Smoking Gun

Smoking Gun
Highly useful kitchen gadget

Sunday, July 31, 2011



The term avant garde originated in France in the twentieth century and refereed to a group of writers, composers and artists whose work was seen as being extremely experimental and totally unlike anything that had been seen , heard or read before.

Fast forward to around 1992 and the time when one of the chefs whose style of cooking greatly inspires me began to embark on the real road and journey of creativity. The chef that I am referring to is no other than the Spanish legend who is Ferran Adria. From the way that I personally view it, avant garde cuisine transcends national barriers and is a truly international style of cuisine. It incorporates techniques and ingredients from every conceivable cuisine imaginable. Recently, I have been looking back at some of my own menus from the 1990s' and much of what I was creating and cooking at the time could very well be seen as Avant Garde Cuisine, especially in terms of the combinations of flavours used. And here, I am referring to many flavour combinations that are unique to me personally as I have never come across them anywhere else. Anyway, here is a list of some dish that I created in the mid 1990s'.

Tiger Prawns poached in a soy and bacon butter broth, basmati rice braised with sweet peppers and spring onions

Spaghetti Sakura........ Spaghetti served in a sauce of Sake, Shitake mushrooms, coconut milk and coriander

Savoy cabbage and tandoori spiced soup, Poached egg and crispy seaweed

Lasagne of apples and Lancashire cheese, Cider Sabayon

Butter Poached Salmon, Fondue of leeks and tomato/ginger butter sauce

Korean Chicken with Kimichi, (this was a rather interesting dish in which I marinated the breast of corn fed chicken in soy sauce, sake, rice vinegar, chilli and demerara sugar and then char-grilled it and then served it on sauce made with Kimchi {this is a pungent, hot and sour marinated cabbage from Korea that is redolent of chilli}.

Lamb Shank braised with coconut milk, cinnamon bark and red wine, which would be accompanied with mashed potatoes flavoured with spring onions and Chinese five spice powder.

Warm salad of broccoli, cauliflower and king prawns, parsley, egg and lemon dressing.

Anyway, that is just a short list of some of the many dishes that I devised and developed all those years ago. There are many more that I could find by trawling through my collection of notebooks from the time.

All though many of the above listed dishes may sound totally strange, they have all featured on various menus that I have put together and mostly importantly, they all proved extremely popular with the guests.

Until next time, happy eating!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Seawater Sorbet anyone????????

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Spontaneous Innovation!!!!!

A restaurant from Chef Paul Walker.

A new concept in dining.

A centre for innovation, creativity, research and development in cuisine.

INNOVATION.....through use of modern cooking technologies such as FOOD DEHYDRATION, SOUS VIDE COOKING, EXTRACTION OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLE JUICES to create colourful and flavourful sauces and dressings (this would be an alternative to the use of stocks).

INNOVATION...through the use of unusual herbs, vegetables and spices. This would require collaboration with local farms such as CLAREMONT FARM near Clatterbridge hospital.

INNOVATION...through alternative menu concepts, such as the following idea;

Creating a different concept in dining!!!

Rather than creating a menu, offer the diners a list of daily available produce and create a dialogue between the customer and waiting staff with the intent of establishing the customers likes and dislikes, thus enabling the kitchen to create a menu that is exclusive to each table thus increasing the customers enjoyment of their meal.

Once the discussion of the guests likes and dislike has taken place, they will then be asked to select a flavour profile from one of the following;

EUROPEAN...The dishes created by the kitchen team would feature flavour combinations common to the major cuisines of Europe, in particular France and Italy.

MIDDLE EASTERN/ASIAN....featuring the spicing that is common to the cuisines of the middle east and India

THAI...Dishes would feature flavours common to the cuisine of this wonderful country. Much use would be made of ingredients such as Lemon grass, Kaffir Lime, Coconut, Papaya, Peanuts, Coriander, Thai Holy Basil, Mango, to name but a few.

CHINA....Dishes featuring flavours such as Chinese rice wine, Black vinegar, Black Bean Sauce, Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce, Szechuan Pepper, Ginger and Spring onion.

JAPAN....Use of flavours and ingredients such as Wasabi, Tofu, Miso, Rice vinegar, Sake, Mirin(sweetened rice wine), Bonito Flakes, Dashi (Japanese Stock) and various Seaweed.

INNOVATIONS....Unusual and unexpected combinations of flavours such as Coffee and Lemon (with Lamb), Licorice and Fennel seed (with Fish or Chicken), White Chocolate and Szechuan Pepper (with fish) !

CREATIVITY!!!! Through use of the wealth of exciting new ingredients and products that are available from suppliers such as

MSK specialist food ingredients, Infusion 4 Chefs and Cream Supplies.

Working with local designers to create unusual service ware that would (hopefully)lead to creativity in terms of dish design and flavour combinations.

Creativity in terms of unusual flavour combinations, such as:

Coconut and Basil Panna cotta, basil sorbet, White Chocolate and mint sauce.

Chilled coconut rice pudding, Passion fruit sorbet and Mango coulis.

Assiette of Lemon, Coffee and Chocolate (consisting of Chocolate mousse, fresh Lemon Curd, Lemon sorbet and Coffee Soil)

Sea Bass, Oxtail, White Chocolate, Szechuan Pepper and White Chocolate

Chicken with cinnamon, green tea, pink grapefruit and cucumber

Use of new products such as Powdered Sea Water, Powdered Smoke, Dill Pollen, Kaolin (an edible clay used as a food coating),

Various Gelling agent and thickeners to create new textures.

REASERCH...into the history of food and forgotten flavour combinations which would be analysed and reinvented for the modern palate using modern technology, techniques and culinary philosophy.

Continuous research into product availability and uses in terms of creating innovative flavour combinations and textures

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chefs who inspire me Part two.......

Chefs who inspire me part two;

Top; Sergio Herman, Oud Sluis, Netherlands

Second; Wylie Dufresne, WD50, NYC

Third....Ferran Adrai, El Bulli, Spain

Bottom....Pierre Gagnaire, Prais, France

Chefs Who Inspire me...........

Chefs who inspire me.......

TOP....... Sat Bains
BOTTOM...Simon Rogan

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Recipe of the day.......Mushroom Sandwich with Asparagus!!!!!!

Mushrooms are particular favourite ingedient of mine. I love the diverse range of shapes, colours and flavours that can be offered by this wonderful produce. This is one of my signature creatures and is great for a light lunch or a dineer party first course.

Mushroom Sandwich with asparagus!!!!!
For the wild Mushrooms!!!!!
250grms Mixed wild mushrooms
200mls Double cream
50mls Madeira
Juice of two lemons
1tspn Finely chopped parsley
3 Banana shallots, peeled and finely diced
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
25grms Butter
Salt and cracked black pepper
Mushroom Duxelle!!!!!!!
200grms Button mushrooms, washed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
25grms Butter
10mls olive oil
2 Banana shallots, peeled and finely diced
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Finishing touches!!!!!
8 Spears of Asparagus
1tspn dried Shitake mushrooms (ground to a fine powder. Use an electric coffee grinder
for this if you have one)
4 Slices Brioche (about 2cms thick)
4 Very thin slices of Ciabatta
Heat the butter in a pan until it is foaming and then add the shallots and garlic. Cook over a medium heat for until the shallots are beginning to
soften but do not allow them to take on any colour. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are starting to soften and then de – glaze with the
Madeira and lemon juice. Reduce until only about a tablespoon of liquid remains and then add the cream and reduce by half. Season to taste
with the salt and cracked black pepper. Set aside until required.
For the Mushroom Duxelle, heat the oil and butter in a pan and add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened but not browned. Then add the button mushrooms and cook until tender. De – glaze with the lemon juice and reduce until no liquid remains. Pour the mushroom mixture into a
food processor and blend to a smooth purée. Return the purée to the pan and reserve until required
Trim the tough stalks from the bottom on the asparagus and using a potato peeler, slice along the length into thin ribbons.
Brush both sides of the Ciabatta with a little olive oil and place a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place it an oven that has been pre -
heated to 200c and bake for about five minutes until golden brown and crispy.
Toast the Brioche on both sides and reheat both of the mushroom mixtures. Stir the chopped parsley into the wild mushrooms.
Place a piece of toasted brioche onto each of four plates. Divide the wild mushroom between each plate and top with a quenelle of mushroom Duxelle. Garnish with some asparagus ribbons and finish each plate with a slice of the crispy Ciabatta. Sprinkle some of the Shitake mushroom powder over and around each plate and serve.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sea Bass, Oxtail, Whit Chocolate, Szechuan pepper!!!!!

Sea bass, oxtail, white chocolate and Szechuan pepper!!!!

For the Sea bass stock!!!!

heads and bones from 4 farmed sea bass

4 Chopped shallots

50grams parsley stalks

1 Lemon, halved and sliced

100mls dry white wine

250mls water

1tspn Szechuan pepper.

20mls Rapeseed oil.

To Finish the sauce!!!!!

50mls double cream

50grams unsalted butter

50grams white chocolate

Heat the rapeseed oil in heavy bottomed pan and cook the Szechuan pepper until begins to pop. Add the reaming ingredients and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes and strain into a clean pan through a fine sieve lined with a muslin cloth. Return to the heat and reduce by halve and then add the cream and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Whisk in the white chocolate and butter. The sauce is now ready to serve.

Braised Oxtail!!!!!

2 Oxtail, cut into pieces

50grams roughly chopped carrots

50grams roughly chopped celery

50grams roughly chopped onion

50grams roughly chopped leek

100mls full bodied red wine

500mls water

Salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, crushed.

6 sprigs thyme

20mls rapeseed oil

20grams butter.

In a large cast iron sauté pan heat the oil and butter and brown the oxtail. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to an oven proof casserole pan with a tight fitting lid. Then brown the vegetables and pour over the oxtail. De-glaze the sauté pan with the red wine and bring to the boil (use a spatula to loosen the caramelized juices from the bottom of the pan). Add the water, thyme sprigs and garlic, bring to the boil and pour over the oxtail and cover the casserole pan with the lid. Place in an oven which has been pre – heated to 15o centigrade and cook for 31/2 to four hours, until the oxtail is tender. Remove the pan from the oven and lift out the oxtail pieces and allow to cool slightly.

Pass the braising juices through a fine sieve into a clean pan and return to the heat and reduce by 2/3rds.

Once the oxtail has cooled sufficiently that it can be handled, strip the meat from the bones and discard the bones.

To Finish the Oxtail and the sauce!!!!!

Outer leaves from a Savoy cabbage (the tough stem should be trimmed away)

1 Chicken Breast

1 egg white

100mls Double Cream

50grams unsalted butter

Salt and pepper

Place the chicken breast and egg white into a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. Then blend in 50mls of the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Lay four pieces of aluminium foil about 30cms in length onto a work surface and cover with a layer of cling film.. Lay some blanched cabbage leaves on to the cling film/foil and spread with some chicken mousse. Divide the oxtail meat along the centre of the mousse and then roll each parcel into a sausage shape and poach in some gently simmering water for 10minutes.

Bring the oxtail stock back to the boil and add the remaining cream and reduce by a further third. Finish the sauce by whisking in the butter.

Pan Fried Sea Bass Fillets!!!!

8 Fillets Farmed Sea Bass, Scaled and pin boned

30grams Rapeseed oil

30grams Butter

Salt and Pepper

Season the fillets of Sea bass with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet on the stove and add the butter and oil. When just starting to smoke, place the sea bass fillets in the pan, skin side down and cook for two to three minutes until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Turn over the fillets and cook for a further minute and then drain on a clean kitchen cloth.

To Serve!!!!!

Place two sea bass fillets in a cross pattern on each of four warmed serving plates. Unwrap the oxtail/cabbage sausages and cut in halve on the diagonal and arrange on top of the sea bass fillets. Spoon round the oxtail reduction and the white chocolate/Szechuan pepper sauce and serve.


Recently I downloaded and watched a video from youtube of Chef Simon Rogan (L'enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria) preparing an assiette of Lamb. When it cam to making the Lamb stock, he roasted the bones, vegetables and aromatics in the oven (the conventional way) but then cooked the actual stock in a pressure cooker. This actually makes a lot of sense to me, as the stock was cooked in 30 minutes instead of the usual 4 to 5 hours that it would take to simmer over a low heat in the normal way. The other advantage of using the pressure cooker is that it is more economical in terms of fuel usage. Net result being a cost saving in terms of fuel cost and usage.

Illustrated at the top of the page; A pressure cooker. One possible use for this piece of equipment in the preparation of this dish would be the cooking of the Oxtail. This would be advantageous in terms of reducing the cooking time along with reduced fuel usage.

Visions in cuisine!!!!!!!

Visions in Cuisine!!!!!

As I have already mentioned, as a chef, I draw my influence and inspiration from a vast range of sources. One thing that always fascinates me is the descriptions used on wine labels to describe the characteristics and flavours of the wine. I always fine it amazing and rather amusing that wine seems to taste of everything and anything except grapes.

As an example of this, I was going through one of my many note books and found some notes I had made on wine that I had drunk with dinner one evening about three years ago. The wine in question was a South African Cabernet Sauvignon and it was described as being 'Dark Ruby Red Characterized by a bouquet of Chocolate and plums with a full taste'.

This got me thinking about doing a dish with Chocolate and plums and on the same page of my note book I had made a note of the following;

Chocolate with wasabi!!!

This is made as follows;

4grams Wasabi paste

100grams Dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), melted.

From a roll of 50mm wide acetate, cut eight strips about 100mm long. Lay four of them flat them flat on a work surface. Using a palette knife spread the acetate with wasabi paste and then over the top of this spread chocolate and then carefully lay a second sheet of acetate on top of the chocolate/ wasabi mix. Smooth over the mixture with the palette knife and the place in the fridge to crystallize. Once the chocolate / wasabi mix has crystallized and set firmly, remove from the fridge and peel away the acetate sheets, being careful not to break the chocolate. Reserve in a cool place until needed.

Also, in the same section of the said note book, I had written a recipe for a plum sauce but I have made some adaptations to that recipe to create a cold plum dressing.

Plum Dressing!!!!!

250grams plums, halve and pitted

100mls plum wine

125grams raspberries

Place all of the above ingredients into a liquidizer and blend to a smooth paste. Pass through a fine sieve and reserve until required.

Stage Two!!!!

100mls Plum wine

100mls Rice vinegar

2 strips of orange peel

25grams Mint leaves

Place all of the ingredients into a sauce pan and reduce by two thirds. Add the plum purée, bring to the boil and then lower the heat and simmer very gently for fifteen minutes and then pass through a fine sieve. Leave to cool completely and pour into a squeezee bottle and set aside until required.

Having got these two stages of a potential dish formulated, I started to think about what I could serve with them. What immediately sprang to mind was a tartare of some description. Beef was the obvious choice but then I began to think about something possibly more interesting. Thinking about the flavours that I have so far, namely chocolate, plums and wasabi, I decided to think about a venison tartare and the following is the idea that I came up with.

Venison Tartare!!!

500grams minced venison saddle

2 Shallot, very finely diced

1 egg yolk

10grams coriander seeds

10grams black mustard seeds

10grams Cumin seeds

Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Hawaiian Red Alaea salt to taste

Coarse Ground black pepper to taste

Heat a non stick sauté pan on the stove and dry fry the coriander, black mustard and cumin seeds until they take on a golden colour and then finely grind in a mortar and pestle (or, if you have one, use and electric coffee grinder).

Place the minced venison into a large mixing bowl with the spices, lemon juice and zest, finely diced shallot,and the egg yolk and mix until all the ingredients are well blended. Season to tats with the salt and pepper.

To Serve!!!!

Place a chocolate/wasabi sheet onto each of four serving plates (personally, I thought about using oblong shaped pieces of Welsh black slate for serving purposes). Using two dessert spoons, form the venison tartare into twelve quenelles and place three onto each chocolate/wasabi sheet, ensuring that they are evenly spaced. Drizzle over some of the plum dressing and serve.


At the risk of becoming somewhat repetitive, inspiration is gleaned from a wide range of sources. Recently I have been scouring the internet for suppliers of seeds for unusual and rare vegetable seeds. One company I discovered, (whose brochure I requested), REALSEEDS, a UK company based in Pembrokeshire. They have some really interesting stuff in the aforementioned brochure. Any, a couple of thing that caught my attention, that could be used a finishing touches in this dish are;

Fine leaved Shungiku......An edible Chrysanthemum from Japan

'Tsoi Sim' Japanese shoots and leaves. Described as an amazing vegetable from Japan with vividly glowing green leaves and flowering shoots.

'Yukina Savoy' Leaf green. Another Japanese green that is described as having tidy rosettes of dark green savoyed (crinkled) leaves.

Menu Description!!!

Venison, Chocolate, wasabi, plum, Japanese greens. (Alinea style description)!!!!!

Tartare of venison served on a bitter chocolate and wasabi plank with a sweet and sour plum dressing, garnished with a melange of Japanese greens. (Poetic description).

Some concepts and ideas under formulation!!!!!

Sweet and sour pork lollipops!!!

I suppose the idea for this comes from Ferran Adria. The idea that I had was to make a honeycomb from Isomalt (a form of sugar that has a very low water absorbency rat, is low calories but with the same sweetness as normal sugar)!

Anyway, the concept is to make a caramel with the isomalt, pineapple powder, orange powder and Chinese black vinegar and then to add bicarbonate of soda to make a honeycomb. Once set, this would be cut into pieces of about 5 or 6cms in length with a width of around 2cm and placed onto a bamboo skewer. The lollipops would then be rolled in a very crispy pork crackling, which has been ground to a fine powder in an electric coffee grinder).

The idea would be to serve these as an amuse bouche/ canapé.

Sweet and Sour Prawns!!!!!

Recently, whilst watching a video of Chef Ferran Adria, I saw him preparing a Sardine dish in which he wrapped the cooked Sardine in CANDY FLOSS. This gave me and idea for doing an avant garde version of SWEET AND SOUR PRAWNS.

What I would do is to take a large TIGER PRAWN, which has previously been cooked. In the CANDY FLOSS machine, I would place a mixture of sugar, tomato powder, pineapple powder, vinegar powder and orange powder and as the sugar caramelizes and begins to form the floss, I would wrap this around the prawn, thus creating my SWEET AND SOUR PRAWN.

Serve the above two items as a single menu item under the title of SWEET AND SOUR TWO WAYS!!!!!!


Something that I have been doing recently is researching suppliers of Herb, Fruit and Vegetable seeds. One company that I came across is REALSEEDS, which can be found on this link..........

Anyway, the following are a few interesting items that I came across in their catalogue.

'Pattison Orange' Patty Pan Courgette.......Orange coloured through out the fruit. Picked young and cooked like a courgette. Good nutty flavour.

'Sweet Chocolate Pepper'........A bell pepper with a Chocolate – brown coloured flesh which grows well in Northern areas and makes a rich sauce.

Quillquina......South American herb with a citrus spicy scent and flavour. Can be used in place of coriander. The plants have pointy leaves with an attractive blue – green colour.

Red Perilla.....Also known as SHISHO in Japan and similar to basil in flavour terms. Bright red - purple leaves with a fruity scent.

From just reading and thinking about these few ingredients, I have imagined the following dish!!!!!!

Pan Fried Fillets of Red Mullet, quenelles of Salmon scented with Lime Basil, Sweet Chocolate pepper sauce, garnished with Quillquina and Red Perilla.

Note on some of the ingredients used in the Sweet and Sour dish!!!!!

The orange, pineapple, tomato and vinegar powders along with the isomalt can be purchased from the following

An analysis of creativity!!!!!

An analysis of Creative thinking!!!!!!


Use of unusual ingredients such as black garlic garlic, smoked anchovies, purple and white carrots

Reinvent classic flavour combinations. Example....use black garlic and smoked anchovies in a Caesar dressing to reinvent this classic flavour profile.

Innovation through use of new technologies

Thermo Circulator

Food Dehydration to create new texture possibilities

Dehydrated jellies that have a texture similar to leather but with intense flavour.

Dehydrated vegetables such as peas or broad beans with an intense nutty/ grassy flavour that can be used as a garnish. Finely diced peppers used as a seasoning to give an extra flavour dimension to a dish and a new texture possibility.

Innovation through use of new technologies

Water Baths......Slow cooking over longer periods of time in water baths and vacuum bags for flavour retention!!!!! Also a reduction (or even zero shrinkage when cooking meats using this method)!!!!!!

Analysis of previously used flavour profiles and reworking of them into new combinations using modern techniques, ingredients and processes

SPONTANEITY.....I firmly believe that the approach that should be taken towards great food and cuisine is that it should be ingredient based. Instead of writing a menu and then buying ingredients according to the menu and a set recipe, the opposite approach would lead to a far more creative way of doing things. Buy the ingredients and then seriously think about how they are going to be composed into a finished dish.

Be inspired. Inspiration can be gleaned from a wide rang of sources.....i.e.....books, restaurant reviews, television programmes. In the case of the latter, on of my own personal inspirations is the BBC TV series MASTERCHEF. The contestants on that show are complete amateurs with no formal professional culinary training, and yet they are producing some of the most creative and innovative food imaginable. To my mind this is the kind of thing that should be inspiring restaurant menus. AS Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Inc would say, “People don't know what they they until you give it to them.

A source of inspiration can be a label on a wine bottle. For example, the wine is described as having a marriage of delicate lemon flavours with hint of peach and melon. Further inspiration comes from the Pierre Gagnaire book REFLECTIONS OF A CULINARY ARTIST!!! In this book, the legendary French chef makes reference to combining roasted cantaloupe melon with baby carrots and turnips,halved grapes and a dice of raw foie gras.

OK, so now we have a list of ingredients, which is as follows;

Lemon...cut in quarters and remove any pith from the centre. Also remove the pips.

Peaches.....make a small cross in the bottom, blanch in boiling water for ten seconds. Peel of the skin cut in half and remove the stone.




The next stage in the process of creativity is to think about how each of these elements are going to be used. Each ingredient should be looked at in it's own context and thought given to how they are going to be cooked and what additional flavour enhancements are to be applied in terms seasoning's and spicing.

Starting with the Lemon and peaches. I would consider placing these in a vacuum bag along with some pink pepper corns, parsley, shallots, roughly chopped celery and around 50grams of salted butter. The bag would then be sealed on the maximum setting and cooked en sous vide at 68 centigrade for three hours. Once cooked, open the bag and pour the contents into a liquidiser. Blend to a smooth sauce and pass through a fine mesh strainer. This is the sauce to go with our finished dish.

For the roast melon. Peel the melon and trim into planks of about 4 x 2 x 1 inches. Heat a little butter and oil in a pan and add the melon. Cook until caramelized all over and de-glaze the pan with soy sauce and rice vinegar and a little molasses sugar. Reduce until the liquid has evaporated and the melon is well basted with the resulting caramel.

For the turnips. Make a salt crust with 200grams plain flour, 100gram salted butter, 50grams smoked Maldon sea salt. Bind to a dough with eggs. Roll out the pastry and wrap individual turnips in the pastry. Bake in oven pre – heated to 180 centigrade for forty minutes. Remove the cooked turnips from the pastry and slice to around a quarter inch thick on a meat slicer and using a round ¼ inch pastry cutter, cut small discs of turnip and sauté in a little oil and butter until golden brown.

In a large frying pan heat some oil and butter and add 3 chopped shallots, 2 cloves crushed garlic and 5 cardamom pods. Cook for two minutes and then add 250 grams baby carrots. Cook for a further two minutes and then add 75 grams of carrot juice. Bring to the boil and then lower the heat and cook the carrots until tender.

To serve: Use a palette knife and make a smear of the peach/lemon sauce across the plate. On top of the sauce place a melon plank and then on top of this place some of the carrots. Drape a fillet of pan fried black bream across the top of the melon/ vegetables and finish with some discs of turnips. Garnish with some micro celery, pea shoots and purple shisho

Menu description of dish!!!!!

Black Bream, Water Melon, Turnip, Carrot, Peach, Lemon (simplified description as inspired by the style used at Alinea. By just using a list of the main components of the dish, this creates an air of mystery and anticipation for the diner and you are left wondering hoe everything will come together in the completed dish on the plate. )!!!

Crisp Skinned fillet of black bream, Turnips baked in a crust of smoked Maldon sea salt, Soy and Molasses glazed water melon,pot roast carrots flavoured with cardamom and garlic on a peach and lemon sauce scented with pink pepper corns. ( A somewhat more lengthy menu description but one that is more poetic in its' description. But hopefully making the dish more tempting to the dinner in its' description of flavour combinations)!!!!!!

An image of the gorgeous Watermelon radish!!!!!!

Sweetcorn...comes in many colours.......

Going clockwise from the top we have Strawberry pop corn, Smoke Signals (note the multi coloured kernals on this variety), Blue Jade and Butchers Blood.

A culinary epiphany

A culinary epiphany!!!!!!

Over the last week or so I have been spending a great deal of time researching the subject of vegetable on the Internet. Of course, I am not just talking bog standard vegetables that can be found in your common or garden supermarket, I am talking Heirloom varieties, or to put it another way Rare, unusual and exotic varieties. My research has led me to uncover a vast wealth of information on the subject, which in itself has been something of an Epiphany!!!! And this has led me to imaging a wealth of possible new culinary creations.

A vegetable that I have always enjoyed working with (from a flavour point of view), is Sweetcorn. In my opinion, it also a very underrated vegetable, maybe not so much in North and Central America but most definitely here in the UK. One thing that I have discovered is that sweetcorn come in many varieties and not all of them are yellow.


Another interesting vegetable that comes in colours other than orange. In fact, carrots were originally white, the orange variety came much later. Anyway, the following are some examples of interesting carrot types.


There are over two thousand potato species in the world but only a sambal proportion of them are known to the general public. In my research into this vast and fascinating subject of fruit and vegetables, I have discovered information on what we, in the UK, refer to as Heritage potatoes.

Looking at all these vegetables and potatoes leads me to believe that using produce such as this would add great interest and excitement to a menu. It would also be a great Unique Selling Point. The major problem with this is that none of this produce is available on a commercial basis and it would mean finding away to grow it yourself. This would create another Unique Selling Point in that you would be offering the ultimate in fresh produce. Growing your ingredients means that you could pick what you need as you need which would hopefully cut sown on wastage. It would also mean that produce is not sitting around in a store room or fridge deteriorating.


Basil has always been one of my favourite herbs but it is one which must be used fresh. To my way of thinking, dried Basil has just lost all its' flavour and is hardly worth the bother. Unlike many chefs, I am not of the believe that herbs should always be used fresh. Yes, the majority should be used fresh but there are some exceptions to this. Number one is tarragon as I personally find the taste of dried tarragon to be far superior to fresh. Two other exceptions to the fresh rule are Oregano and Sage(in some circumstances).

In the time that I have spent looking into the subject of fruit and vegetables ( and lets not forget the all important subject of herbs), I have come across nine varieties of basil and they are as follows:

Cinnamon...........this is a spicy Mexican type.

Dark Purple Opal......As the name suggests, this has dark purple leaves.

Fine Verde......A variety that is ideal for growing in containers and has the typical Basil flavour that is associated with Italian cuisine.

Greek Dwarf..........A compact plant for growing in containers and with a spicy, slightly aniseed flavour

Lemon.....Lemon fragrance and taste and a real culinary delight.

Lettuce Leaf..........This has large leaves that are ideal for salads and is of Japanese origin.

Licorice.......As the name suggests, this one has a strong licorice scent and flavour.

Lime.....A unique lime flavoured basil from Thailand.

Thai Holy......Has purplish – green leaves with a spicy, sweet clove taste.


Another very under used vegetable/ salad ingredient. Sadly, you only ever get to see one variety in the supermarkets and the quality may not always be the best.

This is the Chinese red meat radish ( also known as the water melon radish). It is a winter variety and the young ones can be used raw in salads whilst the more mature ones can be cooked as a vegetable. The stunning pink flesh would look superb in any dish to which this radish is added.

Another interesting variety that I cam across is the Chinese Greenluobo. This radish has a pale/lime green flesh that, again, would look stunning in any dish.


Again, another vegetable that is used very little (sadly). Most varieties of this have white, edible flesh but I came across one at Rareseeds called the RED ROUND TURNIP, which is a variety of turnip that has a pinky – red edible flesh that is speckled with flecks of white. Again, this would look stunning from a colour point of view in any dish in which it is used.

In Conclusion!!!

The major point that I am trying to emphasise here is that there is a whole wealth of produce out there, much of which is never seen in the broader spectrum of things. For me as a chef, this offers a whole new world of possibilities in terms of flavour, colour and texture combinations. The thought of growing the produce myself and being able to collect and use that produce when it is at its' peak is a majorly exciting and one that I can hopefully bring to fruition one day.

This whole subject of heritage and heirloom vegetables, fruits and herbs is one that has really captured my imagination and is something that I will be returning to on a regular basis.

Just reading through the list of what is available has seriously stimulated my imagination and I have a thousand and one ideas buzzing around for possible dishes that could be created with this amazing wealth of colourful and flavourful produce.

The images at the top of the page, going clockwise from the top are of;

(A) Snow white carrot

(B) Comic purple carrot

(C) Atomic red carrot

(D) Amarillo, a yellow fleshed carrot variety.

Slow cooked Brisket, Olde English Flavours!!!!!!

This is something of a signature dish of mine and one that I created almost eighteen years ago after doing some reading on the food of Medieval England. If you try this recipe, I hope that you enjoy it.

Slow cooked Brisket, Olde English Flavours!!!!!!


Piece Brisket, weighing about 1.5kg

500mls Guinness

100gms Honey

Zest of two oranges (removed with a peeler)

1/4tsp cloves

100gms roughly chopped carrot

100gma roughly chopped onion

100gms Roughly chopped leek

1 cinnamon stick

10mls Rapeseed oil

20gms butter

Salt and Pepper

500mls Brown Veal or Beef stock

20gms butter and 10mls rapeseed oil ( For reheating the brisket)

Braised Red Cabbage

500mls red wine

200mls red wine vinegar

I medium red cabbage, quartered, core and finely shredded

½ tsp powdered cinnamon

4 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered

2 Red onions, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced

50gms butter

15mls Rapeseed oil

150gms Dark Muscavado sugar

To finish the sauce!!!

2tblspns Double cream

20gms butter

Salt and Cracked black pepper to taste

Beer battered onion rings!!!!

1 white onion, peeled, sliced and split into rings

300mls Olde English ale

150gms Plain flour

oil for deep frying

To Garnish!!!!!

Punnet baby watercress

Cooking the Brisket!!!!

Note that the brisket should be a flat boneless piece, not boned and rolled. Season the meat with salt and pepper and in a hot, cast skillet, heat the oil and butter until foaming. Place the meat in the skillet and brown thoroughly on all sides and then transfer to a roasting dish with a tight fitting lid. Add the vegetables to the skillet and brown thoroughly and then add to the roasting dish. De-glaze the skillet with the Guinness and reduce by half and then add the veal or beef stock, cloves cinnamon stick, orange zest and honey. Bring the sauce to the boil and pour over the meat and vegetables. Cover with the lid and braise in an oven that has been pre – heated to 150c for three hours or until the meat is tender. Allow the meat to cool completely and reserve. Note, this stage can be done in advance.

Cooking the Red Cabbage!!!

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the oil and butter until foaming and then add the red onion and cook until soft. Then add the finely shredded red cabbage and cook for three to four minutes until well coated with the oil and butter mixture. Then add the remaining ingredients, bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook the cabbage for one and a half to two hours until it has a chutney like consistency. Set aside in a warm place

Finishing the sauce!!!!

After the meat has finished cooking, strain the cooking juices through a fine sieve into a clean pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the liquid until coats the back of a spoon and then add the cream and whisk in the butter. Set aside and keep warm.

For the onion rings!!!!

Whisk together the beer and flour to form a smooth batter. Heat the oil to 190c and dip the onion rings in the batter and then deep fry until golden brown and crispy.

To reheat the brisket!!!!!

Cut the meat into oblong pieces of around 10cm by 5cm. Heat the reaming oil and butter in the skillet until foaming. Place the meat in the hot fats and cook on the stove for two to three minutes. Then place the skillet in the oven (which has been pre – heated to 200c) for five minutes.


Divide the cabbage into the centre of four heated serving plates. Remove the meat from the oven and place one piece on the top of each serving of red cabbage.

Spoon the sauce over and around the meat and garnish with some watercress. Serve and enjoy.


Soy Cured Salmon, Red Cabbage, Wasabi!!

For the salmon!!

I Side Salmon (approximately 1kg in weight)

500mls Dark Soy Sauce

100g Molasses sugar

Juice of three lemons

Red cabbage

200g Finely shredded red cabbage

1 Bunch spring onions, finely chopped

50mls Sesame oil

20g Wasabi paste

30g Honey

Wasabi Dressing!!

50g Wasabi Paste

100mls Peanut oil

Juice of one lemon

5mls Light Soy Sauce

20g Light Muscavado sugar

Finishing touches

Lemon segments

Orange segments

Micro coriander

Micro Pak choy

Cut the salmon in half along its' length. Place the salmon in a deep dish. In a liquidiser, blend together the remaining ingredients and pour over

the salmon. Cover with cling film and marinate for twenty four hours.

After twenty four hours, remove the salmon from the marinade and rinse under cold running water to remove excess salt from the soy sauce.

In a liquidiser, blend together the sesame oil, wasabi paste and honey into a thick paste and toss with red cabbage and spring onions. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

After cleaning the liquidiser place the wasabi paste, lemon juice, soy sauce and sugar into the jug and blend to a smooth paste. Then slowly drizzle in the sesame oil to create a smooth dressing. Pour the dressing into a squeeze bottle and reserve,

To Serve: Take each piece of salmon and slice into pieces about a ½ centimetre thick. Divide the cabbage salad between four serving plates and top with four or five slices of salmon. Drizzle over the wasabi dressing and garnish with the lemon, orange, micro coriander and micro pak choy!!