Saturday, 19 October 2019

Espresso bolo.Afternoon tea with history

More homely than sophisticated and dainty; If push came to shove, most of us would admit to preferring the sort of cakes our grannies might have made (if they had lived in Ambridge), those ones sold on paper plates made from a WI recipe and wrapped messily in clingfilm at the village fete, bring and buy sale or the all new event The Worlds biggest coffee morning; in short, the cakes you imagine the pious Mary Berry probably feasts on for breakfast.
If I had to pick one cake to represent England, it would have to be a Coffee and Walnut Cake. The Fullers Tea Room*  version is mentioned in both Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate. That's a good enough pedigree for me! As it turns out the original Fuller's Walnut Cake had two layers with buttercream between them, as did my mothers coffee and walnut cake of my childhood, but having lost my mothers transcript, the recipe I found was for a single layer cake. I'll definitely have to try it again. However, if you want something smaller and simpler than a layer cake, this recipe will work out just fine. It's subtly walnutty,utterly butterly and not too sweet.Delicious with a cup of tea.This is a classic tea room cake as would have been served in the aforementioned Fullers who ran the tearoom for the London Coliseum,
 The London Coliseum Tea Room - From a Postcard in 1904
staffed by ladies in black and white uniform.Another celebrated tea room, Betty´s in Harrogate, the Yorkshire institution, turned 100 this year.

Growing up, this cake was a constant on our kitchen counter. My mum made it practically every week, and I would have a giant slice with a big glass of milk. It was one of the most well worn pages from her cookbook, and it wasn´t till recently that it suddenly came back to light in my head.
Coffee and walnut cake
This is a revised, more contemporary, version of one of the original sponge cakes I remember from my childhood. Now, though, since the advent of mascarpone, the icing is a great improvement. finely chopped walnuts give it amazing texture. A little cream cheese makes it especially smooth and delicious. My version however is topped with an easy espresso-infused buttercream icing. Fie on Nigel Slater or anyone else who advocates the use of instant coffee granules. I have flavoured both cake and frosting with strong homemade espresso
  •  Cake:
  • 3/4 cup walnuts (divided)
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 ounces) all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar (granulated)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons strong espresso or very strong black coffee
  • Frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons strong espresso or very strong black coffee
Heat the oven to 350 F/180 C/Gas 4. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.With a food processor or food chopper, finely chop 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Set aside.Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; blend thoroughly and set aside.In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the 1/2 cup of softened butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.In a measuring cup, combine the milk with the 3 tablespoons of espresso or coffee.With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk and espresso mixture. Blend well.Fold in the finely chopped walnuts.Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan.Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched with a finger. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and cool completely

In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, blend the confectioners' sugar with the 2 tablespoons of butter and the cream cheese. Beat in the strong espresso or coffee, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable. Add more confectioners' sugar if it becomes too thin.
Coarsely chop the remaining 1/4 cup of walnuts.
Spread frosting over the top and sides of the cooled cake.
Sprinkle the coarsely chopped walnuts over the top of the cake.
* Years ago, Fullers Tea Rooms were a familiar sight in many English towns and Fullers cakes, which came surrounded with paper straw and packed in shiny, white boxes, were a nice reminder that bought cakes could be good. Fullers Walnut Cake with its crunchy white icing was legendary. 

Thursday, 3 October 2019


Signature pan seared cajun pork with turmeric and Singapore slaw,recipe below
The question “what’s your signature dish?” is one that all us cooks and chefs will face at some point in a culinary career. The older you get,and more people get to recognise your style, the more frequently you will hear this. It’s always a good idea to have a fluid menu that you can adapt and change, but a signature dish provides an essential anchor,and something people will remember you by.
A signature dish can even play a part in helping you to build a brand as it has done here at Casa Rosada.
What makes a signature dish? there seem to be differing views on what a signature dish really is. There’s general agreement that it’s the one dish that is really “you.” Some  feel that a signature dish is the one that you are the most confident in making and displays a balance of impact and ease. Others might say that a signature dish is one that sums up your passions and cooking style – or it’s the most technically difficult dish you do.Food for thought and room for interpretation when developing one.
What makes a signature dish significant? For me its simplicity – The ideal signature dish should be innovative or one´s own interpretation of something classic that you have put your own stamp on,it can be both adventurous and creative – but simple. You know you can prepare it and you know what it’s trying to say.The personal touch is all important – Eggs Benedict is a classic brunch dish but if you add a twist of your own to it then it can become your signature dish. I mutated Eggs Benedict into Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch by adding smoked salmon, avocado and trading the muffin for grilled polenta.  
Perhaps it can be about adding an unexpected flavour to something or an unusual glaze to a pastry.This is innovating the construction of the dish.It is all about showcasing something that others might not otherwise have thought about.I applied this to both a traditional and a savoury version of pannacotta.To the traditional recipe I infused the cream with lemon geranium and for a savoury version I added slow roasted tomatoes and angostura bitters. Another unexpected combination I put together was  Panna cotta de trufa boletus or Porcini mushrooms with bacon marmalade.
That astonishing pair of culinary geniuses The Clarks of Restaurant Moro in London put a very simple twist on something I have always loved,that age old classic rum and raisin ice cream.By soaking the raisins in sherry and pouring some more sherry over the top before serving gave this retro dessert a more modern context.Helado de pasas de Málaga Malaga raisin ice cream with Pedro Ximenez.
Many a signature dish has been built upon fantastic flavour combinations, which makes this a great place to start when your are in the development process. Make a list of the ingredients you love to use and go through a tasting process. Which combinations make sense classically and where could you add a different taste to produce something completely new? My signature pesto for instance is Ginger, mint, basil and coriander ,which when combined with dry roasted peanuts as opposed to pine nuts gives the pesto an excitingly fresh twist. and opens up an avenue of new serving options.
Presentation – if this is the dish that says everything about you as a cook then it should be presented with pride. Great signature dishes usually arrive to an awed intake of breath from the diner.It´s always worth taking the time to factor in plate design and the best way to present the ingredients you’re using so they make the most impact.I recently drew breath when I served a Caesar salad in a giant crouton box.
As a child, I was absolutely revulsed by bread and butter pudding.I even balk at modern interpretations using brioche and fresh grapes or adding citrus tones,but by making it with anchovies, ricotta and parmesan and by substituting olives and capers for the sultanas and raisins, it suddenly transformed into something more than acceptable to a more matured and sophisticated palate.
Anchovy bread and butter pudding

Signature pan seared cajun pork 
with turmeric and Singapore slaw (above)

Cajun seasoning is essential for creating many of the best-known dishes from Louisiana’s legendary food culture. Its blend of familiar, savoury flavours can be used to enhance a variety of dishes from elsewhere as well.
Cajun seasoning blends typically contain onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt
These are not exactly the most exotic ingredients. In other words, it is a relatively simple task to find them and then to blend them all yourself.Its not that difficult either to amp up the formula and arouse the senses a bit more. I omit oregano, paprika,and salt but introduce turmeric and thyme, in addition to the other spices.
I have fine tuned the spices in this rub to make it one of my signature rubs, It works best with pork or any other white meat
to start 1 heaped tsp.good quality cajun spice mix
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more
2 1/2 tsp. light brown sugar, divided
2 large boneless pork loin chops (about 600g total)
Working one at a time, place pork chop flat on a work surface. First, butterfly the pork chop so that it’s thinner, which will reduce cooking time and create more surface area for seasoning. Using a sharp knife and starting from an outside edge, slice three-quarters of the way through the centre of chop, as though you’re slicing a bagel in half, then open it up like a book. Place butterflied chop between 2 sheets of plastic wrap or inside a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and pound to 1/4" thin. Repeat with remaining chop. Rub chops with turmeric mixture and let sit 10 minutes.Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over high until shimmering. Cook chops one at a time until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Slice into 1/2"-thick strips.  
Singapore slaw
2 cups chinese leaf,green cabbage or 1 small pack of pre-shredded coleslaw mix
1 cup turnip or radish peeled and cut into thin strips
1 sweet orange sectioned (optional)
1 cup green,red and yellow pepper cut into thin strips
1 shallot,thinly sliced into rings
1/4 cup fresh coriander 
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts

1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
tsp golden caster sugar
tbsp sesame oil
tsp soya sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
Combine the cabbage,turnip/radish,orange sections if using,peppers,shallot and coriander in a large salad bowl.Cover and chill till ready to serve or up to 4 hours.
For the dressing,combine peanut oil,vinegar,sugar,sesame oil,soy sauce, and dry mustard in a screw-top jar.cover and shake vigorously.(This dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead and kept chilled in the jar.
To serve, toss the slaw with dressing and sprinkle with peanuts.