Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Cooking with Skye on a wet Saturday afternoon. Monkfish curry with coconut, lime and curry leaves.

We love the Petersham Café. Aside from being a unique space and the rather compelling fact that its a mere ten minute drive away, we have also had some pretty good meals there.
We particularly liked it during Skye Gyngell's time there.her approach to cooking is, like Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey, one of simplicity and good ingredients. Her books are also really good. This recipe is from my favourite ingredients’ I made it on a very wet Saturday afternoon for Lisa and I to have for dinner.
I couldn't get any monkfish so used a combination of cod and halibut, which seemed to work perfectly ok. This would be a great recipe to make for a crowd because you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and just finish it off at the last minute.
I think you could also dial up the heat to suit your particular taste. I kept it fairly mild to suit Lisa. so chose two small birds eye chillies and deseeded one of them.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
large bunch of coriander, stems chopped and leaves reserved
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a pinch of salt
2 red chillies, chopped (seeds kept)
10 fresh curry leaves
2 kaffir lime leaves
juice of 2 limes
2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp palm sugar
2 x 340g tinned plum tomatoes
800g monkfish fillet
400ml tin coconut milk
In a heavy based saucepan, over a medium-low heat, add the butter and once this melts, add the onions. Cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes.
In a separate small frying pan, toast the mustard, fennel and coriander seeds over a medium head till they release a slight aroma. Check to make sure that you do not over roast otherwise this will give the curry a bitter taste. Remove from heat, and while still warm, grind to a rough powder in a mortar and pestle.
Add the spices to the cooked, sweet onions along with the chopped coriander root and stems, garlic, chillies and curry leaves. Tear the kaffir lime leaves into rough pieces and add to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar, stir once or twice and turn up the heat a little. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste for flavouring: the curry base should be warm, slightly sweet but also sour. Add more lime or fish sauce to adjust to taste.

To finish, add the coconut milk and then add the monkfish. Bring to the boil, cook for 3-4 minutes until the fish is just cooked (if it feels firm to the touch it is done). Scatter the coriander leaves and serve in bowls with rice or flat breads.

Monday, August 8, 2016

ottolenghi grilled sweetcorn slaw

I made this yesterday.
It sounds a bit of a faff but it is very easy and tastes pretty damn fine.
It also keeps really well in the fridge.
I like the combination of the grilled and slightly blackened corn with the herbs and cabbage which are definitely improved by the 'brining' process.


100ml white-wine vinegar
200ml water
¼ white cabbage, shredded (300g net)
3 carrots, julienned (175g net)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced (140g net)
4 corn cobs, lightly brushed with olive oil (600g gross)
2 red chillies, finely chopped
20g picked coriander leaves
20g picked mint leaves
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper

50g mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1½ tsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

Serves six.

Place the vinegar and water in a small saucepan along with 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat. Place the cabbage and carrot in a bowl, pour over two-thirds of the salty liquid and set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Pour the remaining liquid over the onion and, again, set aside for 20 minutes. Rinse the vegetables and onion well, pat dry, place together in a large bowl and set aside.

Place a ridged chargrill pan on a high heat and, when it starts to smoke, lay the corn over it. Chargrill for 10-12 minutes, turning so that all sides get some colour (this will create quite a lot of smoke). Remove from the heat and, when cool enough to handle, use a large knife to shave off the corn in clumps and add to the salad bowl.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and stir gently. Add the chilli, coriander and mint, along with a grind of black pepper, give everything another gentle stir and serve.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Creemee stands, Flatbread farms, Craft beer and bears in the bunker

..... its all part of summer in Vermont.
We have just returned from an excellent 10 day break in the great Green Mountain State where the weather was kind to us, if of course you ignore the travel mayhem wreaked by storms on the multiple journeys to and from New York that were undertaken (or not) by various members of our extended Vermont family.
On the food front it was sad to see that a few of our regular haunts were closed (RIP The Common Man) but it was good to see the arrival of the excellent rebooted canteen Creemee in Waitsfield that served a very funky and totally of the moment Salty and Sweet menu that could have come out of Shoreditch. I can vouch in particular for the excellence of the chicken fingers with both Korean BBQ and Sriracha butter sauce.
The great American Flatbread at Lareau Farm is thankfully still going strong. Sitting outside with the fires burning on a summer evening is one of the great pleasures of life, doing so with friends and family just makes it all the better. We love the classics (new Vermont sausage, Pepperoni and peppers) but we always look forward to the specials featuring great combinations of local produce. 

The Prohibition Pig in Waterbury is also still going strong serving great food and interesting beer. Beer is BIG up here and this year I discovered the craft beer cellar shop in Waterbury ... what an amazing selection of beer! and a beautiful shop too.
Whilst in Waterbury the estimable Pricey sniffed out the excellent Henders bake shop we shared an delicious Salami and arugula baguette which was pretty damn fine but all of it looks good.
and of course we ate in (and at Lake Champlain) and sampled much of the valley's fine produce including the incredibly muscular Misty Knoll chickens, some damn fine lamb Ottolenghi style and Natasha's Grilled pork chops with grilled plum and bacon sauce.
Thank you Vermont we love you.
.... oh and those bears ... we played golf early one morning and on the way to the club we saw a bear cub cross the road .... at the 4th hole joe was in the bunker which was filled with baby bear tracks ... then he saw the mummy bear tracks ... OMG .. suffice to say we didnt look for any balls that went off the fairway and into the woods!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Am I addicted to buying cookery books?

The obvious answer to this question is of course a resounding yes, yes, yes..

I think I have already 'come out' on this before. I suspect its a bit of a bloke thing. I am constantly looking for new inspiration, for another River Cafe, another Jamie. Predictably the course of cookery book love never runs true but I continue to pursue my quest like some star crossed lover.

I have recently added two to my overflowing collection, 'Grill, Smoke, BBQ' by Ben Tish of the Salt Yard group and April Bloomfield's ' A girl and her greens'. I have already waxed lyrical about Bloomfield, the English Chef/owner of many New York restaurants (I particularly recommend The Spotted Pig) but Tish is a newcomer to my collection even though I have been to some of the restaurants and seen him on TV. I particularly like the layout of his book and I am also drawn to the fact that he uses a Big Green Egg a fair amount. There's quite a bit of smoking stuff in there that I might not bother with but I like the cut of his giblets.

I have high hopes of both books, having done a couple of recipes at the weekend. The recipes weren't really much of a test of the books originality as they were really simple spins on traditional italian style vegetable accompaniments but I like the way both of them read and look but most importantly I like the recipes and the range of dishes in both. Look out for more once I have given them a good road test.

Its summer .... in a pan

Ah! the British Summer! Lazing in the garden till 8.00 at night reading the paper on Monday, fighting the cold and rain for the Tuesday commute. I suppose we should be grateful that we reversed the usual order of things and the bank holiday was nice and the return to work was grim.

I made this recipe from Lucy Boyd on the Friday evening when the holiday weekend was ahead and the weather was lovely. It appealed to me because everything could be seasonal and everything could be British. Sadly Waitrose couldn't supply me the fresh peas but I made do with Duchy organic frozen ones.
This is a really nice one pot vegetable dish. We had it with some Sea Bream fillets that I just brushed with olive oil and seasoned and then cooked quickly in a high temp oven (220c) for 10 - 12 mins.

One tip on the vegetable recipe. Don't be tempted to change the quantities. I normally never do this when I am doing a new recipe but I used more potatoes and less asparagus ... mistake! not fatal but I think it would have been nicer if I hadn't. I also think that if you have a non stick pan with a lid that would be the best cooking receptacle. I used one of my other pans and the potatoes stuck a bit.
However the taste is very summery and light and would be a great foil to chicken as well. 

Now for the recipe

Asparagus and Peas braised with Yellow Waxy Potatoes, Basil and Mint
500g peas in the pod, or 275g frozen peas
1 bundle of fresh green asparagus, about 350g, tough ends snapped off, washed
Olive oil
250g yellow waxy potatoes peeled and cut into small pieces, about 1cm in size
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 small dried bird’s eye chilli, crushed (optional)
a few leaves of fresh garden mint, washed, dried and chopped
a few basil leaves, roughly torn
sea salt and black pepper
Pod the peas and put in a bowl. Slice the asparagus at a sharp angle, 1cm thick. Heat a good glug of olive oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat and add the potatoes. When they start to soften about 8-10 minute, add the garlic, dried chilli asparagus and peas (if using frozen peas add them in the last 5 minutes of cooking). Season with a little salt and pepper and stir, tossing the ingredients together in the oil for a few minutes, then add about 100ml of boiling water or just enough to come about 1cm up the pan. Put a lid on and simmer for 6-8 minutes or until everything is tender, then remove the lid and cook until the liquid has evaporated. Check the seasoning and add the herbs just before serving.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Masseria Garrappa

One of our trips out for dinner whilst in Puglia was to the very lovely Masseria Garrappa. The owner could not have been nicer and the whole ambience and style of the place was absolutely delightful. If you're near Fasano I recommend a trip.
We had very nice food and delicious wines. It was such a lovely change for somebody to say to me 'This is a lovely red wine but I hope you don't mind it is €30' (£23.60 to be precise!) 

Puglian supermarket fare

we have just come back from a short holiday near Fasano in Puglia. We went with our dear friends Joel and Nushi and had a wonderful time.
We ate out well but one of the great joys of the trip was the quality of the produce in the supermarket ... in particular on the fish counter which was quite simply spectacular.
The picture above was a particularly nice dinner of Orata (bream) mazzancolle (Shrimps) zucchini (courgettes) and patate (obvious). We roasted the potatoes and zucchini in the oven with some garlic, olive oil and dried oregano we found at the villa and then we barbecued the fish and dressed it with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. We sat outside under the vine covered pergola and washed it down with some local wines -  a Primitivo (or two!) and a fiano .... bloody delicious!