Chicken, Wild Mushrooms and Amontillado Sherry

It’s a good time for wild mushrooms. The Mushroom Table at the Marylebone Farmers Market has a good selection right now. Beefsteak is good, but personally I find Chicken of the Woods to be woody and unpleasant. Hen of the Woods – on the left of that picture – is, however, one of the best. I bought some of that, with some parasols.

These were used in a simple dish of chicken made spectacular with a big glug of amontillado sherry – you could also try this with marsala or madeira, or with a dry sherry like fino or amontillado.

For four people you need two chicken thighs each, about 150-200g of mushrooms, two large shallots, about 200ml of amontillado (or alternative) and a little parsley.

The mushrooms were cleaned and roughly torn. The shallots were sautéed and then the mushrooms added to the pan. Pop the lid on for the first minute or two, then add about a quarter of the sherry and put the lid on again for another couple of minutes. Then remove the pan and cook for a few minutes more. Spoon everything out of the pan onto a plate, including all the good cooking liquor. Add a little oil to the pan and fry the chicken over a medium heat until it is brown. If the chicken has rendered more than a tablespoon or so of fat, spoon out any excess before proceeding. Add in the mushrooms, shallot and its juices, and then the rest of the sherry. Cover and cook over a low heat for 15-20 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked through). You can do all of this, and leave it to rest – the flavours will develop beautifully. 

When you’re ready, warm it up thoroughly, add a little parsley and serve, with some good bread on the side to mop up the juices.

Mushroom and Shrimp Japanese-style Rice Pot

To accompany the scallops with yuzu and soy, I made a rice pot with shiitake mushrooms and small brown shrimp. Using dashi – Japanese stock – gives it a satisfying taste without a strong flavour, letting the mushrooms and shrimp subtly infuse the dish.

For two people: 6-8 shiitake mushrooms, half a cup of peeled brown shrimp, one cup of rice, some mirin and soy sauce, dashi stock (see how to make it here or get a good dashi powder from an Asian supermarket) and sesame seeds to finish.

The shiitake mushrooms were sliced and cooked with a glug of mirin and a dash of soy sauce. You can include the shiitake stalks at this stage to get the flavour out of them, but when the mushrooms are soft, discard the stalks as they’re too tough to eat. Add in the shrimp and leave to stand. 

Wash the rice, letting it sit in a bowl of cold water which you then discard and refill, until the liquid is clear and no more starch comes out of the rice. Leave the rice to soak for 10 minutes in the final change of water. 

Add the rice to the pan with the mushrooms and shrimp and add one and a half cups of dashi. Add a lid, bring to the boil, turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. Leave covered for five minutes, then serve with some white sesame seeds scattered on top.

The magic of butter and soy – and yuzu

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Some simple grilled scallops with a heavenly sauce of butter, soy and yuzu.

Butter and soy are paired by many chefs (see this New York Times article on The Sublime Combination of Butter and Soy). Soy and yuzu pair brilliantly as the essence of ponzu, one of my favourite kitchen ingredients. So soy and butter is good, and soy and yuzu is good – would that mean that soy and butter and yuzu all together would work?

It actually worked really well. I melted two tablespoons of butter and skimmed off the foam to leave the clarified butter, and whisked in a dessertspoon of soy, and a teaspoon or so of yuzu. If you whisk it briskly you can get it to amalgamate, but it will separate if you leave it, so get your scallops ready and then give the sauce a final whisk before you pour it over.

So simple and so good.

Chickpeas, Tomato and Chorizo

A few weeks travelling, enjoying September sunshine in New York and here in London, and then suddenly this past few days as I get back into the kitchen, the first suggestion of Autumn arrives with a day of drizzle. The perfect day to make a dish like this.

For two people: 250-300g of dried chickpeas, vegetable stock, a carrot, a couple of onions, a cup of tomato passata, garlic and one large cooking chorizo.

You can skip this part and use tinned chickpeas, but it’s really easy and cheap to cook from dried, and if you find a good source of the small nutty ones, the dish will have a much better texture and flavour. Soak them overnight in cold water, and then cook in some vegetable stock with a carrot, an onion and a bay leaf or two. They should take anywhere between 40 minutes and an hour at a gentle simmer. Allow to cool in the stock until you’re ready.

Chop and sauté the other onion over a gentle heat until really soft. Add in the sliced sausage and stir until cooked. Add the passata and garlic and a minute later the chickpeas. Let it bubble for five minutes, then put a lid on and let it sit for five minutes to let the flavours develop. 

Serve with parsley with lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over.

Plum and Custard Tart

What finer thing to do with a glut of plums than serve them in a fabulous tart like this?

A bed of sweet shortcrust pastry was filled with a creme patissiere (egg yolks, cream, sugar, vanilla) to provide a base for plums which were stoned, and roasted until sweet.

The trick to this is for the pastry to be baked blind until it is completely done, and left to cool. The creme patissiere and plums should also be cooked and cooled before the tart is assembled. 

Lamb Shoulder Cooked Two Ways

A weekend lunch for 10 people was a chance to cook the kind of feast I don’t get to cook often enough. I got two shoulders of lamb, then realised I couldn’t fit them both on the grill, so cooked one on the grill, and one slow roasted. The house we were staying in had apricots and mulberries, which added a lovely late summer feel to each dish.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder

This is a glorious recipe which takes a few hours to cook, but not much of your time. Trim the fat off a shoulder of lamb – either with or without the bone in and allow the joint to come to room temperature. Take half a pack of butter and cream it with a teaspoon of smoked paprika, ground caraway, ground toasted cumin, black pepper and smoked salt, Rub this all over the lamb. Massage it into the lamb and throw in a handful of mulberries and apricots. If you don’t have a mulberry bush, don’t worry. They do add a lovely juicy piquancy to the dish, but it’s still great without them. Start it in a hot oven (210°C) for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 160°C and cook for three hours. Every 20 minutes or so, baste the joint with the pan juices and butter. At this point, cover it with foil if it’s already well coloured, and give it a final half hour or so, until the meat is falling off the bone.

Grilled Lamb Shoulder

Bone out the lamb shoulder (or ask your butcher to do it) and butterfly the shoulder until the lamb is a fairly even thickness. Marinade it in three cloves of crushed garlic and the juice of two lemons for an hour or so while you light your barbecue.

When it’s ready to cook, start the lamb with the skin side down. Leave it like that for about 15 minutes. Around the outside add some halved onions drizzled on the cut surface with a little oil. When these are cooked, the underside will be really blackened like this:

Take them off the barbecue when they’re cooked through, let them cool a moment, and then remove and discard the blackened skin leaving you with the soft and smoky inner bit of the onion.

Turn the lamb and cook for another 10 minutes or so. If you have apricots, cook a few around the lamb while it finished off. Check the lamb and turn it a few more times until it is as cooked as you want it. If the skin has blackened too much, as in the photo at the top, remove it when you carve the joint.

Carve and arrange both joints and serve everything on a big platter with the onions and grilled apricots. Spoon over the cooking juices from the slow cooked lamb, into which the fruits will have melted. 

We served this with saffron rice pilaff and garlicky swiss chard – it was a fitting celebration for a holiday weekend with friends.

Smoky Aubergine / Eggplant with Roasted Peppers

This is a dish inspired by baba ghanoush, that great dish of smoky aubergine (eggplant) with garlic, tahini and lemon juice.

This version omits the tahini, but adds grilled yellow peppers, parsley and aleppo pepper. 

You’ll need: one large aubergine per person, half an onion per person, and (depending on the size) 2-3 peppers per person, along with garlic, olive oil, the juice of a lemon, parsley and some aleppo pepper (you could use red chilli flakes, or alternatively sumac).

Aubergines and peppers are grilled until they are blackened all over, and then left in a covered bowl to cool. Skin the peppers, remove the core and the seeds, and slice into thin strips and set aside. When the aubergines are cool, slice open and scoop out the soft centre, leaving the blackened skin behind. 

Sauté a large onion in olive oil until soft, add a crushed clove or garlic or two and cook for a minute more. Add the aubergine, and cook for just a few more moments, stirring to combine well. 

Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, and dress on top with the strips of pepper, a handful of parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Finish with the pepper (or sumac).

Serve with a salad and bread, or as part of a mezzo of dishes, or to accompany grilled meat. It won’t last long.

Easy Courgette / Zucchini Fritters (Dairy Free and Wheat Free)

This is a great technique to use on courgette / zucchini – and it’s really easy.

You want to allow one medium sized courgette per fritter. Grate the courgettes into a bowl, and then add gram (chickpea) flour a spoonful at a time until you have a sticky, but not wet mixture. I added a spice blend of sesame and caraway seeds, but a little parsley, or garlic, or chilli would also work well. Season with salt and pepper. 

Take handfuls of the mixture and shape into fritters no thicker than your finger. Dust your hands with a little more flour if you need to.

Heat 1cm of oil in a nonstick pan and fry them on a medium heat. You want it to be hot enough that a tiny bit of mixture bubbles when you drop it in, but doesn’t sizzle too aggressively. If the oil is too hot they’ll be black on the outside and uncooked inside.

When one side is cooked, flip over, until both sides are as dark as the picture, but take care you don’t let them burn.

We topped them with a quick onion pickle: finely slice onions, blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, refresh in cold water and soak in white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of salt for ten minutes. We added some chilli relish on the side, a side salad and two each formed a great supper.

For other recipes see my post What to do with a glut of courgettes / zucchinis

The Best Way to Start the Day: Cherry, Coffee and Almond Smoothie

This is outrageously good – it will kickstart your day like nothing else.

Per person: 50g of almonds (hazelnuts also work well), 120g of pitted cherries, coffee. I use cold drip made with my Cold Bruer, but you could use a double espresso and add some ice and a bit of cold water. All this gets blended until smooth.

Do a blind tasting with this and you’ll get an amazing response – “It’s so chocolatey” is the most common, even though it doesn’t have any chocolate in it. 

These have been getting me all the way through to lunchtime the past few weeks. I’ve frozen some pitted cherries and it does work with them, but try it with fresh cherries to get the full effect.

masterchefonfox:

Submitted to MasterChef by frankaboutfood
Mushrooms, ground beef, blue cheese – not the ingredients you want to be handed when the temperature is hitting 90° and all you want is a salad. White rice, iceberg lettuce, peanuts, yellow mustard, dill pickles, potatoes, soy sauce… the list for this MasterChef Mystery Box at Home challenge was daunting.
I thought about naked burgers in an iceberg bun, I considered a potato moussaka, and I toyed with some kind of meat-stuffed rosti.
But in the end I created these: potato croquettes filled with peppered beef and mushrooms, served with a homemade dill pickle and soy peanuts.
Croquettes: mashed potato was left to cool and then moulded into a cup shape and filled with the beef. The filling was made by finely mincing the mushrooms and frying these with the beef, plenty of black pepper and a slug of soy sauce. This was cooked until the liquid had evaporated, so the beef could be spooned inside the croquette, and the potato moulded round it to make a sphere the size of a golf ball. These were then deep fried.
Homemade dill pickle: a cucumber was finely sliced and soaked in white wine vinegar, dill and salt.
Soy peanuts: a handful of peanuts and a dash of soy sauce were heated until the sauce thickens and coats the peanuts.
Thanks Tumblr and MasterChef – they were really moreish!

staff asked me to take part in the masterchefonfox Mystery Box at Home challenge… High-res

masterchefonfox:

Submitted to MasterChef by frankaboutfood

Mushrooms, ground beef, blue cheese – not the ingredients you want to be handed when the temperature is hitting 90° and all you want is a salad. White rice, iceberg lettuce, peanuts, yellow mustard, dill pickles, potatoes, soy sauce… the list for this MasterChef Mystery Box at Home challenge was daunting.

I thought about naked burgers in an iceberg bun, I considered a potato moussaka, and I toyed with some kind of meat-stuffed rosti.

But in the end I created these: potato croquettes filled with peppered beef and mushrooms, served with a homemade dill pickle and soy peanuts.

Croquettes: mashed potato was left to cool and then moulded into a cup shape and filled with the beef. The filling was made by finely mincing the mushrooms and frying these with the beef, plenty of black pepper and a slug of soy sauce. This was cooked until the liquid had evaporated, so the beef could be spooned inside the croquette, and the potato moulded round it to make a sphere the size of a golf ball. These were then deep fried.

Homemade dill pickle: a cucumber was finely sliced and soaked in white wine vinegar, dill and salt.

Soy peanuts: a handful of peanuts and a dash of soy sauce were heated until the sauce thickens and coats the peanuts.

Thanks Tumblr and MasterChef – they were really moreish!

staff asked me to take part in the masterchefonfox Mystery Box at Home challenge…