Try This: Alpen Macaroni

Kitchen management is a challenge at the best of times. Throw in a global pandemic, a nationwide lockdown and several shopping restrictions, and we’ve got a task on our hands. 

But, with a bit of time, some creativity – and with the ability to digitally share our recipes and ideas – we’ll be able to share some easy-to-follow recipes in each newsletter bulletin. First up, it’s my Alpen Macaroni… 

In the mid 70s I spent a couple of years working in Switzerland, mainly in the Engadine Mountains around St Moritz and Davos. This pasta dish was always a big hit at the staff table. Hot, cheesy and comforting – it’s quick, simple and cheap to make; perfect lockdown food!

The apple sauce is a bit of an oddity – a peculiarly Swiss thing, but it really helps cut through the richness of the pasta gratin. Try it with a leaf salad and a fairly sharp, mustard dressing.

 

 

ALPEN MACARONI

INGREDIENTS:

225g Maris Piper (or other maincrop potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5cm cubes)
125g macaroni or penne
15g butter
1 finely diced onion
70g streaky bacon, cut into chunks
2tbls white wine
140ml chicken stock
240ml whipping cream
Salt and pepper, to season
½tbsl chopped parsley
25g grated Gruyere cheese

METHOD:

  • Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the potatoes. Simmer for 3 or 4 minutes before throwing in the pasta.
  • Continue cooking until the potatoes are tender and the pasta al dente. Drain in a colander.
  • Melt the butter in a wide pan and sweat the onions and bacon until the onions are soft.
  • Add the wine, scraping the base of the pan to release any tasty residue.
  • Simmer and reduce the wine by half, then add the stock and cream.
  • Add the pasta/potato mix and simmer on a low heat until the liquids are absorbed and the mixture is thick and unctuous.
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper before stirring in the chopped parsley.
  • Transfer to an ovenproof dish, scatter the grated cheese over the top and glaze under the grill or in a hot oven.
  • Serve with apple sauce on the side, and a green salad.

 

APPLE SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

300g Bramley apples
½ cinnamon stick
1 clove
1 pinch grated nutmeg
¼ lemon (juice)
½tsp caster sugar
2tbsl water
1½tsp butter

METHOD:

  • Peel, core and dice the apples.
  • Put into a stainless steel pan with the sugar, lemon juice, water, butter and spices.
  • Cover and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, or until the apples collapse.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and clove, then puree the apples with a hand blender.
  • Cool and serve.
  • This will make more than you need, but it freezes well. You can use a store-bought alternative if you wish. You won’t get the sack!

Store-Cupboard Staple: Bay Leaves

I bet you’ve all had a look in the kitchen cupboard and thought, ‘what the hell am I going to do with this?’, more so than ever in recent weeks! 

The truth is, we’re all in this strange scenario together, and if we’re going to put a positive spin on it, let’s think of cooking as a challenge – a chance to unleash our creative side.  

With that in mind, I’m going to be setting fortnightly tasks for some of our team. My first ‘store-cupboard challenge’ goes to our Café 21 Head Chef, Kev Pratt. 

We’ve all been tasked with tackling those forgotten-about store-cupboard products. You’ve probably all got a jar of out-of-date bay leaves in the cupboard somewhere. How can we put them to good use in the kitchen?  

Let’s see what Kev can do with those bay leaves. 

Over to you, Kev…

 

 

BAY LEAVES

Often used either on their own or as part of a classic bouquet garni, bay leaves are at the foundation of flavoursome cooking. Think of bay as more of a spice than a herb; at its best when used with other ingredients to enhance herbal warmth or depth of spice.

Originally from the Mediterranean, bay leaves are one of the few herbs to grow as a tree, which makes them very different in the way they are enjoyed in food.

Use them to flavour and enhance your cooking. They release fragrance and flavour best when cooked slowly, so that is why you’ll often find them in soups and stews, but they also work well in desserts, such as rice pudding and crème brûlée.

Bay has been used medicinally since the middle ages, and contains vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and magnesium. Try dropping two leaves into boiling water with a pinch of sugar and cinnamon for a restorative drink.

 

3 WAYS TO COOK WITH BAY AT HOME

 

SCOTCH BROTH

[serves 4]

  • Gently fry 2 chopped onions in a little oil.
  • Add 250g each of chopped carrots, turnips (or swede) and 2 chopped celery stalks. Season well and sweat for a few minutes.
  • Add a handful of pearl barley and a handful of soaked split peas, then top up with stock and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour.

 

‘COQ AU VIN’

[serves 4]

  • Sweat 2 chopped shallots in a buttered casserole dish, then stir in 3 crushed garlic cloves, 50g chopped streaky bacon, dried thyme and 2 bay leaves.
  • Cook for a minute, then add 100g button mushrooms and 8 chicken thighs. Cook further to brown the chicken.
  • Add two teaspoons of flour and stir to incorporate, then add 600ml chicken stock and a glass of red wine.
  • Bring to a boil then simmer very gently for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

 

BAY-INFUSED RICE PUDDING

[serves 4]

  • Add 1 bay leaf to 500ml milk, 100g pudding rice, 60g sugar and 1 vanilla pod, and simmer very gently until the rice is soft.
  • Soak 1 gelatine leaf in cold water for 5 minutes, squeeze out then add to the rice.
  • Remove the bay. Whisk 130ml double cream into peaks and mix in 65ml natural yoghurt. Add to the rice with 30g raisins.
  • Pour into 4 moulds and chill for an hour.

 

Share what you do with your bay leaves on social media using the hashtag, #21LockdownChallenge. 

A Day in the Life of… 21 Boss, Terry Laybourne

How I’m staying safe and keeping motivated at home during lockdown…

 

 

I GET UP ON A MORNING FOR… Right now it’s bizarre. Things are way too leisurely for me.

 

BREAKFAST IS… Bircher muesli and a slice of sourdough toast, with probably too much butter, Dan’s marmalade, and black coffee. I’m partial to the odd bowl of Coco Pops, too!

 

TO STAY ACTIVE, I… Try my best to exercise for an hour each day, either on my bike or walking in the countryside around us with Susan and our Airedale Terrier, Ernie.

 

TO UNWIND, I… Cook every day at the moment – which, for me, is a joy. I’m loving the challenge of cooking from the hip, using stuff up; opening the fridge or cupboard and trying to figure out what best to do with what I’ve got in front of me.

 

I’M WATCHING… Just finished binge-watching a Swedish cop thriller called Before You Die on All 4. It was captivating and dark… I really like this type of Scandi crime drama. I’ve also been enjoying our pal Roger Crosby knocking out some great tunes on Facebook. Check it out here.  

 

I’M READING… The Apprentice by Jacques Pepin (on audio). It’s a great, uplifting story that charts the career of a great chef. A must-read for anyone in our business. I’ve also got a Michael Connolly novel on the go, as I daren’t read anything remotely work-related before bed, otherwise I’ll never sleep. 

 

I’M LISTENING TO… A mixed bag really. Over the last few days I’ve been listening to The Fun Lovin Criminals Mimosa, Imelda May’s Life Love Flesh Blood, Robert Palmer’s Sneekin’ Sally Through the Alley, A Paul Weller Live album and a load of old soul compilations. All seriously good ‘kitchen music’!

 

SOMEWHERE I’D RATHER BE… Back to work and on the tools, I really miss it.

 

THREE TOP TIPS FOR STAYING AT HOME… Create a varied routine and try to stick to it. Stay active. Challenge yourself by learning something new – I’ve put a teach yourself French app on my phone… honestly, I’ve been learning the French language on and off for the last fifty years! If you fancy giving it a go and beating me to it, the download link is here.

 

DURING LOCKDOWN, I HAVE LEARNT… That time can run away with you, unless you make a conscious effort to get stuff done! If you’re not careful you can get up and go back to bed without achieving anything at all, which can be seriously demoralising.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY… “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

Stay Well at Home with Storm Fitness

Keeping moving and staying active is key for physical and mental wellbeing during these tough times. Our work is physically demanding, so it’s my job to make sure you’re all match fit and ready to take up the challenge when we return to work. 

I’ve called on Ted Winter – PT and co-owner of Storm Fitness – to offer his top tips on how to stay well from the home. 

Ted’s the guy behind Chris Eagle’s 50kg+ weight loss transformation – so he knows a thing or two when it comes to shedding pounds, lifting spirits or just releasing endorphins to keep our bodies going.

Over to you, Ted… 

 

 

Ted’s Tips

I’ve worked with quite a few hospitality workers over the past five years and understand the lifestyle challenges and the punishment daily deadlines have on your bodies. Now is the perfect chance to make a change and set aside some time to focus on ‘you’.

Here’s a few pointers, tips, and tricks to help you guys feel better and stay motivated during this period.

I’ve promised to keep this brief, so here’s three tips to help get you started:

 

  • BREAK IT UP
    We’re spending a lot more time sitting down looking at a screen, so it’s important to get up and take a break! Get up every 30-45 minutes – move around, make a cup of tea and do a couple of stretches: click here for a few to get you started.

 

  • BUILD ON IT
    Start with a small change. Go for a walk, lift some weight, stretch, tweak your diet. Experiment and find something that suits you best – whether it’s yoga, the Couch to 5k programme, circuit training or simply a daily walk. Start small and build slowly.

 

  • ROUTINE MATTERS
    Routine is key – for both exercise and food! If you’re struggling, plan out your week; shop based on your plan, and try to build meals around protein and plenty of fresh veg.

 

Ted’s taking on new clients online at the moment, if anyone needs help on how to get started, drop him a line at: ted@storm-fitness.com.