Pumpkin Curry

Look out for this dish at the Locavore Harvest Feast on October 7th and 14th, or stop by the Cultivate Veg Van to pick up the ingredients to make it yourself. 

I first had this pumpkin curry at a restaurant in Soho called Kricket. I was hooked the moment I saw these beautiful, charred crescent-moon slices of pumpkin draped with a silky makhani sauce. It really makes the pumpkin the star rather than just the thing that happens to be in the curry. I recommend serving with hot buttered flatbreads while they’re still almost too hot to tear. Continue reading “Pumpkin Curry”

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”

Dry Rub Ribs

Ribs 2“Dry rub” – where a mix of ground dry spices, salt and brown sugar are rubbed into the meat before cooking – is my favourite kind of barbecue. The spice mix I use is based on the regional style of Kansas City, and this recipe may make a little more than you need but you can keep the rest in a jar in a cupboard.

I’ve simplified this recipe from the one I served at the Supper Club after being informed by my friends that it was pure insanity. I still recommend the curing step as it gets flavour deep into the pork and keeps the meat moist during cooking.
Continue reading “Dry Rub Ribs”

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”

Smoky red pepper & sweetcorn soup

Roasted pepper and smoked sweetcorn soup

At my supper clubs, I always offer alternatives for people with dietary requirements, but I don’t want anyone looking across the table and seeing something they wish they could have had. So for any alternative dish on my menu, my rule is that it has to be fundamentally similar to (and as good as) the dish that it’s based on. It’s a rule that can sometimes be trying, but occasionally it pays dividends. This soup is one of those dividends.

I’d just been dazzled by a smoky bacon and sweetcorn veloute at the Oxford Kitchen and I was looking to steal the idea for an upcoming supper club. However, for a vegetarian guest I also needed a meat-free alternative. I remembered the blackened skins of my wood-oven-roasted red peppers and thought, with their smokiness, they might make a passable substitute for the bacon. But I was wrong. They were miles better.

In the end, I didn’t bother serving or even making the bacon version, but this smoky red pepper and sweetcorn soup has appeared on more than one supper club menu, and frequently gets cited as people’s favourite dish of the night. It’s my favourite too, because it reminds me of the incredible opportunity that can exist within the challenge of having to come up with alternatives.

 

Recipe

  • 4 to 6 red peppers
  • 2 heads of corn on the cob
  • Salt, white pepper and lemon juice to taste
  • Smoked paprika and/or cayenne (optional)

Blacken the peppers over a direct heat on a barbecue, directly over a gas flame or under the grill. Keep turning them until the skin blisters and is black and burnt all over.

Take the peppers off and allow to cool. When they cold enough to handle, peel off the burnt skin. Trim the tops off the peppers and scoop out the seedy core.

Toast the sweetcorn well all over. Cut the kernels from the cob and blend kernels and peppers with 1 to 2 cups of water.

Parse through a fine sieve and discard the pulp.

Season with salt, white pepper and lemon juice to taste. Add cayenne if you like it spicier or smoked paprika if you like it smokier. Serve hot as an amuse bouche or a stunning starter, or chilled with a dash of vodka as a souped-up Bloody Mary.

Portuguese Custard Tarts

Secret 2nd Dessert from my August 8th Supper Club

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Read any recipe that involves puff pastry and you’ll likely be reassured to learn that the laborious and Byzantine of making your own puff pastry is entirely unnecessary – a roll you buy from the supermarket is just as good.

Whoever wrote that recipe is a liar. They are a liar who doesn’t want you to enjoy really good puff pastry. They lied to you twice: first when they told you making puff pastry is difficult, and then again when they told you that premade pastry is an acceptable substitute. You can learn how to do it yourself in under six minutes by watching this video and even if you screw it up, it will probably still be the best puff pastry you’ve had in your life. That’s how much better it is when you make it yourself.

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These custard tarts are the opposite of the almond shortcrust tart I blogged about in June, where I blind baked the shortcrust pastry until it was done and then poured in hot custard and put it back in the the oven turned all the way down to slowly bring the custard up to the temperature where it would set without further browning the pastry. For the Portuguese custard tarts, which can’t be blind baked, the challenge is to brown the pastry without overcooking the custard. Start with cold custard (you can even assemble the tarts the night before and put them in the freezer, cooking them straight from frozen.) Turn the oven up hot – 230-250 C (depending on your oven). The pastry, which is in contact with the metal of the tin, will respond faster to the heat, and will brown and puff up within 5-10 minutes. You want the custard to set to a unctuous, gooey consistency, and this will depend on how deep the tarts are filled and how cold they were when you began, but once the pastry is cooked you can turn the oven down and finish them off slowly.

Finally, sprinkle a little brown sugar on top of the tarts and caramelise it with a blowtorch. If you don’t have a blowtorch, try dousing the sugar with a teaspoonful of brandy (or burbon) and lighting it. Brandy certainly isn’t going to make these little beauties any worse.
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