Saturday, 22 January 2011

So 2011 Is Here Then

So here we go again time for some more of my thoughts and ramblings about food. I have been on holiday this week which is lovely a chance to catch up with some zzzs and relax to get the creative juices flowing again. So during my week off I have spent  a vast amount of time online reading other chefs blogs and catching up with all that’s been going on with the staff canteen most of which has focused on Simon Holstone Boucse D’or  competition entry in Lyon.

 It’s been really refreshing to see the amount of support being giving to Simon and the team as he is getting no funding from the government but lots of support from chefs and catering industry. He has even got the support of a certain Albert Roux, so we have one of this countries god father of cooking and a Frenchman at that supporting our entry to the Boucse D’or.

I know it’s a bit late in the day but here is the interview of Albert & Marco showing their support for Simon and the British Boucse d’or team.

I managed to get to London on one of my days off and went to eat at the brilliant arbutus. The food was outstanding (again), as I have said before I personally think that Arbutus has the best lunch deal anywhere in London if not the country.

 So for £16.95 you get 3 courses, a choice of 2 starters -2mains and 2 desserts. On the day I went the 2 starters where

Rabbit & smoked eel terrine or winter vegetable soup
Slow cooked beef, mashed root vegetables & or warm salt cod brandade, parsley salad
Custard tart or comte

So the descriptions above don’t do the food justice at all. I had the rabbit terrine to start which had a rich and luxurious feel in the mouth but was full flavoured and beautifully presented. I was not alone in my lunch at Arbutus I had my friend “ginge” with me so I will throw the pictures of his lunch up as well, he also had the rabbit terrine so here is that beautiful dish in all its glory

For Ginge’s main he had the brandade of cod which was presented in a wonderfully copper sauté pan with some ciabatta crisps & parsley salad. The slight smokiness of the brandade and the wonderful aroma where something to behold, this dish was expertly put together and with a restaurant full of guests having fun I could see why this dish works well at lunch. You can smell it from 3 or 4 tables away and it makes your mouth water, the parsley salad worked well by countering the richness of the brandade with the freshness that you get from parsley and bitter note from radicchio.

I enjoyed a fine plate of slow cooked beef, mashed root vegetables, the beef was cooked so well that the slightest pressure with a spoon and lovely hot tender chunks of beef where mine to feast upon. The mashed root vegetables where perfectly seasoned and very nice with a couple of different textures and a few different flavours, also the cabbage served with the dish cut thought the richness to balance the dish perfectly, I could eat this everyday and I’m sure it would never get boring.

Again we both chose the same for the next course, the custard tart which came with a good covering of nutmeg and a very light wobbly custard filling more along the lines of a classic brulee just not as rich than the traditional English custard tart that is heavier and abit more stodgy. The tart was so good Ginge and I would have both quite happily eaten another slice.

To go with our lunch Ginge picked a bottle of montepulciano, villamedoro, abruzzo. This is a wine I had never tried before and it really went well with the beef and was not too much for the custard tart either. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a type of red wine made from the Montepulciano wine grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy. Up to 10% Sangiovese is permitted to be added to the blend. It is typically a dry wine with soft tannins, and as such is often consumed young.
So it’s that time again for a recipe and as it is that time of year when people are trying to be healthy and lose those winter pounds I thought I would put a salad up but not some boring old salad something vibrant and interesting, please let me know what you think.

Thai style salad

Serves 4

Salad mix

100g bean sprouts
1 head frisse/curly endive
1 baby gem
100g red cabbage
1 green chilli
50g unsalted peanuts
2 shallots
1 orange
2 carrots
2 tbs sesame seeds

Put bean sprouts, shredded frisse, ripped baby gem & finely sliced red cabbage in a bowl. Finely chop the green chilli & shallots add to the lettuce mix. Peel and segment the oranges put in bowl finally add the sesame seeds and crushed peanuts (to crush the peanuts, pierce the bag and bash with a rolling pin), finally mix in dressing and serve straight away

Great on its own or with a piece of steamed fish/char grilled chicken on top


1 lime juiced
1tsp fish sauce
½ tsp grated ginger
1 chilli finally diced
1tbs rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar also works)
1/2 tsp sugar
1tsp sesame oil
4tbs good olive oil or English rapeseed oil

Put lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar, chilli, garlic & sugar in a pan, heat till sugar dissolves then add oil use straight away or flavours will be lost

But remember live to eat don’t eat to live

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Silly Season Thank God Its Over

Hello everyone, sorry it’s been a while but it has been a really hectic couple of weeks with Christmas parties and losing a close friend, so i am going to take this opportunity to say “Mr Ford You will never be forgotten  and you will be missed mate hope your enjoying it up there”.

Right on with the food, the past 4 weeks has been turkey, turkey, turkey so as you can imagine I am about as bored of cooking this bird as one can possible be! We have also been serving a smoked chicken mousse on sun dried tomato bread, roasted red pepper salsa which has gone down a storm. As you might guess this is being written in 2011, so happy new year everybody and to all those chefs out there no more turkey for another 11 months unless like me you have rebooked parties because when it snows the uk comes to a grinding halt (rant over).

 This is one of the most enjoyable times of the year for me as you have so much to look forward to, a few more months of cold and then into spring which I’m sure is most chefs favourite month with so much good food coming into season. But hay ho we are still in winter so the new menu I’m writing as we speak shall hold on to warming grub that keeps you satisfied regardless of how cold we think it is, to this extent I’ve been working on a braised shin of beef dish . The bits we have been trying are the cooking liquid (beer/stout instead of wine base), marinating before we cook & what herbs/spice we put in the braising stock, it’s been fun working on these ideas and seeing what happen and what I prefer.

 Another dish I have tried tweaking is Confit duck legs which another chef at esenses was good enough to share his way of doing it with me and we have tried to work along those lines with the equipment/time we have and it’s come out well so I am really pleased.

Writing this menu has been really interesting after doing some food over the Christmas period that I had not done in a while and realised how good it all is, I have the upmost respect for chefs like Heston Blumenthal , Sat Bains & Claude Bosi but I was not trained that way and need to stay true to my roots. So maybe this year is more about getting my style where I want it and not being so worried about what others are doing. That said Claude Bosi Hibiscus restaurant is the 1st on my list of where to eat this year closely followed by Simon Rogans L'enclume.

I want to take this chance to offer all those who will be sweating away at the stove and in the kithen during 2011 a happy and successful year.

Here is a recipe to try in the cold months:

Hot chocolate fondant

300g 70% dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
25ml Bacardi
200g egg whites
120g egg yolk
40g sugar
50g flour

Put the chocolate, butter and Bacardi in a bowl and melt over simmering water, until the chocolate is smooth and silky.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the ribbon stage is achieved.
Whisk the egg white to stiff peak.
Gently fold in the egg yolk mix into the chocolate stirring gently.
Then fold in the flour slowly in a figure of 8 movements until all is incorporated.
Now gently fold the chocolate mix into the egg white.
Place mix in piping bags and rest for at least 30 mins
Pipe into dariole moulds and bake at 180oc for 8 mins.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh pouring cream