Star Q&A: Raymond Blanc

Round & About

Recipes

Liz Nicholls asks star chef Raymond Blanc about feeding the soul in isolation, finding your calling & his surprising favourite foodstuff…

Q. Many of us parents have been home schooling, or stressing about home schooling over the last few months… Being self-taught, do you have any encouraging words about how youngsters can find their calling, school or no school? “The key is to find your passion and follow it. I am self-taught in the sense that I didn’t ‘study’ my craft but I did ‘learn’ my craft from the best. This includes my maman who taught me so much as a child about taking the best local, seasonal ingredients and turning them into wonderful, hearty, family dishes. I learnt from great chefs who I worked under – I paid attention, I practised, I pushed forward and made my own way into a world that inspired me so much.”

Q. Your childhood sounds idyllic. What’s one thing parents can do to nurture their children’s love of food? “There is nothing that will inspire children more or make them want to try new tastes and textures than to have been part of the creative process of preparing and cooking the dishes. To this day certain dishes like a simple and delicious apple tart evoke such strong and joyous childhood memories of being in the French country kitchen, cooking with my mother.”

Q. Is there anything you don’t eat or drink? “I do all I can to avoid processed food. I once bought a processed loaf and could not believe that after two weeks there was no mould on it! In France, every little village has a boulangerie and the French buy fresh bread sometimes three times a day. Today there are a wealth of wonderful artisan food producers in the UK and they must be supported.”

Q. What’s the one food or drink that you just couldn’t do without? “Not a food I can’t do without but one I have only recently discovered – brown sauce! Yes, who would imagine a Frenchman loving the humble brown sauce. I had been Living in England for almost 40 years when one day a friend offered me a bacon butty with brown sauce. I can tell you now, it was a revelation. I cannot believe I waited so long!

Q. What’s the most useful kitchen gadget or kit no kitchen should be without? “I think most chefs would agree when I say a great set of kitchen knives. Having the correct sharp knife for each and every task in the kitchen will make everything so much easier and so much more enjoyable. Good knives are easy to handle, they are well balanced and, looked after properly, can last you a lifetime.. Another piece of kit I love is my Kenwood Chef kitchen mixer. I’ve used these machines for over 30 years, in my kitchens and cookery school, and the precision and durability is fantastic.”

Q. We’re supporting our hospitality heroes – how important it is this industry? And do you have any words of solidarity for your fellow hospitality heroes? “The UK hospitality industry employs over 3 million people, many of them just starting out on the career ladder – young, eager and full of high hopes and expectation. For them, and for the whole of the hospitality sector I say try and stay strong. It has been such a hard year but we are all in this together and we know that once this if over our restaurants, pubs, hotels will be the first places people will want to visit to reclaim some normality and joy. We live to deliver those special moments of magic and will be back to doing what we do best very soon.”

Q. What one piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out as a chef? “One route is via apprenticeships. There are very many excellent apprenticeships that will give you a superb introduction to commercial kitchens. We run them at both Le Manoir and at Brasserie Blanc and can take someone with basic skills, give them the best training they could hope for and set them up for a successful career with no limits. Some of the best known chefs in the UK started this way, including Michael Caines and Ollie Dabbous who were both apprentices at my Le Manor!”

Q. How have you coped throughout the last year & what have been your go-to sanity savers? “I was at home, and isolated from most of my family – as well as my team of chefs at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Brasserie Blanc. My way of keeping sane was to cook and cook! I chose simple dishes that evoked happy memories and provided the connection to those who I missed so much. I used ingredients that were easily-available and needed only basic kitchen equipment and out of this came the inspiration for my new television series and book Simply Raymond.”

Q. Who would be your five dream dinner party guests, living or dead, real or fictional? “Other than friends or family, of course, what could be better, I think it would be amazing to have one big table with all the great chefs I have been lucky enough to train over the years. What great things they could teach me now.”

Q. Like me, you eat regularly at Brasserie Blanc… What are your favourite dishes on the menu? “Yes, I live very close to our Brasserie Blanc in Oxford so I am in there at least once a week. I help to create the seasonally changing menu with our Executive Chef Clive Fretwell who learned his craft under me at Le Manoir – we have worked together for over 30 years now – amazing! I know all of the dishes very well, every season I have a new favourite but some dishes are classics and stay on the menu throughout, including our very special cheese soufflé. I enjoy this as a starter but also on its own for a light lunch – it is so incredibly light in texture that you can almost imagine it is calorie-free!”

Q. What other exciting plans do you have on the horizon? “I currently have the new television series Simply Raymond Blanc running on ITV on Saturdays mornings. This will be repeated over the summer on weekday evenings so if you have missed any of them don’t worry! My new recipe book is also coming out any day now – Simply Raymond. Like the television series the book is a collection of my favourite, simple home-cooked recipes – nothing fussy or over-complicated. These dishes are the ones that mean the most to me; the ones that connect me to my dearest family and friends.”

March recipes: Spice of life

Angus Scripps

Recipes

Mandira Sarkar of Mandira’s Kitchen serves up a wonderful suggestion for Mother’s Day: spiced biscuits & masala chai to deliver to your mum’s doorstep if you live close enough to her…

Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Ingredients:

• 100g ghee (clarified butter)
• ½ cup powdered sugar
• 1 cup plain flour
• ½ cup semolina
• ½tsp powdered cardamom
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• Nuts for garnishing

For the masala chai:
• 1/4 cup milk
• One green cardamom
• ½ tsp grated ginger
• Two crushed peppercorns
• Two cloves
• 1 tsp loose leaf tea

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, 14th March. But, even if you can’t be with your mum, we thought this was a good excuse for tea & biccies.

Mandira, who can’t be with her mum as she is in Calcutta, tells us: “My earliest memories of tea time remain interspersed with the sounds of the Jeep arriving at the porch signalling Dad coming home at the end of his ‘kaamjari’, excited barking of the dogs and my sister and I running across the long verandah to greet him.

“Signalling the close of a working day, the world seemed at peace with itself… the setting sun casting its beautiful glow over the emerald green tea bushes and the blazing bougainvilleas looking as though someone had set off a light within…

“A very heavily laden three-tiered trolley would shortly make its way from the kitchen wheeled in to the verandah where we would all sit for tea… everything was arranged in some sort of predetermined order – the plump tea pot covered with a hand embroidered tea cosy filled with fresh brew straight from the factory and glasses of steaming milk from the cows (all children usually had their personal cows!) sat on the top tier with accompanying plates, starched napkins and cutlery… The second tier had savouries whilst the bottom tier cakes and biscuits. I still find it amazing how we had high tea every single day of the year with at least four things  but no two days did the menu look or taste remotely similar. There were seasonal specialities like samosas made with a delicate homegrown potato and cauliflower filling – a sign that winter was nigh… Hot roasted ‘bhutta’ or corn on the cob picked straight from the ‘maalibari’, served with butter and slivers of lime in midsummer.
“These were melt-in-the-mouth nankathais that would put a Parisian bakery to shame and sandwiches with the most exciting of fillings from ‘chutney’ to ‘sausage’… Every different Memsaheb and cook had their own specialities. Given that there was no equipment like electric beaters, piping bags or even a temperature controlled oven, it is astounding the standard and quality of what came out of those huge wood-fired Agas and cool tile-lined kitchen counters…
“Those days are long gone… Most cooks like Monglu, our cook have passed on and the Memsahebs now live very different, albeit social, lives in bustling metros… However I cannot help thinking those tea times live on in their own way in the homes of the numerous ‘chai ka baby and babas’ scattered all over the globe … Through  recipes… Embroidered linen, little silver bells… In my house it is my mum’s tattered Duliajaan cookbook handed down to me, those amazing chutney sandwiches, white fluffy nankathais  or even the light of the early evening sun on a summer evening falling on my freshly  mowed lawn…

 

Here is Mandira’s recipe for Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat the ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. To this add the flour, semolina, baking powder and baking soda, after they’ve been sieved. Mix to form a soft dough. Make small balls (the size of marbles) and put on a greased baking tray – they will spread so make sure there is adequate space in between.

Put a cashew nut or almond as garnish and bake the cookies for 15 minutes making sure they cook but do not brown.

Gently remove from the tray whilst hot and put on a baking rack .
These melt-in-the-mouth crumbly cookies are best served with masala chai.

To make this, boil one cup water with 1/4 cup milk and add the green cardamom, grated ginger, crushed peppercorns and cloves until the flavours are infused – which should take about eight minutes. Add one tsp of loose tea leaves and then strain and serve.

Order a special Indian inspired afternoon tea from mandiraskitchen.com/product/mothers-day-afternoon-tea & use the code AboutMum for free chilli chocolates

Slow-cooked duck with duck gravy

Ingredients:

• 2 large Aylesbury ducks, about 2kg each
• 3 tsp ground mace

For the duck gravy:

• 500g duck bones and wings, chopped A little vegetable oil for cooking
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
• 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces 1 onion, peeled and diced into 3cm pieces
• 1 garlic bulb, cut across in half, through the equator
• 150g runny honey
• 4 cloves
• 2 litres chicken stock
• 50ml soy sauce
• About 500g unsalted butter
• Lemon juice, to taste (optional)
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 90 minutes

SERVES: 4

Some dishes end up defining you, chef and restaurant. This is one of them. I cooked it at the Great British Menu banquet for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. That raised our profile into the stratosphere: everybody suddenly wanted to book a table at The Hand & Flowers and order duck and chips!

Method:

Remove the legs and wings from the ducks and take out the wishbone (reserve for the faggots, gravy etc., see right and overleaf). Remove the excess fat and skin, placing it all in a frying pan. Now carefully cut away the backbone; you should be left with the crown.

Place the pan of fat and skin over a low heat to render the fat out. Set aside for later use.

Score the skin on the duck crowns and rub in the mace. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the duck crowns and sear on all sides for 5–10 minutes to render the fat and give the skin a good golden colour. Remove the duck crowns from the pan and allow to cool.

Put each duck crown into a large vacuum-pack bag and vacuum-seal on full pressure. Immerse in a water-bath at 62°C and cook for
1½ hours.

Lift out the vacuum-pack bags and remove the ducks. Carefully cut the breasts from the crowns. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Duck gravy:

Preheat the oven to 205°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6–7. Put the chopped duck bones and wings into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots and colour until darkly caramelised. Add the celery, onion and garlic and similarly colour until well browned.
Remove the duck bones and wings from the roasting tray and add them to the saucepan. Drain off the excess fat from the roasting tray, then add the honey and cloves to the tray. Place over a medium heat and take the honey to a dark golden caramel.

Add a splash of the chicken stock and the soy sauce to deglaze the tray, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Add the liquor to the duck bones and vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and reduce down by half, to 1 litre.

Pass the liquor through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan and skim off any excess fat from the surface. Add 250g butter to every 500ml duck liquor and reduce down until it has emulsified into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice if required. Set aside for serving.

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Pancake recipes: From Bonne Maman

Liz Nicholls

Recipes

Today is Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday. We’ve teamed up with Bonne Maman UK to offer you some great recipe ideas.

Vegan Apricot Crêpes with Toasted Nuts & Seeds

Ingredients:

For the crêpes

• 150g plain flour
• pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp caster sugar, optional
• 250ml oat milk
• 1 tbsp melted sunflower spread or coconut oil, plus extra for the pan
• splash of vegan beer, about 2tbsp

For the filling

• 60-100g mixed nuts and seeds such as hazelnuts, almonds, sesame, sunflower and pumpkin
• pinch ground cinnamon or mixed spice
• 400g tub Greek-style, vanilla, non-dairy yoghurt
• 335g jar Bonne Maman Intense Apricot

METHOD:

1. Spread the nuts and seeds for the filling on a foil-covered baking sheet and sprinkle over the cinnamon. Toast in a hot oven or under the grill until golden brown. This will only take a minute so keep an eye on them. Set aside.

2. To make the crêpes, sift the flour into a large mixing bowl with a good pinch of salt and the sugar, if using. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking gently as you go, then whisk in the melted spread or oil. Set the batter aside for about half an hour if time allows, then finally whisk in the beer.

3. Heat an 18-20cm crêpe pan and wipe over the base lightly with butter or oil. Stir the batter – it should be the thickness of single cream – and pour a small ladle of batter into the pan. Working quickly, tilt the pan so that the batter runs all over the surface then hold the pan over the bowl of batter and let the excess tip out. Trim the lip of cooked batter away from the edge and return the pan to the heat. The base should be covered in batter but not quite thin enough to see through.

4. Let the crêpe cook for a minute or so until the underside is golden and comes easily away from the pan. Lift one edge up with a palette knife and carefully flip it over. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes. The flip side will only cook in spotted brown patches, not as evenly as the first side. Tip the crêpe carefully on to a plate. Wipe the pan with a little more oil and continue until you have used up all the batter. Keep the crêpes warm, covered with foil in a low oven.

5. When ready to serve, spread the warm crêpes generously with the vanilla yoghurt, add large spoonsful of Intense Apricot and finally sprinkle with the toasted nuts and seeds. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd & Raspberry Crêpes

Ingredients:

Crêpes

• 6 Large French Crêpes

For the filling

• 12 tbsp Bonne Maman Lemon Curd
• 300g fresh raspberries
• Icing sugar to dust
• 6 tbsp crème fraiche or vanilla ice-cream
• zest of 1 lemon
• 25g toasted shredded almonds
• a few sprigs of fresh lemon thyme

METHOD:

1. If the crêpes are not freshly made, wrap in foil and warm in a low oven for 10 minutes.

2. Spread each warm crêpe generously with about 2 tbsp lemon curd.

3. Add a small handful of raspberries into the centre and a spoonful of crème fraiche. Fold the crepe in half.

4. Dust lightly with icing sugar and top with lemon shreds, almonds and lemon thyme. Add a few more berries and enjoy straight away

TIP:

If fresh raspberries are out of season use thawed frozen berries.

Add a splash of Crème de Framboise or Crème de Cassis to the berries before using.

For extra flavour and crunch, stir a tablespoon of toasted almonds into the crepe batter before cooking.

Find more Bonne Maman recipes here bonnemaman.co.uk and see our other recipes here

Patrick Ebbs: Ciceri e Tria recipe

Round & About

Recipes

Try the traditional dish of Ciceri e Tria (Chickpeas and Pasta) as recommended by Godalming author Patrick Ebbs in his book about all things to do with Puglia, Reale Italian Cooking – Italian recipes from Reale Italians.

This is a very traditional and popular Salento dish. Tria is Salento dialect and originates from the Arab word ‘triya’ meaning pasta. Its name is probably a legacy of the Arabs who once invaded southern Italy. With this recipe, most of the pasta is boiled as per normal, but about a quarter of it is fried until it is golden brown, giving the dish a lovely, crispy texture. The recipe is included below.

Ciceri e Tria (Chickpeas and Pasta)

Ingredients:

• 400g chickpeas
• 1 potato, peeled and chopped
• 1 celery stalk, chopped
• 5 tomatoes, chopped
• parsley, a handful
• water
• 1 garlic clove, peeled & chopped
• salt and pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 400g fresh pasta, tagliatelle
• 1 onion, chopped

Note: you can use tinned chickpeas if you wish (1 tin)

SERVES: 4

Method:

If not using tinned chickpeas, soak the chickpeas overnight in lukewarm water.

Next day, thoroughly wash the chickpeas, drain and rinse. Put them in a pan and cover completely with water.

Bring to boil and simmer for about 2-3 hours until cooked.

Skim the excess foam from the top – ensure that the chickpeas are always covered in water whilst cooking.

In another pot, heat some olive oil. When hot, add the celery, parsley, garlic, bay leaf, onion, potato and tomatoes.

Fry for 2-3 minutes, then add a litre of water and cook for about 2½ hours over a medium heat. Then drain and just keep the liquid, discarding the vegetables.

Drain the chickpeas when cooked and take 5 tablespoons of them and blend with a little of the stock. Add this back to the stock.

Combine the stock and the chickpeas together. Season with salt and pepper.

Take a quarter of the pasta and cut it into 10cm strips and fry in olive oil.

Meanwhile, cook the remainder of the pasta and when cooked combine with the fried pasta.

Then add to a large warmed serving bowl with the chickpeas.

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February recipes: Blooming lovely

Round & About

Recipes

Star chef & hospitality champion Tom Kerridge’s new Hand & Flowers cookbook is helping us find reasons to be cheerful. We’ve teamed up to share recipes for you to cook at home.

Chocolate ale sponge with salted caramel

Ingredients:

• 350g plain flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 400ml dark ale
• 100g cocoa powder
• 220g unsalted butter, softened
• 550g soft dark brown sugar
• 4 large free-range eggs

Salted caramel

• 100g caster sugar
• 40ml water
• 3.5g sea salt

PREP: 10 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 12

The Hand & Flowers is a pub. Pubs serve ale. We always needed an ale cake! So that’s the idea behind this particular recipe, which grew out of my first book and TV series, Proper Pub Food, where I taught people how to cook the simpler pub classics at home.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a 33 x 26cm deep baking tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together; set aside. In a small bowl, slowly mix the dark ale into the cocoa powder to form a paste.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the cocoa paste and flour mixture alternately, a little at a time.

Spread the mixture in the prepared baking tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the sponge from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, cut the chocolate sponge into 2cm cubes and put
to one side.

Salted caramel:

Melt the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, then bring to the boil and continue to cook the sugar syrup until it forms a golden caramel. Add the chopped sablé paste and cook, stirring, for a minute.

Pour the sablé caramel onto a silicone mat and leave to cool slightly.

When it is cool enough, roll out to a thin sheet. While still warm, press a 4cm cutter into the sheet make sablé discs. Leave until cooled and set then lift the sablé tuiles off the mat.

Slow-cooked duck with duck gravy

Ingredients:

• 2 large Aylesbury ducks, about 2kg each
• 3 tsp ground mace

For the duck gravy:

• 500g duck bones and wings, chopped A little vegetable oil for cooking
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
• 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces 1 onion, peeled and diced into 3cm pieces
• 1 garlic bulb, cut across in half, through the equator
• 150g runny honey
• 4 cloves
• 2 litres chicken stock
• 50ml soy sauce
• About 500g unsalted butter
• Lemon juice, to taste (optional)
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 90 minutes

SERVES: 4

Some dishes end up defining you, chef and restaurant. This is one of them. I cooked it at the Great British Menu banquet for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. That raised our profile into the stratosphere: everybody suddenly wanted to book a table at The Hand & Flowers and order duck and chips!

Method:

Remove the legs and wings from the ducks and take out the wishbone (reserve for the faggots, gravy etc., see right and overleaf). Remove the excess fat and skin, placing it all in a frying pan. Now carefully cut away the backbone; you should be left with the crown.

Place the pan of fat and skin over a low heat to render the fat out. Set aside for later use.

Score the skin on the duck crowns and rub in the mace. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the duck crowns and sear on all sides for 5–10 minutes to render the fat and give the skin a good golden colour. Remove the duck crowns from the pan and allow to cool.

Put each duck crown into a large vacuum-pack bag and vacuum-seal on full pressure. Immerse in a water-bath at 62°C and cook for
1½ hours.

Lift out the vacuum-pack bags and remove the ducks. Carefully cut the breasts from the crowns. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Duck gravy:

Preheat the oven to 205°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6–7. Put the chopped duck bones and wings into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots and colour until darkly caramelised. Add the celery, onion and garlic and similarly colour until well browned.
Remove the duck bones and wings from the roasting tray and add them to the saucepan. Drain off the excess fat from the roasting tray, then add the honey and cloves to the tray. Place over a medium heat and take the honey to a dark golden caramel.

Add a splash of the chicken stock and the soy sauce to deglaze the tray, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Add the liquor to the duck bones and vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and reduce down by half, to 1 litre.

Pass the liquor through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan and skim off any excess fat from the surface. Add 250g butter to every 500ml duck liquor and reduce down until it has emulsified into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice if required. Set aside for serving.

Smoked haddock omelette

Ingredients:

• 12 medium free-range eggs
• 4 tbsp unsalted butter
• 100g aged Parmesan, finely grated
• Sea salt & ground pepper

Poached smoked haddock:

• 1 side of smoked haddock, 600g, skin and pin bones removed
• 600ml whole milk

Smoked fish béchamel:

• 250ml smoked haddock poaching liquor (see left)
• 15g unsalted butter
• 15g plain flour
• Sea salt & ground pepper

Omelette glaze:

• 4 tbsp warm smoked haddock béchamel (see left)
• 4 tbsp hollandaise sauce
• 4 medium egg yolks
• Sea salt & ground pepper

PREP: 10 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 4

A delicate, beautiful omelette is one of those pure dishes that makes you realise great food does not have to be about hundreds of ingredients on a plate. It’s about allowing a simple product to sing.

Method:

Check the smoked haddock for any tiny pin bones. Bring the milk to the boil in a wide-based saucepan. Carefully lay the smoked haddock in the pan, ensuring it is covered by the milk. Place a lid on the pan, turn off the heat and leave the fish to poach in the residual heat for about 10 minutes.

Once the haddock is cooked, remove it from the milk and gently flake the fish into a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cover the tray with cling film and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
Pass the milk through a fine chinois into a clean saucepan and keep to one side.

Smoked fish béchamel:

Bring the smoked haddock poaching liquor to a gentle simmer.

In a separate pan over a medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually ladle in the warm poaching liquor, stirring as you do so to keep the sauce smooth. Cook gently over a very low heat for 20 minutes.

Pass the sauce through a fine chinois and cover the surface with a piece of baking parchment or cling film to prevent a skin forming. Set aside until needed. (You won’t need all of the fish béchamel but you can freeze the rest.)

Omelette glaz:

Gently warm the béchamel in a saucepan then pour into a bowl and whisk in the hollandaise and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pass through a chinois into a warm jug or bowl. Keep warm to stop the glaze from splitting.

To assemble & cook the omelette:

Crack the eggs into a jug blender and blend briefly to combine. Pass through a chinois into a measuring jug. Place 4 individual omelette pans (we use Staub) over a low heat.

Take the smoked haddock from the fridge, remove the cling film and lay on a grill tray. Warm under the salamander or grill.

To each omelette pan, add 1 tbsp butter and heat until melted and foaming. Pour the blended egg into the pans, dividing it equally. Using a spatula, gently move the egg around in the pans until they start to firm up. Remove from the heat; you want the eggs to be slightly loose, as they will continue to cook off the heat.

Season the omelettes with salt and pepper and sprinkle the grated Parmesan over their surfaces. Divide the flaked smoked haddock between the omelettes, then spoon on the glaze to cover the fish and extend to the edge of the pans. If the glaze spills over the side of the pan, wipe it away, as this will burn on the side when blowtorching.

To finish, wave a cook’s blowtorch over the surface of the omelettes to caramelise the glaze. Allow the glaze to become quite dark, as
the bitterness will balance out the richness of all the other ingredients.

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Star Q&A: Andy Triggs Hodge

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Recipes

Three times Olympic rowing gold medallist Andy Triggs Hodge started rowing because he thought it would be fun, now he is sharing that sense of fun through Race The Thames 2021, we chatted to him about his career, the importance of sport and the event taking place in March

How did you get involved in rowing in the first place and why, what was it that attracted you to it?

I started rowing at Staffordshire Uni – not a typical rowing uni – because a friend suggested it would be fun. I had no idea what that innocent moment would lead to. From there I found something that sparked my imagination, passion and vitality in life as a whole, and I found myself getting better grades, improving my outlook in life, everything seemed to get better when I took up the oar. It really does conform to the saying, ‘the more you put in the more you’ll get out’.

Were you sporty generally?

I was always last to be picked for school sports, football, running, etc. I used to play a bit of rugby in the second row, but I never scored a try or flourished. I challenge everyone who thinks themselves as unathletic, I believe they just haven’t found ‘their’ sport. It’s why giving young people a chance to try all forms of sport through school is key to their development as well-rounded individuals. Sport plays such a big part in life, everyone will be good at one sport, they just have to find it. This also applies to adults.

Lewis Hamilton said winning the seventh F1 world title was beyond his wildest dreams, but that he had ‘secretly dreamt as high as this’, when you got into rowing was that your ‘secret dream’ to get to the top, winning Olympic and World titles?

I started rowing because I enjoyed it, and I’m lucky enough to say that I finished rowing enjoying it. Winning was always and only a by product of the elements I held dearest – self-improvement; enjoyment and being with friends in a common goal, the sacrifice; achieving one’s potential in anything is directly proportional to the sacrifices made.

Do you miss that competitiveness now you’ve retired or are you someone who has to win at everything you do?

Winning has never been a driver for me, since I retired, I replaced my passion to achieve something (which only started when I found rowing) with two things: First, trying to be a good husband, to make up for the time my wife had to put me first despite the hardships in her life, and to my sons who saw a dad who was reduced to the knackered shell of a man each day as I returned from a training programme designed to keep the human body on the red line seven days a week. Secondly, to find a way to create something for the sport I love. Rowing needs new avenues and opportunities as the sport risks becoming obsolete. Now my focus is on Race the Thames – an event for London Youth Rowing. I’m very excited and can’t wait to see how it lands in March!

Tell us about Race the Thames 2021, how can people get involved?

The event is trying to be as open and inclusive as possible, primarily an indoor rowing event, but you can also contribute to the challenge on any indoor machine. There are two challenges for the teams of eight (male, female or mixed) to choose from; the Race the Tidal Thames, 72km completed in a week or a day, and the Race the River Thames, 342km completed in a week. The ‘field of play’ is an amazing online map that we’re going to bring to life in an exciting way. We’re looking for teams of rowers and non rowers alike: friends, families and colleagues, schools and places of work, across gyms, home machines, anywhere people can access a machine, and any time in the week of 19th to 26th March.

And it’s in aid of London Youth Rowing, what’s that all about and who does it help?

Teams choose their own charity to support, as well as LYR with proceeds split 50:50 – I’m really proud to be able to support many charities through this event. LYR supports young people from backgrounds and communities that would make it very difficult for them to find rowing. I had a comfortable up bringing and I discovered rowing through luck and my ‘privilege’, and it still had such an impact on me it’s hard to comprehend. So many young people who are trapped in the hardest walks of life won’t have that chance without LYR, and knowing the benefits it could have on those individuals, not necessarily to achieve Olympic success, but simply to improvements to life by just participating like I had at uni, is motivation enough for me to live through LYR.

The LYR website says one of the aims is to ‘help young people recover their physical and mental health in 2021’ – with the events of 2020 just how important is this for everyone and how can exercise play its part in this?

Sport is so important at many levels, lockdown has decreased sport across the board. Rebuilding that is essential to getting back on track to increase activity in young people and adults alike, but also to recover our sense of wellness and vitality in our communities. I hope Race the Thames is the motivation to our participants to keep our spirits up and the inspiration to those who LYR help to keep striving and pushing forward.

To find out more and get involved visit www.londonyouthrowing.com/event/racethethames2021

January recipes: Right angles

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In her new book, award-winning writer Nicola Graimes tells us how the right carbs can promote good health

Quick roast chicken with white bean & rosemary mash

Ingredients:

• Between six & eight chicken thighs on the bone, skin on
• Two red onions, halved and each cut into six wedges
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 large unwaxed lemon, halved
• Three bay leaves
• Two sprigs of fresh rosemary
• 300g/101⁄2 oz small vine-ripened tomatoes
• Sea salt and black pepper

For the white bean & rosemary mash
• 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 270ml/91⁄2 fl oz/scant 11⁄4 cups whole milk
• Three bay leaves
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled & halved 40g/11⁄2 oz/3 tbsp unsalted butter 2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 35 minutes

MAKES: 4

Much as I love potatoes, this herby white bean mash makes a fantastic right-carb alternative. You can either mash the beans roughly with a potato masher so they retain
a bit of texture, or blend using a stick blender into a smooth and creamy sauce. Chicken thighs are not only full of flavour, they’re much cheaper than breasts – try to buy organic, free-range, if you can.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and place in a large roasting tin (pan). Toss the onions in the oil and place around the chicken. Squeeze over the lemon juice and cut the halves into chunks and place in the tin. Tuck in the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove the rosemary and add the tomatoes and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the chicken is golden and cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the white bean and rosemary mash. Put all the ingredients, except the rosemary, in a saucepan over a medium heat, stirring occasionally. When it almost starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered with a lid, for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside for the flavours to infuse while the chicken is roasting.
When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and either mash with a potato masher or blend using a stick blender until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the rosemary and warm through.

Serve the chicken with the tomatoes and onions, spooning over any juices from the tin, and the white bean mash on the side.

White fish with butternut & ginger mash

Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 3cm/11⁄2 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
• 4 thick hake fillets, or other sustainable firm white fish, such as haddock
• 20g/3⁄4 oz/11⁄2 tbsp butter sea salt and black pepper
• steamed long-stem broccoli and lime wedges, to serve

For the butternut & ginger mash
• 1kg/1lb 2oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
• Four garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
• 5cm/2 in piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into rounds
• 2 red jalapeño chillies, deseeded and diced
• 115ml/33⁄4 fl oz/scant 1⁄2 cup unsweetened drinking coconut milk
• juice of half a lime, plus extra if needed
• Two handfuls chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves, plus extra to serve

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 15-20 minutes

SERVES: 12

all delicious, as are canned beans! This golden mash has an Asian feel thanks to the coconut, ginger, chilli and coriander leaves.

Method:

Make the mash. Put the squash in a saucepan with the garlic and ginger, cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and pick out the ginger. Return the squash to the hot pan and add half the chilli, most of the coconut milk and the lime juice. Mash until smooth, adding the rest of the coconut milk, if needed. Season with salt and pepper and stir in three-quarters of the coriander leaves. Taste and add more lime juice if needed.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat, add the ginger matchsticks and fry for 2 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Season with salt & pepper. Add the remaining oil and the butter to the frying pan and heat over a high heat. Place the fish, skin-side down, in the pan, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 3/4 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden and you can see the flesh has cooked two-thirds of the way up. Turn the fish, baste with the buttery oil and cook for a further 2 minutes or until just done and the fish is opaque and flaky. Warm the mash if need be and spoon on to four serving plates. Top with the broccoli and fish and scatter over the crispy ginger, the remaining chilli and coriander leaves before serving.

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Unique moment of time

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Professor Stephen Hawking had a fascinating relationship with time and this year Bremont are marking that and honouring the eminent scientist with the launch of its Bremont Hawking watch collection.

The brand has worked with the Hawking family to create something unique and special dedicated to the British scientist whose stud of time enhanced our understanding of the universe and beyond.

The classically styled Bremont Hawking Limited Edition watch features a retrograde seconds hand and grand date and contains four wooden discs inlaid into the back of the watch taken from the desk at which Hawking contemplated the mysteries of the universe.

Only a limited number of watches will be made and all with unique features setting them apart as a truly stunning timepiece.

To complement the men’s watch, Bremont is also releasing a limited edition number of women’s watches, the first it has produced and around the face lies a bezel of diamonds – another first for Bremont.

Bremont co-founder Nick English said of the collection: “Professor Stephen Hawking was arguably one of the most pre-eminent scientists of the last hundred years. We wanted to celebrate this incredible man’s life and his fascinating relationship with time.”

Bremont is an award-winning British company producing beautifully engineered chronometers at their headquarters in Henley.

December recipes: The main event

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The festive period isn’t normally associated with healthy eating, but Dr Michelle Braude of nutrition practice The Food Effect, says it doesn’t have to be this way and that many of the foods we often associate with Christmas and New Year are actually very healthy if used in the right way.

Grilled Salmon & Baby Potatoes on a Bed of Greens & Barley

A showstopper of a dish that will leave your guests asking for more.

Ingredients:

• 1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
• 1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
• 8 cups mixed greens
• 250g cooked barley (or brown rice)
• 1 head of garlic
• 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
• ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
• ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
• A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar
• Salt & pepper, to taste
• Balsamic glaze – for drizzling

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 40 minutes

SERVES: 4-6

Method:

For the salmon:

Heat oven to 200°C.

Toss baby potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper. Cut a 1/4 off the head of garlic horizontally, and wrap it in foil.

Place potatoes and garlic on a parchment lined baking tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Coat the salmon with 2 tablespoons olive oil, soy sauce, dried mixed herbs and pepper. Place on another parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven 20 minutes before the potatoes are ready. Roast salmon for 18-20 minutes.

For the dressing:

Blend together the balsamic vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and squeezed out roasted garlic. If too thick add a bit of water.

Complete the dish:

Combine a few tablespoons of dressing with the cooked barley, and the rest with the mixed greens. Arrange greens on a platter. Sprinkle the barley over the greens. With a large spatula place the salmon on the greens and barley and place the baby potatoes all the way around the salmon. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the salmon to decorate.

Variation: You can also decorate with pomegranate seeds, flaked almonds or chopped spring onion

Christmas is not quite the same without homemade warm mince pies to enjoy. This granola inspired delicious recipe is bound to keep everyone happy using granola from Lizi’s Breakfast Range available from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, Asda, Morrisons, Whole Foods, Co-Op, Booths and all good health stores.

Christmas Mince Pies with Lizi’s Original Granola Topping

These mince pies are a fun treat for all the family.

Ingredients:

• 1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
• 1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
• 8 cups mixed greens
• 250g cooked barley (or brown rice)• 1 head of garlic
• 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
• ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
• ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
• A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar
• Salt & pepper, to taste
• Balsamic glaze – for drizzling

PREP: 30 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

MAKES: 18

Method:

To make the pastry, rub together the diced vegan butter into the plain flour. Once they are mixed together, mix in the golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt.

Combine the pastry into a ball – don’t add any liquids – and knead it briefly. The dough will be fairly firm, like a shortbread dough.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C.

Line 18 tin holes of two 12-hole shallow baking tins, pressing small (approximately walnut-sized) balls of pastry into each hole. Keep some of the pastry aside for the lids. Spread the pastry balls to make pie shaped cases and spoon the vegan mincemeat into the cases.

Roll out the remaining pastry for the lids. Use your star cutter (which has to be big enough to reach the sides of the pie cases) to create the pastry lids. If you’d rather use a different shaped cutter, ensure that the shapes reach the sides of the pie cases again.

Place the pastry lids on the pies, ensuring that they fit. Bake for 20 minutes until the pies are golden.

Leave the mince pies to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack. To serve, lightly dust with some icing sugar. The mince pies will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.

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November recipes: food with heart

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Recipes

A new cook book Food & Kindness is raising funds for Oxfordshire’s Sobell House hospice with help from local restaurants

Two of those featured are Oli’s Thai in Magdalen Road, Oxford and The White Hart in Fyfield.

Oli’s Thai is a neighbourhood restaurant with a well-deserved reputation for fantastic food, the Aubergine Curry has become the most popular dish in the restaurant and they say, don’t be scared to burn the edges, that’s where the flavour is

Aubergine Curry

from Oli’s Thai

Ingredients:

For the paste
• 1 tbsp coriander seeds
• Small pinch of cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp dried Dutch chillies, some seeds removed
• 75g lemongrass, cut thinly across
• 25g galangal, cut thinly across
• 1 tbsp table salt
• 1 tsp ground white pepper
• 35g garlic, peeled
• 25g shallots, roughly chopped
• 40g big red chillies

For the curry
• 2 aubergines
• 8 tbsp vegetable oil
• 190ml coconut milk
• 30ml water or stock
• 80g fine green beans, halved
• 2 spring onions, cut into 3cm chucks
• Handful of Thai basil
• 3 lime leaves, torn up
• 20g caster sugar
• 80ml coconut cream
• 50ml soy sauce

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 30 minutes

SERVES: 4

Method:

For the paste
Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan over a low heat until golden. Once cool, put them in a spice grinder with the dried Dutch chillies and blitz to a fine consistency. With a pestle and mortar, pound a small quantity of the lemongrass and galangal together until smooth, adding more until you have used them all. Add the salt and pepper, then the other ingredients one at a time, pounding the mixture to a fine consistency before adding the next. Finally, add the blitzed dry spices and mix well. If you are using a blender to make the paste, add all the fresh ingredients and blitz until fine. Then add the coriander and cumin seeds, chillies, salt and pepper.

For the curry
Preheat the oven to 180°c. Prepare the aubergines, cutting each one lengthways into 10 or 12 wedges. For each wedge, cut along the flesh making a deep incision nearly reaching the skin and repeat, leaving 1 to 2cm gaps between each cut. Put them onto a baking tray and drizzle with five tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. Don’t be alarmed if the edges burn slightly, this will give the finished curry extra flavour.

Put the remaining vegetable oil into a large pan on a low heat and add the curry paste. Cook the paste for a couple of minutes until you see the oil separate. Increase the heat and add the coconut milk, stock, green beans, spring onion, basil, lime leaves and sugar then cook for about 2 to 3 minutes while stirring continuously. Turn the heat down low, add the coconut cream and soy sauce, then simmer gently until the beans are cooked, which should take about 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the roasted aubergine wedges in a bowl and pour over the sauce. Garnish with basil leaves.

The White Hart in Fyfield is a charming country dining pub that puts great food and hospitality at its heart and what could be better than trying their Elderflower Crème Brûlée with Gooseberry Compote and if you’re feeling adventurous try the doughnuts too

Elderflower Crème Brûlée with Gooseberry Compote

from The White Hart, Fyfield

Ingredients:

For the crème brûlée
• 400ml double cream
• 35g caster sugar, plus a little extra to brûlée
• 120ml elderflower cordial
• 6 egg yolks

For the gooseberry compote
• 400g gooseberries
• 6 tbsp caster sugar
• 2 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the doughnuts (optional)
• 210ml tepid milk
• 50g unsalted butter, softened
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 100g caster sugar
• 10g fresh yeast (or 5g dried)
• 300g plain flour
• ½ tsp salt
• Vegetable oil, for frying

PREP: 15 minutes (plus 2hrs prooving)

COOKING: 30-40 minutes

SERVES: 6

Method:

For the crème brûlée
Preheat the oven to 150°c. Place the cream, sugar and cordial in a pan. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Briefly beat the egg yolks in a bowl, then pour in the cream mixture while still beating. Pass through a sieve into a jug. Pour the mixture into ramekins (approx. 70ml in each) and place in a deep roasting tin. Fill the roasting tin with boiling water halfway up the ramekins. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until just set. Remove from the oven and let the ramekins stand in the water for 10 minutes, then take them out and leave to cool.

For the gooseberry compote
Place the gooseberries, sugar and elderflower cordial in a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 minutes, just until the gooseberries start to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For the doughnuts (optional)
Combine the milk, butter, eggs and 40g of the sugar. Place the yeast in a small bowl, then add a little of the milk mixture to form a smooth paste. Add this paste to the remaining milk mixture and whisk to combine. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually pour in the milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Cover the bowl with cling film and place the dough in a warm spot to prove for approximately 1 hour or until doubled in size. Take the dough out and knock it back to remove the air, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge until cold. Roll the cold dough into 15g balls and place them on greaseproof paper squares to prove for a final 30 minutes.

Place a large saucepan, one third filled with vegetable oil, over a medium heat until the oil reaches 170°c. Place the dough balls in the oil and cook for about 4 minutes, turning often, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Once cooled slightly, roll the doughnuts in the remaining caster sugar.

To serve
Sprinkle a little caster sugar over the brûlée then heat with a blowtorch (or place under a hot grill) until the sugar bubbles and forms a caramel. Arrange the compote and the doughnuts artistically on the plate and we serve ours with raspberry ripple ice cream and fresh raspberries. Enjoy!

Food & Kindness, £15, and is available from Amazon, Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk

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