My Rhubarb Fool – A perfect Seasonal Dessert

What is Rhubarb Fool?

Rhubarb fool is a great seasonal dessert when fresh fruit in the UK is in pretty short supply. Early in the New Year ( Happy 2019 everyone ) and many of us are thinking about trying to shift the extra weight we may have put on over Christmas. I’m not sure I can go as far as something really healthy, but what I do have is an idea to revitalise any jaded party palettes. As it is time for the earliest of the season’s rhubarb, what about this delicious sweet? Forced rhubarb will be available from good greengrocers but it can be pricey, you can wait for the season’s main crop. The best forced rhubarb comes from the rhubarb triangle in West Yorkshire.

We chefs can sometimes overlook simple classic dishes that have pleased people for a very long time. The fruit fool is a versatile and first-rate example of an underrated culinary star, tart fruits with sweetened cream. You can make them pretty much throughout the year starting with rhubarb, then strawberries, gooseberry and elderflower is delicious and finish with late season raspberries in Autumn.

Trimmed Rhubarb Stems

My Rhubarb Top Tip

I was bought up from an early age by three formidable ladies, my Mum and the aunties Elizabeth and Mary, all incredible cooks. Peeking over the kitchen table I watched them pickle, preserve, knead, ferment, blanch, pluck, peel and chop with carefree abandonment. My guess is a little must have rubbed off on my shoulders. They were all armed with Mrs. Beeton, Robert Carrier, the Bero book and all became particularly big favourites of the Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

Rhubarb Leaves are Poisonous!

I do not remember if my tip for today was in the book, but I remember it was full of beautiful illustrations and lots of old country lore. I am pretty sure most people are aware that the leaves of rhubarb are poisonous, but they do have a use. If you have a badly burnt pan leave it to soak for a couple of hours with some torn up rhubarb leaves covered with water. The carbonised food should then be easy to shift with warm soapy water and a scourer, please make sure you rinse thoroughly.

My Rhubarb Fool

I’m not sure if the purists would serve a fool on a biscuit base but I like the butter ginger biscuit base which adds a nice little contrast to the softly whipped cream and poached fruit. The choice is up to you if you wish to leave it out. So while I am not going to win any points for calorie-free food I think this is winner on flavour. Enjoy

My Rhubarb and Ginger Fool
You can adapt through the changing fruit seasons with rhubarb, gooseberry, raspberry and loganberries. This recipe is adapted from one by one of my culinary hero’s, Simon Hopkinson. I like the flavour combination of rhubarb and orange with the buttery ginger biscuit base. You can make it with caster or golden sugar but again I like to use soft brown sugar for the added extra toffee / caramel flavour.

Crab Bisque

My Shellfish Bisque

Crab Bisque
Jersey Crab Bisque with white crab meat

I’ve recently featured a lot of soup recipes. From a really tasty store cupboard classic to a spicy Thai inspired coconut fish soup. In the run-up to Christmas I’ve just time for one more, a rich Shellfish Bisque. Now as you would expect living on an island and working as a chef, I have recipes for lots of different shellfish bisque recipes. Traditionally a bisque is a French soup. You can make your shellfish bisque can be made from lobster, crab, prawns, and crayfish. The shells are used to make a stock and then you incorporate the meat into the finished soup.

What is the difference between soup and bisque?

Bisque is thought to have derived from either the word Biscay, as in Bay of Biscay. Biscay is famous for oysters and other shellfish. Alternatively, the name could have evolved from the shellfish being twice cooked, in French, “bis cuites”. Certainly, when I make crab or lobster bisques in commercial kitchens the shells are first roasted lightly, then simmered with vegetables and herbs before being strained. Traditionally a bisque is thickened by grinding up the shells and you need some pretty powerful industrial food processors to accomplish this. At home, you can thicken with flour or adding a handful of rice to the cooking stock. The name bisque is now often used for thick and creamy roasted vegetable soups.



An Island Chef Top Soup Recipies

Beer and Cheese Bisque

Seafood Tom yam Soup

Cauliflower Veloute with Curry Oil and Cauliflower Pakora

Gazpacho

Patatas Riojanas - Spanish Chorizo and Potato Soup

I have slightly altered the recipe to allow for the fact the most household food processors are not built to break up extremely tough crab shells. Using prawns gives a slightly sweeter if less intensely minerally flavoured soup but it is never the less a real show stopper. This would be an ideal start to your Christmas day dinner. 

Diver caught Scallops with Lentils and Bacon – Seafood Week 2018

Seafood week

Now I have already posted how much I adore cooking and eating great seafood. You have to excuse me but come on everyone I live on an island. In Jersey we are graced with some of the most amazing seafood you will eat. Now you may positively love lobster or crave freshly picked crab, but my favourite ( astute readers may have guessed already ) is the succulent scallop. So here is my recipe for Diver caught Scallops with Lentils and Bacon. If you visit Jersey you can also choose mackerel in season, skate, and plaice. If you like shellfish then mussels and oysters are grown in the clear waters around the island. In short, an abundance of fish and shellfish.

Scallop
Scallop on the Shell

Protecting the Marine Environment.

Before I get to the recipe the only scallops you should consider eating are diver caught. Cheaper commercially dredged scallops can cause considerable damage to the seabed. Here is a link about sourcing sustainable fish and seafood. The Marine Stewardship Council helps conserve fishing stocks for the future.

Whenever I cook scallops I always think of the actress Uma Thurman stepping out of a gigantic scallop shell. In one of her earliest roles as Venus in the madcap film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, it is a striking piece of cinematography. The whole scene is beautiful and I like to think that this is a beautiful dish. I’m not the most refined and elegant cook but this is really a simple but stunning recipe. It pairs the sweet scallops and tomatoes with a hint of smoke and saltiness from the bacon. 

Scallops and Lentils

The Wine ChoiceThere are an awful lot of flavours and textures in this dish, so we need a wine that has similar attributes. The strongest flavour on the plate is going to be the bacon but if we choose a red to match solely to that we lose the delicacy and subtle sweetness of the scallops. Likewise, if we match a delicate white purely for the scallops we risk the wine being overpowered by the savoury bacon and sweet tomato flavours. A Sancerre Rosé, made from the Pinot Noir grape, dry with aromas of strawberries and gooseberries covers all the bases.

Scallops with Lentils and Bacon is ideal as a fantastically tasty starter or suitably scintillating summery lunch or supper served with crusty French bread.

Confit Byaldi - a type of Ratatouille

A Taste of Jersey Summer – Confit Byaldi

Mediterranean Vegetables
Delicious sun-ripened summer vegetables from Jersey

We are coming to the end of a beautiful Jersey Summer. What do you think of when you think of food and Jersey summer? Is it some of our amazing seafood? Fresh strawberries and thick Jersey cream? We are lucky to have so much fantastic food right on our doorsteps from the humble hedge veg, dedicated producers big and small, and all fishermen and farmers. I think this rather special version of Ratatouille called Confit Byaldi captures the best of our island, our horticultural heritage, and delicious sun-ripened local produce.

When I made the first trial batch of  Confit Byaldi my daughter and I sat and ate a massive bowl just on its own, it really is that good. I suggest it would be lovely at lunchtime with some fresh crusty bread or tasty supper piled in a baked potato. As a side why not serve Confit Byaldi with some sauté, local diver-caught scallops or pan-fried sea bass or with grilled Halloumi and Jersey Royals. The recipe for Confit Byaldi is not complicated but does involve a little preparation so is perhaps best made a day in advance and the flavours, if you can leave it alone, do improve overnight. As an added bonus the red pepper sauce is brilliant with pasta or as an accompaniment for grilled fish like Sea bass and Bream.

Confit Byaldi - a type of Ratatouille
Confit Byaldi

Confit Byaldi       4 generous servings

For the Pepper Sauce

2 Red Peppers, remove the seeds and stem and cut into chunks

8 large Vine Tomatoes, deseeded and chopped

1 large Spanish Onion, peeled and finely chopped

4 large cloves of Garlic, peeled and finely chopped

½ teaspoon of Caster Sugar

A good glug of Olive Oil

1 Sprig of fresh Thyme

1 Bay Leaf

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the Confit Byaldi

1 large Green Courgette, washed and thinly sliced

1 large Yellow Courgette, washed and thinly sliced

2 Red Peppers, deseeded and cut into 2 ½ centimetre squares

( any off cuts can go into the pepper sauce )

4 Baby Aubergines, thinly sliced

3 Red Tomatoes, thinly sliced

3 Yellow Tomatoes, thinly sliced

2 teaspoon Olive Oil

⅛ teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves

Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the Tomato Dressing

1 large, ripe Tomato, deseeded and finely chopped

A splash of quality White Wine or Cider Vinegar

3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon Parsley, washed, dried and finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

For the Red Pepper Sauce

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pan and sauté the onion of twenty to thirty minutes until soft, add the garlic stir and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the red pepper, chopped tomato, any juices, thyme, bay leaf, sugar and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for twenty minutes the take off the lid and simmer to reduce any liquid for another ten minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cool, remove the herbs, season generously and blitz in a food processor until smooth. ( This can be made in advance ).

For the Confit Byaldi

Heat your oven to 325 F / 160 C / Gas Mark 3. Spread a layer of your prepared pepper sauce in the bottom of a twenty-centimetre oven-proof casserole or baking dish. From the side of the dish, arrange a row of alternating slices of the sliced vegetables, overlapping so that just a little of each slice is exposed.

Confit Layered Vegetables

Continue overlapping the vegetables in a close spiral until the dish is filled. Sprinkle with the thyme, season well with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.

Confit finished spiral

Cover with baking paper and foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until the vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, roughly two hours. Uncover and bake for a further thirty minutes to colour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

You can now cover and refrigerate overnight if you wish. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm as required, carefully lift from the tray with a spatula and drizzle with tomato dressing.

For Tomato Dressing

Gently mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

Wine

What to Drink? In the Walt Disney film Ratatouille, the world-famous chef Thomas Keller invented a version of Confit Byaldi which was served to the imposing restaurant critic with a bottle of Chateau Latour. If you cannot afford this I would recommend a classic French Syrah or good Australian or Argentinian Shiraz, a great match for the rich umami sweet vegetable flavours.

Allergens in this recipe are;

There are no Allergens

Please see the Allergens Page

A great Seafood Starter – Mussel and Clam stuffed Brioche – Qu’ils mangent de la brioche

The popular misconception is that Marie Antoinette famously said of the starving French peasants at her gates, “Let them eat cake”. What she actually said was actually “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. In France, the home of this delicious enriched dough, brioche is properly served as a breakfast cake. In fact, brioche is a hybrid, part bread part cake, it is made in the same way as you make bread, with the addition of eggs and butter and can also have extra sugar added for a sweeter flavour. The technical term for this pastry cum sweet, buttery dough is Viennoiserie, which includes all of those lovely, if rather naughty breakfast treats, like pain aux chocolate and croissants.

I love the stuff, brioche is amazingly versatile and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, used as a pastry and the basis of many desserts. Golden brown, freshly baked brioche can be filled with raisins or chocolate chips, simply spread with extra butter and strawberry or apricot jam or as is increasingly popular as a wonderful bun for a burger. As a pastry brioche reaches a height of culinary naughtiness and a decadence that maybe would have shamed even the haughty Marie Antoinette. Wrapped around Cervelas de Lyon, truffle flavoured sausages to you and me, fillet steak or luxurious foie gras mousseline. The most celebrated brioche recipe, Coulibiac, is a type of Russian pie filled with sturgeon, buckwheat, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms, onions, and dill. Brioche in history was truly fit for kings and queens even if they did not live to enjoy it.

Brioche Bread
Fresh Brioche Loaf

For my recipe, I need you to get hold of four large brioche buns and resist any temptation to toast them and spread with pate or jam. We are going a little a la Robert Carrier and all 1970’s and using them as a bowl to be filled with plump mussels and clams in a full flavoured broth. Old fashioned it may be, but it is a show stopper and terrifically tasty to boot and once you’ve done it I am sure it will become a favourite. Enjoy.

Mussel and Clams in Brioche
Fresh Mussel and Clam Stew in Brioche

Mussel and Clam Stew stuffed Brioche Buns serves 4

Fresh quality mussels and clams are readily available at all good fishmongers. Preparing mussels and clams is not a difficult job or something to fear. Under a slow running, tap scrape off any limpets or items stuck to the shells with a small sharp knife. Some mussels may have a small bushy beard pushed out of the shell. Grabbed between the knife blade and your thumb, a sharp tug should remove it. Wash all the prepared mussels and clams under the tap for a couple more minutes and drain. You can store them in the bottom of your fridge covered with damp kitchen paper until needed.

4 Brioche Buns

1 kg Fresh Mussels

½ kg Fresh Clams

6 large Banana Shallots, peeled and finely diced

3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A small handful of fresh Dill

200 ml thick Double Cream

50 ml of Vermouth ( White Wine is a great substitute )

25 ml Olive Oil

25 gr Butter

1 fresh Egg

Juice of one fresh Lemon

Freshly ground Black Pepper

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan ( with a tight-fitting lid ), melt the butter and add the oil. Over a medium heat soften the shallots for ten minutes without colouring. Add the garlic and cook out for two or three minutes stirring continuously. Tip in the mussels and clams and add the Vermouth place on the lid add steam the shellfish for five to six minutes. Carefully holding the pan with a heatproof cloth remove from the heat. Place a colander in a large glass bowl and tip in the mussels and allow to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid to be used to make the final sauce.

Preheat the oven to 325 F / 160 C / Gas Mark 3. Very carefully using a bread knife cut the top quarter of your brioche buns off to form lids. Using a small knife cut into the bottoms of the brioche buns then scoop out the majority of the interior. This can be saved to make sweet breadcrumbs to use on desserts. Whisk the egg with a little cold water in a small bowl, then brush all over the inside, outside and lids of the buns. Place on a silicone baking tray and bake in the oven for ten to fifteen minutes.

When cool pick the majority of the mussels and clams from their shells leaving a handful for garnishing. Carefully pour the cooking liquid through a fine strainer into a small pan and place on a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce the volume by half. Add the cream and simmer for a couple more minutes before seasoning with a generous grind of pepper. Add the mussels and clams and gently heat in the sauce. Take care not to boil or the shellfish will toughen, add the lemon juice and finely chopped dill, taste and add more pepper if required.

Place the brioche rolls onto deep lipped plates or bowls and carefully spoon in the picked mussels and clams. Fill with sauce and top with the prepared lids. Spoon around a little extra liquid and the retained shellfish in shells and sprinkle with a little extra dill to garnish.

 

Wine and Beer

What to Drink? This is a rich seafood dish and pairs well with the classic accompaniment for mussels, dry wines such as Muscadet or German-style Riesling wines or a cloudy Continental beer such as Hoegaarden.

 

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk Oyster   Eggs

Please see the Allergens Page

 
 

 

Devilled Kidneys and Toast

Devilled Lambs Kidneys on toasted English Breakfast Muffin

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It is often said that the Devil has all the good tunes, Rock ‘n’ Roll was denounced as the Devils music and even a whole genre ( heavy metal ) is believed to be almost utterly devoted to his Satanic majesty. Think of ‘ Devil Inside ‘, ‘ Sympathy for the Devil ‘ and ‘ Devil with the Blue dress on ‘. * Now there are obviously some great tub-thumping hymns devoted to the singing the praises for other side, and I love belting out a good hymn, but my money is with the big bad red guy as far as music goes. But this has set my mind racing what about food? What meals sustain the heavenly host and what fuels the fires of the ole devil and which is best? Americans are rightly proud of their Angel Cakes and almost every party must have a tray of Devilled eggs but what other ethereal recipes are there?

* INXS, The Rolling Stones and Van Halen

The Charlie Daniels Band and surely the devils greatest tune

In the grand tradition of Edwardian English dinning before even I was a trainee, a savoury course ended formal dinner party menus and quite often this comprised of Angels and Devils on Horseback. The former are oysters wrapped in bacon and the latter pitted dates stuffed with mango chutney similarly enclosed, both are grilled or baked and served on hot buttered toast garnished with watercress. I am exceedingly partial to both Angels and Devils so the result of this contest is a draw. But I am glad to say I do have a winner, one of my favourite all-time dishes Devilled Lambs Kidneys.

Devilled Kidneys and Toast
Devilled Lambs Kidneys

Like the ubiquitous eggs, the spicy ham of the same name and countless other dishes a devilled dish like Devilled Lambs Kidneys has a piquant, spicy flavour usually from the addition of Cayenne pepper and / or strong mustard. In a biography published in 1791, Samuel Johnson’s biographer James Boswell referred to partaking of a dish of “devilled bones” for supper. The bones were generally those of cold poultry, game or beef. The pieces of meat were covered with what was then called devil sauces. This is probably the earliest published use of the word “devil” as a cooking term meaning “to cook something with hot spices or condiments. Most Food historians believe that the term was adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell.

Devilled Lambs Kidneys on Toasted English Breakfast Muffin             serves 4

Of all the offal available with the possible exception of Sweetbreads, kidneys are my personal favourite, from a delicious calves’ kidney roasted in a blanket of its own fat to sweet lambs kidneys pan-fried on toast. Kidneys are best flash fried very quickly over a high heat or braised nice and slowly. As offal kidneys are best consumed within 24 hours of purchase. Devilled Lambs Kidneys are a delicious starter, suitable for a light supper or an indulgent breakfast dish.

8 English Breakfast Muffins

12 Lambs Kidneys ( ask your butcher to trim them )

A little milk

2 small Shallots, peeled and very finely diced,

2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed

A small glass of Brandy

100 ml very thick Double Cream

50 gr Butter

A good glug of quality Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

3 – 4 tablespoons Plain Flour

½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper ( more if you wish )

A generous shake of Worcestershire Sauce

Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

First, prepare your kidneys by cutting them in half and removing the veins with a small sharp knife or sharp scissors. If your butcher will do this for you even better, just ask him for 8 halved and trimmed kidneys. Place the prepared kidneys in a small plastic container and cover with milk to soak out any remaining bitterness. Cover and place in refrigerator.

Cut your muffins in half and heat a glug of olive oil and half the butter in a large, thick-bottomed, sauté pan. Sauté the muffins on both sides until golden brown, remove drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. Drain the kidneys and pat dry with more kitchen paper. Mix the flour, Cayenne and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper together and thoroughly dredge the prepared kidneys.

Heat the remaining oil and butter together in a second large, sauté pan and cook the shallot without colouring until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes stirring occasionally then add the kidneys and cook quickly until the kidneys change colour and start to brown.  Flip the kidneys over and add the brandy and flame off the alcohol then add the mustard. Stir continuously and pour in the cream and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for two minutes to cook out and slightly thicken the sauce then remove from the heat. Check and correct the seasoning and add a little more cayenne if you like a bigger kick.

Place a toasted muffin on each plate to with the devilled kidneys and sauce on top, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Pol Roger Champagne

What to Drink? The Devilled Kidneys served at the renowned chef Fergus Henderson’s London restaurant St. Johns are paired with Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Champagne 2004, which is perhaps a little expensive so I will settle for their other suggestion a glass of Black Velvet.

Allergens in this recipe are;

  Flour   Milk  Mustard

Please see the Allergens Page