Chef Paul Askew will make sure we’re well fed over lockdown 2.0
He’s got his fingers in all sorts of pies (often literally) but an experienced chef like Paul Askew isn’t going to let this lockdown stop him from making sure the people of Liverpool are well fed and watered.
He recently launched The Emporium of Food and Wine, The Art School’s click and collect shop which sells luxury condiments, beers, wines, and freshly made snacks like their black pudding scotch egg. Paul has also put together a range of high-end gift hampers as well as barbecue and afternoon tea takeaway boxes so you can still enjoy the delights of The Art School restaurant in the comfort of your own home.
The salty, creamy butter is so incredible it would probably make a ceiling tile taste like heaven
Now, they’ve introduced The Art School at Home, which includes everything you’ll need to create an authentic restaurant experience from your own kitchen. Chef Paul has come up with four different menus to choose from, which even includes a vegan option.
Each of the three course menus include an ‘amuse bouche’ and a generous portion of home made bread with (for non-vegans) Wirral single herd raw milk butter to whet your appetite while the other courses are being heated up.
“My wish is to be able to extend the flavours, food philosophy and top class ingredients to fine-dining standard,” says the letter that comes inside the box. Askew’s food philosophy is clear (we spoke to him about it here.) With almost four decades of experience working in the restaurant industry, Paul has a firm reputation as one of the pioneers of excellent modern British cuisine. He is also the standard bearer for the region’s excellent locally grown ingredients and provenance is key. Nothing enters Paul’s kitchen unless it is up to his impeccable standards.
So what’s in the box? We tried a couple out (‘Menu 2’ and ‘Menu 3’) and we promise, you won’t go hungry.
All the boxes, tubs and packages (mainly recyclable foil or cardboard with plastic bags for hermetically sealed sauces etc.) are clearly labelled. First, identify the box that contains the bread and whack it into a warm oven while you read through the instructions. We got a gorgeous fluffy wedge of focaccia and an excellent multi-seed loaf. The salty, creamy butter is so incredible it would probably make a ceiling tile taste like heaven…
The amuse bouche was a little tot of vegetable soup (the menu doesn’t go into detail, but it was definitely carrot-based) which is easily warmed up in a small pan. For the restaurant touch, serve it in your tiniest cup, garnished with lovage oil and a Parmesan crisp.
What to do next depends on which menu you’ve chosen. Starter for ‘Menu 2’ is a terrine of Senna Lane farm saddleback pork with cubes of balsamic jelly and autumn leaves all plated up and ready to enjoy. This is not the sort of thing even an accomplished home cook would find easy to prepare from scratch.
The first course for ‘Menu 3’ is a pithivier (a posh upside down pie) stuffed with free-range chicken, chestnut mushrooms and tarragon. All you need to do is pop it in the oven at 165c/Gas Mark 3 (which you’ve already switched on to warm the bread) for 12 minutes until it’s crispy and golden brown. Let it rest a little while you gently heat up the Dijon cream and verjus sauce in a pan. Spoon it into the bottom of a shallow bowl, sit the pithivier on top and serve.
Here Chef Paul recommends it’s time to ‘top up the wine’ (he mentions this regularly so make sure you pick up a matching bottle from the Emporium with your box.) The Art School has even expanded their half-bottle selection if you’d like to create your own matching wine flight.
Main course ‘Menu 2’ was a hearty fish dish – oven baked loin of Peterhead Hake topped with a delicately flavoured smoked anchovy crumb, langoustine sauce, haricot beans and vegetables. The fish comes from Ward’s of Birkenhead and it was beautifully firm and fresh. All you have to do is put the foil container that holds the hake and the veg into the oven for fifteen minutes and then reheat the beans gently in a pan on the hob before putting it all together on a plate. Delicious, and dare we say, actually quite healthy too?
Menu 3’s main was much meatier – slow cooked ox cheek in a thyme, garlic and bay leaf jus (just submerge the whole thing in it’s sealed bag in a pan of hot water for ten minutes – or longer, it’ll be fine) with a very rich and autumnal celeriac and black truffle puree (reheat in a pan or even a microwave for a couple of minutes.) This comes with a soft and full flavoured confit carrot and buttered cavolo nero which just needs stirring round a hot pan before serving.
Each of the menus is rounded off by a selection of classic Art School desserts which really show off the pastry section’s skills. A lemon and lime meringue dome, a coffee and chocolate choux bun (disappeared in one delicious bite) and a prettily piped raspberry and pistachio cake. Of course chef Paul recommends you pair these with ‘some lightly chilled Jarno Passito from The Art School Cellars Emporium.
It’s no secret that Paul loves to look after and feed people generously and we were so stuffed that we had to save the petit desserts for the next day. They made an excellent bonus afternoon tea - so you may as well pick up a bottle of bubbly too. It’s lockdown so everyone needs a treat and a way to create a special occasion out of staying at home. Thanks to the Art School, we’re well catered for.
To see all The Art School at Home menus and order yours, click here
The Art School Restaurant, 1 Sugnall Street, Liverpool, L7 7EB