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Eating Local – Simone Conti

This easy dish to prepare can be used in many ways, I love to prepare it for brunch in the weekend but can be served for eating as a starter. I love to use duck eggs specially when poached, so much more flavour and delicious big yolk. The spicy tomato sauce will bring a bit of freshness to the dish but with a twist of spicy, if you don’t like spice don’t add chilli.

Lazy Sunday Rosti Potato – Serves 4

Ingredients
2kg Maris Piper potatoes
80ml extra virgin olive oil
200g of streaky bacon
white wine vinegar
4 duck eggs
salt and black pepper to taste
For the Sauce
50ml of olive oil
1 garlic glove, finely sliced
1 small dried bird eye’s chilli, seeded and chopped
1 Tsp dried oregano
1 can of chopped tomato (400g)

Preparation
1. First let’s start the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the garlic, chilli and oregano, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep warm until ready to serve.
2. While the sauce is simmering, peel the potatoes, then coarsely grate them into a colander. In handfuls, squeeze out as much moisture from the potatoes as you can and discard it, then put the potatoes in a bowl. Season the potatoes with salt and pepper.
3. Cook the streaky bacon in a large, non-stick frying pan until crispy. Remove from the pan and set aside to drain on kitchen paper.
4. Add the olive oil to the streaky bacon fat left in the pan and heat until smoking, then add the grated potatoes and push down evenly to form a large cake. Cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown on the base, then flip over and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Transfer to large, warmed plate and keep hot.
5. Bring a pan of salted hot water to simmer add a dash of vinegar. Crack the eggs into the water (2 at a time max) and poach for about 3 minutes until just cooked.
6. Lift out the eggs and drain briefly on kitchen paper, then place on the potato rosti. Add the streaky bacon and drizzle the sauce over the top. It’s eating time!

Recommended Wine: Prosecco (Italy)

I got this recipe when I was working (1998) in Wheeler’s restaurant in Chancery Lane, a recipe originally from the early 80s. If you like fish pie you will love this. Blanch our potatoes with the skin on so we don’t lose our potato starch and keep a nice texture and use a cider for the sauce. In our area we’ve got some amazing cider producers so we can ideally serve it with a lovely cold glass of delicious cider. This dish is very rich and so doesn’t need any side, I usually just prepare a fresh mix salad to go with it, which will cleanse your palate after eating and bring freshness to the dish.

Creamy Fish Casserole – Serves 6

Ingredients
700g Hake, skinned and cut into bite sized pieces
30g plain flour
salt and black pepper to taste
40g butter
15ml vegetable oil
600ml dry cider
2 bay leaves, crumbled
900g Old floury potatoes, scrubbed
150ml single cream
30g chopped fresh parsley

Preparation
1. Coat the pieces of hake in the flour seasoned with salt and black pepper to taste.
2. Melt 25g of the butter with the oil in a frying pan, add the pieces of hake and fry gently until golden on all sides. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Pour the cider into the frying pan and stir to dislodge the sediment from the bottom of the pan. Add the bay leaves and salt and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes, then pour in a jug.
4. Blanch the potatoes in their skins in boiling salted water. Drain leave until cool enough to handle, then peel off the skins and slice.
5. Put half the fish in the bottom of a shallow casserole. Stir the cream into the cider mixture, mix it well and then pour half over the fish.
6. Cover with half the potato slices, overlapping them so that they cover the fish completely. Sprinkle with half the parsley. Put the remaining fish on top of the potatoes, then pour over the remaining cider and cream.
7. Cover with the remaining potato slices as before, then dot with remaining butter. Cook in the oven at 190c (mark 5) for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining parsley over the top before serving. Done!

Recommended Drink: Cider (England)

This is the favourite cake of one of the most talented chefs I ever worked with, Peter Gordon. It’s a simple recipe to make and eating it with whipped cream and a drop of Tia Maria in the cream makes it more interesting.

Double Chocolate Mousse Cake – Serves 8-10

Ingredients
300g dark chocolate
150g unsalted butter
6 free range eggs
100g caster sugar
For the Ganache
220g chocolate
180ml double cream, chilled

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 180c (mark 4), line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin with baking paper. Melt the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water.
2. Separate the eggs and beat the egg white until stiff with 60g of sugar. Beat yolks with the remaining sugar, then mix this thoroughly into chocolate. Gently fold a third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold the remaining.
3. Pour into prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes. It’s ready when a crust has formed, but the cake must be wobbly, if not, it’ll be overcooked and set to hard.
4. Remove from the oven and cover tin tightly with foil, the steam keeps the heat in and soften the crust. Once cold, chill for a least 4 hours before removing from the tin. Prepare the ganache, melt the chocolate in a metal bowl over simmering water, take off the heat and stir in the cream. Spread over cake with a spatula to give an even an even coating. To cut the cake I suggest heating a sharp knife in a jug of hot water- it will slice easier. Tuck in!

Simone Conti

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