Runner Bean Vindaloo

Last month I made the annual end-of-summer visit to my parents’ farm. This is a particularly opportune ti...
Recent Recipes

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.

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.