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!

Feta, Peas and Lemon


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A Warm Salad of Peas, Feta and Lemon

I had a variation of this salad at Redhook, a gem of a seafood and steak restaurant in Farringdon.  I chose it as an accompaniment to a juicy rib-eye steak, but this recipe is a great option to accompany a spring lunch, maybe a herby roasted chicken or a perfectly cooked pink leg of lamb.

Ingredients to make enough to serve as a side dish for 4 people:

  • 1 banana shallot, shredded into long thin strips
  • A large good glug of good olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp of fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • Salt & pepper
  • 120g of a good quality creamy feta cheese, crumbled
  • 500g frozen peas (I use petit pois)
  • 8-10 basil leaves, shredded

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and shallots.  Heat very gently until the shallots are soft and translucent.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, zest and lemon thyme leaves and season to taste.  You are making a warm dressing.  Add more lemon juice to taste if needed.
  3. Cook the peas to the instructions on the packet.  Drain well and add your lemon dressing.
  4. Stir well and then add the shredded basil leaves and crumbled feta.
  5. I’d suggest serving this salad immediately s the the peas will discolour slightly if left in the dressing for too long. Great served with roasted meats such as lamb or chicken.

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!

Minted peas, broad beans and goats cheese


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Something Toasted with Minted Peas, Broad Beans and Goats Cheese

It’s a balmy June evening, the sun has finally put in an appearance, and after a weekend of high-octane eating with my cousin, I’m ready for something light, fresh and seasonal for my supper tonight. Cue sweet fresh peas, tiny broad beans and some ripe goats cheese….

Ingredients to make enough to serve 2 people who are not very hungry:

  • A small handful of fresh peas
  • A small handful of shelled and peeled broad beans
  • 2 spring onions, chopped into large chunks
  • 6-8 mint leaves
  • 100 ml of very good vegetable stock
  • A piece of bread per person – choose your favourite, I used freshly baked granary bread
  • 2 slices of good strong goats cheese
  • A little olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Pea shoots or tiny mint leaves to garnish

Now put the apron on and start by …

  1. Bringing the vegetable stock to the boil.  Once it’s boiling, add in the peas, broad beans, spring onions and 3/4 of the mint leaves.
  2. Bring up to boil and then simmer for 2-3 minutes, until tender.
  3. Remove the goodies from the heat and remove some of the peas and broad beans, you’ll use these later for a garnish.
  4. Now place the remaining contents of the saucepan into a blender.  Add the remaining mint leaves and puree until smooth and silky.
  5. Refrigerate until well chilled.
  6. On the highest flame, heat a griddle pan on your hob.  Whilst this heats, take your choice of bread and brush both sides with a little olive oil.
  7. Griddle the bread on both sides until char-grilled.
  8. Remove from the heat and immediately pop on a slice of goats cheese onto your griddled bread.  You’re not aiming to cook the goats cheese, simply soften and warm it.
  9. Now dress with some of your chilled puree (make sure the seasoning is correct for your palate first), the peas and broad beans you reserved earlier, a few drops of olive oil and your chosen leaves.

Tuck in and enjoy!