Chefs from some of the greatest restaurants on earth are joined by gastronomes, celebrities and passionate foodies to share childhood food memories and the recipes that inspired them to experiment in the kitchen... a memory bank which reminds us home cooking can be fun, thrifty, save money and amaze your friends.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chef Gui - Food Writer and Chef - Florida

Sorry we have been a bit slack of late but we are back with a great recipe from Gui Alinat who has recently launched his new book The Chef’s Répertoire. See below to learn about his earliest food memory.

“I recall French scientist and molecular gastronomy icon Hervé This saying: “we like our grandmother’s food because we are primates”. It’s true, primates tend to stick to the foods they recognize, to the foods they grew up with. And many of us, chefs or non-chefs, recognize grandma as the driving force behind our love for food.
I was born, raised, and trained as a chef in the south of France. But well before chef school, I was immersed in a culture almost essentially made of long lunches at the table, family dinners, wild mushroom foraging, and pantagruelian feasts revolving around wild boar, hare and partridge. I remember learning the obscure technique of “flambadou” grilling, making grand aioli Provencal, and pitting apricot pits (yes, there is a slightly bitter, velvety, eatable nut inside the pit of an apricot) for my grandma’s jam. That was the same grandmother who made “pommes de terre farcies” or stuffed potatoes. Quite an odd recipe, but so encrusted in my memory that I must recognize that it was she who gave me the drive to pursue a career as a chef.

Today, as a chef, food blogger and cookbook author, I challenge myself to always build on the things I know in order to come up with new things. But really, at home, what I like to cook is good, rustic, old-fashioned dishes that my grandmother used to cook. And that is one of them.

Recipe: Pommes de terre farcies

4 large baking potatoes
1 lb pork belly (alternatively a good-quality bacon)
6 Garlic cloves
1 bunch of parsley
2 Shallots
1 cup of white wine
3 oz of duck fat (alternatively use butter)
salt and pepper to taste


  • Peel potatoes. Cut one of the ends off and hollow the potato out with a melon baller. Thinly chop (by hand) the pork belly.
  • Mix with chopped garlic, chopped parsley, chopped and sautéed shallots, salt and pepper. Stuff the potatoes. Put the end back on and tie each potato with butcher twine.
  • In a heavy, cast-iron Dutch oven, sauté the potatoes in duck fat until well brown. Deglaze with white wine. Cover and let simmer for about 1 hour. Serve hot. “

Monday, March 8, 2010

Deeba Rajpal - Food Blogger - India

This week we spoke with food blogger Deeba Rajpal. Famous for her blog which receives around 60,000 views a month. She has been featured in The Huffinton Post as one of the "Top 10 World Class Chefs On Twitter" and her account is a great place for all food lovers.

"I have a special word that signifies blogging for me... ~the connect~ as I like to call it. It reflects everything I like about food, blogging and sharing.

The very thought of ‘half forgotten food memories’ takes me down memory lane. I really can’t put a finger on when I became so utterly smitten about food, but memories of my childhood linger on like sweet dreams.

Our childhood was spent in endless long summer vacations languishing at our uncles’ house in the precincts of the River Ganges in North India. I can still feel the cool cement of the airy verandahs of the colonial bungalows that gave us respite from the endlessly long and HOT summer days; days with the fans whirring and everything else silent. While older folk retired for afternoon siestas, we giggled and hung upside down from the boughs of mango trees in the blistering heat, the ‘loo’ threatening to roast us. The ripe mangoes hanging from boughs saw us sharpening our aim to see who would drop the most fruit, in virtual battle with pesky loud brilliant green parrots!

Then we’d troop in, quite exhausted, to find ripe plump mangoes being chilled in these huge rustic metal tubs. The party continued. Amidst great indignation from the elders, we’d dive into the tubs with our full arms and have a mango fight in there, grabbing our pick. The treat was of course when each of us settled down eventually and savoured the ripe luscious mango, the juices dripping down elbows … but that was just the way it was meant to be!

Mango memories underlined my life. We would sneak into a dark cool room which my paternal grandmother kept earthen jars filled with mango pickle under lock and key. One of us would steal the key, and we would each grab a sliver of sun-dried mango pickle & run! All these now seem a thing of the past, though the flavours of my childhood still remain … sweet, salty, tangy, and juicy, above all, vivid and colourful. It’s a small wonder that I love working with fruit in desserts, baked or otherwise.

I’d like to share a simple recipe for a mango ice-cream that I make often, one that spells summer for us. It connects me to the days gone by, the flavours and the colours linked to those memories. I love the visual delight it offers!"

Mango Ice-Cream

500ml low fat cream (25% fat)
400ml can of condensed milk
Mangoes - 2-3 / pureed
Pistachio nuts - a handful / optional

  • Beat the cream & condensed milk well. Add the mango puree and blend well. Add the roughly chopped nuts, if using, & whisk with a balloon whisk.
  • Put it into your ice-cream maker. Else, put into a freezer safe plastic bowl with a tight fitting lid & put into the freezer. Whisk the ice-cream every hour to break the crystals that form from the edge inwards, at least 5-6 times. Leave to set for 6-8 hours or overnight.
  • Top with slivered pistachio nuts! It's absolutely delicious.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shelly Preston - Chocolatier - UK

Shelly Preston is a chocolatier, founder of Boutique Aromatique and 'one to watch' in the culinary world. A new kid on the block with a passion for top drawer aromatics, natural perfumery and all things flora; all of which inspire her chocolate work. Her experience with artisan perfumers and world class aromatherapists have inspired her use of aromatics and essential oils in cooking and she is already on call to a number of celebrities who impress their guests with her bespoke chocolate collections.

"When it comes to food I’ve always followed my nose and it usually leads me to something sweet. Nana Midge’s home baked lemon curd taflins and caraway seed cake were irresistible to me and to this day a mere whiff of toasty, aromatic caraway unlocks a potent and fond aroma-memory. However, chocolate in all its glory is my childhood given. It’s also a personal passion and now my livelihood so it goes without saying that my most treasured food memory involves the sweet and sacred stuff.

My memory is one of anticipation; anticipation of a fresh cream éclair from the village bakery. My Mum used to make the trip to the bakery exciting and it was clear that it was a treat and reward for being good and also, a delicious reminder from her to me that she was a nice Mum and that I should really behave myself more often! It’s therefore embedded in my psyche that I reach for patisserie as a way of rewarding myself. I think a lot of people do and as I’m a firm believer in ‘don’t deny’ food and that anything in moderation that comforts and satisfies the soul has its rightful place, then who’s to argue?

There’s a huge disparity between the village/high street bakeries these days. Modern, cosmopolitan bakeries bill ‘patisserie du jour’ macaroons as their star turn while the more provincial, commercial bakeries seem to have resorted to often the most sad array of bastardised cakes and novelty offerings filled with synthetic cream and E numbers. To me, the chocolate éclair should be treasured and seldom meddled with. I ask, what could be more perfect than a choux bun, bursting at the seams with whipped cream and slathered in chocolate…eaten at breakfast, lunch or tea?

My Mum always says, “you can eat as many chocolate éclairs as you like, they’re like eating fresh air”. A weird science I know because there’s nothing healthy about them at all but I’ve found myself saying the same thing over and over..if only to justify to myself that it’s ok to have another one (or two). I’m so crazy about éclairs that when I first learned to make them at pastry college I literally raised my hands to the gourmet gods and said ‘thank you’. I’m now able to make my own and re-live my ‘chocolate fresh air’ (I mean) chocolate éclair memory over and over and over again.

Thanks for the memory Mum."

Chocolate éclairs

Choux Paste Ingredients:
Butter x 125g
Water x 300ml
Strong White Flour x 150ml
Eggs x 4/5 (beaten)
Salt (tiny pinch)

Chocolate Topping & Filling Ingredients:
Dark Chocolate x 400g (chopped in to tiny pieces)
Whipping or Double Cream x 300ml

(I’m using pure melted chocolate for the topping and fresh cream for the filling rather than the traditional chocolate icing and pastry cream here because that’s how I’ve always eaten them and how I remember them best)


  • Heat the oven to 200 to 215°C.
  • Put the butter, water and salt in a heavy bottomed pan and gently bring to the boil.
  • As the butter melts, stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
  • As soon as the mixture is boiling remove from the heat, fold in the sieved flour and beat.
  • Return to a moderate heat and beat vigorously and continuously until the mixture swells, resembles a smooth dough and leaves the sides of the pan completely.
  • Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a food mixer and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Gradually add the eggs and mix well (with a beater). You are looking for a shiny, dropping consistency to emerge.
  • Spoon the mixture in to a piping bag, no need for a nozzle, just chop the end off making a 1cm opening. Set aside.
  • Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Pipe your mixture in straight lines directly on to the parchment about 5” long, leaving enough space either side as they will double in size.
  • Bake for approx 30 minutes but keep an eye on them because you don’t want them to become ‘crispy’. You’re looking for a puffed up, golden bun.
  • Once you have removed the buns from the oven you may want to make a tiny slit in each one to let any trapped air escape. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  • Now whip your cream until it’s well aerated, fluffy and pipeable. Only sweeten the cream if you must. Transfer to a piping bag, no need for a nozzle, with an opening of approx 5mm diameter. Set aside in the fridge.
  • Once the choux buns have cooled completely start melting the chocolate in a bain-marie. A few moments before all the pieces have melted, remove from the heat. The heat on the bottom of the bowl will melt the rest. Add in a few fresh pieces of chocolate and stir in. This method should give you a glossy finish. If you have a tempering machine to do this all the better.
  • Now dip your choux buns face down in to the melted chocolate so that you have one half coated, leaving the other side plain. Set aside (chocolate side up) for the chocolate to set.
  • Once the chocolate has set, make a hole approx 5mm in diameter at opposite ends i.e. the top and tale of the choux buns.
  • Pipe the whipped cream inside the bun from both ends. This allows the cream to meet in the middle for an all over fill. The weight of the bun will tell you once they’re full enough

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Judi Orlick - Food Sylist - New York

This week we spoke with Food Stylist Judi Orlick about one of her earliest food memory. Judi's food styling and recipes can be seen on national brand packaging, TV and the internet, in magazines, catalogues and national print advertising. With 12 years in the culinary field and a prior 12 year career in graphic design, she combines her passion for food with the visual arts. Judi has worked with brand clients from Cuisinart to Ziploc and Editorial clients from Bon Appetit to Mens Health. You may have seen her work on CBS News Early Show or in films such as Zoolander.

"Early food memories for me = Road-trip sandwiches. Growing up, my family went on road trips to see America – lots of them – long ones. This required amazing planning and coordination from my parents and the cooperation of my two brothers and myself. Until we reached our final destination, lunch was always sandwiches.

Usually sometime between 4 and 6am, my brothers helped my dad pack the station wagon with a Tetris-like flair way before the game existed, fitting far more into that car and luggage rack than anyone would think physically possible.

I helped my mom in the motel room du jour making sandwiches for the trip so we didn’t have to stop on the way to our next destination. These sandwiches – fluffy white bread, peanut butter and jelly, sometimes tuna salad, ham and cheese, bologna and cheese (my personal favorite), turkey and cheese (always white American cheese) – some with mustard, lettuce or mayo, some without – were the stuff of adventure and traveling.

My mother was able to produce these sandwiches with precision and speed. I was proud when asked to help. There were 4 rows of bread, 5 slices each (that’s what fit on motel desks – yes we cleaned them first). Two rows plain, one row mustard, one row mayo. Lettuce here, lunchmeats there, peanut butter here, jelly there. Close, cut, wrap, repeat. Sandwiches were re-packed into the bag the bread came in, tuna in its own bag because my brothers thought it smelled gross. The cooler was then filled with ice then sandwiches and soda were nestled in for the journey.

I crave them still and can clearly taste them in my mind. Sun beating down from outside, AC inside, something strange on the radio, roads taking us through farmland, coastline and cities alike and me crawling into the back to retrieve everyone’s sandwich orders from the cooler. The crinkle of chilled plastic wrap, the light scent of good old yellow mustard, the coolness of the bread and its contents, all slightly yet perfectly compressed for maximum enjoyment, all made with love. Perfect"

Here’s Judi's favorite from those trips and a few slightly updated variations for today.

The Original Road-Trip Bologna and Cheese Sandwiches

Makes 5

  • 10 slices White bread (Wonder or Pepperidge Farm, this is a memory: do not judge)
  • 10 slices American cheese, from the deli counter, not that wrapped stuff
  • 10 slices All-beef bologna
  • 5 leaves Iceberg lettuce, rinsed and crisped overnight in an ice bucket, patted dry
  • Yellow mustard, optional

1. Lay out two rows of 5 bread slices each on clean surface.

2. Place 2 slices cheese on each slice of bread on the bottom row, followed by 2 slices of bologna then lettuce.

3. Spread yellow mustard, if desired, on upper row of bread slices. Squeezing smiley faces from the bottle onto bread is also acceptable.

4. Place upper row of bread slices (mustard side in) on top of bottom row. Slice, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and chill until ready to eat.

Updated Variations

Although the sandwich above is perfect to me as it is, here are what I would imagine could rate as current, fancier cousins.


Sourdough or soft multigrain for white bread

Munster, Provolone or Brie in place of American cheese

Pâté, Serrano ham or prosciutto instead of bologna

Arugula, watercress or romaine instead of Iceberg

Dijon, spicy mustard, grainy mustard, sliced tomato, onion confit, cornichons and capers would dress all of these nicely.

© 2010 Judi Orlick

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Michel Roux - The Waterside Inn - Bray

This week we have been given some food memories from Michel Roux. It's not our usual format but who can resist printing a recipe from the godfather of the culinary world. In 1967 Michel Roux and his brother chef Albert Roux they opened their first restaurant, Le Gavroche, which became the first restaurant in Britain to gain one, two and then three Michelin stars. In 1972 they opened the Waterside Inn in Bray, Berkshire. Michel was awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France for patisserie in 1972 and an honorary OBE alongside his brother in 2002 and is the recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence. Michel Roux's combined book titles have sold over 2 million worldwide.

Michel Roux was introduced to food via his family especially his Mother. She and the food she prepared marked the beginning of everything in life - providing health, comfort, strength and growth. By keeping her children happy then the family remained happy. Michel is not saying that he couldn't have done anything else, but he and Albert were born to be cooks. "My father was a charcutier - a maker of pork products. He use to buy pigs and use them from the foot to the nose to make paté, sausages, everything. When you are born into a family, you are attracted to the food industry."

During Michel’s younger life there were little resources available in terms of range of ingredients but the family shared lots of love and happiness over mealtime.

When Michel was 12, his eldest brother Albert served his patissier apprenticeship whilst Michel looked on intently. “Pastry became the love of my life. Pastry chef was my first job. I love writing books. Pastry is my tenth book in 26 years”

Apple Tart

  • Flan pastry (known as pate a foncer in France)
  • 300g flan pastry (this can be kept in the fridge for a week or freezer for 3 months)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g butter cut in to small pieces and slightly soft
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • 40 ml cold water

Heap the four on the work surface and make a well. Put the butter, egg, sugar and salt in the middle. With finger tips , mix and cream the ingredients in the well
Little by little draw the flour into the centre and work through the dough to a grainy texture. Add the cold and mix it in until the dough begins to hold together.

Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from you 4 or 5 times until it is smooth. Roll the pastry into a ball, wrap in cling and refrigerate until ready for use.

  • 6 dessert apples – approx 850g (ideal Cox’s)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 60g butter 80g caster sugar

Roll the pastry to a round , 3 mm thick and use to line a lightly buttered 24cm diameter (3mm deep) loose bottomed tart tin or flan ring. Pinch the edges with your index finger and thumb at 1cm intervals to make fluted edge higher than the rim. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200c / Gas 6. Peel, core and halve the apples. Place cut-side down on a board and cut into 2 mm thick slices. Put a-third of the apples (the outer smaller slices) into a saucepan. Keep the other two-thirds packed together to stop discolouring. Add 50 ml water, vanilla pod and butter to the apples in the pan and cook gently until tender. Take off the heat, discard the vanilla pd and work the apples, using a whisk, to a compote consistency. Leave to cool. For the glaze, in a small pan dissolve the sugar in 40ml water. Bring to the boil and bubble for 4-5 minutes to make a syrup. Leave to cool.

Prick base pastry case lightly. Pour in cold apple compote and spread gently with a spoon. Arrange a border of overlapping slices around the tart, then arrange another circle inside with slices facing the other way. Fill the centre with a little rosette of small slices, trimming to fit if necessary. Bake for 35 minutes until the pastry and apples are evenly cooked and light golden in colour.

Leave the tart to cool for at least 20 minutes before removing the flan ruing or tart tin. Brush the top with the glaze, place the tart on a wire rack and leave until cooled. Transfer to plate and serve cut into slices

(taken from Michel Roux ‘Pastry’ published by Quadrille)

Thanks to Rachel Lampen for her contact with Michel Roux.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Matthew Drennan - Food Writer - London, UK

Matthew Drennan is the award-winning editor of delicious. magazine. He trained as a chef in his native Cork, Eire and after cooking in some of London's top restaurants, he spent 5 years writing and creating recipes for national publications, including Me and Family Circle; before becoming food and drink editor on the Marks and Spencer Magazine, and then launching Ready Steady Cook Magazine.

After working freelance for several further publications such as BBC Good Food and Waitrose Food Illustrated, he became editor of delicious. He has published an admirable portfolio of recipe books including Sensational Soup and Weber’s Little Barbecue Book.

"People have asked me if my passion for cooking came from my mother (Betty Drennan). I guess it did, but in an indirect sort of way. When I was growing up my mother cooked a meal for seven people three times a day and held down a part-time job. It didn’t exactly leave much time for ‘passion cooking’. She was a meat and two veg kind of gal. When Mum was busy at the weekends catching up on household chores I began to bake for the family, teaching myself how to cream cakes, make pastry and whisk meringues. So it was more her lack of time to cook that inspired me to have a go in the kitchen and led to my career as a chef and subsequently a food writer and editor of delicious. magazine. With the family all grown up, Mum now has become the adventurous cook she always wanted to be and is now inspired by the magazine I edit.

But, while Mum’s dinner wasn’t always the most creative meal, it was always the best. Flaky tuna and egg pie was one dish she cooked often and was always a winner with the family. With its crisp pastry and hot, creamy filling, it’s easy to see now why kids loved it, and to be honest, I still do."

Flaky Tuna and Egg Pie
Matthew Drennan

Serves 4

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 600 ml hot vegetable stock
  • handful freshly chopped parsley
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, roughly chopped
  • 1 x 400 g can tuna in sunflower oil, drained
  • 500 g puff pastry
  • a little milk, for glazing

Preheat the oven to 210°C.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized frying pan and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Gradually add the hot stock, stirring all the time, then cook for 5 minutes until thickened. Season well and stir in the parsley. Pour into a large, shallow container to cool quickly. Add the eggs and tuna to the sauce, then chill for 20 minutes.

Cut the pastry in half, then roll out one piece on a lightly floured surface until it measures 28 cm x 20 cm. Place on a baking sheet. Roll out the other piece to around 1 cm larger than the first piece. Spoon the filling on top of the base, leaving a 1-cm border all around, then cover with the other piece of pastry and press the edges with a fork to seal. Trim off any excess pastry. Brush the top with milk and bake for 30 minutes until golden and risen. (You can also make small, individual pies.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tom Aikens - Tom Aikens Restaurant - London, UK

This week we spoke to top chef Tom Aikens, head chef at his-self named restaurant Tom Aikens. Awarded two Michelin stars by the age of 26, he has consistently been tipped as one of the hottest and most talented chefs cooking today. His starting point is everyday ingredients - he believes in buying fresh, seasonal produce, and his recipe books gives guidance on how to choose the best and make the most of them.

"For as long as I can remember – probably the age of 8 or so – my twin brother and I were helping out in the kitchen with my mother. She would involve us in making cakes and home baking, I have a very real memory of her making milk bread and I sometimes think that it was just a dream as the smell was incredible. We had a very good home garden where we grew our own fruit and vegetables; we had strawberries, gooseberries, blackberries and so on. So there would be a lot of toing and froing from the garden to the kitchen, I loved digging the garden for fresh vegetables and seeing things grow and come to life was beautiful.

My father and grandfather were both in the wine business; in the late 70s, early 80s my grandfather ran the wine side to Coleman’s of Norwich (wine merchants, not only famous for mustard). In around 82/83 that closed down and my father started a wine shop and also a importing and exporting wine business, not only with French wines but new world as well. He was very successful and I would say a true pioneer of his time, as he got the new world market of wine wrapped up on his own. This meant that from the age around 12, I started spending a lot of my time on holidays in France, travelling with my father (when he met new suppliers or wholesalers).

There were some days when he would drop us (me and my brother) off with a supplier while he would spend lunch with them doing business. We ended up working some days with the suppliers – in the vineyards, sweeping out the cellars, sometimes having lunch. So from an early age my exposure to food and wine was quite significant.

On one particular trip my father booked us into a Michelin Two Star restaurant/Hotel, by complete accident. He only realised the magnitude of what he had booked when we arrived at the hotel to find our car surrounded by four guys wearing white gloves and bow ties, as my father was never one for looking in a guidebook it was all one by word of mouth or a Frenchmen telling him to try this place out.

That evening we had the most amazing meal and it is one of those inspirational gastronomic moments that I will never forget. It was still the era of nouvelle cuisine so tiny portions and lots of courses. The tastes and flavours were stunning. I had the most beautiful tomato salad with simple olive oil, basil, finely diced shallots, course sea salt, pepper and chives: A fillet steak melted in my mouth – a tall tower of beef fillet that had been larded with beef fat , it was sublime and perfection in one, the waiters lifting endless cloche for my parents with course after course, we also had the best chips ever, an accompanying stacked tower of perfectly cooked and cut potato. The tastes were sensational, I was in heaven and as I say I’ll never forget it.
This was the start of my earlier memories of food, I then wanted to become a chef and I never looked back from this point, I decided it was what I wanted to do, from all of this I just wanted to get more and more into cooking.

One of the simplest dishes that I remember making was a very simple beef and onion pie, its a great winter dish and is very simple to cook, the other dish is a classic dish we serve at Toms Kitchen which is a seven hour braised shoulder of lamb cooked with balsamic vinegar and onions and its bliss and heaven rolled into one.

Minced Beef and Onion Pie

The minced beef mix here makes 950g, more than you need for the pie, so you could save some for another dish. You could actually turn this basic meat mixture into several things: a pastry pie as here, or you could put mashed potato on top for a cottage pie, or serve it just as it is as a pasta sauce (very like a traditional bolognaise).

  • 500g minced beef
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 250g onions, peeled and diced
  • a large pinch of dried thyme
  • 2g caster sugar
  • 4g salt
  • 2g freshly milled black pepper
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8g plain flour
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 300g ready-made puff pastry
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten with 1 tbsp water

1 Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. Have ready a 20cm pie tin.
2 Place a pan on a medium heat, add the butter, and when it has melted, add the diced onion, thyme, sugar, and half the salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 12 minutes until the onion is golden brown and caramelised. Stir the onion well, as it can catch and burn on the pan.
3 While the onion is cooking you can start to cook the mince. Place a non-stick frying pan on a high heat and add the oil. When this is hot, slowly add the mince; don’t add it all at once as it could splash. Don’t move the mince at first, as it will cool the pan down. Wait for 2 minutes before you do. Add the rest of the salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the mince is golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.
4 Pour the meat into a colander with a bowl underneath to catch any excess oil. Put the pan back on a low heat, and add the cooked onion to deglaze the pan of all the meat flavour. Stir for a couple of minutes, then return the meat and mix them well together. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, then add the stock a little at a time, stirring well. Once all the stock has been incorporated turn the heat up to full so the mince comes to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. The meat is ready. For the pie you will need 500g of the beef filling.
5 Take the pastry and divide roughly in half (you need 160g for the base and 140g for the lid). Dust your work surface with flour, and roll the 2 pieces – the base piece to 5mm thickness, and the lid a little thinner. Let these rest for about 30 minutes.
6 Put the base piece of pastry into the tin. Pour in the meat filling. Egg- wash the edges of the pastry, and then place the lid on top. Crimp to seal, and make a couple of little holes in the middle. Egg-wash the top of the pie, and then bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Serves 4
Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes

Slow-roast Shoulder of Lamb with Onions and Thyme, Balsamic

Depending on when you are going to be eating this dish, whether at lunch or dinner, you want to put it into the oven a ‘meal’ before: so for lunch, you want to put it into the oven at 8am, and for the evening I would put it in at around 2pm. It will take between 6 and 7 hours to cook, but it is one of those dishes that do not need any attention at all so you can forget it whilst you tend to something else.

  • 1 shoulder of lamb, about .25kg in weight
  • 150ml olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic bulbs, cut in half, plus extra sliced cloves if marinating
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 8 medium onions, peeled
  • 250ml balsamic vinegar
1 Before you cook the lamb leave it out of the fridge for a good hour , so that the meat is at room temperature.
2 Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4.
3 Rub the olive oil into the meat and season with salt and pepper. Place the meat in a large casserole with the whole peeled onions; the latter can be drizzled with olive oil and seasoned as well. Place a little olive oil in the bottom of the pan, then place the casserole into the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the lamb and onions have coloured.
4 Remove the casserole from the oven, then add about 8 sprigs thyme along with the seasoned and oiled halved garlic bulbs. Reduce the oven temperature to 110ºC/ 225ºF/Gas 1/4, and return the meat to the oven. Cook for 5 hours with the lid on.
5 Add the balsamic vinegar, remove the lid, and continue to cook for a further 1-1 1/2 hours.
6 Remove the garlic from the casserole and keep to one side. Place the casserole on to a low heat to reduce any excess liquid. Baste the lamb with this during the reducing, along with the onions. Just be careful that they don’t stick or burn.
7 Serve the soft meat cut in pieces with the onions, some of the jus, a few cloves of garlic, and some nice mashed potato.
Serves 8

Preparation time 24 hours if marinating the lamb
Cooking time 6-7 hours

Thanks to Rachel Lampen for her contact with Tom Aikens