Monday, 27 April 2009

Cocktail hour at Lantana

All those thirsty people in Fitzrovia, including me, who don't want to sit on the footpath outside the rammed pubs on a summer evening will be pleased to hear that Lantana is now keeping its doors open until 9pm on Thursday and Fridays for drinks and bar food.

When I said to Megan, our new the sous chef, that I wanted her to create a supper menu for the evenings and suggested small tasting plates with olives, dips and terrines she told me that terrines are her thing. Really? Yes really. Terrines and pyrotechnics. An unusual combination of interests you may be thinking but wait until you taste Megan's terrines, they really are the bomb.

Megan's chicken, mushroom, cranberry and pistachio terrine.

Friday, 17 April 2009

A Busman's holiday

A friend recently said to me that he hoped my time off over the Easter weekend wasn’t too much of a busman’s holiday.

It wasn't a phrase I’d heard before but was told it means doing on your days off what you do at work eg. someone who drives a bus for a living spending their holiday travelling somewhere on a bus.

As someone who spends their working day with food, cooking on my days off might seem like a busman’s holiday, but for me it feels like a real holiday. Since I've opened the café, I very rarely have time to cook any more so when I do, I get very excited. I bet bus drivers get excited about going on bus trips too.

Thought I’d share a few snaps from the holiday album.

Fish pie
Serves 4

800g mixture of skinless white fish fillet, skinless smoked haddock fillet, skinless salmon fillet
500ml milk
good dash of white wine
1 onion roughly chopped
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon English mustard
1 tablespoon Worstershire sauce
small bunch flat leaf parsley
50g butter
50g plain flour
1kg floury potatoes peeled cooked and mashed

Put 500ml of the milk, dash of wine, chopped onion, cloves and bay leaves in a large frypan with the fish. Bring the milk just to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until fish is just cooked- around 5- 8 mins. Lift the fish onto a plate and strain the milk into a jug to cool. Flake the fish into large pieces.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 min over moderate heat. Gradually add the poaching liquid, stirring well until it has all been added and you have a smooth sauce. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 mins, stirring continually, until it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, stir in the mustard and Worstershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. Leave to cool.

Gently fold the cooked fish and the parsley into the sauce and spoon into a large pie dish. Mix 50g of butter into mashed potato, season and add enough of the remaining milk so that the mash is quite soft. Spoon mash over top of fish and then grate a bit of parmesan cheese on top.

Bake in 180C oven for 30 minutes until top is golden.

Pear tarte tartin
Serves 8

8 beurre bosc pears
80 grams unsalted butter
150grams brown sugar plus 2 extra tablespoons
juice of 2 limes

Peel, halve and core the pears. Slice pear halves keeping each half connected at the stalk. Melt the butter in a large 28cm non-stick and oven proof fry pan and sprinkle the sugar on top. Place the pear halves (flat side up) on top of the sugar, packing tightly as the fruit will shrink as it cooks. Sprinkle the juice of the limes and the brown sugar over the mixture and cook on low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and the syrup is deep golden brown. Depending on the ripeness of the pears this can take a couple of hours. Allow to cool.

Roll out the pastry to fit the frypan with a 2cm overhang, and lay the pastry over the cool fruit mixture. Tuck the pastry edges down around the fruit and bake at 220C for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to stop bubbling then invert over a large plate.

Duck legs braised in red wine with caramelised eschalots
Serves 4

1/2 onion roughly chopped
1 carrot roughly chopped
1 celery stalk roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
1 cup red wine (pinot or grenache)
150ml port
zest and juice 2 oranges
2 bay leaves
4 duck legs (attached to thigh)
1 tbls olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon red currant jelly
8 eschalots peeled
20g unsalted butter
1 tbls caster sugar

Place onion, carrot, celery and garlic in heavy based saucepan with wine, port, orange zest and juice and bay leaves. Bring to the biol, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. Pour over duck legs in a bowl and leave in fridge overnight.

Preheat oven to 150C. Drain duck legs. Reserve marinade and vegetables. Pat duck dry. Heat oil in large oven proof frypan- fry legs until golden. Remove duck and drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from pan.

Place reserved vegetables in fry pan and cook 5-10minutes until golden. Add reserved marinade and stock and bring to the boil. Add duck legs and cover with round piece of baking paper then cover with lid or foil. Place in oven and cook for 2 hours until duck is tender. Remove from pan and strain cooking liquid through a sieve into saucepan. Place liquid over medium heat and simmer until mixture has reduced to a thick sauce. Add redcurrant jelly to taste.
Cook eschalots in saucepan of salted water over medium heat until tender. Drain and pat dry. Heat butter in saucepan, add eschalots and swirl to coat in butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cook 3-5 minutes until golden. Serve with the duck and sweet potato mash.

Rhubarb tart
Serves 8

500g shortcrust pastry
1kg rhubarb
200g caster sugar
250ml creme fraiche
125ml double cream
3 egg yolks

Trim rhubarb, cut across the stalks into 1cm slices. Mix the rhubarb with 150g of the sugar and leave at room temperature for a couple of hours.

Roll out the pastry to 5mm thickness and line a 25cm pie dish or loose bottomed tart tin. Let the surplus pastry hang over the edges. Prick the pastry case with a fork and leave to rest in the fridge or freezer for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 170C and blind bake the pastry case (line the case with baking paper and fill with uncooked rice, chickpeas etc and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the paper, brush the case with an egg wash and bake a further 5 minutes)

Tip rhubarb into a sieve and let the liquid drain, pressing the rhubarb with your hands to extract as much moisture as possible.

Increase oven to 180C. Trim surplus pastry from edges of tart. Mix remaining filling ingredients together with the remaining 50g of caster sugar. Pile the rhubarb in the cooked tart case and pour in the filling. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is just set.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Frequently asked questions #1. What is the difference between a latte and a flat white?

The answer will depend on who you ask but if you ask me, and customers frequently do, a latte, flat white, café au lait, café con leche, etc etc are essentially the same drink in different languages and on different continents: espresso coffee with hot milk.

The difference really comes down to what they are served in and the person making the coffee. At Lantana, flat whites are served in ceramic cups and lattes in tumbler glasses. Both have two shots of coffee but we make the latte on a shorter double shot (a ristretto) which means flat whites are stronger, and, as the name suggests, are made with less foam than a latte. If you want to get a more technical answer from people who know what they are talking about look at toomuchcoffee.

Tim Dunn (ex proprietor of Pushka in Melbourne and now barista in residence at Lantana) shows the difference between Lantana's lattes

and flat whites