Here’s a link to catch up with an ITV News report on me which was aired on the 1st December
Here’s a link to catch up with an ITV News report on me which was aired on the 1st December
When my sister and I were children, my mother would serve us French toast as a rare and special treat. My sister learned the technique and we feasted many more times on them. It is a luxury I enjoy sharing with my dinner party guests and have here served it with two other luxurious flavours of chocolate and macerated strawberries. Chocolate as a soup is as delicious as it sounds and quite easy to prepare.
The earliest reference to frying bread that has been dipped in milk comes from the 4th century Roman text of ‘De Re Coquinaria’ compiled at the decline of the Roman empire but romantically attributed to the celebrated Roman gastrophile Marcus Gavius Apicius from the reign of emperor Tiberius in the 1st century AD. The bread is described as being decrusted, dipped in milk, then fried in olive oil and topped with honey.
The term ‘pain perdu’ is French for ‘lost bread’ and refers to the way that bread that has been dried out can be revived by dipping it into milk and eggs and then fried.
I have been generous with the recipe quantities for the chocolate soup in case there are demands for more from your guests. Prepare all the ingredients on the day. The warm strawberries, warm soup and vanilla cappuccino are prepared just prior to serving the guests.
For the pain perdu
10 thick slices brioche cut into 4 inch (10 cm) discs
1 cup (250 gms) caster sugar
1 1/2 cups (350 mls) milk
1 tbsp cognac
3 tbsp unsalted butter
First create the batter by whipping the eggs, sugar, milk and Cognac. Soak the brioche discs in the batter for about 5 minutes. Heat the butter in a skillet and fry each coated disc for about 2 minutes each side. keep the pain perdu dry.
For the macerated strawberries
30 strawberries, quartered
1/2 cup (100 gms) caster sugar
1/2 cup (125 mls) Cognac
1 tbsp butter
Coat the strawberries in the sugar and Cognac then let them rest in a bowl for 5 minutes. Heat a skillet with butter then fry the strawberry quarters for 30 seconds or until they begin to caramelize.
For the chocolate soup
3/4 cup (125 gms) 75% cocoa dark chocolate
1/2 cup (125 mls) milk
1 1/2 cups (350 mls) double cream
Combine the milk, cream and sugar in a pan and heat gently, whisking until the chocolate has melted
For the vanilla cappuccino
3/4 cup (125 mls) milk
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod
1 tsp lecithin granules
Place the milk and vanilla seeds into a pan then warm it gently to about 120 F (50 Celsius) stirring all the time. Overheating the milk will prevent the froth from forming. Add the lecithin granules and froth the flavoured milk using a stick blender, holding the blender in such a way as to incorporate as much air as possible. Wait a few moments for the froth to form.
Constructing the dish
Young mint leaves
Arrange the pain perdu disc eccentrically on a rectangular or oval dish and add layers of the macerated strawberries in the centre. Arrange the mint leaves and dust over with icing sugar through a tea strainer. Pour the warm chocolate so it reaches about 4/5 of the way up a shot glass. Layer the vanilla cappuccino froth to the top of the glass. place the glass next to the pain perdu and serve.
Elegant, piquant flavours and perfect textures characterise this dish. Not only does it look impressive on the plate but tastes divine. Strictly speaking a “lasagne” refers to layers of pasta with ragout and sauce. This dish utilises wonton wrappers which, in my opinion, offers a perfectly soft texture to the dish. The wrappers are available frozen in most oriental supermarkets. Make sure they are defrosted thoroughly else they will shatter. They degrade quickly so you can only use them on the same day of defrosting. This recipe serves 2 people as a main course. It makes for an exceptional fish hors d’oeuvres in which case it can serve 4 people although you will need to use smaller cooking rings. Serve this with a Puligny-Montrachet, Australasian Reisling, Trocken German Reisling or Soave.
10 large scallops, coral removed
400 gms fine white crab meat
2 tbsp double cream
1 pack of wonton wrappers, defrosted and cut into circles using a 9cm food ring
Cool a small food processor and a mixing bowl in a freezer for at least an hour. Blend the scallops into a smooth paste and add the cream and pepper then blend again. Place the contents into the cooled mixing bowl and fold in the crab meat. Place a double layer of the wonton circles into the bottom of 2 9cm food rings. Add a 1 cm layer of the crab mixture evenly on top of the wrappers. Layer another wrapper and crab mixture and keep layeringuntil you have reached the full height of the food rings then finish the top with a further double layer of wonton wrap. Carefully transfer the filled rings to a steamer and steam for 10 minutes.
2 shallots or 1 banana shallot, finely chopped
4 raw tiger prawns, shells and flesh separated and sliced
100 gms unsalted butter
200 mls sauvignon blanc wine
50 mls white wine vinegar
150 mls fish or chicken stock
2 tbsp double cream
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
In a pan, sauté the shallots in 25 gms of the butter until they are soft but not browned. Add the prawn shells and sauté until they turn from grey to orange-red. Remove the shells and add the shelled prawn slices. Continue sautéing until they turn orange. Deglaze the pan with the wine and reduce by about 1/3. Add the vinegar and stock and reduce a little. Add the cream and pepper and reduce the sauce further. Mix in the the chives.
Carefully extrude the lasagnes into the centre of bowls. Carefully pour the Sauce over the lasagnes. Garnish the lasagnes with micro herbs or pea shoots.
The flavours of chicken, mushroom, lemon and garlic characterise this dish. It is absolutely made to go with a Soave wine which lifts it to a higher plane still. The key to crisping the chicken skin is to start the cooking process using a cold skillet as this allows time for the skin to lose its water content during the cooking process. This recipe feeds four people.
For the garlic emulsion
2 egg yolks
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 pinches sea salt
1 cup (250 mls) vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1-2 tsp white wine vinegar
Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature or the emulsion will not form. Whisk together the yolks with the mustard and salt. Add small quantities of the oil little by little whilst continually whisking the mixture until you have incorporated about 2/3 of the oil. Please note that overloading the oil at the beginning will stop formation of the emulsion. Whisk in the desired amount of lemon juice and vinegar and then incorporate the remaining oil. Taste the emulsion adding more lemon or salt as necessary. Transfer the emulsion into a squeezy bottle.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp clear honey
2/3 cup (200 mls) water
2 tbsp white truffle oil
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp Armagnac
Simmer the onion and honey gently in a lidded pot for about 40 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer with the lid off for a minute longer. Transfer the contents to a food processor and blend until smooth.
Top but do not tail 2 handfuls of the beans. Season them with sea salt and black pepper. Sauté them gently in a pan of olive oil under a low to medium heat, stirring periodically. When they turn a lovely texture and colour, transfer them to a warm dish.
1 cup (250 mls) risotto rice cooked in mushroom stock (or the reconstitution water if using dried mushrooms)
2 tbsp fresh or reconstituted dried porcini mushroom fragments, sautéed gently in unsalted butter
Breadcrumbs from 1 slice of decrusted white bread
2 tbsp duck fat
Sauté all the ingredients in a shallow pan of hot duck fat under a medium heat until the contents become slightly crisp
4 chicken breasts, skin on, flattened using a rolling pin, pricked and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Place the oil into a cold skillet then place the flattened chicken pieces skin side down into the cold oil. Place the skillet onto the hob at medium heat setting. Place a heavy pan onto the breasts to help even the crisping of the whole skin. After about 6 minutes of cooking, take off the heavy pan and using a spatula, check the skin has crisped nicely. If so, turn the flattened breasts over and sauté the other sides for a further 4 minutes or so. Transfer the cooked breasts to a warm plate and allow to rest for about 7-8 minutes. Transfer them to a chopping block and carve out rectangle shapes.
Place a layer of the rice crumble in the centre of the plate. Layer out the chicken pieces, haricots vert and porcini fragments. I have added parsley leaves. Using the squeezy bottle, plate out the emulsion and spoon out a tbsp of the truffle vinaigrette.
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I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard Elvis, the undisputed King of Rock and Roll had died. I will never forget I was in the operating theatre coffee room that Tuesday morning on the 11th September 2001 watching the TV agog at the live feed of the twin towers crashing to the ground. My first experience with wagyu beef was in a Rayokan hotel in Yudanaka where little cubes of pure heaven were cooked on hot stones. They simply melted in the mouth thereby marking one of those precious rare moments where a brief silent pause is followed by an expression of disbelief which is shortly followed by the refrain of “wow!”. Wagyu meaning “Japanese cow” is, for good reason, a highly sought after beef which is known for its immense quality and perfect marbling. It derives from the Wagyu breed of cow. The particular strain of beef I had at the hotel was Kobe beef from the Tajima strain of wagyu cattle. when I pleaded with the perfectly attentive waitress as to how beef of such quality could be reared, she smiled in a good-naturedly way and said that the farmer fed his cows on apples. i guess the mystery will remain a mystery.
My trip to Selfridges in London would inevitably lead to me gravitating towards the food hall. An array of beautifully displayed food instantly feasts the eye. The butchery counter displayed a stunning collection of wagyu beef cuts. I took a hunk of sirloin. The butcher kindly cut a marrowbone and a pigs trotter for me using their efficient saws. At the nearby green grocery section, I bought some stout looking king oyster mushrooms.
This recipe combines the excellent texture and quality of the wagyu beef with the intensity of the sweet sticky beef sauce reduction and served with a meaty mushroom. It’s a carnivore’s dream. The reduction is highly flavoursome and simply delicious and becomes sticky as a result of the high gelatine component of the trotter. I assure you you will not be disappointed with this reduction. I like to think of the effect rather reminiscent of an autumnal woodland floor. This recipe serves 4 people. Serve this with a good quality Burgundy, Brunello di Montalcino, Amarello or, if you can get hold of it, a Sassicaia.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped marrowbone
1 chopped pig trotter
1/2 cup (120 mls) water
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 turnip, peeled and chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
1 punnet of white mushrooms
10 black peppercorns
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup (120 mls) Madeira wine
1 cup ( 250 mls) Red wine (full bodied such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
8 cups (1 L) beef stock
In a large pan or stock pot, heat the olive oil and brown the marrowbone and pig trotter pieces. Transfer them to a warm plate. Deglaze the pan with water. When the pan begins to sizzle, add the chopped vegetables, stirring until caramelised. Deglaze for a second time with the Madeira. Deglaze for a third time with the red wine and then let the pan simmer until the liquid has reduced by a third. Add the peppercorns and thyme then add the beef stock. Ensure the bone/trotter pieces are covered adding more stock or water to top up if necessary. Seal with a lid and cook gently for 4 hours. Periodically check the stock pot adding more water as necessary. Once complete, drain the stock into a non-stick pot and reduce the liquid until it becomes a sticky sauce. Be careful not to overcook the sauce thereby destroying the fruits of your patient reduction. You will not be happy to see a burnt cinder at the base of the pan.
3 knobs unsalted butter
8 shallot hearts
2 king oyster mushrooms, halved in the vertical plane
3 king oyster mushrooms, diced
2 turnips, peeled and diced
Rocket and watercress leaves
Sauté shallot hearts, diced mushrooms, 4 mushroom halves and turnips in the butter until they are nicely browned. Arrange the leaves and sautéed vegetable medley in the centre of the plate.
3 tbsp vegetable oil
18 oz (1/2 Kg) wagyu sirloin, trimmed and cut into thick rectangular slices then seasoned with sea salt and black pepper
Place the oil into a skillet and sauté the beef slices under high heat for about 2 minutes each side ensuring a good seam of pink inside the cuts. Transfer the slices to a warm plate and let them rest for 10 minutes before plating out.
Layer the beef on the woodland floor as described above. Using a syringe or squeezy bottle, plate out the warm, sticky beef sauce around the perimeter of the dish. Carefully level the halved king oyster mushrooms so they can stand on their stems. Trim the bases if necessary.
2 parts Greygoose Vodka
1 part passion fruit juice
1 part lemon juice
1 cup (250 mls) crushed ice
prosecco to top up
Place vodka, juices and crushed ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into an open bowl cocktail glass. Top up with prosecco. Garnish with a passion fruit boat
Elements of sweet and sour enhance this fruity cocktail
1 part Bourbon
1/2 part lemon juice
1/2 part Benedictine liqueur
1 tbsp simple syrup
2 fresh strawberries
Blend ingredients in a food processor then shake the liquid with crushed ice in a cocktail shaker. Serve in an open bowl champagne glass with a half-strawberry garnish
This extraordinarily sumptuous dish probably does not owe its name to the great Sir Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington of Napoleonic war fame. Perhaps it was a rare subversive attempt to Anglicise a French dish during that time. However one names it, it is a treat and makes for an indulgent Sunday lunch.
It is essentially a piece of beef fillet wrapped in a pâté consisting variably of mushrooms, ground meat or foie gras. I have used ground Portobello mushrooms with a prosciutto wrap with an outer wrap of puff pastry. If you wish to make a version with smaller slices, then feel free to use Aberdeen Angus fillet. Feel free to use ready made puff pastry. 1 fillet feeds 6 – 8 people. It goes well with sauté potatoes and wilted kale. Serve this dish with a mature claret.
6 tbsp olive oil
14 oz (400 gms) Portobello mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 whole beef fillet, surface-dried and seasoned
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
10 slices prosciutto ham
21 0z (600 gms) puff pastry
Plain flour to dust
2 egg yolks, beaten
Place the mushrooms in a food processor and blend with seasoning until it produces a coarse paste. Warm 2 tbsp the olive oil in a shallow pan and under a moderate heat, sauté the paste until the water content of the mushrooms has evaporated. In the meantime, prepare a rectangular sheet of cling film large enough to wrap around the beef fillet with a small amount of overlap. Lay the sheet out on a work surface then arrange the prosciutto slices in overlapping palisades so as to cover the cling film. Spoon out the seasoned mushroom paste onto the prosciutto slices and, using a spatula or palette knife, spread it evenly.
In a separate heavy pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Sauté the beef fillet on all sides until it is browned all over. This will take about 10 minutes to complete. It is important not to overcook the fillet. Take the fillet out of the pan and place it in the centre of the layered cling film rectangle. Carefully wrap the cling film with its prosciutto and mushroom layers around the fillet and carefully place the overlap it at the base. Place the wrapped fillet on baking sheet and mould it into a neat roll shape. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes to help it keep its shape.
Preheat the oven to 360F/180C/GM6. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry into a 2 mm layer or perhaps the width of a thick coin. Take the beef out of the refrigerator and carefully remove the cling film. Place the wrapped fillet into the centre of the pastry and wrap it neatly. Carefully connect the seam of pastry in a neat line. Cut out excess areas of puff pastry. Shape the Wellington and place it seam down on a baking sheet. Brush the pastry all over with the egg yolk. Using a knife make regular scores in the pastry but do not penetrate the width of the pastry. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 320F/160C/GM3 and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Remove the Wellington and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.