*Smoked Fish, Potato and Apple Stack
400g waxy potatoes, skins on
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons maple vinegar or honey vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil ½ teaspoon caster sugar
1 crisp, medium-sized eating apple
1 tablespoon chopped chives
3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
180g smoked halibut or salmon, shredded – or any smoked fish you have that doesn’t need to be cooked
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped salt
You will need: a 9cm pastry cutter or chef’s ring
1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 15–20 minutes until just tender. Drain, then leave the potatoes to sit in the pan off the heat, with a lid half-on, for around 15 minutes so they finish cooking in their own steam.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking together the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, sugar and a good pinch of salt.
3. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, rub off the skins and cut the potatoes into 1cm dice. Gently toss them in the dressing.
4. Quarter, core and dice the apple, then gently toss that into the potato mix along with the chives, tarragon, smoked fish and capers.
5. Put the chef’s ring or pastry cutter onto a plate and pack with a quarter of the smoked fish mixture. After a few minutes, carefully remove the ring and repeat for the other three servings.
VINEGAR VARIATION: A sweet white wine vinegar such as Moscatel can be substituted. Or try apple cider vinegar, mango vinegar, pear vinegar, coconut vinegar, a herb- or flower-infused vinegar or light rice vinegar.
*Oven-baked Pork and Venison Meatballs
FOR THE MEATBALLS
400g pork mince
400g venison mince
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red onions, diced
2 sprigs of thyme ½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons cherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced 80g dried breadcrumbs (not panko)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE GRAVY
20g butter 3 onions, sliced
1½ tablespoons soft dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons malt vinegar
2 tablespoons plain flour
750ml beef stock
1. Mix together the pork and venison mince in a bowl, then set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the onions until soft and only just taking on some colour. As they cook, add some salt and the thyme sprigs. When the onions are done, add the ground cloves, cherry or red wine vinegar and the minced garlic. Cook for another few minutes to soften the garlic and reduce the liquid, then set aside to cool.
3. Once the onion mix is at room temperature, remove the thyme stalks and combine the onion mixture with the mince. Add the breadcrumbs, season well, and use your hands to mix it all together. Roll into 18 walnut-sized balls and put them in the fridge to firm up for at least 1 hour.
4. In the meantime, make the gravy. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and cook the onions slowly until softened and starting to colour. Stir in the sugar and malt vinegar and let the vinegar evaporate, its flavour seeping into the onions. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour.
5. In a separate pan, warm the stock. Return the pan with the onions to a medium heat and, spoonful-by-spoonful, stir in the warm stock. Simmer gently for 20 minutes or so to reduce and thicken to a good gravy consistency. Season to taste.
6. The meatballs and gravy can both be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, as long as you return them to room temperature before baking. When you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7. Pour the remaining tablespoon of olive oil into a roasting tray and put it
into the oven to get hot. Then sit the meatballs in the tray with gaps between them and bake for 20 minutes.
7. Warm the gravy on the stove, and at the end of the meatballs’ 20 minutes cooking time, pour the gravy over the meatballs in the roasting tray. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4 and return the tray to the oven for 10 minutes before serving.
*Honey and Chinese Black Vinegar Baked Figs
8 ripe figs
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4.
2. Cut the tops off the figs and score a cross into the top of each one. Give them a squeeze to open them up, then sit them snugly, cut-side up, in a large piece of foil inside a baking dish.
3. Mix together the vinegar, honey, thyme and cinnamon in a bowl. Use a teaspoon to stuff the centre of each fig’s cross with the soaked thyme mixture – this will
open the fruit up even more. Use it all, pouring any that won’t fit into the figs over the top of them.
4. Bundle together the foil loosely but securely to seal. Bake for 5 minutes, then open up the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Check how they are doing – they might already be gorgeously tender, or may need another 5 minutes in the oven. It depends how ripe the figs were.
5. Serve one or two figs per person while they are still warm, with any juices in the base of the foil drizzled over the top.
VINEGAR VARIATION Try using Japanese kurosu vinegar, sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar.
*Lavender and Lemon-thyme Victoria Sponge
FOR THE SPONGE
200ml full-fat milk
1 tablespoon of fruit vinegar such as cherry or plum
220g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of dried or fresh edible lavender flowers
250g plain flour
1½ teaspoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon of fine salt
125g soft unsalted butter
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
FOR THE FILLING
300g mascarpone cheese
50g caster sugar a few drops of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of raspberry jam
1 teaspoon of lemon thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
sprigs of edible lavender, lemon thyme flowers or lemon thyme leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line two 20cm round cake tins with baking parchment.
2. Make the ‘buttermilk’ first by stirring together the milk and vinegar in a bowl, then set aside for 10 minutes. It will become a little lumpy as the acidity of the vinegar reacts with the milk (this is meant to happen!).
3. Use a spice grinder or pestle and mortar to grind together the granulated sugar and lavender flowers and set aside.
4. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and ground lavender-suffused sugar
until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Now fold in a little of the dry ingredients, then a little of the buttermilk mixture, and carry on with this process until it is all mixed in. Make sure to mix well after each addition.
5. Divide the sponge mixture evenly between the two tins and bake for 30 minutes. They are ready when coming away from the sides of the tin slightly and a cake skewer comes out clean. Let them cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
6. For the filling, beat together the mascarpone, sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract until smooth. Spread the jam on one of the sponge layers, sit the raspberries on top, then spoon over the mascarpone mix. Don’t try to spread the mascarpone, just dot it over. Sit the other sponge on top and gently press so that the mascarpone falls around the berries.
7. Combine the chopped lemon thyme and caster sugar in a bowl and dust it over the top of the cake. Finish with edible lavender, thyme sprigs or leaves to decorate
VINEGAR VARIATION You could swap the fruit vinegar for a lavender infused vinegar or another suitably floral infusion, such as rose, and use rose petals in the sugar. Or use white wine vinegar or a light fruit vinegar, with either lavender or rose petals in the mix and on the top.