No taste like home

in Food and Drink · 30-04-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Actor and Celebrity MasterChef winner John Partridge shares his culinary journey

Paying tribute to your mum when you win a cooking competition would lead most people to believe that the mum in question was something of a tour de force in the kitchen.

But for Celebrity MasterChef 2018 winner, actor John Partridge, it's quite the opposite. And it's something that brings a grin to his face as he talks about his new cookbook No Taste Like Home.

"I'm a mummy's boy, I'm proud of it and mum was a huge part of my life. She was a dreadful cook! She hated cooking - it was the one thing she did not enjoy. She was a grade A mum.

"I could come home from school and say, 'I need to be a gladiator tomorrow' - and I'd have the most amazing Emperor's costume made, she could knit me a jumper in a week."

Still, the food he grew up with was a massive influence on his winning MasterChef menu - the book is named after it, in fact - and there's a poignancy to the fact that the win came a year to the day after he lost his mum, Bridie, to Alzheimer's.

"When I think of that food now, marrowfat peas, tinned ham, I just love all of that, and it's become a part of my style of cooking now."

There's a real Seventies vibe to the book, with recipes such as cheese and onion tart and Black Forest gateau. There are also influences from abroad, 'hangover' food, and a fabulous section called 'For Fancy', inspired by his sister.

"My cooking and food story has allowed me to reconnect with myself. That's why I say in the book that cooking the food from my past has helped me to live in the present. It helped me to go back and remember aspects of my life and myself that I had forgotten.”

Cheese and onion pie recipe

(Serves 6-8)

Cooking time 1 hour 15 minutes, plus 1 hour chilling


For the pastry:

425g self-raising flour, plus extra for dusting

120g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed, plus extra for greasing

1/2tsp salt

25g walnuts, ground

25g Pecorino cheese, grated

25g Parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg yolk, lightly beaten

100-150ml iced water

Beaten egg, to glaze

For the filling:

1 potato, peeled and cubed

1 small sweet potato

3 large onions, sliced

50ml milk

2tbsp plain flour

200g Lancashire cheese, or Cheddar cheese, grated

1tbsp mascarpone cheese

1tsp English mustard

1tsp Worcestershire sauce

1tsp Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper


1. First, the pastry. Put the flour, butter and salt into a food processor. Pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the ground walnuts and cheeses, pulse briefly, then the egg yolk and pulse again. Add the water a few drops at a time until the dough comes together.

2. Alternatively, combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, then mix in the nuts and cheese. Using a table knife, stir through the egg yolk and water - don't overwork or knead it. Bring together with your hands into a ball.

3. Cut off one-third of the dough for your pie lid. Flatten both pieces into discs, wrap in clingfilm and chill for about an hour.

4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Cook the potato cubes in a saucepan of salted boiling water for about 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

5. Pierce the sweet potato with a fork. Cook in the microwave on High for 8-10 minutes, turning once. Alternatively, bake in the oven at 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4, for 20 minutes. Cut in half, scoop out the insides and mash.

6. Put your onions and milk into a microwave-proof bowl. Cook on High for 8-10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Alternatively, place in a small saucepan and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes.

7. Tip the onions and milk into a large saucepan over a medium heat. Sprinkle over the flour, stir and cook off the flour for a few minutes. Stir in the potatoes, and then the rest of the filling ingredients - you want this thick enough to plaster a wall. Set aside.

8. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Grease and flour a 20cm round pie dish.

9. Roll out the larger pastry disc on a floured surface until large enough to line your dish. Use the back of your finger to press your pastry base into the edges of the dish. Trim off any excess and prick your base. Line with nonstick baking paper, fill with baking beans (or uncooked rice) and bake for 15 minutes.

10. Remove from the oven, lift out the paper and beans, then spoon in the filling. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry to fit the top of your pie. Brush beaten egg around the rim of the pastry base, gently lay your lid on and press the edges with a fork to seal. Use a sharp knife to trim off any excess and make a slit in the middle of your pie.

11. Give it a good wash of beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes or until it is golden and delicious. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Lancashire hotpot


(Serves 4)

50g unsalted butter, plus a little extra, melted, for brushing the top

450g onions, sliced

250g boneless lamb shoulder, diced

250g lamb neck fillet, diced

Plain flour, for dusting

20g golden caster sugar

5-6 floury potatoes (I use King Edwards) - you will need 850g once peeled

4 best end of neck lamb cutlets

Thyme leaves, for sprinkling

50ml lamb stock

Salt and white pepper

To serve:

Pickled Red Cabbage


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4.

2. Melt 20g of the butter in a large pan, add your onions and sweat them down over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until a very pale golden colour. Season with salt and a pinch of pepper. Set aside.

3. Next, put all your diced lamb into a large mixing bowl, dust it with flour and season with the sugar and one teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Then get your hands in there and give it a good mix, making sure all the meat is coated with the flour and seasonings. Set aside.

4. Now, peel your potatoes and then slice them quite thin, about 2-3mm thick. I use a mandoline for this, but you can also use a sharp knife. Put the potato slices into a bowl.

5. Melt another 15g of the butter, pour over the potato slices and season with a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, then once again mix with your hands to make sure all the slices are coated. Be careful not to break them, as you need them intact for layering.

6. Now you are ready to start layering. Use the remaining 15g of butter to grease a high-sided casserole dish and arrange a layer of potato slices over the base and up the sides - you are going to encase your lamb inside a layer of potato. Put your floured and sugar-seasoned meat into the base, add half your onions and mix together well. Then layer the rest of the onions on top.

7. Place the lamb cutlets around the side of your dish, pushing the flesh into the onions, with the bones poking out of the top. Sprinkle some thyme leaves on the onions before arranging the remaining potato slices on top, overlapping them like fish scales.

8. Pour in the stock, then brush the top with a little more melted butter. Add a final crack of pepper and salt, and a sprinkling of thyme. Bake for about two-and-a-half hours. I brush with a little more butter halfway through.

Black Forest Gateau


(Serves 8 whopping slices)

200g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

300g dark chocolate

325g plain flour

375g golden caster sugar

30g cocoa powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of sea salt

2 large eggs

200ml buttermilk

100ml boiling water

2 x 425g cans black cherries

2tbsp cornflour

4tbsp kirsch

900ml double cream

100g white chocolate, broken into pieces

6-10 fresh cherries with stalks

3tbsp icing sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

4tbsp raspberry jam


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), Gas Mark 6. Grease and line three 20cm round loose-bottomed cake tins.

2. Melt the butter and 75g of the dark chocolate in a small saucepan over a low heat.

3. Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl, then mix in the sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and sea salt.

4. In another mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk together.

5. Now add the egg mixture and melted butter and chocolate mixture to your dry mixture along with the measured boiling water and whisk just until it's smooth. Don't over mix!

6. Pour your cake mixture evenly into your prepared tins and bake for 25 minutes, until the cakes are well risen and the sides are shrinking away from the tin - sometimes I swap the cakes on the shelves halfway through baking, to make sure they cook evenly. Turn out on to a wire rack, remove the lining paper and leave to cool.

7. While your cakes are cooling, grate 100g of the remaining dark chocolate and chill the shavings in the refrigerator.

8 Drain the canned cherries, reserving the juice, and set aside. Mix the cornflour with a little of the reserved cherry juice in a saucepan to make a paste, then stir in the remaining juice and 2 tablespoons of kirsch and bring to the boil, stirring. Cook until the mixture thickens and turns syrupy. Leave to cool.

9. Break the last of the dark chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat 250ml of the double cream in a saucepan, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate, stirring until it has melted.

10. Melt the white chocolate in another heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (don't let the base of the bowl touch the water). Holding each fresh cherry in turn by the stalk, dip them into the melted white chocolate, then leave to cool on a sheet of nonstick baking paper.

11. Whip the rest of the cream with the icing sugar in a mixing bowl until forming stiff peaks. Fold in the vanilla and the remaining 2 tablespoons of kirsch.

12. If you're like me, the kitchen will look like a war zone by now, so have a little tidy and a breather.

13. Put a bit of whipped cream on the centre of your serving plate and place your first sponge on top. Brush the sides with cherry syrup and spread the top with half of the raspberry jam, a layer of whipped cream and half of the drained cherries. Put the second sponge on top and repeat. Add the final sponge (upside down to give the top a flat surface) and brush the sides with the last of the syrup.

14. Pour the melted chocolate and cream mixture on the top. Spread whipped cream around the sides with a palette knife, then pipe the remaining cream around the top edge. Press the chilled chocolate shavings onto the cake sides with the palm of your hand and finally arrange your dipped white cherries on top. Even Sara Lee will be impressed!

There's No Taste Like Home by John Partridge is published by Mitchell Beazley


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