Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dinner at Diva Jean's

June 15th, 2012  LONDON

 hands the spoons 
over to the Master Chef:  
JEAN of course!

A dinner with Jean by Jean
 is a treat without equal.  

 Everyone who has ever been wants to come again (and probably does.)  Anyone who hasn’t, can still live in hope….

The old Victorian on Rosenau Road probably will be full already. If you are very lucky, her sons Sam (Dr. Professor Sam, as of June 19th!!) and Mr. Wonderful Leon, and her grandsons Chase and Heath (by Leon and their gorgeous mother Yasmin) will be around, too.

              There may also be various young men and women who start as boarders and continue on as family.  Becky, Nicky and the two Bens were in residence, but away for the weekend. Of course there are the family animals.  In 2012 it’s Alaska, the white Alsatian (currently on a low protein diet), and the two cats: Nebraska (eats only fresh scallops; and Frankie (eats only fresh prawns).  So if you can’t manage to get a dinner invitation, try to become one of the pets.

Jean’s repertoire expands from family sit-downs, to holiday extravaganzas to lunches in the garden, or a quick impromptu salad with mint and basil.  

 {Mather Streeters will recognize the salad bowl genre)
 There are also picnics packed for the park (especially for Alex and Alison her evening dog walking companions) (not all that common given the fact that this is London, after all.)  Oh yes, and rain or shine: picnics on the green.  [needs info!]

Jean's kitchen is somewhere between a laboratory and a womb.  

The aromas are somewhere between nostalgia and exhilaration.

On my too short visit returning from Turkey , Jean invited Martin and Gillie from  W--???-----.  Martin (aka Dr. Comma, having proof read my Turkish House MS) goes back to the Amasya era, and is thus legendary. 

Here is the menu

••Crab and ginger salad•• with ••Lemon Confit••
A recipe from Gordon Ramsay. tweaked by Jean.
Truly, I will make the Lemon Confit the minute I get off the plane from London (check future posts.)
••Rack of lamb (or tender chops) marinated in parsley, mint and coriander and honey••
            An Ottolenghi offering, with Ottolenghi depth and Diva Jean panache (and also generosity.  To serve the four of us, she (at least) doubled the recipe for four.  (Of course.)
••Israeli Couscous••
••Grilled Eggplant with saffron Yogurt••
••Mixed vegetables with herbs and butter••
••Thai Spiced Peaches••
 Another Gordon Ramsay tweaked by Jean..  for one, nectarines instead of peaches. !

RECIPES    still in process.. Hold your breath, this will be breathtaking.
 and yes, there will be photos!!!

The Lemon confit 

Cut lemons into thin, but not too thin slides.  Remove seeds but keep membranes whole.

for 2 large un-waxed lemons

put 100 g sugar and 300 ml water in a pan over med heat and stir till dissolved

Add a stalk of lemon grass, halved
Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 2 -3 minutes

Add lemon slices and poach gently for 8 - 10 minutes

remove from heat and allow to cool.

Store in jar in their liquid till needed.

Crab and ginger salad with lemon confit and fennel shavings ala Jean

1 apple cored and diced
1 small bunch of chives or coriander chopped
8+ oz picked over white crabmeat
1 sm red chili
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp or taste it grated ginger
1/4 cup mayo

mix above in a bowl

baby romaine or butter lettuce
8-10 slices lemon confit
bulb of fennel, sliced thin and soaked in ice water
classic vinaigrette  (jean uses half fresh lemon juice, half olive oil, salt and pepper)

Drizzle lemon vinaigrette over lettuce leaves, toss and lay on individual chilled plates

Mix confit and fennel slices and scatter over lettuce

Spoon crab salad into center of salad and sprinkle with
more fresh coriander

••Rack of lamb (or tender chops) marinated in parsley, mint and coriander and honey••

I took this from HERE, but changed it into American measurements

 (serves 4)
2.25 lbs- ish rack of lamb, french trimmed
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves and stalks
I bunch  mint, leaves and stalks
I bunch coriander, leaves and stalks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 TB fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 chillies, seeded
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
½ cup sunflower oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons water

Make sure most of the fat is trimmed off the lamb, leaving a uniform thin layer that will keep the meat moist and add to the flavour. Use a very sharp knife to separate the rack into portions of two or three cutlet pieces. Place in a non-metal container.

Blitz together all the remaining ingredients in a food processor, pour over the lamb and make sure it is well covered for a night in the marinade.

Refrigerate overnight.
preheat the oven to 400f and also heat up a griddle pan.

Remove the meat from the marinade, shaking off the excess.

Sear well on all sides, about 5 minutes in total.

Transfer to a baking tray and cook in the oven for exactly 14 minutes,  or depending on the size of the racks and how well cooked you want them.
 Lamb over couscous.....

Meanwhile, heat the left over marinade (if any) in a small pan and simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour over lamb when serving.

 Gillie oggles lamb....

Both the cutlets and sauce can be served hot or at room temperature.

••Israeli Couscous••
Direct from Jean "(I don't use a recipe so don't know quantities...)For the couscous I fry lots of onions and garlic in oil and butter then pour in the dry Giant Couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous) and cook it a little until it takes on some colour.  I'll usually put in a couple of glugs of white wine here but that's optional. You can do this in advance but don't let it sit too long or it will clump. 

Then pour in the main cooking liquid, having heated it up first. I tend to use chicken stock but other stocks or water will be good too, depending on what you will serve it with. Then cook for just a few minutes - it doesn't take long. 
 Drain if necessary, stir through some chilli flakes, a handful of rocket (arugula) and maybe some pine nuts and serve.

••Grilled Eggplant with saffron Yogurt••
"Roasted Aubergine with Saffron Yoghurt - Ottolenghi.  Ok then, eggplant."

"A small pinch of saffron strands

3 tbsp hot water
180g/6.5oz Greek yoghurt
1 clove garlic crushed
2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil

3 medium eggplants, cut into wedges

Olive oil
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
A handful of pomegranate seeds
Sea salt and black pepper

For the sauce infuse the saffron in the hot water for 5 minutes then mix with the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice, oil and some salt. Mix well to get a smooth golden sauce. Chill. The sauce, not you.

Preheat oven to 220C or 425F.  Brush oil on eggplant, s&p, bake on roasting tray for 20-35 minutes until coloured.

 When at room temperature spread on plate with yoghurt on top and sprinkle with nuts and seeds.

Personally I'd make about 1 1/2 times the amount of yoghurt sauce. You can mix sauce and cook the eggplant the day before and plate up just before serving.  The wonderful Mr. Ottolenghi sprinkles basil on top too but there were enough herbs in this meal without. "

Dr. Comma oggles Eggplant

••Mixed vegetables with herbs and butter••
Direct from Jean " 
green beans, 
snow peas, 
petit pois cooked separately in steamer bags 
with a bit of mint herbed butter then served in one bowl. (butter, finely chopped mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper.)"

••Thai Spiced Peaches••
Be sure to cook them till soft, but don’t over cook.  Yes, she did this once and threw them away.  Threw them away???  Clearly, she was alone in the kitchen and.or out o her mind.  Surely we could  have eaten them on oatmeal or toast....

I took this recipe from HERE but tried to convert to American measurements and also do whatever it was that Jean did.

Serves 6
6 ripe aromatic peaches (or nectarines or pears?)
2 thumbs of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, discard 2 outer layers, thinly sliced
1/2 red chilli, sliced
2 kaffir lime leaves or lime zest if you don’t have leaves
2 Tbsp lime juice
2/3 cup runny honey
1 cup sugar
3 oz cashew nuts, toasted
6 oz mascarpone
7 TB whole cream or whipping cream

Using a small, sharp knife, score an X 3 cm long into one end of the peaches, barely cutting into the flesh - this will help you peel it later.

Place the ginger, lemongrass, chilli, lime leaves, lime juice, honey and ¾ cup of the sugar into a pot wide enough to hold all the peaches in one layer - don't crowd them. Add 8+ cups   of water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.

Gently drop the peaches in off a slotted spoon and bring back to a rapid simmer. Poach peaches until cooked - you should be able to poke a toothpick into the centre easily.

From time to time, give them a tumble to help them cook evenly. Once they're cooked, turn the heat off, carefully take them out of the liquid and plunge into a bowl of icy water. Leave for a few minutes then peel the skin from them and return to the still hot liquid and leave to cool in it. Once cooled they can be kept covered in the fridge for 5-6 days, so long as they float in their liquid.

Reserve a dozen cashews and split them in half, then roughly chop the remainder. Place the remaining ¼ cup of sugar in a heavy-based pan and place over a moderate heat. Cook until it melts and then turns golden brown. You can stir it gently once it begins to melt, but go gently or it can caramelise.

 If nothing is happening to the sugar turn the heat up until it does. Stir in the chopped nuts then tip onto a baking tray lined with non-stick paper, spread it out, being careful not to burn yourself with the hot caramel, and leave it to go cold. Carefully pour 4 cups of hot water into the pot and leave it to simmer for a few minutes - this helps when it comes time to clean it. Once the cashew caramel has cooled and set, break it up by bashing with a rolling pin or similar and mix into the mascarpone. Then mix in the cream and stir briskly to incorporate it all.

To serve: Place the reserved cashews into your serving dishes, add a peach and some of the poaching liquor and serve the cashew mascarpone on the side in little dishes.

JEAN SAYS that somebody said that you are responsible for the happiness of the people at your table.   We were happy.

But just in case, she provided a little post dining music from her iPad App:

And oh, yeah: Me, Jean, and the Queen