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Published July 29, 2012, 11:33 PM

Liven up your Olympic party with these British dishes

London’s all afroth, and who can blame those Brits? The Olympics start this weekend; England’s glorious capital is hosting the games – and we’ll be glued to the telly, watching all those bronzed swimmers, runners and gymnasts going for the gold and silver, as we enjoy some suitable pub grub inspired by some of England’s brightest culinary stars.

By: Jackie Burrell, San Jose Mercury News, INFORUM

London’s all afroth, and who can blame those Brits? The Olympics start this weekend; England’s glorious capital is hosting the games – and we’ll be glued to the telly, watching all those bronzed swimmers, runners and gymnasts going for the gold and silver, as we enjoy some suitable pub grub inspired by some of England’s brightest culinary stars.

But first, it’s time to stop with the old jokes about bad British cuisine. True, it’s still possible to get some really terrible food in the U.K. – but you can do that here, too. And, OK, we have issues with some of their breakfast choices. Baked beans and kedgeree? And, yes, we giggle immaturely when faced with Bubble and Squeak, Hairy Tatties and Spotted Dick.

But Great Britain is home to some of our favorite chefs, including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Chez Panisse alum Claire Ptak, the Marin County, Calif.-born pastry chef who fell in love with a Londoner and moved across the Pond. So we’ve called upon their cookbooks and treasure troves of recipes for inspiration.

We’re also adding a dash of Beatles to this Olympics-watching menu, with a little help from a new vegetarian cookbook, “The Meat Free Monday Cookbook” (Kyle Books, $29.95, 240 pages), edited by Annie Rigg with recipes and prose by Paul McCartney and his family and friends. You can’t be a vicarious Brit without tea sandwiches, old chap, so we’ve used their ideas for creative sandwiches to craft some new wave finger foods. Among them: balsamic onions, arugula and goat cheese nestled atop whole-wheat toast and garlicky carrots and cilantro on hummus-slathered sourdough.

The self-styled Naked Chef’s anti-obesity and sustainable food awareness campaigns have made him a household name on both sides of the Atlantic, but Jamie Oliver is also known for some sensational, not-exactly-calorie-free culinary creations, including sizzling hot, tiny Yorkshire puddings – which he calls Yorkies or Baby Puds – served with a creamy pate made from smoked trout, horseradish and cream cheese. The dish is “dead quick,” he says, and the pate boasts a “bolshie attitude.”

Clearly, our grasp of British idioms is not up to snuff because we had to look that one up. It’s a Bolshevik-inspired idiom for something that is angrily provocative or revolutionary or, in this case, “hot, smoky (and) salty,” Oliver says.

Oliver says it’s “sweet” to do individual servings, but you can also “just whack it right in the middle of the table” and let guests serve themselves. You’ll find smoked trout in the deli case near the smoked salmon and lox, either of which would make a delicious substitute.

AN OLYMPICS WATCHING MENU

Baby Yorkshire Puds with Smoked Trout Pate

Pint of Prawns with Mayo

New Wave Tea Sandwiches

BABY YORKSHIRE PUDS WITH CREAMY SMOKED TROUT PATE

Serves 6-8

Creamy smoked fish:

4 ½ ounces cream cheese

2-3 heaped teaspoons prepared horseradish

1 lemon

Small bunch fresh chives, finely chopped

Sea salt, ground pepper

4 ½ ounces hot-smoked trout, skin removed

Rapeseed oil (or olive oil)

Yorkies:

Vegetable oil

2 large free-range eggs

3 ½ ounces flour

Between 1/3 and ½ cup milk

Lemon wedges

1. Mix the cream cheese, horseradish, the zest of 1 lemon and juice from half a lemon. Mix in most of the chopped chives. Taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add more horseradish or lemon juice, if needed.

2. Flake in the trout, removing any skin and bones. Use a spatula to fold the mixture gently so you have smaller bits and nice chunks. Decant into a nice serving dish or several little bowls. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with chopped chives. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

3. Just before serving, preheat oven to 475 degrees. Drizzle vegetable oil into the bottoms of 16 wells in a mini-muffin tin, so there’s a thin layer covering the bottom of each. Pop the tray onto the top rack of the hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until smoking. Meanwhile, aggressively beat the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper together, by hand or in a food processor, until light and smooth. Transfer the mixture into a jug with a spout.

4. Carefully take the tray from the oven. Quickly and confidently pour the batter into the hot tin so it nearly fills each well. Return to oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the Yorkies are puffed and golden. Serve sizzling hot with the potted fish and lemon wedges.

Jamie Oliver, www.jamieoliver.com

PINT OF PRAWNS WITH MAYO

Serves 4

1 ¼ pounds cooked prawns, shells on

Mayonnaise:

2 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon English mustard

Sea salt, black pepper

1 ¼ cups groundnut oil or light olive oil

1 tablespoon water

For the mayonnaise, mix the yolks and white wine vinegar in a small food processor until very thick and creamy. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Drizzle in the water to stabilize the emulsion. Serve with prawns.

Gordon Ramsay, “Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Pub Food” (Harper Collins, 2009)

NEW WAVE TEA SANDWICH IDEAS

Carrot and Hummus Crunch:

Fry 2 coarsely grated large carrots in a pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 chopped garlic cloves, ½ chopped red chile and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds over moderate heat for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool. Spread sourdough bread slices with hummus, top with grated carrots, dollops of Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro.

Green Club:

Toast 3 slices whole-grain bread. Spread 3 tablespoons hummus over one slice, top with half a sliced avocado, some arugula leaves, alfalfa sprouts and cracked pepper. Prepare another slice of toast the same way and place on top. Place the final slice of toast on top.

Cheese and Onion:

Mix ¼ cup soft goat cheese with 2 tablespoons cream cheese. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add half a sliced red onion. Let sweat. When it starts to wilt, add ¼ teaspoon sugar, a pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Spread the goat cheese mixture over a slice of whole-wheat bread, top with red onion and a handful of arugula leaves, and a second slice of bread.

Adapted from “The Meat Free Monday Cookbook,” edited by Annie Rigg (Kyle Books, $29.95, 240 pages)

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