Secret Kitchen menu, 18th January 2014

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smbloodorange0001.jpgFourth anniversary dinner


Blood orange cocktails

Deep-fried parsnips and lemons


Squash soup with blue cheese & hazelnuts


Beef short-ribs, polenta, curly kale


Blood orange trifle

 Bay and mulberry liqueurs

Tonight's dinner

This month the Secret Kitchen is four years old.  I have held a Secret Kitchen dinner here most months since returning to London at the end of 2009 after several years abroad.  I spent those years training to be a chef, working in restaurants, with caterers and in a cooking school, travelling for culinary research and writing about food.  Since then I have been giving cooking classes in London, and holding these monthly dinners.  They're my chance to dream up menus full of my favourite things, and also to experiment with new ideas.  I'm very grateful to the many people who have trusted me and come along despite usually not knowing the menu in advance!

Tonight's menu was inspired by the season.  January is great for blood oranges, lemons, parsnips, kale and warming dishes such as soup and polenta.  The soup mimics one I recently enjoyed at The Pavilion Cafe in Victoria Park.  The slow-cooked short-ribs are one of my favourite things.  I learnt the technique (quite laborious, involving five or so stages of preparation) while working at Chez Panisse in California.  Here I also learnt that good polenta needs to be coarse ground and slow-cooked for hours (and liberally enriched with butter and Parmesan...).  The trifles are my first ever.

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