Tom Kitchin: ‘That’s why I have brought together these passions in my new book, Kitchin Suppers’
SOME people might think the last thing a chef wants to do during his time off is to cook. But for me there’s nothing I enjoy more.
Food and cooking are my genuine passions and I still get such a thrill from cooking – whether at the restaurant or at home. That’s why I have brought together these passions in my new book, Kitchin Suppers. There’s nothing more rewarding than preparing and enjoying good food with my family and friends.
My wife Michaela and I run our restaurant and it’s a huge part of our family life, but making the time to cook at home, and sit down and eat as a family, is also incredibly important to us. It’s how we relax and catch up after a busy day or hectic week. Often part of the fun is in preparing the dishes together, getting everyone the whole family involved in playing their part, whether it’s setting the table, creating a one-pan wonder or adding the finishing touches to a meal.
I genuinely believe anyone can cook and, more importantly, everyone can enjoy cooking. For me, preparing food should be fun, and mid-week meals can be tasty, fresh and seasonal yet very simple. We’re all increasingly time-pressured but there’s no excuse for not making meals at home from scratch rather than buying them ready-made. You’ll taste a huge difference – and you’ll also enjoy the nutritional benefits of doing so. You just need to do a little planning and shopping ahead and you can have a whole host of meals ready and on the table within half an hour.
Another great way of making meals simple is by preparing a big batch and saving some leftovers for lunch or the next evening’s dinner. Stocks, sauces and one-pots can be saved to make a different dish the following night – it’s a great time-saver and can help avoid the temptation to buy something that isn’t as fresh or seasonal.
The secret to being a successful home cook is to find the very best produce and keep dishes simple so that you can let the ingredients and natural flavours shine through. I’m lucky enough to work with some of the very best suppliers in Scotland, but finding your own local producers and suppliers can be the key to creating incredible dishes at home.
Another key element is to think about seasonality. I’m just as fanatical about seasonality at home as I am at work. Once you start to understand the seasons and which foods are at their best at different times of the year, you will begin to develop more knowledge about food and appreciate the wonderful flavours found in nature. Get to grips with that and you can also start to think about flavour marriages that seasonal food matches offer, allowing you to find tastes and textures that complement one another.
It’s simple to work with the seasons and there are so many books and websites available to help you all year round. The Scottish Government recently launched a new app about eating in season, which helps you check what you should be eating when. It’s a great tool if you’re unsure about what to try, but I also recommend finding out what’s in season by speaking to local producers and suppliers. Many of these people are experts in their field and can talk you through what they have fresh in stock that day. Often they can also provide advice on the best ways to prepare those ingredients.
As we approach autumn, there is no better time to enjoy the last of the wonderful ingredients our Scottish summer has to offer, such as fresh salmon and summer greens. It’s also the perfect time to start thinking about what the new season will bring to the menu. You can really brighten up your home cooking with a little careful research and planning around what ingredients are at the peak of seasonality.
Not only do you get a superior flavour from cooking with seasonal produce at home, it can often be much cheaper to select seasonal ingredients as they haven’t travelled far and, in turn, taste much fresher and more flavoursome.
• Follow @TomKitchin on Twitter or ‘like’ The Kitchin on Facebook
• You can find more simple seasonal home cooking recipes in Tom’s new book, Kitchin Suppers, £20, which will be previewed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival tomorrow (sold out) and published by Quadrille on 13 September
Smoked salmon, pea and red onion frittata
150g good-quality smoked salmon
2 red onions, peeled
½ large red pepper, cored and deseeded
100g freshly podded peas or broad beans
8 large free-range eggs
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped dill
100g cheddar (ideally locally produced), finely grated
Heat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 2-3. Cut the smoked salmon into strips. Cut the red onions, courgette and red pepper into small, even-sized dice.
Add the peas or broad beans to a pan of boiling salted water and blanch for a couple of minutes, then drain and refresh in cold water. Drain again and pat dry.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a fork until lightly foamy. Season with salt and pepper and then add the peas or broad beans, the chopped dill, smoked salmon and grated cheese.
Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick (or well-seasoned) ovenproof frying pan (about 23cm in diameter) over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for two to three minutes to soften slightly, then add the courgettes and red pepper and cook together for a couple of minutes.
Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables in the pan and cook over a low heat for three to four minutes. Now transfer the frying pan to the oven and cook for six to eight minutes, until the egg is set and golden on the surface.
Sprinkle the frittata with snipped chives to garnish, then cut into portions and serve with a watercress salad.
Chargrilled chicken, summer vegetables and croutons with blue cheese dressing
2 free-range boneless chicken breasts, skin on (about 170g each)
freshly ground black pepper
a few sprigs rosemary
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into wedges
8 asparagus spears, woody bases snapped off and lower stalks peeled
1 courgette, sliced
1 garlic clove, halved
3-4 baby gem lettuces, halved or quartered
1 bunch radishes, trimmed and halved
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Blue cheese dressing
50g blue cheese
50g crème fraîche
Heat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and heat up a griddle. Put the chicken in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Break up the rosemary sprigs and add to the bowl, then toss everything together.
To prepare the dressing, put the blue cheese in a bowl and break it up with a fork. Add the mayonnaise and crème fraîche and mix until smoothly combined.
Place the chicken on the hot griddle, skin-side down, and cook without turning for six to eight minutes. In the meantime, using a separate bowl, toss the fennel, asparagus and courgette in a little olive oil.
Once the chicken has been cooking for eight minutes, add the vegetables to the griddle in the following order: first the fennel, then after two minutes the asparagus, then after another two minutes the courgette. Cook the vegetables and chicken together, turning as necessary. The whole process should take 16 to 18 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the griddle and set aside.
Meanwhile, for the croutons, cut the baguette into chunks, drizzle with olive oil and rub with the cut garlic clove. Place the chunks of bread on a tray and bake in the oven for six to eight minutes, turning occasionally, until golden.
Divide the lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and chargrilled chicken and vegetables between serving plates. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and toss lightly. Scatter the croutons over the salad, spoon on the dressing and serve.
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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