From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
50 g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 tsp mild curry powder
1 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 x 4cm thick slices goat's cheese (from a log with about 7.5cm/3in diameter)
300 ml vegetable stock
1 small red pepper (cored, de-seeded and finely diced)
1 tblsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tblsp pesto, plus extra to serve
1 tblsp freshly grated parmesan
100 g instant polenta (cornmeal/maizemeal)
sunflower oil, for deep-frying
baby mixed salad leaves dressed with french vinaigrette, to serve
chilli jam, to serve
This goat's cheese is coated in spicy crumbs, then deep-fried and served on golden squares of polenta. The polenta can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and kept covered with cling film in the fridge. They can also be enjoyed separately - try covering them with Tomato Sauce, a little mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan, then bake in the oven at 200°C (400°F/Gas 6), for 20-25 minutes until bubbling and golden.
Mix the breadcrumbs in a shallow dish with the curry powder, chilli powder, turmeric, sesame seeds and parsley. Beat the egg in a separate shallow bowl. Dip each slice of goat's cheese into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture so that it is completely coated. Arrange on a flat plate lined with non-stick baking paper and chill for at least 1 hour, or overnight, to allow the breadcrumbs to set.
Meanwhile, pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the diced pepper, chilli sauce, pesto and Parmesan. Pour in the polenta, stirring all the time. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the mixture starts to come away from the sides of the pan. Pour the polenta into an 18cm (7in) square baking tin lined with non-stick baking paper. Allow to cool and then cover and chill for at least 30 minutes until firm.
When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Heat the sunflower oil in a deep-fat fryer or a deep-sided saucepan to 180°C (350°F). To check the temperature, drop a basil or parsley leaf into the oil - when hot enough, the leaf should crackle. Carefully lower in the coated goat's cheese pieces, cook for 3 minutes until crisp and golden brown, then drain well on kitchen paper. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 3-4 minutes.
Meanwhile, take the polenta from the fridge, cut into quarters and remove from the tin. Heat a large frying pan and add the olive oil. Gently fry the polenta squares for 1-2 minutes on each side until heated through and lightly golden. These can then be kept warm in the oven for 5-10 minutes if necessary.
Arrange the polenta on four warmed plates, place the goat's cheese on top and arrange a small mound of the dressed baby salad leaves on the cheese. Drizzle the Chilli Jam and pesto around the edge.