Did I mention already that I think the combination of thyme and tonka bean tastes like tarragon? Not exactly like tarragon – if that were the case it would be easier just to use tarragon! – but a grassier, less aniseedy version. They’re beautifully versatile little buggers these tonka beans, with a vanilla-like freshness that works just as well in sweet dishes [like my Christmas Pudding Ice Cream] as it does with chicken and fish. I swear I detected some yesterday too in the Pork Pibil which I had at Wahaca’s Southbank porta-cabin pop-up, though the recipes I’ve found online make no mention.
I’ve used the pairing here to update a recipe which I first shared in My St Margarets Magazine a couple of years ago. And I’ve changed the method too to produce an easy, prepare-ahead dish for summer entertaining, not least because I know the Lakeland Taxi Driver has a lunch party for twelve this Sunday! This version comfortably serves six, I’m sure you can do the maths. A recent road test played to rave reviews in a packed garden, hopefully your guests will feel the same.
For the chicken
- A 1.5-1.7kg bird, and a lidded pot into which it fits snugly
- A large bunch of thyme
- One onion, finely sliced
- 300ml white wine
- 1/3 of a tonka bean, grated with a micro-plane or nutmeg grater
- Sea salt and black pepper
For the mayonnaise*
- 1 large egg yolk, and 1 large whole egg
- 350ml groundnut oil
- 2 heaped teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- A good pinch of salt
- 2 tbsps white wine vinegar
Prepare and cook the chicken as per my recipe for Pot Roast Chicken Veronique [ignore the bit about the Verjuice syrup for this recipe]. Don’t forget to season the bird well, inside and out. Grate the tonka bean over the chicken before you pour over the wine. When the chicken is cooked set it aside to cool. Strain the cooking juices and reduce to one third of their original volume. Let this cool too.
To make the mayonnaise blitz the egg, yolk, salt and mustard in a food processor. Then with the motor running start to add the oil – drop by drop to begin with, then in a thin stream, and then as the sauce emulsifies and begins to bulk up you can increase your rate of pouring. Add the vinegar to the finished mayonnaise with the motor still running. I’ve only just started making mayonnaise and now I can’t stop! It’s proper magical kitchen alchemy, and nowhere near as scary as everyone makes it out to be.
*If you don’t plan to make your own mayonnaise please use a decent ready made one – this really is no time for bog standard factory nonsense!
Roughly tear the flesh from the legs, breasts and back of the bird and scatter into a dish. Take a couple of small ladles of the reduced juices [about 60 ml] and mix into the mayonnaise, and taste. If you feel it needs more, add some. And perhaps add another small shaving of tonka bean, but do it with a light hand, if at all. The flavour could easily dominate, and will build as the dish rests.
Coat your chicken with the enriched mayonnaise, stir well, cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve give it half an hour or so out of the fridge, and decorate with some chopped parsley, a grind or two of black pepper, and some lemon slices – or some watercress, or perhaps pea shoots. It will need a little garnish as although it’s delicious it can look a tad monotone without. This deserves to take centre stage, so make sure it’s dressed to impress!
Posted in Easy, Recipe
Tagged black pepper, chicken, egg, egg yolk, groundnut oil, mayonnaise, mustard, onion, recipe, salt, tarragon, thyme, tonka bean, Wahaca, white wine, white wine vinegar
This is my Jubilee tribute recipe which appears in the special edition of My St Margarets Magazine, out this week…
My Diamond Jubilee Diadem of Salmon and Asparagus with Cucumber Caviar
Serendipitously a customer called in to ask if I could recommend a cheese for using in a salmon mousse just days after I had created this regal treat. And whilst the other principal players celebrate the best of British at this time of year – as well they ought for such a dish – the cheese which works best here is the French Delice de Bourgogne [or any of its triple cream cousins]. English asparagus is in season now so there is really no excuse for using anything else, and salmon are plentiful whether from the ocean or one’s own private loch. Though right royal purists might even opt for trout instead which was on the Queen’s coronation menu, right before the ‘Poulet Elizabeth’. Admittedly the Tonka bean is not native to the British Isles, but it does give a splendidly summery grassy note to the dish. I make no apologies for the fact that some effort is required for this recipe – it’s a celebration after all, and you’ll only have to make it once every 60 years!
This is a rich dish, again quite apt under the circumstances, so you need only small servings and very little by way of accompaniment – perhaps some melba toast points, or some Fine Cheese Co apricot and pistachio crackers. This quantity will make 6 to 8 servings depending on the size of your moulds, and any leftovers can be spread on toast as an indulgent supper, or used as a rather smart sandwich spread with some thinly sliced cucumber.
- 240g poached salmon
- 100g Delice de Bourgogne
- 75g butter
- 3 tbsps good French mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp chopped dill
- Blade mace
- Tonka bean
- Zest of half a lemon
- Paprika – a pinch
- 1 tbsp single cream
- Dill – a tbsp chopped
- Chinese rice vinegar
- Asparagus spears – enough to line your 5cm ring moulds when halved.
Trim your asparagus spears to the desired height – the tips should just stand proud of your ring moulds – and steam until tender, then refresh in iced water, drain, cut in half lengthways, and pat dry.
Melt the butter and add a few blades of mace and some finely shaved Tonka bean [no more than a quarter of a bean], and leave to infuse. Pop the salmon, mayonnaise, cream, cheese, and paprika into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste. Pour in the melted butter through a strainer to remove the mace and blitz again. Turn out into a bowl and mix in the chopped dill and finely grated lemon zest by hand.
Cover a flat baking sheet with cling-film and place your rings on top. Put the salmon mousse into a piping bag and pipe a half centimetre layer into the bottom of each ring mould. Take your halved asparagus spears and carefully place them cut side outwards all around the edge of each mould, pushing the bottom of each into the layer of mousse. Finally use the piping bag to fill the centre of each ring; a smaller nozzle will help to push the mousse right up to and between the asparagus. Chill well, for a couple a hours or more.
Very finely dice [c.1mm] some cucumber and pat dry. Mix with some more chopped dill and sprinkle with a little rice vinegar. When you have carefully removed the diadems from their moulds top with a teaspoon or two of this ‘cucumber caviar’.
Posted in Pescatarian, Recipe, Technique
Tagged asparagus, butter, cream, cucumber, Delice de Bourgogne, Diamond Jubilee, dill, jubilee, lemon, mace, mayonnaise, mousse, paprika, recipe, salmon, tonka bean
Who’d have thought we’d be wanting salad recipes in October? I’d planned to pack this away with the barbecue and pull them both out next summer, but the weather says otherwise…
It all began with the cucumber pickle. Susie’s cucumber pickle, which had recently arrived at the shop and which was so good that a meal had to be created around it. It would make a great accompaniment to burgers or other barbecued meats, but I plumped that day for poached salmon. And I love potato salad with poached salmon but wanted something with a bit more poke to stand up to that pickle. Coronation potato salad was the answer.
If you’ve ever made Chicken Elizabeth, the correct name of the dish devised for the coronation of Elizabeth II by the Cordon Bleu cookery school, you’ll know that it’s not bright turmeric yellow as we usually see now, but a purpley burgundy colour thanks to the reduction of red wine and apricot jam which is added to the mayonnaise. But having changed the principal ingredient from chicken to potato I’m sure you won’t mind if I take a few liberties with the rest!
These quantities are a rough guide which you can adjust to vary the levels of spice, sweet and sharp. For around 250g of baby new potatoes I used:
- 2 tbsps mayonnaise
- 2 tbsps natural yoghurt [for a vegan version use 4 tbsps soya yoghurt]
- 1 tbsp Sharwood’s green label mango chutney
- Half a tsp of ground turmeric
- 1 to 2 tsps curry powder
- Half to 1 tsp chilli powder
- Half a tsp of ground coriander
- A few finely sliced spring onions
- Juice of half a lemon
- Some chopped coriander or flat leaved parsley to garnish
Mix everything except the chopped herbs together, taste, season and adjust. You might want to add the curry and chilli powders in half teaspoon increments as you can always add more, whilst removal is more problematic. Add the cooked and cooled potatoes and stir to combine, adding the chopped greenery at the end.
Normal autumn service [casseroles and the likes] will undoubtedly be resumed shortly.
Posted in Easy, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian [or Vegetarian Version]
Tagged barbecue, chilli powder, coriander, coronation, curry powder, Diamond Jubilee, Elizabeth II, jubilee, lemon juice, mango chutney, mayonnaise, parsley, potato, potato salad, recipe, soya yoghurt, turmeric, yoghurt
Whilst to some of my younger readers this will clearly mark me out as some sort of antediluvian anachronism, I can actually remember a Britain before McDonalds. The golden arches didn’t make it to our sceptred isle until 1974, fully 6 years after I first landed, and it would be many years more before Ronald showed his face in the provincial backwater that was my childhood home.
Colonel Sanders on the other hand was quicker off the mark and KFC opened its first UK outlet in Preston in 1965. I don’t think the one I remember, a roadhouse style takeaway on Preston New Road, was the ground-breaker but it seemed always to have been there. We didn’t use it often – it was enough of a drive for the food to get cold before we got home, and being ‘foreign’ was clearly not intended for everyday consumption – but it was my first real introduction to the then exotic world of the fast food takeaway.
Perhaps because of this childhood association fried chicken still holds a special place in my arteries, and is one of the few fast food staples that I might still crave before 2:00 a.m. and whilst stone cold sober. The colonel’s spice mix is of course as secret as the recipe for Coca Cola [apparently not even the factories who make it know the exact proportions, which I would have thought could prove to be a tad awkward, manufacturing-wise?] but it’s not actually that difficult to cook up a reasonable facsimile at home. Many of the myriad American recipes available online use frankly frightening amounts of MSG but even if this did figure in the Colonel’s own mysterious mix you don’t need it. Plenty of good old fashioned salt and pepper does the trick.
Of course you can’t have fried chicken without some sort of slaw. When making this I had crunchy celery and apple to hand [as in a Waldorf Salad] and hey presto, Wal-Slaw was born! The sweet-corn is another classic fried chicken accompaniment so into the salad it went. A buttered baked potato finished off the finger lickin’ feast.
- Half a small red cabbage, finely shredded
- Half an apple, diced
- A shallot, finely diced
- One carrot, grated
- A small tin of sweet-corn kernels (not Colonels!)
- Two sticks of celery, finely sliced
- The juice of half a lemon
- A splash of malt vinegar
- Sufficient mayonnaise to bind
First dice the apple and toss in the lemon juice and vinegar. Then just throw everything else in and stir in the mayonnaise to your liking. Season and chill.
Philip’s Fried Chicken [PFC]
- 6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
- 4 tbsps plain flour
- 1 soupspoon cornflour [optional]
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 2 tsps salt
- 2 tsps ground black pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 stick of celery broken into four [optional]
- Vegetable oil for frying
Soak the chicken thighs in the beaten egg and allow them to wallow for a while. Place the flour [and cornflour if using], seasoning and spices into a zip-lock plastic bag and shake well to combine. Throw the chicken pieces into the spiced flour, zip up the bag and shake well to coat them evenly. Rest the whole lot in the fridge for a few minutes whilst you heat up the oil and shake again.
In a heavy, lidded skillet or frying pan heat about half an inch of vegetable oil. The depth needs to be such that once the chicken is in the oil will not reach higher than half way up the side of the pan. To see when the oil is hot enough for frying insert the handle of a wooden spoon – when the oil forms lively bubbles around the handle you’re ready to go [NB very vigorous bubbling means the oil is too hot, allow it to cool a little and try again]. Using tongs gently place the chicken pieces into the oil, skin side down, and add the celery pieces if using – it may be an old wives’ tale but this is supposed to help to crisp the chicken.
Cover and cook for nine to ten minutes, checking from time to time that the underside isn’t browning too quickly – if it is, lower the heat. Again using tongs turn the pieces and cook for another nine to ten minutes but this time without the lid. When all the chicken pieces are beautifully golden brown all over remove from the oil and drain. Some say this is best done on brown paper such as a grocer’s bag but kitchen roll will do too. Let the chicken cool for a few minutes before you dig in to avoid southern fried lips, a less appealing dish by far.
Posted in Easy, Recipe, Writing
Tagged apple, black pepper, cabbage, carrot, cayenne pepper, celery, celery salt, chicken, chicken thigh, coleslaw, Colonel Sanders, corn, cornflour, egg, flour, fried chicken, garlic powder, KFC, lemon, lemon juice, malt vinegar, mayonnaise, oregano, paprika, red cabbage, salt, shallot, slaw, southern fried chicken, sweet-corn, thyme, vegetable oil, vinegar, Waldorf Salad
Not a republican call to arms, but time to celebrate the start of this year’s Jersey Royal season!
A few years ago we were lucky enough to be visiting friends in Jersey in early March, and driving round the island on a gloriously sunny Sunday we found the first Jersey Royals of the season for sale in a farmer’s ‘honesty shop’, a shed full of produce with a box for you to leave your payment. I was as excited as a Yukon gold miner and dashing home with them felt like being on the old Beaujolais Nouveau run [does anyone else remember when that actually used to make the 6 o’clock BBC news?]. It being the Shopkeeper’s birthday we were due to meet friends at the local bistro for dinner, and my breathless call on landing at Gatwick was the first, and so far only, time I have phoned ahead to a restaurant to ask if the kitchen would mind if we were to bring our own potatoes! I can only hope that if it happens again our hosts will be as accommodating as Brula were that evening.
Last year was an altogether different story. The drawn out winter chilled the island’s coastal fields for months and had us forlornly scouring the empty shelves well into early May. I remember speaking to a man whose job title was roughly along the lines of ‘The States of Jersey’s Potato Ambassador to the Court of St James’ at last year’s Real Food Festival when he’d managed to bring just one sack of potatoes to Earl’s Court, and had made some mortal enemies by removing even those from their native soil with supplies so short.
2011 though has been far kinder and the Jersey Royals have now landed, with this year’s first consignments arriving on the mainland in the third week of March. The most exciting part of cooking with the seasons is the change of season when the yearly re-appearance of old favourites is like the greeting of old friends you haven’t seen for far too long. And nothing says “Spring’s here!” like a bowl of Jersey Royals. I bought a bag last week and the sun shone for three days in a row, what more empirical evidence could you need?
There are things you can do with Jersey Royals besides boiling them and serving with lashings of butter, but why would you when the simplest treatment produces such majestic results? If you really must then the Atlantic Hotel’s canapé with lemon mayonnaise and caviar sounds suitably regal. But if like me your budget doesn’t run to such things just follow these simple dos and don’ts and enjoy these precious jewels wearing little more than the emperor’s new clothes.
- boil or steam until just tender, checking often. The exact time is likely to be between five and ten minutes but this will depend on crop, size, and whether boiling or steaming.
- anoint their majesties with plenty of melted butter or [and only if you’re allergic to butter] very good olive oil.
- season thoughtfully.
- swirl in a little chopped parsley and maybe just a leaf or two of chopped mint [no more] with the butter.
- only use in salads if you have excellent quality or homemade mayonnaise available.
- under any circumstances, add mint to the cooking water!
- mash, although a little light crushing is OK and can help the potatoes to absorb more butter.
Posted in Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian [or Vegetarian Version], Writing
Tagged Beaujolais Nouveau, butter, caviar, Jersey, Jersey Royal, lemon, mayonnaise, new potato, olive oil, potato, recipe