Can Cook, Must Cook

The food adventures of Franka P, a Trinidadian journalist living in London, UK. I'll write about my forays into all types of food and cooking, particularly Caribbean food. I'll also review books and recipes by the leading food writers and talk about the issues making headlines in the gastronomic world.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Yummy chef!

Scottish chef Tom LewisI have just seen the tastiest chef in the UK. Scottish chef Tom Lewis has to be the most gorgeous man in food. Ok, he's not Brad Pitt but I wouldn't get worked up about Brad Pitt.
People might talk about the gym-sculted form of Gary Rhodes or Gordon Ramsay's rugged and aggressive charm but Tom Lewis has the most infectious laugh and looks like he could scrum down with the best of them.
Not many people had ever heard of Tom until last month when the list of chefs competing in the Great British Menu was announced. He's up against
Nick Nairn, a noted celebrity chef who just happens to be his really good friend.
I had a look at his menus and recipes in the GBM book and it was obvious that he's a chef who likes to experiment. He's the chef at the
Monachyle Mhor Hotel and in the short time he's been there, he's got a host of awards and from all indications, it seems a Michelin star isn't far away.

Here's what the Times had to say about his cooking and his restaurant.
"Six miles up the Balquhidder valley, past lochs and crags, Highland cattle and Rob Roy’s grave, Monachyle Mhor is the best restaurant for 40 miles. The chef, Tom Lewis, grew up farming this land, and that is reflected in his feel for tremendous produce: local lamb, beef, venison and grouse; vegetables and mushrooms straight off the family farm; and the freshest of seafood from the west coast."
Someone say something about a holiday in Scotland?
Here's one of Tom's recipes from the Great British Menu.

Black Dan's Honey and Toasted Oatmeal Cranachan with strawberries poached in Pernod and cinnamon

3 tbsp oatmeal
150 ml milk
3-4 tbsp good quality runny honey
1 small vanila pod, split lengthways
2 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water for ten minutes
450 ml double cream

Poached Strawberries
50g strawberries
1 cinnamon stick
2 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp Pernod

1. Toast the oatmean in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Set aside
2. Place the milk and the honey in a saucepan and scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod. Add the pod too, then heat until bubbles start appearing around the edge. Do NOT boil. Remove from the heat. Gently squeeze dry the gelatine, add to the hoe milk and stir until completely melted. Stir in the cream. Pass through a sieve into a jug.
3. Divide the toastes oatmeal among four dariole moulds. Slowly pour in the honey cream mixture. Leave to set in the fridge for 4-5 hours.
4. To prepare the strawberries, combine all the ingredients in a heatproof bowl and cover over with cling film. Set over a pan of boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes. Every now and again, carefully tilt the bowl to swirl the juice over the strawberries. Remove from the hot water and leave to cool.
5. To serve, dip each mould into warm - not hot - water and count to five, then turn out on to a plate. Spoon the poached strawberries around the cranachan.
Serves four

Cranachan is also known as cream crowdie in Scotland, after the local soft cheese - crowdie - which was used instead of cream. The recipe is named after Tom's gardener Black Dan Campbell.

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