Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Working with Atul Kochhar

Tomorrow morning I start my first day back in a kitchen in quite a few months with the very talented Atul Kochhar. I have chosen to work with Atul for many reasons; firstly to understand his mastering of spices and flavours that he combines with such renowned subetly. Secondly I wish to reconnect (albeit quite tangently) with my Pakistani roots through learning to cook many of Atul's fine dishes that are in essence classically Indian, yet have a contemporary context about them. I have admired his work for quite some time, and was very intruiged by how Atul has ressurected many of the exquisite dishes that were created for the Indian Moguls, Rajas and other nobilities of their time. It takes me back to the sights, smells and tastes of Rajasthan in particular - memories of a trip I made to India whilst I was studying at St. Martins. I'd better start brushing up on my Hindi!

Part two: Seared scallops, crispy bacon and crushed Jersey Royals with a basil and lemon vinaigrette

Ingredients for 2:
6/8 scallops
4 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
150g Jersey Royal potatoes
small handful of basil leaves
juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
Olive oil
Maldon sea salt
Firstly put on the washed potatoes to boil for 10/15 mins. Whilst they are cooking away, cook the bacon in a shallow pan until crispy. Drain and keep in a warm oven or grill. Keep the bacon fat, and season - but don't salt the scallops (as the bacon fat should have ample salt already in it). Sear in the pan for 2/3 minutes on each side. Drain the cooked potatoes and add a good knob of butter to the hot pan, add the potatoes, season with salt and black pepper and crush with the back of a fork. Pile the crushed potatoes onto two plates (or use a cooks ring for a tidier effect), pile the scallops on top and layer the crispy bacon. Finally drizzle with the vinaigrette of basil leaves and 30ml olive oil that have been pounded in a mortar and pestle, with the juice of the lemon and seasoning.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

50 Best Restaurants..

Last night Hannah and I were invited to attend the 50 Best Restaurants event at The Science Museum. I think we both felt that we had died and walked into culinary genius heaven, with St. Peter at the bar pouring the champagne. We met many amazing people last night including Michel Roux Jr, Pierre Gagnaire, Heston Blumental, Skye Gyngell, Atul Kochhar, Shane Osbourne, Alice Waters from Chez Panisse and the brilliant Nuno Mendes and Philip Mossop from Bacchus.
It was a real eye opener not just being there, but talking to and understanding the incredible achievments and passion that so many chefs have for their love of food. I was even surprised to meet Danny Rampling (yes the DJ!) who was extoling the virtues of his time spent in the kitchen of Petrus. I was quite floored by his determination and passion for his new found love, definately a man after my own heart. Last night was very illuminating and definately one i'll remember for many years to come - congratulations to all of those on the 50 best, and for those whom I'm sure one day will be on it.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Howard the sock monkey...

This is a picture of Howard, the quite macchevellian looking sock monkey. He came about after Hannah and I had lots of laughs about them, and that making them would be a good business idea, as John Torode did mention somewhere along the line that they might be made out of old tights. Well Howard was made from fresh socks (not frousy old tights), and came about from the book that Hannah bought me on how to make them. Well there are two of them now, Ronky and Howard (who now lives on Ham Island), and spends his time frightening cats and small children.

Birthday cake...

I've just been updating my photo library from last year, and figured there are few foodie gems that I need to post on here. This was my birthday cake last year that I had with Kate (pictured) and Marilyn. I really loved the coloured chocolate - in fact the whole thing looked more like a Stephen Jones hat than a cake. It was an amazing start to the day - as we sat in my garden and supped tea, eat cake and followed it with a nice bottle of Pol Roger.

It's certainly been a while..

I think it must have more than a few weeks since I've even logged onto my blog, but I have been overwhelmed by work and new projects of all sorts. I'm happy in some the ways the dust has settled since the show's airing, as even going out for a pint of milk meant getting recognised and having someone tell you how much they enjoyed watching the show. All this has meant I have met so many lovely people who have just said the most wonderful things and also so many old friends who have got back in contact with me too - it's been weird yet very humbling. I got the most amazing letter from Belfast in the post last week, which I have to say moved me to tears. I'm not usually soppy, but I have been so touched by all of these great words of encouragement.
To be honest I haven't properly cooked anything in at least six weeks as I have thrown myself into earning some pennies again. I can't wait to start at Le Gavroche, but at the same time I'm just a bit apprehensive about being the new boy and probably getting everything wrong for the first few weeks. I know that comes with the turf, and pro kitchens (esp. ones with stars) are daunting, well at least to me they are, but like anything - you get out what you put in. Bring it on! I'm going to be cooking with Michel Roux Jr. at the Taste of London event in June, so I'm conscious that there's a fair bit I've got to learn before then (eek!).
I'm hopefully going get myself over to Borough Market this Saturday and get some lovely things to cook - I've not cooked my Thai fish curry in bloody ages, so I'll do it this weekend I think and post the recipe too. There's quite a bit of stuff I've started writing, which I am saving for a few projects, but I will certainly keep posting recipes. I'm taking inspiration from Hannah's amazing blog, which is full of so many lovely posts and her gorgeous cakes.
Excuse the mad photos, but these were taken after Hannah and I had a very long lunch with Gregg at Pied a Terre. We met Shane Osbourne, who is such a nice guy, and we were given a tour of the kitchen which I have to say was pretty pokey, but run with military precision. I was floored by the subtlety and finesse of Shane's cooking, which he devised for us especially, each course with served with incredible wines. It's amazing to think that food has such tremoundous powers of seduction, but cooking it at that level is genius, it really is. It made me realise I really do have so much to learn, but I think the process is going to be well worth all of the effort.
Will post more at the weekend and will make the fish curry and post that up along with some other random photos I'm sure.