Archives for posts with tag: Ben Tish

It’s been a funny old week. Another rollercoaster ride through the trials and tribulations of life.

I find the best way to manage my temperament through it is to cook! and with lots of different people crossing my path this week it has been an opportunity to prepare some nice meals.

sourdough

First on the menu was the builders, or renderers to be specific. Now normally my builder repertoire is tea (taken with 2 sugars) and biscuits or a cake if I have the time. But somehow the latest team, who have just completed a really great job on the house, had other ideas. The week started with their specifications on coffee (as opposed to tea), milk and which biscuits they liked and progressed through the week until the final day. Did I have bacon in the fridge? they asked. In my usual overly helpful way I said no, but I have eggs. Oh – that would be fine, they replied! Er. Are you asking me to make you egg sandwiches? …yes! But I only have a really lovely brown sourdough loaf bought at Bread Ahead this week. That’s fine, they say. And what salt do you have? they ask. What salt? Maldon – is that OK with you? Yes, Maldon will be fine, they say. Hmmm. When did the building community get to be so demanding?

This is the official pic as I didn't take a pic of my efforts, but they were much more rustic!

This is the official pic as I didn’t take one of my efforts, but they were much more rustic!

Thankfully my next catering experience was for my friend C. She makes cakes for a living, award winning cakes at that. And she also caters for parties, and is able to tell good from bad, so I want to do something nice. I opted for a favourite dish inspired by Ben Tish, which he made on Saturday Kitchen some time ago: chorizo stuffed squid. Waitrose serve a really good baby squid on their fish counter which is just begging to be stuffed with chorizo. The only issue is that it needs to be cooking chorizo which is not so readily available, but I had been up in London earlier on in the week and had the ideal one from Brindisa. Once stuffed, you fry off with new potatoes, peas, sage, garlic, capers, lemon and I add onion before serving with a home-made aioli. Leftovers went to the builder, who proclaimed it marvellous and asked for the recipe so it must have been good.

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At the end of the week I had my Spanish friend over and was certainly not going down the tapas route with her. So I adapted a couple of recipes that I love and had a great excuse to work with some kitchen items I love too, including my favourite Anthropologie rolling pin which is rarely aired and my Nom Living fluted quiche mould.

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Crab and saffron tart was crossed with Rose Bakery’s quiche mixture to good conclusions. I used good quality tinned crabmeat (which is always worth having in the larder), and replaced the tomato sauce base with fresh Isle of Wight tomatoes as they are so wonderful at the moment. I also infused some of the cream in my favourite copper saucepan (thanks Mum and Dad) with loads more saffron than the recipe to get that incredible Summery yellow infusion that went in the egg & cream mixture. I had wanted to make the Rose Bakery quiches ever since I saw them featured on Russell Norman’s The Restaurant Man. The show is no longer available but this clip of Kate & Alex in Paris is the bit I was inspired by.

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

The outcome was an indulgent lunch but truly yummy served with a simple salad and Mum’s classic vinaigrette dressing. I made it with a dollop of the leftover aioli to add a bit of garlicky zing and it was just perfect.

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My friends are so wonderful that they come with presents for me as well. So now I am looking at the most wonderful bunch of flowers and a cluster of gifts from Barcelona. The oil pourer reminds me so much of the traditional Spain I went to as a kid and I am told I have to treat the outside base of the bowl by rubbing with garlic to seal it which is the tradition. Once done, I can discover new recipes from my Catalan cookbook, hopefully including these nuts.

Casa Gispert - a treasure trove to discover

Casa Gispert – a treasure trove to discover

They are from a tiny shop called Casa Gispert in El Born, Barcelona, which specialises in nuts and fruits. You see them come in, get roasted in the same wood oven they have used there since 1851 and then weighed and sold out the front. Such a fabulous shop that was recommended to me by my Spanish friend who is from Barcelona. These sorts of places are only known by locals so remember this one and look it up if you are ever there.

It has been a lovely food week and my house is now rendered to perfection. Bring on another week.

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You know the joke… from Pulp Fiction…

“Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, squishes him… and says, catch up!” – Mia Wallace [Uma Thurman]

Ember Yard smoked Basque beef burger with idiazabal and chorizo ketchup

Ember Yard smoked Basque beef burger with idiazabal and chorizo ketchup

I was reminded of it this week because there is clearly a ketchup revolution going on. It started with the Ben Tish’s chorizo ketchup before Christmas which literally transformed a rather basic burger into something oh so much better. That then got me thinking about where else I had an alternative ketchup moment. It has certainly featured strongly on Masterchef the Professionals menus with broccoli ketchup created for the UK show this season and shrimp tomato ketchup on the Australian version. Both were made at the mystery box stage when the contents were from the waste bin. It just goes to show how cost effective such a relish can be. Then I went back to our meal at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and realised that ketchup features strongly on his menu, with both cockle ketchup on the fish main and also mushroom ketchup accompanying all his steaks.

mushroom ketchup

Tomato ketchup started life neither as ketchup nor from tomatoes. In fact it was a Chinese pickled fish sauce called ketsiap which then evolved through Malaysia into ketchap before landing some 200 years or so later into the Heinz version we know of today. The meaty mushroom ketchup is probably more true to the original concept and I guess that’s why Heston chose to focus on that at Dinner which harks back to an historic 18th century recipe. It reminds me of a somewhat senior colleague I used to work with who always had a bottle to accompany every single meal he ate, but I guess under Heston it can be brought back into the 21st century.

Foxlow crop

As if to prove the point, the latest version I tasted was this weekend when we tried the somewhat underwhelming Foxlow restaurant. It is fascinating to wonder why we didn’t get excited about this place. The menu is interesting, the drinks creative, the staff friendly enough and the decor was OK, but somehow the whole experience didn’t connect.

But what did wow was the kimchi ketchup. This little pot of perfection certainly had a kick and was the ideal accompaniment to cut through the fatty meat-centric mains. Talk about finding a ketchup that hits the spot of today’s trends.

We went to newly opened Ember Yard yesterday for lunch.

A blurry pic of the kitchen and Mr Tish at the helm

A blurry pic of the kitchen and Mr Tish at the helm

I have always been a fan of Ben Tish’s food especially at Dehesa. He keeps it simple with good ingredients and nice combinations. His courgette flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese and drizzled with honey is a dish that is truly memorable. Amazing how a small drizzle of honey can transform something.

I have seen him on Saturday Kitchen a few times and can honestly say he is one chef that leaves me wanting to make what he has presented. I replicated his pan-fried hake on the bone with Arbequina olive oil mash, surf clams, chorizo and flat parsley for Mr & Mr Jones to much applause and loved making the Chorizo-stuffed squid with sage, potatoes, peas, capers and aïoli with my niece for dinner one weekend. Both were easy to make and tasty classic combinations.

So I have to say I was excited to see what the impressive Mr Tish was going to do with his new place. As ever, it was Spanish influenced tapas, which is always a good thing but the hook for this new opening is the custom built charcoal grill. It seemed to me that the chef is, as ever, spot on with the concept as this year has to be the year of smokey flavours and simple charcoal cooking.

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The interior was lovely with more vibrancy than some of the other concepts and a nice sense of Spanish colouring.  I really loved the vibrant oil painting covering the main wall, copper lighting and nice mixture of tables supported by pink/red leather seating. There was a buzz in the place and the open kitchen was there for all to see. The lovely Mr Tish was also at the pass taking a hands on approach to his new place.

Anchovies served on a hot coal with a waft of sherry

Anchovies served on a hot coal with a waft of sherry

The menu has may of his classic dishes plus some new ones to showcase the grill. We tried a few of the smokey centred dishes and liked some of the presentation such as these house smoked sherry cask anchovies which were served on the hot coal. The star of the show was the wood roasted gratin of root vegetables, smoked ricotta and idiazabal cream quite simply because it had a strength of smoke which other dishes were missing.

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But the new thing for me, and the interesting fashion which I think will be coming through more and more is the grocery element. Just as that honey brings out the flavour of the goat’s cheese in the courgette flowers, so the chorizo ketchup literally transformed the smoked Basque beef burger. I think alternative ketchups along with other preserves that add a sweetness or heat or indeed sourness are going to be gracing more and more menus. It is the very essence upon which Asian food is based to combine sweet, salty, sour and bitter in perfect partnership but the European style doesn’t tend to pack the punch over all those elements….until now, that is.