e finally made it. After nearly five long months of lockdown, we will – hopefully – be able to invite friends over for dinner this month rather than shiver over snacks in the garden.
Whether you yearn to gather much-missed family over a Sunday roast or gossip with the girls over a huge bowl of pasta, that first meal together indoors needs to be something special.
We asked some of our favourite chefs to share their ideas on what to cook when we’re finally reunited over the kitchen table.
Simone Remoli, owner of Pasta Remoli
Remoli started working in restaurants in his hometown of Rome when he was 14. After moving to London, he worked at some of the capital’s best restaurants including Roka and Locanda Locatelli, before opening the first branch of Pasta Remoli at Westfield Stratford. He now has successful restaurants in Ealing, Wembley and Finsbury Park, with a new grab and go pasta outlet set to open in St Pancras International this month. Yet he’ll still be taking time out to cook up this childhood favourite once restrictions allow.
“My cousins and I used to move for three months every year into the house by the sea with our grandparents. During the days at the beach we often enjoyed collecting telline clams with our rakes, then in the evening we would cook then to eat all together around the table. We used to cook and eat this dish nearly every evening last August by the sea for whoever was around. We can’t wait to eat it again with them when we’re finally reunited this year.”
Spaghetti with tellini clams
Makes: 4 servings
1kg of telline clams
300g of spaghetti
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
200ml white wine
Fresh parsley, chopped
1. Wash the telline clams under running cold water, rubbing them, then soak them in a bowl, changing the water at least a couple of times to remove all the sand.
2. Drain the clams, transfer them to a large pan and put them on the fire/hob with the lid on to make them open.
3. Shell half the clams, being careful to avoid burning your hands. Put the rest aside and reserve any liquid from the cooking but filter it through a fine sieve to remove any last bits of sand.
4. To prepare the sauce, fry the garlic and parsley in the oil, remove the garlic and add the clams.
5. Brown them to add flavour, then blend with the white wine and then the filtered cooking water.
6. Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling water, drain halfway through cooking and set aside a glass of cooking water.
7. Add the spaghetti to the clams, season with salt, add pepper and parsley, then cook until al dente. Plate the spaghetti with the clams, add more pepper and fresh parsley and serve immediately.
Remoli opens at St Pancras International on 5 May
Ben Tish, culinary director of The Stafford Collection and author of Moorish
Tish is an award-winning food writer and chef who has published three cookbooks. He has worked with Michelin-starred chefs, such as Jason Atherton and Stephen Terry, and opened the Sicilian-Moorish restaurant Norma on London’s Charlotte Street in September 2019. He’s planning to mark the lifting of restrictions by cooking a chicken pie, a simpler Andalusia-Moorish version of a Moroccan bastilla.
He says: “The pastela moruna can be found in many of the bakeries in Granada and history dictates that this pie was created by Moorish aristocracy in the Alhambra Palace and then kept alive by local nuns cooking in the convents. Traditionally the pastela is baked in a wood oven and the pastry absorbs some of the smokiness during cooking, adding another layer of flavour and giving the pie its distinct golden hue.
“I don’t bother making a fresh pastry for this recipe, as there’s some excellent all butter puff pastry available in the supermarkets. Do feel free to make your own if you like.”
Wood-baked Moorish chicken pine nut and raisin pie
Makes: 6-8 servings
6 free-range chicken legs, skin removed
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
500ml homemade or high quality shop-bought fresh dark chicken stock
1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
200g plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
30g pine nuts
35g flaked almonds
2 x puff pastry sheets
Icing sugar for dusting
Flour for dusting
1 egg yolk mixed with a splash of milk
Sea salt, black pepper and olive oil for cooking
1. Set the oven to 180C. Season the chicken and place in a baking tray along with the chopped onion, the spices and a good drizzle of olive oil.
2. Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes (turning the legs once or twice) or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear.
3. Remove the tray from the oven and cool. Pick the meat from the legs into chunks and discard the bones. Put the meat back in the tray with the spices and onion and add the tomatoes, raisins and stock. Cook over a hob until the tomato-stock mix has reduced and thickened. Cool before stuffing the pie.
4. Lightly flour a work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll out 1 sheet of the puff pastry to roughly 30cm-by-40cm. Transfer it to an oiled baking sheet. Roll out the remaining sheet of puff pastry to a rectangle that is slightly smaller than the first. Spread the filling evenly over the pastry on the baking sheet, leaving about 3cm bare along each of the four edges. Sprinkle the pine nuts and almonds evenly on top. Cover the filling with the second pastry rectangle. Fold the edges of the bottom crust up over the top and crimp decoratively.
5. Brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Using a sharp knife, make slits all over the top crust to allow steam to escape
6. Light and set a lidded barbecue for cooking to optimum heat and add a soaked piece of oak wood to the side of the coals, move the coals and wood to the side of the barbecue so you have a zone to create a steady, light smoke. Place the pie on the barbecue to the side of the coals (the indirect cooking zone) and close the lid. The vent of the barbecue should be half closed.
7. Cook the pie for 40 minutes or until golden brown and piping hot inside. The internal temperature of the barbecue should be around 180C. You can also bake the pie in a conventional oven at 180C for 40 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and dust with icing sugar and serve.
Ben Tish’s book ‘Moorish’ is out now.
James Cochran, chef-owner of 12:51 in Islington
Winner of 2018’s Great British Menu, Cochran trained under Brett Graham at renowned Notting Hill restaurant the Ledbury before moving on to gastropub the Harwood Arms. He opened his acclaimed restaurant 12:51 in Islington in 2018 with a menu influenced by his Scottish and Caribbean heritage and is planning a relaxed celebration when rules allow this month.
“I, like many, have missed my family so much this last year and cannot wait for a knees-up in the garden ASAP. I want to make something that is relatively fuss-free, easy to eat and a certified crowd-pleaser – taking this all into account it’s got to be my signature fried chicken wings. Chicken in one hand, cocktail in the other, tunes blaring out of the speaker, mingled with the laughs and conversation from family and friends, sun beating down on your face – bliss!”
Watermelon and rum chicken wings
Makes: 6 servings
6kg organic chicken wings (I like HG Walter butchers)
1.5kg plain yoghurt
Good couple pinches of salt
90g jerk spice
2 small watermelons or a pineapple
300ml dark rum
1 big bunch mint
500g dry-roasted peanuts
1. Combine salt, jerk spice and yoghurt together and mix with the chicken wings to marinate, ideally overnight – but if you forget, 20 minutes will do.
2. Set your oven to 220C and place the wings on the baking tray, making sure you knock off the excess yoghurt. Roast for 25 minutes until crispy and golden.
3. In the meantime, peel and dice the pineapple or watermelon and marinate in the dark rum.
4. Lightly crush the peanuts and pick the mint leaves.
5. Get a large serving plate and pile high with chicken wings, then douse with the rum and pineapple mix. Last of all, scatter with peanuts and mint leaves and enjoy with friends and family – ideally with a pitcher of rum punch!
Victor Garvey, chef-patron of SOLA
Garvey is the chef-patron of SOLA, the modern Californian fine-dining restaurant in Soho, which was awarded its first Michelin star in the 2021 guide. Born in New York to an American father and French-Spanish mother, Victor’s international career as a chef took him to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Copenhagen and Marbella before he settled in London, where he opened SOLA on Dean Street in 2019.
“Although I was born in New York, and now live in London, Spanish food is very much in my blood – my late mother was half Spanish, I lived in Barcelona from the age of six, and started my lifelong career as a chef there,” he says. “Wherever I am in the world, gazpacho says ‘home’ to me: it reminds me of my mom and childhood. Now I make it for my own family and my daughter loves it as much as I always have. So this is sure to be on the menu when we have our first family gathering.”
Gazpacho with golden beetroot sorbet
Makes: 8 servings
For the gazpacho:
760g marinda tomatoes (or best tomatoes you can find)
55g shallots, peeled and diced
75g cucumber, peeled and diced
50g green bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
70g sherry vinegar
60g rice vinegar
100g olive oil
3g xanthan gum (available at most health food stores)
Salt to taste
For the sorbet:
250g golden beetroot, peeled and chopped into half inch dice
80g caster sugar
10g lime juice
1g xanthan gum
Roasted red pepper
Cucumber, peeled and diced
1. Place all ingredients except xanthan gum and olive oil in a container and let marinate overnight. Once rested, place them all in a blender and blend on high until smooth.
2. Pass through a fine sieve or chinois once and then return the filtered mix to the blender.
3. Add the xanthan gum and begin blending again on medium speed for 1 minute. Once it starts to thicken, trickle olive oil in while blending as if making mayonnaise. This will give it a silky texture that coats the palate. Once emulsified, place in a non-metallic container in the fridge to chill.
4. To make the sorbet, place beetroot, sugar, water and salt in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until tender and most of the water is evaporated (about 25 minutes).
5. Let cool and then, in a blender, add lime juice and xanthan gum and blend until smooth (this will take some time). Pass through a fine sieve or chinois and – if you have one – freeze in your ice cream maker. If you don’t have one, you can freeze the mixture in a deep tray and scrape or shave it to make into a granita or “snow”.
6. In each dish, place a spoonful of cucumber, a spoonful of red pepper and sprinkle with a few croutons and a spoonful of chives. Top each mound of veg with a scoop of sorbet. Pour the gazpacho, very chilled, around the garnish – do this at the table, so that it can be eaten immediately. Make sure, when eating, to get equal parts sorbet and gazpacho with every spoonful.
Shaun Rankin, chef at Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall
Originally from Yorkshire, Rankin has spent the majority of his career in Jersey and has held a Michelin star since 2005. He returned to London and launched Ormer Mayfair to great acclaim in 2016, before returning to Yorkshire in 2019 to open his eponymous fine-dining restaurant at Grantley Hall hotel in Ripon. The restaurant was awarded its first Michelin star in January 2021.
He says: “I’m most looking forward to getting all the family around the table for a fantastic Sunday roast – you just can’t beat it and it’s something I’ve definitely missed over the last year. I grew up in Yorkshire and I always remember Yorkshire puddings being served with onion gravy before the roast dinner. Nowadays, I’ll just serve everything together so the family can get stuck in but I do enjoy making extra-large Yorkshire puddings that you can fill full of gravy!”
The perfect Sunday roast
Makes: 8 servings
4 bone rib of beef
2 tbsp beef dripping
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
For the Yorkshire pudding:
4 large eggs
250g plain flour
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
2 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp beef dripping
For the onion gravy:
1 tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted, butter
4 onions, peeled and sliced
4 sprigs of thyme
2 garlic cloves, peeled
100ml white wine
1l chicken stock
1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Place the beef in a roasting tray. Spread beef dripping over the meat and season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast in the oven, allowing 15 minutes per 450g, plus an additional 15 minutes for a medium-rare finish. For rare, cook for 10 minutes per 450g, plus an additional 10 minutes. For well done, cook for 20 minutes per 450g, plus an additional 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from the oven and rest for around 15 minutes before serving.
3. To make the Yorkshire pudding, crack the eggs into a bowl and add the milk.
4. Sift the flour into the bowl and whisk well. Pour the mix through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.
5. Scrape the thyme leaves from the stems and the leaves to the batter mixture. Stir well, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.
6. Remove the batter from the fridge about 30 minutes before you need to use and stir well.
7. Preheat the oven to 220C and heat a 24x12cm deep Yorkshire pudding tin until very hot. Add the beef dripping to the tin and place back in the oven for further 5 minutes.
8. Pour the Yorkshire pudding mix into the hot fat in the tin. Put back in the oven straight away. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and doubled in size. Then turn down the oven to 120C and cook for a further 5 minutes.
9. To make the gravy, heat the olive oil and butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions, thyme and garlic and cook until the onions become soft and translucent.
10. Add the white wine and chicken stock and bring up to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
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