October, 2010

Oct 10

Straight from the horse’s mouth



I make no bones about loving a good cocktail. The art of the mixologist is an important one – pouring a perfect drink takes as much skill and practice as cooking a perfect dinner. Measure, balance, accuracy are all little details that end up with the tasty tipple set down on a napkin in front of you.

The one that follows is a rather posh number – the official cocktail of the Hennessy Gold Cup, the horse race that marks the highlight of the winter social season. Now, if you’ve ever been to the races you’ll probably know that they go hand in hand with the odd drink or two – and this even has had a long association with Hennessy. This classic drink goes back to 1910 – give it a try at home, the perfect pre-Sunday lunch sharpener.

Click here to read the recipe for The Gold Cup Horse’s Neck

Oct 10

A camel collaboration


It appears I spoke too soon. In my previous blog I mentioned never
wanting to repeat any camel ingesting incident again. And then a bit of
banter began on Twitter. And gained momentum. And suddenly an importer
of exotic meats joined in the conversation. Stefan Gates, who’s fab new
book we shall be reviewing soon, is something of a culinary adventurer
and offered his services in the cooking of the beast.

We will be roasting, braising, deep frying and even serving camel meat up
in a Burmese curry courtesy of the fabulous Meemalee. I had
the somewhat bizarre (all things considered) idea of mimicking a Jamie
Oliver recipe where he cooks meat in milk, the milk boiling down to
form a sticky, meaty sauce. I rather think a schnitzel or bread-crumbed
and deep fried number might be the way forward, though – possibly with a sauce
gibriche to cut through what I think might be rather rich meat.

It’s going to be an adventure – watch this space for an update!

Oct 10

Taste of home

scrambled_560.jpgI’ve tried some incredible food whilst travelling around the world and indeed on our own fair shores. I’ve eaten Hainanese chicken rice at a stall in Bangkok, sat on a tiny plastic stool in the street. I’ve tried jamon in Valencia’s central market, tasted some of the finest steak imaginable cooked at Goodman’s restaurant in London. And I’ve tucked into raw scallops plucked straight from the sea by Masterchef winner Mat Follas on the Dorset Coast.

There have been some incredible eating experiences, unforgettable with tastes that I can still remember as if I had just eaten them.

When I get home, though, there’s always one thing I crave. Whether I walk in the door at six in the morning or midnight I always reach for a saucepan, pop some toast in the toaster and scramble some eggs.

It’s a hugely comforting and easy and yet deceptively luxurious dish. I don’t gild the lily either – no smoked salmon, truffle or cream for me. The method though, is key – patience is required.

I take 3 eggs (medium size) and whisk till smooth. I add pepper, no salt at this stage as it prevents the eggs from coming together. I melt butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and then pour in my eggs, stirring

I don’t rush, I don’t turn the heat up, I just let it do its magic, thickening slowly, until it finally comes together at which point I season it well, remove it from the heat and spoon it only toast thick with butter. This is, after all, my comfort food.

Oct 10

Middle Eastern Promise


I’ve spent a week under the blazing sun in Abu Dhabi – a country of extremes of culture, landscape and, most importantly for me, cuisine. There’ve been surprises along the way – camel’s milk is one I won’t be repeating though! Lessons have been learnt through the common language that seems more common outside of England than in it – that of food.

Everywhere I travel I am constantly amazed by the passion and loyalty people have towards their food heritage. Maybe it is the essence of communal dining we have lost in our busy lives; shared meals are becoming more and more a thing of the past as we struggle to steal a moment here or there.

I for one have a few routines that I try and stick to – a weekly dinner with friends where we eat family style, sharing from large dishes for example, or a celebratory breakfast at the weekend. (even if it is just warm croissants and homemade damson jam or poached eggs sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper on toast, liberally spread with salted English butter.)

Food should be shared, enjoyed together – a communal experience and one that if possible we should linger over – dwell, enjoy and digest.

A little tip I picked up along the way in one such discussion. To make the smoothest, humus, that which you find in your local Lebanese restaurant don’t use the tinned variety. Instead, boil dried chickpeas with a pinch of bicarb – you will end up with a much smoother, softer chickpea that blends to a delicate puree with tahini, olive oil and a splash of lemon – perfect with warmed pitta.

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