If you can’t handle the heat, they say, stay out of the kitchen. Well Theo Randall can handle the heat. And what’s more — he misses it. The acclaimed British chef was forced to shut down over lockdown; locking up his celebrated restaurant, Theo Randall at the InterContinental, back in March. And he’s been yearning for several choice pieces of his professional kitchen kit ever since.
“Our pasta machine!” he exclaims. “It’s a simple Imperia Professional, but it’s a lot bigger than my little faithful baby Imperia, and makes rolling so much easier. I’ve also missed the luxury of having lots of fridge space, like our walk-in fridge at the InterContinental. But I have a very nice kitchen at home, so I haven’t missed many bits of cooking equipment.”
Randall has spent his lockdown at home, spoiling his university-age children with restaurant-quality food. His son Max, the chef says, told him that self-isolating hasn’t been too bad given all the top-notch meals.
“Breakfast has been important,” adds Randall, “as my kids haven’t got a lot of time at lunch because they’re studying online. So it’s become a sort of brunch — and I have perfected cooking eggs every single way! In general, I’ve cooked a lot of vegetable dishes during lockdown. I haven’t been eating much meat — but have been able to get hold of some lovely fish. I bought a huge red mullet from my local fishmonger, and roasted it on top of potatoes with fennel, tomatoes, capers and olives. It was amazing — if I do say so myself…”
"I have perfected cooking eggs every single way!"
Randall, who cut his teeth at The River Café, has also been whipping up a new cookbook during lockdown — doing a lot of recipe testing at home. As it’s written for home cooks, Randall says that it’s worked out quite well — as he can’t be tempted down shortcuts by professional machinery.
“As a chef,” he says, “you get used to having fantastic kitchen equipment at your disposal, like super-duper ice cream machines that give you perfect gelato in 20 minutes. One of the recipes I’ve had to adapt at home is ice creams — I made a sugar syrup, froze my fresh raspberries and then blitzed it all to a smooth texture and placed it in the freezer. It turned out perfectly!”
The plan for now is to re-open Theo Randall at the InterContinental, on London’s Park Lane, sometime later this year. “The rest of 2020 is going to be very challenging,” admits the chef, “and normality still seems some time away.”
For now, however, Randall has offered Gentleman’s Journal the recipe for his Frittata con funghi — to tide us over. “I always love making a frittata, and during lockdown I made a lot using courgettes, English asparagus, spinach and artichoke. But, for me, the Frittata con fungi is the ultimate frittata. I managed to get some fresh porcini the other day and made this for a late lunch. It’s just the best dish if you have any wild mushrooms.”
Ideal for upcoming autumn, Randall says this recipe is perfect with porcini mushrooms — which are readily available from July until October. If you can’t find them fresh, however, use dried porcini and portobello mushrooms as in the recipe below.
Frittata con funghi, for 4 people
- 50g dried porcini mushrooms
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 400g portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 6 organic eggs
- 100ml double cream
- 50g unsalted butter
- Sprig of parsley, chopped
- 100g ricotta cheese
- 75g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the dried porcini in a bowl, pour over boiling water to cover and set aside to soak.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large heavy-based saucepan. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the portobello mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes until the mushrooms are dark and all the moisture from them has evaporated.
3. Squeeze out the porcini mushrooms (reserve the soaking liquid), then add to the pan and stir with the portobello mushrooms. Add the soaking liquid, leaving any sediment behind in the bowl, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
4. Preheat the grill to high. Whisk the eggs with the cream in a bowl, just to mix. Heat a small ovenproof frying pan(about 20cm diameter) and add the butter. When the butter is foaming, pour in the egg mix and beat with a fork, then let the eggs set on the base.
5. Spoon the mushrooms, chopped parsley, ricotta and Parmesan over the eggs. Place the pan under the grill and cook for a minute or so to set the top of the frittata. Serve hot or cold.
Want more lockdown recipes? Try this buttermilk chicken dish from Paul Ainsworth…
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