Thursday, 28 June 2012

Right, that took two glasses of wine.

Two glasses of chilled, crisp, buttery, white, Californian Chardonnay.

That's how much I managed to get through whilst podding my first batch of small, sweet, juicy English peas.

And all I ended up with was enough for a little risotto to start last nights dinner with.

So, knowing I had to maximise the pea flavour, I used the pods to make a stock, along with a couple of rashers of bacon and a chicken stock cube.

What, you didn't think I'd do a vegetarian dish did you!

So, made with Carnaroli rice (which, by the way, is the best rice to use for risotto, as it keeps its shape and bite better than Arborio), a couple of onions, a couple of cloves of garlic, I started getting more hopeful about last nights dinner.

Using the hot pea broth, and stirring every so often, it was looking alright.

All I did was chuck in a load of butter, a good handful of Parmesan, the raw podded peas and a slice of shredded Parma ham, and we were done.

They only take a minute to cook, and I'll tell you what.

It was spot on!

So, there you are, the English asparagus has just finished, and these lovely fresh, sweet, peas come along.

Isn't that perfect timing!

We are using them as a puree in a couple of dishes over at East Lodge at the moment.

Along the same lines of my risotto, we are using ham with the peas as well, with some summer truffles, baked crisp chicken skin, a light foamy cream sauce and some reduced caramelised chicken stock.

I was trying to serve roasted chicken, but in a lighter, more seasonal way.

Now I think a perfectly roasted chicken is a real thing of joy, and at the Ritz, in Paris, they used to serve a poulet de Bresse, whole, for two people.

We made a stuffing of belly pork, veal and truffles. The bird was stuffed and trussed, and roasted "en cocotte". That means in a covered, heavy cast iron pot.

It was browned all over, and then, the best bit, a whole block of finest Normandy butter was used, diced up all around. It was basted every ten minutes, for an hour or so.

Removed, and left to rest upside-down, this was so the juices would soak back into the breasts, which are normally the drier parts.

I mean, can you imagine, the smells of a truffled chicken wafting around the kitchen.

God, it was good.

The juices were skimmed of fat, more truffle juice was added, and served with some pommes purees, it really was a sensational dish.

Oh, and by the way, if you ever are in France, and happen to order a Bresse chicken, for two people, the feet should always be left on, with the middle claw still on, so you can see it is actually a proper chicken from Bresse, because it will have a metal ring around it's little scaly ankle!

We poach our chicken at East Lodge at the moment, in the water bath.

It allows us to always make sure the breast is perfectly moist, as cooking it at a lower temperature means its less likely to dry out, in fact in won't at all.

So, there you are, two ways to cook a chicken, both using truffles, and both superb!

We're also using peas on our tasting menu, both as a puree and "double podded".

Along with our world famous lamb "roly poly", which as you all know, is all the best bits of a lamb, rolled in suet pastry, and steamed for eight hours in the Rational.

It's a great way to use lamb on the tasting menu,
as everyone loves lamb,
but there is no problem with different cooking times,
as it's all the same!

So with some wilted little gem lettuce, a couple of steamed Jersey Royals, and mint sauce, its just my way of getting Sunday lunch onto the menu!

The mint sauce is actually mint jelly, set with agar and then diced.

So it won't melt, as you can see.

Spot on, that one!

Right, that's enough of peas, lets talk about summer fruit now, raspberries in particular.

Just because Noah might have been in his element, thinking how to get away from this typical British weather, not me, I'm pushing on.

With summer, come rain or shine!

So, after a wedding at Callow Hall last week, I was left with some venison saddle, and as I didn't want to put it on the menu as a main course, I used it last Sunday.

As a starter.

With some pickled raspberries!

So, whist every other chef in Derbyshire seems to be poncing around with a big green egg, I was getting eggy with this little summery number.

Those raspberries were lovely. Ben made a sweet and sour pickling liquid, and we finished it off with some thyme flowers and olive oil, and they made a fruity foil to the rich venison.

It was minced and mixed with some cured Italian back fat, and then topped with a smooth duck liver and Port parfait, and finally a layer of bacon and breadcrumb crumble.

Oh, and a bit of Port fluid gel.

So a good way to try out a new dish at East Lodge.

And, although the raspberries worked well, I think I'm going to change the dish to one with rabbit, and a dressing of compressed white peaches with a tarragon and cracked peppercorn caramel.

And it will leave me to use the raspberries in our summer pudding.

I like this one.

We dried out bread, and made fine breadcrumbs with it, and then mixed it with a dark caramel, to make a sort of bread "praline".

Brioche was also made, just to add another bread dimension, and just was soaked in ice cold vanilla cream.

So, the "praline" was ground to a fine powder and baked into thin tuiles, while some was baked into a coarser crunchy delight.

Sliced bloomer bread is layered with poached summer fruits, and pressed.

That's the easy bit.

We made some clotted cream ice cream to serve with it, along with some floppy whipped double cream.

The bread crisps were broken and served on top of the pudding, for another texture, and the bread crumble was used as a base for the ice cream.

All that was needed then was to "mince" it all up a bit, and then, that's it.

It's Summer Time!!

So, there you are, all you need is a smiling face, a thumping base, for a loving race.

Oh, and talking of races, as you all know it's London 2012.

And I'm in training.

I can't just turn up there, you know.

It's going to be a huge challenge.

So, that's why I'm eating deep fried red chillies.

Mexico 2012.


Two weeks.

Hot sauce, three times a day.

Maybe four.

And, if I'm going to be doing the salsa with Sophie, every day before lunch, I'm going to need all the help I can get.

Although in fairness, so is she!!

Right, that's it.

I'll tell you all about my "Bath Chaps" next time.

No, it's not you Jack!!!

And if these new Pirelli tyres are any good. It says they have shorter stopping distances, so does that mean I can go faster?

Well, I'll soon find out!

Todays soundtrack, the superb

God Made Me Funky (Original Mix), Ministry of Sound, C J Mackintosh, Sessions 4.

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