Recipe: Turkish eggs with sumac and preserved lemon yoghurt

photo

One of the biggest things I love about the weekend is having the chance to cook a proper breakfast or brunch for me and my boyfriend. This is one of my go-to weekend brunch dishes. It’s such a lovely, satisfying way to start the weekend, especially if you’ve been guilty of overindulging on the Friday night and are in need of something filling and restorative to sort out those fluctuating blood sugar levels. It’s dead simple too, and works brilliantly as a brunch dish for when you have friends over – just up the quantities to feed however many you need. If you are doing it for friends, you can make-ahead the tomato and pepper base, and yoghurt, and simply finish it with the eggs when your pals arrive.

It might not be strictly authentic, but I’ve thrown some kale into the mix too, as it helps to bulk-out the sauce and we all know I don’t need much of an excuse to add kale to things. I love to use the smoky, mellow Urfa chilli flakes which are grown in Turkey, but you could replace with normal red chilli flakes if you can’t find them. Don’t fret if you don’t have any preserved lemons or sumac powder to add to the yoghurt, a straight forward garlic yoghurt flavoured with lemon juice will do as a good substitute.

olive oil
1 white onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 red or green pepper, sliced
1 tin of cherry or chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp urfa chilli flakes
a handful of kale leaves, stems and stalks removed and chopped
2 eggs
small bunch of fresh coriander, stems finely chopped, leaves kept whole

For the sumac yoghurt:

2 slices of preserved lemon, pith and flesh removed and finely chopped
6 tbsp natural yoghurt – I like the full fat greek stuff
1 heaped tsp sumac powder
pinch of salt
Olive oil

Add a splash of olive oil to a skillet or frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt for a few minutes, until aromatic and softened, but not browning. Add in the sliced pepper and coriander stems and cook for a further 2 minutes, then pour in the tin of tomatoes, a splash more olive oil, chilli and smoked paprika and cook down for 10 minutes, until thickened and sweet. 

While the tomato base is cooking, make your infused yoghurt. Simply stir the garlic, salt, sumac and preserved lemon through the yoghurt and drizzle over the olive oil.

Now, turn the heat down to low and create a two indents in the tomato base with the back of a spoon. Crack in two eggs, and cover with a lid or large plate and cook for a few minutes until the eggs are set, but still have soft yolks – three to four minutes.
Serve with the yoghurt and some toasted sourdough, scattered with the fresh coriander leaves.

Recipe: winter squash, buttermilk and spice bundt cakes with boozy brandy squash icing

IMG_2819

To me, the abundance of pumpkins and squashes are one of the best things about this time of year. I never really cooked with them until I went to Vancouver and discovered them growing in every garden and trailing down every front porch from ‘fall’ onwards. It was my lovely friend Renee who first showed me how to carve out pumpkins and roast their seeds to a make a spicy, savoury snack.

IMG_2754

Because the flesh of these festive gourds is so darned sweet, they make a brilliant ingredient for baking, especially when paired with warm spices – as witnessed by that fall staple of the pumpkin pie in North America. I wanted to have my own go at baking with the sweet puree of a winter squash, which my local organic shop has in at the moment in all kinds of beautiful shapes and sizes.

IMG_2756

To make a base puree that I use for everything from soup and stews to baking, I use a Turban, Delicata or Kuri squash, cut them in half, remove the seeds (for roasting) rub them with a little olive oil and roast them, skin on in a 180 °C oven for about 40 minutes, until the flesh is really soft and yielding, and comes easily away from the skin. Then I just pop them in my blender and blitz to a creamy paste.

I wanted to try out my new silicone bundt moulds and some of the flours I had left over from a recent styling shoot, so by total accident these little sponges turned out to be gluten free – but they were very light, fluffy, and though I’m loathe to use the term: moist, just the thing for a perk-you-up with a hot cup of tea. The icing contains some of the sweet puree of the squash mixed with a dash of brandy, to warm your cockles as the weather draws in, and to make sure they’re not too virtuous. I hope you enjoy.

For the cakes:

30g walnuts
100g buckwheat
2 tbspn semolina flour
25g almond flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp warm spice (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger)
2 eggs
100ml buttermilk
250g squash puree
80g coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup

For the icing:
200g icing sugar
50g puree
1/2 zested orange
Juice of half an orange
Tbsp brandy or rum

Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Place your bundt molds on a flat baking tray. If you don’t have bundt molds you could use muffin tins to make little sponges, in which instance you should grease the mold (unless they’re silicone too). Grind the walnuts up into a coarse powder in a mini-chopper.

Sift the flours into a large bowl and add the almond and walnut flours, salt, spices and baking powder. Melt the coconut oil over a low heat and leave to cool slightly. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and mix with the buttermilk, squash puree, coconut oil and maple syrup until well combined. Put the dry ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment and start to beat on a medium spead. Add in the wet ingredients and beat until you have a runny batter.

Pour the batter into the molds, being sure not to overfill, place in the oven and bake for 16 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the molds for a few minutes before popping them out of their molds and cooling on a wire rack.

IMG_2824

To make the icing, beat the icing sugar with the orange juice until you have a smooth, runny icing, then add the puree, zest and alcohol. Drizzle the runny icing all over the cake and devour!

IMG_2832

A Lot On Her Plate Supper… in Paradise

IMG_2266

A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of inviting some of my finest food-loving friends to a little supper at Paradise By Way of Kensal Green in West London. The idea was to introduce my cooking and some of the recipes from the forthcoming book (named after this blog) to my peers, in a fun and fabulous setting with plenty of drinks to wash it down. I had my 25th birthday at Paradise, and I know what a great venue it is – rather ahead of its time in terms of decor and outlook: channeling a sort of relaxed, eccentric decadence, but because it’s all the way over in West London it’s not somewhere I go often enough.

Lucky for me, the guys at the venue are an absolute joy to work with, and gave me a huge amount of autonomy in everything from styling the table, to what I was going to serve for dinner – making the whole experience enjoyable, rather than stressful. We decided to keep things intimate – with a sit-down meal for 25, starting off with Aperol Spritz (my all-time favourite drink), kale chips and Marmite Gougeres in the twinkling conservatory, before heading into the candlelit private dining room for the meal.

IMG_2282

In the dining room the table was laid with a grey tablecloth and decorated with flowers and succulents by my favourite florist Grace and Thorn, as well as some pineapples that I brought along because I love using them as table decorations. This wasn’t planned, I promise – but the room is painted a lovely turquoise blue, matching the vintage turquoise blue and gold dress I was wearing, and while coordinating with the decor wasn’t the first thing on my mind, I got lots of compliments on the outfit and on the styling – people loved those pineapples!

IMG_2272

When we were all sat down the wine started to flow and people got stuck into the bavette carpaccio and leeks vinaigrette – two of the dishes from the ‘starters’ section of the book. It was pretty surreal to look around me and see respected food folk like Felicity Cloake, Clive Watson, Rebecca Seal, Victoria Stewart, Alice Levine, Elly Curshen and Uyen Luu eating my food in a restaurant setting. It was such a fun night, and I was so happy and heartened by the supportive turnout, I soon forgot my nerves and got stuck into the plates with everyone else. David, the brilliant chef from Paradise translated my recipes absolutely faithfully and was kind enough to say that he thought my food was the sort of thing he’d serve in the restaurant. David you charmer!

IMG_2289

That day, while David had been grafting for the evening’s service, I’d been cooking up the dessert (huge thanks to Uyen Luu for allowing me to commandeer her brand new oven for perfect results): two huge cherry pies I brought along, balancing the overspilling, crumbly pastries on my lap in the car on the way. They went down very well indeed (the recipe will be in the book), and while some people left after the sweet course to make the last tube, some of us stayed on for more Aperol and to have a dance in the conservatory. I remember rapping to Jay-Z with Clem from Paradise and Antony Rettie, but that’s about the last thing I remember.

IMG_2278

Massive thanks so Shelley Martin-Light for making this thing happen and feasting with us on the night, despite being very close to giving birth. You are such an inspiration lady!

IMG_2290

If this is the kind of thing you’d like to come to, watch this space because hopefully there might be some more next year, to tie-in with the book’s release. We might even throw a copy of the book in with the ticket price…

The night’s menu:

Rosie Birkett Supper Club

IMG_2286 IMG_2288 IMG_2275 IMG_2293

Food styling for Guardian Cook

PancakesCook

If you’re a follower of this blog, my Twitter or Instagram, you may have noticed that the old Cathcart/Birkett dream team was recently reunited for a shoot for the Guardian’s Cook supplement, which comes out each weekend as part of the Saturday Guardian, sharing some wonderful recipe ideas and relevant, original food content. You can read a couple of pieces I’ve written for the supplement here. Being a massive fan of Cook, which has been taken up a notch by hot-shot editor Mina Holland, (author of the wonderful Edible Atlas), and always includes gorgeous photography and styling, I was super excited to work on four of its 10 Best spreads, which included cover shots.

The 10 Best feature takes one ingredient and shares recipes that are brilliant because you’ve probably not made them before. Our ingredients were pepper, plums, sweet potato and ‘sauces’, and the recipes included things like dairy free, gluten free sweet potato donuts and one of my faves, walnut romesco sauce, from amazing cooks including Michel Roux Jr, Anna Jones and Anissa Helou.

During the shoot we were spoiled rotten with the food – I particularly loved Michel Roux Jr’s plum tarts, which while being fairly demanding (I needed to make a proper creme pat and stock syrup to poach the plums in) are worth every effort once you sink your teeth into them. They also look beautiful because the plums sort of melt into the creme pat, their skins scorching and shrinking, their flesh turning to sweet, unctuous pulp. Hurry up and make them while plums are still here! 

Hemsley and Hemsley’s beef Lok Lak was also delicious, and will certainly be gracing my table again, not least because it’s fabulously quick and satisfying.

You can find all these delicious recipes here:

I love working with Helen because her pictures are always beautiful, natural and evocative, and she always makes food I cook look its best. It’s amazing to see these pictures in print on the cover of a supplement I’ve been reading (and writing for) since it started. Here are some of the pics – I hope you like them. With thanks to Linda Berlin for her ace prop styling and Jenny Brown for her brilliant assistance during the shoot, check out her excellent blog Bake here.

gdn.cokdonutsgdn.cokplums

 

gdn.cokduck

gdn.cokromescoGetInline-6 GetInline-17 GetInline-18GetInline-7GetInline-12 GetInline-16

Book shoot and summer supper club fun

photo-19

It’s been a while since I put up a blog post, but I have a good excuse, promise. For the past few months I’ve been working, cooking and sweating my not-so-little ass off to get my cookbook (WHOOP) submitted to the wonderful Hardie Grant. As seems to now be the pattern (remember last summer’s Christmas photoshoot for Booths?), I spent the June heatwave split between my tiny, dark basement kitchen and the lovely light, airy kitchen at  Helen Cathcart’s location house cooking and prepping for two solid weeks for the shoot.

Never have I cursed my wretched rented kitchen, or loved my dweeby trainers and their comfy orthotic inserts more. I am so lucky to have worked with Helen on this as she always takes the most beautiful photos, and we are really on the same page when it comes to styling and props, which we sourced together for the book. I am really excited about the way the book is going to look – you may have caught the odd glimpse on Instagram and here are some more outtakes:

photo

photo

To celebrate finishing the shoot – which was genuinely one of the most full-on working experiences of my life – but great fun thanks to the wonderful company I was in (thanks also to my amazing helpers Maggie, the hilarious Stephanie Boote, Jenny and Ben), Helen and I – ever suckers for punishment – decided to throw a little supperclub in Helen’s magical garden in Hackney. We invited some of our friends, laid on Sacred gin and elderflower cocktails, had some beautiful floral table dressings from fab local florist Grace and Thorn, and I cooked up a selection of recipes from the book including potato and rosemary pizzas and my famous homemade porchetta.

We served everything on big platters in the middle of the table, and the food went down really well, along with too many bottles of wine to recount. After all the courses had been served, I took off my apron and headed outside to drink and dance the night away with the guests, who seemed to be enjoying themselves. The whole night was a real team effort, with Helen taking some beautiful shots (below), some of which will feature in the book, and my pal Ben Blackburn stoically helping in the kitchen, despite having graduated from his cookery school the day before. Helen’s gorgeous sister Lilee (pictured) waitressed, and Jamie was chief KP, keeping the kitchen ticking over very smoothly.

Supperclub

Supperclub

Supperclub

Supperclub

This was the menu:

A Midsummer’s Supper Club

Snacks
Bagna Cauda and raw veg
Rosemary and potato pizzas

Starter
Seafood orzo salad with slow roasted tomatoes, baby squid and roasted pine nuts

Main
Homestyle porchetta with green lentils

Salads
Panzanella
Fig, rocket and gorgonzola

Dessert
Lemon meringue posset

Doing the supper club was huge fun, and it’s definitely something I want to again, it’s just a case of finding a venue that will work. So watch this space, because you’ll be invited to the next one…

Cooking with elderflower: simple cordial and rhubarb and elderflower upside down cake

Elderflower picking, Hackney
Photo by Helen Cathcart

I really love the start of spring, when rhubarb comes into season and the trees are fragrant and floral with little white elderflowers. I’ve never lived anywhere where elderflower season has been so apparent, but I’m near the River Lea and Hackney marshes, and suddenly my morning runs and bike rides have become heady with the gorgeous scent of these pretty, fragrant and short-lived white flowers, which seem to be growing from every tree and hedgerow. I’ve been collecting it by the bag-load, covering myself in pollen and making cordial (some of which is now fermenting into wine) and more besides. Elderflower is such a versatile ingredient, wonderfully pretty for garnishing desserts, great as fritters dipped in a light batter and eaten crispy and hot, or made into cordial and used in cocktails or baking. The season will be over soon, the flowers will start to turn brown – so hurry, get out there and get picking!

photo(7)

Here’s my very simple cordial recipe – it uses less sugar than normal and I’ve put the citric acid as optional because I’ve made it with and without, both successfully. Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to wash the elderflower before you make it as that will wash away all the aromatic pollen which gives it its special scent and flavour.

photo(5)

20 heads of elderflower
2 lemons, zested and finely sliced
 into rounds
500g caster sugar
1/2 tsp citric acid
 (optional)

Put your sugar into a large saucepan or casserole, cover with about a litre and a half of water and bring up until it’s not quite boiling, but the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool slightly, then add the lemon, zest and elderflower, and citric acid if you’re using. Stir, and steep for 24 hours.

Line a colander or sieve with a clean tea towel and place over a large bowl. Carefully pour the elderflower mixture into it in stages if you need to, and allow it to drip through, filtering. Remove to a jug and fill sterilised bottles and jars with your cordial. It should keep for up to 6 weeks in the fridge.

Rhubarb and elderflower upside down cake
Serves 6

photo(6)

This recipe combines elderfower with fruity, tart rhubarb in a light, gooey-bottomed, self-saucing sponge cake. This is best enjoyed with a large dollop of cool creme fraiche.

40g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
300g trimmed rhubarb, cut into 3cm pieces
2 tablespoons elderflower cordial
80g caster sugar
4 heads of elderflower, tough stems removed, plus another head for garnish
40g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
100g natural yoghurt
2 medium eggs, separated

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a pudding dish or cake tin. Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the elderflower cordial and a tablespoon of the sugar over a low heat. Simmer gently for 5–10 minutes until it’s softened and part-cooked but still holds its shape. It will release its juice during this time.
Put a sieve over a bowl and strain the rhubarb, reserving its juices. Set aside to cool.

Once cool, arrange half of your rhubarb on the bottom of your cake tin/pudding basin, as neatly as you can, along with some of the elderflowers. This will be the top of the cake and look very pretty once you take it out of the tin.

Beat together the butter and the remaining sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly add in the flour and baking powder, mixing well, followed by the yoghurt, the rhubarb juices, and the remaining rhubarb and elderflowers, mixing well after each addition. Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and lightly fold into the batter.

Spoon the batter on top of the rhubarb in your baking tin and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is firm and golden. Leave to cool for and settle for 5 minutes on a wire rack, then use a palate knife to loosen it from the tin. Serve immediately with loads of creme fraiche.

Restaurant crush: Lardo

photo

The food at Lardo is so good, that I found myself chowing down on a radicchio, gorgonzola and walnut pizza about an hour after eating a HUGE bowl of nduja pasta and raspberry jelly at home, like it was the most normal thing in the world. I know. I’d popped in for a ‘drink’ with a pal (thankfully it’s in my new hood Hackney), and I wasn’t intending on eating, but once I saddled up on a high stool overlooking the chefs at work and the pizza-spewing wood oven, it was like I’d never eaten… well I suppose this blog isn’t called ‘A Lot On Her Plate’ for nothing.

photo

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been there twice, and I will continue to go there as long as it carries on being what I reckon is one of the best informal, reasonably priced Italians in London.

From the outside, looking in on this pared-back, understated restaurant near London Fields, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is simply a pizza joint, thanks to the huge, disco ball-esque wood-fired pizza oven that looms large through the window. But great as the pizzas are, this place is about so much more than that.

For starters, you might not know this, but Lardo – which takes its name from the delicious cured back fat of the beast – has its own extra special charcuterie made from Mangalitza pigs that are bred especially for it in the West Country. These pigs are furry and cute, so you might not want to Google pictures of them too much, but they’re also perfectly suited to yielding cured meats, thanks to their marbled meat and plentiful, flavourful fat. Try the deliciously fragrant fennel pollen salami and silky, silky coppa.

photo

To keep it true to the inexpensive, local Italian restaurants on which it’s modeled, the team at Lardo put huge effort into sourcing exceptional fresh produce and making things like pasta, simple cheeses, breads and even the syrups for its drinks from scratch. There are specials on all the time, and the menu changes according to what’s in season, sometimes on a daily basis, meaning that even though I visited twice in a few weeks (and ate the same pizza twice – it’s that nice), there were different things to try, and seasonal gems like stuffed tempura courgette flowers (£6), spaghetti with clams and wilted wild garlic (£12), or beautiful pale green nettle tagliatelle (£12) which comes wonderfully al dente and slathered in a creamy sauce with mushrooms and cheese.

The wine list at Lardo is focused and reasonably priced, honed on Italy and flitting between Northern Europe in winter, and Southern Europe in summer, with an emphasis on lesser-known European grape varieties. You can just pop in for a carafe and a bite, and sit at the bar watching the chefs (as I did) if you just fancy something light. But really, everything is so good you’ll just want to order and order – and I’d heartily encourage you to do just that.

photo

photo

LARDO will open its summer rooftop bar and grill COPPA this summer on 24th May 2014, and I can’t wait for this as I stupidly managed to miss it entirely last summer. Bring it on!

Kale and coriander pancakes with avocado butter and roasted tomato

kalepancakes

It was Pancake Day yesterday. This post was supposed to go up then. But you, know, life happened (and I may just have forgotten to update WordPress in ages, rendering it unusable). But boy, did I get busy with the pancake pan. I did this smoked haddock pancake with frazzled leeks and lemony creme fraiche recipe for Fish On Friday – an amazing new fish website, and I also made these little beauties for breakfast – mostly because I wanted to feel better about eating pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner (dinner was the talented Uyen Luu’s Banh Xeo – thanks Uyen!)

Here’s my recipe – yes, sorry, another kale one, but it’s tasty, I promise! – for an alternative, and wonderfully healthy Pancake Day dish. The pancakes themselves are stuffed full of goodness in the form of very finely chopped kale, with the slow-roasted tomatoes lending a richness and acidity. The creamy, perky avocado butter is made with tahini and is dangerously addictive. Make too much and then smear it on hot toasted sourdough. Or just eat it with your fingers like I do!

Pans

Kale pancakes with avocado butter and roasted tomato 
Makes two big stacks of pancakes

For the avocado butter
Half a very ripe avocado
1 Tbspn tahini
Pinch of red chilli flakes
Tbspn lemon juice or more to taste
Half a shallot, peeled
Pinch of salt and a good grind of freshly milled black pepper

For the kale pancakes
85g plain flour
15g rye flour
Half tsp baking powder
Tsp garlic powder
Tsp cumin powder
Lime zest
Tsp Maldon sea salt and a good grind of freshly milled black pepper

100ml milk
1 beaten egg
1 tbspn olive oil
Two big leaves of kale, destemmed and blitzed in a food processor until VERY finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves, blitzed until very finely chopped
15ml cold water
Rapeseed oil, for frying

For the slow roasted tomato
1 large tomato, sliced into rounds
Olive oil
Maldon sea salt and pepper
A sprig of thyme

Preheat your oven to 160. On a greased baking tray or enamel plate, place your tomato. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and scatter over the thyme leaves. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until it’s softened and slightly shriveled.

Toms

While they’re roasting, you can make your pancake batter. Put your flour, baking powder, the lime zest, spices and salt and pepper into a mixing bowl. Combine the beaten egg, olive oil, chopped kale and coriander in another bowl or jug. Pour the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk with a fork or balloon whisk, until you have a batter, adding the water to loosen it – you want it about the consistency of double cream. Leave to rest while you make the avocado butter.

Blitz your shallot in a food processor until finely chopped. Scoop the flesh of your avocado into the food processor and add the tahini, lemon juice, chilli flakes and salt and pepper. Blitz until you have a smooth paste – it should be the consistency of whipped butter. Scrape out of the food processor and into a bowl.

Now it’s time to make the pancakes. Dig out your best non-stick pan (I love the ceramic coated ones) and a silicone brush. Pour about a tablespoon of rapeseed oil onto a small plate and brush your pan with the oil. Heat the pan up over a high heat and then spoon about half a ladleful of the pancake mixture into your pan. Swizzle to evenly distribute the mixture – you’re aiming for small, thick pancakes rather than traditional thin, large ones. Cook for two-to-three minutes and then shake the pan. If the pancake comes away from the bottom easily, flip it over and cook on the other side for another two minutes, until golden. Remove to a plate and keep warm in the oven – which should be turned off but still warm from cooking the tomatoes. Repeat the process with the rest of the mixture, divide the pancakes between two plates and serve topped with the tomatoes and avocado butter.

Woodland Pie Recipe

Chocolates and flowers are all very well, but I think if you really adore someone, making them something hearty and full of love is the way to go. And who doesn’t love a pie? Which is what my boyfriend will be getting this Valentine’s Day (well he did go and take me to Venice for my 30th, so I thought I should make a leetle bit of an effort!).

A raised, hot water crust pie takes some time to make, especially if you’re filling it with something other than sausage meat, but it’s worth it in the end for a nice chunk of flavour-packed pie, succulent with jelly. And it’s really not as scary as it sounds, you just need to make sure you put aside an afternoon when you’ll be pottering in the kitchen to give the dough time to cool and rest, and you time to poach the chicken, make the filling, bake the pies and them wait for them to cool before you make and add the jelly. But it’s a satisfying process, and a pie like this should last you a while, especially if you just dip into it – it’s perfect as a snack to have with drinks, or as a little starter before a main meal.

I decided to fill mine with chicken, pork belly and mushrooms, because I wanted something a bit lighter than solid pork, and had some fab dried porcini I brought back from Venice. You could easily substitute chicken for game like guinea fowl or pheasant when during game season. I used the stock from poaching the chicken and the rehydration stock from the dried mushrooms to make the jelly – giving it a sort of woodland character. I also put some dried tarragon through the pastry to give it a little lift, and because obviously tarragon is great with chicken and mushrooms. I also used pork belly rather than sausage meat as I couldn’t get hold of any decent fresh pork mince. I’ve made this pastry twice now, and I found using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer a massive help the second time because it incorporates the hot fat and water more smoothly than my rather lame mixing action, but it can obviously also be done by hand in a big bowl. Let me know how you get on with this recipe if you try it out.

Woodland (chicken, pork and mushroom) pies

Makes two medium pies or one big one

It goes without saying that you should use the best quality meat you can find and afford. Corn-fed chickens have more flavour and make for a better stock. I prefer to use pork belly and mince it myself than using pork mince. Marscapone adds a bit more fat to the mix and lemon zest keeps it fresh.

For the filling
1 medium chicken (you will only use 300g of this, but keep the rest for salad, sandwiches etc)
300g pork belly, skin and bone removed
1 tbspn olive oil
5 g butter
2 star anise
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns
1 leek, halved and washed
2 cloves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
Large pinch of dried red chilli flakes
zest of one lemon
30g dried mushrooms, keeping their rehydration stock for the jelly
2 rashers of smoked bacon, chopped into lardons
Small bunch of sage leaves, torn up finely
1 tbspn marscapone
Very good grating of nutmeg
1 tsp fish sauce
pinch sea salt
good grinding of black pepper

For the pastry
100g lard
75g unsalted butter
2 tsp dried tarragon
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 egg, beaten
475g flour
160ml boiling water
1 egg, beaten (for the egg wash)

For the jelly
200ml chicken stock
100ml mushroom stock
50ml dry white wine
3 leaves of gelatin.

Fill a pot big enough to poach an entire chicken full of water, add the anise, black peppercorns, cloves, leek and bay leaf and bring to the boil. When it’s boiling, add the chicken and gently poach for 1 hour, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface as you go. When an hour has passed, pierce with a skewer to check the juices run clear, and leave to cool. Pass the stock through a sieve and reserve – you will need this for the jelly. When it’s cool enough to handle, shred 300g of breast and thigh meat into a bowl and reserve.

Then make the pastry. Place your flour and tarragon in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the beaten egg and stir in until it’s incorporated. You could do this in a stand mixer for ease.

Now melt the lard and butter in a saucepan with the salt and sugar. When it’s almost all melted, add the boiling water and bring to the boil, stirring with a wooden spoon. Once it’s boiled, remove quickly from the heat and leave it for about half a minute.
Now stir it into the flour and egg mix, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon to form a smooth, sticky dough. If you’re using a stand mixer, put it on the lowest mix setting with the paddle beater and let it mix until a soft, smooth dough forms – being careful to not over work. Cover with a tea towel and rest for one hour.

After the pastry has cooled and rested for an hour, tip it out onto a floured surface and flatten it out with your hands, shaping it into a rough rectangle. Fold the dough into thirds by bringing one end into the middle and pushing down with your fingers. Repeat with the opposite end, folding it on top of the other. Press down again with your fingertips. Flatten it out again into a rough rectangle and place on a floured plate or tray, covering with foil or grease-proof paper and refrigerating for a minimum of 30 minutes. 

While the pastry is resting you can get on with the filling. First rehydrate the dried mushrooms in 100ml of boiling water. Put 5g of butter and olive oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the onions with 6 shredded sage leaves. After three minutes, add the chopped bacon and cook until the bacon is lightly cooked – about five minutes.

Drain the mushrooms, reserving the stock, squeeze out the moisture from them and chop them up. You want them to be about the same bulkiness as the shredded chicken. Add the mushroom stock to 200ml of chicken stock and put in a separate pan.

Put the pork belly chunks in a food processor and whizz until you have a chunky mince, adding in the onion and bacon mixture for a blitz. Put this in bowl with chicken, lemon zest, garlic, sage, marscapone, fish sauce, nutmeg, chopped mushrooms and mix together well with your hands, rubbing it all together to get the flavours incorporated. Put this in the fridge to infuse while the pastry rests.

Preheat the oven to 180. Grease and flour (tapping out the excess flour) two enamel pudding bowls or high-sided pie moulds.

Take the pastry out of the fridge and transfer it to a floured surface. Cut it in half and roll out each half as follows. Sweep it in a circular motion across the surface to coat it in flour. It should feel much stiffer and firmer to the touch now it’s cooled. Roll it out lightly, and then fold it into thirds, as before. Rotate it by a quarter turn and roll it out to about 4mm thickness, being sure to rotate it by a quarter turn every two or so rolls so it doesn’t stick.

Once it’s your desired diameter and thickness, drape it over a smaller cup or bowl that will fit inside your pie mould, reserving the rest of the dough for the lid (you may need to cut off the excess, press together the scraps and re-roll for this). Put the pie mould over it, and then flip the right side up. Remove the inner bowl and press the pastry into the bottom of the mould and against the sides. Chop of the excess off that’s draping over the rim and use this for your lid. 

Divide the filling between the pastry bowls. Put the lid on and squeeze the edges together with the side crusts, being sure it’s well sealed. Crimp the edges with your fingers and put a hole in the middle with a skewer – it needs to be big enough to fit a piping bag nozzle for the jelly.

Egg wash the pies and bake them for 40 minutes, checking that the tops aren’t burning as you go. If they start to blacken or burn, cover them with tin foil and return them to the oven. 

When they’re baked, check using a meat thermometer inserted through the skewer hole that the meat is 80c or more. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a skewer – it should come out piping hot. 

Leave the pies to cool for two hours.

When they’re cool, make the jelly. Put the gelatin in some cold water for a few minutes until it’s squidgy, then squeeze out the water. Heat the stocks and wine up to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in the gelatin until it’s dissolved.

When it’s cool enough to handle, but not so cool that it’s setting, put the jelly into a piping bag and carefully pipe into the hole in your pie. Fill it with jelly until it’s coming out the hole. Wipe any that leaks onto the surface of the pie with kitchen roll.

Cool in the fridge for about 8 hours. Cut up and serve with a nicely dressed green salad.

x

Photo blog: when we went to Portland

Charcuterie boards at Olympic Provisions

It seems like an absolute age ago now, but I was in Portland in September for FEAST – the city’s annual food festival in association with Bon Appetit magazine. Feast is a three day feeding frenzy which sees the city’s top chefs come together and cook superb Oregonian bounty at events like the Sandwich Invitational – a night where they all competed to create the tastiest meal between two slices of bread.

The whole trip got off to rather a rollicking start, as it turned out that we were staying in the Jupiter Motel, whose ground floor was the venue for the festival’s industry launch, so that night, after attending the ‘Sandwich Invitational’, Jamie and I found ourselves rubbing shoulders with the city’s chef and food big shots, dancing like maniacs to My Sharona and drinking free-flowing gin and tonics until 3am. I met a lot of people that night, and I’m sure I don’t remember all of them – but one thing’s for sure, the food scene in Portland is one of the friendliest and most inclusive anywhere in the world, and (said like Frank Gallagher) it knows how to throw a party.

I was there writing a food and travel piece on the Oregon city, which has, in the past ten years, become one of the finest US food cities thanks to all the amazing punk rock restaurants, food carts and cafes that have sprung up serving a global mish-mash of kick-ass cooking. I write about this in more depth in a forthcoming piece for Escapism Magazine (out soon), but here is a little snapshot of the place we visited and the things we ate.

Ned Ludd: nedluddpdx.com

 

Nong’s Khao Man Gai food truck

Nong's Khao Man Gai food truck

Pok Pok: pokpokpdx.com

For more information on Portland see travelportland.com