Michelin Chef Nigel Haworth and Kay Johnson MBE share their favourite Comfort Food recipes
Nothing beats the taste of comfort food - as Nigel and Kay confirm.
(5 photos attached -wlep nigel haworth shed sessions - 4 (Nigel in Shed where his videos are made), plus Nigel portrait by tree,( wlep etc pic 6) (latter could go as a plug pic) ; Nigel Haworth hot pot; Nigel Haworth’s Garden Apple Crumble and pic of kay Johnson with loads of veg is wlep the larder local 5
Where does a foodie turn to when they want comfort food? After the austerity and anxiety that the pandemic has brought and the possible excesses of Christmas and New Year we posed the question to two of Lancashire’s top culinary experts - what is your ultimate comfort food?
For Michelin starred top chef, Nigel Haworth, former Joint Managing Director at Northcote Manor at Langho, near Whalley, the answer was a Lancashire hotpot and a Garden Apple Crumble.
For Kay Johnson MBE of Preston Larder shepherdess pie with lentils and sweet potato mash topping followed by a special crumble wins her vote.
Nigel said: “When did I first develop a love of hotpot- when I was at Northcote really. I came back from working in Switzerland and when I came back to Northcote I tried to cook with some provenance - using local ingredients was how I felt I wanted to cook.”
He held his Michelin star for more than 20 years while in his top role at Northcote and said: “It meant an awful lot to me ...it’s the ultimate accolade for chefs.”
He continued: “All comfort food should give you a sense of nostalgia. It’s got tradition and heritage and it makes you feel good. Whether it’s apple crumble or hotpot it’s a definition of simplicity and bringing people together - and it’s comforting to eat. Comfort foods aren’t complicated things. They are things that just please you easily.”
Nigel, who in the future hopes to open his own restaurant, has been creating his own Food With Roots cooking videos during lockdown in his development kitchen - a specially converted shed in the back garden of his Ribble Valley home. A Food With Roots hotpot is now on sale at a major supermarket and the garden crumble features in the new Nigel Haworth Food with Roots Shed Sessions on YouTube where he demonstrates how to create signature dishes.
The recipes he has shared today with our readers provide midwinter culinary comfort in abundance.
For his favourite hotpot he shared a top tip to speed up the cooking process, taking an hour or more off the cooking time. He advised “Blanch the (sliced) potatoes in hot chicken stock before until just cooked through, then remove into a colander and allow to cool, then place on top as usual.”
He advises serving the hotpot with pickled cabbage. Meanwhile his favoured lamb for the dish is heather reared Bowland lamb. He suggests home cooks to use the best local lamb from their region.
For pudding Nigel looks to a comforting crumble and again shares a special tip - mix variety of apples or select what is available in season locally and the different varieties will provide different textures and of course, flavours. The Carnatian Cream recipe is a reminder of his childhood, when he remembers the tinned cream being savoured.
For the video demonstration Nigel used a selection of freshly picked locally grown apples including Spartan, Howgate Wonder and Orange Pippin apples as well as Bramley apples.
NIGEL’S HOTPOT (serves four)
1 kg under shoulder, neck and shin of lamb, cut into 3/4 cm pieces and trimmed of all fat
700g thinly sliced onions
1 kilo peeled King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes,
25g plain flour or corn flour
40g salted English butter - melted
150ml chicken stock
3 tsp sea salt
EQUIPMENT: Hotpot dish- diameter 8 inches/21 cm, height 3.5 inches/9 cm.
1.Season the lamb with 1 level teaspoon of salt and a good pinch of pepper. Dust with flour and place lamb into the base of the hotpot dish.
2.Sweat off the onions in 15g of butter with 1 level teaspoon of salt for four to five minutes (sweat means cook without colour in a covered pan on a moderate to hot temperature). Spread the onions evenly on top of the lamb in the hotpot dish.
3.Slice the potatoes horizontally (3-4 mm thick). Place in a medium size bowl, add the remaining 25 g melted butter, season with 1 level teaspoon of salt and a pinch of white pepper, mix well.
4.Put the sliced potatoes evenly on top of the onions, reserving the best shaped rounds for the final layer and add the chicken stock.
5.Place the hotpot, covered in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes on 180-200c, then for approximately three hours on 130C
6.Remove from the oven, take off the lid or the cover, return to the oven on 180 -200C for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
NIGEL’S GARDEN APPLE CRUMBLE WITH CARNATION MILK CREAM (serves four).
550g garden apples (make sure they are washed before using)
100g golden granulated sugar
125g plain flour
25g almond flour
50 gm sugar
Pinch baking powder
60g diced Salted Butter
Icing sugar duster
1.Peel and core the apples, (reserve the peel on the eating apples). chop up the apples into wedges then slice into 1cm thick slices.
2.Place in a pan with the sugar and cook until the apples start to break a little and most of the juices are reduced away. Place in the cooking vessel and allow to cool.
3.Make the crumble by adding all the dry ingredients in your bowl, then add the cold diced butter and rub until a fine crumble is formed.
4.Place the mix on top of the apples and bake in a hot oven 180c for 40-50 minutes
5.Take the apple peel and dust well with Icing sugar and then roll into a spiral shape, bake for 10 minutes at 190c, take out and allow to cool. The apples should be golden brown and crisp.
6.To prepare apple puree take 300g Peeled Bramley apples and 50g sugar, cook together and then pureed
400g Carnation Milk
100g Apple puree
200g Natural yoghurt.
Mix well together. In the video Nigel uses an espuma gun (a tool used to make a froth or foam) to prepare the cream for serving.
Put the Carnation Cream in the middle of plate, sit the Garden Apple Crumble on top. Add the baked apple peel on top, then dust with the cinnamon and icing sugar and serve.
KAY’S TOP TIPS
Kay Johnson favours featuring whatever vegetables or fruit are available in season in her cooking.
The Preston Larder founder was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s birthday Honours list for her work with the city social enterprise, which works to eliminate food poverty and empower people to cook healthily using local produce when possible.
She said: “Cooking a fruit crumble is go to comfort food. Things like roast vegetables are great and a pie for me!
The whole thing of making and eating a pie - it just feels wholesome and healthy.”
Kay is not thinking of pastry makes here, more the traditional cottage pie idea, but with a twist.
She said: “One thing I really like is a lentil cottage pie with loads of vegetables and lentils and species. I make that with a sweet potato mash. I feel like it’s wholesome. I might add a bit of chilli,(not very much), well crushed garlic, cumin seeds and dry coriander. I just fry them up with onions and celery, I’ll chop up the celery into small pieces. I’ll add something like carrots or whatever vegetables I have in. I might put in some mushrooms and then the lentils and a bit of vegetable stock and cook that with a tin of tomatoes.”
The Preston Larder’s recipe for Shepherdess Pie features in the Preston Larder video recipes on its YouTube channel.
When it comes to pudding time Kay favours a crumble using ingredientsto hand in the kitchen to add variety. She said: “I use oats and seeds and sometimes almonds, making it a bit different. I use brown sugar to give a rich taste and wholemeal flour. You can make it with whatever fruit you have that’s going slightly overripe. My favourite is rhubarb and ginger. The ginger root can be grated into the crumble or you can put it in with the rhubarb. It’s just warming and comforting - it reminds me of being cosy by a fire on a cold winter’s day.”
If rhubarb is out of season tinned drained rhubarb could be substituted.
The recipes Kay has shared give the basics but different fruit can be substituted and as, explained above, extra ingredients can be added to the crumble and different spices and herbs can be added to the pie, which can be topped with mashed potato or mashed sweet potato according to preference.
PRESTON LARDER’S SHEPHERDESS PIE
1 Tbsp olive or sunflower Oil
1 onion (peeled and chopped)
1 garlic clove (peeled and
pressed or chopped finely)
Carrots (washed, peeled and
2 celery sticks (washed and
5-6 mushrooms (washed and
½ Tsp Mixed Herbs
1 Cup red lentils
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 x vegetable stock cube
2 cups of water (off the boil)
4 Potatoes (washed, peeled and halved)
1 Tbsp butter/margarine
3 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp cheese
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1.Heat the oven to 200C, fan oven 180, Gas Mark 6
2. Prepare vegetables (peel and slice/crush garlic; peel and slice onion;
wash, peel and chop the carrots; wash and slice mushrooms and celery; peel, wash and halve potatoes)
.3.Turn the hob to a medium heat and place saucepan over the hob
4. Pour oil into the saucepan and heat the oil slowly.
5. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the hot oil in saucepan (being careful not to splash oil).
6. Gently fry the vegetable mix for five minutes until soft and lightly golden.
7. Add 1/2 teaspoon of mixed herbs and mushrooms to the vegetable mix and stir.
8 Add 1 cup of dried red lentils, 2 cups of water (just off the boil) and
crumble in the stock cube.
9. Add tinned tomatoes and stir well. 10. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, (stirring occasionally).
11. Wash, peel and cut the potatoes into halves. Place the potatoes in a separate saucepan, pour over enough water (just off the boil) to cover them. Boil the potatoes gently for approx 15 minutes. (Check the potatoes are
soft by piercing with a knife in the centre.)
*Drain potatoes carefully and add 3 tablespoons of milk, 1 tablespoon
butter/margarine, salt and pepper (to taste) and mash with a fork or potato
To assemble the pie: spoon the lentil/veg mix carefully into an oven-proof
dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top and sprinkle with cheese.
* Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown in colour.
RHUBARB AND GINGER CRUMBLE
2 lb (900 g) rhubarb
4 oz (100 g) brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh root ginger
For the crumble
3 oz (75g) chilled butter, cut into small dice
4oz (150g) flour, sifted
4oz (150g) oatmeal
4 oz (100 g) brown sugar
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
1.Wash the rhubarb, then trim off the leaves and cut the stalks roughly into 1 inch (2.5 cm) chunks. Toss them in a bowl with the sugar and freshly grated root ginger, then place them in the baking dish and keep on one side.
2.In a large bowl, rub the butter into the sifted flour until it resembles crumbs, then stir in the oatmeal and sugar.
3.Sprinkle the crumble mixture all over the rhubarb, spreading it right up to the edges of the dish.
Bake the crumble on the centre shelf of the oven for 35-40 minutes, by which time the rhubarb will be soft and the topping golden brown and crisp.
*Leave the crumble to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving, then serve it warm with custard, pouring cream or ice cream.