Friday, June 29, 2018

Wright Brothers Fish Pie: A Borough Market Classic

Epicureans who visit London's Borough Market might already be familiar with the Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House, a popular stop-off point for shoppers or those simply visiting the market. The restaurant is well-known for its oysters, quite unsurprisingly, but seafood is Wright Brothers speciality. Hearty and satisfying, their fabulous Fish Pie is one of the most popular dishes on their menu with diners looking to stave off winter's chill or simply indulge in this classic British comfort food favourite. Executive head chef of Wright Brothers, David Gingell, generously shared the recipe for all to enjoy.

Wright Brothers’ Fish Pie
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy executive head chef David Gingell, Wright Brothers

14 oz smoked haddock, saving the skin
14 oz organic salmon 
1 1/2 oz grated parmesan

For the fish cream:
4 oz butter
4 oz flour
4 cups whole milk 
2 bay leaves
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp English mustard
A hand full of parsley
2 egg yolks

For the mashed potatoes:
4 lb Maris piper potatoes
14 oz butter 
1/2 cup whole milk

Bring the milk, garlic, haddock skin, onion and bay leaf to the boil and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, then add the flour and cook until it is light brown and sandy in texture. Slowly add the milk, beating constantly a bit at a time, then cook for 20 minutes on a low heat. Finish with the English mustard and parsley, and season to taste.

For the mash, peel and boil the potatoes in salted water until they are soft enough to fall off of a sharp knife. Using a ricer, press the potatoes through into a large bowl, then fold in the butter, egg yolk and milk, and season to taste. To finish the pie, cover the bottom of four individual baking dishes (or one large casserole) with the fish cream, top with the salmon and haddock, then cover the fish generously with more fish cream. Using a pastry bag, pipe the mashed potato on top of the pie, or simply spoon it on, and sprinkle with the grated parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F until golden brown and bubbling along the edge. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Theo Randall on Park Lane: Inspired Italian Cuisine

One of London’s best Italian restaurants, Theo Randall is also one of the most famous chefs in England. Inspired by the trattorias and wood-fired pizzas of his childhood trips to Italy, Randall developed a life-long passion for Italian regional cuisine. Randall's restaurant career began at Chez Max in London, where he trained in classical cuisine for four years, then moved to California to work at Chez Panisse under chef Alice Waters for a year, upon which he returned to the UK and spent the next 17 years as head chef at London's celebrated River Café where he gained his first Michelin star - and also trained a young Jamie Oliver. During that time, Randall was credited with creating many of the restaurant's celebrated dishes and made The River Café an establishment that "changed Britain’s restaurant culture for good". Always wanting to open his own restaurant, Randall left when a space became available at The Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane. Opened in 2007 as part of a £60 million refurbishment of the hotel, his eponymous restaurant is still celebrating its 10th anniversary with a refreshed sleek modern light wood aesthetic, including a ‘kitchen table’ and updated menu to compliment Randall's signature dishes. 

The chef is a master of selecting the finest ingredients at the peak of in-season freshness and showcasing them in simple ways that transmit the essence of Italian cooking where an appreciation of ingredients can transform a simple pasta course into something sensational. Authentic pasta dishes such as Cappelletti di Vitello and Pappardelle con Ragù are made fresh every day using Italian tipo 00 flour and eggs sourced from Genoa, where the chickens are fed a diet of carrot and corn resulting in a stronger coloured yolk and a pasta of rich yellow. Theo's sensational bruschetta with vibrant red roasted Campania tomatoes and warm squishy rosemary focaccia is quite possibly the very best on the planet. The Sformato di Fontina, a baked Fontina cheese soufflé with spinach, cream and Parmigiana, is light as air and absolutely heavenly, and his pastas are a testament to his passion for Italian food. Our second time dining at Theo Randall while in London, his superb dishes keep us returning each time, and as the proud author of two cookbooks — 'Pasta' and 'Simple Italian' — he makes it possible to enjoy many of his classic recipes in the comfort of your own home. 

A perfectly starched linen napkin with Theo Randall inginia

Theo Randall menu of simple but sensational Italian dishes

Adami Garbel Prosecco Brut from the hilly vineyards in the Colli Trevigiani area

Theo Randall's sensational grilled oven roasted tomato bruschetta and warm squishy rosemary focaccia

  Sformato di Fontina e Zucca - Baked Delica squash and Fontina cheese soufflé 
with spinach, cream and parmesan

2013 Ruffino Chianti from Tuscany

Cappelletti di Vitello - fresh pasta filled with slow-cooked veal with pancetta, 
porcini mushrooms and parmesan

Pappardelle with slow cooked Beef Ragù

Vanilla Iced Cream

Theo Randall's signature Almonds, Pistachio and Hazelnut Biscotti and 
Chocolate Truffles

Serves 10
Recipe courtesy of Theo Randall

This slow-cooked beef ragù is perfect for batch-cooking. Serve three tablespoons of ragù to every 3 1/2 oz serving of fresh pasta

4 tbsp olive oil
2 lb 4oz chuck steak, cut into 3/4- inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
12 fl oz Chianti red wine
1 lb 5oz tomato passata

To Serve:
Pappadelle pasta - approx 3 1/2 oz fresh or 1 3/4 oz dry pasta per person
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large, heavy-based saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Season the beef, add to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove the beef and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, celery and rosemary to the pan and cook until soft. Return the meat to the pan, add the red wine and bring to the boil. Stir in the tomato passata and cover the surface of the ragù with a circle of baking paper. Bake for 2½ hours. Remove the baking paper and break up the meat using a fork. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

To serve, cook the pappardelle in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions, or until al dente. In a sauté pan, mix 3 tablespoons of the ragù per portion of pasta with a tablespoon of the pasta water. Cook on a low heat and toss together until the sauce clings to the pasta. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves 8
Recipe courtesy of Theo Randall

For the béchamel sauce:
4 1/4 cups full-fat milk
3 oz unsalted butter
4 1/2 oz 00 flour
1 bay leaf
Good grating of nutmeg
4 1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese
2 large eggs yolks

For the ragù di manzo:
4 oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped celery
2 tbsp chopped carrots
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked, chopped
3/4 oz dried porcini, soaked 10 minutes in hot water, drained & roughly chopped
2 lb 2 oz trimmed veal or beef flank, finely chopped
14 oz can of good-quality chopped tomatoes
4 1/2 fl oz white wine
4 fl oz full-fat milk
9 oz package fresh lasagne sheets
olive oil, for greasing
large handful grated parmesan

For the béchamel sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan with the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, turn off the heat and set aside. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat, then whisk in the flour and hot milk. Whisk vigorously until smooth, then cook for 10-15 mins until very thick. Remove the bay leaf and season, grating in nutmeg to taste. Stir in the parmesan and egg yolks, then set aside to cool.

For the ragù, melt the butter in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat until foaming. Add the celery, carrot, onion, porcini, rosemary and some seasoning, and fry for 5 minutes. Season the meat, add to the dish and cook for 5 mins until browned. Pour in the wine, add the tomatoes and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat to low, put the lid on the dish and cook for 1 1/2 hours, removing the lid for the final 30 minutes so the sauce can reduce. The meat should be tender but not too broken up, and the sauce should be thick. Taste for seasoning. The sauce can cook it for longer if you have time, as the flavour will only improve.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Blanch the pasta sheets in boiling salted water for one minute, then refresh in cold water. Rub olive oil into the sides of a baking dish. Place a layer of pasta onto the base of the dish and then add an even layer of beef ragù followed by a layer of béchamel sauce. Repeat this process until you have used all the pasta and finish with a thick layer of béchamel on top. Sprinkle the top with a generous layer of parmesan cheese.

Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until bubbling and pale golden-brown on top, then remove from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes. Cut the lasagne into squares and let it sit for another 10 minutes before serving, as this keeps the layers defined and helps it cool down more quickly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Leighton House Museum & Côte Bistro Kensington

Built to house his fabulous collection, celebrated 19th-century English painter and sculptor Lord Frederic Leighton's home in Kensington is a testimony not simply to one man and his vision, but to a particular moment in British cultural history. Designed in 1865 by George Aitchison, Leighton needed a space where he could demonstrate his position as both president of the Royal Academy and as chief exponent of a new aestheticism in painting and design. Adding to the building over three decades, and still tinkering at the time of his death, he ended up with one of the most talked-about houses in England. Leighton House was adapted over the years to be a showcase for Lord Leighton's artistic tastes, including a spectacular north-facing studio with movable picture window for transferring the painter's larger works, and for his extensive art collection, which includes works by Corot, Millais, George Frederic Watts and Lawrence Alma-Tadema. 

However the highlight of the house is the extraordinary Arab Hall with its golden dome which was built in 1877, and reflects Leighton's fascination with the Middle East along with his major collection of fifteenth-century Damascus tiles and the finest Arabian and Persian artwork from his frequent trips to Turkey, Syria and Egypt. An avid traveller who spoke five languages, sometimes when Leighton was unable to visit his favourite sources, he would commission travelling friends including the professional adventurer Richard Burton, to scoop up rare tiles, pots or carpets. A £1.6 million refurbishment in 2010 uncovered and restored many of the decorative schemes and features of the house, as well as a previously unseen staircase. Today, the house which is now a museum, is still an architectural treasure trove with some fine paintings as well as drawings and sketches.

The ornate staircase with 17th-century Turkish wedding chest and stuffed peacock, a symbol of the the Aesthetic Movement with which Leighton is often associated

The spectacular golden dome in the Arab Hall built in 1877

Lord Frederic Leighton, 1830-1896 

'Flaming June' by Lord Frederic Leighton

Self portrait of Lord Leighton, 1880

The Scarsdale Tavern, a little gem of a pub hidden away on a lovely leafy garden square in Kensington

Outstanding beer, cider, great wines and wonderful food

A pint of Lager

Putting the finishing touches on a cappuccino

A hot frothy cappuccino

Côte Bistro on Kensington Court

Original Côte Bistro delivery bicycle currently going ferns

Côte Bistro is inspired by the brasseries of Paris, championing relaxed all-day dining 
and serving authentic French classics

Glass of chilled Côtes du Rhône

Duck, Pork and Chicken Liver Terrine with chargrilled sourdough bread and 
cornichons, shallot and caper salad

Warm Tarte Provençale with rocket and black olive & caper dressing

Breton Chicken Salad with streaky bacon, avocado, egg, radish and creamy walnut dressing

Grilled Sea Bream with courgette purée, and shaved courgette, broad bean and rocket salad

Crème Caramel

Vanilla Iced Cream

Chocolate Fondant
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Côte Bistro

4 1/2 oz butter, plus extra for greasing the fondant moulds
3/4 oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting the moulds
7 oz good-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
3 1/2 oz caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush four individual metal 3/4 cup pudding moulds with butter, then dust with flour, tapping off any excess, before transferring the prepared moulds to a baking sheet.

Put the broken chocolate and butter in a heat-proof bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. Once melted, stir the mixture until smooth. 

Take the bowl off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Place the eggs, yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric whisk, beat on high for a few minutes or until the mix is very thick, pale and fluffy. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar. Sift in the flour and gently fold together.

Divide the mixture equally between the prepared pudding moulds. Place in the oven for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for three minutes. Using a tea towel, turn out onto plates and carefully remove the moulds. Serve immediately with whipped or iced cream and a sprig of mint.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Dinner at The Wolseley: Art Deco Glam on Piccadilly

One of the most glamorous spaces in London, or anywhere, for that matter, is The Wolseley, an all-day brasserie in the grand European tradition located in London's fashionable St. James neighbourhood along Piccadilly. The great brasseries of France are the most obvious inspiration for this enormously popular restaurant, but there are few places in Paris that can match The Wolseley for sheer panache. Originally a 1920s car showroom, it was built on such an extravagant scale that it actually bankrupted Wolseley Motors, however these days swift black-clad waiters now glide across the gleaming marble floor, carrying groaning platters of fruits de mer, steak frites and lobster bisque between the pillars and archways of the spectacular black, gold and cream Italian-influenced dining room. With a reputation for being packed with celebrities at all times of day, booking a table is usually done weeks in advance. The glittering restaurant, which is open from breakfast to dinner since 2003, is the creation of Christopher Corbin and Jeremy King, the original owners of The Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheekey. The pair are big on the personal approach and often one or the other can be found working the room at lunch, dinner, during afternoon tea or even in the wee hours of the morning for the ever-popular breakfast, celebrated by food critic A. A. Gill, who penned an entire book dedicated to 'Breakfast at The Wolseley'.

Our server Davide opening a bottle of Pommery Brut Royal

A very nice bubbley with lots of flavour

The brasserie-style menu with everything from caviar to Côte de Boeuf Bordelaise

Avocado Vinaigrette

Whelks with mayonnaise

Small glass of homemade mayonnaise

Davide opening our bottle of 2013 Bodegas La Horra Crimbo from Spain's Ribera del Duero

An elegant Tempranillo with rich and intense flavours and lingering length

Deep purple with great body, the Crimbo was delicious with our steaks

Medium rare Ayrshire 30-day dry aged Aberdeen Angus Filet served with béarnaise sauce, 
gem heart salad and pommes frites

Béarnaise Sauce

Gem Heart Salad 

Pommes Frites

Complimentary dessert from The Wolseley

Glass of light and dry Manzanilla Papirusa from Bodegas Lustau

Chopped Chicken & Tarragon Salad 
Serves 2 
Recipe courtesy of Chef Lawrence Keogh

1 endive
2 baby gem
2 oz red pepper
1 skinless chicken breast, cooked
1 avocado
1 3/4 oz broad beans, blanched and shelled
1 3/4 oz peas, blanched
3 oz tomatoes, seeded and diced 
1/4 tsp tarragon, chopped
1/4 tsp chervil, chopped

Wolseley House Dressing:
2 shallots
1 3/4 oz Dijon mustard
1/3 oz English mustard powder
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
12 whole black peppercorns
1 tsp caster sugar
3/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Lemon juice, to taste

Peel and slice the shallots into half-moons. Marinate for 24 hours with the mustards, vinegar, peppercorns, sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.

The next day, blend with a stick blender and slowly pour in the two oils. Add a touch of warm water if the dressing becomes too thick. Adjust the seasoning with salt, white pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. This will make more than you need, so save the rest for another dish.