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“When I was pastry chef at Chewton Glen [the five-star hotel in Hampshire, where he’s set to open a new cookery school and eatery in the spring], I could eat about two dozen pain au chocolat before lunch, easy.


“I eat and drink what I like - I was on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show [the other day] and had half a bottle of red wine, a loaf of bread and some duck rillettes for breakfast! But the problem is, when you get over 40, you have to get something called a gym. I’ve got a gym, it’s calling me now, and I just kind of look at it and go, ‘Really?’” he adds with a laugh.


Let the chef inspire you, with three classic French recipes from his new book...


BAKED EGGS WITH BAYONNE HAM & PARSLEY CREAM (Serves 4)


40g butter, softened 4-8 slices Bayonne ham 8 eggs


2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley 100ml double cream Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper Crusty French bread, to serve


Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/ gas mark 2. Generously butter four individual ovenproof dishes or ramekins and place on a baking tray. Divide the ham slices between the dishes, laying them over the base and up the sides. Crack two eggs into each dish and then top with some of the parsley and the cream. Season with salt and pepper and bake for 12-15 minutes until the eggs are just set. Scatter over a little more parsley and serve warm, with crusty French bread.


BOEUF BOURGUIGNON (Serves 6)


1kg shin of beef, cut into 5cm cubes 2tbsp plain flour 2tbsp olive oil 150g pancetta, cut into small chunks 1 shallot, finely chopped 2 onions, sliced 1 garlic clove, crushed 75ml brandy


750ml Burgundy red wine 500ml beef stock 1 bouquet garni - 2 bay leaves, 2 sprigs of thyme, 2 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, tied with string 25g butter 110g baby onions, peeled but left whole 200g chestnut mushrooms Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Toss the beef with the flour and some salt and pepper. Place a large saute pan or flameproof casserole over medium heat, add half the olive oil and the pancetta and fry for one to two minutes until golden brown. Add the beef and fry until browned on all sides. Add the shallot, onions and garlic and fry until just softened.


Add the brandy and gently shake the pan - this will ignite the brandy and burn the alcohol. When the flame dies down, pour in the red wine and beef stock and bring to a simmer. Add the bouquet garni, then cover and cook over very low heat for two hours or until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened.


Heat a frying pan until hot, add the butter and the remaining oil and fry the baby onions until just golden. Add to the casserole, along with the chestnut mushrooms, and cook for a further 20 minutes.


Check the seasoning before serving. FRENCH FRUIT TART (Serves 6-8)


1 x 320g ready-made puff pastry sheet 1 egg, beaten


85g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (optional)


300ml double cream 200ml ready-made chilled custard 12 strawberries, hulled and halved 150g blueberries


40


150g raspberries 200g redcurrants


150g seedless black or green grapes, halved


Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a large rectangle, then cut out a 36cm x 20cm rectangle and place on a lightly greased baking tray. Using a sharp knife, score a 2cm frame around the edge, making sure you don’t cut the pastry all the way through. Brush the border with beaten egg, taking care not to allow any to dribble down the sides, because this will prevent the pastry from rising evenly.


Prick the base of the tart (not the border) with a fork, then chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Bake the pastry until golden brown and crisp, about 20-25 minutes. Slide onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Once cooled, gently press the centre of the pastry down to leave the frame around the edge. Melt the chocolate (if using) in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of just simmering water, taking care that the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Brush the melted chocolate over the pastry base, keeping clear of the frame. Leave to set.


In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks, then gently fold in the custard. Spoon over the pastry base, spreading it out evenly. Draw shallow lines in the cream mixture to create five sections and arrange the fruit on top so that each section is of a contrasting colour.


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