So my new restaurant, Tramshed, finally opens its doors in Shoreditch later this month. The last thing to be installed is Damien Hirst's Cock and Bull, a cockerel and bull in a tank of formaldehyde, which you will see when you come and visit.
The concept of Tramshed is simple: we serve just chicken and steak. We cook whole chickens for two or three people to share from Woolley Park Farm in Wiltshire, reared exclusively for us by Roz and Russell Candy. They are slow-reared, and their flavour is far superior to that of your bog-standard bird. We will also be serving Roz's baby chickens for one person and her quails as a bar snack.
As for the steak, our 'Mighty Marbled' beef comes from Northern Ireland and is aged in maturing rooms made from Himalayan blocks of salt. The steaks can be ordered in multiples of 200g, so a table of six could have a whole chicken and a kilo of steak to share at under £10 a head. We will also offer a takeaway menu.
Tucked away at the back of the building is a room which can be hired out for up to 12 people where I will cook a bespoke lunch and dinner in front of the guests, rather like I do in Dorset. My cookbook library will also be housed there on one wall, alongside some of my vintage cooking gadgets. In the basement there's a gallery and room with art and design books and tables where people in the local community can relax and chill out or work and have meetings. Here's a sneak preview of some of our new dishes.
Tramshed, 32 Rivington Street, London EC2 (020-7749 0478)
Serves 4-6 as a snack
These will feature on our new bar snacks menu, along with the Yorkshire puddings. You can use leftover roast chicken or cook chicken thighs or breasts from scratch.
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
500ml chicken stock
125ml double cream
60-80g finely-grated hard cheese like Cheddar or Parmesan
200g cooked chicken, chopped finely
2tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Flour, for dusting the croquettes
2 small eggs, beaten
60g fresh white breadcrumbs
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying
Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the flour and stir over a low heat, preferably on a diffuser plate, for a minute or so. Gradually whisk in the chicken stock to avoid lumps forming, then season and cook on a very low heat for 6-8 minutes, giving it an occasional whisk. This mixture is very thick and needs close supervision and stirring.
Whisk in the cream; continue cooking for another 5-6 minutes then remove from the heat, whisk in the cheese and leave to cool, stirring as it's cooling to avoid a skin forming. Stir in the chicken and parsley, season; transfer to a plastic storage container, cover; refrigerate overnight.
Have 4 containers ready, one with the flour, one with the eggs, one with the breadcrumbs and the fourth one empty for the crumbed croquettes.
Using a tablespoon, scoop the set mixture in tablespoon-sized pieces into the flour. Coat in the flour using your hands and mould them into rough cylinders on the work surface with the help of a palette knife.
Place on a tray and put them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to firm them up. Dust them in a little more flour, shaking any excess off, then put them through the egg, again shaking off any excess, then finally through the crumbs, re-shaping them if necessary. Leave in the fridge until required.
To serve, preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large, thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Fry the croquettes a few at a time for 2-3 minutes until golden, turning them in the oil with a slotted spoon as they are cooking. Drain on kitchen paper; serve immediately.
Cauliflower salad with Good Queen Maude and hazelnuts
Good Queen Maude is one of Alex James's cheeses and is made from sheeps milk on his farm in Oxfordshire; it was gold medal winner in last year's world cheese awards.
1 small head of cauliflower, trimmed
150ml double cream
200-250g Good Queen Maude or a similar hard cheese
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
A handful of celery leaves or flat-leaved parsley, washed and dried
30g hazelnuts, lightly toasted
For the dressing
1tbsp cider vinegar
3tbsp hazelnut or walnut oil
1tsp Dijon mustard
Break the cauliflower down into florets. On a mandolin or with a very sharp knife cut about half of the florets into thin slices, and put the nicest slices into a bowl of iced water for 15 minutes and drain. Cook the rest of the florets and any trimmings in boiling salted water for 6-8 minutes – until tender and soft enough to purée. Drain them and blend in a liquidiser or food processor until smooth, then transfer to a saucepan.
While the cauliflower is cooking, shave about a third of the cheese as thinly as possible with a sharp knife or on a mandolin and grate the rest. Add the cream and grated cheese to the cauliflower purée, season and simmer very gently for a couple of minutes until the cheese has melted. It should be a thickish soup consistency; if it's not then continue simmering. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
To serve, mix all of the ingredients together for the dressing and season. Spoon about a tablespoon of the cauliflower purée on to serving plates and spread it out with the back of the spoon. Toss the cauliflower slices with the celery or parsley leaves and the dressing; season lightly. Arrange on the purée then scatter over the shaved cheese and hazelnuts.
Steak and Yorkshire pudding salad
This will be available as a light takeaway offer along with a 'Mighty Marbled' steak sandwich or a chicken salad or quarter or half roast chicken. At home this would make a great alternative to a Sunday roast.
For the Yorkshire puddings
2 eggs, beaten
180-200g plain flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4tsp dripping or duck fat
For the salad
2x sirloin or rib steaks (300-350g each)
A little vegetable oil for brushing
200g or so of tasty salad leaves like watercress, pea shoots, rocket etc
80g piece of fresh horseradish, peeled and grated
For the dressing
1tbsp Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar, or a good-quality red wine vinegar
1tbsp Tewkesbury or Dijon mustard
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
2tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
A few hours before you plan to serve the dish, make the Yorkshire pudding mix. Whisk the eggs with a third of the flour and the milk then whisk in enough flour to make a fairly thick batter and season.
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7, preferably in fan mode. Heat 4 Yorkshire pudding moulds with a teaspoon of the dripping in them for about 10 minutes in the oven.
Pour in the Yorkshire pudding mix and bake the puddings for about 10 minutes until they have risen and starting to colour, then turn the oven down to 200C/gas mark 6 and continue cooking for a further 10-15 minutes until they are crisp. Remove the puddings from the oven and keep them warm.
Preheat a ribbed griddle or barbecue until it is beginning to smoke or thecoals are white.
Lightly brush the steaks with oil and season. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side for rare steaks; less time for thinner steaks.
Remove from the pan and leave to rest on a plate for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk all of the ingredients together for the dressing and season.
To serve, break or cut the Yorkshire puddings into four and arrange on plates, dress the salad leaves with two thirds of the dressing and arrange on serving plates in the middle.
Cut the steaks into half-cm slices vertically and arrange on the salad, spoon over the rest of the dressing and scatter over the horseradish.
This is based on a bullshot which is a popular tipple taken to shoots and great for fishing on a chilly autumn day.
4 shots of vodka, or more if you wish
500-600ml chicken stock (see below)
4-5 drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
2tbsp Worcestershire sauce
The juice of 1 lime
1tsp celery salt
A few turns of black pepper
For the stock
Two raw or cooked chicken carcasses
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
10 black peppercorns
A few sprigs of thyme
Enough chicken stock to cover
Put all of the ingredients for the stock in a saucepan, bring to the boil; simmer for an hour. Strain through a sieve, season; leave to cool.
If you want to drink this cold as a cocktail, then mix the ingredients and pour them into ice-filled glasses with perhaps a bit more vodka.
For a warming drink on a hunting or fishing trip, just warm the stock up and stir in the rest of the ingredients and add the condiments and spices to taste, pour into a vacuum flask and off you go.