The UK has been in lockdown since the 23rd of March, which must mean that you have eaten your speciality dish of “sausages, chips and beans” a grand total of [checks notes] 627 times. Now I don’t want to dictate to you or anything – I’m just making a friendly suggestion! – but it could be time for something different.
Maybe, now that we’re in, oh, week 12, you’re ready to get it together and learn something new. Maybe you’re just sick of cheese toasties, or perhaps you have exhausted all the recipes from the last time we tried to instruct you on how to cook in lockdown. Either way, we thought we’d offer a refresher, only this time, we surveyed chefs and food writers for their favourite fancy-ish recipes – cool stuff, quietly impressive stuff, the sort of food that will have your family members or housemates looking on in shock as they ask: “Wait… so you? You made that?”
And you – instead of lying – will be able to say: “Yes. Yes I did.”
NB: Obviously don’t go out just to buy the stuff for these recipes, but maybe you’ll want to throw in a few ingredients with your big shop.
Fermented Potato Chips
“At Hot 4 U, we make our own potato chips that are moreish as fuck, easy to make and you can dip them in anything. Fermenting the potato first is super easy to do with just the help of a little salt, a little warmth and a little time. It changes everything and it's really hard to fuck it up." Eddy Tejada and Matthew Scott of Hot 4 U, a new takeout restaurant in east London.
1kg Maris Piper potatoes
500g pack of tapioca pearls (available from your local Asian supermarket)
vegetable oil for frying
1. Cook the potatoes in boiling water until completely soft.
Drain the potatoes and weigh them. This is important.
Add 3 percent of salt to the weight of the potato – for example, 1kg potatoes with 30g of salt.
Place the potato into a sterile container, cover the top completely to protect the ferment from too much oxygen and leave at room temp for around five days. The longer you leave it, the more developed the final flavour with be.
2. So, you've come back to your potato after a few days. Take it out of the container and cook it in a pan with the same amount of water to potato. Once you have a pan of white funky stuff, chuck in your tapioca pearls and cook on a low to medium heat for around 20 to 30 minutes until the pearls have turned from white to translucent. Place a little cling film over the surface of your mix and allow to cool slightly so that you can handle it without burning yourself.
3. Spread the mixture out onto a greased tray and spread it out very, very thinly. If you're lucky enough to have a dehydrator to hand, pop it in there overnight at around 60 degrees. If not, pop it in the oven at 60 degrees overnight. We assure you this works.
The next day, heat up a pot of oil to around 170 degrees. Snap the crackers into pieces and fry each piece for a couple of seconds until they puff up. Place onto kitchen towel straight away. They'll be oily as fuck otherwise. Season with 50:50 salt and MSG and you're good to go.
As we said, these crisps go with anything. We are serving them this week with braised courgettes, Cambodian long pepper and buttermilk curds.
Blackberry Cake Doughnuts
“The dough can be made the day before. Makes six." Claire Ptak of east London bakery, Violet Cakes.
640g extra fine sponge flour
3 tsp baking powder
A grating of nutmeg
2 tsp fine sea salt
Zest of 2 lemons
4 egg yolks
300g plain yoghurt
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the glaze
1 tsp lemon juice
400g icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1. First, make the doughnut dough. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Whisk in the nutmeg, salt and lemon zest. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar – but only until smooth and creamy; not pale and fluffy. Add the yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the yoghurt and mix well.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix them into a dough. Turn out on to a piece of clingfilm. Wrap and chill the dough for two hours.
4. On a liberally floured surface, roll the dough out to 2cm thick, and cut out as many doughnuts as you can using a 9cm round cutter. Pat the scraps together and re-roll one more time to get about six doughnuts all together. Remove the holes, and fry and glaze them as you do the doughnuts. Score lines on top of each doughnut in a pentagonal pattern.
5. Heat the vegetable oil to 180C/350F. Fry the doughnuts for 4 to 5 minutes on one side (until golden), and then for 2 to 3 minutes on the second side, or until equally golden.
6. To make the glaze, puree the blackberries in a food processor. Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds. Mix with the lemon juice, then add the icing sugar and salt, and whisk to combine. If the glaze is a little thick, you can add a drop of hot water.
7. Dip the warm doughnuts into the glaze, then put on a wire rack to cool with a tray underneath to catch the drips.”
“These vegan meatballs can be made with ingredients you might already have to hand, and they're pretty adaptable if not – sub in different spices, beans, grains and flours and hope for the best. Serve with spaghetti and red sauce, or in a big messy sandwich." Tsouni Cooper of Yes, It's All Vegan.
1 small onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground fennel seed (cumin, dill or caraway work too)
1/3 cup tinned butter beans
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 small carrot, grated
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1. Preheat your oven to 180C. Finely dice the onion and fry in a pan with some oil until it's going translucent. Add your garlic, ground fennel and a dash of salt and pepper and fry for a minute, stirring.
2. Add into a food processor along with the beans, quinoa and sunflower seeds. Pulse until well combined and there are no whole beans or seeds left. Transfer your mixture into a bowl and use your hands to mash in the breadcrumbs, carrot, flour and lemon juice until everything is evenly mixed.
3. Form into golf sized balls, gently brush with oil and bake on a non-stick sheet or foil in the oven for 25 minutes, or until evenly crisp and brown. Serve and enjoy.
Fish koftas with freekeh
Oded Oren, chef-owner of OREN restaurant in east London.
500g hake (or any white fish)
2 spring onions, sliced
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
1/2 white onion, diced
4 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp pepper
100g bread crumbs
5 tbsp olive oil
2 whole eggs
1. Blitz the fish in a food processor. Add the herbs, along with the chopped onion and spices, and blitz again to combine.
2. Empty the mixture into a bowl and add the eggs and breadcrumbs. Stir to combine.
3. Drizzle the mixture with the olive oil and stir.
4. Using your hands, shape the mixture into oval-shaped koftas and pan-fry until golden.
5. Cook the freekeh according to packet instructions and dress with the olive oil, parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice and salt to state. Serve with the koftas.