Octopus, Mixed Bean and Black Olive Salad by Tom Kitchin

Octopus salad528

Over the past few years octopus is more popular on menus around Britain, but it’s always been a part of Mediterranean cuisine. As with many great products, the octopus is really versatile, whether it’s braised, barbecued, pickled or, as in this recipe, served in a salad. When you come across octopus in the UK it will most likely have been frozen, but that’s actually a good thing as the freezing process helps to tenderise the meat. When you’re cooking octopus, make sure the water is just simmering when you add it, or the beautiful colour will be lost.

Serves 3–4

500g raw octopus, cleaned with head and eyes removed, but the tentacles left attached (ask your fishmonger to do this for you, or if you buy it frozen, allow to thaw in the fridge)
1 lemon, cut in half
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1kg live mussels, cleaned (page 25) and soaked in cold water to cover for 20 minutes
olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
125 ml dry white wine
60g podded broad beans
2 garlic cloves, crushed
800g cooked cannellini beans, drained and rinsed if tinned
100g cherry tomatoes, quartered
60g stoned black olives, sliced
sherry vinegar
a handful of basil leaves, torn
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

To cook the octopus, first bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil with the lemon and peppercorns. As soon as it boils, turn the heat down so the water is just simmering. Add the octopus to the water and pop a plate on top to keep it submerged, then simmer for 90 minutes, or until it’s tender. It’s really important that the octopus does not boil, as this will ruin the lovely skin. Once cooked, leave the octopus to cool, uncovered, in the stock.

Meanwhile, cook the mussels and blanch the broad beans. Drain the mussels and discard any that do not snap shut when tapped. Heat a large heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over a medium-high heat, then add a splash of oil. When it is hot, add half the shallots and sauté for about 1 minute. Add the mussels and wine and give them a good stir. Cover the pan and boil for 3 minutes, or until all the mussels open. Drain the mussels, then discard any that are not open. Set the remainder aside.

To blanch the broad beans, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and place a bowl of iced water in the sink. Add the beans to the boiling water and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Immediately tip them into the iced water to stop the cooking and set the colour. When they are cool, drain them again, shake off any excess water and set aside.

When the octopus is cool enough to handle, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a chopping board and dice the body, but leave the tentacles whole. Place it in a bowl, add the garlic cloves, season with salt and pepper and pour over enough olive oil to cover.

In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining shallots, cannellini beans, tomatoes, olives, and the blanched broad beans. Now add the octopus mixture and a couple of tablespoons of sherry vinegar, to taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Scatter with the basil leaves. The salad is best eaten fresh, but you can cover and chill for up to 4 hours, just remember to remove it from the fridge 15 minutes before serving.

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Salmon Wellington by Tom Kitchin

by www.schnappsphotography.com

People are always looking for dinner party and special-occasion ideas, and this recipe ticks all the boxes. You can get the dish prepared in advance, allowing you to relax and enjoy the evening as much as your guests, as all you have to do is bake and then carve the salmon. Just be careful to really squeeze all the excess water out of the spinach after cooking. Also, when you’re carving use a really sharp knife or serrated knife. I’m sure if you try this it will become a favourite in your family, too.

Serves 4

100g spinach, thick central stalks removed
100g watercress sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled but left whole
olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
30g cream cheese
2 teaspoons chopped dill
1½ tablespoons creamed horseradish
300g puff pastry, thawed if frozen
plain white flour for dusting
2 salmon fillets, about 250g each, skinned and pin bones removed (page 27)
1 free-range medium egg, beaten
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

First prepare the spinach and watercress for the filling. Rinse the spinach and watercress well and shake dry. Spear the garlic clove with a fork. Heat a well-seasoned sauté or frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add a splash of oil. When it is hot, add the spinach and watercress with just the water clinging to the leaves, season with salt and toss with the garlic fork until the spinach is just wilted. Tip into a sieve and squeeze out the excess water, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe out the pan and reheat over a medium-high heat, then add another splash of oil. Add the shallot with a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute before adding the spinach and watercress and mixing together. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the spinach mixture to a bowl and leave cool completely.

When the spinach is cool, stir in the cream cheese, dill and horseradish, and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and set aside. Make room in your fridge for the baking sheet.

Roll out the puff pastry on a very lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 30cm square, about the thickness of a £1 coin. Pat the salmon fillets dry and season them with salt and pepper, then place one fillet in the centre of the pastry. Spread the salmon and watercress mixture over, then top with the remaining salmon fillet.

You now want to completely enclose the fillets in pastry. Use both hands to carefully lift the pastry and fold inwards to meet at the top, so both ends just overlap. Trim off any excess pastry to avoid a layer of unbaked pastry. Brush the edges and press together firmly to seal. Brush the pastry on both short ends with beaten egg and press together, again cutting off the excess pastry. You want about a 0.5cm gap between the edge of the salmon parcel and the pastry seals.

Carefully transfer the salmon parcel to the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg and chill for at least 20 minutes. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 200˚C Fan/220˚C /Gas Mark 7. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the salmon Wellington for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

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Crispy Fish Goujons and Pickled Red Cabbage Tacos by Tom Kitchin

Fish goujons tacos Tom Kitchin Fish & Shellfish-898

Whenever my kids have play dates and their friends come to our home, this dish is always a favourite. I don’t think it’s any secret that most kids (or adults for that matter!) like fish fried in breadcrumbs, but the red cabbage is a good way to bring in vegetables and really cuts well against the richness of the fried fish. Because the red cabbage is pickled it will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, if you store it in a well-sealed container. You’ll find this makes more red cabbage than you need for four tacos, but I don’t think any will go to waste. I also like to drop it through salads or just serve it on its own alongside grilled fish.

Serves 4

50g plain white flour
2 free-range medium eggs
50g dried breadcrumbs or panko
sunflower or other vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 haddock fillets, about 160g each, skinned and each cut into finger-sized strips
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the pickled red cabbage
1 red cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1 red onion, thinly sliced
50ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
balsamic vinegar

To serve
1 green apple
8 taco shells
100ml soured cream mixed with finely chopped coriander

First make the pickled red cabbage, which can be made in advance, covered and chilled until required. Place the red cabbage and onion in a non-reactive bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, mustard and a splash of balsamic vinegar, and mix together. Set aside until required.

Just before you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180˚C Fan/200˚C/Gas Mark 6. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs in another shallow bowl, and place the breadcrumbs in a third shallow bowl. Peel, core and cut the green apple into thin matchsticks for serving the tacos with, and set aside.

Heat enough oil for deep-frying in a deep-fat fryer or a heavy-based saucepan to 190˚C. Pat the haddock pieces dry with kitchen paper and lightly season all over with salt. One by one, dip them into the flour to cover completely, shaking off excess, then dip them in the egg mix and finally in the breadcrumbs, patting the crumbs on well.

Carefully add as many goujons as will fit into the fryer without overcrowding and fry for 3–4 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt. You’ll have to cook all the fish pieces in several batches, so keep the goujons warm in the oven while you continue frying. Return the oil to the correct temperature between batches, if necessary.

Meanwhile, warm the taco shells in the oven. To serve, divide the pickled cabbage among the taco shells, then add some apple strips and place the goujons on top. Serve the soured cream mix on the side for spooning over.

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The Mushroom Cookbook by Michael Hyams and Liz O’Keefe

The Mushroom Cookbook coverWhat is it? A directory of the most widely available mushrooms, both wild and cultivated, plus a collection of 50 mushroom- based recipes. Michael Hyams, based in Covent Garden Market, is apparently known as The Mushroom Man and supplies markets and restaurants with fungi while co-writer Lix O’Keefe is a chef, recipe developer and food stylist.

What’s the USP? From morels to mousseron and portobello to pom pom, Hyams describes in detail 33of the most widely available wild and cultivated mushroom varieties, listing alternative names, their Latin name, where the mushroom can be found and when, along with a detailed description of its appearance, flavour and texture and how it should be prepared and cooked. In the second half of the book, O’Keefe provides 50 ways to cook your fungi.

What does it look like? It’s a game of two halves. The first half that contains the directory is a reference work with the emphasis on providing simple, clear and well organised information. The photos are mainly of unadorned mushrooms against a white or grey background accompanied with step by step illustrations of how to clean and prepare them. By contrast, in the second recipe half, there is a serious amount of food styling going on with all manner of folded napkins, trays, boards, slates and other props to liven up proceedings.

Is it good bedtime reading? Although there is plenty of text, this is more of a reference work than a relaxing read. 

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? That will depend on how keen you are on foraging. You could substitute easier to find mushrooms for some of the more obscure varieties, although that would seem to defeat the whole object of the book.

What’s the faff factor? There’s a fair amount of wrapping and stuffing going on, but for the most part, the recipes are quite straightforward.

How often will I cook from the book? How much do you love mushrooms? For most readers, the book will come in handy for when they want to cook something a little different for a dinner party or find themselves with a sudden fungi fixation.

Killer recipes? Chinese mixed mushroom curry; Asian mushroom and pork ramen; wild mushroom and boar sausages

What will I love? The price. A 250 page, full-colour illustrated hardback cookbook for £15 is excellent value.

What won’t I like? Some of the recipes, like mushroom sushi, are a little gimmicky, there are some odd flavour combinations (Camembert and blackberry fondue on your mushroom burger anyone?) and some of the dishes like whole roast salmon with garlic pesto and truffle look messy and unappetising.

Should I buy it? At the knock-down price, it’s worth picking up for the mushroom directory alone.

Cuisine: International
Suitable for: Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 3 stars 

Buy this book
The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms – And Delicious Seasonal Recipes to Cook with Them
£15, Lorenz Books

The Mushroom Cookbook by Michael Hyams & Liz O’Keefe

The Mushroom Cookbook cover

What is it? A directory of the most widely available mushrooms, both wild and cultivated, plus a collection of 50 mushroom-based recipes. Michael Hyams, based in Covent Garden Market, is apparently known as The Mushroom Man and supplies markets and restaurants with fungi while co-writer Lix O’Keefe is a chef, recipe developer and food stylist.

What’s the USP? From morels to mousseron and portobello to pom pom, Hyams describes in detail 33 of the most widely available wild and cultivated mushroom varieties, listing alternative names, their Latin name, where the mushroom can be found and when, along with a detailed description of its appearance, flavour and texture and how it should be prepared and cooked. In the second half of the book, O’Keefe provides 50 ways to cook your fungi.

What does it look like? It’s a game of two halves. The first half that contains the directory is a reference work with the emphasis on providing simple, clear and well organised information. The photos are mainly of unadorned mushrooms against a white or grey background accompanied with step by step illustrations of how to clean and prepare them. By contrast, in the second recipe half, there is a serious amount of food styling going on with all manner of folded napkins, trays, boards, slates and other props to liven up proceedings.

Is it good bedtime reading? Although there is a lot to read in the book, it’s more of a reference work than something you’d want to cuddle up to last thing at night.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? There are a decent selection of fresh and dried mushrooms available in supermarkets these days and doubtless, you will find suppliers online (none are given in the book however) but for the more obscure varieties like lobster and saffron milkcap you might have to head out on an expert-led foraging trip (don’t try it by yourself – as the introduction points out, the book is not designed to be an identification guide for foraging and there are lots of poisonous varieties out there).

What’s the faff factor? A mix. There’s simple like creamy mixed mushroom and tarragon soup and there’s I’m-simply-never-going-to-make-that (mushroom sushi).

How often will I cook from the book? It really depends how much you like mushrooms; for most people, once in a while.

Killer recipes? Chinese mixed mushroom curry; Asian mushroom and pork ramen; wild mushroom and boar sausages

What will I love? The price. A 250 page, full-colour illustrated hardback cookbook for £15 is excellent value.

What won’t I like? Some of the recipes, like mushroom sushi, are a little gimmicky, there are some odd flavour combinations (Camembert and blackberry fondue on your mushroom burger anyone?) and some of the dishes like whole roast salmon with garlic pesto and truffle look messy and unappetising.

Should I buy it? At the knock-down price, it’s worth picking up for the mushroom directory alone.

Cuisine: Modern eclectic
Suitable for: Confident home cooks
Cookbook Review Rating: 3 stars

Buy this book
The Mushroom Cookbook: A Guide to Edible Wild and Cultivated Mushrooms – And Delicious Seasonal Recipes to Cook with Them
£15, Lorenz Books

Room for Dessert by Will Goldfarb

room-for-dessert-2d.jpg

What is it? Will Goldfarb has worked in the kitchens of Ferran Adria, Tetsuya Wakuda, Paul Liebrandt, and Morimoto. He is one of the top pastry chefs working today and is featured in the fourth series of acclaimed Netflix series Chef’s Table. In his first book, he shares 40 recipes, plus additional basics like sorbets, gelatos and mousses, from his acclaimed Room4Dessert restaurant in Bali.

What’s the USP? Along with the highly complex and bizarrely-named recipes called things like ‘Footsteps, or Burbur Injin’ (black rice pudding), each with their own obscure and sometimes almost unintelligible introduction, the book contains an extended biographical section and ‘The Lab of Ideas’ that provides an insight into Goldfarb’s unique creative process.

What does it look like? The modern, often minimalist desserts are all illustrated with overhead photographs which do some of the less visually impactful creations like Pom Pom Yeah: The Horse Thief (a take on Mont Blanc) no favours at all and makes you wonder what Violet de Meuron (frozen horchata with a dramatic purple hibiscus and onion skin ‘veil’) would look like from another angle.

Is it good bedtime reading? Let’s put it this way, there’s plenty to read, but whether or not you should be looking at it before trying to go to sleep is another matter. Goldfarb has a fascinating life story to tell but does so in such an oblique manner that he sacrifices clear narrative substance for a ‘clever’ turn of phrase and an odd pseudo-poetic style (not dissimilar to that employed by Sean Penn in his much-derided recent novel Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff),  that your frustration with the many gaps in the story might well keep you up at night. Best stick with the latest Laura Lippman.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? Not at all, as long as you’re in Bali. Otherwise, see how you go asking for lontar nectar, fresh moringa leaves or snake fruit at your local Nisa (this is unfair, many of the recipes don’t include exotic ingredients and you should be able to source most of what you need with some diligent online shopping).

What’s the faff factor? This is a book by a progressive, experimental professional pastry chef written for his peers. What do you reckon it’s likely to be?

How often will I cook from the book? Determined hobbyist cooks who want to one-up their nerdy friends or intimidate their dinner party guests with their dazzling pastry skills will be all over this like a rash. Mere mortals will simply admire from the safety of their sofas.

Killer recipes? It’s difficult to say. Is Plat du Jour’s combination of yoghurt sorbet, coffee anglaise, grilled aubergine puree, vermouth gel, white chocolate and ginger ‘Toblerone’ and brioche, soaked in milk and blonde coconut nectar and cooked French toast-style, a winner? Who knows until you’ve made it and eaten it.

What will I love? You will have never read a cookbook quite like it.

What won’t I like? You will have never read a cookbook quite like it.

Should I buy it? If you are a professional pastry chef working at the cutting edge of cuisine, fill your boots. Others should approach with caution unless strongly attracted to whimsy and folderol.

Cuisine: Modernist desserts
Suitable for: Modernist pastry chefs
Cookbook Review Rating: 3 (or 5 if you’re a modernist pastry chef)

Buy this book
Room for Dessert
£39.95, Phaidon

Akelare: New Basque Cuisine by Pedro Subljana

Akelare

What’s the USP? Recipes from one of the great innovators of modern Spanish cuisine.

Give me some background. Global restaurant fashions come and go, but San Sebastian in Northern Spain, with its thrilling mix of casual pinxcho bars and cutting edge high-end restaurants, remains a place of true gastronomic pilgrimage. It’s home to a constellation of Michelin stars including Arzak, Mugaritz, Martin Berasategui and Akelare, run by legendary chef Pedro Subljana for nearly forty years.

Occupying a commanding position west of the city centre on the slopes of Mount Igueldo with stunning views over the Bay of Biscay, Akelare has maintained three Michelin star status since 2007 for its imaginative and playful ‘New Basque Cuisine’ (the Spanish equivalent of Nouvelle Cuisine).

What does it look like? Stunning. It’s more like an artist’s portfolio than a cookbook with visually arresting images of dishes such as ‘zebra squid’; roast loin of hare a la royale with chestnuts and razor clam with veal shank.

Is it good bedtime reading? Move along please, there’s nothing to see here.

Killer recipes? An amuse bouche based around bathroom toiletries that includes tomato flavoured liquid soap, onion sponge, Idiazábal cheese moisturiser and bath salts made from potato starch, prawn and rice ‘sand’.

Will I have trouble finding ingredients? Zopako bread, Beasain onion morcilla and ‘cortrezas de trigo’ (wheat snacks similar to pork scratching) may well be difficult for British cooks and chefs to lay their hands on.

What’s the faff factor? On the inside cover, it says, ‘This book was printed using the font ‘faff’. Look up the word ‘faff’ in the dictionary and you will see a picture of the cover of this book. I took the book to my doctor and he told me it had a terminal case of faff. I showed the book to Darth Vader and he said, ‘The faff is strong with this one’. It is number one on the faff parade. It was pulled over by the police for being three times over the faff limit. An Irishman, a Scotsman and an Englishman went into a bar specifically to agree that Akelare: New Basque Cuisine by Pedro Subljana had the highest faff factor of any cookbook ever published. So, um, yeah, there’s a lot of faff.

How often will I cook from the book? Don’t take this the wrong way, but unless you are a professional chef interested in modernist, progressive cooking, you are highly unlikely to have the skills, resources or time to tackle these recipes. I certainly don’t.

What will I love? A short introductory section, including a page from Subljana himself, prefaces the main body of the book. Articles on the restaurant’s cookery school and associated Basque Culinary Centre, service at the restaurant and suggested wine pairing for the featured recipes round out the book.

What won’t I like? Just 23 out of the book’s 240 pages are taken up with recipes in English meaning methods tend to be on the sketchy side, not ideal with such technical food. Spanish and Basque translations of the text occupy a significant amount of space; fine if you’re reading a free in-flight magazine but a tad galling if you’ve splashed out thirty quid on a relatively slim glossy cookbook. Although beautiful to look at and a real pleasure to browse, the book suffers from a case of style over substance, something that New Basque Cuisine itself could be accused of.

Should I buy it? There are two reasons to buy this book: as a memento of a meal enjoyed or an invitation to make a reservation at the restaurant if this sort of Spanish sleight of hand still floats your culinary boat in 2018.

Cuisine: Progressive Spanish
Suitable for: Chefs
Cookbook Review Rating: 3 stars

Buy this book
Akelare
£30, Grub Street