Exclusively in `The Sunday Review', we publish the third of four collections of tempting recipes from Rogers' and Gray's `River Cafe Cook Book Two'; WEEK 3: MEAT, FISH, VEGETABLES AND SAUCES

Michael Bateman
Sunday 04 May 1997 00:02 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The River Cafe hasn't served any beef, veal or calf's liver for a year, since BSE was linked to humans, although organically-reared pork, grouse, partridge, pheasant and pigeon all appear on the menu. Instead, vegetables are at the core of the River Cafe philosophy. To Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray they are the most important ingredients, and they feel that other cooks are increasingly sharing this view.

When you enter the River Cafe, you are at once faced by baskets of fresh vegetables displayed like flowers, and platters of roast and braised vegetables - red peppers, aubergines, artichokes. The River Cafe vegetables are cooked in a wood-fired oven, which gives them a wonderfully intense flavour. Ten years ago, Rogers and Gray introduced chargrilled vegetables to London. Now they have broken new ground again, making their Italian wood-burning oven the focus of the restaurant. The oven is used to roast vegetables at both very high temperatures (over 450F/230C) and very low temperatures (325F/160C and below). Cooking at high temperatures, they say, increases the flavour of the dishes. Due to the fierce downward heat, vegetables cook from the inside out, and the starches turn to sugar and caramelize, introducing a complex, sweet flavour.

Roasting slowly as the oven cools also has wonderful results. A shoulder of pork, for example, rubbed with fennel seeds, garlic and chilli, can achieve the succulent flavour of porchetta (see recipe). The wood-fired oven is also used to cook artichokes with thyme, wrapped in foil, and pheasants stuffed with ricotta and sage.

To produce approximations of the results achieved in the restaurant, Rogers and Gray have experimented at home with domestic ovens. Delicious results, they report, can be achieved by roasting at the high temperature of 450F/230C/Gas 8, using the low rack of the oven. Equally, by slow roasting at 300-325F/150-160C/Gas 2-3, and ideally using an oven brick to increase moisture, you can roast overnight very successfully. The secret of fish, they say, is to buy the best and freshest you can and cook it simply, in the Italian manner. MICHAEL BATEMAN



This is as simple a dish as could be. Use rosemary twigs rather than skew- ers. The flavour really does permeate.

Serves 6

12 medium fresh scallops, preferably bought live in the shell

500g/18oz monkfish tail, boned and skinned

6 x 15cm/6in rosemary branches

Maldon salt

freshly ground black pepper

2 lemons, cut into wedges

For the anchovy and rosemary sauce:

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

12 salted anchovy fillets

juice of 2 lemons

150ml/5fl oz extra virgin olive oil

To make the anchovy and rosemary sauce crush the rosemary in a mortar, add the anchovies and pound to a paste. Slowly add the lemon juice, stirring to blend. Add the olive oil a drop at a time. When about half has been added, pour in the remainder in a thin, steady stream, stirring continuously. Alternatively, you can use a food processor although this method produces a thicker sauce. Put the rosemary in and chop very finely, then add the anchovy and chop to a thick, fine paste. Pour the oil in slowly. Finally, add the lemon juice.

For each spiedino (skewer) take two scallops and two cubes of monkfish. Pull the leaves off the rosemary stalks, leaving just the tufts at the end. Sharpen the other end into a point.

To prepare the scallops, place them, flat shell side down, on a board. Insert a sharp knife close to the hinge and prise open. Remove the whole scallop from the bottom shell by gently cutting, keeping the blade flat; use a gentle sawing motion. The whole scallop will now be cupped in the top curved half of the shell. Use a tablespoon and carefully scoop out the scallop; trim off the membrane. Wash, then pat dry.

Cut the monkfish into cubes about the same size as the scallops. Thread a scallop on to the rosemary stick first, making sure the skewer goes through the white muscle part and the coral. Next thread on a piece of monkfish, then the other scallop, and finally the other piece of monkfish.

Heat a chargrill or griddle pan. When very hot, place all the spiedini on it and grill. Season with salt and pepper while grilling. Turn over after three minutes or when the spiedini no longer stick but have sealed and are brown. Grill for a further few minutes.

Serve the hot spiedini with the anchovy and rosemary sauce, and wedges of lemon.


You like anchovies or you don't. Rogers and Gray are passionate about them.

Serves 6

1kg/2lb 4oz Linska potatoes, or similar yellow, waxy variety

2 tablespoons olive oil

50g/2oz unsalted butter

6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

20 salted anchovy, rinsed and filleted

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 dried red chillies, crumbled

100g/4oz Parmesan, freshly grated

300ml/10fl oz double cream

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas 5. Peel the potatoes and cut lengthways into 5mm (14in) thick slices. Put into cold water to soak off the starch for five minutes.

Heat the oil and butter in a small saucepan. Add the garlic and gently fry for two minutes and then add the anchovies. Break up and melt the anchovies into a sauce. Add the rosemary and the chilli. Stir to combine, then remove the pan from the heat.

Drain the potatoes, spread out on a cloth and pat dry. Place in a large bowl and add the anchovy sauce, three-quarters of the Parmesan and the cream. Season and toss together. Put in a baking tray, cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, gently turn the potatoes over, then add the parsley. Test for seasoning, then scatter over the remaining Parmesan. Continue to bake for a further 15 minutes. The potatoes should be lightly browned and crisp.


Possibly the best of all Mediterranean fish - strong-flavoured, firm textured.

Serves 6

12 small red mullet, scaled and cleaned

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

34 bottle white wine

6 pugliese bruschetta

Preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas 8. In a small frying pan heat the olive oil

RIVER CAFE from page 43

and cook the parsley and the garlic over low heat until soft.

Arrange mullet in a roasting tray, then pour in the wine along with the oil, parsley and garlic. Place over a moderate heat, bring just to the boil, then put in preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Make bruschetta by toasting 1cm (12in) thick slices of pugliese or sourdough bread, lightly rubbed with a peeled garlic clove and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Place one bruschetta and two red mullet on each plate, and serve immediately.


You might want to do eight fillets per person for a main course.

Serves 6

18 large very fresh sardines

olive oil

150g/5oz breadcrumbs

grated zest of 2 lemons

200g/7oz pine nuts

3 small dried red chillies, crumbled

1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked from their stalks, finely chopped

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 lemons, thickly sliced

Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6. Scale the sardines, then slit the stomach with your knife and remove the guts. Cut the head off, following the angle of the gills. Make an incision with your knife, cutting in towards the back-bone, and along the spine of the fish, carefully cutting the fillet away from the bone. Repeat on the other side. Sardines have a lot of very fine bones attached to the backbone. Trim any large bones that remain on the fillets.

Brush a baking tray with olive oil and lay three of the fillets skin- side down next to each other. Sprinkle with some of the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, dried chilli, parsley, salt and pepper. Then lay another three fillets directly over the top, skin-side up. Sprinkle with more of the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, dried chilli, parsley, pine nuts, salt and pepper. This is one portion. Repeat this process until you have six sandwiches.

Drizzle the sandwiches lightly with olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for about six to eight minutes. Serve with lemon slices.


Don't even think of using farmed salmon for this dish. The flavour of wild salmon is exceptional.

Serves 6

1 x 3.6kg/8lb wild salmon

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 lemons

Place the salmon on its side on a board. With a very sharp filleting knife, slice the head off behind the gills. You will expose the main bone. Place one hand on the top side of the salmon to keep it in place and with your other hand cut along the top of the bone, keeping the blade of your knife angled towards the bone, using the finger and thumb of your other hand to lift the side of the salmon away as you cut. You will be cutting through the small fillet bones as you go. Turn the salmon over and repeat the process. You will need to pinbone your two fillets with tweezers. Trim the belly sides of the fillets free of fat.

To portion your pieces of salmon, place one side skin-side down on your board. You are aiming to get six portions altogether, three from each fillet. Divide the side equally into three by eye, and cut into the salmon at about a 45 degree angle, cutting straight through the skin at the bottom.

Season your pieces of salmon with salt and pepper, and grill skin-side down first on a preheated very hot grill pan or chargrill for about one minute until just seared. Turn over and sear the flesh side. Serve with wedges of lemon.


It's hard to find a better fish than a line-caught sea bass.

Serves 6

1 sea bass, about 3.2-3.6kg/7-8lb in weight, scaled and cleaned, or 6 x 175-200g/6-7oz individual sea bass fillets

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons each of fresh marjoram, fresh basil or mint, and fresh green fennel or dill, roughly chopped

3 lemons

100ml/312fl oz extra virgin oil

Preheat the grill or griddle. It must be very hot and clean. Make 1cm (12in) deep slashes across the width of the whole sea bass at 6cm (212in) intervals. Slash the skin-side of the fillets in the same way. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Mix the herbs together and then push as much of this mixture into the slashes as you can.

Place the whole fish on the grill and do not turn over until it is completely sealed. Turn over when the fish comes away easily. When sealed on both sides, reduce the heat and continue grilling until the fish is cooked. Alternatively, grill the fillets, skin-side down first, on the grill.

Mix the juice of one of the lemons with the olive oil, and pour over the grilled fish, then scatter any remaining herbs over. Serve with lemon wedges.


A very popular combination. This is cooked in the wood-fired oven for a short burst at a high temperature.

Serves 6 as a starter

6 squid, the size of a hand, about 20cm/8in

juice of 2 lemons and 3 whole lemons, halved

120ml/4fl oz extra virgin olive oil

5 large fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped

3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon dried oregano

200g/7oz rocket leaves, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas 8. Clean the squid by pulling the tentacles and head away from the body. Turn the body sac inside out and scrape away the remaining guts. Turn the body sac right side out again. Cut the head and break off the tentacles, and discard.

Mix two tablespoons of the lemon juice with four tablespoons of the olive oil, then add half the chilli, some salt and pepper and the garlic. Stir in one tablespoon of the chopped parsley. Put some of the mixture inside each squid, dividing it equally. Mix the rest of the chilli with three tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, and season.

Heat a large oven dish and brush with the rest of the olive oil. Sprinkle the oregano and some salt and pepper over each squid, then place in the hot oil. Turn over and place in the oven. Roast for five to six minutes, until slightly brown. Serve with the chilli sauce, the remaining parsley, rocket leaves and lemon halves.



Beetroot is sweeter, juicier and richer when it's roast rather than boiled.

Serves 6

18 small summer beetroots

100ml/3312fl oz extra virgin olive oil

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

1 large bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked from the stalks

juice from 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7. Remove the beetroot leaves 5cm (2in) from the bulb. Keep the root tail of the beetroots intact. Wash beetroots thoroughly, dry, then put in a bowl.

Cut foil into 18 x 13cm (7 x 5in) squares, or squares large enough to individually wrap each beetroot. Brush one side of the foil with olive oil. Scatter with salt and pepper, a few slices of garlic and some thyme leaves. Place the beetroots on top and wrap carefully.

Place the parcels on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes. Test by inserting the point of a knife; they should be soft.

Serve drizzled with extra virgin oil and lemon juice.


Vegetables are at the core of Rogers' and Gray's thinking. Using a wood- fired oven, they roast them at high temperatures. The vegetables cook from the inside-out, which brings out sweetness as the sugars caramelize.

Serves 6

3 aubergines, sliced into discs about 2cm/34in thick

olive oil

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7. Lightly brush both sides of the aubergine slices with oil and place flat in a baking dish. Scatter with half the oregano and garlic and season. Bake for about 15 minutes. Turn over, sprin- kle with the remaining oregano and garlic and more salt and pepper, and bake for another five to 10 minutes.


This wonderful recipe was inspired by a dish eaten in Gener Neuv, a famous restaurant in Asti, north Italy.

Serves 6

6 large whole fresh porcini, stalks attached, weighing about 200-250g/7-9oz each

12 large sprigs fresh thyme

18 thin slices smoked pancetta

3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

3 lemons

a handful of rocket leaves

Preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas 8. With a soft dry brush, clean each mushroom carefully. With a sharp knife, make two cuts up the length of the stalk, dividing it equally into three parts. Make sure it does not become separated from its cap. In each cut place a sprig of thyme, a slice of pancetta and a few slices of garlic. Season generously, then wind a slice of pancetta round each stem to hold in the stuffing.

Heat a suitable roasting pan until hot, then add three tablespoons olive oil. Place the porcini in the oil and put in the oven to bake. They take from five to 15 minutes according to the size and thickness of the cap. When ready, the cap will have browned and shrunk, the stem will have coloured, and the pancetta will be cooked.

Remove the pan from the oven, and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over each porcini. Finally, serve up with the rocket leaves, dressed with oil and extra lemon juice.


This cooking technique brings out the full flavour of the young artichokes.

Serves 6

12 small globe artichokes, with stalks

1 lemon, halved

olive oil

1 bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked from the stalks

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

150ml/5fl oz dry white wine

Prepare the artichokes by first trimming the stalks, leaving about 5cm (2in). Peel each stalk down to the paler core. Next break off the tough outer leaves until only the pale tender leaves remain. Trim about 1cm (12in) off the top. Open the leaves and with a spoon gouge out the choke. Rub with a lemon half to prevent discolouring.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat two tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium heat. Fry the artichokes until they begin to colour, then add the thyme and garlic. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally.

When the garlic begins to colour, add the white wine, the juice from the remaining lemon half, and enough olive oil, about 150ml (5fl oz), to cover. Put on the lid, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the artichokes are tender.



This pork shoulder is cooked slowly overnight in the lowest oven. By the sides of roads in Italy you find stalls selling porchetta, which is similar - chunks of slow-roasted meat sandwiched in a piece of bread.

Shoulder of pork is the most suitable cut of pork for this long method of cooking, as the meat is layered with fat which slowly melts away. Rogers and Gray cook it overnight in the cooling wood oven.

Serves 8-10

1 small whole shoulder of pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25kg/6-7lb in weight

10 garlic cloves, peeled

100g/4oz fennel seeds

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

5-6 small dried red chillies, crumbled

juice of 5 lemons

3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450F/230C/Gas 8. Using a small, sharp knife, score the whole skin of the shoulder with deep cuts about 5mm (14in) wide.

Smash the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli to taste. Rub and push this mixture into and over the skin and all the surfaces of the meat. Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to crackle up, blister and brown. Turn the shoulder and pour over half the lemon juice and two tablespoons of the oil. Turn the oven down to 250F/120C/Gas 12, and leave the meat to roast, overnight or all day (from eight to 24 hours). Turn the meat over occasionally and baste with extra lemon juice and, if necessary, a little oil.

The shoulder is ready when it is completely soft under the crisp skin. You can tell by pushing with your finger: the meat will give way and might even fall off the bone. Serve each person with some of the crisp skin and meat cut from different parts of the shoulder. Add extra lemon juice to deglaze the pan, and spoon this over.


A dish from Venice where you sometimes encounter an oriental influence.

Serves 6

2 Gressingham ducks, about 3kg/312lb each

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 garlic cloves, peeled

3 lemons, halved

4 celery stalks, with their leaves, roughly chopped

4 small carrots, scrubbed and roughly chopped

6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

15g/12oz unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6. Trim the neck skin from the ducks and remove all fat from the cavities. Using a fork, prick the duck skin where the fat deposits are thickest. Rub the ducks inside and out with sea salt.

Pulse-chop the garlic, two of the lemons, the celery stalks and leaves and the carrots. Add salt and pepper. Push this mixture inside each bird. Squeeze the remaining lemons over the birds, and set them breast-side up in a roasting tray on a rack. Half fill the tray with boiling water. Com-pletely cover the ducks with foil, wrapping it round the edge of the tray to make an airtight seal. Steam-bake for one hour. Remove the foil, and pour away the water. Pour half of the balsamic vinegar over the ducks and season the breasts. Turn the oven temperature up to 425F/225C/Gas 7. Roast for a further 15 minutes to brown the breasts, then turn the ducks over. Reduce the oven temperature to 400F/200C/Gas 6, and roast for a further 45 to 60 minutes. The skin should be dark brown and crisp, the flesh coming away from the bones.

Rest for five minutes before carving. Deglaze the roasting tray with the butter, balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Pour over each serving of duck and stuffing.


Guinea fowl deserves much greater appreciation. It is more interesting than chicken, and less fatty.

Serves 6

3 guinea fowl

1 bunch fresh marjoram

5 garlic cloves, peeled

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

250ml/8fl oz olive oil

250ml/8fl oz vermouth

1 litre/134 pints milk

peel of 2 lemons

Preheat oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6. Chop half the marjoram and two of

RIVER CAFE from page 45

the garlic cloves finely. Add the rest of the marjoram leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Add one tablespoon olive oil to hold it together.

With your hand gently separate the skin of the guinea fowl from the meat, and push a generous amount of herbs into the pocket between the skin and meat of the breasts and legs. Put the rest of the garlic inside the birds. Place in a roasting tray.

Roast the guinea fowl in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then add the vermouth to the dish, lower the heat to 340F/170C/Gas 3-4, and cook for five minutes. Add the milk and lemon peel, and cook for another 30 minutes.

Remove the guinea fowl from the oven and dish, and place on a heated plate. Put the roasting tin over a medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, scraping the juices. Let the liquid boil until you have a dark sauce. Pour over the guinea fowl and serve.



This sauce is especially good with scallops, squid or grilled fish.

6 hot green chillies

peel of 1 lemon

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

120ml/4fl oz extra virgin olive oil

Seed and finely chop the chillies. Cut the peel off the lemon (making sure there is no white pith), and slice into very fine strips. Combine with the chopped chillies. Add salt and pepper, and mix with the olive oil. Let sit for several hours before serving.


Serve with grilled lamb or grilled aubergine

2 x 800g/134lb tins plum tomatoes, drained of most of their juices

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

3 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed

1-2 dried red chillies, crumbled

2 whole cinnamon sticks

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the garlic, coriander seeds, chilli and cinnamon. When the garlic is golden brown, add the tomatoes and roughly break them up. Season with salt and pepper, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, for an hour-and-a-half. Taste again for seasoning. The sauce should be thick and sweet with a hint of the chilli, coriander and cin-namon. Remove the cinnamon sticks before serving.


With traditional Italian flavours, this is essentially a pesto.

2 slices ciabatta bread, bottom crust removed

150g/5oz pine nuts, lightly toasted

6 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, picked from the stalks, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

50g/2oz salted capers (rinsed, soaked in cold water for 12 hour, then rinsed again)

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Maldon salt

freshly ground black pepper

Tear the ciabatta into pieces and rough-ly pulse-chop to coarse breadcrumbs.

Using a pestle and mortar, lightly pound the pine nuts, then stir in the herbs. Add the breadcrumbs and the capers, and mix together with the vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.


Very Italian, especially served with the bollito misto eaten in Modena.

Serve with boiled meats

200g/7oz fresh horseradish, peeled

1 loaf ciabatta bread

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

150ml/5fl oz olive oil

Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove and discard the crust from the bread. Tear the bread into small pieces, then pulse-chop in the food processor to coarse breadcrumbs.

Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl, then add the vinegar and enough water to moisten the breadcrumbs. Put aside for 10 minutes before squeezing as dry as possible.

Grate the horseradish finely on the cheese grater. Combine with the garlic and squeezed breadcrumbs, then slowly add the olive oil, stirring continuously as for mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper.

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