Triple Cooked Chips

 

You’ve all heard of them by now, Heston Blumenthal’s triple cooked chips have taken the world by storm. It seems every restaurant is serving up a rendition of this modern classic. To mess with the mighty chip was a brave move, but it paid off. This recipe is truly worth the hype.

I was fortunate to try these delights at Heston’s ‘pub’ in Bray – the Hinds Head. They were delicious, but perhaps a little undercooked for my liking – I thought I would try them at home.

It may seem like a lot of effort for a measly chip, but please make the effort, you will be truly rewarded.

Triple Cooked Chips

1kg Maris Piper Potatoes, cut into chips of equal size.

3 Liters Groundnut or Vegetable Oil

Sea Salt

Method:

1) Soak the chips in running water for 20 minutes to remove some of the starch.

2) Simmer the chips in salted water until just cooked, they shouldn’t be completely falling apart but should break with ease.

3) Lay the chips on a baking tray and transfer to the freezer for 1 hour.

4) Fry the chips in batches at 130C for 5-7 minutes until they are slightly ‘crunchy’ on the outside – they should not colour.

5) Lay the chips on kitchen roll on a baking tray and transfer to the fridge. They can be kept here for up to 3 days before serving.

6) Fry the chips at 180-190C until golden brown, approximately 7-8 minutes. Drain and sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

Eat them quick – they won’t last long!

 

Home Baked Ham

 

The simplest, most satisfying recipe ever! With only 4 ingredients, you can have a gloriously delicious ham which will take care of lunches for the whole week.

I always try to cook a ham at least one a week. If you are used to buying your ham pre-cooked, please try this recipe and you will be converted. It is much more economical and tasty.

Dry curing is the key to a good ham, buying a ham which has been dry cured will give you delicious flavour which is not overly salty and you won’t get any of the nasty white stuff coming out when you cook it.

I love this simple glaze, but would love to hear your recommendations.

Home Baked Ham

Ingredients:

1 Boneless Ham Joint (Any size you wish)

For the Glaze:

1 Part  Whole grain Mustard

2 Parts Runny Honey

2 Parts Clementine or Orange Juice (Freshly Squeezed)

Method:

1) Cook your ham in the usual way. 20 minutes before it is ready, remove from the oven.

2) To make the glaze, combine the ingredients and mix well.

3) Remove any skin and/or string from the ham. Make a criss-cross pattern into the ham fat about 0.5cm deep.

4) Smother the ham with the glaze (I use a pastry brush).

5) Cook the ham at 180C for 20 minutes until nicely browned.

Enjoy!

Cake of the Moment – Gugelhupf


 

 

 

 

Ever since being in Vienna I have longed for Gugelhupf. That beautiful marbled chocolate cake. A cake which is acceptable to eat at breakfast. A cake which is made in a fancy mould. Sounds great right?

Whats more, it’s not too difficult to make, providing you have a suitable mould (the one I have isn’t quite authentic). Sure it takes a little time, but once you try it, you will appreciate why I have been harping on about it for the past month.

This version is a simple chocolate marble. However, the Gugelhupf comes in an infinite number of varieties. Whatever you fancy in a cake, the mighty Gugelhupf can take it! They are usually doused in icing sugar, but I have omitted it as it makes me sneeze!

What is your cake of the moment?

Gugelhupf

Ingredients:

200g Unsalted Butter (At Room Temperature)

150g Icing Sugar

150g Caster Sugar

230g Self Raising Flour

8 Large Eggs, Separated

2tbsp Milk

3tbsp Dark Rum

30g Dark Cocoa Powder

200g Milk Chocolate, Melted

Method:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 165C. Butter your cake tin and sprinkle with flour and caster sugar, shaking out the excess.

2) Whisk the egg whites and icing sugar together with an electric whisk until it forms firm peaks. Set aside.

3) Beat the butter, caster sugar and egg yolks in a bowl until light and fluffy. Fold in the flour to the mixture. Fold in the rum and milk to the mixture.

4) Very gently fold in the firm egg whites to the batter, taking care not to knock too much air from the mixture.

5) Fill half the batter into the cake tin. Mix the cocoa powder and melted chocolate into the remaining batter.

6) Fill the cake tin with the chocolate batter and smooth the top.

7) Bake in the oven for approximately 95 minutes. Insert a skewer into the middle, when it comes out clean the cake is ready. Cooking time may vary depending on the type of cake tin used.

8) Dust the cake with icing sugar if desired.

Great at any time of the day, everyday – but especially for breakfast with a coffee!

Review: Rhubarb Restaurant, Prestonfield Hotel, Edinburgh

If you are ever in Edinburgh and in need of a place to stay, please, please book a night at the Prestonfield Hotel. Close to the city centre, the Prestonfield is a grand baroque house set in beautiful gardens. It is by far the most opulent hotel I have ever had the privilege of staying in. The bedrooms and formal rooms are effortlessly elegant with a mismatch of beautiful antique furniture and tapestries.

I have stayed in the Prestonfield a few times over the years; however, it has been a while since I have had dinner in the hotel’s Rhubarb Restaurant (Prestonfield was the first estate in Scotland to cultivate rhubarb). It seemed fitting that we gave it another try when we were staying at the hotel. Rhubarb has 2 AA rosettes.

The restaurant is split over two near identical dining rooms where beautifully laid tables are lit by candlelight. Lacking atmosphere it most certainly is not. The service in the hotel and in the restaurant is truly first class. Attentive and friendly, it makes for a better dining experience than many Michelin starred establishments offer.

Rabbit & Foie Gras

Rabbit & Foie Gras ballotine was paired with pistachios and apricots. A great deal of work had clearly gone into the preparation of the ballotine – the foie gras was silky smooth and the rabbit remained moist. The accompanying apricot was a little overpowering but pistachio gave a good balance of texture. Brioche crumbs were scattered on top – I can’t help but feeling It would have been nicer to have had a big hunk of brioche on the side.

Scallops

King scallops came perfectly cooked. Apple cubes provided good contrast for the silky cauliflower purée. Lemon and chorizo were the star of the show, lifting the dish and giving much-needed acidity. This was a very satisfying dish.

Starters of Cheddar with Beetroot and Prawns with Lobster were also well cooked and tasty. The only criticism being the inclusion of basil with the Cheddar and Beetroot which proved to be overpowering.

Venison

Loin of red deer was nicely cooked but over-seasoned which was disappointing as the accompanying mustard mash and red cabbage purée were delicious. On the side was a black pudding ‘crumble’, a brilliant idea. The texture of the topping was just right and the black pudding added richness to the dish. However, this too was over-seasoned leaving us stretching for the water glasses.

Black Pudding Crumble

Two of us shared a Chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce and Madeira jus. The beef was cooked to a perfect medium rare and the béarnaise was delicious – not too thick and with a nice vinegar kick. This was served with a vast array of side dishes; another sauce (cheese I think), broccoli (a tad undercooked), dauphinoise potatoes, tomatoes (very acidic) and potato croquette/dumpling. The dumpling was amazing, very light. I was left a little overwhelmed by the quantity of food. It may have been more effective (and no doubt easier for the kitchen) to serve maybe one potato dish, two vegetables and one sauce and forget the rest.

Chocolate & Cherries

Descriptions of the puddings were a little try-hard – with gels, mousses and pastes cropping up in numerous guises. Of the two deserts we tried only one is worthy of note – chocolate and cherries with star anise ice cream. Chocolate ‘teacake’ containing an acidic cherry compote was delicious as were the small tuiles surrounding the ice cream. The star anise ice cream was a little overpowering and icy – it would have been nicer if flavoured with cinnamon.

The food was of a high standard and more than worthy of its 2 rosette accreditation. Perhaps if some of the food was simplified a little it would allow for a purer and more effective flavour to shine through. However, dining in such exquisite surroundings with perfect service, you can’t help but be impressed.

Rhubarb Restaurant, Prestonfield Hotel

http://www.prestonfield.com

Food (For Four): £220

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Reservations: Recommended

Recommend: Yes

Herby Lemony Chicken

 

 

 

 

Chicken is such a versatile meat, but all too often it ends up overcooked and a bit bland. When using breasts, I much prefer to get them skin on and knuckle bone in. The flavour from the skin (where all the flavour is) makes its way into the meat and a little extra fat helps keep it moist.

I love lemons. They too, like chicken, are very versatile and can be used to perk up both sweet and savoury dishes. I’ve had a lemon craving all week so they just had to appear in tonight’s supper and I fancied something a little different from roast chicken this Sunday.

This is a simple dish which does not require much looking after. Leeks form the basis of the sauce whilst cooking the chicken in stock and a little wine helps to keep it extra moist. I teamed it with some sautéed potatoes cooked with thyme, but it would go equally as well with any number of sides.

Herby Lemony Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 Chicken Supremes (Skin on, Knuckle Bone in)

4 Leeks cut into 1″ pieces

1tbsp Butter

1 Glass Dry White Wine

500ml Chicken Stock

1 Garlic Clove, Bashed

Handful Parsley Chopped

Handful Oregano Chopped

Juice & Zest of 1 Lemon

A little Cornflour mixed with water to thicken

Method:

1) Put a casserole dish on a medium heat on the hob. Season the chicken supremes. Fry the chicken skin side down in the butter for around 5 minutes until golden, turn and seal the other side.

2) Remove the chicken from the pan and keep to one side. Add the leeks to the butter with a little splash of water, cover and cook on low for 5 minutes.

3) Uncover and turn up the heat. Add the wine and cook for couple of minutes to burn off the alcohol.

4) Turn the heat back to medium and add the stock and bashed garlic clove. Stir well then add the chicken to the stock.

5) Cook uncovered until the chicken is ready, around 20-25 minutes. Turn the chicken occasionally whilst cooking to ensure it cooks evenly.

6) When the chicken is ready, remove from the stock mixture. Add the herbs and lemon juice and zest and check the seasoning.

7) If required, thicken the sauce slightly with some cornflour mixed with water before serving.

Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Stock-based risottos are delicious but they do tend to be a little on the heavy side for this time of year – especially when I get a little over-eager with the parmesan!

In one of his recent TV series, Raymond Blanc explored the virtues of using a tomato essence to form the basis of a risotto. Tomato essence takes time and patience to get just right, two things which I don’t really have much of! But using this technique produces a very light and pure risotto which is perfect for showing off the qualities of fresh summer vegetables.

As opposed to making a pure tomato essence, which needs to be left hanging for ages in the fridge, taking up vital space, I have developed this recipe using a quicker method. Although not quite as pure, it still achieves the same result and depth of flavour.

Perfect for mid-week suppers, you can also make the essence a few days in advance and keep it covered in the fridge. Using carnaroli rice gives a much more velvety and luxurious texture than Arborio and is my first choice every time.

Summer Vegetable Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For Tomato Essence: 1kg Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Celery Stick, 1 Chopped Shallot, Handful of Basil Leaves, 1/2 Garlic Clove, Salt

For the Risotto Base: 350g Carnaroli Rice, 1 Onion Finely Chopped, 1 Garlic Clove Finely Chopped, 600ml Very Weak Vegetable Stock, Reserved Tomato Essence, White Pepper, Salt

To Finish: 30g Grated Parmesan, 1tbsp Unsalted Butter, 2tbsp Mascarpone, 75g Fresh Peas, 75g Broad Beans, 1 Carrot Finely Diced, 1 Courgette Finely Diced

Method:

To Make the Essence:

1) Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Season lightly with salt. Leave to settle in the fridge for 2 hours.

2) Press through a sieve to extract the juice. You should get around 600ml of Juice.

For the Risotto Base:

1) Sweat the onion and garlic in a little oil for 5 minutes. Add the carnaroli rice and fry until translucent (around 5 minutes).

2) Season the risotto with approximately 2tsp ground white pepper (or to taste) and a little salt.

3) Add the vegetable stock and cook on a low heat until the rice has soaked up the stock. Stir occasionally during this stage.

4) Once all the stock has been soaked up add the tomato essence. Continue to stir occasionally.

5) When the risotto is around 5 minutes from being ‘done’ continue to the finishing stage – there should still be a little essence left, if not add a little water.

To Finish:

1) Stir in the vegetables and allow to cook until al dente (approximately 5 minutes). Stir frequently during this stage.

2) Quickly fold in the butter, parmesan and mascarpone. Once the butter has melted and is combined, serve immediately.

This recipe works equally as well with any other summer vegetables – especially fennel. Enjoy!

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been longing to try these little wonders for months. I adored Sesame Street when I was little and still have a big fluffy Oscar lurking at the back of the cupboard.

Fortunately my girlfriend, Jane, is a fantastic baker – she could make you fat in a matter of days! I don’t have the patience to sit and decorate cupcakes so when she suggested she make some cookie monster cupcakes I jumped up and down like a small child.

They would make a child’s (or adults!) birthday party the best ever! And I am sure they would be the envy of all their friends.

I’m away to eat a cookie monster and re-live my youth!

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

Makes 10 Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the Cupcakes: 100g Self Raising Flour, 100g Caster Sugar, 100g Unsalted Butter, 2 Eggs, Vanilla Essence, 10 Paper Cases

For the Icing: 250g Unsalted Butter, 300g Icing Sugar, 2 Tbsp Milk, Vanilla Essence, Blue Food Colouring

For the Decoration: 200g Desiccated Coconut, Blue Food Colouring, 20 Giant White Chocolate Buttons, Chocolate Piping Icing, 5 Small Choc Chip Cookies

Method:

For the Cupcakes:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Line a muffin tray with the paper cases.

2) Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

3) Add the egg and a dash of vanilla essence to the mixture and beat well. Fold the flour into the mixture.

4) Spoon the mixture evenly into the paper cases and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes or until cooked.

5) Allow the cupcakes to cool.

For the Icing:

1) Mix the butter, icing sugar and vanilla essence together with an electric whisk.

2) Add the milk to the mixture and beat.

3) Add enough blue food colouring to the mixture to tint it the required blue and mix well.

To Decorate:

1) Make the blue coconut frosting by combining the desiccated coconut with enough blue food colouring to colour as desired. Lay the mixture on grease proof paper and allow to dry out for a short while.

2) To make the eyes, place a small dot of chocolate piping icing (the type that comes in tubes) onto each white chocolate button.

3) Next, cover the cupcakes generously with the butter icing.

4) Sprinkle the cupcakes with the desiccated coconut mixture until well covered. Then insert two eyes into each cupcake at the top.

5) Halve each small cookie for the mouth. Make a slit where the mouth is to be and insert the cookie some way into the cupcake.

Now sit back and admire your handy-work. Try not to eat them all at once!

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble

 

 

 

 

We absolutely love crumbles, can’t get enough of them. Unfortunately the majority of recipes call for winter fruits – rendering the magnificent fruit crumble out of season in the summer months.

Not content with limiting our crumble quota to a mere 4 months of the year we have devised this simple summer recipe.

Strawberries and rhubarb are in abundance right now and work fantastically well as a base for your favourite crumble topping. Whats more, as the strawberries cook down, you are left with the most delicious juice at the bottom of the dish – so good I could drink that alone.

Of course this recipe would work equally as well with any number of summer fruits, but in my opinion this combination is simply sublime.

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble

Serves 6

Ingredients:

800g Strawberries, Topped & Halved

8 Sticks Rhubarb, Cut into 1″ Chunks

100g Unsalted Butter

40g Oats

200g Self Raising Flour

3tbsp Caster Sugar

3tbsp Demerara Sugar

1tsp Ground Cinnamon

Method:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Place the rhubarb in the dish you wish to serve the crumble in and sprinkle with the caster sugar. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes or until just tender.

2) Whilst the rhubarb is roasting make the crumble by rubbing the butter into the flour and ground cinnamon until combined (the texture of fine breadcrumbs). Add the oats to the crumble mixture.

3) Once the rhubarb is cooked, add the strawberries and toss to combine.

4) Sprinkle the fruit evenly with the crumble mixture. Then sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly with the Demerara sugar.

5) Bake in the oven at 180C for approximately 30-40 minutes or until golden.

Enjoy either cold or warm with custard or vanilla ice-cream!

Cinnamon Sauce (Savoury)

 

 

 

 

I’ve been meaning to cook duck breasts for ages now, but for one reason or another they have been put on the back burner. I was going to cook them yesterday, giving me plenty of time to slave over a hot stove and create the perfect sauce – from stock.

Unfortunately a post-wedding sore head meant takeaway Indian last night, leaving the duck for today. Pushed for time I had to rethink my ambitious plans for a sauce.

This savoury cinnamon sauce is a breeze to make and requires few ingredients. It is ideally suited to game – think duck, venison, pigeon etc. Served with duck breasts, it cut through the richness of the fat and added great acidity. It is definitely worth a try.

Cinnamon Sauce (Savoury)

Serves 4

Ingredients:

400ml Full-Bodied Red Wine (I used an Italian Cabernet Sauvignon)

2 Cinnamon Sticks

2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

Small Splash Sherry Vinegar

Salt & Pepper

Method:

1) Bring the wine and cinnamon sticks (left whole) to the boil and reduce by 1/2 to 2/3 until lightly syrupy.

2) Take out the cinnamon stick and whisk in the butter and add a small splash of sherry vinegar, to taste.

3) Pass through a sieve into a clean saucepan to ensure no stray bits of cinnamon stick remain.

4) Season to taste with salt (a little) and pepper.

5) Keep warm until serving or allow to cool and transfer to the fridge to be reheated at a later date.

Enjoy!

Review: Roxburghe Hotel Dining Room, Kelso, Scotland

The Roxburghe is famed for its championship golf course; however, the adjacent hotel is equally well favored and is arguably one of the best country house hotels in the South of Scotland. Set amongst the woodlands surrounding the River Tevoit, the estate is only a short jaunt from Kelso in the Scottish Borders – ideally located to take advantage of the area’s extensive fishing and shooting activities.

In recent times dining at the Roxburghe has lost its identity, an abundance of chefs have passed through the kitchen. However, all this promises to change – kitchen operations are now headed up by Neville Merrin, who has recently moved his team from the acclaimed Feversham Arms in Helmsley. Neville was sous chef in a brigade which earned 3 AA rosettes at Feversham, these aspirations are being brought to the Roxburghe by a team who are hungry for success.

Apéritifs are served in the beautifully appointed library (formerly a dining room) where you can peruse an impressive whiskey list whilst sinking into the relaxing armchairs. In addition to the À la carte menu a special Grouse menu was offered to mark the start of the season of this glorious game bird. After a quick chat with Neville, I just had to go for the Grouse – fresh off the estate, they promised to be delicious.

Now to the food. Amuse Bouche was a beautifully firm textured broccoli foam topped with a morsel of mature blue cheese – a perfect match, the intense flavour of broccoli standing up to the strong cheese. The biggest scallops I have ever seen were cooked to perfection and paired with girolles.

Sea Trout Gravlax preceded the Grouse – accompanied by a powerful horseradish cream which was softened by pickled girolles and apple dressing.

The main event – new season Grouse. I felt like a caveman when a whole, perfectly rare Grouse was presented to me to dissect. A rich game jus acted as lubricant and game chips soaked up unbelievably smooth bread sauce. Watercress from the estate garden added a peppery punch and stewed berries gave some acidity. This outshone a similar dish I had at The Kitchin, which failed to deliver the levels of richness Grouse requires.

New Season Grouse

Saddle of lamb with lentils and fillet of beef with béarnaise sauce were equally as delicious and it was evident all ingredients were treated with the utmost respect.

All of the dishes were beautifully presented, clean and elegant. But nothing quite compared to a dessert of chocolate parfait and cherries. Utterly beautiful, the parfait had the perfect texture – somewhere between ice cream and marshmallows.

Chocolate & Cherries

Strawberry Consommé had an impressive depth of flavour, if the accompanying cucumber had been a little smaller, it would make the perfect summer dessert.

Strawberry

The attention to detail is impressive, the kitchen team have even gone to the effort of having a custom wax stamp designed for the menus. This attention was slightly undermined by service which, although very friendly and attentive, fell short on a few details: red wine was poured into a glass containing a different red wine. However, this did not detract from the dining experience and was a forgivable mistake.

The kitchen team’s passion for provenance and integrity of ingredients is second to none, it is not often you meet a chef who is truly engrossed in what he is doing. There are restaurants in the Scottish Borders with 2 AA rosettes who do not even come close to producing the quality of food we tasted at the Roxburghe.

It will only be a matter of time before Neville and his team are overwhelmed with awards and accolades. They are certainly trying hard and this will not go unnoticed. The Roxburghe kitchen is now in safe hands and the food befitting of the surroundings.

The Roxburghe Hotel

http://www.roxburghe-hotel.com

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Reservations: Recommended

Recommend: Yes