Deep-fried baby artichokes
baby artichokes 8
fresh mint leaves 200g
olive oil 200ml
red onion 20g, diced
Maldon sea salt a pinch
sugar a pinch
Take fresh baby artichokes and remove the outer leaves, close to the stem. Then peel the green flesh away from both the stem and the base of the artichoke.
Slice through the bulb of the artichokes, 1cm from the top, and discard the leaves. Set the remaining artichokes to one side.
To make the mint dressing, take 100g of fresh mint leaves and blanche quickly in boiling water, then refresh immediately in ice cold water. Drain thoroughly and then add the blanched mint leaves to the olive oil, before placing the mixture into the freezer. Leave for 20 minutes to set, then remove from freezer and blitz thoroughly with a hand blender.
Take the remaining 100g of fresh mint leaves and roughly chop, then add this to the mint olive oil with the diced red onion. Add salt and sugar to taste. The oil should taste of fresh mint, slightly sweet and with a hint of red onion.
Preheat your fryer to 160C then blanch raw prepped artichoke until soft and golden. Remove from fryer and set out artichokes on kitchen paper to drain - the artichokes should feel soft to touch.
Place the artichokes on a plate, drizzle over the dressing and serve.
Baby gem lettuce with brown shrimp, pickled cucumber and chive dressing
white wine vinegar 50ml
caster sugar 50g
table salt 5g
cucumber ½, peeled and cut into small 0.5cm cubes
baby gem lettuce 2
peeled brown shrimps 100g
lemon juice of ½
chives 10g, finely chopped
Maldon sea salt a pinch
extra virgin olive oil 50ml
With the white wine vinegar and sugar, make a "gastrique" by bringing both ingredients to the boil, in a small saucepan and allow to cool.
Salt the diced cucumber and leave for 10 minutes to draw out the moisture. Squeeze through a cloth, then stir the diced cucumber into the "gastrique" and allow to marinade. (This can be done 24 hours in advance.)
Halve the baby gem lettuces lengthways then cut each half into three. Wash in cold water and then rinse in a salad spinner to dry. Cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate until serving.
To make the dressing, drain the pickled cucumber, reserving the liquor. Mix the shrimps and cucumber with 30ml of the liquor and the juice of half a lemon then stir in the chopped chives. Arrange the gem lettuces on a serving plate and season with sea salt.
Mix the olive oil into the brown shrimp and cucumber mixture, then spoon over the lettuce.
Cod fillet with romano peppers, grilled courgettes and baked aubergine
cod fillet 4 x 120g, skinned
Maldon sea salt 100g
romano peppers 3
caster sugar 20g
extra virgin olive oil 50ml
sherry vinegar 20ml
good aged balsamic 20ml
black olives, pitted 10g, roughly chopped
round purple aubergine 1
basil leaves 50g
pine nuts 50g, toasted
garlic 1 clove
Salt the cod fillets in the salt and leave for 20 minutes, then wash off and pat dry in kitchen paper. Scorch the peppers over an open flame until black all over and place in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to steam for 15 minutes.
Scrape the burnt skin from the peppers and discard, cut the peppers in half lengthways and remove the seeds. Cut the peppers into strips and mix with the sugar. Heat half the olive oil in a pan over a high heat and add the peppers to caramelise, deglaze with the sherry vinegar and remove from the heat, and then drizzle in the balsamic and add the olives.
Wrap the aubergine in aluminium foil and bake in the oven at 180C/gas mark 4 until cooked, checking that it's cooked by inserting a small knife. Cut the aubergine in half through the root, and following the natural shape of the aubergine, tear into lozenges, drizzle liberally with olive oil, season well and add the grated zest and juice of one lemon.
Slice the courgettes lengthways into strips, rub in olive oil and seasoning and grill in a griddle pan on both sides and set aside.
Blend the basil with the pine nuts, parmesan and garlic and season. Add a touch of olive oil to loosen.
Pan-fry the fillets in olive oil until cooked, for 2-2½ minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. Do not overcook the fish - it should just flake when pressed gently with a finger.
Arrange the peppers, courgettes and aubergines on the four plates and place the cod fillets on top. Finish with a spoonful of pesto on top of each fish and serve.
Smoked haddock with jersey royals, apple and celery and a poached egg
small Jersey royals 500g, scrubbed
celery 2 sticks, peeled and cut into lozenges
granny smith apples 2, washed
undyed smoked haddock 400g, bones removed
free-range eggs 4
white wine vinegar 20ml
chives 10g, chopped
frisee lettuce leaves 100g, washed and spun dry
olive oil 20ml
Cook the Jersey royals in boiling salted water until they are just cooked, remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature. Cook the celery in boiling salted water, drain and run under cold water briefly and set aside.
Cut the apple into batons of a matchstick thickness and mix with the juice of ½ lemon.
Cut the smoked haddock into 4 pieces and place on a baking tray with a small knob of butter on top and cook in the oven at 150C/gas mark 2 until they flake when pressed gently with a finger. Peel the skin of each piece and set aside.
Poach the eggs in water - a rolling boil - with the vinegar, ensuring the yolks remain soft. Drain the potatoes and place in a bowl with the apple, chives, celery and lettuce and the zest of 1 lemon.
Dress the salad and put in the centre of each plate, place the smoked haddock and then a poached egg on top and serve.
Roast leg of lamb with spinach, cauliflower and Ogleshield gratin
spring lamb 1 leg, 2kg, boned and rolled
garlic 1 head broken into cloves and peeled
rosemary 2 sprigs
vegetable oil 50ml
Maldon sea salt
English spinach 500g large stalks removed, leaves washed and drained
For the gratin
cauliflower 1, cut into florets, cooked in boiling salted water and drained
whole milk 700ml
garlic 2 cloves
bay leaf 1
thyme 2 sprigs
Maldon sea salt agenerous pinch
plain flour 50g
Ogleshield cheese 200g, grated
To prepare the gratin, boil the milk with the garlic, bay leaf and thyme and a generous pinch of salt, remove from the heat and leave to infuse. In a separate pan, melt the butter, add the flour, and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally, without colouring, for 10 minutes.
Whisk the strained milk into the flour and butter to obtain a glossy smooth sauce. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 minutes over a low heat, stirring regularly. Add 120g of the grated cheese and whisk to combine.
Place the cauliflower in a gratin dish, pour over the sauce and add the remaining cheese.
Place the lamb on a roasting tray on top of the garlic cloves and rosemary, and rub with oil and season liberally. Roast in a hot oven for approximately 20 minutes at 200C/gas mark 6, until golden. Reduce the heat to 150C/gas mark 2 and roast for about 1 hour 10 minutes, until firm but slightly springy.
Place the gratin in the oven at 180C/gas mark 4 and allow the lamb to rest for half an hour. Meanwhile, cook the spinach in a hot pan with the butter, season and drain in a colander.
Pour the fat off the roasting tray and deglaze with water, scraping up the caramelised juices and garlic. Carve the lamb into 4-6 pieces, season with Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper and place on the serving plates. Divide the spinach between the plates and spoon over the cooking juices. Serve with the cauliflower gratin.
Honey tart with roast apricots and malt whisky creme fraiche
For the sweet pastry
cold butter 250g, diced into small cubes
plain flour 330g
caster sugar 175g
large eggs 2, beaten
lemon zest of ½
For the tart mix
golden syrup 120g
heather honey 105g
double cream 220ml
white fresh breadcrumbs 75g
eggs 2, beaten
orange 1, grated zest
lemon 1, grated zest
Maldon sea salt a pinch
For the whisky creme fraiche
creme fraiche 150g
Speyside whisky 30ml
lemon juice of ½
For the garnish
flaked almonds 20g, toasted
You will also need
18cm tart ring
The day before, make the sweet pastry by rubbing the butter with the flour and sugar until you have a breadcrumb texture with no pieces of butter remaining. Add the egg and lemon zest and mix to combine; tip on to a floured work surface and work to a smooth dough, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge.
The following day, roll the sweet pastry to 0.5cm thick, dusting as required with flour to prevent sticking, and line the tart case, pushing well into the corners. Allow to rest for half an hour before baking blind at 180C/gas mark 4 until golden, and set aside to cool slightly.
Make the whisky creme fraiche by combining all the ingredients and refrigerate to allow to set.
Roast the apricots in the oven until soft - about 15 minutes. When they are cooked, cut them in half, remove the stone and skin and set aside.
Finally, make the tart mix by mixing all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until well combined, then warm until tepid over a gentle heat, stirring all the time.
Pour into the tart case and bake at 180C/gas mark 4 for 15 minutes, checking it is cooked by shaking gently - there should be a slight wobble.
Garnish with the roasted apricots and flaked almonds.
Merchant's Tavern, 35-42 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch, London EC2A 3PE; merchantstavern.co.uk
In Picture: Deep-fried baby artichokes. Photograph: Hilary Moore for Observer Food Monthly