Cheers, Keith!: Mark Hix pays tribute to the late great Keith Floyd

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Indy Lifestyle Online

I met Keith Floyd quite a few times when he visited my restaurants – but the last thing I imagined was that we would be serving him up his last lunch. I won't bore you with all the details, as you've probably read all about it in the newspapers, but the truth is that Floyd spent his last day having a damn good lunch at my Oyster and Fish House in Lyme Regis, despite the fact that my boys served him a roast partridge instead of grouse! Fortunately, Keith saw the funny side of it, reminiscing to Johnny, my manager, about all the cock-ups and chaotic blunders that had taken place at his own restaurants.

Back in the Eighties, cooking on television was mainly based in the studio and was a pretty staged affair. When Floyd appeared on the scene, though, it changed the way we thought about cooking and, essentially, made food fun. The fact that it was all shot on location – with the obligatory glass of wine in hand – made it even more entertaining. Keith's brand of TV cooking inspired generations of chefs. So, as a tribute, here are a couple of recipes from the last lunch he enjoyed at the Oyster and Fish House, followed by two classic Floyd creations. Cheers, Keith.

Keith Floyd's autobiography, 'Stirred but Not Shaken', is published by Sidgwick & Jackson, price £18.99

Potted shrimps on toast

Serves 4

Keith chose this as the starter for his last lunch and it's a favourite of mine, too. You can buy brown shrimps from good fishmongers.

180g unsalted butter
Juice of a lemon
A good pinch of ground mace or nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 small bay leaf
1tsp anchovy essence or paste
210g peeled brown shrimps
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, add the lemon juice, mace, cayenne pepper, bay leaf and anchovy essence and simmer on a low heat for 2 minutes to infuse the spices. Remove from the heat and cool the mixture until it is just warm.

Add the shrimps and stir well, then season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Put the mixture into the fridge and stir every so often. When the butter starts to set, fill 4 ramekins with the mixture or spoon it on to plates. If you aren't serving them that day, return the ramekins to the fridge and cover with clingfilm. Don't serve the shrimps straight from the fridge, as the butter will be too hard to spread nicely on to the toast, and won't taste as good. Serve with hot buttered toast and lemon halves.

Partridge dressed as grouse

Serves 4

This was the dish we cocked up. James, my sous chef, roasted a partridge instead of a grouse; the confusion probably arose because we were serving grouse on toast as a starter and whole roast partridge as a main, and Keith requested a grouse instead of partridge. Like grouse, you can serve partridge in exactly the same way with game chips. I like to serve parsnip crisps, bread sauce – the works.

Vegetable oil for deep frying
3 large clean parsnips
8 oven-ready partridges
200ml beef stock
200ml chicken stock
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 245C/gas mark 9. Heat some oil to 180C in a deep-fat fryer. Top and tail the parsnips, leaving the skin on, unless it's very brown and, with a sharp mandolin (a slicing contraption with a very sharp blade – I find that the Japanese ones are the best), slice them as thinly as possible lengthways, then dry them with a clean tea towel.

Fry the slices in the hot fat a few at a time, stirring to ensure that they don't stick together. The parsnips will take a while to colour and may appear soft while they are still in the fat, but once they have been drained they will dry out and crisp up.

Leave the partridges somewhere warm, but not hot, to dry.

Reduce the beef and chicken stock together by two-thirds. Lightly season the partridges and rub the breasts with a little softened butter. Roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes. If you insert a sharp knife or carving fork between the legs and breast a little blood should run out. Slightly pink is the ideal way to serve partridge or they can be a little dry.

Put the partridges on a plate to rest and to catch any juices that run out. Put the roasting tray in which the partridges were cooked over a low heat, add the red wine and stir the bottom to remove any cooking residue.

Reduce the red wine completely and then add the stock. Simmer for a few minutes, then strain the gravy through a fine-meshed sieve into a small pan. It should be thick enough now but, if not, mix a little cornflour with water and stir it in.

The partridges can be served whole or with the breasts and legs removed. Hand round the bread sauce (see below), parsnip chips and gravy separately. Brussel sprouts and chestnuts would make an excellent accompaniment.

Bread sauce

1 large onion, peeled and halved
100g butter
6 cloves
1 bay leaf
1ltr milk
tsp ground nutmeg
200g fresh white breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Finely chop one half of the onion and cook it gently in 50g of the butter until it is soft. Stud the other half with the cloves, pushing them through the bay leaf to anchor it. Put the milk, nutmeg and studded onion into the pan with the cooked onion and bring it to the boil. Season and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the sauce to infuse for 30 minutes or so. Take out and discard the studded onion. Add the breadcrumbs and return the sauce to a low heat.

Simmer for 15 minutes, giving it the occasional stir.

Pour one-third of the bread sauce from the pan into the blender and process, then return it to the pan and add the remaining 50g of butter. Stir until the sauce has amalgamated, check and correct (if necessary) the seasoning.

Hot onion tarts

Serves 4

This is one of those starters that we all love and it features in A Feast of Floyd from his travels to Alsace. It's such a simple dish really and is perfect served at dinner parties or as a delicious snack for a school lunch or a picnic.

200g ready-made butter puff pastry, rolled to about one-third of a centimetre thick
50g butter
2 large onions, peeled, halved and roughly chopped
2 egg yolks
1tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
100ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 anchovy fillets

Prick the pastry with a fork and use to line 4 x 8-10cm tart tins, then leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the onion with a lid on for about 10 minutes, turning them as they are cooking until they are translucent. Season and leave to cool a little. Line the tart tins with discs of greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans and cook in the oven for 7-8 minutes, then remove and leave to cool a little. Mix the egg yolks, Parmesan and cream with the onions and re-season if necessary. Remove the paper and beans and spoon in the onion mixture, then bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Halve the anchovy fillets lengthways, remove the tarts from the tins, lay the anchovies on top and serve.

Shoulder of lamb with beans

Serves 4-6

This is a typical Floyd peasant dish that is full of flavour. It utilises a simple and economical cut of lamb and is best served in the middle of the table so that people can all dig in and share it.

A shoulder of lamb weighing about 2.5kg, boned
4 cloves of garlic
A few sprigs of rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beans

2tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1tsp thyme leaves
1 x 400g can of flageolet or cannellini beans, drained and washed
1 x 250g can of chopped tomatoes
150ml beef or lamb stock

Preheat the oven to 175C/gas mark 4. Slice the garlic cloves, make some incisions in the lamb and push in the garlic slices. Fold the lamb in half and tie with string. Place the lamb in a roasting tray, season, scatter over the rosemary and slow-roast for 1-1¾ hours, basting every so often.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan and gently cook the onion, garlic and thyme for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add the beans, tomatoes and stock, season, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 30-40 minutes, adding a little more stock if necessary – the beans should just be coated in the sauce.

To serve, remove the string from the lamb, cut into 1cm or so slices and transfer to a serving dish, spooning the beans around.

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