Pork Pies

DSC_0734Here’s our variation of Michel Roux Jr’s pork pies.

The concept is the same: make a pork pie filling from a mix of smoked and unsmoked ham and a fatty piece of meat, spice with apples and sage (Michel also adds chestnuts). Use ready-made puff pastry for the pie, bake and enjoy with a sexy herbal salad.

For the filling, I use 30% smoked ham and bacon, 30% unsmoked ham, and 40% belly of pork. Michel uses shoulder of pork; I find belly is easier to find and available in smaller portions.

Mince the lot, then spice it to taste. We like a very generous portion of freshly toasted then ground fennel and coriander seeds with added mustard powerder. Unlike Michel, we also add fresh white breadcrumbs. Not stale bread, but fresh, either torn into small irregular pieces, or diced really fine. Add one whole egg, and mix everything really well.

Line a cup or small bowl with a sheet of puff pastry and fill in layers of meat filling, thin apple slices, deep-fried sage leaves and whatever you fancy. Add a sheet of puff pastry for the bottom, seal around the edges and turn upside down for a nice iglo shape.

Apply an egg-wash made from an egg yolk and a similar amount of cold water, then carve a nice pattern into the surface. Bake at 190C for approximately 1 hour.

Seared Scallops, Glazed with Champagne Zabaglione

DSC_0739I don’t take credit for this recipe; credit goes to Monica Galetti, who presented this as her skills-test challenge in Masterchef Professional in the 2013 series. We saw and liked, then we made our own version and liked, so here’s the plan:

Make a savory Champagne Zabaglione, sear scallops. Dress the scallops with a spoon or two of Zabaglione and whack under the grill until the Zabaglione begins to brown.

Monica’s candidates had to do it in 10 minutes. You may take longer, but it is actually pretty quick to make.

Pre-heat the grill at full whack.

For the Zabaglione, whisk one egg yolk per portion in a Bairne Marie. Whisk, whisk and whisk. Never stop, never slow. You’d want the yolks to heat while whisking them white and fluffy. When you’ve reached 60C, begin slowly adding Champage, about 70ml per portion. Season to taste with a sprinkle of salt, possibly a small dash of lime juice. Monica used fresh horseraddish shavings, which we found nice. Black pepper would also work.

Keep whisking until you’ve reached the consistency of runny custard, and put in the fridge for a few minutes while you sear the scallops in a black pepper butter.

Take a nice wide-rimmed soup plate, add two or three scallops into each, and dress with two large spoons of the Zabaglione. Grill for a minute or two, just until it begins to brown.

Decorate with some samphire or a little fresh dill, serve and enjoy with fresh baquette.


cropped-DSC_0898.jpgNothing beats a freshly churned ice cream, but these Parfaits come pretty damn close. The best thing is that they can be done and dusted a couple of hours earlier, or even a day or two before the event, so you don’t have to worry about anything at all during the meal, or after main course has been served.

We make them in little conical ramekins of anodised aluminium (~100ml). These take a nice portion size each and are easy to manage both in terms of portioning, freezing and getting out.

The sweet parfaits are all made in the same manner, but you need to decide which flavour to add. We love a Hazelnut or Pistacho Praline. Crushed and sugared Poppy Seeds were pretty popular, and I guess a generous helping of Orange Oil, maybe with tiny dice of crystalized Orange, would also work nicely.

To make a praline, shell the nuts. Toast them if you want. Prepare a caramel from 100g sugar, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water, on moderate heat (and while not stirring). When the caramel turns into the appropriate colour, remove from the heat, add the nuts, then spread the lot thinly on a sheet of baking paper or slilicon. Let cool down completely, then crush in a blender to the desired consistency.

For the parfaits, beat 1 medium-sized free range egg yolk per portion. This takes some while, so it is best to use a kitchen machine rather than a hand mixer. Beat the yolks until they turn very pale from the trapped air. Meanwhile, dissolve one tablespoon of castor sugar with a tiny splash of water and put on moderatee heat just as if you were cooking a caramel. This time, you’re done just before the mix gets a colour.

While the egg yolks are still being beaten, slowly pour in the hot sugar sirup. This will cook the eggs. Keep beating the mix to prevent lumbs and allow the yolks to be cooked evenly.

In a seperate bowl, beat 50ml double cream with 1/2 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 vanilla pod per portion.

Add your flavouring to the egg yolk mix (still beating!), then stop beating and fold in the whipped cream. Distribute into the ramekins and freeze for a couple of hours.

To serve, remove the ramekins from the freezer and very briefly and very gently re-heat. I hold and turn each portion for 15s in my hands, t’is all. Then turn out onto a plate (a cake fork comes handy when pulling the parfait cone from the ramekin), decorate as you will (e.g. more praline dust, fruit or fruit coulis, etc), and serve immediately.