The eighth of twelve people, men and women, all of whom in their various ways work with food and all of whom are passionate about what they do. It’s a truism to say there has been a revolution in food – but these twelve have all taken fresh approaches: all have a sense of rootedness and authenticity. It was a great pleasure meeting all of them: from the lovely Jeremy Lee working in a down-to-earth way at his grand and history-imbued Quo Vadis to the three artisan producers at Spa Terminus: extraordinary people working enormously hard at what they love. Our great thanks to them all.
Tommi Miers is an English cook, writer and television presenter who studied at Ballymaloe Cooking School. In 2005 she won the BBC TV cookery competition Masterchef and subsequently worked at the Petersham Nurseries Café. She is the founder of Wahaca, an award-winning Mexican restaurant group whose dishes are inspired by the food markets of Mexico, using free-range meat, sustainable fish and recycling everything down to the food waste. Her cooking style uses seasonal, locally sourced ingredients with inspirations from her travels abroad.
Tommi nobly allowed us to photograph her on what should have been their restful Sunday afternoon at home, while her kind and patient husband entertained their two young children in the local park. They couldn't have been nicer to us, intruders though we were.
Thomasina has generously shared her recipe for Mussels linguine with smoky chipotle cream with us (and you)...
I cooked this dish in the semi-finals of Masterchef and I am convinced it helped me to win. This incredibly quick and easy recipe provides a stunningly simple, delicious plate of food. The smoky, sweet heat and creamy, silky sauce is a wonderful foil for the soft spaghetti and mussels.
1kg mussels in their shells
200ml dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
the leaves from 4-5 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon Chipotle purée
150ml double cream
sea salt and black pepper
a small pinch of caster super
350g linguine or spaghetti (fresh makes all the difference)
a small handful of coriander, finely chopped
Cook this in front of your friends to really impress them and get them to help you clean the mussels at the same time! Clean them under a running tap, pulling off the beard between finger and thumb or with a knife (the beard is the bit of tough fibre at the hinge of the mussels). Discard any open mussels that do not close when tapped sharply against the work surface.
Boil a large pan of salted water for the pasta and in a small pan (or microwave) heat the wine until it is warm. Heat the butter and a tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and when the butter is foaming, add the shallots. Turn the heat down to medium so that the shallots do not colour and sweat them for at least 5 minutes. Add the cream, season with salt, pepper and the pinch of sugar and simmer for 5 minutes whilst you cook the pasta and mussels.
Put the pasta on to cook (if you are using dried you will need to cook it for a bit longer). In a large pan big enough to hold the mussels, put the rest of the oil and heat until it is smoking hot. Tip in the cleaned mussels and cover, shaking them over the heat for a minute or two. Add the wine and shake for another few minutes. As they start to open, transfer them to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Discard any unopened mussels. Add the chipotle cream to the mussels.
Drain the pasta when it is al dente and drizzle with a little oil. Strain the mussel juice through a fine sieve into the cream and toss through the pasta, put the mussels on top. Scatter with chopped coriander and serve the pasta in heated deep bowls.
Recipe from Mexican Food Made Simple by Thomasina Miers. Published by Hodder & Stoughton.