I went to one of those pop-up/private dining kind of places last week – a tiny, 10 seater outfit called Crockers Chef’s Table. They deservedly call themselves ‘the most exciting restaurant new restaurant in the Three Counties’ – the food is exquisitely good, the experience novel and the two chaps running the show, the owner and the chef, are super-efficient and really pleasant.
The final stage of cooking and the plating up was done in front of us diners. What caught my attention was how tidy the chef was, cleaning up after each activity, no clutter on the prepping area, no mess or Gordon/Jamie style artistic chaos. And I think that is the true cheffing nature – Luke is the Masterchef finalist – and all the shouty, messy panache is just for show. Phew – nobody dare call me boringly obsessive again.
And now, what to cook: I like the idea of cheffy, but not too complicated dishes this week. Tomato crostata is going to be completely worth the effort of making pastry from scratch; and if you double the amount, the next dinner will be just about rolling the pastry out and stuffing it with tomatoes. Taking about stuffing: courgettes feature in this recipe but you can swap them for peppers, tomatoes or aubergines.
One night this week can be a steak night – with blue cheese and green vegetables, the preparation takes about 10 minutes. And for a meatless option, spinach casserole: throw some spinach into a dish, cover with cheese and it’s just as quick – only takes a bit longer to bake.
Another night must be fish: salmon baked with maple syrup glaze is gorgeous, and you can serve it with this smashed cucumber salad which is so good, you’ll keep the leftovers for snacking.
You never know if breakfasts are in or out these days, but for those who can’t imagine leaving the house hungry, homemade granola will tick a lot of boxes. It takes next to no effort to make and is really better than anything you buy. Or bake some plain scones on Sunday night and warm them over a toaster each morning – this is basically a two ingredient recipe. Looking forward to breakfast now!