June is off to a good start – I’ve just returned from a gastronomic getaway that was truly inspiring!… Nick and I spent the long bank holiday weekend in the Lake District at L’Enclume. L’Enclume is one of only eight restaurants in the UK that hold three Michelin stars. I have been fortunate to eat at a few of these three-star restaurants which are close to home in London, but I must say the opportunity of staying the weekend at L’Enclume, gave us the chance to immerse ourselves in the full foodie experience and really appreciate the talent of 3-star chefs, it was a top treat! (I will be posting my full review soon – watch this space!..) I have hence returned home with lots of flavours spinning around my head and a revived attitude to cooking. Admittedly I will not be cooking to a Michelin star level, but I have been looking through my cookery books with a fresh eye. I am also keen to go shopping for some new cookbooks, yes, I know I have far too many already, but what can I say, it’s not the worst addiction I could have, is it?!.. I love any bookshop that has a good cookery section, one of my favourites is in Hatchards on Piccadilly. It’s tucked away on its second floor, one can easily while away an hour or two, undisturbed. I usually make sure I’m with Nick so I have someone to remind me I’ve outstayed my welcome – I send him off to nearby ‘Bury Brothers’ to peruse the wine (his weakness!) and arrange for him to come and collect me after an hour…
Visiting L’Enclume has reignited my desire to cook which is just as well as with all the bank holidays that we’ve been having in the UK over the past month my cooking routine has been rather spoilt. Fortunately, I had decided back in April which recipes I would be sharing this month, so everything is on track for Menu Mistress!…
Menu One is ‘Chicken Miso’ from Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘Simple’, what’s not to like from a cookbook with a name like that? And yes, naturally this recipe for chicken thighs is super simple and perfect on a summer’s evening with a good green salad. Menu Two is actually from Delia Smiths ‘Winter Collection Cookbook’, yes I know it’s the summer(!), but trust me, this recipe is just as delicious alfresco as it is on a cold evening in the midst of winter! Finally, Menu Three is a vegetarian option from the team behind the London restaurant Moro. This recipe is from their original book, ‘Moro; The Cookbook’; perusing through it reminds me that I need to return soon to their restaurant in Exmouth Market to write a review! .. ‘Vegetable Turlu Turlu’ has Turkish origins, it’s rather like an exotically spiced ratatouille; served with a rocket salad and a yoghurt sauce it makes a delicious vegetarian supper alternatively, you could easily serve it as a side to grilled meat or fish.
I hope the weather in June will be kind to us and we’ll be able to eat at least one of these ‘menus’ al fresco! Remember to keep an eye out for my ‘l’Enclume’ restaurant review – in the meantime why not take a look at my reviews of other restaurants… here!
P.S. I’ve been listening to a new playlist in my kitchen which has an upbeat ’90s groove, perfect for that al fresco supper! (listen to ‘Music to Cook to…MenuMusic Twenty-Six’ here!..)
Chicken with Miso, Ginger and Lime (Serves 6)
As the photo suggests, this recipe is a lovely sticky, unctuous affair. Taken from Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘Simple’, it’s super easy all it needs is a good green salad and some rice – simple!..
6 Chicken legs (skin and bone in), skin scored a few times
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
2½ tablespoons mirin
2½ tablespoons maple syrup
2½ tablespoons soy sauce
80g white miso
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (30g)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 lime, skin shaved into fine strips then juiced
40g coriander stems cut into 6cm lengths (reserve the leaves for a garnish)
2 red chillies, sliced in half lengthways and deseeded
10 spring onions, 8 sliced in half lengthways and 2 finely chopped (to serve)
- Place the chicken legs in a large bowl with the oil and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Mix together.
- Place a large frying pan on a medium/high heat. Once hot add half the chicken legs, skin side down and sear for 4-5 minutes. Then remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken, discarding the fat as you go, and set aside.
- Place the mirin, maple syrup, soy sauce, miso, ginger, garlic, lime strips and juice in a large bowl. Whisk to combine, then add the chicken and stir well so that everything is coated.
- Put the coriander stems, chillies and 8 halved spring onions in to a high-sided baking dish and place the chicken on top, skin side up (along with any residue dressing). Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake in a preheated oven, 200’c fan, for 20 minutes.
- Remove the foil and turn the chicken legs over (skin side down) and return to the oven for 30 minutes uncovered, turning the legs back over halfway through (skin side up) and basting a couple of times. The chicken will be golden brown, sticky and tender and the chillies and spring onions will be soft.
- To serve, place a chicken leg on each plate and surround it with coriander, chilli and halved spring onions. Finally, drizzle the with sauce and sprinkle over the finely sliced spring onions and garnish with the reserved coriander leaves. Serve with sticky white rice and a good green salad.
Seared Spiced Salmon Steaks with Black Bean Salsa (Serves 4-6)
This recipe is from Delia Smith’s ‘Winter Collection Cookbook’, but trust me, this recipe is just as delicious alfresco in the summer as it is on a cold evening in the midst of winter. It’s a year-round winner! (The original recipe uses dried black beans, but to save time I use tinned – so no overnight soaking!)
4-6 Salmon steaks
3 fat cloves garlic
2 level teaspoons rock salt
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Grated zest of 2 limes (reserve the juice for the salsa)
A good pinch of ground cinnamon
A good pinch of ground cumin
15g pack fresh coriander leaves (reserve 6 sprigs and finely chop the remainder)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly milled black pepper
For the Salsa:
110g tinned black beans, rinsed and drained
350g ripe but firm tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
15g pack of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 2 limes (reserved from the salmon recipe)
½ teaspoon salt
- A few hours before you want to cook the salmon, crush the garlic cloves and rock salt together with a pestle and mortar until you have a creamy purée. Then add the grated ginger, lime zest, cinnamon and cumin, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped coriander and a good grind of black pepper. Mix everything together and spread a little of this mixture on each salmon steak. Cover with clingfilm and set aside for the flavours to develop and permeate the salmon.
- To make the salsa simply combine the black beans with the chopped tomatoes, red onion, chilli, coriander, olive oil, lime juice and salt. Leave covered for a several hours to allow the flavours to develop.
- When you’re ready to cook the salmon, preheat the grill to its highest setting. Brush a baking try with the olive oil and put it under the grill to heat up. When the grill is really hot, remove the baking tray and place the salmon steaks on it. Position the tray about 3 inches front the heat and grill them for 7 minutes exactly.
- Remove them when the time is up and use a sharp knife to ease the skins off. Transfer to plates and garnish with the sprigs of coriander. Serve immediately with the black bean salsa.
Turlu Turlu with Yoghurt & Cumin Sauce (Serves 4)
Taken from the cookbook ‘Moro’, Turlu Turlu has Turkish origins and is rather like a spiced and exotically herbed ratatouille. The vegetables are roasted so are super sweet; it makes a delicious vegetarian main course served with a yoghurt & cumin sauce and a simple rocket salad.
500-600g courgettes, trimmed and cut into 2cm discs
1 aubergine, halved lengthways and each half cut into 4 wedges lengthways
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
2 green peppers, halved, seeded and thickly sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthways and each half cut into 3 lengthways
200g kohlrabi or turnips, cut into wedges about 2cm thick
2 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
60g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
150ml tomato passata
1 small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
1 small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
Sea salt and black pepper
Yoghurt & Cumin Sauce:
200g Greek yoghurt
½ – 1 garlic clove
A good pinch of sea salt
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds, roughly ground
- For the yoghurt sauce: use a pestle and mortar to crush the garlic with the salt to form a paste, then stir in the yoghurt and roughly ground cumin, and season with salt and pepper. Put to one side.
- In a large bowl toss the aubergine, onion, garlic, peppers, carrots, kohlrabi (or turnips) and potatoes with the olive oil, allspice, coriander seeds and a little salt and pepper.
- Spread out the vegetable mixture in a large roasting tray, no more than a layer deep and place in a preheated oven, 220’c fan, for 45 minutes turning every 15 minutes to encourage them to colour and caramelise all over. Now gently stir in the courgettes and cook for a further 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat up the chickpeas with the passata and check for seasoning. Finally, add to the vegetables along with the chopped herbs and stir well. Serve with the yoghurt sauce and a rocket salad.