Monday, 10 December 2012

Duck, Mint and Pomegranate Salad

Recently I had a delicious salad at the restaurant Eight over Eight which combined duck with mint, crunchy Asian leaves and watermelon all bound together with a light Asian dressing.  With this as my inspiration I made a similar salad at home this weekend, instead opting for pomegranate seeds, which gave the salad a lovely sweet-sour bite. It also looks suitably Christmassy!

This is barely a recipe:

Serves 2:
In a bowl combine; shredded duck meat (I used 1 confit duck leg but a thinly sliced seared duck breast would also work), the leaves from several stalks of mint, half a chopped cucumber, 3-4 sliced spring onions, rocket and the seeds and juice from ½ a pomegranate. Make a dressing with the juice of 1 lime, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 chopped clove of garlic, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce, 1 tsp fish sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar. Toss into the dry ingredients and serve. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

London, A Supper Club and Roast Chicken with a Gratin of Aubergine, Courgette & Parmesan

I now live in London, work as a chef, and live in a cosy house with a gorgeous kitchen which…I never use! Apart from a bumbling foray into miniature fluffy lemon puddings for our first house dinner party (bumbling because the absence of scales required guess-timation and miniature because the absence of a baking dish meant using a muffin tin – as luck would have it the mix turned into divine little cakes which we served with a healthy dollop of mascarpone). As I am now working as a chef at a catering company, my days are filled with tasting, tasting and more tasting, so that when I get home all I feel like it something very fresh and cleansing like rocket with maybe some smoked mackerel, avocado and a my trusty agave/mustard dressing.

Last night I helped host a trial supper club with Christiana, a friend from Ballymaloe…it’s called the Whisk and Spoon and was an utter success and so much fun. Sticking to seasonal, warming food we served little glass bowls of pear and parsnip soup with wild mushroom crostini, boeuf bourguignon on creamy mash and a salted caramel tart tatin with homemade vanilla ice-cream. This time we did it for friends but watch this space for future dates…

However, today was the first time I felt enthusiastic about cooking something just for me. As it’s Sunday I felt roasted meat was needed i.e. two chicken thighs cooked on the bone with a sprinkling of Maldon to crisp up the skins. I also made a gratin by cooking aubergines until soft with red onion, garlic and plum tomatoes, stirring in parmesan and topping with ribbons of courgette and more parmesan. The gratin goes wonderfully gooey and crispy from the cheese - delicious with the tender but plain meat. I could never get away with serving this at home (too many aubergine-haters and roast potato fans) which is why cooking for oneself is never a bad thing!

Friday, 12 October 2012

An old-school supper for an old-school man (sorry dad): Lobster Cocktail Salad with Milk-Loaf Rolls and Coffee & Walnut Battenburg

Between working as a private cook, numerous trips to London to find a home for my move next week, being bedridden with flu and blogger being very stubborn about uploading my photos its been far too long since I last blogged. But boy have I been cooking my cotton socks off during all this!

Now, firmly ensconced in bed, with a blissful empty day ahead and my London move all sorted (I actually have a roof to live under, hooray!) I can get back to blogging.

Other than the lovely little family (plus poodles) I have been cooking for daily, I was given the day off to cook a feast for my own dad’s birthday. As he had eaten lunch at the fabulous Cambio de Tercia, it was all slightly in vain, but there is never an excuse for eating extravagantly in my books and this meant LOBSTER. I drove down to the Portsmouth fish market: a warehouse with the sea lapping at its heels and tables laden with the freshest flesh the sea could offer. Resisting the urge to buy up some crabs as well, I spied my price and bought three medium lobsters from one very gruff fisherman.

So what did I do with them? I love to actually taste the sweet flesh of lobster so opted to make a large deconstructed (hate that word but it really was!) cocktail with crisp lettuce, tomatoes, chopped avo, new potatoes and the obligatory Marie Rose sauce, all sprinkled with chives. To go with this I made some buttery milk-loaf rolls which you had the option of filling to make a lobster roll.  We had the birthday cake for pudding: a coffee and walnut battenburg as it combines my dad’s two favourite cakes. Needless to say, being a diehard marzipan fan, the birthday boy was happy. 

Coffee & Walnut Battenburg recipe taken from The Great British Bakeoff Cookbook

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Birthday Supper for Thirteen in Chichester

On Saturday evening I was employed to cook up a feast for birthday boy Duncan. He’d had the brainwave to hire the colossal and gorgeous East Pallant House, a Georgian townhouse in the center of Chichester, and fill it with his friends, then hire a chef (moi) and pianist to make the evening extra special. 

Together we devised a three canapés and three courses which would appeal to all his friends (chicken being the common denominator for the main course).

With my little brother Toby as head waiter, we got through the evening to rave reviews and I became the ‘amazing scotch egg girl’ for the thai-style canapĂ© of prawn scotch eggs (see recipe below)! Hats off to Tobes for doing some excellent serving in the midst of some rather excitable guests!

This is what I cooked:

Proscuitto & Melon bites, Pea, Mint & Parmesan Bruschetta and Sesame Prawn Scotch Eggs with Sweet Chilli Dip
Smoked Salmon Rosette, Sweet Cucumber Salad

Pan-Roasted Chicken, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Braised Lentils, Basil Oil & Aioli

(v) Asparagus & Gruyere Tart, Slow-Roasted Tomatoes & Braised Lentils
A choice of Almond Tart with Strawberries or Chocolate & Caramel Tart

Sesame Prawn Scotch Eggs

I made these first for a Christmas drinks party and everybody loved them. I saw the recipe in Waitrose Kitchen and it's by Ravinder Bhogal who I had never heard of (and still haven’t – must look her up). While the basic prawn paste takes seconds, the peeling of the eggs is a bugger and even though their assembly consistently makes me question why I bother  - the result is so good that I forget the pain!

Makes 12 (or 24 halves/48 quarters, but allow for casualties)
  • Gently lower 12 Quail’s Eggs into boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl of cold water and peel. Toast 5 tbsp Sesame Seeds and cool.
  • In a food processor blitz: 500g Raw King Prawns, ½ tsp Chilli Flakes, 2 crushed Garlic Cloves, 1½ tsp grated Fresh Root Ginger, 1 tsp Caster Sugar, 1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil, 1 tsp Soy Sauce and 1 Egg White. To this add 4 Salad Onions, finely chopped.
  • Get 3 Shallow Bowls. In one combine the Sesame Seeds and 125g Breadcrumbs. In another 2 whole, beaten Eggs. In the last 3 tbsp Flour.
  • Divide the prawn mixture into 12 even balls (wet hands keep it from sticking too much). Flatten each ball, place an egg on top and gently mould the prawn around the egg. Dip each into the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Chill for 30 minutes.
  • In a large pan heat 1.5 litres Vegetable Oil until a cube of bread turns golden in 40 seconds. Fry the scotch eggs in batched for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Drain and sprinkle with a little salt.
  • Serve with some Sweet Chilli Sauce.

n.b. They are best served immediately but I made them in advance and then reheated at 200C for five minutes, which worked out fine.