Recipe with: Darren Bennett at The Magic Mushroom
JUST south of Billericay the Magic Mushroom restaurant is located in Barleylands Craft Village, where traditional craftsmen and women include, a potter, a glass blower and blacksmith. The village is a popular diversion for diners at the restaurant, with more than 70 interesting small business units, as well as a farm museum and fortnightly farmers' market. Head chef and proprietor, Darren Bennett, is well versed in creating down-to-earth, traditional dishes with novel twists. His recipe for success is dependent on a number of factors, including a willingness to pay more for his ingredients to ensure he gets the best quality, while his cousin, with five fishing boats in Devon, ensures twice-weekly supplies of the freshest fish and seafood. International influences on the menu are partly inspired by Darren's experiences while travelling with his wife around Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. At the same time Darren's sous chef, Dan Merry, also provides ideas from afar after working for Gordon Ramsay and the renowned French Laundry restaurant in New York. If all this whets your appetite, sample The Magic Mushroom's mid-week set-price evening menu available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at �21.50 per person. Dishes include a starter of oak-smoked ham hock terrine with dill pickles, toasted sesame and honey dressing, while main courses can include roasted duck breast with white rum and poached pears with a banoffee tart with coconut ice-cream to finish. However, if you prefer to entertain at home, impress your family or friends with Darren Bennett's delicious monkfish and Savoy cabbage main course. Roasted monkfish with Parma ham on Savoy cabbage gallette Ingredients - serves two 400g piece of monkfish tail 240mls dry white wine 1 Savoy cabbage 4 shallots 440g butter 120g bacon lardons Olive oil 1 lemon 50g wild mushrooms 6 tbs double cream Method1. Wrap monkfish tail in two slices of Parma ham. 2. Peel off outer cabbage leaves and shred pale-coloured inner leaves. 3. Sweat the finely-chopped shallots, 100g butter and small lardons of bacon with the shredded cabbage. 4. Blanch the outer cabbage leaves in boiling salted water until soft. 5. Drain and flatten leaves. Fill with the cooked shredded cabbage mixture and wrap into two parcels. Keep in warm oven until ready to serve. 6. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan and add monkfish. 7. Cook monkfish on both sides until golden and then place in moderately hot oven for a further eight minutes. Adjust cooking time according to the thickness of the fish.8. While the fish is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan simmer the dry white wine, juice and zest of the lemon to a syrup. Stir in double cream. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 340g cold, diced butter. Keep sauce warm. 9. Remove fish from oven and leave to rest for two minutes. Meanwhile fry the wild mushrooms in a little butter. 10. Place the gallettes (cabbage parcels) on warm plates. Cut fish into two pieces and arrange on top of galettes. Spoon the sauce onto the plates and decorate with wild mushrooms.