Food from the Hill

A London food fanatic, living on Telegraph Hill


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Ultimate Shepherd’s Pie

OK, let’s face it, making this Shepherd’s Pie is a mammoth undertaking.  I made it for a formal dinner party for friends a few months ago.  The effort was worth it.  Rich, meaty confited lamb with flavour packed duchesse potatoes, red wine and rosemary.  What’s not to like?

Ingredients for 6:

For the lamb

  • A whole shoulder of lamb, weighing approximately 3kg
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • Seasoning

For the duchesse potato

  • 1.2 kgs of potatoes, peel and cube.
  • 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 120g grated parmesan
  • Seasoning

For the sauce

  • The reserved pan juices from the lamb
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 glove of garlic, well crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of roughly crushed rosemary leaves
  • 150 ml of lamb stock (use a very good beef stock if you have no lamb stock)
  • 150 ml good full bodied red wine
  • Unsalted butter, to finish

For the herb oil

  • 50 ml groundnut oil
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh chives

Now on the day before, put the apron on and start by …

  1. First making the herb oil.  Blitz all of the ingredients together in processor until the herbs are as fine as possible. Pour into a bowl or jug, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate to allow the flavours to develop,
  2. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  3. Place the shoulder of lamb into a large roasting tin, cut the bulb of garlic in half and along with the rosemary and some seasoning, add to the lamb.
  4. Add the bottle of white wine to the roasting tin.
  5. Wrap the entire roasting tin with several layers of tin foil.
  6. Put the lamb into the oven and cook for 8 hours (I usually cook this overnight).

On the day …

  1. Remove the lamb from the oven and take the shoulder out of the tin.
  2. Strain the remaining pan juices and set aside for later.
  3. One the lamb is cooled, shred the meat from the bones, removing the garlic, rosemary and any sinew and fat.
  4. Place the shredded lamb meat onto clingfilm and roll into a sausage shape – about 5 inches in diameter, allow to cool fully and then place into the fridge to set.
  5. To make the duchesse potatoes – place the potatoes into cold, well salted water.  Bring to the boil and then simmer until tender.
  6. Drain and reserve a little of the water.
  7. Into a large bowl, add the cubed butter and parmesan.
  8. Push the drained potatoes through a potato ricer into the bowl of butter and parmesan.
  9. Stir the potatoes well and make sure all of the butter and parmesan is well mixed.
  10. Beat the egg yolks and stir rapidly into the potato mix.
  11. If the mixture is too heavy to stir, add a very small amount of the water that you reserved when you drained the potatoes.
  12. Set aside to chill.

Construct your shepherd’s pies ….

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Remove the chilled confit lamb shoulder from the fridge.  Cut into 2 inch slices and remove the cling film.  Place on a baking sheet.
  3. Fill a piping bag with the duchess potato mixture and pipe onto the top of each slice of lamb confit.
  4. Brush with melted butter and place into the oven.  Cook for 20 minutes, until the confit is warm and the potatoes are golden.
  5. Whilst the lamb is cooking, make your sauce:
  6. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and gently free the shallot, garlic and rosemary for a few minutes, until soft.
  7. Add the red wine, cook on a high heat to reduce by half.
  8. Once reduced, add the pan juices and stock.  Reduce by half.
  9. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve to remove the shallot, garlic and rosemary.
  10. Finish in a small pan by adding the redcurrant jelly, stir until melted.  Add a few cubes of chilled butter to enrich the sauce and add a glossy shiny finish.

Assemble the dish ….

  1. Add your red wine sauce to a warmed plate.
  2. Place the shepherd’s pie in the centre of the sauce.
  3. Add a few drops of herb oil around the edge of the plate.
  4. Serve immediately.  I like to serve this with a side dish of griddled asparagus, steamed courgettes and petit pois.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Pea & Ham Soup


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The BEST Pea & Ham Soup

I love this soup, I make it all of the time, so i thought I’d share it with you …

Ingredients to make enough to serve 4 hungry people:

  • 1 x smoked gammon joint
  • 1 x onion
  • 3 x carrots
  • 1 x celery stick
  • 10 x peppercorns
  • 2 x bay leaves
  • (You can chuck in any other roots veggies you have too.)
  • Frozen peas (millions of)

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. Put the ham into a very large saucepan, chuck in all of the other ingredients except the peas.
  2. Cover with lots of water and bring to the boil.
  3. Skim off any foam off the surface of the stock.
  4. Cook for 2-3 hours depending on the size of the ham (the longer the better).
  5. Once cooked, remove the ham and set aside.
  6. Strain the cooking stock.
  7. You can add back in the carrots, onions etc. if you want to, but make sure you get rid of the bay and peppercorns.
  8. Bring the stock and veg back to the boil and add in a large amount of frozen peas.  Boil and then simmer for 4 minutes.
  9. Blitz with a food processor or liquidiser until smooth.  Check the seasoning.
  10. Tear some of the ham into strips and add to the soup.  Serve with huge chunks of fresh warm buttered bread.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Onion and Brandy Soup


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Onion and Brandy Soup

This soup was made for myself and a friend one Sunday afternoon when there was a surplus of onions left over in the veg box …

Ingredients to make enough to serve 2 hungry people:

  • 2 large white onions, finely sliced
  • 1 leek, cut into 3 inch pieces, then finely sliced length ways
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves (you could use dried thyme instead – my thyme was a little past it’s best and practically dried anyway!)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brandy (I used a 10 year old cider brandy that I found lingering at the back of my cupboard)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon plain flour
  • 1 litre of very good beef stock
  • Salt and pepper to season (I found that the soup in this instance did not need any extra seasoning)

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. Getting out a saucepan and adding  the oil, onions, leeks, thyme, salt and sugar.  Fry on a very gentle heat, stirring for a few minutes.
  2. Make a cartouche by cutting a round piece of grease proof paper, slightly larger than your saucepan. Run under the tap and scrunch into a ball.  Unfold and use this to cover your onion mix in the pan.  The paper should sit on top of the onion.
  3. Caramelise the onions very slowly on a low heat for 40 minutes, until very soft.  Check every 10 minutes and if you think the pan is too dry, add in a tablespoon of the beef stock to add some liquid.
  4. After 40 minutes, increase the heat to a high heat and add the Brandy.  Cook on a high heat for 1 minute to evaporate off some of the alcohol.
  5. Stir in the flour and cook on a medium heat for 1 minute.
  6. Increase the heat to full and add the beef stock and stir until the soup boils.
  7. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes.
  8. Check the seasoning, just in case!
  9. Serve with toasted french bread and melted Gruyere if you’re after a french style soup.
  10. This soup goes wonderfully with a cold crisp glass of Champagne.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Champagne Risotto


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Champagne Risotto

There is something very decadent and romantic about Champagne Risotto

Ingredients to make enough to serve 2 moderately hungry people:

  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 1/3 stick of celery, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • 135g Arborio risotto rice
  • 225ml champagne / extra dry cava
  • 500ml very good chicken stock
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 handful of chopped herbs – optional (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. Melting 25g unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and celery and fry until soft and translucent. Stir in a tiny amount of garlic.  I prefer the main aromatic flavour here to be onion and celery, so go easy on the garlic.
  3. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute until all of the grains are coated and shining with butter.
  4. Add 225ml Champagne and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated, stirring often.
  5. In a separate pan, have your chicken stock simmering, with a small ladle at the ready.
  6. Add the chicken stock ladle by ladle, waiting until each ladle full has almost been fully absorbed before adding another ladleful. It will take around 18 minutes to cook the whole dish, or until the rice is tender but still firm, stirring often.  You may not need all of the stock.
  7. Turn off the heat, stir in 50g freshly grated Parmesan and a knob of butter and put the lid on and leave for 1 minute.
  8. Season to taste and fold in a handful of freshly chopped herbs (parsley, basil, tarragon are good).

Notes:

  • Risotto should be served with a ‘wave’, i.e. it should not be a solid lump on the plate, but ooze to the edge of the dish, without being too runny at the same time!
  • Risotto should always be cooked over a medium heat, a too high heat will cook the outside of the rice grains too quickly and the inside will remain hard and at the same time, a too low heat will leave you with soggy rice.

Tuck in and enjoy!

Pork, Chorizo and Butter Beans


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Smoky Pork, Chorizo & Butter Beans

A Monday night dinner party?  What was I thinking?! …. part one.

So I turned to the casserole pot and spent a lazy Sunday slow cooking up a storm, set the goodies aside to improve in flavour overnight and then simply reheated when my guests arrived the next evening.

Ingredients to make enough to serve 6 people who are very hungry:

  • A 600g piece of pork shoulder.  I buy it whole and then butcher it myself into large cubes.
  • 300g chorizo – I like to use a spicy one
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 dessertspoon of chili flakes
  • 1 dessertspoon of crushed fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 tin of good quality chopped tomatoes – do not use the ones with added herbs in, they are revolting.
  • 1/2 bottle of dry white wine (I drink the rest whilst cooking)
  • 250 ml of very good chicken stock
  • 2 x 400g cans of butter beans, drained
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Chopped fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. Preheating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Heat some oil in a 3 litre casserole dish.  Add the cubes of pork and brown. You may need to do this in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan and end up steaming the pork.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Now fry the onions gently in some more olive oil, for around 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chorizo and garlic to the pan and fry for a further 2 minutes.  Add the chili flakes, smoked paprika and crushed fennel seeds.
  5. Now add the tomato paste – cook this out gently for 10 minutes.  This is key to getting a deep rich sweet tomato flavour – cooking any tomatoes too quickly can make them taste bitter.
  6. Add the pork back to the dish and stir well.
  7. Now add in all of the remaining ingredients, except the parsley and bring to the boil, season well, and then transfer to the oven.
  8. Cook in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  9. When you remove the casserole from the oven, once again, check your seasoning.  You can either serve immediately, or leave it overnight and pop the casserole dish back into the oven for another hour at 180 degrees Celsius, before your guests arrive.  Make sure the casserole is piping hot and garnish with parsley.
  10. I don’t bother with potatoes with this stew, there’s a ton of delicious creamy butter beans in it, but I do serve it with home-made garlic bread and a dressed green salad.

Tuck in and enjoy!