Celebrity MasterChef winner Lisa Faulkner owes her culinary skills to her mother. Now she’s passing the recipes on to her daughter.
Scratch a cook and you'll find a celebrity – or that seems to be the universally held belief in television circles at present. Occasionally, like frogs and princes, the principle even holds firm in reverse. Celebrity MasterChef turned ordinary celebs into fraught, sauce-stained cooks. That's certainly the case with Lisa Faulkner, once glamorous star of series such as Spooks, Holby City and Brookside, now winner of MasterChef and appearing in her new cookery book, wearing a pinny and holding something hot (and that's not Gregg Wallace...) as a result.
Recipes From My Mother For My Daughter makes a brief mention of MasterChef – 'I gritted my teeth and worked as hard as I could to learn and improve' – but is really a book dedicated to home cooking. Lisa's introduction to food came via her mother, Julie, who died when Lisa was only 16. So her book is also a moving tribute to a mother who 'had a gift for making everything taste just right...' and also a way of passing on something of her grandmother to Lisa's own, adopted, daughter.
The idea of recipes passing down through the generations is a potent one. Anyone who cooks knows what it is to make something you remember from childhood, and the additional joy of being able to pass on these recipes to your own children, who, with a bit of luck, will continue the process.
Thus Julie plays a large part in this book, along with Lisa's grandmothers and variousfriends and relatives. Julie was a great one for parties, it seems; many of her recipes are conceived with celebration in mind: chicken liver pâté ('she made it at Christmas, for dinner parties and special occasions'), chocolate cake, French onion soup, Pavlova, crème brûlée, chocolate roulade. One of her recipes was a sauce for lamb chops. 'It was minty and buttery and a little sweet... I'd been trying to work out how she did it and... I couldn't get it right,' remembers Lisa. Eventually, she asked a cheffy friend to experiment. 'Tony at Smiths [restaurant] handed me a bowl – I dipped my spoon in and as I tasted it, I was hit by a tidal wave of memories... The tears started falling – this was her sauce...'
So there is another message here for those who hope their culinary secrets will carry on into the future: write everything down. Like Lisa, you may find there's a book in it.
Lemon sole fillets with brown shrimp butter
- Oil or butter, for frying
- 4 lemon sole fillets, about 300-400g each
For the brown shrimp butter:
- 100ml white wine
- 125g salted butter
- 250g brown peeled shrimps
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Handful of freshly chopped parsley (optional)
Melt some oil or butter in a frying pan and lightly fry the sole fillets for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the pan and keep it warm.
To make the shrimp butter, put the frying pan back on the hob, add the wine and bring to the boil. Add half the butter. When it has melted, add the brown shrimps and the cayenne pepper. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces.
When the butter has boiled with the shrimps and the cayenne and gone really brown (about 1 minute), take the pan off the heat and add the rest of the cubed butter and the lemon juice. Add a little parsley, if using, and then pour the butter over the fish before serving.
Chicken and mushroom pot pies
- 3 skinless chicken breasts, about 200g each, cut into strips
- 1 tsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 25g butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 300g button mushrooms, cut into quarters
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 125ml chicken stock
- 100ml double cream
- ½ tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
- 250g chilled, ready-made puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk
Preheat the oven to 190C. Put the chicken strips into a large plastic freezer bag. Add the flour and some seasoning. Shake the bag so that the chicken is coated.
Melt the butter with the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly brown the chicken. Remove and set aside. Add the shallots, mushrooms, garlic and fennel seeds to the pan and fry until browned. Add the stock and cream and boil until it has reduced and thickened. Add the tarragon. Return the chicken to the pan and stir.
Divide the chicken between four ramekin dishes or individual pans. Roll out the pastry to about 1cm thick and cut out four rounds and four star shapes. Brush the rim of the ramekin dishes or pans with beaten egg yolk. Place the pastry circle on top with a pastry star in the middle. Brush the top with the remaining egg yolk and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Makes about 20 profiteroles
- 360ml water
- 90g butter
- Pinch of salt and pinch of sugar
- 110g plain flour, sifted
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 600ml whipped cream or ice cream
For the chocolate sauce:
- 100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 3 tbsp double cream
Preheat the oven to 220C. Put the water, butter, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. When the butter has melted, add the flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Put the pan back on the heat and cook for 2 minutes or until the paste becomes pale. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Add the beaten eggs a little at a time, beating with a wooden spoon until incorporated fully. The mixture will go glossy, then back to dull. Continue until all the eggs have been added, the mix is shiny and it drops off the spoon. Leave to cool.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe small balls on to a dampened baking tray. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 180C for a further 20-25 minutes or until golden.
To make the chocolate sauce, melt the chocolate with the 3 tbsp double cream in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted.
When the profiteroles are cooked, turn them over and put them back in the oven for 2 minutes to dry a little. Slit each profiterole and leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve them filled with the whipped cream or ice cream and top with the chocolate sauce.
Recipes From My Mother For My Daughter by Lisa Faulkner (£20, Simon & Schuster)
Daily tip from the lady archive
“HEAVEN forbid that we should go back to the days when beauty was under suspicion and plain girls were assumed to have angelic natures.”The Lady. With Prejudice. 28th April 1938