This summer I shall be spending most of August on the train.
Last weekend it all began when I headed out of London to join my parents, my brother and my sister-in-law at a holiday cottage in Hereford.
Despite somelousy weather we have had a wonderful week, exploring, cooking and playing board games together.
I’m now headed to a wedding in Derbyshire and decided that as I was booked on a train at lunchtime I would make the most of it (and test my nerve) and see if I could cook on the train.
Deciding what to make was fairly simple. I figured it ought to be a play on words from the film “Strangers on a train” but I initially had great difficulty thinking of an ingredient to rhyme with strangers. A quick text message to my good friend/frighteningly good scrabble player Tom, solved the puzzle almost instantaneously with “capers”.
My thoughts then turned to beef carpaccio and then it was just a question of how I would logistically prepare and then serve the dish on a train.
I’d read a Jamie Oliver recipe recently where he seared the beef beforehand and recommended serving it at room temperature and from there everything started to fall into place.
I packed up my prepared ingredients and seared the beef in a frying pan before I left. I placed it in a tiny plastic pot with a good lid to marinade in my handbag ready to be snipped into slices with a pair of kitchen scissors mid-journey.
When I came to serve up; laying out the salad and caperberries on the plate was fine but I must admit I was a bit nervous that fellow passengers would start to at least raise their eyebrows when I started cutting up a block of rare meat. I decided to just plough on and hope that a ticket inspector didn’t walk past. I briefly wondered whether carpaccio was an offence which could lead to being forcibly expelled from the train and a 6 month public transport ban but I soon calmed down once it was all served (and photographed of course!).
After this weekend in Derbyshire I shall rejoin my family in Nottingham and then off to Edinburgh to see Richard perform at the underbelly. Then it’s back to Nottingham once more before I finally return to London. My first train cookery experience was rather successful so it’s quite possible that in-carriage cookery will make another appearance on my travels. Any suggestions would be most welcome.
Capers on a train
100g (small piece) of good quality beef fillet.
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
For the marinade:
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 teaspoon of olive oil
Few chives cut into small pieces
Few strands of lemon zest
Small handful of watercress
30-40g of hard goats cheese or parmesan
At home, start by searing the beef for just a few seconds in a very hot pan with the 1/2 teaspoon of oil. Make sure you season the beef with black pepper on both sides.
When the beef is still raw in the middle but is just starting to pick up some golden/caramelised colours on the outsides then take it off the heat and leave on a plate whilst you make the marinade.
In a small pot, preferably with a tightly fitting or clip-lock lid, add the lemon juice and gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add the chives, zest and pepper and when cooled slightly, add the beef. Place the caperberries on top of the beef and close the pot until you are ready to eat it.
To serve lay the watercress out on the plate then shave the goats cheese into long strips with a vegetable peeler.
Arrange the caperberries onto the plate and the use a pair of clean scissors to cut up the beef. Lay the beef on the plate and add a little of the marinade to finish.