Kitchen Chat and more…
Kitchen Chat and more…
I’ve visited the Caribbean before but had never been as far south as Tobago, one of the smaller and, as yet, less spoilt islands. It reminded me of my travels in West Africa, where the people adjust their pace according to the heat of the day. Small roadside shops pile their produce high on the dusty road: Great piles of green oranges, limes, papayas, yellow and black ackees, avocados, huge yams and fleshy pumpkins. At midday, the local people sit under the shade and hold animated conversations, talking in patois at such a speed that it’s impossible to understand. However, when I expressed an interest in proper Caribbean food rather than the European-style food we were getting at the hotel, I was welcomed into the conversation with great enthusiasm. They loved the sound of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, while I wanted to know how to cook Sancoche, cornmeal dumplings and pepper pot.
I watched these dishes being made at Sunday School, a regular party or ‘Jump Up’, held each Sunday evening. The food and the music seemed to be inseparable. It was all cooked outside on calor gas cookers and washed down with a bottle of Carib, the local beer, while our feet were kept moving to the sounds of a steel band on one side and reggae on the other. This is the heart of Caribbean food – a lot of love goes into it but very little ceremony. Food, music, and sunshine combined and left me wanting to reproduce the memories here at home. These recipes have been chosen to welcome in the summer and make use of the new season’s foods which are now coming into the shops.
1 kg raw prawns, peeled and deveined
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp crushed hot red chillies
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp vegetable oil
75g unsalted better, melted
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
4 med tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp lime pickle, chopped salt
Using a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander, cumin, and mustard seeds with the peppercorns, chillies and bay leaves. Saute the onions in the oil until golden brown, add the garlic, ginger and spices and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lime juice and lime pickle. Season well, cover the pan and cook for 30 minutes on a very low heat. You may need to add some stock to the pan of the mixture becomes too dry. Add the prawns and cook for a further 3 minutes. Serve with boiled rice, mango chutney and roti (recipe below).
Rotis are Indian in origin, they are simply a small round flat bread which is eaten with a savoury filling, in this case folded in half and filled with the prawn curry.
225g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
milk or water to mix
ghee or vegetable oil
Sift all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add sufficient milk to mix into a firm dough. Knead the dough well, then divide into four. Roll each one into a 16cm circle and brush with the ghee or oil. Cover and leave to relax for 20 minutes. Re-form into four balls and repeat the process. Heat a flat griddle pan, brush with oil and place each circle on the hot surface for a minute on each side, brush again with the ghee. As they are removed from the pan, pat them in hands until they become pliable and keep warm in a clean cloth.
The pine nut looks beautiful when toasted and scattered over salads, giving off a buttery & mildly resinous taste which is very appealing. Like the almond, these small, tear-shaped seeds are now cultivated around the world. Pine nuts are the seeds found in pine cones of the Pinaceae family of trees and are widely used in Mediterranean cooking, most notably in Italy. Italy began to cultivate pine forests during Roman times by order of the Pope. Pine nuts were used to make wine, preserved in honey and made into sausages. Evidence of their use was also found in the excavations of Pompei. Their use today continues to be as widespread and popular and there is never any difficulty in sourcing recipes. This is good news for people with high cholesterol or diabetes and also for children who need food packed with energy. One of my favourite things to make is pesto, usually homemade pesto is made according to personal taste. It’s not always wise to be too precise with the proportions of each ingredient – some people prefer more oil for a slacker result, others may like more garlic. Therefore, use this recipe as a platform for creating your own personalised pesto sauce!
75g basil leaves (a large handful)
2 cloves garlic
50g pine nuts
150ml of the best olive oil you can afford
Put into a food processor bowl and grind on high for about one minute until smooth paste develops. You may like to leave a few lumps for a more rustic-style pesto.
Nuts have been used in cooking for thousands of years in most parts of the world. Vegetarians and vegans have long recognised their nutritional benefits in our diets since they provide protein, minerals and valuable fats. Nuts stabilise blood sugar levels which can be sustained over a long period of time and therefore give you more energy. Perhaps the tastiest and most valuable nut used in cooking is the almond. Not only is it a high source of protein, it is also rich in calcium, magnesium and zinc. The humble almond which was originally grown in Central and South West Asia, is now grown in North America, the Middle East and most of Europe.
Orange & Almond Syrup Cake
200g unsalted butter
grated zest of 1 orange
165g soft light brown sugar
80g fine semolina
125g ground almonds
225g self-raising flour
200ml plain, set yoghurt
juice of half an orange
For the Syrup:
200g granulated sugar
juice of 2 oranges
Pre-heat oven to 190C, 375F, gas 5. Grease and line a 24cm-round cake tin – loose-bottom tins are better for this. Using a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it becomes pale in colour, then add the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of sieved flour. Now stir in the semolina, almonds, yoghurt, juice and flour and combine the ingredients well. Pour into the prepared tin, spread evenly and make a small hollow in the centre to encourage a flat top to the cake. Bake in the oven for about 50 minutes or until browned and firm to the touch. Allow to stand for ten minutes before turning out of the tin and leaving to cool on a cooling rack. Now make the syrup by combining sugar and juice in a small saucepan, heating slowly until the sugar has melted then allowing to boil until it has become slightly reduced. Leave to cool off before pouring over the top of the cake – this should be done slowly so the cake can absorb the syrup.
Food is always an important element of any holiday for me and this post was inspired by my last visit to France when my husband and I cycled to Paris with a couple of our good friends. I particularly like the regional dishes of the French Alps, which is why our skiing trip during the Christmas holidays was so perfect.
We stayed with some friends in St. Jean D’Aulps and they introduced us to their favourite eateries, one of which was a small village called Londarais. The specialty of Londarais is a wonderfully sharp goat’s cheese used to make Salad Chèvre Chaud, my friend Jane’s favourite lunch.
Back home in Brighton, I discovered some really good cheese in Infinity Foods, made just half an hour away in Horsted Keynes at the Sussex High Weald Dairy. This is a small gem in the heart of the countryside where the Hardy family has been making cheese for 25 years! Most of their cheese is made from sheep’s milk which has a higher protein content than dairy and is more easily digested. Obviously this is good news for those suffering from a milk allergy but another reason it is preferable to cow’s milk is because it contains 100 percent more calcium and 33 percent more vitamins, amino acids and minerals. So why not consider locally produced cheese when a recipe specifies a European cheese next time?
Sheep’s Cheese Salad
4 Organic Slipcote cheeses cheeses, each sliced into 2 rounds
8 slices of a large French baguette
1/4 pint of good olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 lettuce torn into pieces, use a strong tasting lettuce
1 fennel bulb, tough stalk removed and finely sliced
4 spring onions
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, shredded
20 walnuts halved
4 stalks of cherry tomatoes, each vine holding at least five tomatoes
For the Dressing:
3 tbs of olive oil
juice of half lemon and salt and black pepper
Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6 and turn on the grill. Place the tomato vines in the oven until evenly browned, this will take about ten minutes if your oven is already hot. Crush the garlic and mix with the oil, then pour on to a plate and dip in the bread so it is oiled on both sides. Lay the slices on the grill pan and toast on one side. Meanwhile, put the oil, lemon juice and seasoning into a large bowl, mix together and add all the salad ingredients. Toss until everything is evenly coated. Turn the toasts over, place one round of cheese on each and spread to reach the edges of the crust. Replace under the grill until golden and bubbling. Make a pile of the salad on the plate, place two toasts on top and finish with the stalk of roasted tomatoes.
Who doesn’t love a reason to drink good beer, eat good food and have a great time with friends and family? That was us just a couple of weeks ago to celebrate The Brighton Bierhaus 1st Birthday!
The Perfect Plum hosted a weekend pop-up for the occasion and served a delicious variety of boards with an array of options to leave everyone satisfied. We had so much fun collaborating with The Brighton Bierhaus and getting the chance to meet such amazing people- both employees and patrons!
Events like these are a true testament that capture the true flavour of Brighton!
Vegan Board – Roast courgette with thyme and smoked paprika with homemade mushroom walnut paté. Pickled carrot and cucumber served with marinated smoked peppers and white bean and garlic dip served with sourdough bread and olive oil.
Cheese Board – Selection of Sussex cheeses including Olde Sussex Cheddar, Brighton Blue and Duddleswell. Comes with Home pickled pears and homemade mango apple chutney and pickled radish, carrot and cucumber. Served with oatcakes and sourdough bread.
Charcuterie Board – Selection of prosciutto, salami, and bresaola. Homemade chicken liver paté with home pickled radish, cauliflower and fennel. Black and green olives served with sourdough bread and olive oil.
Fish Board – Home cured beetroot gravlax with mustard creme fraiche sauce. Marinated garlic lemon and dill mediterranean prawns with aioli. Homemade smoked mackerel paté with home pickled fennel, carrot and cucumber served with sourdough bread.
What I love most about Easter is the fact that I can gather all my family for an indulgent meal without going through the frenzy one experiences at Christmas. Easter, with its promise of better weather, manages to inspire a sense of celebration sprinkled with spring flowers. The giving and receiving of chocolate eggs lends a simplicity to the day leaving everyone relaxed and appreciative of each others company. This is surely worth celebrating, even for the most sceptical non-believers.
Lamb is traditionally served at Easter because of its symbolic relation to the Easter story, but also coincides with the natural breeding cycle of sheep producing spring lamb during the Easter period. We are more fortunate than many parts of Britain, except of course Wales, to have such excellent lamb reared here in Sussex! South Downs lamb has a sweet, succulent flavour, very similar to that of Welsh lamb. Here is a recipe from one of my traditional Easter menu’s that is not only a joy to make but also a luxury to eat.
Rosemary & Dijon Rack of Lamb with Aubergine Relish
2 medium-size best ends of lamb, eight chops per piece and Frenched (ie. the rib ends cleaned and trimmed)
1 large stalk of rosemary
2 tsp Dijon mustard
light olive oil for searing the lamb.
For the Relish:
2 large aubergines, diced large and salted
4 medium red onions
4 red peppers, diced small
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp light olive oil
250ml red wine vinegar
400g granulated sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped mint
To prepare the lamb, rub a tsp of mustard into the fat side of each best end and coat the whole area evenly. Press the chopped rosemary into the mustard and place the meat in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.
Now to make the relish: Peel and chop the onions into large dice. Fry the onion with the ginger and garlic in 2 tbsp of olive oil until the onion turns transparent. Add the diced pepper and cook for two minutes. Now add the vinegar, sugar and paprika and cook until the mixture becomes caramelised. Put the aubergine pieces in a clean tea towel and squeeze out all the juices, using a firm grip. Fry them in the remaining oil until evenly browned all over. Mix the aubergine in with the onion mixture, season and stir well. Leave to cool. When cool, stir in the chopped mint.
Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F. Place the lamb in a roasting tin and roast for 10-20 minutes, depending on hoe you like your lamb. Remove the lamb from the oven and leave to rest fr five minutes. Put a spoonful of the aubergine relish on each plate and cut each rack of lamb in half, sit each piece on top of the relish and serve with homemade mint jelly.
Enjoy and Happy Easter!
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, we thought it would be fitting to share one of our favourite recipes for the occasion!
The new website is now live… a teensy bit of construction remains, but a whole new look – highlighting our new kitchen location in Hove, new menus and offerings like classes, pop-ups, fundraisers and adventure weekends.
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Hoping to post more delicious recipes and ideas on the blog in the very near, so check back soon.
This tart always gets a great reaction from everyone who I’ve made it for, it’s basically a rich frangipan but the oranges give it a bit of sharpness and balances the sweetness of the almonds and sugar. I use a short pastry to make the base because pate sucrée is a bit too sweet, so make a 500g quantity of basic shortcrust pastry and line a 8-10inch fluted flan tin. Prick the base and leave to rest in the fridge whilst you make the orange frangipane.
You need a couple of tablespoons of orange curd, it’s quite acceptable to buy this, Waitress sell a very good one. If you prefer to make your own, take the zest and juice of 2 large oranges and put into a bowl with 400g sugar, 140g soft butter cubed, 4 eggs + 3 yolks. Set over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted, keep stirring until the mixture will coat the back of a spoon.
Spread the curd onto the base of the pastry case.
To make the frangipan, put 100g of butter, 10g plain flour, 100g ground almonds, 1 teaspoon of orange, 100g caster sugar, zest of 1 large orange, 2 eggs. Whizz everything together in a food processor and spread over the curd evenly. Bake in a preheated oven 180C until lightly brown, at this stage scatter over a few flaked almonds and return to the oven. Bake until golden brown, about 25mins. Cool and serve with some creme fraiche or homemade vanilla icecream.
3a Kings Mews
Hove, East Sussex
t: 07967 305 044
Our menus for parties and weddings offer innovative dishes which look and taste fantastic. You can serve these yourself or have our staff to do the work for you. We also regularly change our menus as each new season brings its own selection of ingredients.