Twist and shout: Britain's brightest food talents present their 'alternative' Jubilee extravaganza
Our good Queen Liz may have been honoured in myriad ways over the past six decades, but some decent, honorary grub isn't one of them. After all, the one dish that has truly paid tribute to her remains the less-than-majestic coronation chicken, conjured up for her coronation lunch in 1953 and a summer picnic staple ever since. Though while Constance Spry's original recipe was a reasonably sophisticated concoction involving red wine and apricot purée, its subsequent debasement into a gloopy mix of chicken, mayo and curry powder has left it rather fitter for a toddler than a queen.
Which is why, on this Diamond Jubilee weekend, we have asked six food-and-drink creatives to dazzle us with their own commemorative Jubilee offerings. It is a brief that has provoked a wide range of responses, from twists on regal classics to some rather more irreverent ripostes. So, whether you're looking for some palatable patriotism or a bit of kitchen anarchy, there are ideas here to suit all ideological and culinary tastes...
Poor Knights of Windsor
Florence Knight: This dessert is named after the order of retired military veterans founded by King Edward III, and now known as the Military Knights of Windsor, who reside at Windsor Castle. I've been eating eggy bread – of which this is a fancier version – since I was little and this twist on it is a clever way of turning stale bread into a delicious brunch treat. I've added a little luxury in the form of patriotically coloured berries, while the regal name – and sherry – would surely earn it the royal stamp of approval.
For the Stewed fruits
2 heaped tbsp caster sugar
vanilla pod, split in half
200g hulled strawberries
For the bread
100ml whole milk
100ml double cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp sweet sherry
4 slices stale white bread
3 tbsp crème fraîche
Put the sugar in a pan with water to about an inch's depth and add the vanilla. Choose a pan wide enough for the fruit to fit in one layer. Dissolve the sugar and slowly bring to the boil. Once simmering, add the berries. Cook for three minutes, continually spooning the syrup over the fruit. Once the fruit is soft but not collapsing, remove from the heat.
Mix the milk, cream, sugar, eggs and sherry until the sugar dissolves. Pour into a shallow dish and press the bread into the mixture for a few minutes then turn and repeat. Now fry the bread in butter until golden-brown. Warm the berries and scatter over the bread with a dollop of crème fraîche. Eat immediately.
Florence Knight is head chef at Polpetto, which is currently moving premises (polpetto.co.uk)
Coronation Chicken Samosa
My general manager extraordinaire Candi Giacchetti and I came up with this modern twist on coronation chicken while sampling fine British wines and beers and brainstorming menus for our Best of British wine-tasting menu, which we are serving at the Modern Pantry throughout June. It truly reflects my style of cooking while celebrating the diversity of modern British culture, and it would be lovely served at any street party.
For th filling
3 shallots, finely chopped
Large handful curry leaves, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
25g ginger, minced
1 tbsp coriander, fennel and cumin seeds, toasted and blitzed
2 tsp black mustard seeds, toasted
5g fresh turmeric, minced
500g free-range chicken thigh, diced
50g dried apricots, finely diced
100g crème fraîche
bunch coriander, chopped
2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tsp salt
For the Mango nam phrik
1 peeled mango
1 clove garlic
1 thumb ginger, peeled and chopped
1 red chilli, halved
1 limes zested and juiced
30ml rice vinegar
25ml fish sauce
50ml light olive oil
For the Samosa Dough
2 tbsp caraway seeds
250ml warm water
Sweat the shallots, curry leaves, garlic and ginger in a little vegetable oil in a pan over a low heat. Once soft, add the spices and turmeric and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the diced chicken and, once the chicken is cooked, remove from the heat and fold through the fruit, chopped coriander, crème fraîche, yoghurt and tamarind. Season.
For the nam phrik, blitz the mango, garlic, ginger, chilli, lime zest and juice and rice vinegar in a food processor to a smooth purée. Finely chop the coriander and mint and fold through the purée with the fish sauce and oil.
For the dough, combine the flour and ghee with the caraway seeds then add the water to form a pliable dough. Knead until elastic, wrap in clingfilm and rest for 20 minutes.
Roll out the dough and cut into discs of about 10cm in diameter. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the centre, dampen the edges with a little water then fold the disc in half and seal. Press lightly with a fork on the sealed edge. Repeat until you have used up all the mixture.
Deep fry the samosas in hot oil until crisp and golden, remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Serve while hot with the nam phrik.
Anna Hansen is chef-patron of The Modern Pantry, 47-48 St John's Square, London EC1 (themodernpantry.co.uk)
Ultimate Victoria Sponge
For my Jubilee dish, I toyed with a few ideas but kept coming back to the Viccy sponge. After all, it's a British classic named after the last female monarch to reach a Diamond Jubilee. I've made it tiered to add a touch of decadence and included rhubarb, elderflower and berries to showcase English springtime flavours.
For two 8-inch round Victoria Sponge Layers
330g plain flour, sifted
320g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
175g unsalted butter at room temperature
190ml whole milk
1 tsp good vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas6. In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Beat in the butter until it is incorporated and the mixture appears to be evenly coated and looks like a fine crumble mix – this takes 2 to 3 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs and beat, first on medium, then on high, until just incorporated.
Add the milk and vanilla and beat, on medium and then on high, until the mixture is smooth and combined; it will appear a bit lighter in colour; this takes a further 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the mixture between two lined 8-inch cake tins and level out to the edges. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Elderflower Buttercream
100g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp elderflower cordial
75ml double cream
Beat the butter for 4 to 5 minutes on high speed. Add the sugar, cordial and cream and beat on a low speed to bring it together, then turn up and beat on high for 2 to 3 minutes.
For the Coulis
200g rhubarb stalks, cut into 1cm pieces
75g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
Place all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed pan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the rhubarb is soft enough to crush – about 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod, blend with a food processor or hand blender until smooth, then press through a sieve into a bowl.
Make as many tiers as you want your cake to have. Sandwich the cooled cakes with buttercream, fill and top with fresh strawberries and raspberries and drizzle with the coulis.
Lily Vanilli is a baker and cake designer. Her bakery is open Sundays, 8.30am to 4pm at 6 The Courtyard, Ezra Street, London E2
Thomas Gillgren & JJ Goodman
Thomas Gillgren Nothing suggests Britishness quite like a chilled glass of Pimm's with lashings of fruit, so I have decided to expand on the traditional Pimm's recipe and give it an element of majesty with extra splashes of gin, champagne, crème de fraise de bois, which is a strawberry liqueur, and mandarin juice. The crushed ice on top sparkles like the Queens' diamonds and you can cut the cucumbers into mini crowns for that final touch of commemorative class.
Makes 1 drink
25ml Tanqueray gin
50ml mandarin juice
25ml Pimm's no 1
10ml Crème de fraise de bois
Top with 75ml champagne
Slices of cucumber, apple, orange, lemon and lime
A few raspberries
A sprig of mint
Mix together the gin and mandarin juice in a shaker with ice and strain into a tumbler with ice cubes. Top this with crushed ice then pour on the crème de fraise de bois and Pimm's. Finally, top with the champagne and delicately garnish the crushed ice with the fruit and mint.
Thomas Gillgren is a mixologist and co-founder of private members' club Dorsia, 3 Cromwell Road, London SW7 (thedorsia.co.uk)
JJ Goodman I wanted to create a drink jam-packed with the best of British ingredients, so I adapted one of my favourite gin drinks, the Southside Royal, which is a Savoy Hotel cocktail using lime, sugar, gin, champagne and mint. Adding some honey makes it a real sexy beast of a bevvie – light, refreshing and complex.
Makes 1 drink
25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
25ml Bombay Sapphire gin
8 English garden mint leaves
75ml Nyetimber English sparkling wine
1 mint leaf for garnish
Place all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, except the sparkling wine. Stir in the honey until it dilutes and give it a firm shake.
Strain into a coupe glass, and top with the sparkling wine. To garnish, flatten the mint leaf and float on top
JJ Goodman is a mixologist and proprietor of the London Cocktail Club, 61 Goodge Street, London W1, and 224 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2
Punk-Dressed Salmon and Union Jack Mash
I was an original punk and wore, to the horror of my parents, a black plastic bin bag as a mini-skirt for our street's 1977 Silver Jubilee party. Then I bunked off to see the Ramones. I'll always be a punk, even in my dotage. It's an attitude.
Whole, dressed salmon is a spectacular dish for any special occasion. Traditionally this platter would be covered with cucumber slices acting as scales. However, for this alternative Jubilee version, I have "dressed" the fish in Union Jack colours and shapes, along with a radish "Mohican" and safety pin in its neck.
The difficulty in replicating the Union Jack colours lies in the lack of naturally blue food; some foods we think of as blue, such as blueberries, are actually purple. Cornflower petals, which are edible, are one of the few genuinely blue foods. However, it is too early in the season for them so I have used inedible but decorative blue hyacinth blooms to dress the salmon instead.
In my research, I also discovered Salad Blue potatoes, which I sourced from Carroll's Heritage Potatoes (heritage-potatoes.co.uk) and used for a separate Union Jack mashed potato dish. And an added bonus is that dark-coloured vegetables are very healthy, as they contain lots of isoflavones and antioxidants.
Serves 8-10 people
For the fish
3kg whole salmon, scaled and gutted (measure your oven to make sure it can fit)
A glass of white wine
3 glasses of water
3 bay leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
10 black peppercorns
1 tbsp sea salt
For the 'dressing'
5/6 red Peppers, roasted and skinned, cut into fine strips
1 Mooli radish, peeled into strips
1 bunch of breakfast radishes, tops left on
Mayonnaise or sour cream, piped
Silverskin onions, cut into halves
1 purple carrot
0.5 kg Salad Blue potatoes
Start by poaching the fish. Season the inside of the salmon with salt and pepper. Cut an incision in the skin around the neck and just above the tail – this means that you will get a neat line when you skin the body later. Butter some tin foil on the inside and use it to cover the head and tail.
Scrunch up some more foil and place it in the belly cavity. This enables the salmon to sit upright in the swimming position while cooking, for easy skinning on both sides. Put the rest of the ingredients (excluding those for the dressing) into a baking tin along with the salmon. Curve the tail around if the salmon is long.
Bake in oven (200C/400F/Gas6) for half-an-hour or 12 minutes for k each inch at the thickest part of the salmon. Take out the fish and carefully rip the skin from the body – this should be fairly easy – then let cool completely.
Once cool, remove the salmon to the serving platter. It will be heavy, so you may need an extra pair of hands, as well as a couple of fish slices to place under the head and keep it intact. Remove the foil from the belly.
As the salmon cooks, prepare the blue potatoes. Boil in salted water with the skin on until soft, then peel and mash through a ricer; add plenty of butter and season.
Now prepare the rest of the "dressing". Peel long strips of the Mooli radish then roast the red peppers, remove the shiny skin, seeds and pith and cut them into 3mm-wide strips. Then arrange the radish and pepper strips across the salmon and platter in triangles.
Attach the hyacinth blooms on cocktail sticks and place them within the triangles on the salmon. Then pipe the blue mashed potato into the triangles on the platter, either using an icing bag or a Ziploc bag with the corner cut off. Dot the potato triangles with silverskin onions, cut-side up.
For the "mohican" down the spine, pipe mayonnaise or sour cream down the spine of the fish. Then attach the red radishes to cocktail sticks and arrange them down the back from neck to tail.
For the eye (inspired by Siouxsie Sioux's punk eye make-up) cut out a round of the purple carrot, then cut it into a starred shape. Attach it to the eye with piped sour cream
But the above is just a suggestion: be creative, go crazy, use what you have in your larder, make patterns and have fun.
Union Jack Mash
We may soon look back on the Union Jack with nostalgia: if Scotland goes independent in 2014, I assume the blue part will become redundant...
Serves 4 to 6
0.5 kg white floury potatoes
1kg Salad Blue potatoes
1kg Highland Burgundy red potatoes
kg salted butter
Salt and pepper
3 disposable piping bags
Peel the white potatoes, but keep the skins on the Salad Blues and Highland Burgundys, as they will help with the colour while boiling. Boil each colour of potato separately in salted water. Peel the skins from the Blues and Burgundys once cooked.
Then, in turn, push each variety of potato through a ricer into separate bowls. According to food writer Jeffrey Steingarten, this stops the potatoes getting too "gummy" in texture. Fork in lots of butter to each bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Scoop each type of mash into a separate piping bag (or a Ziploc with the corner cut off). Pipe the mashed blue potato into the bottom of a buttered baking tin. Then, using a thinner layer, pipe the mashed white potato into vertical, horizontal and two diagonal strips on top of the blue potato. Finally, pipe narrower strips of the mashed red potato on top of the white potato. Eat straight away or dot with butter and reheat in the oven.
Kerstin Rodgers, aka Msmarmitelover, is a food blogger (marmitelover.blogspot.com) and underground restaurateur. Her book 'Supper Club', is published by Collins, priced £25
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