Oui my little croissants, yesterday was spent in a glorious flurry of champagne-quaffing and celebrity chef hob-nobbing, whipping up a meat storm with cookery TV’s Mr. Handsome: Jean Christophe Novelli.
J.C, as we call him, (“we” being the 20-odd starry-eyed journalists swooning over cheddar cheese cubes) was at L’Atelier des Chefs being “the face” of a new campaign by Flora to promote healthy heart awareness in Britain. Now, I’m always sceptical when it comes to celebrity chefs flogging supermarket food stuffs. Witness Marco Pierre White trying to convince me that the Knorr stock cube was his saving grace.
The idea of Jean Christophe Novelli making roux at the Four Seasons using a pack of Flora marge just seemed wrong, in so many ways. That was until I nabbed one of the sugar-dusted biscuits proffered to us at the reception and experienced a blissful moment of orgasmic butteriness. Surely this delight couldn’t have been made with dreaded margarine, could it? But yes! Evidemment!
So, it took precisely one biscuit and three words issuing from the mouth of Jean Christophe to convince me that Flora “butter” is nectar of the Gods and that I will forever more keep it within my arsenal of dastardly cooking must-haves.
Maybe not. But we did learn a lovely little trick for cooking mushrooms. Which is to NEVER use olive oil, as the mushrooms simply soak it up like a sponge, then release it all again in a river once they’re on your plate. To cook a perfect mushroom, place them in a searing hot pan, coat with a teaspoon or two of melted butter (or Flora…) and shoogle them about to coat them thinly and evenly. Cook for about a minute like this, then add a soupspoon of water and cover, allowing them to steam and the butter to evaporate leaving only a delicious taste and moistness… C’est parfait!
On to the recipe! What did Michelin-starred Jean Christophe Novelli rustle up? Un hamburger, naturellement! No froths, jus, or glazes for us, mes amis, no wine reductions or fiddly stacks of julienne veggies. just a good, hearty, juicy, cheesy and oozing-goodness burger.
1 x 400g lean beef mince
1 medium onion
60g reduced fat cheddar cheese, diced
2 tspn English mustard
1 tblspn Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
cracked black pepper
Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl, knead well and divide into even-sized burgers.
2 beef tomatoes cut into four slices
1 small bread stick
2 tblspn Flora Buttery, melted
8 large portobello or flat cap mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
Cook the tomatoes in a very hot pan with a little Flora, seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic. Turn once and finish with a little balsamic glaze to sweeten.
Remove from the pan and leave to one side.
Trim the underneath of the mushrooms so they have a flat base. Season with pepper and melted Flora. Cook these in a hot dry pan, flat side down to start with, adding a little cumin seed if required. Turn over and cook on the other side but add a splash of water and over with a lid. Keep warm.
To cook the burgers grill them for about 6-8 minutes turning a couple of times until cooked through.
Toast the flattened slices of bread in a hot dry pan or toaster.
Stack your burger like this: slice of bread, mushroom, tomato, burger, tomato, mushroom, slice of bread. Skewer to hold it in place until ready to eat.