Provençal Fish Soup

When I mention fish soup to my friends they typically turn up their noses. I think the first thing that c...
Recent Recipes

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.

Roast Cauliflower with Apple and Grapes

One of my favourite ways to cook potatoes is what we used to call fondants (although I’m not sure this is technically the correct term), where you cut them in half and place the flat side down in a wide frying pan, then half cover with water, add butter and seasoning and then loosely cover with foil. You then boil the water until the potatoes are cooked, at which point you remove the foil and continue to cook them until they’re golden and roasted on the bottom.

It’s a great way to cook any kind of root vegetable because any flavour that is drawn out of the vegetable during the cooking process isn’t lost; the liquid is reduced down to coat the bottom of the vegetable as it caramelises. I wanted to try the same technique with cauliflower, because it has such an attractive shape when you cut it directly through the middle of the stem. It looks great, and is delicious too.

The puree is surprisingly simple: just the trimmings from the cauliflower, rapeseed oil, salt and water. Cauliflower puree is traditionally made with milk, butter or cream and as a result is pretty rich and heavy. This one is amazingly light.

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • rapeseed oil
  • sea salt
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 granny smith apple, cut into 5mm dice
  • a handful of red seedless grapes
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  1. Trim the green leaves from the cauliflower, then cut in half directly down the centre of the stalk. Cut each half into a slice about 1.5cm in thickness. Set the slices aside while you prepare the puree. Finely slice the remainder of the cauliflower. Get a heavy, wide-based pot or deep saute pan, add 3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil and place over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced cauliflower and a generous pinch of salt. Boil the kettle so you have some hot water at hand. Saute the cauliflower, stirring frequently, for about 5-10 minutes. You want to fry the cauliflower as hot as you can (without getting any colour on it), to draw maximum flavour from it. When it’s almost cooked, add enough water to half-cover, then boil until it’s completely dry. Repeat this 3 times. After the third reduction, add enough water to loosen the cauliflower and pour it all into a blender. Blend on full power, adding a little more water if it’s too thick, for about 3 minutes or until completely smooth. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.

  2. While the puree is cooking, you can start on the roasted cauliflower. In a wide frying pan (or two small ones), place the slices of cauliflower flat-side down and add enough water to half cover them. Add a generous couple of pinches of salt, the butter, thyme and garlic. Loosely cover with foil, leaving space at the edges for the steam to escape. Place over a high heat and boil for about 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is about three-quarters cooked. Be careful because it will overcook easily if you don’t keep an eye on it. At this point, nearly all of the water should be gone. Remove the foil and keep cooking until all of the liquid has gone and the cauliflower is golden and roasted on the bottom. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before carefully removing with a spatula.

  3. Meanwhile, get the garnish ready; slice the grapes and mix with the diced apple and coriander. Just before serving, saute the spinach in rapeseed oil with a little pinch of salt. To serve, spoon the puree into the middle of the plate and spread out into a circle. Arrange the spinach in the middle and then place the cauliflower on top. Garnish with the apples, grapes and coriander, and drizzle some rapeseed oil around the edges.

Lamb and Piperade

Piperade is a classic Basque dish made with sweet bell peppers, onions, olive oil and most importantly…patience. The slow process of making piperade is worth the long wait. For a dish that’s completely meat-free, it has a remarkable savouriness and an intense depth of flavour. Not to mention the natural sweetness of the onions and peppers that is enhanced by the long cooking time.

There are various different ways to do this, but one thing is beyond debate: you must remove the skin from the peppers. If not, you’ll have nasty stringy bits ruining the texture of the dish. At Castle Terrace, we had to peel the peppers before slicing and cooking them, which is painstaking and fiddly process. An easier and more conventional method is to roast the peppers, cover them and allow to cool before easily peeling off the skin.

The basic method is as follows: finely slice the onions and sweat slowly in olive oil for 3 hours. Then add the finely sliced peppers and continue sweating slowly for another 3 hours. Much of the intense flavour in this dish comes from the slowly cooked onions, so make sure you cook for the full 3 hours to get them really dark and sweet.

You can pair this with many things - it’s a very versatile garnish. It goes particularly well with lamb, however. For this recipe, ask your butcher for a boned and rolled leg of lamb.

  • 1 leg of lamb, boned and rolled
  • 6 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 4 red peppers
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • 2 green peppers
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • a little sherry vinegar
  1. When the lamb is ready, put in on a rack to rest for 10 minutes or so, then finish the piperade. Finely slice the baby spinach and add to the peppers and onions. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Finish with a little touch of sherry vinegar. Carve the lamb, and place on top of the piperade in wide bowls.

  2. To cook the lamb: get a large, heavy based frying pan and place it over a high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil and wait for it to get hot. Season the lamb all over with salt and pepper and sear it in the pan, turning every couple of minutes or so until nicely caramelised all over. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn over and cook for another 10 minutes. At this point, check the temperature using a skewer: insert the skewer into the middle of the lamb and wait for a few seconds, then press it to your lip. If it’s barely warm, it needs longer. Keep turning and cooking it until the middle feels hot but doesn’t yet burn your skin when you touch it to your lip. If it’s scorching hot, you’ve overcooked it! If you want to use a temperature probe it should be around 58C.

  3. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, take them from the bowl and carefully peel the skin from them. They should be roasted enough that the skin comes off quite easily. Tear the peppers into pieces, removing the core and all the seeds. Finely slice them, and add to the pan with the onions once the onions are ready, along with another pinch of salt. Continue to cook on a low heat for another 3 hours. It should be caramelised, dark and intense.

  4. Meanwhile, get a large pot or casserole dish and add the olive oil. Place over a medium heat and when the oil is hot, add the onions along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook at this temperature for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. When the onions are soft, turn the heat to low and cook for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the onions are dark, intense and sweet. At this point,remove your leg of lamb from the fridge to come up to room temperature.

  5. Set the oven to 190C. Place all the peppers in a roasting tray and cover tightly with foil, then place in the oven for about 40 minutes, until they are softened and you can see the skin starting to wrinkle. Transfer to a bowl or another tray and cover tightly with cling film. Leave to cool.

Cured Chicken Leg with Butter Beans

This is a great way to cook a chicken leg that gets the best out of the skin by exploiting its crispy crunchy potential. I’m sure most of you will agree when I say the best part of a chicken is the crispy skin! The secret here is to lightly cure the chicken skin by sprinkling rock salt on it and leaving for about 8 hours. This draws moisture out of the skin, meaning that it goes amazingly crispy when you fry it, much the same as a confit duck leg. I make a simple spice rub with some olive oil, garlic and paprika and rub this into the flesh side. The result is amazing!

The butter bean stew is rustic and unfussy, reminiscent of a French cassoulet or a Spanish white bean stew. I’ve finished it with some fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil. Add a bottle of fresh white wine and you’ve got a perfect summer’s evening meal.

You’ll need to bone out the chicken leg, ideally with the skin intact, with no holes. It requires a bit of finesse. Alternatively, you could just use thighs instead, which are much easier.

  • 2 large chicken legs, bones removed
  • 1 tbsp coarse rock salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 50g pancetta, cut into chunky lardons
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 200g dried butter beans
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp worcester sauce
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 50g chorizo, diced
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves picked
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  1. Take the boned out chicken legs and score the flesh side several times. This will allow the flavour of the spice rub to penetrate effectively. Take one of the cloves of garlic and crush it to a paste. Place in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika. Mix to a thick paste, then add a generous pinch of sea salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix well, then rub into the flesh side of the chicken legs. Place the legs on a plate, flesh side down, then sprinkle the rock salt evenly onto the skin side. Place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Place the butter beans in a bowl and generously cover with cold water. Leave to soak, also for 8 hours or overnight.

  2. For the butter bean stew, place a large heavy based pan or casserole dish over a medium/high heat and add a couple of glugs of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the lardons and fry until lightly caramelised, then add the diced carrots along with a pinch of salt. Continue to fry over a medium/high heat until the carrots are beginning to colour. Turn the heat down to low and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. The onion should be nice and soft and starting to turn sweet. Drain the butter beans thoroughly and add to the pot with the vegetables, along with the chicken stock, the remaining 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika and the worcester sauce. Bring to the boil, then turn to a gentle simmer for about 1 hour, or until the beans are tender but not falling apart. They may take longer depending on how dry/old the beans are.

  3. For the chicken, it’s a good idea to remove it from the fridge to wash the salt off and dry it about 30 minutes before you cook it. This will ensure the skin is really dry and ready to go, and it’ll also bring the meat up to temperature a bit, allowing for more even cooking. Wash the salt from the skin side of the chicken under a running tap, being careful not to wash off the paprika on the other side. Take some kitchen paper and pat the skin as dry as you can get it.

  4. Get a large heavy based frying pan or skillet and place it over a high heat. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and when it’s hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Don’t overcrowd the pan; if it’s too small, do it in batches. Press the chicken gently to ensure the skin is lying flat, and cook like this for about 20 seconds. Now turn the heat to medium/low. Cook for about 5 minutes like this, ensuring that the heat isn’t too high. You want the skin crispy, but not black! When you can see that the flesh side is about half cooked from beneath, flip the chicken and turn the heat right down. Cook for another 4 or 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

  5. Finish the butter bean stew by adding the balsamic vinegar and diced chorizo and stir through. To serve, put a couple of ladlefuls of the stew into each bowl, then carve the chicken into strips. Divide between the bowls, and garnish with the basil leaves and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.