Monday, 26 January 2015

Osso buco with risotto Milanese, smoked bone marrow and gremolata

It’s funny how a picture can inspire you, and within an instant give an idea or craving that dominates everything else in your head. Well this is exactly what happened with this recipe. A week ago I was researching a few restaurants to find somewhere for Katie and I to celebrate our anniversary at the beginning of February. Traditionally we have gone to Hawksmoor Spitalfields to gorge on slabs of charred beef and sup into a stupor of prosecco and cocktails. It’s always a fun and highly satisfying evening, but this time round we fancied something a little different. I had forgotten all about CafĂ© Murano until a google search led me there, and instantly I knew that this would be the place for us. As big fans of those rolling Italian feasts this looked right up our street. I’d always liked Angela Hartnett’s approach to cooking and it wasn’t long before a little booking confirmation email was winging it’s way to my inbox. Whilst browsing the rest of their website, I came across a photo of their osso buco and I HAD TO HAVE IT. It just looked like the most comforting plate of food imaginable, with a big chunk of bone marrow and tender meat surrounded by a moat of yellow risotto. I had a dilemma though, as my booking wasn’t (and still isn’t) for a few weeks, but I had to get my chops around it somehow. So instead I decided to cook it. 

Appetite is a strange old thing. I’ve never particularly been interested in eating or cooking veal before now. I love the big, strong flavours and texture that you get when eating older beef, so why would I want to swap that for something delicate and mild. I’ve occasionally picked it on holiday and have regretted it every single time. It’s always the same; tough, dry and boring. And despite this, and having never really heard or tried the meal in which this recipe is based, I suddenly found myself with a massive craving. Having had nothing to compare the results with, it would be interesting if it is on the menu on the date of our visit. There’s no way that I couldn’t order it.
Bone marrow sceptics should flick away to another recipe at this point, as there is a whole lot of it here. And all the better and richer it is for it. As usual with this blog, I’ve tried to do something a little different and interesting, and in this case it came in the smoking of the marrow. I’d seen and read about it before, but until now had never got round to having a go myself. I’m a little obsessed with smoking and charring ingredients at the moment; I just think that it adds another element of flavour to a dish. It yields a wonderful sweetness in vegetables whilst creating umami richness with meat. I just can’t get enough of it. And the smoked bone marrow will definitely be getting another outing. It’s just so simple and easy to prepare, and hugely addictive to eat. Just make sure that you do it somewhere highly ventilated and away from any flammable objects!
If you do make this in smaller portions for a starter, you’ll have to fight for those two rounds of marrow. Fight dirty; it’s a fight well worth winning.
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter
For the veal:
2 slices of bone-in veal shin, about 700g 
1 litre chicken stock 
1 glass of dry white wine 
1 shaft of bone marrow 
1 leek, sliced 
2 carrots, chopped 
1 stick of celery, chopped 
1 onion, chopped 
2 cloves of garlic, lightly crushed 
2 bay leaves 
2 sprigs of rosemary
For the risotto Milanese:
1 cup of carnaroli rice 
½ a shallot, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, grated 
A good pinch of saffron 
A handful of grated parmesan, plus some of the diced rind if available 
2 good knobs of butter 
1 glass of dry white wine 
800ml-1ltr good chicken stock
For the smoked bone marrow:  

1 bone marrow shaft 
1 handful of straw
For the gremolata:
1 large handful of flat leaf parsley 
1 lemon, zest grated and half of the juice 
1 garlic clove, grated 
A splash of white wine vinegar 
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
To finish:
A little more grated parmesan 
A small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil 

Heat a large saucepan to a high temperature and add a glug of olive oil. Season the meat and bone marrow on all sides then brown well. Transfer to a plate. Tip the vegetables into the saucepan and turn the heat down a little. Cook for about 10 minutes or until tender. Turn the heat back up and add the wine, burning off the alcohol and reducing by half. Top up with the stock, then add the meat back to the pan along with the bay leaves and rosemary. Cover with a layer of greaseproof paper and simmer very gently for about 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. 

Remove the meat from the stock and allow to rest in a little of the cooking liquid. Strain the rest of the liquid into another saucepan and discard the vegetables. Bring to the boil and reduce down until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Cover until needed.
While the meat is cooking, make the other elements of the dish:
For the smoked bone marrow, boil up some water in a kettle and pour it into a wide, deep bowl or dish. Submerge the bone marrow shaft into the water for a few minutes, or until the marrow softens but before it melts. Scoop the marrow from the bone, pat dry and place on a small sheet of greaseproof paper. Line a saucepan with a layer of foil and top with the straw. Go somewhere well-ventilated or outside and light the straw with a match. Burn until it smoulders, then extinguish any remaining flames and pop the sheet with the bone marrow on top. Cover with a tight fitting lid and smoke for 5-6 minutes. Remove the marrow and place on a small baking tray.
To make the gremolata, boil up some water in a saucepan and have a large bowl of cold water on standby. Blanche the parsley and then instantly refresh in the bowl of cold water, then squeeze dry. Put in a food processor along with the lemon zest and juice, garlic and vinegar and whizz up until combined. Drizzle in the olive oil and keep the motor running until you are left with a fine, spoonable and sharp sauce. Cover and set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 190⁰C.
Heat up the chicken stock for the risotto and enrich with the leftover marrow bones from the smoking and stewing processes.
Melt one knob of the butter for the risotto in a saucepan and gently sweat the shallot and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Turn the heat up slightly and pour in the rice, stirring until all of the grains are coated and begin to make a popping sound. Add the wine, parmesan rind (if using) and the saffron and bring to the boil, reducing the liquid until nearly all of it has been absorbed or evaporated. Start adding the stock a ladle at a time, stirring continuously to release the gluten, waiting until everything has been absorbed before adding more. Continue until the grains have softened but still hold a little bite, then turn the heat down and add the rest of the butter and most of the parmesan. Stir well, and adjust with more stock if needed until the risotto has a glossy, pourable texture with the rice and the sauce combined.
While the risotto is cooking, warm up the reduced veal sauce and add the rested meat. Baste well, covering the veal with the sauce and heating gently through.
Put the smoked bone marrow in the oven for 5-6 minutes, until soft and cooked through. Slice into rough pieces.
To plate up, spoon a generous pillow of the risotto into bowls and top with a piece of the bone marrow and a few large chunks of veal. Arrange a few pieces of the smoked bone marrow around the meat and add a few dollops of the gremolata. Finish with a scattering of parmesan and some olive oil.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Butterflied leg of lamb with smoked cod’s roe, charred brassicas, sprout tops and lamb dressing

Never has a blog recipe been as seemingly easy as it was this afternoon. That’s not supposed to be a gloat, more sheer surprise. I was really happy with how things went with the langoustine dish that I posted last week, and I must have been feeling inspired as everything fell straight into place when it came to todays cook. I think that sometimes you go on a bit of a roll with the direction that your recipes go in, and during certain seasons some amazing ingredients are readily available, making thinking up recipes easy peasy. I’ll certainly take it while it lasts, as I know well that there’ll also be frustrating times ahead when I’m lacking ideas and inspiration. 

This recipe came about through two split ideas that I decided to merge together. Funnily enough, the thing linking them was the sprouts. I’ve got to admit, I’ve always been a sprout lover and always think that they get such an undeserved reputation every year. They are a really fantastic vegetable and incredibly good for you. Health benefits aside, they’re far more than just that pile of mulch-coloured domes that have been boiled to death on Christmas day. Although I’ll certainly happily eat them that way too. They are totally transformed when grilled and charred, until they start to crisp and blacken. Another great way with them is to slice finely and cook with lardons, leeks, white wine and butter as a base for a simply cooked piece of white fish. And if you can’t be bothered with any of that, just chuck into a curry and they’ll be as good as gold.
Sprout lusting over, sorry about that. Back to the story. I’d been trying to think of a good recipe to use them in for this blog, but always seemed to be lacking a complete dish. I loved the idea of combing sprouts with something salty and punchy, like when combined with bacon, and thought the smokey depth of the cod’s roe would work a treat. But those two ingredients alone didn’t make much of a satisfying supper, which is where the lamb came in. Lamb has often and unfairly been ignored on this blog, and through no bad intention or ill-feeling on my part. I just haven’t got round to cooking with it much recently. So in the back of my mind I was also trying to work on a lamb dish, when the light bulb lit up and I had one of those eureka moments. I had enjoyed eating lamb when paired with anchovies, or as part of a tangy salsa verde, so surely something salty and strong like cod’s roe would achieve a similar outcome? It was a bit of an odd mixture in theory though, and I got some funny looks when describing it to friends. Thank goodness it worked then, as I could just imagine people laughing me off for trying to combine such silly ingredients. I’m really pleased I gave it a try, and when I found myself sitting down surrounded by washing up just picking on cuts of lamb dipped in the cod’s roe I knew it was a winner.
Serves 4
For the lamb:
1 1.5kg butterflied leg of lamb, bones and trimmings kept 
3 garlic cloves, crushed
For the rosemary salt:
5 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked 
2 tbsp sea salt
For the smoked cod’s roe:
125g smoked cod’s roe 
½ a garlic clove, grated 
½ a lemon, juice only 
1 knob of butter 
2 tbsp olive oil
For the broccoli puree:
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets 
6 sprigs of mint, leaves picked 
½ a lemon, zest and juice 
1 knob of butter 
2 tbsp olive oil
For the charred vegetables:
12 stems purple sprouting broccoli, trimmed 
6 large Brussels sprouts, quartered
A squeeze of lemon juice
For the sprout tops:
A good knob of butter 
4 large sprout top leaves, stems removed, torn into large pieces 
A squeeze of lemon juice
For the lamb dressing:
The roasting juices from the lamb 
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
3 sprigs of rosemary

Pre heat the oven to 190⁰C.
Take the lamb out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking.
To make the rosemary salt, put the rosemary and the sea salt into a small food processor and mix well, until both ingredients are combined and finely chopped. Tip into a bowl and set aside.
Heat up a heavy griddle until smoking hot.
Rub a good amount of the rosemary salt, freshly ground black pepper and some olive oil into the lamb and the bones. When the griddle is hot, brown the bones and any trimming on all sides then transfer to an oven dish along with the crushed garlic cloves. Now put the lamb on the griddle and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until well browned and starting the char. Place on top of the bones and garlic and roast in the oven for 30 minutes for medium rare, or a little less or more to your taste.
When the lamb is cooked, transfer it to a wooden board and let it rest for 20 minutes. 

Whilst the lamb is cooking, make the smoked cod’s roe puree. Put the roe, garlic and butter into a small food processor and combine until everything is smooth. Add the lemon juice and a bit of seasoning and mix again. With the motor still running, drizzle in the olive oil very slowly. Pass through a fine sieve into a bowl, cover and set aside.
Boil up some water in a saucepan for the broccoli. When hot, add the florets and a sprinkle of salt. Simmer for about 4 minutes, or until tender. Drain and transfer to a food processor along with the mint, lemon zest and juice and the butter and blitz well. With the motor still running, drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Pass through a fine sieve and spoon into a plastic bottle.
Melt the butter for the sprout tops in a saucepan over a medium heat. Tip in the sprout tops, a little seasoning and a splash of water and cook for a few minutes, until the leaves are just wilted and tender. Squeeze over the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Keep warm. 

Re-heat the griddle pan used to cook the lamb. When very hot, pour in some oil and add the quartered sprouts and sprouting broccoli. Cook for about a minute on each side, or until golden brown. Squeeze over the lemon juice and add a little of the rosemary salt. Keep warm.
When the lamb is resting, put the roasting tray containing the bones, garlic and juices back onto a medium/high heat. Throw in the rosemary sprigs and bring back to the boil. Reduce slightly, then strain into a small bowl. Stir in the extra virgin olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning and acidity levels if needed.
To plate up, cut the lamb into thick slices. Spread a tablespoon of the smoked cod’s roe onto the middle of each plate and arrange a couple of bits of lamb and sprout tops on top. Dot around some of the broccoli puree and scatter over a few of the charred sprouts and broccoli florets. Finish with a small sprinkle of the rosemary salt and a spoonful of the lamb dressing.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Gurnard with butter-poached langoustines, crispy claws, charred leeks, shellfish sauce and leek oil

With the shellfish season still very much at large, I thought it rude not to carry on using it for this recipe as well. Langoustines are always just that little bit special, and I’ve been meaning to create a recipe with them for ages. Not that I haven’t tried. A few years ago I made something with john dory, langoustines and peperonata, which just didn’t quite work in the execution. Same for the dish with scallops and crispy langoustine claws. So after those rather expensive mistakes, I’m really pleased that I’ve finally managed to get something up. Those previous attempts weren’t wasted though, and served as something of a work in progress in helping to make this final recipe. The shellfish sauce and lemon mayonnaise was nicked from the first attempt, and I’ve incorporated those crispy claws after all. But here everything works really well and the finished dish was a joy to eat. 

The langoustines that I managed to get hold of were feisty old things, nothing like the sad little pink ones that line supermarket fish counters around Christmas time. These were almost like mini lobsters, with great big claws that they weren’t afraid of having a go with. I certainly had to be careful not to trap a finger! Despite their size, the actual yield of the langoustines was pretty small, and especially at the price they were it was important that I used as much of them as possible. The shells, combined with the sweet flavour of the gurnard bones made an intense sauce. The smell that came from that lot caramelising in the pan had me salivating. When it came to the claws, I drew inspiration from something I’d seen Philip Howard make on the television a few years ago. He had found himself in the enviable place of having a glut of disused langoustine claws, and instead of wasting them, he scooped out the meat and deep fried them. The technique itself was a fiddly one, but well worth it as the crispy bits of soft langoustine that I was left with were really good.
With the cooking of the langoustine tails themselves, it was another lesson previously learnt. On other occasions I had hard-fried the tails and found them to seize up in texture, with the tendency to overcook very quickly. By slowly cooking them in butter, this whole process was much gentler and controlled. In taste there was no comparison; they were buttery and soft and just melted in the mouth.
Gurnard is another ingredient that I’ve been desperate to use. At work they are such a difficult fish to sell, and it’s purely because they look so different to everything that customers are used to buying. I think there’s a certain charm to their big heads and overslung mouths, and certainly when it comes to flavour they really are delicious. Their flesh has a sweet, almost shellfish flavour that certainly is attributed to their bottom-feeding diet. Their bones also give a huge boost to soups and stocks. For a cheap fish they are so underrated.
There are lots of different elements going on in the rest of the dish, but everything comes together on the plate. The key is to be as prepared as possible and to make whatever you can in advance. There is quite a bit to do right at the end, and as long as you are well organised and have plenty of space it’s easily achievable.
Serves 2
6 live (or freshly dispatched) langoustines, peeled; shells, claws and heads kept
For the gurnard:
1 medium gurnard, filleted, pin boned and carcass kept 
1 knob of butter 
A squeeze of lemon juice
For the crispy claws:
4 of the langoustine claws 
3 tbsp plain flour 
1 egg, beaten 
4-5 tbsp panko flakes 
Oil for frying, approx. 1 litre
For the shellfish sauce:
The bones from the gurnard 
The shells, heads and spare claws from the langoustines 
1 fennel bulb, finely chopped and any spare fronds reserved 
1 leek, finely chopped 
1 carrot, finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, grated 
1 tbsp smoked paprika 
1 tsp fennel seeds 
1 lemon, zest only 
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped 
1 tsp tomato puree 
A splash of brandy 
500ml fish stock 
1 knob of butter
For the butter-poached langoustine tails:
The peeled, deveined tails from the langoustines 
250g unsalted butter
For the lemon mayonnaise:
2 egg yolks 
A splash of white wine vinegar 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
1 lemon, zest and juice 
200ml rapeseed oil
For the leek oil:
The top green leaves from 1 leek 
4/5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
½ a lemon, juice only
For the charred leeks:
1 large leek or 4-6 baby leeks 
½ a lemon
To finish:
Nasturtium leaves 
Fennel fronds

Make the leek oil the day before serving. Put the green leek ends into a food processor and pour in the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and a little seasoning. Blend well until a fine paste is achieved. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight. Once the oil has infused, strain through some muslin into another bowl. Discard the mushed leek. Cover and set aside until needed.
For the lemon mayonnaise, put the egg yolks, vinegar, lemon zest, mustard and a bit of seasoning into a small food processor and blitz well. With the engine still running, pour the rapeseed oil in really slowly. When the oil has all been emulsified you should have a thick mayonnaise sauce. Squeeze in the lemon juice and let down with a little water if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning/acidity then transfer to a plastic bottle and refrigerate. 

To make the shellfish sauce, heat up a little oil in a large saucepan. When at a medium-high temperature, add the langoustine shells and the gurnard bones. Colour well on all sides, then add the fennel, leek, garlic, carrot, fennel seeds, paprika and lemon zest. Turn the heat down slightly and soften the vegetables. Stir in the tomato puree and continue to cook for another couple of minutes. Turn the heat back up and pour in the brandy. Burn off the alcohol and reduce slightly. Tip in the tomatoes, pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes and then strain the liquid through a sieve into another saucepan. Discard the fish and vegetables. Bring the liquid in the new saucepan back to the boil and reduce until only 6-7 tablespoons of thickened liquid remains. Take off the heat and stir in the knob of butter. Set aside until needed.
Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C.
For the charred leeks, heat a griddle pan up until smoking hot. Add a little oil, then fry the leek until well charred on all sides. Transfer to an oven tray and roast for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Peel away the burnt outer layer and slice what’s left roughly lengthways (into about 6 pieces if using one large leek). Squeeze over the lemon juice and season well. 

To prepare the langoustine claws, carefully break and peel away the shells to reveal the meat inside. Scrape the meat away from the cartilage so that you are left with 4 long, soft strips of flesh. Arrange two plates and a bowl on the work surface. Put the flour and panko onto the plates and beat the egg into the bowl. Season each element. Coat the claws in the flour first, before dipping in the egg. Finally transfer to the panko plate and roll around until well covered.
Just before cooking the fish and shellfish to complete the dish, get everything else ready. Reheat the sauce and warm up the leeks if necessary. Make sure your finishing garnish is ready to go.
Preheat the frying oil in a saucepan until it reaches 180⁰C.
Melt the butter for the langoustine tails in a small saucepan and heat until just below simmering.
Pour some oil into a non-stick frying pan and heat to a moderate-high temperature. 

When the melted butter is at temperature, season the langoustine tails and lower them into the pan. They should be fully submerged. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cook through really gently for 5-6 minutes.
While the langoustines are cooking, fry the fish. Season the gurnard fillets and lay them skin-down in the hot pan, holding them down for a few seconds to stop them from curling. Cook for 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness, until the skin is crispy. Turn the fillets over and add the butter to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, and continue to baste the fish with the butter for a minute or so. Finally season again and squeeze over the lemon juice.
At the same time as finishing off the other elements, fry the langoustine claws. Lower them into the hot oil and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown in colour. Transfer to some kitchen paper to drain and sprinkle with a little salt.
To plate up, arrange some of the leeks around one side of the plate. Dot around a few blobs of the lemon mayonnaise and add three of the langoustine tails and two of the crispy claws. Arrange the fillet of gurnard on top before spooning over some of the shellfish sauce and a small spoonful of the leek oil. Finally finish off with the nasturtium leaves and the fennel fronds.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A trio of native oysters, with hollandaise and soft leek, apple and watercress oil and crispy with pickled cucumber

Now that all of the hectic scurrying about over Christmas and New Years has been done I can settle down again to the relative tranquillity of this blog. Hectic doesn’t really quite cover it. Every year I always vow to be organised, to buy my presents months beforehand and be quietly smug when late December comes. Did I manage to achieve such grown-up, stress-free bliss this year? Did I heck.

Christmas was also busy at work; my first in my newfound fishmonger profession. Ever since I started, a day didn’t pass without the fabled words “you just wait ‘til Christmas” escaping someone’s lips, and now I fully understand. Needless to say, after providing what felt like most of North, East and South-West London with their lobsters and smoked salmon for the big day a rest was definitely needed.
One thing that particularly surprised me whilst working over Christmas was the sheer amount of oysters that we sold. Having not really come from an oyster-guzzling family, it felt crazy to sell people 60, 70 and more. I love the idea of a huge platter of them, all shimmering and dressed, to be lazily consumed with a glass of prosecco whilst waiting for Christmas dinner to arrive. Although I have to say that the thought of waking up on Christmas morning with a hangover and the task of shucking them all is not hugely appealing!
With this in mind I was inspired to return to a native oyster dish that I made a few months ago and that somehow I had forgotten to write about until now. It was the middle of September, and with the water starting to gently cool the shellfish season returned. After a barren summer we now had piles of plump, strong mussels, clams squeezed tight shut and boxes of beautiful oysters. I had never really seen or eaten native oysters before, and as with anything like this I was intrigued to give them a try. An idea was soon firmly planted in my head of making a few different dressings and garnishes and celebrating this first tasting.
To cut a long story short, celebration was the furthest thing from my mind when it came to opening the first one. I had opened oysters before, but it had been about a year, and despite approaching the whole thing very confidently I was soon hot-headed and embarrassed at how I couldn’t get the damn thing open. Unlike the normal rock oysters, natives take a bit more prising, and I really wasn’t prepared for it. Luckily, with calluses fast forming on my hands, I got it open. And as per usual, once that first one was popped open the rest soon followed.
After getting in such a flap, the eventual eating was made all the sweeter. Each flavouring really worked; accompanying and not overpowering the clean, mineral taste of the oyster. I could have eaten a bowlful of the almost scampi-like crispy fried variety, as long as someone else opened them for me…
Serves 4
12 very fresh live native oysters
For the crispy oysters:
5-6 tbsp panko breadcrumbs 
3-4 tbsp plain flour 
1 large egg, beaten 
Vegetable oil for frying, approx. 500ml-1ltr
For the pickled cucumber:
1 small-medium cucumber, deseeded and cut into thin strips 
100ml cider vinegar 
50ml water 
50g caster sugar 
1 shallot, finely sliced 
1 garlic clove, crushed 
A few tarragon sprigs 
1 tsp fennel seeds
For the watercress oil:
2 handfuls watercress, washed 
1 lemon, juice only 
5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the diced apple:
½ a braeburn apple, peeled and finely diced 
1 lemon, juice only 
A small pinch of caster sugar
For the hollandaise:
200g unsalted butter 
4 tbsp white wine vinegar 
1 bay leaf 
6 black peppercorns 
2 egg yolks 
½ lemon, juice only
For the soft leek:
1 leek, finely julienned 
1 large know of butter 
A squeeze of lemon juice
To garnish:
A few small watercress leaves 
A few tarragon leaves

You can prepare the watercress oil, the diced apple, and the pickled cucumber the day before.
For the watercress oil, bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Fill up a large bowl with cold, icy water and have it ready on the side. Blanch the watercress in the hot water for 30 seconds before draining and plunging into the cold water. Once cooled squeeze dry and transfer to a food processer with the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Blitz to combine well, then transfer to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, preferably overnight. Once infused, strain through fine muslin into another bowl and discard the now used watercress pulp. Cover the green, flavoured oil and set aside until needed.
For the diced apple, put the finely chopped apple into a small bowl and combine with the lemon juice and sugar. Cover and refrigerate until needed.
To make the pickled cucumber, pour the vinegar and water into a small saucepan along with the herbs, garlic, shallot, sugar and fennel seeds. Bring to the boil. Put the cucumber strips into a small bowl and when the pickling liquor is hot, pour it over to cover. Allow to cool. 

On the day of eating, prepare the other elements of the dish.
Melt the butter for the leeks in a frying pan. Add the thin leek ribbons, season well and sweat down on a low-medium heat until soft and sweet. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Keep warm.
Melt the butter for the hollandaise in a small saucepan. While the butter is melting, add the vinegar, bay leaf and peppercorns to a small saucepan and reduce until only 1 tablespoon remaining. Strain into a small food processor. Allow both butter and vinegar to cool slightly. Add the egg yolks to the vinegar along with some seasoning and combine well. With the motor still running, very slowly drizzle in the warm butter until it has all been emulsified and you are left with a thick sauce. Mix in a squeeze of lemon juice to taste; you want it to be quite sharp. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Pour the vegetable oil for the fried oysters into a saucepan, you want enough to be 2” deep. Heat to 180⁰C.
For the crispy oysters, place two plates and a small bowl together on a work surface. Pour the panko and the flour onto the plates and beat the egg in the bowl. Season each element. Carefully coat each oyster in the flour then dip into the egg, so that it forms a thin paste around the outside. Finally cover with the panko breadcrumbs. Fry the crumbed oysters in the hot oil, in batches if necessary, for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. 

Shuck the remaining oysters just before serving. Carefully remove the meat and give the shells a quick scrub.
To plate up, arrange three shells on each dish. Spoon a dollop of the hollandaise into one of the shells and top with a raw oyster and a few tarragon leaves. Position the other raw oyster into another of the shells and pour over a little watercress oil. Garnish this one with some of the diced apple and watercress leaves. Arrange some of the pickled cucumber into the final shell and top with the crispy oyster.