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Top class cooking; Take your kitchen skills to the next level with TV chef Simon Hopkinson. Marion McMullen checks out his supper dishes with a continental twist.

Byline: Simon Hopkinson

TV CHEF Simon Hopkinson is a man who has dedicated his life to searching out the very best recipes.

He began his career as a chef when he was 17, opened his first restaurant just before his 21st birthday and this year fronted his own television series on More 4. His book Roast Chicken And Other Stories was voted the most useful cookbook of all time and his latest, Simon Hopkinson Cooks, reveals some of the secrets that go into making delicious restaurant dishes and shows how to achieve perfect results at home.

The award-winning food writer says he hopes to prove that you can cook the occasional restaurant dish in the comfort of your own home like this continental supper special.

Recipes from Simon Hopkinson Cooks by Simon Hopkinson (Ebury Press, PS25 hardback). Photography Jason Lowe.

ANCHOVIES ON TOAST Serves 4 INGREDIENTS Olive oil 1 small loaf of pain de mie, sliced 12 anchovy fillets Cayenne pepper METHOD Brush olive oil over the surface of six slices of bread. Using three at a time, lay them oil-side down in a frying pan set over a moderate heat. Allow to become golden, while also using this time to brush oil on their other sides. Flip them over, repeat the process and keep warm.

Now do the same to the remaining three slices. Lay two anchovy fillets along the length of each slice of toast, allowing a gap between them.

Cut off the crusts (or not, if you like) and slice between the anchovies to make two "anchovy soldiers." Sprinkle over a touch of cayenne and eat with the negroni.

NEGRONI Serves 4 METHOD Mix together equal measures of gun, sweet vermouth and Campari over ice. Add a strip of orange zest and stir.

COFFEE CARAMEL CUSTARD Serves 4 INGREDIENTS NOTE: You will need 4 large dariole moulds of approx. 175ml 400ml full-fat milk 4 espresso coffees a small carton of double cream 80g espresso coffee beans pinch of salt 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 120g granulated sugar 3 eggs 4 egg yolks 75g caster sugar METHOD Preheat the oven to 150degC/gas mark 2. Pour the milk into a measuring jug and add the four espresso coffees. Now top up this mixture with double cream until it reaches 600ml. Pour into a stainless steel pan and add the coffee beans, salt and vanilla extract.

Warm together, occasionally stirring, until just below simmering point. Switch off the heat, cover with a lid and leave to infuse for at least two hours.

Now put the granulated sugar in a heavy-based saucepan and add three to four tablespoons of water. Bring to a simmer and cook slowly until the sugar has become a richly coloured caramel; take care during the final stages, so as not to burn it. Pour into the base of the dariole moulds, dividing the caramel between them. Leave to cool.

Put the eggs, yolks and caster sugar into a roomy bowl. Whisk together lightly then strain over the coffee-infused milk (discard the exhausted beans). Gently whisk together (not vigorously) until well blended, then ladle the mixture into the caramel-lined moulds and fill to the brim.

Place them in a deep roasting tin and fill with tap-hot water, so that it rises up the outside of the moulds by about three quarters.

Carefully slide the tin into the oven and loosely lay a sheet of tin foil flat over the surface of the moulds, but do not secure it down. Bake in the oven until the custards are set, about 40-45 minutes. To check when they are ready, lightly press a finger on the surface, or give them a little shake: they should wobble.

Remove from the oven, take out of the roasting tin and leave to cool. When quite cold, cover each custard with a small sheet of clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least three hours. To unmould, run a small knife around the edge of the custard and up end on to individual, shallow dishes. Eat with a teaspoon - and with great pleasure.

PAELLA Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 2 tbsp olive oil 1 small chorizo sausage (approx. 150g), skinned and cut into small pieces 150g small squid, cut into thin rings 350g chicken thigh meat, cut into small pieces 100ml dry sherry 200g cherry tomatoes 4 cloves of garlic 1 heaped tsp Spanish pimenton 150g stringless, flat green beans, thinly sliced 150g good-quality sweet red peppers from a jar, thickly sliced 1 tsp saffron threads 600ml hot chicken stock 300g Spanish bomba or Calasparra rice 750g mussels, debearded and well washed TO FINISH THE PAELLA 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 2 tbsp chopped parsley 4-5 tbsp olive oil 2 lemons, quartered METHOD Using a large paella pan (I use one that is supposed to be for six, as I prefer the extra room), heat the oil and gently fry the chorizo until the fat runs. Lift it out with a slotted spoon and put on to a plate. Now briefly fry the squid until lightly coloured. Add to the chorizo.

Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper, and cook until golden brown, for about five minutes. Meanwhile, put the sherry, tomatoes, garlic and pimenton into a liquidiser, process until very smooth then, using a small ladle, push through a fine sieve into a bowl (discard the solids). Once the chicken is well coloured add the tomato mixture to the pan and bring up to a simmer.

Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomato mixture has thickened - almost to a thin puree and a bit oily in parts.

Now add the beans, peppers and saffron, then carefully pour in the chicken stock. Stir all together and bring up to a simmer once more.

Sprinkle the rice into the liquid and stir in well, making sure that it is evenly distributed among the chicken pieces; once you have done this try not to stir the rice again. Cook the paella over a moderate heat for a good 20 minutes, or until you can see the rice puffing up between the chicken.

Now carefully push the mussels halfway into the rice hinge-side down, in any space you can fit them. Continue cooking until the mussels slowly begin to pop open and the rice seems to have absorbed all the liquid it can. At this moment, slightly turn up the heat a little and, with your ear and nose close to the pan, listen for a crackling sound together with the faintest smell of scorching. Immediately switch off the heat, cover the paella with a slightly dampened tea towel and leave to rest for five minutes.

(Note: this "crackling and scorching" bit, if you get it right - and it takes a little nerve and practice - will produce sticky, golden and a touch toasty rice in the bottom of the pan. This is called socorat. It is the best bit of the paella and highly prized.) Remove the tea towel and mix together the garlic, parsley and olive oil. Trickle over the paella, arrange the lemon quarters over the rice and serve.

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Chef Simon Hopkinson
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 10, 2013
Words:1195
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