Lazy Sunday afternoon

Sat, Feb 25, 2012, 00:00

Getting the balance right between winter richness and paying homage to brighter days is a bit tricky at this time of year, writes DOMINI KEMP

I ALWAYS THINK OF Sunday lunch as something to be done in winter. In my ideal world, the perfect Sunday lunch would be something leisurely that kicks off at around 2pm, gently meandering through a few dishes and ending with dessert at around 6pm.

After that, a good film, with a glass of red wine and a sneaky square of dark chocolate, before a warm descent into bed, early enough to flick through a few chapters of something excellent and ensure eight hours sleep before work the next day.

Naturally enough, the “cleaning fairies” would call over during the night, to leave the kitchen spotless, eliminating all traces of unwashed pots and pans and human culinary errors. Who wouldn’t love such an impeccable day?

This is the last month before spring really kicks in and spring lamb ends up on the table, marinated, roasted, grilled and sliced. It’s also light and bright enough not to hanker after a rich, dark stew. So getting that balance right between winter richness and paying homage to brighter days is a bit of a tricky one.

These two dishes achieve that balance. The roast pork is easy to do and takes up to 15 minutes in a hot oven, or 20 if the fillet is fat enough. This apple tarte tatin is my new favourite tarte tatin recipe and comes from Welsh chef Bryn William’s book, Bryn’s Kitchen. His tip – which is so obvious and incredibly straightforward – is to leave the peeled and cored apple quarters in the fridge overnight, uncovered, to help them dry out. This may seem a bizarre thing to do, but fridges dry things out and by exposing the apples to this slow, drying process, it helps them to caramelise when you saute them in the butter and sugar caramel mixture. By removing some of the excess moisture from the apples, you help the caramelisation, as there’s less water to interfere with this chemical process. Genius, I’d say.

If you can buy the apple brandy for the Calvados cream, it’s well worth it. It made a delicious, boozy, Sunday lunch-type garnish and although I’m not usually a fan of alcohol drenched desserts, a small spoonful of this sinful cream worked quite magically.

Pork fillet with celeriac and onion puree

Serves 4

50g butter

Splash olive oil

2 large pork fillets (approx 400g each and trimmed of all sinew and excess fat)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

Few springs of thyme

Couple of glasses white wine

Salt and pepper

1 celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks

3 cloves garlic, peeled

400ml whole milk

2 large onions, peeled and finely sliced

3tbsps olive oil

You can re-heat the celeriac puree, so make it first. The pork can be cooked by being browned first and then finished off in the oven, which will give you breathing space to re-heat the puree and get your plates organised to plate up.

So, starting with the celeriac puree, in a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk with the celeriac chunks, thyme and whole cloves of garlic. Put a lid on the pot, bring it up to a gentle simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Allow the veg to cool then put the celeriac and garlic in a blender; discard the thyme sprigs and keep the milk.