Last week was the official coming out party for the Kitchen Cooperative, hosted by English sparkling winemakers Nyetimber at their glamorous HQ in Mayfair. Our fruit and veg-virtuoso friends at Natoora kindly offered to supply the ingredients for the event, so it seemed like an obvious choice to make their beautiful produce the star of the show.
We decided to write a menu that used and complemented each of Nyetimber's four sparkling wines, but wasn't your typical fussy canapé finger food that no-one really pays any attention to.
We wanted everyone to share and engage with what they were presented with. People were encouraged them to help themselves to our pièce de résistance, the classic Piemontese dish Bagna Cauda, into which we poured a couple of bottles of Nyetimber Cuvée, and everyone else dipped a colourful selection of seasonal winter veg from fruit and vegetable importers Natoora.
Bagna cauda with fennel, celery, heritage carrots, pink & red radicchio, cardoons, Jerusalem artichokes, French radishes, yellow beetroots and romanesco broccoli
30 months-aged Parmesan
Nyetimber Rosé risotto with deep-fried blood orange
Bergamot, Nyetimber and bay-cured haddock with extra-virgin olive oil
Amalfi lemon ricciarelli
Bagna Cauda with Winter Vegetables
This Piemontese dish makes perfect sense in the bitter cold of an Italian mountain winter, in fact, it literally means ‘hot bath’. When you break it down, it's simply a warm sauce of anchovy, garlic and butter into which it's a real joy to dunk, well, anything. In this instance, we offered the freshest-available seasonal veg, which got the privilege of the warm and welcoming bagna cauda.
Serves 10 as a canapé or 4-6 as a starter
250ml Nyetimber Classic Cuvée or milk
½ head garlic, cloves peeled and whole
125g anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
250g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Choose the freshest and most seasonal vegetables and leaves for whichever time of year you are making this. Many things work very well raw, others need to be blanched or roasted to make them more enjoyable.
Vegetables that work very well are:
Robust salad such as radicchio, chicory, little gem
Place the sparkling wine (or milk) and garlic cloves in a pan, bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes until the wine is almost reduced and the garlic is very soft. A little pressure with a wooden spoon or a potato masher should receive no resistance from the garlic.
Whilst you wait for the wine and garlic to reduce, prepare your vegetables. They are all going to be served at room temperature, so don’t worry about keeping them warm.
Mash the garlic with a potato masher until you have a thick puree. Over a low heat, add the anchovies and stir so until they melt into the warm mixture.
When they’ve disappeared, slowly start whisking in the cold butter, a couple of cubes at a time, only adding the next handful when the previous has been incorporated. It can split at this point so don’t rush and enjoy the process.
Once all the butter has been incorporated, take off the heat. The anchovies will mean you don’t need any more salt, but add a little pepper and a splash of vinegar (if using milk) to slightly lift the sauce. Serve immediately with the vegetables.
Bergamot, Nyetimber and Bay-cured Haddock
This is a fun way to jazz up a humble (okay, boring) white fish - it works equally well with cod or pollock. We often make this delicate dish as a canapé, serving it with just a squeeze of bergamot and a drizzle of olive oil. You could also make it into a salad with capers and a little lemon flesh, or as an open sandwich in the same way you would eat smoked or cured salmon. Once cured, the fish will last for a few weeks, so long as it is well wrapped and kept in the fridge. Try to use the freshest fish you can get your hands on.
Serves 10 as a canapé or 4-6 as a starter
Zest of 1 bergamot or Amalfi lemon
4 bay leaves, shredded
150g white caster sugar
150ml Nyetimber Blanc de Blanc (Prosecco or Champagne would also work well)
500g very fresh haddock fillets, skinned
Juice of bergamot or lemon, to serve
Extra-virgin olive oil, to serve
Mix the bergamot, bay, salt and sugar in a bowl, and spread half of the mix over the bottom of an unreactive container that will comfortably fit the fish. Sit the fish on top, then cover with the remaining mix. Pour over the wine, making sure the fish is submerged.
Cover in clingfilm and place in the fridge or somewhere cold for 48 hours, but no longer.
Remove from the fridge, rinse the fish under cold water and discard the cure. Submerge the fish in cold water for 4 hours, changing the water every hour. Have a taste before you remove it; it should have a perfect balance between sweet and salty. If the salt still dominates, leave it in the water for a little longer.
Drain away the water, dry with kitchen towel, then return, uncovered, to the fridge to dry out for another hour or so. When you’re ready to eat, remove from the fridge (you will find it easier to slice if it’s straight from the fridge) and use a very sharp knife to carve off wafer-thin slices. Arrange on a plate, sprinkle with a little pepper, a little bergamot or lemon juice and a good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Nyetimber Rosé Risotto with Deep-Fried Blood Orange
Rosé champagne creates a very pretty -coloured risotto and gives it a gentle fruitiness that works beautifully with the deep-fried blood orange. This is a great starter, and is exactly what you want if you're doing a dinner party as it's more than happy to sit until you’re ready to serve it.
Serves 4-6 as a starter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
½ fennel bulb, tough outer layer removed, rest finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
450g carnaroli rice
250ml Nyetimber Rosé (a pink cava or Champagne would also work well)
1.25-1.75 litres hot vegetable stock
125g Parmesan, grated, plus extra to decorate
Deep-fried blood orange
1 blood orange
75g plain flour
Vegetable oil, to fry
To make the risotto, melt half the butter in a heavy-based pan over a medium-low heat and add the onion, fennel, celery, carrot and a pinch of salt. Sweat for 15 minutes until soft but not coloured. Turn the heat up a little, add the rice and stir well so that every grain is covered in butter and the rice begins to turn translucent.
Pour in the sparkling wine and leave to simmer, stirring constantly, until it reduces by half. Start adding the stock, a big ladleful at a time, stirring well and making sure each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next. The more you stir it, the creamier you will find it becomes. Once the risotto is just al dente (this should take about 15-20 minutes), take off the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the Parmesan. Check and adjust the seasoning and add a little more liquid if it is too thick. Cover with a lid and keep warm while you prepare the orange.
Using a very sharp knife, cut the orange in half, then slice into very thin half moons. Place the flour and pinch of salt in a bowl and slowly whisk in a little sparkling water until it has the consistency of double cream (this batter is a winner for deep-frying EVERYTHING).
Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy-bottomed pan to a depth of about 5cm and heat it to about 180C – you can test the temperature by dropping in a bit of bread; if it turns golden in about 30 seconds, then the oil is the right temperature. Dip the orange slices in the batter and shake off any excess. Very carefully lower into the hot oil and fry, turning over once, until they begin to crisp up but are not too coloured. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain briefly on kitchen paper, then sit a few slices on top of the risotto and sprinkle with a little extra Parmesan before serving.
Amalfi Lemon Ricciarelli
These are often described as an Italian macaroon, but don’t worry, they’re significantly easier to make. Amalfi lemon is the classic addition, but we've found bergamot is pretty sensational and we like orange zest too. Serve alongside a creamy dessert like pannacotta, with roasted rhubarb, or on their own with a black coffee.
Makes approx. 25 biscuits
300g blanched almonds
200g white caster sugar
Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
Zest of ½ lemon or bergamot, plus a good squeeze of juice
1 large egg white
Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3. Tip the almonds onto a baking tray in a single layer and put in the oven for about 10 minutes, shaking them occasionally, until they’re just beginning to turn golden. Remove and transfer to a plate to cool. Prepare the baking tray by lining it with greaseproof paper.
Place the almonds, half the sugar and the vanilla seeds in a food processor and whizz until not quite fine – you want a bit of texture. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the zest, juice and a good pinch of salt.
In a dry, clean bowl, whisk the egg white with an electric whisk until you have stiff peaks. Slowly start whisking in the remaining sugar and once incorporated, continue whisking for another couple of minutes until it’s stiff and glossy.
Fold the egg whites through the almonds – you want the mixture to be pretty stiff. Shape heaped teaspoons of the mix into balls (you may want to dampen you hands occasionally to prevent the mix from sticking to them) and place on the lined tray, leaving 2cm between each one.
Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until golden on top, but with a little give when you touch them – they’ll harden as they cool. Remove and leave to cool on the tray, before dusting with icing sugar. Delicious with dessert wine or a cup of coffee. Will last for 1 week in an airtight container.