Thomasina Miers, founder of restaurant Wahaca, shares her recipe for Californian cornbread and reveals her kitchen rules…
Star ingredient currently in season? Rhubarb is incredible to cook with because of its colour. That neon pink makes everything look beautiful. I love it in puddings or bellinis, poached in the oven with citrus and vanilla. But recently I’ve also been pickling it with coriander seeds and white wine vinegar. It’s amazing with a loin of pork or oily fish like mackerel.
What rules do you have in your kitchen? Taste everything as you go along. It really is the easiest way to improve your cooking. Also, always clear up as you go along. I learned that the hard way with John Torode. It makes your cooking better because you can think more clearly.
Quick weeknight supper? We eat mostly veg in the week, it’s quicker, easier and cheaper. I buy sourdough from the market on a Sunday and freeze it, which I toast and rub with garlic before piling with veg. Right now I would top with purple sprouting broccoli, roasted Jerusalem artichokes or Savoy cabbage.
Who would you like to invite for dinner? My best friends for a really boozy dinner because, between work and the children, it’s my closest friends I struggle to see. I would cook a sea bass baked in Thai green curry paste. Entertaining should always be quick. That doesn’t mean it’s not exciting; a roast chicken is easy but you can jazz it up with miso and coriander seeds.
Most memorable meal? I took my mother to The Clove Club for her birthday a few years ago. I don’t think she had ever eaten at a multi-course restaurant of that standard before. I’m a huge fan because their food has got real texture and bite.
Most exciting thing about the industry? The young people who have realised that working in hospitality isn’t a dead-end job. It’s creative, entrepreneurial and there’s real potential to make a profit. Just look at the street food stalls that have turned into restaurants. The standard is amazing.
Recipe: Cornbread with Goat’s Cheese & Honey Butter
A trip to California got me into cornbread. The corn was quite unlike English corn, so juicy and sweet. The Californians seemed to eat it with everything from rich meat braises to light salads and eggs for breakfast. This recipe was a total hit when we put it on the Wahaca menu, and was developed from a recipe in an old Chez Panisse cookbook. The smokiness and heat from the chillies balances the sweetness of the honey.
100ml whole milk
165g sweetcorn kernels
100g plain flour
180g fine polenta
30g soft brown sugar
1 tsp fine salt
1 tbsp baking powder
3 spring onions, halved and very finely sliced
250g soft goat’s cheese
75ml whole milk
25ml olive oil
Chipotle Honey Butter:
35g chipotle in adobo, very finely chopped
Squeeze of lime juice
Butter, to fry
Large handful of rocket, dressed with olive oil and lime juice
Preheat oven to 180°C and butter a 900g loaf tin. Blend the milk, buttermilk, eggs and 100g of the sweetcorn. Put the flour, polenta, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and whisk to combine. Melt the butter and add to the dry ingredients, along with the egg mixture, spring onions and remaining sweetcorn. Mix together.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 45 mins or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 30 mins and then on a wire rack.
Blitz the goat’s cheese, milk and olive oil in a blender and season with salt and pepper. It should be light and fluffy. For the chipotle honey butter, melt the butter, add the chipotle and honey and whisk until incorporated. Season with the lime juice and salt, to taste.
Cut the bread into slices the thickness of two £1 coins and fry in butter to warm through. Fry the eggs until crisp. Serve the bread with 1–2 heaped tbsp of the goats’ cheese, a handful of dressed rocket, a fried egg and a generous drizzle of chipotle honey butter.
Recipe extracted from Home Cook by Thomasina Miers, £25 (Guardian Faber)