Tag Archives: mustard

Thyme and Tonka Bean Chicken

Tonka Beans, in a square white bowl, with shadow.

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!

Pheasant and Raisin Ravioli

Pasta Maker

This was one of those times when the dish in question became the happier accidental cousin of the meal before. The pheasant was cooked as a tribute to the unforgettable River Cafe’s Rose Gray when she died in 2010. But pleasant as the original dish was, I don’t have wood fired oven in my kitchen, and I don’t have Rose’s magic in my finger tips. So having served the breasts according to the original recipe, I made this using the leg meat and carcass pickings from a large bird [a small whole bird will easily yield enough meat for two people]. I’m giving no precise measurements here other than to say that you should use 1 large egg for each 100g type 00 flour for your pasta dough. Beyond that it’s a case of let go and follow your instincts, they’re invariably right, as I’m sure Rose would agree…

Take the meat from the cooked bird and chop finely – the flavour of pheasant is potent and a little goes a long way. Use the carcass to make a stock with some onion, carrot and celery, a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, bay and marjoram, and few crushed juniper berries. Soak a handful of raisins in a large wine glass of ruby port. Mash a squashy ball of Mozzarella with a fork and add the chopped meat and the raisins. Reduce the stock to a few tablespoons, throw in the port from the raisins and reduce again. Whilst the reduction reduces roll your pasta dough out to the thinnest setting on your machine, and make your ravioli using a
rounded teaspoon of the filling in each. Add enough cream or crème fraiche to your reduced sauce to quadruple its volume along with a teaspoon of good grain mustard and adjust the seasoning. The ravioli are cooked when the water returns to the boil and they float to the surface. Transfer them to warmed plates and drizzle sparingly with olive oil, then liberally with the sauce.

Goat’s Cheese Tart

In the latest edition of My St Margarets Magazine I wrote about remembering your summer holidays through food, and as Autumn’s tendrils start to twine through the thinning rays of October sunshine you may be tempted to do the same. You can read the full piece ‘Look back in hunger’ [and indeed the whole magazine] here but the viewer does require Flash, so for my iPad using readers I’ve reproduced the goat’s cheese tart recipe below…

Goat's Cheese Tart

Nothing says French holiday quite like a ‘Tarte au Chevres’. Returning holiday makers however please take note – not even an award-winning local cheese shop is likely to be able to source “the wonderful little goats cheese made by the old man with a stall every other Thursday in such and such village in the Loire”, as his cheese probably never makes it as far as the next village on, let alone out of the country! This is your opportunity to recreate a happy facsimile with something more local. Last time I used Pant-Ys-Gawn, next I intend to use Dorstone.

For one large [20cm] or four individual [8cm tarts] shallow tart cases

NB – this is easiest with ready baked tart cases. If making your own blind bake first.

  • 6 small tomatoes, quartered
  • Half a red onion, thinly sliced and sautéed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon crème fraiche
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon picked fresh thyme leaves OR
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
  • 1 Pant-Ys-Gawn goats cheese, or equivalent quantity of your chosen cheese

Paint the inside of the of the pastry case[s] with the mustard. Arrange the tomato quarters neatly in the bottom, strew over the sautéed onions and season well. Mix the beaten eggs, herbs and crème fraiche and pour around the tomatoes – they should just break the surface. Crumble the goats cheese over the top [or for individual tarts try slicing into four neat discs and place one in the centre of each], and season again with plenty of black pepper and any stray morsels of herb. Bake in a 220°C oven for 20 minutes. The top should be golden with brown tinged edges and corners here and there. Allow to cool and eat at room temperature. A simply dressed salad of fennel, olives and chicory eats well with it.

Friday Fishcakes

 Salmon and potato fishcake, shown with a slice of lime and a frond of dill.

OK so I last made these on a Tuesday, but who’s counting? In any case there were no complaints from the Shopkeeper, either that night or when they appeared again the next day for lunch. These are comfort food of the first order – crispy on the outside, moist and flavourful within – but with enough by way of added refinement that they shouldn’t be embarrassed to show their faces at an informal supper party with friends. Having gone several days without peas and suffering severe withdrawal symptoms I served these with pea and pea-shoot salad [see page 5 of the summer edition of My St Margarets Magazine for recipe and details of my all-consuming pea addiction] and some honeyed pickled baby beetroot, but for something fancier why not try griddled asparagus and a lemony hollandaise? Or for a light lunch just mix some chopped watercress with crème fraiche and serve on the side. These quantities make 4 very large [my favourite, 1 each is plenty!], 6 large or 8 small to medium fishcakes.

  • 270g salmon, poached [see separate post]
  • 800g mashable potatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp salted capers, rinsed well
  • 60g cornichons / gherkins, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of dill, finely chopped
  • 50-100g white crab meat [I was using leftovers and would have added more if to hand]
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 60g butter
  • Nutmeg
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • Breadcrumbs [I used walnut bread*, but plain white or perhaps panko will work fine]
  • Groundnut or vegetable oil for shallow frying

Boil the potatoes until cooked and then mash or pass through a ricer into a large bowl. Using a fork whisk in the butter and Dijon mustard, and a grating of nutmeg, until you have a smooth potato paste. Leave to cool.

Flake the poached salmon and add this to the potatoes along with the capers, cornichons, dill, and crab. Using a rubber spatula [or similar] fold all together, gently but firmly. You want to achieve a homogenous mass without breaking the salmon flakes beyond recognition. This is the time to check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Divide this into your desired number of cakes and with your hands make balls of the mix, then flatten into patties. Pop these into the fridge to chill and firm up for an hour or so, or prepare to this stage even up to a day in advance.

Now for the messy part… Dip each cake first in flour, dusting off the excess, then into the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs. For best results repeat the egg and breadcrumb dips once more. Now you can return them to the fridge for another half an hour or so, or proceed straight to the pan.

Heat the oil in a frying pan until the surface begins to ripple, and gently lay in the cakes. Allow the cakes a quick sizzle in the hot oil and then turn down the heat and fry slowly. Give them a few minutes and then, using a palette knife or fish slice, take a peek at the underside. Deep golden brown is what we’re after – if that’s what you have gently flip over and do the same to the other side, if not continue to cook, checking every minute or so. The sides of the discs may not brown as much as the faces depending on the size and thickness of your cakes, and the depth of your oil. No matter, all will be well once the flat surfaces are done.

* Yes, it does help to run a shop selling bread if you want to have a good variety of frozen breadcrumbs to play with, but we can all take the remains of a loaf that’s a couple of days old, blitz it in the food processor and tip the resulting crumbs into a freezer bag, especially if you’ve shelled out for an interesting bread – it will make just as interesting breadcrumbs! In most cases, including this one, you can use breadcrumbs straight from the freezer.

A Feast For The Eyes

 Salad of purple cauliflower, white fine beans and broad beans.

I firmly believe that we eat with our eyes as well as our senses of taste and smell, but that doesn’t mean we can’t throw the occasional visual curve ball and surprise our diners with the odd  unexpected looking combination. I’d been at the farmers’ market again, and met one of my old friends – the purple cauliflower! The presence of white fine beans on the same stall gave me an idea for an unusual looking salad to present to our guests alongside the spicy chicken on that evening’s menu. Punnets of fresh broad beans too? We were all set…

First make a punchy vinaigrette dressing with 1 part red wine vinegar to 3 parts olive oil, salt and pepper, and plenty of Dijon mustard. For every four tablespoons of dressing you should add at least one heavily loaded teaspoon of mustard. Cauliflowers love mustard!

Cook the broad beans until al dente and cool in iced water. I don’t always remove the papery white skin of broad beans but here I wanted to make the most of their greenness, so off came the outer skins. It’s a little time consuming but worth the effort.

Steam the cauliflower and the fine beans, again until cooked but retaining some crunch, but tip these into a bowl with the vinaigrette and allow them to cool in the dressing. The occasional toss as they do so won’t hurt. When ready to serve drain the broad beans and add them to the salad, and give the seasoning a final check. Voila. Time for the oohs and ahs from the table.