Recent Recipes

Provençal Fish Soup

When I mention fish soup to my friends they typically turn up their noses. I think the first thing that comes to their minds is some kind of unappetising greyish slop, but this one is about as far from that image as you could get! This recipe has its roots in Provence, in the south of France. It’s a two-day affair; first you have to diligently clean the fish and rinse them under running water before marinating overnight in olive oil, a selection of herbs and spices, and a mire poix of vegetables. This marinating really makes a difference to the depth of flavour - I recommend you don’t omit this step. The spices (saffron and paprika) give the soup an inviting golden colour.

In the restaurant we would order fish soup mix from our fishmonger and they would provide us with a nice range of small fish such as gurnard, mullet, hake or john dory. They were too small to be worth selling on their own as there would be hardly any meat on them, but they were perfect for soup. Luckily I live only a ten minute walk from the harbour, and there is a fishmonger right there on the waterfront. Unfortunately they didn’t have any fish-soup-sized fish in stock, so I took one small sea bream and one small sea bass instead.

For extra savoury punch I begin the soup by frying anchovies to create a sticky, salty base. While the fish are roasting in the oven I add the vegetables to the pan and cook them down until soft and sweet. I also add a tin of cooked sardines. The oily fish gives an extra richness. The amazing thing about this soup is everything is pureed, bones included, to create quite a thick, substantial meal. It’s perfect served with black olive tapenade on toast. It really is an amazing dish and I promise that you’ll see fish soup in a different light after eating this!

  • 1kg small white fish, such as John Dory, hake, bream
  • 1 small tin anchovies, drained but reserve the oil
  • 1 tin sardines
  • 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, roughly chopped
  • 1 small leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 large pinch saffron
  • crusty bread, for toasting
  • 6 tablespoons black olive tapenade
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut off all the fins and sharp bits from the fish and discard them. Remove the innards, gills and eyeballs and discard those also. Wash the fish thoroughly under running cold water, then drain in a colander. If you didn’t manage to source any small fish (about the size of your palm or smaller), cut the fish into chunks then place in a deep-sized tray or large bowl. Pick some thyme leaves and reserve them to use as garnish at the end. Add the carrots, tomatoes, fennel, leek, onion, garlic, thyme, paprika, saffron, about 6 tablespoons of olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt to the fish and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave in the fridge for 12 hours, mixing it occasionally.

  2. Heat the oven to 200C. Carefully separate the vegetables from the fish. Place the fish in a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 30-40 minute, or until golden. Meanwhile, place a large, heavy-based pot or casserole dish over a medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Wait 1 minute for the oil to heat up, then add the anchovies plus about a tablespoon of the oil from the tin. Stir-and-fry until the anchovies have broken down into a nice sticky paste, then add the rest of the vegetables. Add another pinch of salt, then cook over a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and sweet and starting to caramelise.

  3. At this point, the fish should be ready. Add the roasted pieces to the pot with the vegetables, and drain the tin of sardines and add that too. Mix well, then cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming and froth that rises to the surface. Once boiling, turn down to a gentle simmer and cook like this for 1.5 hours, topping up with water to keep the ingredients just covered. The bones of the fish should be very soft and almost mushy.

  4. Blend the soup, in batches if need be, and pass through a fine sieve. It’s very important to use a fine mesh sieve here as you don’t want any of the coarse stuff in the soup.

  5. Get the bread toasted and spread it with the tapenade. To garnish the soup, sprinkle over some paprika and the reserved thyme leaves, and drizzle some olive oil.

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes with Ricotta

One of the old school forgotten vegetables, the jerusalem artichoke is one of my favourites. Roasting them until they’re crisp and caramelised, almost blackened, brings out the sweetness in this humble root, and it just happens to go really well with some homemade ricotta, made soft by mixing some of the whey back into it, and a generous glug of best quality extra virgin olive oil. It’s excellent served simply with some nice bread.

The method for making the ricotta is exactly the same as my existing recipe. You will need muslin (cheesecloth) or a clean tea-towel to strain the cheese.

  • 1 kg jerusalem artichokes, washed
  • 1.25 litres whole milk
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for cooking
  • fine quality extra virgin olive oil
  1. Firstly, make the ricotta. Combine the milk and lemon juice in a large pan and slowly heat to around 83C (it doesn’t have to be exactly precise, but definitely don’t let it boil). The curds will begin to separate from the whey. Hold at this temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dampen and fold your muslin into 5-6 layers (a single layer will do if you’re using a tea-towel). Carefully Ladle the curds onto the muslin and bring the corners together to hang. Drain in the fridge for 1 hour. When cool, mix some of the whey back into the cheese to make it soft, and season to taste with sea salt.

  2. Heat the oven to 200C and place a roasting tray in to get nice and hot. Slice the artichokes in half. When the oven is hot, remove the tray and place over a medium flame on the hob. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and wait 30s for it to heat up, then add the artichokes along with a generous pinch of sea salt, a little cracked black pepper, the whole garlic cloves and thyme. Stir-and-fry for around 2 minutes, until the artichokes are starting to get a bit of colour on them. Now place the tray in the oven and roast for about 40 minutes, tossing a couple of times, until they’re dark and caramelised. It might take longer, depending on your oven.

  3. To serve, spoon the softened ricotta onto the plate, and place the roasted artichokes in the middle in a heap. Drizzle a good amount of olive oil over the whole plate. Serve with crusty bread.

Pheasant with Rapeseed Mustard Dressing

The game season is finished now, but I happen to have a small supply of pheasant breasts in the freezer. I like pheasant but it has one drawback; it’s easy to overcook and can be quite dry if you’re not careful. To counteract this tendency to dryness I cooked them carefully in butter at a fairly low temperature, almost like a confit, and served them with a generous amount of bright yellow rapeseed dressing which is pretty much just a light mayonnaise.

As is always the case in my kitchen, I had a pile of sourdough bread scraps to use up. They were crying out to me made into croutons and this provided the perfect addition to the dish, bringing a vital texture contrast. Cutting the still-warm pheasant into chunky dice, with a little pinkness showing, and the croutons cut the same size, I was happy with the result.

  • 3 large pheasant breasts, skin removed
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 handfuls of stale sourdough bread
  • 150ml fine quality rapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 sprig of thyme, leaves picked
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Firstly, cook the pheasant breasts. Place the butter In a wide heavy-based pan and place over a medium-low heat . Season the pheasant breasts all over with salt and pepper then place in the pan. Cook on a low heat, without letting the butter sizzle, for around 15 minutes, turning every 3 minutes or so, or basting the breasts with the butter. Cook until they’re slightly pink in the middle (60C), then remove from the pan and allow to cool. You can reserve the butter for use in another recipe.

  2. Cut the sourdough into approx. half-inch cubes. In another pan, heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sourdough cubes and stir to coat evenly in the oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, then stir and fry the croutons until they’re golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave in a colander or sieve to drain.

  3. For the dressing, place the egg yolk, vinegar, Dijon mustard and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Whisk until combined, then begin to add the rapeseed oil, a little at a time, while whisking continuously. Once all the oil is combined you should have a thick, mayonnaise-like consistency. Add some water to thin it out a bit, and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.

  4. Cut the pheasant breasts into the same size cubes as the croutons. Mix everything together, leaving a few cubes with nice pinkness showing for display on the top. Finally sprinkle over some thyme leaves for garnish.

Cavolo Nero and Parmesan Salad

This is my new favourite winter salad. Cavolo nero (black kale), has an amazing depth of flavour and is surprisingly savoury, especially when roasted until crisp. Its bubble-like texture is beautiful, too, and makes for an eye-catching plate of food.

I’ve boosted the cavolo’s natural savouriness by pairing it with Parmesan cheese, one of the world’s most famous sources of umami. The fact that they are two classic Italian ingredients makes this dish all the more satisfying. The cavolo nero is prepared in 3 different ways; steamed, finely chopped raw and roasted, so that the full range of flavour is maximised from this amazing vegetable. A selection of nuts adds to the savouriness and brings some extra texture. To counter the bold flavours and ensure that things don’t get too rich, I’ve added some finely sliced celery and a fresh tarragon vinegar dressing.

  • 200g cavolo nero
  • 30g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 handful pine nuts
  • 1 handful cashew nuts
  • 1 handful pistachio nuts
  • 1 stick celery, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Heat the oven to 180C and place a roasting tray inside to get hot. Remove and discard the tough inner stalks from the cavolo nero, then roughly chop the leaves into 2-3 inch long pieces. Once the roasting tray is hot, place one third of the cavolo nero in the tray and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season lightly with sea salt and place in the oven for 10 minutes.

  2. From the remainder of the cavolo nero, take a small handful and finely chop. Set this aside - it will go in the salad, raw, at the end.

  3. Take a frying pan or saute pan and place it over a medium heat. Add a little vegetable oil and, once it’s hot, add the remaining cavolo nero and season lightly with sea salt. Stir and fry for 30 seconds, then add the sliced garlic. Continue to fry for 30 more seconds then add a glassful of water. Cover with a lid or some kitchen foil and steam until the cavolo nero is tender.

  4. Check the cavolo nero in the oven. You want it to be crisp. If it’s not quite there then give it a toss and return to the oven for 5 minutes. When it’s done, remove from the tray and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain.

  5. Put the steamed cavolo nero in a mixing bowl and allow to cool. Roughly chop the cashews and pistachios to be about the same size at the pine nuts, then place in a pan over a medium-high heat and add a small pinch of salt. Dry roast until lightly golden, then add to the mixing bowl. Finely slice the celery at an angle and add to the bowl along with the raw cavolo nero you set aside earlier. Add most of the parmesan, saving about a quarter of it to put on top at the end. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the tarragon vinegar, then mix everything together. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. It might need more olive oil and/or vinegar, too. Serve in a bowl, with the crisp cavolo nero and the reserved parmesan on the top.