Celebrating The Northgate’s re-opening, head chef Greig Young says there’s some dishes his menu can’t be without
We are open! That’s us three weeks in and it has been buzzing! Virtually full every day with wonderful people braving all types of weather to enjoy a meal out.
The menu has been a hit with a good few Northgate classics on there alongside some newbies such as a new favourite of mine, monkfish roasted on the bone to share with Jersey royals and asparagus and some very delicious little profiteroles filled with toasted coconut praline and finished with a silky smooth Tosier ice cream (more to follow on Tosier next month on my tour of the chocolate factory). I’ve had fun writing and tweaking the menu this time round – we have opened at a lovely time of year and the produce seems to be great and my team in the kitchen are full of energy and great new ideas.
Some dishes I will struggle to change – rosti chips with the moussy whipped tartar sauce and crispy light capers, our new tear and share milk bread flies out quicker than we can make it, but for me a staple that I can’t see budging is on the dessert menu. The humble French classic, that when done correctly can stick in a person’s mind for years to come – it’s that childhood favourite. the crème caramel.
The caramels we serve at The Northgate took ages (and I mean months) of playing with and tasting, and to be honest, I am a bit hesitant to share the recipe. I like my custard wobbly and my caramel dark and I like a good tang of acidity especially with such creamy desserts, so we spike it with fig leaf vinegar and vanilla jam and finish with a few crunchy crystals of smoked Maldon salt. This is a very adult dessert bordering on savoury, but my god it’s delicious! We bake the caramels in these round flat dishes then turn them out and cut them down to give that nostalgic crinkle cut, but any ramekin or even a porselen baking tray will do the trick. All the trimmings or leftovers I blend up to make the smoothest caramel custard you can imagine, so make a few spare if you can.
I hope you try it and love it!
Next month will be my trip to the chocolate factory and maybe another classic recipe. . .
See you soon,
200g white caster sugar
In a clean, preferably heavy-bottomed pot gently heat the sugar mixing occasionally. I do this slowly over a slow heat as it’s easier to control. Bring it to a dark caramel then remove from the heat.
This next part is dangerous, so please be mindful. Add the water to the caramel and mix it in carefully. This will stop the cooking and we can control how hard the caramel sets so it won’t crack when we add the custard on top.
Bring back to the boil and cook gently until thick, then pour the caramel evenly between the dishes you are using and leave to cool and set.
600ml whole milk
250ml double cream
240g whole eggs
60g egg yolks
Warm your milk and cream and then remove from the heat.
Whisk your eggs and your egg yolks with the sugar until smooth and then slowly add your milk and cream mix. (This is to temper your eggs resulting in a stronger set custard).
Pass your mix through a sieve and leave to cool. I find it works best if you make it the day before.
Get a tray big enough to hold all your ramekins and deep enough to fill halfway up with water. Put ramekins in the tray and fill generously with custard. Place in an oven preheated to 110 degrees. Fill the tray with warm water. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes then remove from the oven. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the water, cover and refrigerate. If you cover while warm it helps to keep the top of the custard soft and skin free. Chill for a few hours but overnight is best for the caramel to marry the custard.
Score round the rim with a small sharp knife and turn out onto a plate. Thinking about it, you don’t even need to turn it out, feel free to put some fruit on top and enjoy it right out of the ramekin in whatever way you fancy.
Greig Young is head chef at The Northgate, Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Call 01284 339604