Monthly Archives: August 2011

Guest recipes from Thomasina Miers; Poussin, fig and rocket salad & Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce

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Former MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers has just created a range of recipes for the HomeAway.co.uk Travel Cookbook, and has kindly donated some to Gastro Gossip. The HomeAway.co.uk Travel Cookbook aims to inspire people who have taken a self-catered holiday home into immersing themselves and experimenting with local cuisine whilst away.

Thomasina, inspired from her travels around the Americas, has contributed six recipes to the online Travel Cookbook, all of which are easy to make at home, but of course, taste much better when created from locally sourced ingredients.

Thomasina Miers says, “Travelling and cooking are two of my biggest passions in life. There is nothing I enjoy more on holiday than exploring the local markets and trying local produce to find inspiration for my next family meal, so access to a kitchen is essential. Holiday home rentals are ideal, as they have all the space and facilities I need to store and experiment with my new-found ingredients. ”

All of Thomasina’s recipes are available at HomeAway.co.uk, along with hundreds of other recipes and tips that people have picked up on their travels around the world, but I have included my two favourite below to whet your apetite.

Poussin, fig and rocket salad

Spatchcocking a bird means very simply cutting out its backbone and flattening it out so that you can grill it and get as much of the delicious, marinaded skin in contact with flame or heat to get gorgeous, crispy skin and masses of flavour.  Ask your butcher to do it or try it yourself, or just cut up the poussin in pieces before you cook it on the grill.  Salting the bird the day before improves the flavour hugely, giving you a juicy succulent bird.  This is a glorious salad for a sunny day.

Feeds 4

2 poussin

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp grappa, eau de vie or vin santo

A generous handful of thyme leaves

¼ loaf of country-style bread or sourdough, torn into roughly shaped, large crumbs

12 rashers of thinly sliced streaky bacon or pancetta

6 very ripe figs

Two large handfuls of rocket, washed

For the dressing

1 shallot, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar/balsamic vinegar (or a mix of the two)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 very ripe fig

To spatchcock the bird, take a pair of sturdy scissors (meat scissors are designed for this job) and cut all along the length of the backbone on both sides to cut out.  Now place the bird on a chopping board and press down sharply and firmly onto the breastbone so that the bird flattens out.  Mix the sea salt, thyme leaves and black pepper together.  Sprinkle the bird with the alcohol, rub with the salt mix and leave to season overnight.

When you are ready to eat, make the dressing by mashing the fig up with the vinegar and mixing it in with the shallot and seasoning well with salt and pepper.  Heat a griddle-pan or barbeque and when either are hot enough, cook the poussin skin side down first until golden, about 10 minutes and then turn and cook on the other side until the breast is just cooked.  Take the bird off the heat to rest in a warm place and cut off the thighs and continue to cook them for another few minutes until the meat is no longer pink.  Meanwhile, toss the torn bread in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and fry, tossing frequently in a frying pan over a medium-low heat until golden and crunchy all over.  Fry the bacon until crisp.

Slice the figs.  Arrange the rocket leaves in a salad bowl and scatter with the breadcrumbs and fig slices.  Mix 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil into the vinegar.  Carve the chicken into nice big chunks and arrange over the salad with the crispy bacon.  Dress with the figgy vinaigrette and serve at once.

Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce

This is a great dish for the bbq or on a griddle pan if you’re cooking indoors.  The meat has a delicious charcoal-grilled flavour and is even better if you let it marinate for a bit to let those lovely garlicky, smoky flavours really penetrate the meat.  If you get the chance, buy the herbs in a local market where you’ll get huge fresh handfuls.

feeds 6-8

2kg piece of sirloin steak or T-bone steak

Fresh watercress or rocket

For the marinade

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed to release the skins

100ml extra virgin olive oil

2 hot red dried chillies, crumbled

A small handful of fresh thyme

½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika

1 lemon, squeezed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa

2 large bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

1 small bunch coriander, leaves picked

4 tablespoons sherry/red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2-3 garlic cloves, ground into a course paste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika

150ml olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a pestle and mortar bask the garlic together with the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and chillies until you have a rough paste.  Add the lemon juice and olive oil and rub well into the steak.  Refrigerate for up to 24 hours, the longer you can the more flavour you get in the steak.

For the sauce, coarsely chop the herbs, and pound together in a pestle and mortar until well mixed, with some of the olive oil to loosen.  Add the rest of the ingredients, including the rest of the oil and season well to taste.

Take the meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking, to allow it to come back up to room temperature.  Wipe the excess marinade off the steak and bring the bbq or griddle pan to a smoking hot heat and cook to your liking.  If you were in Argentina, this would be rare!  Make sure you let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes after cooking, just on a chopping board, loosely covered in some foil.

Carve up thin slices and serve on a wooden board or heated plate, with the sauce and a peppery salad.  There will be lots to go around!  This is delicious with steamed potatoes and lots of crusty bread.

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Mayfair’s Cuckoo Club gets menu revamp

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Having always been wary of clubs that try to claim they’re top quality restaurants as well, I was naturally nervous about the prospect of dinner at Mayfair’s Cuckoo Club, just off Regent Street, however, I really was pleasantly surprised!

The rather stylish ground floor of The Cuckoo Club plays host to the restaurant, which serves contemporary European cuisine under a funky purple bauble-laden ceiling.

The head chef Chris Cooper (ex Texture & Savoy Grill) has created a new menu with a good range of light dishes using fresh seasonal ingredients. With a notable exception of butter or cream in any of the starters or mains, the menu is exceptionally light, making it a great pre-club option.

While the prices are fairly high, as one might expect in Mayfair, the portions are not small.  In particular, king crab with mango; the duck breast, the fish and the fillet of beef were all delicious and also extremely well presented on the plate.

Annoyingly, I was driving, so was unable to sample the alcoholic cocktails, however, and not usually being one to order a virgin cocktail, I can say the non-alcoholic versions were absolutely yummy, so I am sure the punchier ones are even better!

Since its inception, The Cuckoo Club has defined itself as London’s place to be, entertaining the likes of Mick Jagger, Leonardo Di Caprio, The Killers, Natalie Portman, Prince Wills and Harry, Kate Moss, Orlando Bloom, P Diddy and John Cusack.

The Cuckoo Club - Swallow Street - London W1B 4EZ
T +44 (0) 20 7287 4300 - F +44 (0) 20 7788 2942 - info@thecuckooclub.com

BBC Good Food Show & MasterChef Live search for UK’s best artisan producers

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The BBC Good food Show and MasterChef Live‘s organisers are yet again on the hunt for the best small and artisan producers for its Bursary Award scheme.

After the applications have been received and the shortlist announced, nominees will be put through a rigorous judging process headed by BBC Good Food Magazine editor Gillian Carter which will include a tasting session in the BBC Good Food Kitchen.

The most exceptional will then be awarded with a free opportunity to exhibit at one of the shows, which will enable them to showcase their products to tens of thousands of food enthusiasts at the same time as earning valuable editorial coverage.

One of last year’s winners, Kate Jenkins from Gower Cottage Brownies, says: “Since winning the Producers Bursary Award at The BBC Good Food Show Winter 2010 I have seen a dramatic increase in both online sales and interest from wholesale stockists. The award helped me, as an artisan producer, to take my products centre stage and direct to the customer on a scale I could never have achieved by myself.”

For more information about the scheme contact Katy Truss on katy.truss@haymarket.com or 0208 267 8315 or via BBCGoodFoodShow.com

Applications close on 28 August 2011.