Peter Gordon’s six delicious salad recipes

April 16, 2017

Chilli-roast sweet potatoes, smoked mackerel with beetroot and more delicious recipes from the New Zealand chefs new cookbook

New Zealand and Britain might be many thousands of miles apart, but when it comes to salad, the two nations remained as one well into the 1980 s. Comprising lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and perhaps( if you were really lucky) a little grated cheese or pickled beetroot, such a dish was only ever served with ham or for the seriously upwardly mobile chicken. We used to have ours with a mayonnaise made from condensed milk, malt vinegar and mustard, tells Peter Gordon, the Kiwi chef who has lived in London full-time since 1989. For years, I thought that was what mayonnaise was. He grins. My stepmother would have one head of garlic in the kitchen, and that would last us about a year. She would rub the salad bowl with an unpeeled clove, and then use it again six months later.

For old times sake, Gordons new book of salads for all seasons, Savour , includes a recipe for a condensed milk mayonnaise, even if he has swapped the mustard for the rather more modish wasabi paste. But, otherwise, it regards the past as another country: no iceberg lettuce, and surely no grated cheese. In fact, at this point, even a nicely roasted aubergine drizzled in tahini is starting to look a touch last century. This, his eighth book, dishes up a dazzling, Technicolor new world of umeboshi( a salted sour Japanese fruit) and shimeji mushrooms, of jicama( yam beans, apparently) and truffled honey. However, should you be impression intimidated what is freekeh again, and how exactly is it different from fregola? rest assured that there is also a recipe for a couscous and poached salmon number you could probably knock up in your sleep.

Salad is a main course now, he tells. But it should still be an achievable thing, something you are able to rustle up. His favourite recipe in the book is for burrata and heirloom tomatoes with a mango dressing which, presuming you can get your hands on the relevant ingredients spongey supermarket toms are not going to cut it here is the very definition of doable. It voices ridiculous. Mangoes dont grow in Italy, do they? But it comes together with such harmony. Its delicious.

Gordon, who brought his still-mourned restaurant the Sugar Club to Notting Hill in 1996, made his name with unlikely combinations; anyone whos come to dread the word fusion must lay much of the blamed at his doorway, for all that he did it so much better than most( and still does, perhaps: his current restaurant, the Providores, in Marylebone, remains full to bursting every night ). Fusion is everywhere now, he tells. But back then, it actually wasnt, even in Australia. As an apprentice cook in Melbourne, his college lecturers, weaned on French sauces, were dismissive of Gordons weird ideas, bear of the Damascene moment when he savor silken tofu for the first time; and it was the same when he arrived in London, doing transformations at the likes of Launceston Place in Kensington.

The whole culture was different then. It was terrible. These nasty basement kitchens with no windows, the chefs and the waiters never talking. In the years between arriving in London and finally opening the Sugar Club an incarnation of a restaurant he and his then partners had run in Wellington he learned a lot, the main thing being that its best not to work for arseholes. No one in Britain had heard of Gordon and his laksa, which was difficult, but perhaps also served only to harden his conviction that one day London would go wild for coconut, daikon and all the rest.

Gordon lives alone in a small, groovy terraced house in London Fields, and youve merely to take one look at its kitchen to know that he is a cook who loves to cook in his free time as well as in the working hours( this isnt always the case ): the counters are laden with bottles and bowls; on the hob is a grenade-like bit of kit in which coffee beans may be roasted over a gas flame. These days, he spends about 20 hours a week at the stove at the Providores, dividing the rest of his time between his other restaurant Kopapa in Covent Garden, Crosstown Doughnuts in Soho, of which he was one of the founders, and his New Zealand eateries, Bellota and the Sugar Club( mark four ). Even so, at least once a week, therell be eight people at his table here. Feeding people is in his nature.

Where did it come from, this love for the kitchen? Hes not sure. He grew up in Whanganui, a coastal township on New Zealands North Island. His father was an engineer who liked to render his own beef fat. Everything was cooked in it. I used to dislike it. The first time I savor fish and chips that had been cooked in sunflower oil, it was a revelation. When he was seven, the familys deep fat fryer fell on top of him; his burns were so bad, he required skin grafts. But though this only added to his disgust of the oil inside it, it didnt set him off cooking: I lost a year of school, but I frankly have no bad memories of that time.

It was while hitchhiking through south-east Asia after college that he got interested in the kind of ingredients with which he is now associated. When I was at the Sugar Club[ in Wellington ], a Malaysian family used to come in for my laksa. It wasnt authentic but they loved it. The owners of the Sugar Club had taken a punt on him, because at this point( 1986 ), hed never run a kitchen on his own. They gave me free rein, and I did everything. We made our own bread, chutney, goats cheese and we dried our own tomatoes this was before sun-dried tomatoes became something you dont talk about.

In his 50 s now, he shows no sign of simplifying his life any time soon. The portfolio does need managing, he tells, pulling his fingers through his hair distractedly. I do want to travel for work less. I started learning the cello, but didnt have the time for the lessons. But Alastair has this property in the Australian shrub that hes always thought would make a good cookery school, so Alastair is his partner, Alastair Carruthers, a leading lawyer and champ of the arts in New Zealand, who is moving to London later this year to be with him, a huge bargain for them both. Will he always have a restaurant? Yes, of this hes certain and likely in London, a city he has come to think of as his own. Ive lived here longer than I ever lived in New Zealand. Its still so exciting to me. Even when its hard, its a privilege to be here.

Roast chicken, kumquats, black garlic, kale and avocado

Roast
Photograph: Lisa Linder

Black garlic is a delicious fermented garlic that adds a lovely treacle-caramel flavour and depth to dishes without a strong raw-garlic aftertaste. It is becoming easier to discovery, but if you have no luck, you can use regular garlic. Kumquats are great here, too, adding a slight bitterness because you use them unpeeled; if unavailable, substitute thinly sliced lemon, mandarins or oranges. Avocado oil works well in any dish that contains avocado. It has a high burning point, which means it is terrific for roasting and pan-frying.

For 6 as a main: serve warm or at room temperature
boneless chicken thighs 8
black garlic cloves 8, sliced
kumquats 8, unpeeled, thinly sliced
fresh rosemary ( or fresh thyme or oregano or a mix ) 2 tsp
sunflower seeds 4 tbsp
avocado oil 2 tbsp
red onion 1 small, thinly sliced into rings
kale 200 g, thick stems discarded
avocados 2
lemon juice 2 tbsp
cucumber 1, objective discarded, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4. Place the chicken thighs, garlic, kumquats, rosemary and sunflower seeds in a roasting dish. Pour on the avocado oil and 2 tablespoons of water and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together. Roast, turning the chicken several times while cooking, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is golden and crispy, about 30 -4 0 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle, then cut each thigh into four or five slices.

While the chicken is cooking, soak the onion in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, blanch or steam the kale for three minutes. Tip-off it into a colander and, when it is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much water as you are able to, then coarsely shred it.

Remove the flesh from the avocados and cut into chunks. Mix with the lemon juice to prevent it going brown.

To serve, toss the kale, onion, cucumber and avocado together and lay it on the bottom of a serving dish. Lay the chicken on top then spoon over the contents of the roasting dish.

Crusty cooked wasabi mushrooms, spinach, tomato, orange, dill and grated egg

Crusty
Photograph: Lisa Linder

As a child Id merely ever eaten big open field mushrooms sliced and fried in butter or grilled on the barbecue after wed harvested them ourselves. My father, Bruce, would drive our Chevrolet Impala slowly across various farmers fields and me and my siblings would lie on our bellies behind the front seat, with our heads, shoulders and limbs out of the car, and pull them out of the ground. Thankfully, Dad was a very safe driver! If you dont have wasabi to hand, replace it with mustard or horseradish. Its worth the effort to peel the tomatoes for this salsa, but if youre short of time you are able to skip this.

For 4 as brunch; serve warm or at room temperature
portobello mushrooms 8( about 600 g)
butter 70 g
garlic 2 cleaves, finely chopped
rosemary tsp, finely chopped
wasabi paste 1 tsp( more or less to savor)
coarse white breadcrumbs( or use Japanese panko crumbs ) 150 g
tomatoes 3 large, blanched and peeled
oranges 2, peeled and pith removed, segments removed and any juice saved
dill 3 tbsp, coarsely shredded
extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp
newborn spinach or other newborn salad foliage 150 g
eggs 4 large, soft boiled and peeled

Preheat the oven to 170 C/ gas mark 3. If the mushrooms have thick stems, cut them out and thinly slice. Lay the mushrooms in one or two baking dishes, open side face to face. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium hot with the garlic, rosemary and sliced mushroom stems( if use ), and cook until the garlic turns golden, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the hot. Mix the wasabi paste with 1 tablespoon of water to form a slurry and stir into the butter. Stir in the breadcrumbs thoroughly. Spoon this concoction on top of the mushrooms and cook until the crumbs are golden, about 20 minutes.

Cut the tomatoes in half crossways and gently squeeze out the seeds, or use a teaspoon to scoop them out. Cut the tomato flesh into chunks and mix with the orange segments and juice. Add the dill and olive oil, season with salt and coarse black pepper and stir.

To serve, divide the spinach among your plates and sit the mushrooms on top. Spoon on the tomato and orange and then, use a coarse grater, grate the eggs over the top.

Chilli-roast sweet potato, courgettes, roast garlic, hazelnuts and pears

Chilli-roast
Photograph: Lisa Linder

This is one for the middle of the table, although it also makes a tasty starter with goats curd dolloped on top, or even some thinly sliced smoked chicken breast. You dont need to boil the garlic, but it stimulates it a bit more mellow.

For 8 as a side dish; serve warm or at room temperature
garlic 1 head, broken into separate( unpeeled) cloves
sweet potatoes 1kg, scalps scrubbed, cut lengthways into wedges
pears 2 large, halved, core removed, cut into thin wedges
red chillies 1 or 2, thinly sliced
rosemary foliages 1 tbsp
olive oil 2 tbsp
sesame oil 2 tbsp
courgettes 3( around 600 g ), quartered lengthways
hazelnuts 100 g, scalps off, roughly chopped
newborn spinach 100 g( or use large-leaf spinach and coarsely shred it)

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4. Put the garlic in a pan, encompas with 3cm water and add teaspoon of fine salt. Bring to the simmer, then cook over a medium hot until the water has almost evaporated. Drain.

Put the garlic, sweet potatoes, pears, chillies, rosemary, olive oil and half the sesame oil into a roasting dish. Sprinkle on 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, flinging twice.

Add the courgettes, hazelnuts and remaining sesame oil and toss together, then cook until the pears and sweet potato are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the spinach.

Farro, capers, herb-baked tomatoes, roast carrots and Parmesan

Farro,
Farro, capers, herb-baked tomatoes, roast carrots and Parmesan Photograph: Lisa Linder

I enjoy farros texture and use it in salads such as this, but also serve it mixed with chopped roast cauliflower flung with tahini and yogurt, or mixed into raw minced beef or lamb to induce patties for the barbecue. Roast tomatoes are great at the high levels of summer when cooking stimulates them even sweeter, while in cooler months roasting will improve the flavour of hothouse-raised ones.

For 6 as a starter or side; serve warm or at room temperature
farro 300 g, rinsed and drained
onion , chopped
bay foliage 1
newborn capers 3 tbsp
red wine vinegar 2 tbsp
carrots 3, peeled and tops cut off, halved lengthways
extra virgin olive oil 4 tbsp
fresh thyme leaves 1 tsp
plum tomatoes 6, halved lengthways
oregano 1 tsp, roughly chopped
rosemary tsp chopped
rocket 2 handfuls
parmesan 50 g, shaved with a sharp knife

Preheat the oven to 170 C/ gas mark 3. Put the farro in a medium pan, encompas with 3cm of cold water and add the onion and bay foliage. Bring to the simmer and put a lid on the pan. Reduce the hot to a rapid simmer and cook until tender, about 40 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of flaky salt after 20 minutes. Drain in a colander, then transfer to a great bowl. Savour for seasoning and mix in the capers and vinegar. Leave to cool.

While the farro is cooking, lay the carrots in a roasting dish, drizzle on 2 tablespoons of the oil and half the thyme, then season with salt and pepper and add 2 tablespoons of water. Roast until cooked, about 30 minutes; you should be able to easily insert a sharp knife through them.

Cut each into five or six pieces on an angle. Lay the tomato halves, cut side up, on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Mix the oregano, rosemary and the remaining thyme and 2 tablespoons of oil and drizzle this on the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 40 -5 0 minutes until the tomatoes have shrunk a little and coloured slightly. To serve, toss the rocket loosely through the farro and divide among your plates. Sit the carrots and tomatoes on top, pour on any roasting juices from either and scatter with the parmesan shavings.

Butternut squash with coconut, radicchio, chicory and feta

Butternut
Photograph: Lisa Linder

You could use pumpkin instead of butternut, or even celeriac or parsnips. I cracked open a whole coconut, then used a vegetable peeler to peel strips off it but you are able to simply use any desiccated coconut. If feta isnt your thing, then replace it with coarsely grated pecorino, manchego, aged cheddar or parmesan.

For 4 as a starter or 6 as a side; serve warm or at room temperature
butternut squash flesh 600 g, cut into large chunks
pumpkin seeds 3 tbsp
cumin seeds tsp
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp
desiccated coconut 40 g( or fresh coconut, 100 g, shredded)
radicchio head, cut lengthways
white or red chicory 1
feta 125 g, crumbled
chives 2 tbsp, snipped
pomegranate seeds from
lemon juice 1 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 170 C/ gas mark 3. Put the butternut in a roasting dish with the pumpkin seeds and cumin seeds, 1 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water. Season with a little salt( not too much as feta is salty) and black pepper and mix together. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then stir in the coconut. Continue cooking, flinging every 10 minutes, until the butternut has coloured and you are able to insert a knife through it with little resistance. It should take about 30 -4 5 minutes.

Separate the foliages of the radicchio, discarding the thick white stems. Tear up the larger ones. Cut the base from the chictory and separate the foliages. Cut the larger leaves in half lengthways.

To serve, simply toss everything together with the remaining olive oil, tasting for seasoning.

Smoked mackerel, beetroot, egg, apple and dill miso mustard dressing

smoked

The slightly bitter hints that smoking gives to a piece of fish and a generally sweetish remedy is a perfect combining in my opinion. You can use any smoked fish for this. There are many different styles of miso paste but generally the pale ones, such as shiromiso( white miso ), will be sweeter, whereas darker ones, such as hatchomiso, will be more savoury. Taste the dres to make sure it has a good combining of sweet and savoury.

For 4 as a lunchtime dish; serve warm or at room temperature
beetroot 2 medium
extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp
lemon juice 2 tbsp
Chioggia ( striped) beetroot 1 small, for garnish
smoked mackerel fillets 400 g( about 4)
newborn salad leaves 1 handful
eggs 4, soft boiled and peeled
apple 1

For the dill mustard dressing
lemon juice 2 tbsp
pale miso paste tsp
grain mustard 1 tsp
English mustard tsp
caster sugar tsp
fresh dill 2 tsp chopped
extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp

Preheat the oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4. Wash any clay off the two beetroot, then wrap them up together tightly in foil. Place in a roasting dish and cook in the middle of the oven until you are able to insert a thin sharp knife or skewer through the foil into the centre of the beetroot. This will take anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes depending on different sizes. Remove from the oven and leave until cool enough to handle. Still wearing gloves, unwrap from the foil and then use your fingers, and a small knife if needed, to rub and peel off the skins.

Thickly slice the roast beetroot while still warm and toss with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and salt and pepper, then leave to cool.

Peel the Chioggia beet and slice as thin as possible into rings a mandoline is ideal. Put in iced water to crisp up.

Make the dres. Mix the lemon juice into the miso paste to form a slurry. Mix in both mustards and sugar. Eventually stir in the dill and the olive oil.

Remove the skin, bones and blood line from the mackerel, then break into chunks. To serve, scatter the salad leaves on four plates. Lay the roast beetroot slice on top, then the mackerel and Chioggia beets. Cut the eggs in half and julienne the apple, discarding the core, and sit these on top. Spoon over the dres. OFM

Extracted from Savour: Salads for all Seasons by Peter Gordon( Jacqui Small, 25 ). Click here to order a transcript for 20 from Guardian Bookshop

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