Suckling Pig

I served Suckling Pig as one of my series of 2016 Christmas Feasts and is available for private hire events for 6+ people – price on request. 

suckling-pig-roast-2“The third time someone calls you a donkey… might wanna think about buying a saddle.”

When the first person told me when they’d had suckling pig, it was so tender that it was literally carved with a dinner plate, I didn’t even understand how that could work.

The second time somebody told me they’d had suckling pig carved by a dinner plate, I thought it sounded like a gimmicky idea dreamed up in a Spanish tourist trap.

The third time, I bought the saddle. Continue reading “Suckling Pig”

Buttermilk Onion Rings

Onion RingsSoaking in buttermilk makes these onion rings meltingly tender, and the polenta gives them a nice crunch.

I’ve also found that replacing the plain flour with gram flour is a pretty cheap and easy way to win you the love and adoration of gluten-free friends and family, without making the onion rings any less delicious.

What you need

  • About 1 large onion per 2 people
  • 300ml buttermilk
  • About 150g of plain flour or gram flour
  • 1 tsp polenta
  • Generous pinch of salt and pepper
  • Cayenne powder to taste (optional)

Continue reading “Buttermilk Onion Rings”

Deconstructed Pesto Canapes

3 horizontal 2A simple recipe I learned at university:

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar shop bought pesto
  • 1 teaspoon (optional)

Method:
Unscrew jar. Insert teaspoon (if using) into jar. Remove and lick clean. Weigh guilt, and repeat as necessary.

—-

Pesto; Parmesan, pine kernels and basil. Call it Genovese pesto to distinguish it from its impersonators. Great on pasta and on toasted ciabatta, but clearly at its best just eaten furtively straight out of the jar.

Of course, jar pesto is not “real” pesto, as everybody knows. Real pesto has to be made with a pestle and mortar. It must only use Parmeggiano Reggiano, and extra virgin olive oil. It must have garlic and never lemon juice. That’s real pesto – you don’t mess with tradition.

Except of course that everyone does. Sometimes its made with parsley. Or coriander, or rocket. With pecorino as well as parmesan. With sundried tomatoes, or walnuts, or mint and pistachios. The notion of the one true, pure pesto is often invoked, but far more often completely ignored.

This deconstructed pesto canape is not traditional, but has a purity of concept. Parmesan, pine kernels, basil. No bread or pasta to interfere with the flavours – just like eating it straight off the spoon.

Close up 2

Continue reading “Deconstructed Pesto Canapes”

Leek and Wild Mushroom Fricassee

Leek and wild mushroom fricassee

Folklore says that stepping inside a fairy ring, a ring of wild mushrooms, leaves one in thrall to the illusions of the the fairies who built it. Now I might not be superstitious, and I certainly don’t think that the fantastic flavour of this dish is just an illusion, but if garnishing my plate with a ring of wild mushrooms might give me a helping hand from the supernatural, I’m not about to pass up the chance.

This is a dish that, appropriately enough, has mushroomed into my life – coming out of nowhere and rapidly expanding in size and scope until I ended up cooking it for thirty two people on Thursday, in two separate gigs. In this great but slightly busy past week that I’ve had, I’ve cooked and tweaked this fricassee at least eight times, so I reckon I’ve got it down.

“Fricassee” isn’t the most familiar of culinary terms, but it’s an elemental preparation in classic French cuisine. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child describes it as midway between a sauté and a stew. A stew starts with liquid from the beginning, a sauté cooks “dry” – with fat or oil only. A fricassee starts off pan frying in the same way as a sauté, but then adds a liquid to continue cooking as a stew does.

As I mentioned in my previous post, leeks are in season right now, and this is probably my favourite way to prepare them. Leeks can be a stringy mass if underdone, or a sulky mush if they’re overcooked, but fricasseeing allows for a lot of control and a wide margin for error.

Because it’s creamy, delicate and saucy (yet substantial), when I’m not just eating it on its own I like to pair leek fricassee with white meats and white wines. It goes exceptionally well with slow roast pork belly, and at my pop-up we served it with a stuffed chicken ballotine. It also makes an exquisite pasta sauce, especially if you add a fried handful of lardons and use the rendered bacon fat to sauté the mushrooms.

Fricassee close up

Leek and Wild Mushroom Fricassee

Serves 3-4 Continue reading “Leek and Wild Mushroom Fricassee”

Baba Ganoush and Roasted Red Peppers

Image

The Genie of the Dish

It had me right from the name. Baba ganoush. There’s something impossibly magical about it. “Baba” conjures to mind Ali Baba – “ganoush” sounds like “whoosh” – its name is like a genie – a mystical and wondrous thing emerging from the smoke. Its taste is too.

It’s the smoky flavour, caused by blackening the skin of the aubergene, that for me is the enchantment of this dish. The alchemy of combining the tastes of grassy aubergine, smoke, nutty tahini and the acid of the lemon juice creates an elixir that in France is called, without exaggeration, “caviar d’aubergene”.

Image

The spiritual connection with caviar has lead me in the past to serve this dish on blinis, with great sucess. And because I already having a barbecue going to blacken the aubergine, I like to roast some peppers as well and serve them with the baba ganoush. Mischiveously, the peppers do a bit of a disappearing act when you char them, so do three times as many as you think you’re going to need. They keep well anyway, in the fridge, under a slick of olive oil.

Serve with flatbread to dip or on blinis. You can also use as a side dish for grilled chicken or lamb. Or, do what I do; keep a big bowl of baba ganoush in the fridge, and dip into it anything that’s less runny than it is. Including fingers.

Baba Ganoush with Roasted Red Peppers

For the Roasted Red Peppers:

Image