When Andre Balazs debuted Chiltern Firehouse in London’s Marylebone in 2014, it was with a particularly titillating mix of secrecy and fanfare. And quite unlike his Standard brand, the focus seemed to be much more on the restaurant than the hotel – te latter of which had something of the “bolthole” about it.
In the ensuing three years, the restaurant has drawn such a steady parade of actors, models, rock stars royalty and footballers (the Beckhams, the Gallaghers, Orlando Bloom, Emily Blunt, Cara Delevigne, Rita Ora, LiLo, Kate Moss) that it’s practically a zeitgeist of its own. It also turned its sleepy but sophisticated neighborhood into a bit of thing. But in fact, what is on the plate has been just a exciting as what’s on the gossip pages. Indeed, under Michelin-starred Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes, CF has won over food geeks and critics alike.
So, no surprise, Penguin has just released the significantly buzzed about Chiltern Firehouse: The Cookbook. It’s all here, from the crab doughnuts to the wood-grilled Iberico pork to the lobster XO noodles.
We asked Mendes to pick a couple of favorites to prepare at home. For full Chiltern Firehouse effect, invite a couple of your favorite celebs over to share.
BLOOD ORANGE AND CAMPARI GRANITA, SWEET FENNEL, AND CRÈME FRAÎCHE
I have had many granitas in my life but the one that thrilled me and made me want to make them myself was at Noma in Copenhagen, in 2008. It was served with sweet prawns, dill, and cream. It inspired me to try to capture the essence of amazing fruits and vegetables, such as the orange and fennel in this dish, in cold and crunchy textures.
Blood orange has a short season, so we try to use it as much as we can while it’s around. A granita is my favorite way to serve it at the Firehouse.
INGREDIENTS – Serves 4
for the blood orange granita:
5 tablespoons/70 ml Campari
2½ cups/600 ml freshly squeezed blood orange juice
5 tablespoons/60 g superfine sugar
¼ cup/60 ml water
for the confit fennel:
1 fennel bulb
¼ cup/50 g superfine sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
2⁄3 cup/100 g crème fraîche
2 blood oranges, peeled and segmented
MAKE THE BLOOD ORANGE GRANITA
Pour the Campari and blood orange juice into a large container suitable for freezing.
Gently heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar has dissolved, then add it to the orange juice and Campari. Place in the freezer and allow to freeze hard (this will take about 3 hours). Once the mixture has been in the freezer for 2 to 4 hours, remove it every 25 minutes, scraping the mixture with a fork to break up the ice crystals, until it is fully frozen and flaky (scraping the mixture about 3 times should be sufficient). Keep in the freezer until needed.
MAKE THE C ONFIT FENNEL
Discard the outer layer of the fennel and remove the base of the bulb. Slice the bulb into thin slivers using a mandolin or sharp knife, retaining the fronds for garnish.
Mix the fennel slivers with the superfine sugar in a mixing bowl until the fennel juice starts to come out. Add the lemon juice, cover, and chill until ready to serve. You can make it up to 1 day in advance.
Freeze 4 serving bowls ahead of time. Place a dollop of crème fraîche in the bottom of each bowl and top with the sweet fennel and segments of blood orange. Top with the granita and a few fennel fronds.
SPICED PUMPKIN AND BROWN BUTTER PIE WITH BOURBON CREAM
A good tart is a treat that is really hard to beat. We developed this tart with the goal of merging the spiced pumpkin flavor with the texture of a perfectly soft custard tart. It took a while to get there, but I think we nailed it. This pumpkin and brown butter pie always makes its way into the Firehouse menu on Thanksgiving Day. The pie filling is best made a day in advance, to allow the mixture to settle and any air bubbles to disappear.
This dish is also amazing served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, raisins that have been steeped in bourbon and then cooked with brown butter, and finished with a sprinkle of piecrust crumbs.
INGREDIENTS – Serves 8 to 12
for the pumpkin pie filling:
½ small pumpkin (about 1 pound/500 g)
3½ tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 cups/500 ml heavy cream
4 large free-range egg yolks
1 large free-range egg
3 tablespoons packed soft dark brown sugar
1½ tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch Maldon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
for the sweet shortcrust pastry:
3½ cups/500 g all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon/250 g cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
Pinch Maldon sea salt
2 large free-range egg yolks
1⁄3 cup/80 ml ice-cold water
for the bourbon cream:
1 cup/250 ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar, plus extra to dust
3½ tablespoons bourbon
MAKE THE PUMPKIN PIE FILLING
Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C.
Wrap the pumpkin in foil and bake it for 1 hour, then remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Warm a saucepan over medium heat and drop in the diced butter. Once it melts and begins to foam, whisk it continuously for about 2 minutes, keeping the heat constant, until it becomes nutty and fragrant. The foam will die down a bit, then you will see the color change and the butter solids turn a toasted brown color. Remove from the heat and transfer to a metal jug (it will be very hot) and keep stirring for a further minute to prevent the butter burning (it will keep cooking off the stove).
Peel the baked pumpkin and discard the seeds, then combine 9 ounces/250 g of the flesh in a bowl with the remaining ingredients (including the brown butter). Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth, pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl, and skim off any froth on the top. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge until you’re ready to bake the pie.
MAKE THE SHOR TCRUST PASTRY
Place the flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix together, either in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, in a food processor, or by hand, until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add the egg yolks and water and mix until it comes together to form a dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350°F/170°C.
BAKE THE SHOR TCRUST PASTRY
Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to 1⁄8 inch/2.5 mm thickness, and use it to line a 12-inch/30-cm tart or flan pan. Put the lined pan back in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes to an hour, then prick the surface of the pastry with a fork a few times, line the pastry shell with parchment paper and pie weights and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the tart shell from the oven, remove the parchment and weights, and leave to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 225°F/110°C.
MAKE THE BOURBON CREAM
Whisk the cream and confectioner’s sugar together in a bowl until the mixture forms soft peaks, then fold in the bourbon. Chill until ready to serve.
BAKE THE PIE & SER VE
Pour the chilled filling into the baked tart shell and bake for 1 hour, or until the filling is just set, with a slight wobble. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before serving with bourbon cream and dusting with confectioner’s sugar.
Reprinted with permission from Chiltern Firehouse by Nuno Mendes and André Balazs, copyright 2017 by Chiltern Street Hotel Ltd. Published in the United States by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
Photographs copyright 2016 by Peden + Munk