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.

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

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Frank Bordoni - TV Chef - UK

This week we spoke to Frank Bordoni about this earliest food memories. Frank Bordoni is an award winning TV Chef who has been a regular on Granada Breeze, Shop!, Carlton Food Network, Saturday Kitchen, Daily Cooks, GMTV and now BBC UK Good Food Live, as well as many guest appearances on SKY and Channel 4.

Frank’s career took off in 1989 when he was awarded a Roux Brothers Scholarship, followed by becoming a finalist in the Restaurant Association’s Young Chef of The Year Competition in both 1989 and 1990. In 1991 he was a finalist for the Chef of The Year Competition.

At only 19 years of age, Frank was awarded his first AA Rosette, leading to work with many respected Chefs in well-established restaurants, like 190 Queensgate, Michelin starred Mallory Court and Le Gavroche with the Roux Brothers.

"I grew up literally living in hotels and restaurants as my father was a chef and hotel/restaurant manager. He of course cooked Italian and my mum cooked traditional English food. It was great fun as a kid eating a great spaghetti bolognese one night then homemade steak and kidney pie the next. I didn't realise how much variety of food we had at home until I started bringing friends home for supper and found out they had never seen a bulb of fennel or a sharon fruit before! I guess living in North Wales at the time might have had something to do with it but my father was a great teacher about the food around us and taught me to fish, lay night lines, go cockling in the sand and foraging for mushrooms and other treats. He even did deals with the local farmers and bought whole lambs which he took into the shed and butchered up himself for the freezer!

My favourite meal of all was my mum's steak and kindey pie. She would always make it as a treat and I would invite lots of mates around because it so good. It took me a long time to get her to teach me the recipe despite trying to guess it. It would usually be eaten for sunday lunch instead of a roast and has great memories for me with friends and family sitting around the table with this great big pie and bowls of buttery mashed potato and greens - yum!"

My Mum’s Steak and Kidney Pie


  • 225g Beef kidneys, cut into chunks
  • 700g Quality lean stewing or chuck steak
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 25g butter
  • 2 onions, chopped roughly
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 400ml strong beef stock
  • 170ml stout
  • Dash of gravy browning
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the ‘rough puff’ pastry:
  • 500g plain strong flour
  • 500g butter
  • 7g salt
  • 25cl cold water
  • 1 beaten egg, to glaze

Season the flour and toss the steak and kidney in it until coated well. Heat oil and butter in a large pan, then fry the meat until sealed and brown. Add the onions and cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add the bay leaves, stout and stock, and the gravy browning. Stir until thickened and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 1½ hours until, the meat is tender.

For the pastry, mix the flour and salt together and gently add the butter. Make a well adding the water and bring lightly together to make a dough. Roll out into a rectangle and mark into thirds. Fold over the end thirds into the centre one, turn through 90º and repeat two more times. Chill for half an hour.

When the meat is cooked, cool slightly and tip into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface a little bigger than the size of the dish using the trimmings to make a strip the width of the rim. Brush the rim of the pie dish with beaten egg and lay the pastry strip on top to make a seal. Brush again with egg and lay the lid on top. Crimp or flute the edges, brush the lid with the remaining egg and make a slit in the top. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ross Pavey - Moonrakers Restaurant - Alfriston, UK

This week we spoke to Ross Pavey about his earliest food memories. Pavey is Head Chef at Moonrakers Restaurant in Alfriston, Sussex. In under a year the restaurant has achieved Two Knifes and Forks in the Michelin Guide and will shortly feature on the BBC as part of the Hairy Bikers show where Ross challenges the presenters with his divine local dishes.

" My earliest food memory is a simple one but a very influential one. Growing up on a fruit farm in Zimbabwe, waking up in the early morning and while the sun is still climbing and not really hot going out and picking lovely mango's for breakfast.

Ever since, I have become very passionate about using the freshest local ingredients. Whilst Sussex does not have Mango's it is a bountiful county with some amazing local produce."

We asked Pavey to share a early favorite recipe that you could try at home:

Mango Rice Pudding

  • 1 ripe mango
  • 250ml milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 90g risotto rice
  • 3 free range egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar

If you have a fresh vanilla pod, you can scrape out seeds and add to rice whilst cooking.

Boil cream, milk and rice, stir often until rice is cooked.

Mix sugar and egg yolks.

Add rice mix to sugar mix, place on top of stove and cook on a gentle heat until thick.

Once thick pour into bowls.

Peel and dice mango and put some mango on top of each rice pudding.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Ben Mckellar - The Gingerman Group - Brighton

This week we spoke to Ben Mckellar about this earliest food memories. Mckellar is Head Chef and Owner of Brighton's highest rated restaurant The Gingerman as well as The Ginger Fox and The Ginger Pig, both of which have been awarded a Bib Gourmand in the Michelin Guide 2009.

"An early memory for me not directly linked to food but important never the less in regards to my career was that I used to go shopping with my mum at Sainsbury's on London Road in Brighton during the school holidays. I must have been about seven or eight years old at the time and we had to park near the Catering College on Pelham Street. There is a big window on the second floor and I always remember seeing the chefs in clean whites with their big hats on rushing around. I have never forgotten those images and remember then and there wanting to become a chef.

Another vivid food memory I have was when I first stepped into a professional kitchen, I was sixteen and had just started at the very same catering college in Brighton. The then best restaurant in Brighton, One Paston Place wanted a college boy to work weekends and I managed to get the job. I arrived on the Friday night nervous, got changed and walked into the kitchen to be greeted with the most wonderful smell imaginable. On the hot plate having just come out of the oven was a tray full of just cooked duck confit. This was 1989 and Duck confit was unheard of in most English restaurants and I could not believe how good it looked and the smell of duck fat mixed with garlic and thyme still provokes warm feelings for me. My first job was to separate the meat from the bones and to put it in earthenware pots to be covered by the duck fat. I could not help but lick my fingers and eat the crispy bits of skin that had been above the duck fat when it was in the oven"

We asked Mckellar to share a early favorite recipe that you could try at home:

Anchovy Toast

  • 100g salted anchovy fillets
  • 1 table spoon dijon mustard
  • 25g capers
  • 75g egg yolks (about three yolks)
  • little garlic
  • juice of half lemon
  • pinch cayenne
  • table spoon chopped parsley
  • 125g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 sour dough loaf

Place all the ingredients except the bread in a food processor and blitz until smooth, toast the sourdough on one side, turn over and spread with the anchovy mixture, grill until golden and serve with a green salad dressed with walnut oil.

More information can be found about Ben Mckellar and his eateries at