Last Updated on March 12, 2021
Cookbook raises funds for the hospitality industry
The Covid pandemic has given rise to some wonderful charities and one of these brings together two of my main interests – the health service and the hospitality industry. We have all seen the footage of our dedicated doctors, nurses and paramedics working themselves to the bone in their efforts to save lives and treat the huge numbers of patients who have fallen victim to the virus. A painful image that I recall from the first lockdown when panic buying overtook many, was an exhausted nurse in tears when she got to the supermarket after a long shift to find the shelves bare. At the same time, restaurants were shuttered, chefs put on furlough. Hospitality for Heroes was established in March 2020 to bring together those who can cook with those who need to be fed. Crowdfunding raised money for the ingredients, professional chefs volunteered their time, and the charity then transported over 100 000 restaurant-quality meals to NHS staff on the frontline.
Now there is a cookbook, Recipes For Heroes, which is being sold to raise further funds. A £10 donation gets you the e-book while a £40 donation has a hard copy coming through the post to your door. Of course, you can donate more if you choose. 100 % of book sales goes back into the hospitality sector. The book is sponsored by Prenetics, the company behind Project Screen that deployed Covid testing to enable the Premier League and the England and Wales Cricket Board to begin playing behind closed doors.
Recipes For Heroes is not your average cookbook. Rather, it is a collection of recipes donated by some star chefs. Their recipes are lovely to look at even if you never get to cook them all. That is not to say you might not enjoy the challenge of creating dishes the chefs cook in their professional kitchens for their diners. Each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photograph of the dish as well as the chef. A brief profile of the chefs and their restaurants is also provided which is handy for those who would like to visit their restaurants when they reopen.
The 28 recipes vary from very complex to perfectly achievable for home cooks. I chose a few simple recipes to try out. Who doesn’t like a cheese muffin? I thought as I set about baking a batch of Dave’s Cheesy Muffins. Dave is a South African chef and he recommends a local cheddar which I substituted for a mature British cheddar which has a strong flavour with the ‘lingering bite’ the recipe recommended. The recipe notes also pointed out that the cheesy muffin was as good to eat for breakfast as with an aperitif. I did just this. With a glass of red, the muffin turned my apéro hour into a cheese and wine affair which was rather fun. I ate one hot from the oven for breakfast – these are best when warm from the oven when the cheese is melty and the muffin is just baked. I also ate one for lunch with a salad which was a great improvement on the slice of toast with tomato which is often my work from home lunch. The muffins are a cinch to make, take hardly any time at all and would be a lovely activity for children in the holidays. They would also make a great lunchbox option now that the schools are re-opening so I’ve included the recipe below.
The second recipe I attempted from Recipes for Heroes was Northern Turmeric Dhal created by Charith Priyadarshana, chef at Paradise in Soho’s Rupert Street. I cook dhal frequently so enjoy tweaking this comforting dish whenever I come across a tempting recipe. Here the Sri Lankan flavours include Sri Lankan curry powder as well as coconut milk for an extra creamy dish. Fresh curry leaves are a lovely addition to the temper topping. I didn’t have Sri Lankan curry powder, so used a branded variety, but did have fresh curry leaves which needed using up. The dhal was quick and easy to make and had a marked depth of flavour. The temper topping was especially good, popping with mustard seeds and the crunch of fried curry leaves. It was mixed into the dhal which intensified the gentle flavours. This is certainly one dish I will be adding to my list of regulars.
Fish eaters will be intrigued by Anna Haugh’s oat crusted hake with smoked mackerel chowder that elevates both these fish with an easy to follow recipe. Haugh, Best International Chef of the Year at the Food and Wine awards 2019, can be found at Myrtle Restaurant in Chelsea. Another wonderful fish recipe is created by Chris Golding of Pantechnicon, Belgravia, which explores Japanese and Nordic cuisine. His baked sea bream, smoked potatoes and aubergine with pistachio pesto looks fabulous. The only drawback for home chefs is sourcing the hay which is lit in the oven to smoke the potatoes and the fish. Perhaps those with access to a farm and a fire extinguisher on hand will try this one at home. Next time I am at the coast I will be trying Sally Abé’s devilled crab tartlets which I’m hoping will take my own cooking to Michelin Star level. Abé is Head Chef at Harwood Arms, Fulham, the only London pub to be awarded a Michelin star. One of my favourite chefs, Adam Handling shares his recipe for John Dory, Whey, Caviar, Broccoli. I only need to see the word ‘blowtorch’ in a recipe to know it is time to book a table at his fabulous Frog in Covent Garden. As you can tell, there’s an excellent selection of fish recipes in Recipes for Heroes!
Meat eaters will appreciate the quick cassoulet from Florent Regent, chef at Toulouse Lautrec near Kennington. There is also a marvellous goat recipe with blackberry shrub by Harriet Mansell from Robin Wylde, near Lyme Regis.
Vegetable lovers with time on their hands might have a go at Karan Ghosh’s spice roasted butternut squash which has a long list of ingredients but looks straight forward to prepare. I will do so once I have ordered panch phoron, tandoori powder and dry mango powder. I discovered all of these can be accessed online which has certainly given me some incentive to broaden the range of spices in my collection. Alternatively, I will be booking a table at The Drop Wine Bar which is situated in one of my favourite London haunts, Coal Drops Yard at Kings Cross.
The baking section in Recipes For Heroes is very accessible for home bakers. The benefit for readers of recipes by such creative chefs is that we can up our game by following their instructions. Apple cake with aged caramel soy sauce is certainly a cut above the apple cake I usually serve. It is created by Yorkshire chef Callum Bower, Head Chef at Horto Restaurant in Harrogate. For those who have tired during the past year of banana bread – so ‘first lockdown’ – there is a gorgeous bundt banana and walnut cake with Cointreau caramel and candied orange peel created by Kate Malcolm, previously Head Pastry Chef at Babylon in Kensington. I have this one planned for Easter by which time I am hoping to be able to share the cake with a few friends in my garden.
You can order a copy of Recipe For Heroes online at https://hospitalityforheroes.com/recipes-for-heroes/
Cheese muffins that can be eaten throughout the day
- 375 ml flour
- 15 ml baking powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 50 grams butter
- 350 grams grated cheese. grated use a mature cheddar
- 1 egg beaten
- 150 ml milk
- 12 cubes cheese to add to muffins
- chives chopped, to garnish
Preheat oven to 220 C
Sift the dry ingredients.
Cube the butter and rub into the dry ingredients.
Add the grated cheese and combine.
Add the beaten egg and the milk.
Mix together until it forms a moist batter.
Grease a 12 hole muffin tin and fill the moulds with batter.
Place a small cube of cheese into each muffin mould.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Garnish with chives.
If you are looking for a sweet muffin recipe do check out our rum and banana chocolate muffins