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I've been cooking for quite a few years now.
So many recipes have come and gone.
But there are wonderful classics that are as popular as ever.
In this series, I'll show you how to cook some of the best of them in
my very special way.
I'm just saving on the washing-up.
From delicious, light ideas that take no time at all...
I'm going to be helping with your school dinner.
-..to tempting dishes inspired by our green and pleasant land...
TRAIN WHISTLE BLOWS
I enjoyed that!
..and some favourites from the past that are making a great comeback.
How about that, then?
These dishes can often seem daunting,
but I'm going to show you some tips and techniques that make them quick,
easy and simply delicious.
And, most importantly, with almost no fuss.
In this programme, ideas for timeless entertaining.
It is absolutely breathtaking.
I absolutely love entertaining
from planning the menu to laying the table,
and, of course, there'll be plenty of fresh flowers.
This is a feast with something for everyone...
..my succulent, crisp roast that's irresistible...
..the perfect dish for a romantic evening...
..a family classic that children will adore...
..and a beautifully simple pud that's my absolute favourite.
But first, a timeless starter -
a Scandinavian classic that never fails to impress my guests.
For years, yonks, I've been serving gravadlax for special occasions.
The classic gravadlax is with sugar, salt and dill.
I'm doing a modern twist on it and using beetroot instead of the dill.
I've got a piece of salmon here.
I've descaled it and taken any fins off,
and there are no signs of any bones there.
It couldn't be more ready for curing.
Mix together the magical blend of grated raw beetroot, Demerara sugar,
salt and a little pepper.
Pile it on, all the way down.
Easy so far?
That's it. Now I'm going to wrap it up.
Whilst the salt and sugar draw out the moisture,
the beetroot will seep into the salmon,
turning the flesh a striking deep pink.
I want to keep all the juices in
and, in 24 hours, you have gravadlax.
It couldn't be more simple.
No cooking is required, just a weighted tray to bed it down
and an overnight stay in the fridge.
Plenty of time to rustle up a punchy sauce to partner it.
Mix some fiery horseradish and cool creme fraiche
with a store cupboard favourite I wouldn't be without -
sweet pickled cucumbers.
I love them. They go well with salads and very well with fish.
And that gives a bit of bite in the sauce.
Put all that in.
Season and, for a final touch, add some chopped parsley.
I can actually eat this by the spoonful.
I can eat it neat.
And the crunch!
And it's quite hot, too.
So just look at that - the fish is a bright, beautiful beetroot colour.
Now, it's pretty messy.
Good thing my guests won't see it in this state,
but I have a secret tip for serving it
without turning your fingers bright purple.
What I do before I carve it is to take a little bit of clingfilm.
You can see my hand is completely clean.
It's really beautiful.
You get this gorgeous bright colour on the outside.
A finishing flourish of delicate pea shoots, shredded raw beetroot
and the horseradish sauce - if there's any left.
That's just as I want it to be.
In fact, I'm very chuffed with it.
Salmon doesn't get better than this.
Really absolutely scrumptious!
For me, entertaining isn't just about decorating the plate.
Tomorrow, as part of the annual Festival of Flowers at Leeds Castle,
huge floral displays will be created in its main rooms.
I've come to south-east London to meet the man who will be in charge
of the banqueting hall - award-winning florist Simon Lycett.
-Oh, my goodness gracious!
They're fabulous, aren't they?
All ready to do something dramatic, I bet.
OK, everyone, we've got a visitor.
-Hello, good morning.
Oh, wonderful smells!
It's so colourful.
If I know Simon, it's not going to be a simple affair.
We are creating an amazing tablescape.
These are all British seasonal flowers.
And I thought you might like to have a go
at creating your own arrangement with me.
I'll watch you, and then I'll copy.
Are there any sort of rules?
I mean, say we're going to do this for the middle of a table.
When you're arranging flowers, I would say,
work one type of flower at a time and gradually build up.
So establish your size and shape of your design as you start.
Now, that's a really good tip.
So, if we're using hydrangeas...
-..put those in first, and then fill in the gaps?
Yeah. So woody stems,
do you remember we used to be told to hammer woody stems?
Oh, yes. Roses - you used to have to hammer them.
-We don't do that?
That causes bacterial growth and the flowers will stay fresher longer if
it's a clean cut on an angle and then split up the stem,
and that will mean that, when it's in the flower foam,
it's able to take up maximum amounts of water.
Right. Are we aiming to have this so that, whatever angle you look at it,
-it looks good?
If you're on a dining table,
make it so it looks pretty in every direction.
Simon can use thousands of flowers for his extravagant pieces.
It's a real eye-opener for an amateur flower arranger like me.
Usually, when I'm doing it at home, I'm all alone,
and here I can crib exactly what you're doing.
Any time, I shall come and give you a hand, Mary.
It would be my pleasure.
I might swap it for a pie.
Oh, well, I'm not bad at the pies.
You're looking rather beautiful.
I need a lot of encouragement.
When you're up against the next...
I'm watching you! You're going far quicker than me.
It's quite difficult to get those into the foam.
I think that's a good indicator of when you've nearly finished
your arrangement, is when you're slightly struggling to find
any more space to put your flowers in. So, Mary,
my last addition is a kick of this fabulous,
screaming hot pink, which...
-..for me just brings it all together.
-Yeah. Give you a real...
-And they need no attention.
No attention. They're like florists and cooks - they thrive on neglect.
Well, I don't. I like to be well looked after, and I am here.
-Beautiful. Look, you see, I think,
as a non-matched pair, we've not done a bad job, have we?
I'm really rather proud of that.
I can't wait to show you the big one
we're going to create at Leeds Castle.
-Well, we've had a little practice, haven't we?
To me, flowers say romance,
and there's nothing more romantic than pushing the boat out for
a special dinner for two.
I well remember,
when I first met my husband and we were courting,
he took me to a very famous fish restaurant and we had Dover sole,
and it was such a treat.
I'd never tasted fish like it, and I've remembered it to this day.
Once you've tasted heaven, you might as well stick with it.
I have a beautiful Dover sole here.
The classic way to serve it
is simply with butter, lemon and parsley
so that you really get the flavour of this beautiful, firm fish.
Taking that tough skin off is tricky,
so ask your fishmonger to do it for you.
You can leave the head on or off. I'm going to take it off.
And you've got to give it a bang over the bone there,
and then just cut it off.
Dover sole is simple to cook, but it needs to be done with care,
so here's how to pan-fry it to perfection every time.
Butter the fish rather than putting butter in the pan.
Why? Because, if you put butter in the pan, before you know it,
it will burn.
Take softened butter and spread it particularly on the top there
cos that's the first part that touches the pan,
and it will then melt over.
And the flavour of butter is wonderful.
That's it. Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper,
and we're ready to go.
That feels very, very hot.
Hold it quite firmly.
A couple of minutes each side.
I can start to spread the second side with butter.
Don't forget the tail cos that would stick.
Just needs a few more seconds, and then I'll turn it over.
One, two, three, four.
Doesn't that look beautiful?
It hasn't burnt. It's just that gorgeous, golden, nutty brown.
Don't be tempted to overcook it because it's such a special fish.
I'm really chuffed with that.
It looks beautiful, doesn't it?
Serve simply with a generous wedge of lemon
and a classic parsley lemon butter
gently melted in the lingering heat of the pan.
Look at that!
Dover sole - the king of all the fish.
I think that would be the start of a perfect evening.
It's just for two of you, would be such a luxury.
Of course, entertaining isn't just about romantic suppers.
Sometimes, it's a big jolly meal with lots of friends,
but I still love to make every effort.
It really is the fresh flowers in the middle of the table that makes
the setting. And it's the part that I really enjoy doing.
I have the perfect dish to make them feel special, too.
I always have a few recipes up my sleeve that I can rustle up from
store cupboard ingredients.
This one is just perfect, and the children love it.
I've got six legs.
That's the thigh and the drumstick altogether.
It makes a really substantial meal.
Just knocked together in no time.
First for the sticky part.
Ketchup. Everybody's got tomato sauce in the cupboard.
I'm going to judge it. So six tablespoons.
Give or take, that's six tablespoons.
Three tablespoons of Worcester sauce.
That gives it a little bit of oomph.
Then a couple of tablespoons of mustard.
I like the grainy mustard.
And it's pretty tasty so far.
Next, some runny honey.
I've often got a jar that's solid at the bottom.
Just warm it and it will be runny again.
Just two tablespoons of tomato puree and a clove of garlic,
and you're done.
Fairly sticky already.
Now all it needs is the chicken.
Just make four slits in total.
That means all the flavour of the sticky topping
gets right down inside.
And it's wonderful.
Right. It all goes in.
Like some of my best recipes,
there are no hard and fast rules for this marinade.
I've been tweaking it over the years,
adding a little bit more of this and that,
but it's got to be sticky and sweet.
Once the chicken is well and truly coated,
pop in the fridge and wait for that sticky marinade to work its wonders.
When you and your chicken legs are ready to cook,
hunt out your largest roasting tin.
I've put a bit of nonstick paper in the bottom there,
because it makes it easier to clean later.
And spread them out in one layer.
If you pile it up, they won't get crispy on top.
Smells pretty good.
Into the oven at 200 degrees fan for about 35 to 40 minutes.
I think that looks amazing.
This gorgeous deep colour.
I'm just going to test whether it's absolutely done.
Just go into the thickest part,
and make quite sure the juices there are as clear as a bell.
If they've got a little bit of pink,
pop it back in the oven for a bit longer.
Pile those in. I think they look really, really special.
The charred finish and the smell, so spicy and good.
My sticky honey chicken is great for entertaining children.
It's not too expensive, and it looks so good, and tastes even better.
Once favoured by Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon,
I imagine Leeds Castle has been privy
to an entertaining dinner or two.
Look at that. Wow. Beautiful.
But this morning in Kent, the spectacle is arriving
in mist and floral form for the annual Festival of Flowers.
Let's go and see what's what.
It's not even eight o'clock, and Simon's ready to start,
with me as his helper, of course.
-There you are.
-Straight through here?
Preparations are well under way for tomorrow's public opening.
I've never seen anything quite like it.
So here we are.
-It's enormous. Where are we?
-Henry VIII's banqueting chamber,
which, in two hours, we're going to transform.
It's going to have tall arrangements,
one long table, flowers everywhere,
candles, everything we've prepared.
Well, you've a blank canvas.
There are 22 florists taking part in the festival.
And thousands of people are expected to visit over the next six days to
enjoy all these magnificent displays.
As befits a hall that once entertained Henry VIII,
Simon and his team have designed a banquet table display.
Seeing as how there's so much to do before the opening,
I'd better make myself useful.
-There we are.
-I'll take that from you. Thank you.
As you can see, there's quite a lot of carrying.
And this is going to be a long dining table?
Yes. Clothed in this gorgeous, sort of champagne-coloured taffeta.
And then these vast decorations that are there stood on the ground
are going to go on the table all the way along, lined up.
So before you start, do you draw this all out?
No, it's in my brain.
That looks very firmly on top.
-You don't want it falling on somebody's head.
-Give them a bit of a shock!
-There's a lot of weight,
and everything we do has to be very stable.
It's good physical work.
Have you done a similar thing with different flowers
-from different seasons?
-Yes, we did a party in Kensington Palace,
where it was all greens, ferns and white orchids.
And along the table it was bowls of Lily of the valley and hellebores.
You would need an awful lot of Lily of the valley.
We use an awful lot of everything.
And I think that what makes a spectacular setting is abundance,
be it in food, candles, flowers and love.
You mean a bit over the top?
Of course. A LOT over the top!
Spectacular tables need dishes that make a statement in themselves.
And this one is just the ticket.
For me, the most important part of roasting a duck is to achieve
a wonderful crisp skin, and I'm going to serve it
with a wonderful cherry sauce that no-one will
be able to resist.
First, I'm going to rub the breast and the legs
with a little mild olive oil and sprinkle over some sea salt.
So in goes the duck.
That's it. Oh, it's a plump one.
Sitting on the rack here, so that all the fat goes down below.
Start it off in a very hot oven, 220 degrees fan for about half an hour.
That's looking a good colour.
But to get it extra crispy, you must keep basting it.
Slide it just up there, and just spoon that over,
and that will crispen the skin.
Then whack the oven down to 160 fan
and leave it for two and a half hours.
The fat will drain down, and it will become beautifully tender.
So back it goes.
It looks this wonderful golden brown,
but it still isn't quite crisp enough for me.
Pour off the duck fat - I've got plans for that later -
then return the duck to the oven at 200 degrees fan
for a final 20-minute blast.
But I promise you, it's worth it to get that really crisp, crunchy skin.
If you want it perfect, that's the way to do it.
Meanwhile, I can forge on with my delicious cherry sauce.
To give it a wonderful depth of flavour,
I'm lightly browning three finely-chopped shallots
in that glorious duck fat.
Just let it take a little bit of colour,
then I'll add the other ingredients.
150ml of red wine.
A good old sizzle there.
Followed by 300ml of chicken stock.
And to give it a real rich boost, 150ml of port.
To intensify the flavour,
I'm going to let it bubble away until it's reduced.
I think it is time to take a peek at that duck.
Let's see if it's crispy.
Listen. HOLLOW TAPPING
It doesn't get better than that, does it?
Leave the duck to rest under a loose tent of foil,
so that the steam escapes, and that skin will stay super crisp.
Now to finish the sauce.
This is doing very nicely.
It's reduced by a third.
I'm going to add a splash of balsamic vinegar to that.
And some redcurrant jelly.
That all adds to the flavour.
Oh, the smell is lovely.
Once it comes to the boil, strain out the shallots,
and add the thickening.
And that is two and a half level tablespoonfuls of cornflour
with cold water.
So this is very, very hot.
If I put that cornflour mixture in there,
it could go a little bit lumpy,
so if you take some of the hot liquid into the bowl,
just like making old-fashioned custard with custard powder.
And that will thicken up at once.
Says she, knowing that it will.
There we are, look at that, then.
The consistency is perfect.
Coats the back of a spoon, and really smooth.
Not a lump in sight.
Last, but not least, the cherries -
fresh or frozen...
..and some salt and pepper.
There's not much wrong with that.
In fact, it's scrumptious.
We'll put it all together now and serve it and carve the beast.
This is such a sumptuous way to feed your guests.
Well worth all the effort.
It's just falling off the bone.
A little sauce over the top,
and I'm not going to miss out on the cherry either.
Can I get all that in in one go?
I tell you, I'm going to.
Can you hear the crunch?
It is absolutely divine.
You'll love it.
The joy of entertaining is making people happy.
And there's one classic pudding that stands out for me
more than any other.
One of my great favourites that I come back to
time and time again is my raspberry mousse.
It's so easy.
Just whizz up 300g of fresh or frozen raspberries,
and push the pulp through a sieve.
There's a wonderful fresh smell of raspberries coming through.
And great joys, it goes through very easily.
It's amazing how many pips there are which you don't notice when you eat
the whole fruit,
but you certainly would do if they were all left in a mousse.
That's it. Don't miss out on any of those beautiful raspberries.
I want every little scrap to get in that bowl.
For a really light mousse, we need a lot of volume.
So first of all, the egg yolks, and I've added 75g of caster sugar.
So at the moment, that's bright yellow.
Or orange, almost.
And it'll become much lighter and I can do it on full speed.
So the egg yolks and sugar are beautifully light and fluffy.
Just what I wanted.
In goes the raspberry puree.
Isn't that a glorious colour?
Soften four leaves of gelatine before dissolving them,
to give the mousse that added setting power.
So in it goes. Just stir that in.
That's it. Followed by some double pouring cream, just lightly whipped.
Under-whipped rather than over-whipped.
The final lightness will come from four egg whites beaten until stiff.
So fold that in until there are no flecks of white.
Now into the glasses.
I'm going to do it with a big spoon,
and aim to get it right in the middle - no drips down the side.
Close your eyes and you could be in a field of raspberries
on a beautiful summer's day.
Having got to this stage...
..I must have a little taste.
There's nothing quite like the flavour and taste
of fresh raspberries. It's beautifully light,
and it's just the thing to end a rather rich meal.
Simon and his team have been working their socks off for hours.
His dramatic floral display in Henry VIII's banqueting hall is almost
ready for the festival's opening tomorrow.
This has been quite a journey, hasn't it?
As you look around, you've blended all the colours together.
I thought it was going to be OTT,
but it really sets the whole table off, doesn't it?
-It's just magnificent.
-Oh, thank you.
We're going to light the candles, so I can see the full effect.
I'll do the little ones down here.
I love lighting candles at the end of the job.
You must leave just before the guests come,
and do you just stand outside and listen to what they say?
It's quite nice hearing the "oohs".
The oohs and the ahs.
The attention to detail here
deserves all the appreciation it gets,
even down to the plates.
Oh, this little posy is so sweet, isn't it?
All sorts of little things.
It's got some rosemary in, so it smells lovely.
It fragrances the napkin, and they can take it home.
Lovely. You're on the homeward stretch.
I think this might well be our last one.
So, Mary, come and admire your handiwork.
Come on, OUR handiwork.
It is absolutely breathtaking.
The flowers really bring everything together,
and you can imagine all the guests coming in here
and being absolutely dumbfounded by it all.
And I think King Henry VIII would have never have seen
anything like it in his lifetime.
Do you think he'd like our modern interpretation
of a medieval banquet?
I think he'd be very surprised,
but I've got a sort of feeling he was more interested
in the food and his women.
Just look at that. Isn't that tempting?
Recipes with a touch of inspiration from the great outdoors...
All in one go. ..no matter what the weather.
-I think we'd better get out of this rain.
-Let's go. Let's go.