ANDREW PERN, owner and chef at the Star Inn, Harome, comes up with some bright ideas to get through a power cut
AFTER the tropical – unfortunately without the temperatures – downpour of rainforest proportions, the village of Harome was marooned at school run time on the other Friday morning (much to the joy of the kids).
Over the course of the morning, the water gradually seeped away and all seemed to be returning to normal when, just before service on Friday evening, all went silent and dark.
You guessed it, a power cut.
The timing was immaculate. We were plunged into darkness half-way through serving a wedding breakfast and with the Harome Cricket Club annual dinner group just about to arrive, as well as several other tables booked for the restaurant.
Fortunately, all were in a good party spirit. The cold starters prepared by lantern-light were a hit, while the steaks, cooked on a oneburner camping stove, were on the rare-side of medium rare.
The only thing boiling in the kitchen at the time was my blood.
Soon the gas ran out on the oneburner camping stove and we were only able to finish cooking the lamb shanks for the cricket club dinner across in the old kitchen in our hotel, which we normally use for breakfasts.
With enough wax candles to light the entire village and well-stoked open fires, the show went on.
The bride loved her romantic wedding by candlelight and the cricketing natives, deciding that they may as well stay put rather than return to their dark, cold homes, consoled themselves with even more drink.
A generator was brought into the village and power was restored – hurray – at about 11pm, helpfully, when all the chefs’ work was done.
However, with the electricity back on, there was something more to celebrate and the partying started afresh. Well done to all concerned.
The salmagundi is the ideal food to pull together in an emergency with the aid of a well-stocked fridge and larder.
Here is the version I did as my starter when I was on BBC Two’s Great British Menu, The People’s Banquet, but as you will gather from the photograph, the general idea is to have guests serving themselves (and each other) and to get the party started instead of sitting in the darkness.
Power to the people.
Salmagundi of North Country Produce (serves four)
45g kiln-smoked ham, sliced finely
45g Cumbrian venison salami, sliced finely
45g Black Combe Ham, sliced finely
45g Lakeland Salami, sliced finely
4 heads of baby fennel
8 stalks of purple sprouting broccoli
8 baby carrots
8 French breakfast radishes
1 golden beetroot
1 tiger beetroot
1 bull’s blood beetroot
400g heritage tomatoes (mixed colours and types), sliced
1 shallot, finely sliced
50g St George mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
8 mixed rainbow chard leaves
100g Doddington’s cheese shavings
Mixed seasonal fresh garden herbs: chives, dill, chervil, edible flowers, etc
1 punnet mustard cress
1 punnet celery cress
4 eggs, hard boiled
1 pinch curry powder
4 slices rye bread, lightly toasted
10g unsalted butter
Apple and Fennel Coleslaw
1 large bulb of fennel
A little lemon juice
For the dressing
60ml rapeseed oil
20ml cider vinegar
1 tsp English mustard
1 tsp runny honey
Celery salt in small shakers
First blanch and refresh the vegetables – fennel and broccoli for a minute and carrots for two minutes.
Boil the beetroot for five minutes, refresh and peel. Combine the dressing ingredients.
Fry off the mushrooms in a little butter for one to two minutes, and pour over a little dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, curry powder and seasoning and use with the eggs to make egg mayonnaise.
Place on small squares of rye bread toast or into a suitable vessel.
To make the coleslaw, first peel and grate the apples, then trim and grate the fennel, adding a little lemon juice to prevent it becoming brown. Season and mix in the mayonnaise.
Arrange all of the ingredients on a large platter, starting with the cured meats in a radiating pattern, then adding the various vegetables, tomatoes, leaves, mushrooms, coleslaw and eggs mayonnaise to maintain the pattern. Dress with cheese shavings, herbs and flowers. Arrange little celery salt shakers around for guests to season to their taste.
Robbing from the store cupboard again, here’s a recipe for a proper ‘snifter’ that will warm the cockles and would also be a welcome addition on a powerless autumn night. It will certainly help you sleep ‘til daylight comes around again.
Spiced Citrus Whisky
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 ltr whisky
Thinly peel the rind from the oranges, cut into thin strips and place in a jar or bottle. Squeeze out the juice and add to the jar, with the sugar and coriander seeds.
Pour over the whisky and seal, then shake the bottle to start to dissolve the sugar. Leave in a cool, dark place for a couple of months, occasionally shaking the bottle, then strain and rebottle.
The second recipe is taken from Loose Birds and Game by Andrew Pern, available from The Star Inn Corner Shop and all good booksellers.