Having hosted Master Chef semi finalist Wayne Sullivan at Brew & Bake last week to cook his dishes from the show it reminded me of a few things.
1: My telephone interview a few years back for Master Chef. I don’t remember much of the conversation I was driving (hands free) and was obversely going somewhere more important then to spear 5 minutes to talk about who was my cooking inspiration (I started telling them some reality show story about standing on a stool watching my nan etc etc etc….).
2: An old blog post I wrote about how to cook like a Master Chef.
The question I get asked the most by people after they ask me what my favourite dish to cook is:
“Do I watch cookery program’s?” – “No” is my standard answer to this one (Sorry Wayne I did only watch 1 or 2 of the shows you were in).
However ask me if I buy cookery books and that’s a whole different conversation.
People love my cookbook collection and are always asking me what my favourite recipes from them are. Those who know food will see Thomas Keller, Ramsay, Heston, Tom Kedridge, Jamie Oliver (sorry), Larousse & El Bulli to name a few on my shelves.
When they spot my Woman’s Weekly 101 recipes for chicken (I don’t even know if there is 101 recipes as I’ve never read it) I tell them I got it for free. Those that have visited recently will see the new addition to my collection – Heston’s Fat Duck Cookbook (£10 on eBay) & New York Cult Recipes (the best carrot cake I’ve tasted)
So the biggest surprise to people is that I don’t use these books for cooking. Cookbooks (in my opinion) have 2 fundamental problems:
1 – They use too many ingredients in the recipes and end up costing the chef too much money to produce a dish.
2- The recipes don’t work. Imagine the scene. You’ve slaved away for 20 years, 6 days a week, 18 hours a day in a hot kitchen. You’ve mastered the classic techniques and gained many awards.
Your offered a 4/5 figure sum to write a cookbook. Do you sell all your secrets? Of course not. You leave a little bit out here and there. People will almost get the dish but blame themselves if it doesn’t work.
Over the years I have collected cookbooks like when I was spotty teen in the 80’s/90’s collected football stickers (got, got, got, swap). Over time my collection has amassed to around 100 cookbooks.
To me these cook books are like pieces of art work that sit on my bookshelf with an order of hierarchy to where they are positioned on my shelves (the order isn’t anything OCD like alphabetical based on how many times the book uses Ingredients) it’s just (how much I rate the chef and does it fit).
I also have a habit of not reading my cookbooks as much as I should so you could imagine how annoyed I was when a bought a book rand half of the recipes were taken from a book the chef had wrote a few years back.
Had I of realised this when buying the book I would have put it back the same way I put back any cookbook that has a sandwich recipe in it. Who needs a recipe for a sandwich?
Well anyway if a Master Chef can do it and sell books on the back of it why can’t I?
Bacon Lettuce & Tomato on Thyme Bread & Home Made Crisps.
For the bread
- 550g White bread flour
- 1 Teaspoon fine sea salt
- 14g Dried yeast (normally 2 packs)
- 1 Tablespoon caster sugar
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 650ml Lukewarm water – don’t add it all at once
- Handful of thyme
- 1 Punnet of cherry tomatoes halved – other tomatoes can be used
- 2 Bulbs of garlic – sliced as thin as possible
- 2 Sprigs of thyme
For the mayo
- 250g Mayonnaise – shop bought (life’s to short to make it)
- 50g Wholegrain mustard – use more if you like it stronger
- 2 Potatoes
- Watercress, rocket or iceberg lettuce
- 10 Slices of streaky bacon
Sieve flour, salt in to a bowl. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, pour into the bowl, Using your hands bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid.
Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, working the rest of the flour in knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
Failing that use a mixer with a dough hook.
Place the ball of dough in a bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
Remove dough, knead the air out and roll in to rolls weighing 150g, Leave to prove up and bake at 200°c until the bottom is hollow when tapped (30 minutes).
Place your tomatoes in an oven proof dish with the sides facing up. Top each tomato with a slice of garlic, pinch of salt and a pinch of thyme. Place in the oven at 100°c until they have wilted and are sweet (about 90 minutes).
Mix mayo & mustard together.
Slice the potatoes as fine as you can (use a mandolin if you have one), wash the potatoes until the water runs clear. Dry the potatoes on some kitchen paper. Place the potatoes on a plate that has a piece of kitchen paper on it.
Brush with oil and sprinkle some salt on them. Microwave for 2 and a half minutes and then turn them off and repeat. If not brown enough cook for a minute at a time.
Putting it together
Cut open the bread, spread on a nice layer of mustard mayo. Layer up 5 slices of the bacon (more if you want a bigger sandwich). Add tomatoes and salad leaf (I used watercress for a peppery taste).
Eat and enjoy.