TOM’S VALENTINES MENU

Since we can’t go out and treat our loved ones for Valentines this year, I’ve pulled together some of my favourite recipes for you to cook at home for your loved one.

STARTER – HAM FRITTERS AND CHEESE FONDUE

Ham Fritters

INGREDIENTS:

250g plain flour
500ml blood warm milk
20g fresh yeast
Flour for dusting
500g – 600g whole cooked piece of ham
500ml pickle liquor
6 chicory heads
4 large onions whole
2 tbsp mustard seeds
3 tbsp soft dark sugar
6 tbsp cider vinegar
1 grated Bramley apple
300g gruyere cheese grated
150g epoisses cheese chopped
150g comte cheese grated
300ml white wine
2 tsp cornflour
3 tbsp water
Fresh grated nutmeg
Fresh ground pepper
Salt to taste

Garnish:
Radishes with leaves on
Toasted sourdough
Treviso salad

METHOD:

1: This first job is to slow roast the onions whole with the skins on. Pre-heat an oven at 160°C and place the onions into a baking tray and cook until semi-soft, just cooked, it will take about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

2: When cold, gently cut the fuzzy root end off about 1/3rd down the onion. Gently scoop the middles out, leaving about 3 layers of onion to form a hollow onion. You are going to serve the hot cheese sauce in the onion! Place the onions to one side until needed. With a large chef’s knife, chop up the scooped out onion middles quite roughly. In a non-stick pan, add the soft dark brown sugar and the cider vinegar. Place onto a high heat and bring to the boil. Add the grated Bramley apple, mustard seeds and chopped onion. Turn the heat down and cook out until get a tasty chutney. This won’t take too long, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When cold, you can place into the fridge until needed. It will keep for a week in the fridge and is lush with a big piece of cheddar!

3: To make the batter, crumble the yeast into the flour in a large mixing bowl. Pour on the warmed milk and whisk together. Leave to one side for 1 hour whilst the yeast starts to work and ferment. Cut the whole ham into bite size chunks and dust in a little flour. Place the ham pieces into the batter, a few at a time, and then gently drop into a table top fryer at 180°C and cook for 4-5 minutes until golden and crispy. You may need to do this in a batch or two. Remove from the fryer and drain on kitchen paper and season.

4: In a saucepan, bring the 300ml of white wine to the boil. Turn the heat right down to a simmer and stir in the cheeses and gently melt them. Mix the cornflour and the 3tbsp of water together and add them to the cheese mix and cook for 5 minutes on a low heat until the cheese is completely melted and is thickened. Season with freshly ground pepper and the grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt if needed.

5: Pour the pickle liquor into a bowl. Break down the chicory into leaves and stick them into the pickle mix. Pour the hot cheese sauce into the hollow onions and serve with the ham fritters and onion chutney.

6: On the side, serve the pickled chicory and some radishes with salt, some toasted sour dough or a salad made with bitter leaves like Treviso. Dip the crispy fritters into the hot cheese sauce and dab on a little chutney. OMG…

MAIN – FLASH FRIED SIRLOIN STEAKS WITH MUSTARD SEED DRESSING

Sirloin Steak

INGREDIENTS:

50g butter
4 tablespoons rapeseed oil
2 sirloin steaks, 150g each
2 tablespoons chopped chives
salt and pepper, to taste
100g croûtons, diced and toasted, to serve
2 large handfuls of wild rocket, tossed with a little rapeseed oil, to serve

For the mustard seed dressing:
100ml rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon capers in brine, drained and chopped

 

METHOD:

1: To make the mustard seed dressing, whisk the rapeseed oil, mustard seeds, Dijon mustard, vinegar, garlic and capers together in a non-metallic bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.

2: When ready to cook the steaks, melt the butter with the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.

3: Add the steaks and fry for about 2 minutes until caramelised on one side. Flip the steaks over and fry for a further 1 minute. Take care not to over-cook – ‘blue’ is better than well done with these thin steaks

4: Transfer the steaks to plates and cover liberally with the dressing. Sprinkle with the chives and the crisp croutons.

5: Place the wild rocket on top of the steaks and serve immediately.

DESSERT – WHITE CHOCOLATE AND PISTACHIO BLONDIES

White Chocolate and Pistachio Blondies

INGREDIENTS:

300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
100g shelled pistachio nuts, (bright green ones if you can find them), roughly chopped
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
50g sesame seeds
150g butter, plus extra for greasing
300g demerara sugar
40ml rapeseed oil
40ml sesame oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
Flaky sea salt, to finish

METHOD:

1: Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Lightly grease a 25cm square cake tin with butter and line the base and sides with non-stick baking parchment, letting some overhang the sides of the tin, to make it easier to lift out the cake later.

2: Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and mix well, using a balloon whisk, to combine. Stir in the pistachios, 100g of the chocolate and the sesame seeds.

3: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a very low heat, then add the demerara sugar, rapeseed and sesame oil, and the eggs. Using the point of a small, sharp knife, scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod directly into the pan. Heat very gently for 3–4 minutes, whisking constantly, to combine and warm through – don’t overheat or the eggs will curdle.

4: Pour the warm mixture onto the dry ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined and the chocolate has melted. Finally, fold in the remaining chopped chocolate.

5: Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25–30 minutes, until cooked through. It should be lightly golden and quite firm to the touch. If a skewer inserted into the centre comes up slightly tacky that’s fine, as it means the blondie will be nice and moist in the centre.

6: Remove from the oven and sprinkle on a generous pinch of flaky sea salt. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then lift out, peel away the parchment and place on a wire rack to cool.

7: Cut into squares to serve. The blondies will keep for 4–5 days in an airtight tin.

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