One of the South West’s most talented chefs, Martin Blunos was born and brought up near Bath, his parents having come to England from Latvia just after the Second World War. He has held two Michelin stars for more than 15 years and appears regularly on television and radio with regular slots as guest chef on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen with James Martin, BBC Market Kitchen, ITV Daily Cooks and ITV’s Saturday Cooks.
Back to basics
As the survival of the traditional pub continues to face an uphill battle, Martin Blunos gathers steam and gets us back to basics.
It’s another hectic month over and I’m already getting stuck into, you guessed it, another hectic month; judging at Frome Cheese Show, food demonstrations at Goodwood Revival and at the BBC Good Food show to name a few.
During the little down time I do have it’s nice to relax over a pint and a bite to eat in the pub. The good old British pub is in decline -– they are closing down at the rate of knots – and to survive many are upping the anti with their food offering, and the ones that are, are still in business. Good for them and even better for us.
Pubs have always sold something to ‘fill the gap’ whether it be a packet of crisps, a ploughman’s or roast beef lunch. Nowadays, pubs are being awarded Michelin stars for their food. Many are being called gastro pubs, in my eyes two words that don’t really sit together.
Another saying that gets my hackles rising is ‘fine dining’ as in “we popped along to this amazing fine dining pub”, after all, isn’t all good food fine?
I’m involved with a couple of pub projects and am really enjoying the experience, it’s a blast working menus that encompass everything from doorstep sarnies, faggots ‘n’ peas to pot roast grouse. I’ve also noticed that folk are really up for good, simple and honest dishes. It makes sense not to stray far from family favourites and instead just give them a twist.
This twist can be as simple as buying a better sausage for the toad in the hole with onion gravy, or adding a good splash of vinegar with the butter when finishing the mushy peas to serve with the beer battered fish and chips.
This month’s recipe with a twist is for my beer batter – it works well with fish and also with vegetable fritters – anything that can be deep fried. Don’t worry about the alcohol in the lager as that will evaporate on cooking and all that will remain will be the flavour. Oh the twist – it’s the balsamic; not only the trace of flavour it imparts, but the acidity it contains permeates the batter as it cooks to help crispness. Enjoy..!
Blunos’ beer batter
180 grams plain flour
30 grams fresh yeast
5 ml balsamic vinegar
250 ml beer (lager)
A pinch of salt
A pinch of caster sugar
- Dissolve yeast in beer adding salt, sugar and balsamic – do this in a large mixing bowl.
- Sieve flour over liquid, beat until smooth and creamy. Place in ambient place for at least 45 minutes before using.
- Use vegetable oil at 180°C for frying.