be glazed when the duck was called away.
With some wilted Asian greens that dish was just about there, and remember these are all classical flavours and garnishes to serve with duck, and they are perfect for a freezing Derbyshire day!
And it might not even be too bad for you!
So, nearly there now, just the cheese course, and I had some cracking Stilton, Ben pickled some juilenned celery and we semi dried some black seedless grapes, a couple of rye crackers and that's the cheese course taken care, but I forget to take pictures of that one, sorry.
Yorkshire rhubarb was always going to be on the menu somewhere, and after serving it as a starter a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd get back to normal and serve a nice rhubarb crumble.
First thing was getting the crumble topping sorted, and for that we needed some tapioca maltodextrin.
It's used to turn fats into a powder, so all I did was get Tom to make some really strong vanilla oil, then watch him spill it everywhere, and then turn it into a powder, easy really!
We also made some butter shortbread, as I wanted to give the vanilla oil powder some body, and it was supposed to be a crumble after all, so that was baked, in a low oven, as I was trying to keep it as pale as possible, then it was blended to a fine powder.
This dessert started out from one we did for our Valentines Day menu, but we served it with deep fried custard fritters and a glass of Champagne mixed with rhubarb juice, so it was all pretty and pink!
And hot and cold!
Custard, that has been deep fried, how brilliant is that!
Rhubarb crumble, 2013, and it's just so light and easy to eat, as the crumble powder just melts in the mouth, some sharp poached rhubarb to cut through the creamy parfait and a massive hit of vanilla.
So, just one more to go now, and I've taken "Bakewell" off for the time being, partly as more and more people are returning to the chef's table and I wanted to give them something new.
Chocolate's always popular, and what with it being so miserable I thought it might cheer everyone up a bit, as I think chocolate is supposed to do that.
We made a dark chocolate ganache, but put loads of grated stem ginger in it, a classical chocolate mousse was pipped on top, and then we glazed it with melted chocolate.
Ginger sorbet was churned, and that was that.
I love chocolate and ginger, it's such a warming mix of flavours and quite exotic, just the thing to finish off a nice long lunch!
I 'll get the pictures sorted out for next time.
So, there you are, a great way to start loosing weight, planning eight course tasting menus all day long!
Right that's it, I'm off to sort out the load of protein I've got in my fridge, and start testing punches for Sophie's party, I know it's tough, but I think I'll just about manage!
Music for tonight - Velvet Pants by the Propellerheads, and the tambourines have bee ordered, you have been warned!
Sun Jan 27 17:38:00 GMT 2013
Brrrrrrrrhhhh, it's cold out there today, and all grey and windy and raining, and all the snows
Sun Dec 23 17:21:00 GMT 2012
Have a look at what I managed to get my hands on a few weeks ago.
See my hands were still shaking when I got back from Morrisons, my local shop in Belper.
Whats that then?
That was my conversation with the checkout girl, who was as shocked as I was to see all this queer gear, in Derby, in November, 2012.
So, anyway, after last times lamb debacle up at Highfield House, I thought I'd play safe and get a fat bit of pig.
Scored, rubbed with salt and oil, it was ready to go into a nice hot oven for an hour and a half, and all of that lovely fat will keep it beautifully moist as well, an added bonus.
All I had to do then was roast some root vegetables, slam that pork in the oven, and it would be a perfect winter Sunday night supper.
Beetroot was next up, and the best way of cooking it is just to wrap it in some foil, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and some thyme, baked for an hour, its a dead simple way of preparing it.
All you need to do then is peel it, while it's still warm is the easiest way to do it, your fingers get a bit pink, but that's alright as its such a brilliant veg, and by the time you've spent scrubbing the potatoes they will be clean again anyway!
So, they can be put to one side, and all the other garnishes can be sorted.
This was a stroll in the park.
The khol was just peeled, cut into batons and blanched, along with some peppery breakfast radishes, baby onions and runner beans.
All procured from my local corner shop!
That's how we do it at the restaurant, everything is prepared, ready for a final saute, a bit of fresh butter, some herbs and its ready.
The washed potatoes were left unpeeled, but sliced very finely, brushed with melted butter, more thyme and baked in the oven.
It's great to put in some cheese and garlic but I wanted this dinner to be a bit lighter.
The beetroot was just sprinkled with some red wine vinegar, Maldon salt and olive oil, and served on the side, because if you saute with all the other veg it will bleed into it and make it go a bit of a strange colour.
Some spinach was picked and washed, and as that only takes about thirty seconds to cook I knew tonights dinner was in the bag!
I don't think I could have prepared a lazier Sunday dinner!
And, I got a feeling it might be a little bit good for me as well, what a result!
Although all that crackling might have lowered its super healthy life prolonging properties.
Anyway, sod that, it was far too good to leave.
So, there you are, the easiest, laziest, colourful Sunday dinner ever.
And as it was all so bonkers I'd thought I go back next week and have some more.
So I did.
And this was what I got, and I didn't even have a drink before!
But this time I was too scared to go to the checkout so I went to one of those stupid self service ones.
Trying to type in kerela and weighting 30g of curry leaves, on a packed Sunday afternoon was real pressure, and as usual, no one knew the correct code, so it took ages.
I think I might be barred next time I cause such a commotion.
But it wasn't all my fault, if they want to start selling all this amazing produce maybe, just maybe, someone should programme their rubbish computers!
God, I'll need a holiday after all this stress!
So, as always, pushing on and getting it done, I knew exactly what I was going to do with the kerela, or bitter melon, as it's also known.
It needed to be de seeded, salted for half an hour and then cooked in simmering water until just tender.
I was then going to make a garlicy, sweet sauce to finish cooking the kerela in, adding some tamarind water, cane sugar, chillies, cumin and the shredded curry leaves.
It needed to be cooked down, nice and slowly, until thick and sticky, perfect to go with little rolled lamb kebabs I had knocked up.
These are easy, minced lamb with crushed ginger and garlic, red chilli powder, mint sauce, yes just mint sauce from a jar, plenty of salt and that's it.
But you need to work the protein to make sure they stick together when you cook them, so into the kitchen aid they went.
First time I've used it actually, and it worked a treat.
So, now I had time to chop up a chicken, get a handful of those little thin green chillies, a massive amount of coriander, more ginger and garlic paste, and some turmeric, and my green chilli chicken fry was almost ready.
With the legs, I just boned them out, mixed ground Kashmiri chillies with lemon juice, cumin, garam massala, more ginger and garlic, and the tikka was ready to be cooked.
So all I have to do now is make sure every pan is hot enough to set off all the fire alarms, scare the cat and smoke out the house and I know I'm in business.
Lamb and kerela were up first, and I thought it was great, the tikka and salad were spot on but my favourite was the green chilli chicken fry.
Bloody hot though, and I was quite full after all that.
So another stress free Sunday lunch, courtesy of me, thank you very much!
Right, now time for a bit of history, and how everyone else is right, and I was wrong.
And I'm very,very sorry!
For those of you who bothered to read the last one, I was going to talk about how Bonfire night inspired this years pheasant dish, up at East Lodge (three AA rosettes 2012)!
And it did, well sort of.
Sausage rolls and toffee apples.
I think that these two things are often eaten, on Bonfire night, in a field, in the rain, going ooohhhh and aaaarrrrrhhhh, watching fireworks and waving sparklers.
And as I love sausages, and rolls, I wondered if we could make some pheasant and bacon sausage meat, wrap it in pastry, roll it up and cook it.
I wanted a nice rich pastry so we used half butter and half lard, minced the pheasant leg meat with lardo, smoked streaky bacon, herbs and marinated it in Madeira.
But I knew if all we did then was wrap it in the pastry, when we cooked it, all the juice would leak out, making the pastry base soggy.
And I didn't want a soggy botty!
So we needed some rusks, not those ones that babies eat, but rusk for putting into sausage meat.
It's basically dried breadcrumbs, blended to a fine powder, and it keeps the juices in the sausage, although you don't want to add too much as it will make the sausage taste bland, and heavy in texture.
The sausage meat just needed to be rested, the pastry rolled out, and that was first bit of the garnish taken care of.
I was going to serve fondant potatoes with the pheasant, but I wanted a crisper texture, although fondants are a great garnish for loads of things, especially if you if do them like I do, and that's just using loads of butter, a pinch of salt and a splash of water.
The water stops the butter burning, cooked for about five, yes, five hours, they are brilliant.
So when you see all those guys on Masterchef trying to do one in an hour, you know they won't be anywhere near as buttery and soft as they should.
To be honest I could just eat a plateful of them on their own!
So a classic pommes Anna was made, with clarified butter and salt, nothing else. Cooked and then pressed overnight all we have to do is colour it on the plancha when the dish is called away.
A parfait was made with the pheasant livers, some chicken liver, loads of butter and some reduced Port.
Cooking the breasts at 56 o c for thirty minutes ensures that they don't dry out, quickly seared on the plancha, to give them some colour and we're nearly there.
And that's it, a nice simple Bonfire night dish, using great Derbyshire game, all inspired by some mad blokes who tried blowing up Parliament!
And it is also a prototype for this years festive delight at East Lodge.
Shame they're not around today, most of the current M.P's need a large rocket up their backsides!
So, now we can move on to why, on most Sunday's Beeson had to endure me banging on about why cranberry sauce is wrong with turkey, but how I was massively wrong, and I'm sorry.
It might have been on the beach.
Or when I was enjoying a mid morning Bloody Mary by the pool.
All I know is, it happened.
Do you get it?
Same as pork and apples over here.
So I realised its perfectly fine to serve cranberry sauce with turkey.
So I did.
Roast turkey, cranberry sauce, 2012, Bradley style.
It just a good, old fashioned, traditional Christmas turkey dinner, just made a bit better!
Breast of turkey, water bather and then seared.
Turkey leg, minced with bacon, rusk, herbs, baked at 60 o c, pressed and pan fried.
Bread sauce cream gel.
Cranberry and Port gel.
Sage and onion stuffing.
Saute of honey glazed root vegetables and sprouts.
So there you are, because of my relaxing on a Mexican beach, cranberries are always welcome in my kitchen!
Looks alright too, for a simple December dinner.
Just a couple more now, as I'm trying to get all this done because over the next few days it's going to go mental with all the new tasting menus, and I 'm going to have to CONCENTRATE!
Here's some beef "a la Bourguignon", that we are serving this winter.
Just a posh beef stew really.
Beef cheeks are marinated in red wine and then braised for twenty four hours, again in the bath.
The normal garnishes are all present and correct, smoked bacon, button mushrooms, baby glazed onions, red wine sauce, and served with a bowl of buttery mashed potatoes, and a couple of bits of grilled beef marrow.
Just in case its not rich enough!
All the elements are there, just like my roasted turkey, but all I have done it present them in a slightly more modern way, and because there are only a few things on the plate we have to make sure everything is perfect, like the red wine sauce is super shiny and rich, the creamed potatoes are incredibly buttery and smooth, the cheek is nicely glazed and the baby onions and mushrooms are spot on and all the same size.
See we don't spend all day discussing what car I'm getting next, and why German sports cars are superior to Japanese ones.
I've heard of some chef's that do these two dishes all mixed up together, but I'm going to keep them apart.
I love rice pudding, absolutely, hot or cold, don't mind either.
But there was no way I was going to serve just rice pudding, I wanted more textures and a bit of sharpness as well.
I mean, can you imagine, a big mound of beautiful, creamy, soft rice pudding?
It's great on it's own but I thought about adding some caramelised rice, as a little garnish, mixed with some baked granola, that's also had some rum soaked raisins and poached dried apricots chopped into it.
The puffed rice is great to have around anyway, all you need to do is boil sugar to 121 oc then add the puffed rice, stir it around the pan until the sugar goes sort of sandy around the rice.
Tip it out and then, over a low heat, in a clean pan, stir the rice until it starts to caramelise.
It will turn a beautiful dark brown and end up all crunchy, tip it out onto some baking parchment, eat about half of it, and then start again!
So we've got super soft creamy chilled rice pudding and a little crunchy puffed rice garnish.
And, then, the best thing to serve with blackberries.
My mum loves apple fritters, but no one seems to bother doing them anymore, so I thought I'd bring them back.
A batter is made with plain flour, whipped egg whites, a little yeast and sugar.
Cox's apples are marinated in a rum stock syrup, dusted with corn flour, dipped in the batter and deep fried in red hot oil, left for a few minutes, drained and then rolled in caster sugar.
So we have really hot, sweet and sharp apple fritters, nice fruity blackberries, ambroisal rice pudding, a little puffed rice and nut granola and a jug of custard.
It's come off the menu now, but we are still serving loads of these.
A good, old fashioned Christmas pudding, brandy sauce and some brandy poured over the top.
See, I can leave some things alone!
I've heard, that some people in Derbyshire can eat over four hundred in December!
That's pushing on!
The teaspoon is on the left, by the way.
It's used to stir tea.
So there you are, a festive delight from The Amber Valley.
Ok, I'm exhausted now, I've been sitting down, for four hours, writing this.
On a chair.
Drinking wine, and eating peanuts.
Listening to music.
Bloody knackered, I am!
I'll tell you all about my bacon jam next time.
And the outcome of the ongoing car discussions in Shottle.
Recommended music tonight -
Driving home for Christmas (in my new car), by Chris Rea.
Fri Nov 09 19:07:00 GMT 2012
On my mark.
And so it was, the war for total domination had lasted for over half a century.
It was now 5076 A.D, and I was stranded in the dark realms of the Minmatar Republic.
I was just one final battle away from total and complete victory, poised to rule over the entire solar system for all eternity, with billions of subjects, an all powerful, omnipresent super power.
The Leviathan Titan ship I was commanding was in charge of a fleet of over 17000 spaceships, all waiting for my battle cry .
My ship was 18 kilometers of pure, raw power, ready to blast the last remaining subordinates to their total and complete destruction.
So, I did.
And, as supreme leader, I closed the curtains, turned the volume up to maximum, and then realised Sophie was going to be home soon, and I hadn't even started dinner.
So, I made a tactical decision, and grew up, and pushed on for a couple of hours!
Ruling the solar system could wait for another day, and I was a bit peckish.
And all I had to start dinner was the wrong cut of lamb, and a bag of pasta 00 flour.
And, even as the superpower that I now was, I was going to struggle to knock up some linguini without a pasta machine.
So, sod that, I'll make some bread and gnocchi instead.
First, I needed a biga.
It's just pasta flour, some yeast and water, mixed up, and left to ferment for a couple of hours, and even though we now have a nice shiny red Kitchen Aid to use I wanted to make some simple focaccia, using just my hands, showing how easy it is to knock up some amazing fresh bread.
The biga is the base of the bread, and the longer the ferment, the better the flavour.
I suppose its a bit like an Italian sourdough starter, only much quicker.
And, its best to use pasta flour for this, as it results in a nice, open texture, perfect for mopping all those garlicky lamb juices up!
So, as I was going all Italian, I would use the rest of the flour to make some gnocchi, but I'll come back to that later.
I might have also added a small dice of cured pork fat to the mix, just for some added flavour!
So, looking like an extra in "Bugsy Malone", I covered my hands in olive oil, and gently caressed the bread, and after a couple of hours it was beginning to look alright.
So, while all this was going on, I has to start pushing on with my little potato and Parmesan dumplings.
We were using them at East Lodge , and I though with all that spare pasta flour they would be a good way to start Sunday's dinner.
So, bread resting, I boiled a few spuds. pushed them through the ricer, and that was it.
Well, sort of.
I wanted these babies to be as light as an angels fart, so all we needed was a couple of egg yolks, grated Parmesan cheese and the left over pasta flour.
As its a finer flour you will end up, hopefully, with lighter gnocchi.
And, again, just lightly mixing everything up, all I had to do was shape them, poach them for a couple of minutes, drain and refresh them, ready to be sauteed later for dinner.
Some people, like their bread, spend ages kneading their gnocchi but I prefer the lighter approach, as it's doesn't get the gluten working, and so they will be easier to digest
And as we had a massive shoulder of lamb to get through as well, I thought this can only be a good thing!
So, all mixed up, rolled into a thin log sort of shape, and blanched, refreshed, they were done.
A great thing to do with these as well is mix in other bits and bobs, as a little flavour changer.
Black truffles are, of course, superb, so are chopped black olives, herbs, different cheeses and bits of bacon.
But, tonight, because, quite frankly, I was massively in it, they were left plain.
So, as it stands, the bread is on it's way, the gnocchi is taking shape, all I has to do was sort out the lamb.
And, I was still trying to take pictures of all this, have a glass of wine and amuse Agnes, and rule the universe, I was multi tasking to the max!
So, the lamb.
Hello Simon, what can I do for you today?
Hello David, I'd like the usual please, a knuckle end of your finest Suffolk Down Peak District lamb shoulder please.
No problem Simon.
Not very difficult is it?
Not the blade!
So, anyway, he gives me the blade end.
And as I was not paying any attention to what was going on, didn't even bother to check!
Next time he does it I'll blast him out of the universe!
So, I ended up with blade.
Although, I wasn't too eggy as all David's lamb is out of this world, I knew dinner was not going to be ruined, well not by the lamb anyway.
And, as lady luck was shining down on me, the neck fillet was still attached to the shoulder, so all I did was whip it off, and I planned to just pan fry that and serve it will the gnocchi, while the blade end was slowly roasting in the oven.
Right, back to the bread, and by slowly caressing it, it was beginning to get nice and smooth and elastic, not too far from being shaped, ready for it's final proving.
So, as is normal, I stretched the dough, pushed some rosemary into it, sprinkled with salt and some water, and left it for another forty minutes, or so, until risen and ready to go into a red hot oven.
Time was running out, pasta flour was everywhere, I had a fleet of spaceships to command, and on top of all that, try to take pictures with a steady hand!
I was feeling the pressure!
So I managed to get my hands on some Italian black cabbage, so I planned to quickly blanch it in boiling salted water, and then toss it in some reduced lamb juices, crushed garlic and the pan fried neck fillet.
If you can get your hands on some good stuff its really worth trying, just make sure you cook it pink, and leave to rest for a while.
So now the lamb was out of the oven, I increased the temperature to "solar hot", and chucked in the bread.
So, just as planning complete control of the universe takes some doing, so does any Sunday dinner at my house!
Right, the lamb neck is cooked and the the slowly roasted blade end is out, resting, ready to be carved.
All I needed to was caramelise the gnocchi, add some herbs, black pepper, the shredded cavolo nero, or black cabbage and that's the first course sorted.
So, you can see all it took was a little bit of mash, grated cheese, meat and a couple of other bits and bobs and it's a nice easy starter sorted.
With the sliced lamb on top I think it worked a treat, and all because I don't have a pasta machine!
As our main course all I had to do was carve the lamb, which was by the way, superb, as is always the case with our amazing Derbyshire lamb, cut up some freshly baked bread, cook some sliced runner beans and reduce the leftover lamb juices.
I'll tell you what, I've got absolutely no idea why my blood pressure never seems to go down, or my trousers never seem to be just a little bit looser!
Still, it's a nice little Sunday lunch though, eh?
Derbyshire lamb, some flour, a couple of potatoes, oh and some superpowers, and Sunday dinner need never be a problem again!
Right that's it.
My name is Gladiator.
Strength and honor.
Next time I'll tell you how this years pheasant dish was inspired by some wig wearing anarchists from four hundred years ago, how cold rice pudding is a thing of beauty, and how my local corner shop appears to have gone completely mad!
And how I might swap my spaceship for a little red car, and whizz around avoiding banana skins and exploding cabbages!
Music for tonight, the one and only "Dreamlover" (Def Club Mix Edit) by Mariah Carey.
Right, where is that suncream!
Fri Oct 26 20:35:00 BST 2012
Well, I saw it, and I thought it was AMAZING!
So I asked Ben if he saw it, and yes, he had, and he thought it was AMAZING too.
So he asked Tom if he had seen it, and yes, Tom replied, he had seen it, and he also thought it was AMAZING.
So he asked Matt if he had seen it, and yes, Matt replied, he had seen it, and so another one who thought it was AMAZING.
So far we all thought it was AMAZING.
So then I asked Ching , and he just made a silly noise.
Apart from the closing ceremony, which was, in fact, a little bit rubbish.
So, there we are, all amazed at a pretty mental summer.
And, why, because of it also being the busiest August ever at East Lodge, why this ones going to AMAZING!
Although it wasn't all work.
I've been plastered in Park Lane.
Smashed in Somercotes.
Sloshed in Shottle.
Wobbly in Wokingham.
Rowdy in Rowsley.
And I'm about to get mashed up in Mexico!
But, enough of this gay banter, I'm going to talk about togetherness, and love, and how its important to keep things together, well sometimes anyway!
See, that's all that dish up there is, just some summer vegetables, prepared in various ways, and served at different temperatures, a couple of herbs and flowers thrown in, and away we go.
We prepared some baby globe artichokes, but cooked them in two different ways, one cooked in light stock, with thyme, garlic and olive oil. The rest were sauteed from raw, so the same vegetable, but with quite different end results, one rich and caramelised, the other light and delicate.
Courgettes were also used, some being cut into balls, blanched, and marinated with tomato water and basil leaves, others were thinly sliced and deep fried in a light, light, light tempura style batter.
An aubergine found it's way onto this simple summer salad.
We baked some into crisp rounds and cut thick slices and grilled them on the plancha, giving them a nice smoky, charred flavour, bit like a barbecue I suppose.
The tomato petals that were left after making the tomato water were rubbed with olive oil, sugar and salt and left to dry in the warm kitchen, to semi dry and maximise the tomato taste.
A couple of small pearl onions were cooked along with the artichokes, so they were added as well, all it needs is some nice soft Italian style bread (more of that next time) and it's a great light summer lunch.
But this one was actually a course on our tasting menu a couple of months ago, and although it's a long time ago now, it's a good way to show how by just using a few different cooking methods, well about ten actually, we can make a nice little simple salad!
Which brings me nicely onto August.
The glorious 12th to be precise.
Hasn't been a great year for Grouse, all that rain buggered things up a bit, but still I managed to get my hands on some.
I also wanted to get some cured and smoked ready for our Christmas menus, you see.
So, as part of my "spread love project 2012" I thought I would demonstrate this dish at the Chatsworth Country Fair this year.
So, as a wrapper, I made some grouse ham.
Using a wet cure, we salted some breasts for a couple of hours, left them to dry overnight, and then cold smoked them.
As I always burn things when I'm doing a live show, I try not to actually cook too much!
Just lots of chopping and talking going on instead, trust me, I can't do much more then two things at once!
So we got some celeriac, and made a classic remoulade.
Easy really, just julienne some celeriac, put it in a bowl, sprinkle on some lemon juice, not too much though, just to keep it white and some salt.
It will start to soften the celeriac, and then we just mix it with some mayonnaise. Normally grain mustard is added, but I just put a good grinding of white pepper in mine, as I wanted to grouse to be the main flavour.
It's a great dish to have in your repertoire, and we also do a version with parsnips as well, to go with a warm game salad.
So all I was going to do was make a tartare with a couple of grouse breasts, which I'm sure you all know what it is by now, raw diced grouse, mixed with salt and pepper, a little olive oil, some aged red wine vinegar and reduced Port.
This, along with the celeriac is the filling of the "sushi", although I also added some whole chives.
The smoked grouse was thinly sliced, and in place of sushi rice the remoulade, chives and grouse tartare were rolled up inside it.
Using a sharp carving knife all I had to do was slice it.
So I did.
A smooth liver was made with the livers, a couple of slices of Cox's apple were added, and that 's it.
One grouse, a bit a celery, a bit of chopping, easy.
And all I was trying to do was use as much of the grouse, in as many ways as possible, a bit like the carrots in the next one.
See I'm in autumn now, and a few weeks ago Partridge starting arriving at the back door at East Lodge.
Well, they had been shot, and hand delivered, they didn't just wander over.
No matter I still had big plans for them!
One of our weddings this year asked for some carrot ribbons to be served on the main course, to make it nice and colourful!
So we did it.
And it got me thinking, could I do a nice colourful carrot salad this autumn?
Well, yes, obviously.
So, as the "Bath Chap's" are a richer starter I wanted this partridge dish to be a little lighter.
Last year, on our Christmas menus I did a pear and ginger garnish to go with the partridge, partridge and pears - you know like "in a pear tree", and it was alright actually, and the ginger could also go well with some sort of carrot, add a bit of coriander, and we're almost there.
Inspired by the Punjab, who are great game hunters, and who love eating small game birds, this would make sense putting these different flavours on the same plate.
And they are quite delicate spices, no garlic or chillies are used, the heat comes from ginger juice, mixed with lemon juice, white wine vinegar, turmeric infused oil and roasted onion seeds.
So, with the carrots, we julienne some, blanched quickly and mixed with some chopped coriander and a little of the Indian dressing, the trimmings are sealed and steamed, and then pureed until smooth, and we shave very thin slices , to be rolled into rounds.
The julienne carrot is placed into baked bric pastry rounds, because I wanted it to all look nice and neat on the plate. It's the middle ring, at the bottom of the plate.
So, we've used the carrots up, all I'm going to do is add some compressed cucumber balls, finely chopped shallots and chives to the dressing.
Yoghurt that has been left in a fine sieve overnight, this will thicken the yoghurt, has been mixed with mint sauce and a pinch of garam masala, this will add that unique Indian taste, but keep it nice and mild.
Spring onions are blanched, to take away their rawness, and these will be blackened on the plancha, along with the partridge breasts, they have been cooked in the bath at 56 oc for 12 minutes, so they stay nice and rosy.
See that square cake in the middle?
Well, thats a dhokla.
An Indian street snack, it's made with chick pea flour, yoghurt, water and seasoning.
But it's steamed so it's a nice moist sponge.
We keep it mild, as I want it to absorb the other flavours but at home I like with a bit of a kick, so when it comes out of the oven I heat up ghee, toss in some curry leaves, chillies, coriander and mustard seeds.
Poured over the warm sponge, with a mint yoghurt dip, it's a great pre dinner snack, and assists in the consumption of chilled white wine!
So, a lovely, light, healthy, colourful, seasonal carrot and partridge salad.
With a cake!
So we've done carrots and courgettes, how about celery.
If she doesn't come, I'll tickle her bum with a lump of celery.
As sung by Chelsea fans every Saturday, down at Stamford Bridge, I have no idea why they sing it, but they do.
Perhaps they enjoy eating wild sea bass with pickled celery at home.
The celery is peeled, cut into thin batons and cooked in water seasoned with salt and lemon juice.
This will keep the celery white.
In another pan a pickling liquor is made with sugar, white wine vinegar, water and creamed horseradish.
The hot cooked celery will be placed in the hot pickling liquid, covered, and left to cool down.
The reason it's cooked is because I don't like celery that is too crisp, not with some superb fillets of sea bass anyway.
As you can see it's a beautiful piece, cooked on it's skin, so it's nice and crunchy.
The left over celery leaves are deep fried and left to drain on some kitchen paper, adding another celery taste, celery hearts are also braised in a light chicken stock with some rosemary, until very soft, and they are blended with some butter for a final celery flavoured delight.
Some baby, peeled, brown shrimps are mixed with the now cool pickled celery.
That's why I put horseradish in the mix, as it will give a nice gentle kick to the celery and shrimps.
Little gem lettuce leafs are quickly wilted in a bit of olive oil and butter and seasoned correctly with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and a few finely sliced radishes are tossed in.
The celery braising juices are reduced and water vinaigrette is stirred in, just to lighten the stock.
So, a swoosh of creamed celery, some little gem leaves, the pickled celery and brown shrimp salad, salad, salad, I make the salad, fried celery leaves and a the chicken juice.
All topped of with a spanking piece of sea bass.
And, again, its just using two main ingredients.
And, now, finally, two of my favourite things in the whole world.
Steak and chips.
But not on the same plate!
I'll get shot.
I'm getting some beef hung, by David, up at Highfield House Farm, for six weeks.
We'll take off the fillet before this though as it will just dry up, but the sirloin will be amazing.
So intense and full flavoured, I wanted to serve the beef on it's own, with nothing to mask the beef itself.
There is a restaurant in Japan that just serves Kobe beef, in lots of different ways, over many courses and although I'm working on a beef tasting menu at East Lodge, in the meantime I thought I could try this one out.
So, steak and chips.
It's just everything you would expect to be served with a nice, big, fat, juicy, charred steak.
But without the steak!
In America fried eggs are also popular, with a New York strip, so I'd thought I would add a deep fried, soft boiled quails egg as well.
And a slice of beef fillet "ham" we made earlier this year.
Oh, a nice nugget of roasted veal sweetbread, just so there is a little bit of protein on the plate.
A fried parsley leaf and a spoonful and reduced beef juices complete the dish.
Tom and myself tried the dish, and if you close your eyes you can really think you're eating a fantastic steak!
Crisp onion rings with meaty portobello mushrooms, the tarragon from the bearnaise, rich, fatty bone marrow, crunchy egg, beef juices and creamy sweetbreads.
It was spot on!
But what about this then?
It's the fillet, water bathed at 54 oc, seared in a red hot pan, sliced and served.
We steamed some potato balls, and then deep fried them in beef dripping, another slice of bone marrow is warmed and placed on top of the beef, a reduction of beef juice is spooned over and finally a fried parsley leaf is added.
Just steak and chips.
So the full Monty, only served over two courses, necessitating at least two bottles of very good claret!
Right, that's it.
What a great summer.
Next time I'll tell you how getting lost in space can ruin Sunday lunch.
And how another Baslow boy realised he wasn't good enough to roll with the DE4 crew.
Tonights music choice.
The incredible "Let's have a kiki", explicit mix, by the Scissor Sisters.
The chef's just can't stop dancing to it!
Fri Jul 27 19:20:00 BST 2012
Amazing, aren't they?
Years of training, all for one competition every four years.
All of their hard work, focus, commitment and dedication, it reminded me of when I was in training, back in Hunstrete, enjoying rugby every weekend.
The drive and ambition to be the best!
Normally starting down at the Crown, it involved a couple of pints, a couple of cigarettes and a packet of pork scratchings.
So, set up for the afternoon, all I had to do was wander over the road, and watch the mighty Keynsham First XV beat whoever came in their path, or sometimes not!
And, obviously, after eighty minutes of shouting our support for the players, we were more than ready for some well earned liquid refreshment.
Bitter to start, and then anyones guess, but there was normally cider somewhere in the proceedings.
Quite a lot, actually.
A couple of games of Cardinal Puff, a bracing rendition of the Woodpecker song, and we were off!
Purple Nasties all round then.
A superb mix of cider, blackcurrant and Pernod, it really got the rugby club going on a Saturday evening.
And, believe it, or not, that is how this dish came about.
Well, sort of!
Bath, home of the greatest rugby team in the world.
And "Bath Chaps"
Named after the West Country pre game ritual of going around the changing room, and slapping the other players across the cheeks, whilst shouting "Come on chaps!', it roused the players, ready for the battlefield, and victory would be assured.
I'm not totally convinced that's factually right, but what I do know is that I wanted those chaps on my new summer menu at East Lodge.
What we do is still brine them in a pickling liquor scented with fennel seeds, peppercorns on onions.
Then sealed in a vacuum bag and steamed at 82 degrees for twelve hours.
So, what you have now is ham.
So, all we do is slice it on a gravity slicer, and lay it on one of our rather sexy plates.
Which is, truth be told, the main reason of this blog, showing off our new tableware!
Dressed with some water vinaigrette, which is just an infused olive oil and white wine vinegar dressing, lightened with water.
And it splits out as well which I think looks pretty cool.
I roasted some pork skin and then grated it, a dark caramel was made and the grated crackling and a good pinch of Maldon sea salt was added.
Then it was all blended in the thermomix to produce salted crackling praline.
A new Derbyshire invention I think, and remember it was inspired by my Saturday lunchtime snacks at the Crown!
And of course it adds a nice crunchy texture, some sweetness and another layer of porky flavour.
These are very finely sliced, blanched and put into a sweet and sour pickling liquid, then for service all we need to do is drain them off, toss them with some peppery radishes, and place them onto the chaps.
Chopped chives are sprinkled over the plate as well, so you can now see the aniseed part of the dish.
A reduction of sherry vinegar and brown sugar is spooned around the dish.
This will add to the richness of the dish, while cutting through the pork nicely.
So, all I need now is the purple bit.
Blackberries, mixed with stock syrup, set with gelatine, its cut into little rounds and placed onto the dish.
And, as, often a Saturday night would end up in Kingsmead Square in Bath, tucking in to a kebab, I wanted to have one here as well!
This is then steamed at 62 degrees and pressed overnight, to firm up it's texture.
For service it is then caramelised and brushed with the vinegar reduction.
So, it all hot and cold, sweet and sour, smooth and crunchy.
In fact, its exactly what I'm looking for in a summery starter.
Oh, and a couple of wild meadow flowers complete the dish, one that started life, a few years ago, down the pub, on a Saturday lunchtime!
Right, from purple nasties we leap over to the "Noble Rot".
Sauternes is made this way. It happens when the grapes are infected by a fungus, then partly dried, they then produce a very concentrated sweet wine.
And one that I love.
It must have been my lucky day, as Mr H let me have a case that was in the cellars over at Callow Hall.
Now, I'm sure we've all heard about how good Sauternes is with foie gras and Roquefort cheese.
And it is, but I wanted to use it in a dessert.
A couple of weeks ago I made some apricot Garibaldi biscuits, to serve to the Rowsley school children who come to learn about food and drink at East Lodge each year.
And they were lovely!
I think Tom and myself, along with a couple of the school kids polished most of them off!
But I also thought they would be a nice garnish to a Sauternes pudding.
And the are, although I didn't put any apricots in this time, the biscuits are just made plain, baked, and then crushed. And as the recipe has an awfully large amount of butter in it, it has such a light texture, that I thought would go well with some summer apricots and raspberries.
Pistachios are another ingredient that marry well with Sauternes, so all we had to do is make some pistachio ice cream and little cakes.
These are interesting as they have hazelnut butter and apricot jam in the mix.
Hazelnut butter is just unsalted butter heated until it starts to smell like hazelnuts!
Easy, and its great poured, foaming, over some pan fried fish, mixed with parsley, baby capers and lemon juice.
And the apricot jam keeps the sponge really moist.
A meringue is made in the classical manor, but cooked in the steam oven, its then hollowed out and filled with apricot curd. Apricot sorbet is also made, and finally a super smooth, rich creme Anglaise is cooked and chilled, ready for the plating.
And, then, the easy bit.
Just mixing a good glug of Sauternes with the chilled custard.
The warm pistachio sponges are dusted with icing sugar, biscuit crumbs are arranged, fresh, juicy raspberries are dotted around, small balls of apricot sorbet are added, a larger scoop of pistachio ice cream is also placed on one of our new plates, the curd filled meringue is also on, and then, at last, the luscious, sweet, intense Sauternes Anglaise is poured, generously, flooding the base of the dish.
Such an easy pud to come up with as all the flavours work so well together, and of course, its finally summer!! So everything is bang in season.
So, there we are, a couple of new dishes, on the menu at East Lodge this month.
Its just a white chocolate and vanilla parfait, filled with strawberry sorbet, dusted with dried orange powder, and garnished with strawberry fluid gel, and strawberries and orange segments that have been marinated in Grand Marnier.
Right that's it, I'm off to make a very spicy chicken and green chilli curry.
Tonights music, the amazing "Strobe Light", by the B52's.
Trust me, it will improve your life.
And, finally, it's on.
I know I'm going to get all emotional, but it's going to be amazing!!
Isn't Britain Great!
Thu Jun 28 20:21:00 BST 2012
Two glasses of chilled, crisp, buttery, white, Californian Chardonnay.
That's how much I managed to get through whilst podding my first batch of small, sweet, juicy English peas.
And all I ended up with was enough for a little risotto to start last nights dinner with.
So, knowing I had to maximise the pea flavour, I used the pods to make a stock, along with a couple of rashers of bacon and a chicken stock cube.
What, you didn't think I'd do a vegetarian dish did you!
So, made with Carnaroli rice (which, by the way, is the best rice to use for risotto, as it keeps its shape and bite better than Arborio), a couple of onions, a couple of cloves of garlic, I started getting more hopeful about last nights dinner.
Using the hot pea broth, and stirring every so often, it was looking alright.
All I did was chuck in a load of butter, a good handful of Parmesan, the raw podded peas and a slice of shredded Parma ham, and we were done.
They only take a minute to cook, and I'll tell you what.
It was spot on!
So, there you are, the English asparagus has just finished, and these lovely fresh, sweet, peas come along.
Isn't that perfect timing!
We are using them as a puree in a couple of dishes over at East Lodge at the moment.
Along the same lines of my risotto, we are using ham with the peas as well, with some summer truffles, baked crisp chicken skin, a light foamy cream sauce and some reduced caramelised chicken stock.
I was trying to serve roasted chicken, but in a lighter, more seasonal way.
Now I think a perfectly roasted chicken is a real thing of joy, and at the Ritz, in Paris, they used to serve a poulet de Bresse, whole, for two people.
We made a stuffing of belly pork, veal and truffles. The bird was stuffed and trussed, and roasted "en cocotte". That means in a covered, heavy cast iron pot.
It was browned all over, and then, the best bit, a whole block of finest Normandy butter was used, diced up all around. It was basted every ten minutes, for an hour or so.
Removed, and left to rest upside-down, this was so the juices would soak back into the breasts, which are normally the drier parts.
I mean, can you imagine, the smells of a truffled chicken wafting around the kitchen.
God, it was good.
Oh, and by the way, if you ever are in France, and happen to order a Bresse chicken, for two people, the feet should always be left on, with the middle claw still on, so you can see it is actually a proper chicken from Bresse, because it will have a metal ring around it's little scaly ankle!
We poach our chicken at East Lodge at the moment, in the water bath.
It allows us to always make sure the breast is perfectly moist, as cooking it at a lower temperature means its less likely to dry out, in fact in won't at all.
So, there you are, two ways to cook a chicken, both using truffles, and both superb!
We're also using peas on our tasting menu, both as a puree and "double podded".
Along with our world famous lamb "roly poly", which as you all know, is all the best bits of a lamb, rolled in suet pastry, and steamed for eight hours in the Rational.
It's a great way to use lamb on the tasting menu,
as everyone loves lamb,
but there is no problem with different cooking times,
as it's all the same!
So with some wilted little gem lettuce, a couple of steamed Jersey Royals, and mint sauce, its just my way of getting Sunday lunch onto the menu!
The mint sauce is actually mint jelly, set with agar and then diced.
So it won't melt, as you can see.
Spot on, that one!
Right, that's enough of peas, lets talk about summer fruit now, raspberries in particular.
Just because Noah might have been in his element, thinking how to get away from this typical British weather, not me, I'm pushing on.
With summer, come rain or shine!
So, after a wedding at Callow Hall last week, I was left with some venison saddle, and as I didn't want to put it on the menu as a main course, I used it last Sunday.
As a starter.
With some pickled raspberries!
So, whist every other chef in Derbyshire seems to be poncing around with a big green egg, I was getting eggy with this little summery number.
Those raspberries were lovely. Ben made a sweet and sour pickling liquid, and we finished it off with some thyme flowers and olive oil, and they made a fruity foil to the rich venison.
It was minced and mixed with some cured Italian back fat, and then topped with a smooth duck liver and Port parfait, and finally a layer of bacon and breadcrumb crumble.
Oh, and a bit of Port fluid gel.
So a good way to try out a new dish at East Lodge.
And, although the raspberries worked well, I think I'm going to change the dish to one with rabbit, and a dressing of compressed white peaches with a tarragon and cracked peppercorn caramel.
I like this one.
We dried out bread, and made fine breadcrumbs with it, and then mixed it with a dark caramel, to make a sort of bread "praline".
Brioche was also made, just to add another bread dimension, and just was soaked in ice cold vanilla cream.
So, the "praline" was ground to a fine powder and baked into thin tuiles, while some was baked into a coarser crunchy delight.
That's the easy bit.
We made some clotted cream ice cream to serve with it, along with some floppy whipped double cream.
The bread crisps were broken and served on top of the pudding, for another texture, and the bread crumble was used as a base for the ice cream.
All that was needed then was to "mince" it all up a bit, and then, that's it.
It's Summer Time!!
So, there you are, all you need is a smiling face, a thumping base, for a loving race.
Oh, and talking of races, as you all know it's London 2012.
And I'm in training.
It's going to be a huge challenge.
So, that's why I'm eating deep fried red chillies.
Hot sauce, three times a day.
And, if I'm going to be doing the salsa with Sophie, every day before lunch, I'm going to need all the help I can get.
Right, that's it.
I'll tell you all about my "Bath Chaps" next time.
No, it's not you Jack!!!
And if these new Pirelli tyres are any good. It says they have shorter stopping distances, so does that mean I can go faster?
Well, I'll soon find out!
Todays soundtrack, the superb
God Made Me Funky (Original Mix), Ministry of Sound, C J Mackintosh, Sessions 4.
Thu Jun 14 11:03:00 BST 2012
Tue May 15 16:11:00 BST 2012
So then, do you know what I love most about the internet?
No, thought not.
It allows me to put pictures like this one up!
See, the great thing about living in the digital age is that anyone can write about anything they want.
And because food is such an ace subject, and loads of people think they really know about it, they try to write about it.
Which is fine, but because I really really know what I'm talking about I'm going to tell you how to turn a sows ear into a silk purse.
Well, sort of.
Now that Mr H has acquired Callow Hall, I've had to start thinking.
Which takes some doing for me!
So, starting at the beginning I thought of our smoked salmon, and how I can kill two birds with one stone, and use all of the fillets and trimmings, for two different starters, on two different menus, at two different hotels.
I think sometimes the classic, simple flavour combinations work best, indeed, sometimes its exactly what I'm looking for!
However, we also need to show off our creative side, and also find ways to use up any off cuts and trimmings.
As we are now getting through ten sides a week, that's quite a lot of off cuts!
Inspired by a classical mille feuille ( which means a thousand sheets ) it normally uses just puff pastry, baked between two flat trays, and then layered with a rich vanilla cream. Fruit can also be added, raspberries are especially good.
If making a sweet one, try to use the off cuts of rolled puff pastry as these will rise less. And, thinking about it, it's another way off using up leftovers!
Anyway, at East Lodge we do use puff pastry as the base layer, as I wanted something more robust.
Egg washed and baked in a hot oven, you can see the compressed pastry, which remains light and crunchy. The other layers are thin North African bric pastry.
Now, I love this pastry, it's so versatile.
Some fancy London chef's even try using as an a little olympic torch holder, which is a little bit silly, in my opinion.
One of the best ways to use it is just as they do in Tunisia, where all you need is an egg, some chopped up meat, vegetables or cheese, or a mixture!
In fact, it's another great way of using up some leftovers!
So, lay out a sheet of pastry and, in a semi circle, spread out some chopped up leftovers, I've used some asparagus, ham and cheese. Crack an egg into the middle, fold over and fry, in hot olive oil, until golden on both sides.
The oil needs to be hot, but be careful not to burn the pastry, but the egg yolk must remain runny!
The idea is to enjoy it piping hot!
I reckon I can eat about five.
Anyway, back to the salmon.
We mince the salmon and press it into a square, the same size as the puff pastry.
The other off cuts are infused in cream and milk, freshly grated horseradish is added, along with salt, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. After cooling down and strained the smoked salmon flavoured cream is set with agar, blended and cooled over ice.
So, it's turned into a light, light light smoked salmon mousse.
Balls of cucumber are compressed in the sous vide machine to alter their texture, and dill is picked.
The bric pastry is baked until crisp, with the top layer coated with fennel seeds, grated lemon zest and chives.
So then we just need to put it all together!
Simple when you know how.
I was doing a cookery demo, along with Max Fisher, to showcase Derbyshire's amazing produce, and this is one of the dishes.
As we smoke our own salmon I though I could include that as well, a light sabayon was made using our own eggs yolks and home made butter.
Some of our rye bread was dried with bronze fennel picked from the garden, and finally some shaved asparagus was used as a garnish.
So, these pictures are for all of you who didn't enjoy today's first picture!
And finally, how the little piggy's ear got turned into a silk purse.
We break down the suckling pig, brine it for twenty four hours and then cook it in the water bath.
Deboned while still warm, it is then pressed over night, ready to be portioned for service.
Right, that's it.
I've enjoyed talking about the new dishes at East Lodge, and some of the simpler ones as well.
You see, that's what I love about my job, is that we try to please all of our guests, weather they want some plain smoked salmon, or a more luxurious preparation, or something that l really crave sometimes, just a nice simple cheese and pickle sandwich, washed down with a mug of Bovril!
Some people just don't get how perfectly some of these flavour combinations work, and that's why we do them.
Ok, next time I'm going to tell you how even an idiot like me can keep meat moist all of the time, if Big Green Eggs are any good, and if the sun is ever going to come out.
Oh, and this is the Yellow Room at Callow Hall, where I've been spending lots of time lately, nice isn't it!
Not in the dining room you understand, just the kitchen there, as I thought, that just for a while things were going to be normal.
But then S.W.D.
TB is back rolling with the ELBMC, I thought that I might have a settled crew, but then Jake got rumbled, and his lung fell out, or something like that.
Just think what a scouser will do to get out of work!
So there you are, I'm pushing on all over Derbyshire, it's my "Spread Love" project.
Not too sure its working though!
Todays music recommendation - Ming's Incredible Disco Machine (Geeeetaaar & Peeeeeeanno Mix)
Thu Mar 29 19:38:00 BST 2012
Right, it's going to kick off.
I was watching a youtube video of Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago, doing an El Bulli inspired tasting menu.
And it all looked fantastic.
So, I watched another.
And it all started going a bit wonky.
The chef's came out into the restaurant, rolled out a mat on the table, and started putting food on it.
Pudding, I think it was.
So, after behaving like a chimp at a tea party, they let the guests tuck in. Can't really see that sort of behaviour taking off in Derby, but here is my own El Bulli inspired dinner.
Served in Shottle.
It's been said that all you should leave behind when preparing a duck is it's quack.
And I agree.
So, I'm starting by making my sofrito.
It's a basic Spanish preparation that uses garlic paste, onions, tomato passata, herbs and olive oil.
Great to have some in the fridge, it will give a real umami boost to certain dishes.
Crushed garlic is sweated down, then lots of onions go in, picked thyme, more olive oil and a pinch of sugar. Easy.
Right, so that can cook down, until just golden and I'm going to push on with the duck.
I've got a whole one, so I can use all of it on two different dishes.
So, the duck has been dispatched. I've taken off the legs and boned them out, removed the wishbone, scored the skin, but left the breasts on the bone, as this will keep them moist and stop them shrinking, and chopped up the bones for my stock. The heart will be fried, and eaten, as a chef's treat.
So a packet of passata goes in and that can be left now, to cook, uncovered until it's all nice and thick and jammy.
I've browned off the chopped duck bones, added the onion trimmings and a glass of white wine to make a duck stock. This will be used to cook the rice. You see, I'm going to use all of the duck.
The duck's heart is at the bottom left of the chopping board, by the way.
Now, because I was thinking ahead, I left some of the crushed garlic in my bowl, all I need to do is add some chopped parsley, olive oil and toasted chopped hazelnuts. But I don't have any, so I used some almonds instead. It's funny but it sounds like a Spanish pesto to me.
Wonder which came first?
This will be mixed into the rice later.
So the chopped up, boned, duck legs are being browned off now.
Listen, it's going to spit hot fat everywhere, but that is good.
So moving on to the main course, I've peeled a couple of oranges.
I thought this made perfect sense, as duck goes very well with oranges, and remember this blog is all about El Bulli
So, the oranges are sliced, sprinkled with thyme flowers, Maldon sea salt, olive oil and honey.
It would be nice as a little pudding with some dark chocolate and pistachios, and a sorbet.
And, it wouldn't be too bad with some nice fatty, fried confit pork belly.
But, I digress.
I mean, have you seen how nice it is out there, it's like I'm in Spain at the moment.
Although the bongo's haven't arrived yet!
Ok, back to the duck legs now.
I've added a couple of spoonfuls of the sofrito, and I'm going to let that reduce down with the duck legs.
And now it all going to get a bit hairy.
Bomba paella rice is added to the duck legs, and the hot duck stock is poured in.
Right, that's it.
I can relax.
Well, sort of.
This is not a risotto, so I don't need to worry about stirring it. In fact the slightly caramelised bits on the bottom of the pan are a delight!
You really need to brown the duck in a pan, to render the fat, and as I'm only going to roast the duck for 10 minutes, it will not get enough colour in the oven without some help from me.
Looking good eh?
The nice thing about this dinner is if the timings right, and everything peaks at the same time, it's really easy to sit down together and enjoy it.
And, that's the whole point of dinner.
So, the rice has absorbed all of the stock, and all I'm going to do is stir in a couple off spoonfuls of picada, that's the parsley and almond paste, and we're off!
First course sorted.
And it's superb.
As you can see, by roasting on the bone, and leaving it to rest, the flesh is nice and pink and juicy and rare and a perfect rich foil to the sweet honeyed orange slices.
So, there you are.
Dinner, inspired by the worlds best ever restaurant.
And we even used plates.
Right, that's it.
Some of the first English asparagus and Jersey Royals are coming over tomorrow, so that's my Sunday lunch sorted.
Wonder what they would be like in a sandwich?
Perhaps I'll have a think about it.
Simon's song choice tonight - Dr Feelgood (Groove Junkies Rockin'Dub)
Oh, and this time the pictures look a little less wobbly!
Thu Mar 29 11:16:00 BST 2012
It takes a lot of work to come up with an award winning breakfast!
And how it can be a bit of a complicated serve!
But it is easy though, and as long as you bag some top quality bangers, bacon and eggs you're half way there.
Enough has already been said about the Great British Breakfast, but it is delicious.
And as I love it so much, I wanted to start off the new spring tasting menu at East Lodge with a good healthy fry up.
Well, sort of.
As a good breakfast should be the start of the day I figured I could start the tasting menu with the same sort of flavours.
So, we have bacon, ham, black pudding, fried bread and eggs.
It took quite a while but it all ended up looking a bit round, and I also wanted to see if I could get the black and gold colours of East Lodge on the menu, and I have!
So here it is.
East Lodge Breakfast 2012 Bradley Style.
Quite simple really.
All we do is slowly poach some ham hocks with onions, carrots and herbs.
When the bone can be easily removed we know they are ready.
It's important to let the hocks cool down in their liquor, as this will keep them moist.
The meat is then removed from the bones, and half is shredded and the other half minced.
We reduce a small amount of the reserved poaching stock and melt some duck fat, and mix with the cooled meat.
What, you didn't really think I would do a fat free fry up did you?
It's seasoned and rolled into balls, ready for the next stage.
The rest of the ham stock is strained and infused with grated black pudding overnight.
It's then clarified, using egg whites, protein and vegetables.
I did try the ice filtration method but the yield was pretty pathetic, so I gave up on that one.
Strained again, we end up with a beautiful, black, shiny stock.
It's weighed and softened gelatine is added.
This is then ladled over the breakfast.
A lot of times.
So, thats the easy bit sorted.
It does, of course, have eggs, bacon and fried bread with it.
Remember it is, after all, a full English!
So, we cook East Lodge egg yolks in the water bath, then cool them down, and whisk them up.
I love this garnish, it tastes so eggy and rich.
White bread is grated and fried and mixed with crispy chopped smoked bacon, chives and grated pork crackling.
I'll tell you how a Sunday roast has also made it on to the tasting menu next time.
Right that's it.
I'm off to eat some pasties now, on the way to hang around a petrol forecourt.
And, tonight, due to overwhelming success, starting around 6pm, another extreme blog will take place!
It's going to be quackers!!
Oh, and just one picture, it's of our new white chocolate and rhubarb dessert.
Thu Mar 22 21:29:00 GMT 2012
So after having a chat with Matt today about how many bloggers there are out there, and listening
Wed Mar 14 19:45:00 GMT 2012
I work every day and sleep all night, since I had no time.
Since I've been busy, sorting out my mac book pro,
But now it's back,
I can start again,
'Cause nothing compares to apple,
Nothing compares to apple.
So, there you are.
Now, at last, I can talk about intelligence, and how, I think I might have a little bit.
Unlike Sir Jonny, who. as head of design at the world's biggest company, could not be bothered to make a white wine proof mac book pro!
As you know we make truffled goats cheese butter at East Lodge, but I wanted to make some of my own butter, from scratch, just to see what is was like.
And I was bored.
Quite easy actually, just over whipped cream.
In fact, any idiot, including me, can do it.
So, what happens is, after whipping the cream, it will split, and leave you with the butter, and also some buttermilk.
After seasoning the butter with Maldon sea salt, and patting it to remove any remaining buttermilk, it was ready to be served.
Which was great, but after thinking about it, wondered what to do with the milk.
Well, well, well!
I've never actually made it before, but I knew it needed either yoghurt of buttermilk, and as the proud owner of some, thought I'd put it to good use.
It's so easy as well.
Plain flour, some salt, sugar, bicarb and buttermilk.
No boring kneading, just mix to a wet dough, pop in the oven, and job done.
We served it on Saturday night with some of our smoked salmon and a Guinness gel, as a surprise course, to our chef's table guests.
And it really was good, but, you know, most things with warm bread and freshly churned butter are pretty good!
So, there you are, clever cooking.
Here's another example.
It's one of our lunch menu dishes, that saves on washing up, keeps all the flavours together, and is a perfect restaurant dish for cooking a la minute.
A perfect way to cook fish, it keeps it moist, makes a sauce and warms the veg!
We use salmon at the moment, but any fish will do. And by preparing some green vegetables, blanching turned new potatoes, and chopping herbs, it's all ready to be finished when called away.
So, poach the fish, then remove, and keep warm.
Reduce the poaching liquor and add the blanched vegetables. We also add some sliced tiger prawn tails, but scallops or caviar would be a nice addition.
Finished with a good amount of butter, a drop or two of lemon juice, and there you go.
A nice, intelligent fish dish, proving that there are, just a few, clever chefs out there!
Not too sure about these two though!
Right that's it.
Next time I'm going to tell you about how my new bread knife is making me put on weight, and if this new mac book pro is red wine proof!
Fri Feb 03 19:43:00 GMT 2012
I think I'll just call mine the tasting menu.
They've been around for ages now, and I think it's a very good way to enjoy your dinner.
Eight or more courses, all showing off different cooking techniques and styles, hopefully with different wine parings, making people really take their time over a good dinner, or lunch!
Anyway here's mine.
As you can see the East Lodge kitchen is an oasis of calm!
I'll soon change that though, look, Tom's having a chinwag with Matt, Ben's doing some colouring in, and Jon's just trying to work out what's going on!
No, actually, all of our diners at the chef's table are amazed at how peaceful and organized we are, but, you know, we are trying to serve eight courses to lots of different tables we have to be well set up.
Made fresh every day, we offer a simple brown, a cheese and bacon and a Guinness and rye sour dough.
Served, warm, on a slate with salted farmhouse butter and home made truffle goats cheese butter.
It was inspired by a visit to Tetsuya's restaurant in Sidney where we had butter mixed with Parmesan cheese and black truffles. Delicious.
Easy to do at home as well, just mix soft goats cheese, butter and white truffle oil, and there you go, sorted! Right that's the only recipe I'm doing tonight!
We get lots of positive feedback over these, and it really sets the tone of the meal to come.
Right, lets eat.
I've talked about the bouche before.
Normally served as a main course, "Rossini" is a fillet steak garnished with sauteed duck livers, truffles and a brioche crouton.
This is exactly the same. Well sort of.
We salt beef fillet, leave it, then air dry it, for a "ham". Sugar cured, marinated duck livers are cooked in the water bath, rolled out and pressed.
A beef consomme is made in the classical manor, poured on top of the chilled duck liver, sliced bread wafers are dried in the oven, Truffle oil is mixed with mayonnaise, radishes are sliced and parsley is deep fried.
I think it's lovely, and it allows me introduce a more modern dish, but still with classical roots.
Right, this one's quite healthy!
It's fashionable to be baking whole vegetables in a salt crust (some use clay as well), so we salt bake celeriac. It's flavour is amazing, and it's so white and soft, I'm going to do it all the time now.
Scooped out and dressed with some olive oil, cider vinegar and a touch of salt, it marries perfectly with some slowly cooked turnips.
These are steamed, as I think they would be a bit small to salt bake. Then rolled in onion ash, to give a smoky dark taste.
This is another new idea, I think, inspired by Noma restaurant. It's just burnt onion peelings, blended to a powder, and it's a nice thing to roll cooked root vegetables in. I was trying to capture those earthy, winter smells and tastes. A boned, pressed chicken wing, bacon, brushed with maple syrup, wood sorrel to add some acidity, and a reduced chicken stock and shallot dressing complete the dish.
And, in case you're wondering what I do with all that left over chicken, here it is.
Well, some of it. The legs are salted and cooked in duck fat, mixed with ham and turned into this rather wonderful terrine.
The breasts are used as a main course, so as you can see we are using every last bit of the chicken!
Now, I love this one.
I think a big, fat, juicy, caramelised tiger prawn is a real thing of joy!
So I serve two. We use the shells to make an intense prawn bisque, made in the usual way, with tomatoes, saffron, vegetables and herbs.
Reduced to an essence, it gives a massive boost to the dish.
It's Ben's sweet potato puree recipe, made with a caramel, orange juice and hazelnut butter, the richness and smooth texture are very important as we are serving some very pretty, pink, Yorkshire rhubarb with it.
Again, cooked at a low temperature, so it does not break up, with some sugar and sliced ginger.
This to me, makes lots of sense. Lemon is often added to fish, to sharpen up the flavour. And gooseberries can be paired successfully with oily fish, so I thought, why not?
And everyone says how nice it looks when we serve it!
Now, I've got a slight problem now.
The other night, I was a little bit "in it", and I forgot to take a picture of the next course.
It's turbot, my second favourite fish, after Dover sole.
And as I didn't want the turbot to feel left out I've included this picture from last summer.
And, along the same lines, we serve meaty Portabella mushrooms along side with a reduced red wine sauce.
And it means we can start serving red wine as well, ready to lead into the main course.
I'm using pig.
It's belly to be precise.
It's a super cut, and works perfectly as a main, being light and rich, and being so popular, everyone is willing to try it.
Pressed overnight, all we have to do is portion it, warm it up back in the bath, and then sear it on the plancha.
I made a sweet vinegar reduction using red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar and soft dark brown sugar.
It's just to cut the richness of the pork.
I needed to think of a suitable garnish, and as I was already using sweet potato, didn't want to use another potato in the menu. So I ordered some spelt from Sharpham Park, in the hope of doing a side dish with that.
And, remember, the pork skin I saved, well that is roasted and grated to sprinkle on top of the risotto, as a sort of crackling!
Buttered Savoy cabbage provides about 10% of your five a day, so I've covered all the food groups as well!
Now, it's got nothing at all to do with me, the water bath does all the work, but that pork is out of this world.
I mean, just look at it.
So I hope you still have some red wine left, just to finish off with the next course.
I'm using goats cheese at the moment, as it's a lighter cleaner taste, after all that dark sweet pork.
Using fennel as a puree and a sorbet as well, it will cleanse the palate.
Black olive caramel, is also present, made by caramelising sugar then adding pitted black olives, and blending, it goes well with the other flavors.
Orange zest is grated over at the last minute, along with thyme breadcrumbs, it gets the diner ready for the pudding course.
Now that I've written about the dish it seems like it has some Italian overtones, which follow on nicely from the pork and risotto.
Once, again, all the flavors of a Bakewell, but everything has changed.
I was thinking about changing the frangipane layer to something a bit crisper.
Like a buttery biscuit base.
So using cooked rounds of frangipane, with a cooked vanilla custard poured over and finally a layer of strawberry jelly.
A scoop of almond milk sorbet, with a caramel dipped hazelnut and some gold leaf complete this years dish.
On the side are a couple of warm almond sponge cakes, injected with warm strawberry jam. A Derbyshire doughnut I suppose, and some hot custard for dipping them into!
So, you see all hot and cold, and soft and lovely!
Looks alright too!
Right, that's it!
I'll tell you all about the Simon Bradley "spread love" project next time.
And of my new interest in gardening, soil in particular.
And sausage rolls.
Pink socks and hand jiving for me now, can't wait!
Thu Jan 19 14:10:00 GMT 2012
If you look at this years AA restaurant guide, it mentions one of the dishes I served last year as
Thu Jan 12 18:21:00 GMT 2012
DE? = 564 x 184.108.40.206.9. = bellissimo x 100 ( todays blog)
So, it's all about the deliciousness!
The fifth taste, now we know as umami.
We nicked it from the Japanese, and it's one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, sour, hot and salt.
Translated it means delicious, or "pleasant savory taste".
I think the best way to describe it is when you eat something, it makes you want to smack your lips together with all that lovely savoriness.
It's found in lots of things, like dried seaweed, mushrooms, truffles, meats, oily fish and shellfish, fermented sauces and cheese.
So, last week, in memory of Tom, who was always trying to find that big hit of umami, I made this pie.
So while Tom is spreading the East Lodge good vibes all around Europe, I was coming up with this light weekday supper!
So I used half suet and half butter, just rubbed in and mixed with a little cold water.
I'll start using lard in the spring, but I will always split it with half butter. It's a forgiving pastry to use as well, and if you work quickly, it should not break up.
So, back to seeing how much umami I could pack into my pie.
A couple of days earlier I made a sofrito, using lots of garlic, onions, thyme and tomato passata. It was dark, thick and intense. I used it in a duck paella, an unusual, but, amazing dish, that I got from the new "el bulli" cookbook.
Anyway, I though that the sofrito would add a certain something to the meat filling.
So, I fried some more onions in duck fat, then added some beef mince, then the sofrito, a bottle of dark English beer, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, a tin of beef consomme and a good blob of my new umami paste
I cooked the filling so it was quite dry, as I wanted to be able to slice the pie cleanly, and anyway, I made a gravy with some more beer and consomme to serve on the side.
And, honestly, have you seen a more beautiful looking pie!
I also thought that such a full flavored pie would benefit from a massive red wine, so I opened a bottle of 2007 Ben Marco, an absolute delight!
Decanted, to let it open up, I knew it would be perfect with all that mouth filling umami!
And can you see you light and flaky the pastry is?
So we managed about half of it, and for ages after we could still taste it.
That's what umami means to me, having the ability to still taste something, after you have finished eating it.
I'm not sure if they do pies quite like this France though!
Anyway, back to the tasting menu that I still have not got around to waffle on about, but here's a little preview.
This was one of the starters we did at Christmas.
It's pressed confit duck livers, topped with a jellied beef consomme, air dried beef fillet, fried ox tongue, croutons and truffle cream.
As all you classical music lovers will realise, its a modern take on the classic "Rossini", where the original dish uses a fried fillet steak, served on a brioche crouton with sauteed duck livers and a black truffle sauce.
And, as we are starting 2012 with our new tasting menus at East Lodge, this is going to stay on as a bouche on the eight course menu.
Oh, and I'm going to be doing a risotto topped with lardo and grated pork crackling, to go with some pork belly that has been cooking for the past thirty hours in the water bath.
I can't wait!
It's going to be mad.
Wed Jan 04 18:21:00 GMT 2012
Have you seen the wind out there?
It's going mad today, all grey and cold and wet.
But these might brighten things up a bit!
And I think it would have a hard time blowing these little beauties over!
I made a couple this year, one for Charlie and Ben and one to keep all the front of house staff happy, up at East Lodge this Christmas.
Personally I think they are my best attempt yet, and I'm already thinking of ways to improve them, just in case we are challenged to any competitions this year!
The thing is with gingerbread houses is making sure the bread itself stays flat when you cook it.
And because its made with warm dough, resting, as you normally would, is impossible.
Because if you tried to rest it, it would crack and break up as you rolled it out.
So, the way to do it is, roll it out between two sheets of baking parchment. Incidentally I would always use this method to roll out any pastry, as you use less flour, and you can move the paper around, so its less likely to break the pastry.
Also, you need to roll out the pastry thinly, because if its too thick, it will be too heavy to stick together.
Halfway through baking it, take it out of the oven, and working quickly, cut it again to its original shape, as it will have spread out slightly.
Pop it back in the oven for a few minutes, and then leave to dry out.
So, there you go, you will have perfectly flat gingerbread walls and a roof to build your house with.
All you need to now is go and buy loads of sweets, eat about half of them, and use the rest to decorate your little gingerbread house!
And to think that I am absolutely hopeless at DIY!
We were baking some celeriac as part of our tasting menu on New Year's Eve, and Tom and I made a salt crust.
It's a great way of cooking food as it keeps the flavor locked in, and quite dramatic too!
Made by mixing salt, some flour and egg whites to form a damp dough, all you need to do is pack it around your chosen food, roast it in a hot oven and there you are, easy really!
We cooked the celeriac for one hour, and left them to rest. They would stay warm in their little salt houses for a good couple of hours, and come service time, we just cracked them open, and scooped out the flesh.
Simple, earthy and warming.
And, it might even be healthy for you as well!
So, after all these years 2012 might be the one where salt is now considered good for you!
Right, that's it.
Inspired by my very own ramblings, I'm going to make a soothing Shottle soup.
I went over to Ashbourne yesterday, as I wanted to get some pearled spelt, but Waitrose only had spelt flour, so I got a nice plump chicken instead.
I used half last night in a warming Moroccan broth, made with shopkeepers delight, preserved lemons and harissa.
So, left with half a chicken, I intend to made a chowder style soup, with diced potatoes and celeriac, chestnut mushrooms, onions and garlic, and finished with some cream, the only bright bursts of color will come from some blanched sprouts that I picked up this afternoon.
And I need all this food as the next one's going to be massive.
The tasting menu, at last!
Fri Dec 09 18:47:00 GMT 2011
It started in Sardinia.
Another little island, fighting off the rest of Europe, just like us!
And, how, their "carta musica" helped me to change Sophie into a Brussel sprout lover.
Originally made for the shepherds, to take to the mountains, its a crisp, light delight!
The mussels were steamed, just until they started to open, then tipped into a colander, to save their juices.
I made a rich tomato sauce, using lots of garlic, shallots and herbs. I was going to stir in the cooked mussels at the last minute. I also got some fregola, a Sardinian pasta, that I cooked in the mussel stock, to also stir into my sauce.
So, with my "carta musica" and some cured meats, and a hearty mussel stew for my main course, it was a nice sunny midweek supper.
"I dream of you
Sprouts, sprouts, sprouts
Du, du, du, du, du
Alle Ci bum ci bum bum
It's wonderful, it's wonderful"
Do you think, that if, like chips, sprouts had a catchy song written about them that they would be more popular?
So for my Christmas miracle, I warmed the Sardinian bread in a low oven, and then placed some prosciutto on top.
Doing this while warm allows the fat on the ham to soften and really develop it's flavor.
I got some lovely tight, fresh sprouts, and shredded them as fine as I could, and seasoned them with a touch of lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper.
I'll tell you what, they were delicious!
Sweet, nutty and crisp, with the bread and ham I think it would turn anyone into a sprout lover, and a drizzle of truffle oil would be a nice addition too!
Using celeriac, beetroot, swede, carrots, baby onions and turnips, all cooked seperately, as they have different cooking times, we then saute them all off together, glazed with honey and thyme butter, its a great side dish for our roasted turkey.
The all important parsnips are served as a puree, with a bacon and fried bread "crumble'", chipolatas are wrapped in bacon and roasted, and finally a bread and suet stuffing is served.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, the turkey and roasted potatoes!
So, it a nice, colorful, somewhat heathy garnish for December.
Brussels, they can be loved, and they're not just for Christmas you know!
Right, thats it!
I'll be going all festive next time with our East Lodge Christmas tasting menu, including blitzed up Brussels!
Just because David looked a little bit lonely!
And, just to show there's no hard feelings, and I really do try to include the whole world, have a look at these, that also arrived at Shottle this week.
Ok, that's it, have fun!
Sat Dec 03 17:43:00 GMT 2011
Right, thats it!
There's no point in doing anything else now.
After sampling steaks from all around the world I can now announce that the best steaks in the world are served in Rowsley, just down the road from my birthplace!
This beauty on the right was one of a brace I acquired last week, and polished off with Mr H last Sunday at East Lodge. Along with a bottle of 2007 Catena Alta malbec, and, I think, another of first growth claret.
The "Don Pedro". Sixteen ounces of pure, grass fed, Argentinian rib eye steak.
And, yes, I know Argentina is not that local, but I figure if we can import all of their lovely wine, a couple of steaks won't make too much difference.
And, anyway, I use loads of beautiful Derbyshire beef on the menu at East Lodge.
But I really have tried steaks all over the world, most of them very good, all of them large, some massive!
She was either mental or really cool, I still can't work it out!
Luckily, my next choice was much more straight forward. Arriving at Grand Central Station, bypassing the oyster bar and heading straight to the Michael Jordon steak house, we were offered the days specials. Either a three and a half pound lobster, cooked how you like it, or a thirty two ounce "T bone"!
Job done then, I'll have one of those, rare, house fries on the side and a starter of roasted marrow bones.
Quite full after that!
Up on the hill was an old castle, converted into a restaurant, it was very dramatic, and a bit off the beaten track.
So there I was, tucking into my starter of linguini with scampi, when this massive, moustached, Italian walked in.
Followed, I presume, by his wife and daughter, and they were pretty big as well!
Half an hour later, two waiters came into the restaurant, and put down this huge steak florentine, carved a slice off each for his wife and daughter, and then just lifted the remaining hunk of beef onto his plate! Brilliant!
So, there you are.
My search around the world for the best steak has ended.
And all the time it was just down the road from where I was born in Darley Dale, how lucky is that!
Right that's it!
Next time I'm going to tell you how I performed a Christmas miracle and have turned Sophie into a sprout lover!
And, how, up at East Lodge, we have had our first snow of the season!
Fri Nov 25 18:22:00 GMT 2011
It all started with 70's disco.
I was listening to a Ministry of Sound disco mix when the song "September" came on.
And it got me thinking. Again!
Could I do a dessert named after a month?
Yes, as it turned out. And as its not long to go, I came up with this. Its everything one would expect to find in a kitchen around December, and now I'm going to tell you what's on it.
So, fitting for Christmas, mincemeat sorbet was born!
I blended mincemeat with a sherry and orange syrup, tipped it into the thermomix and let rip.
Strained, cooled and churned ( sounds a bit like my disco dancing!) it really is delicious.
Grated sweet pastry is the "pie" element.
So, what else then?
We all love a glass of mulled wine, right Lisa! So some pears are poached in mulled wine, made the correct way with cloves, orange zest, cinnamon, brown sugar and brandy. Chilled and compressed, they are like little bursts of December on the plate.
A very light brandy sabayon is made using eggs yolks, sugar and, yes more, brandy. Whisked over a pan of simmering water, until thick, a small amount of melted unsalted butter is whisked in. This will help keep the sauce stable, and of course, make it rich and lovely!
We made a snowball ice cream, using Warnick's advocaat, which really is rather good!
Rolled in crushed meringue, dried orange zest and ground pistachios, it looks a bit like a snowball too!
Our East Lodge apple curd and some marinated apples add a clean note, as do some segments of satsuma.
So, it's December on a plate.
This one is though.
Another divine December dish!
Using pheasant, we made a mousse with some breast meat. Blended with cream and then passed through a fine sieve, rolled and poached, it's a classic way of making a mousse.
Sometimes served as it is, we cooled it down, sliced it and fried it on the plancha. It gets a nice crust, and its just lovely warm, soft and crisp at the same time.
Right, so what other goodies does December bring?
Port and Stilton are two that spring to my mind. And as the French do a version of this mousse using chicken and the slightly inferior Roquefort, I thought this would work just as well, using produce from Derbyshire!
So, a slice of warm pheasant mousse is served with a piece of cured and smoked pheasant breast, a dice of Colton Bassett Stilton, grated chestnuts, a celeriac condiment, wrapped in a fine pastry cylinder, some Port soaked ripe pears, celery leaves and finally, some parsley cress, oh yes, and some festive slices of red radish!
So, there you are, December on two plates.
And, still on the subject of music, which I am, I'm having some piano paper for my dinner tonight.
Matt would be very pleased! Its actually Sardinian flat bread, rolled very thinly, that I will serve with some ham, as a little starter.
But, just one last thing.
They have arrived. And they look amazing. Unbelievable. Out of this world. I just cannot wait.
All the way from Argentina.
My new tight, black tango trousers!
No, only joking, two sixteen ounce rib eye steaks. THE DON PEDRO.
Right, thats it, Christmas, it seems has come early in Shottle, so I'll tell you all about it next time!
Thu Nov 17 18:56:00 GMT 2011
"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"
So now you know!
Let them eat cake.
Often, wrongly, attributed to Marie Antoinette, it seems that any number of French princess's could have used this phrase.
Also incorrect in it's use of the word cake, when it should be brioche.
It was when the peasants ran out of money for bread, so they thought they should eat brioche. Although if they had access to my new afternoon tea delights at East Lodge, then I'm sure there would have been no revolution, just lots of happy frogs!
Specifically steak and oyster. Amazing, I'm sure, but I just wanted to show this new 2011 version we've done on the tasting menu up at East Lodge. Using sea bass, wrapped in chard leaves, with a celery puree, with a sauce made with reduced beef roasting juices, caviar and bone marrow.
So, it is sort of, well, a tiny bit, related to the old English pie!
Another, less famous, but no less important French quote, by the legend that was Fernand Point.
One of the first, and probably, the most important, lessons I learnt in French classical cooking.
In France we used to make brioche with the same amount of butter as flour, resulting in a delicious, rich, buttery loaf.
This one was made with just half the amount of butter to flour, but it still tastes beautiful, packed with chopped pistachios, dried apricots and sultanas.
It will be served , toasted with our autumn rolled game ballotines, that we have been busy preparing.
I minced it twice, and then marinated it with Port and brandy, garlic, thyme and parsley, rolled it in thinly sliced bacon, and cooked it in the water bath. It really need lots of seasoning, and there is no point in being tight about this, lots and lots of fat.
Pork is best.
You don't want to be eating a dry terrine, now, do you?
And it improves it keeping quality, so it will taste better as it matures.
Made with slow cooked Goosnargh duck breast and confit fattened duck livers, it is a different style of terrine, where the components are cooked
separately, and then pressed.
In this case, eight perfect layers are served, with a sweet chicory puree, duck juice and sherry vinegar dressing, and a little salad with grated cracked peppercorn honeycomb, giving a nice sweet crunch. We also serve a brace of little duck pies, just as a little garnish.
With lots of DE4 apples and cream, it shows just how many uses a loaf of brioche has!
And, if you were wondering what my new, revolution preventing cakes were, they are, chocolate and pistachio cup cakes, apple and blackberry crumble tartlets, little 'Bakewell" sponges with almond butter cream with raspberry jam injected into them, scones, of course, and finally, little lemon meringue pies.
Right, that's it!
No history lesson next week, although I am going to tell you how my amazing chef de parties have managed to change a Yorkshire pudding into this incredible gluten free carrot and coconut cake.
Fri Nov 11 19:08:00 GMT 2011
I was really excited, when after spending far too much at Majestic wine, I popped into M and
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