Sunday, 31 July 2011
Flavour fest 2011 will kicks off with an opening ceremony taken by the current Lord Mayor from 09.45 Friday morning. Saturday will see live cooking demos from Celebrity TV cook Ching He Huang who published Chinese Food Made easy and presented the accompanying TV series. Ching is scheduled to cook at 12.45pm and again at 3pm.
Plymouth's very own TV chefs and popular restaurateurs The Tanner Brothers will be cooking live on Friday morning at 10.30am, with Peter Gorton taking the stage at 2pm.
Jacques Marchal former proprietor of Chez Nous, Plymouth's only restaurant to ever be awarded a Michelin star will be demonstrating on Sunday at 10am. Joining the well known on stage will be several of Plymouth and Devon's best loved local Restaurateurs and produce sellers.
You can find Flavour Fest situated within Plymouth city centre in and around the big screen, down to Place De Brest at the beginning of Armada Way
Saturday, 30 July 2011
The iconic restaurant is closing for three years to reopen as a culinary think tank in 2014.
Ferran Adria and business partner Juli Soler have remained single minded in changing the face of modern cooking, whilst operating at a loss each year. Some say that el bulli put Spain on the culinary radar, is that true? Well it certainly helped, but Spain has a culinary history as long and proud as those two culinary powerhouse neighbours France and Italy, perhaps even without the pretencions.
What was so special about el bulli, well to be honest i wouldn't know i never managed to secure a reservation. With 2 million requests for 8000 places each six month season (el bulli closes for the remaining six months for new dishes to be developed),a lot of people were never going to eat there. It was reported in the Observer food monthly a few years back that Ferran Adria's own mother couldn't even manage to book a table for dinner. El bulli bought the culinary world to attention with his new textures and cooking methods, he introduced the heavily abused FOAM to every Chef with a siphon. Ferran Adria labelled his cusine de-constructivism others labelled it Molecular Gastronomy a term he does not use alongside others like Thomas Kellar. His cuisine is innovative, inquisitive and forward thinking. Dishes were deconstructed - taken apart and reassembled to look and taste different while still keeping the essence of the dish. Not only did Ferran, Juli and his brother Albert, along with a handful of trusted full time staff change the way modern chefs looked at cooking they also changed Restaurant service with multi course menus taking the place of a la carte. Tapas was reborn into 30-40 small courses that mixed the sweet and savoury worlds leading to Avant Garde creativity, they have also played a hand in training some of the most exciting kitchen talent of the 21st century, think Rene Redzepi(NOMA), Jason Atherton(MAZE) and Andoni Aduriz(MUGARITZ) to name but a few. Most of these chefs worked as stagaires for free for the chance to learn from probably the most creative kitchen team in world. All is not lost as el bulli hotel remains open just outside Seville. Ferran Adria's Two Michelin starred La Alqueria restaurant situated within the hotel, serves dishes from season's past menus. Also in the hotel they reportedly serve the worlds best breakfast!
Interestingly on Yahoo's news page there is an article about the closure, with some rather interesting comments, most from people who spend most of there time writing anonymous half assed comments on subjects they know nothing about! Most commenter's had probably never heard of el bulli before tonight's Yahoo headline. Ferran Adria and el bulli were not to every one's taste, and this was well known, but hardly anyone alive can claim to have started a new cuisine and to have pushed the boundaries to new heights with a lot more to come.
Monday, 25 July 2011
A good friend recently picked up on my pouring the hot water direct onto the Coffee then adding Milk, his rational being that the boiling water scolds the Coffee therefor adding a burnt note? This is a simple dilemma that had never really crossed my mind before that day. I would be interested on some feedback in the comment section if anyone has the time.
Being British and enjoying the odd cup of rosy lee, i am fully aware of some superstition surrounding which way to stir the tea bag, and of which i hold no faith to this simple old house wives tale, but i am rather taken by the dilemma of Milk first! Now i have asked myself countless times if the Coffee does indeed taste better with Milk? I do believe that the Coffee does in fact taste better. For years i have poured on boiling water and put the scolded taste down to the instant Coffee and not a simple process of order!
Obviously a lot of people drink instant at home or in the workplace and some will only be connoisseur's of filter or ground Coffee, unfortunately i am not at liberty to possess a Coffee machine so instant it has to be!
Milk first or boiling Water?
So lets forget Diets, save the environment and hopefully start writing this bloody blog again!
Hopefully in the coming weeks i will start writing some good recipes, as money has been a bit tight this last couple of months, expect frugality!
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
1.2 litres of stock(chicken or veg)
1 apple(cored,skin on)
1 medium onion
1 tbsp of medium curry powder
1 tsp of turmeric
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Thyme(garnish with fresh thyme)
Peel and quarter the parsnip,season with salt and pepper, add a little olive oil and roast in a hot oven till cooked through and crispy. Chop one onion and saute over a low heat in a little oil. When the onions are soft and translucent, season, add the apple and saute for three minutes, then the curry powder and turmeric, saute for a further two minutes(add a little stock if to dry). Add stock and parsnips bring to the boil, blend either with a stick blender or food processor.
Garnish with Thyme, serve.
This will make just under 2 litres of soup. We also make this soup with a little potato added, sometimes substituting 100g of the Parsnip.
Sunday, 20 February 2011
ROASTED SWEET POTATO SOUP WITH FENNEL AND ALMOND (V)
600g sweet potato - peeled and cut into large chunks
4 garlic cloves - skin on
1 medium onion - skin on
1 apple - skin on and cored (do not use a mac,pad or phone)
25g flaked almonds, plus extra for garnish
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika - if smoked not at hand do not add a Benson and hedges, normal paprika is fine.
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
600ml of water for thick soup/ increase in 100ml increments if thinner soup desired
1 tsp of fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp of Maldon or similar sea salt
Pre-heat oven to 200c, peel sweet potato,cutting into thick chunks, place on a roasting tray with garlic and onion,season and drizzle with olive oil. Cook till sweet potato is tender.
While waiting for the roast you have two options either twiddle your thumbs or get on with grounding the spices. You should have chosen option two. If you were clever and chose option two, remove roasted veg from oven, skin garlic and onion, add to a blender alongside cored apple,almonds and smoked paprika. Blend adding water to create your soup. Pour out into a pan and adjust seasoning if desired.
To use as a puree on a fat day, this would go superbly with a nice piece of fatty pork. Of course you do not have to be having a fat day to use as a puree, if using as a puree only add 300ml of water.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Thursday, 2 December 2010
Two years, two long bloody years with no foreign travel. Somewhere somehow two years salary disappears bills,mortgage and other mundane aspects of the daily grind which unfortunately we have to pay for.
The two year hiatus is over, a trip is planned - Morocco, Gibraltar, Spain and Portugal.
For fiance it's relaxation time, how she purposed to relax is beyond the scope of this entry or any other entry for that matter. It was her idea you see to go overland
from Marrakesh to Faro - Portugal making the travel plan as we go, using trains, buses, taxis and the odd ship!
For myself however relaxation was never on the agenda, knowing full well and with a dearth of travel behind me, a five stop three country and a colony for good measure was going to be anything but relaxation. What do you do in times like this - think of the food of course!
Morocco had to be the biggest let down of the trip by far! Of course plenty of time was spent immersed amongst the labyrinth like souks which fan in all directions from the Djemaa Al-Fna, but still full from a filling but mundane hotel breakfast we somehow managed to miss the fun of local eating on the first full day. Tajine's were consumed on the trip but not anything like i was hoping for! The problem must lie with the massive influx of tourists? Every Tom,Dick and Abdul was offering Tajine or other local speciality's. Whilst I'm fully aware that some Tajine's go to the community Hammans to be cooked slowly in the residual heat, also being made by expert hands, we on the other hand must have consumed the tourist quota!
The one missing link on our behalf was not trying the market stands that appear on the Djemaa Al-Fla as dusk approaches, we were there but Photography was also very high on the agenda. On reflection this probably would have fulfilled the foodie obligation of seeking authentic good food, so sadly, a missed opportunity but in this day and age only a short hop on a cheap flight we will be sure to sample the Djemaa again.
Of course Morocco isn't all about Tagine's, Brochettes and Shawarma were devoured with gutso and fiance's sweet tooth took a bit of abuse with the vast array of sweet delights and pastries, perhaps a legacy of the French but certainly ingrained in society.
Next stop on the Marrakesh express,- Rabat the capital, a charming leafy city with wide boulevards, tree lined streets, a less bustling Medina and the odd pick pocket.
While only a fleeting visit, miles were walked amongst these charming streets. Food wise most Moroccan staples could be found on offer but whether or not it was the moment or the toast was really that good, what we ate in the cafe on Rue Ghazza was truly memorable. Fresh French bread with butter and local orange marmalade, with good strong coffee!
I have as yet managed to place what part was so special, but i imagine it was the combination of the four. (Cafe is opposite Hotel Splendid Rue Ghazza)
For our second journey on Morocco's limited but excellent rail network we travelled straight through to Tangier just in time for the 1400hrs sailing to Tarifa Andalusia, our end destination to be Gibraltar.
Gibraltar was to be our home away from home for four nights, however i wouldn't recommend turning up looking for a hotel as there is only seven. We were lucky to find a room in the Cheapest hotel on the rock - The Cannon.
A good little hotel with friendly staff. Rooms start at £42 a double with shared bathroom rising to 50+ with own bathroom.
Just round the corner on Main street you will find The Horseshoe pub with the ever entertaining Abdul managing the bar - just don't tell him your age, it could end up a rich topic of conversation!
Restaurants are one a penny throughout the rock, as are pubs serving food but most follow the standard pattern of British pub grub with Spanish staples on the menu! Amusingly most pubs appear to have a serious sachet fetish! You name it they have it in a sachet!
With a start in La Linea across the border we headed up to Seville by bus. Four hours later with a good look at the Andalusian countryside and a stop in every village, Seville greeted us with a downpour and a mist you could set a Stephen king horror to!
Weather aside what a delightful city steeped in culture and the most amazing food.
Seville is one of the homes to Spanish Tapas and what a great time was had bar hopping and grazing. Most tapas are simple and with a very basic grasp of Spanish most bar menus are relatively simple to decipher.
Tapas are not the only delight of Seville with several Bodegas dotted around the city where great sherry from Jerez and neighbouring producers that can be drank alongside small plates of hearty food.
But as always ulterior motives play at least some part in most travel plans and all was revealed on the second day - Jamon Iberico bellota!
As some of the best Ham in the world is produced in Andalusia this had to be the place to sample and buy, but i will leave that for another post along with the authentic Tortilla Espanola i have been trying to perfect!
Last stage was a through bus to Faro - Portugal, which was not without incident!
E U borders are not normally that interesting unless Obama and the rest of NATO are in town.
Before we could even say Portugal we were hauled into a makeshift Immigration post complete with concrete barriers strewn across the four lane motorway. Police,Immigration and several mean looking albeit not long out of diapers GNR officers were all over the bus!
With in minutes we were turned back to Spain due too an American backpacking kid not having his passport. The miserable shit of a driver was going to leave him on the side of the Motorway in the middle of nowhere, but sensed an on board mutiny, so agreed to drop him to a local town!
Back over the border and through the same tedious, mundane fiasco yet again. The GNR kindergarten cops going through every millimeter of every bag en route to Lisbon.
Now interestingly there was only four or five passengers disembarking in Faro, and our bags were left alone. Now if you wanted to disrupt a gathering with heightened security would you take a direct route? I certainly would not. While i realise Portuguese Police might not be the best in the land, the whole fiasco was kind of complete Bullshit. Why check all bags but four? To top off the fiasco some clown from Bomb squad boarded the bus, not sure what he was trying to find but i doubt he could even find the Bunsen burner in second year Chemistry!
Eventually arriving after a two hour delay to our last stop Faro. A bed for three nights at the Residential Dandy, strange name, even stranger place but all the same very quaint with a very helpful and cheerful owner.
A nice place to while away a day or two with plenty of restaurants offering the same fish and seafood dishes at not so cheap prices!
We did most of our eating in a French run place two streets back from The Dandy which was homely with a good little crowd of staff!
An interesting little trip that Spain has managed to put a culinary spark back in this mans life!!
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Childhood memories of Bubble, still fresh in the mind, crispy fried potatoes with leftover veg, gravy from yesterdays roast, maybe a little meat on the side if we were lucky!
Bubble and squeak is a traditional British dish, very similar to Colcannon the Irish favourite. Surprisingly this dish has a little lore to help it along with it own piece of cockney rhyming slang "BUBBLE AND SQUEAK- GREEK". The term bubble applies to the noise that the mashed potato makes when fried, and if cooked the traditional way as a giant Pattie is does indeed bubble as it cooks as for the squeak it is said that the cabbage makes it own noise, squeaking as it cooks!
Traditionally Cabbage is added or in place Brussels sprouts, in reality recipes evolve over time, i like too add some parsley and chives but this is in no way traditional. All manner of leftover veg can be added, but for now we will stick with good old Cabbage.
500g floury potatoes
50g butter (unsalted)
200-400g Cabbage- shredded centre stalk removed
1 onion - sliced
20g flat parsley
Hot milk 1-3 tbsp (optional)
Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender, drain, mash in the pan with butter,parsley and chives, season to taste with salt and pepper. If the mash is too dense you can add a little hot milk, but you do not want a wall paper paste consistency!
Add half the oil to a heavy based saute pan, fry the onion and cabbage for 3 -4 minutes until softened. Season well with salt and pepper, add the mash.
Press the mash firmly down into the pan and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes. You will find that the mash bubbles, hence the name! You will need at this point, to continue to keep the mash in contact with the base of the pan, a good crisp base is what we are looking for.
After or when satisfied that the base is crispy enough, place a suitable sized plate over the saute pan and invert so that the Pattie is now on the plate. Place the rest of the oil into the saute pan and slide the Pattie back in, uncooked side to the base of the pan, cook for a further 5 minutes or until satisfied with crispness.
Turn out onto a plate and serve immediately!
Alternatively form into small Patties and fry until crisp on both sides! Bubble and squeak is great eaten as supper or as a breakfast dish with fried eggs and bacon or even served alone, or with eggs. Traditionally eaten on mondays or the day after a roast.This is a dish of thrift using leftovers, fresh ingredients really shine when paired with mash and fried. Broccoli,kale and sprouts are all good, adjust cooking times accordingly. As kids all manner of veg would appear from cauliflower to carrots.
Sunday, 9 May 2010
Well there are several reasons really, Honest! Cauliflowers are nutritious, low in calories, cheap and have super food status - Unfortunately when your a child none of these reasons really amount too much! That is until you pour a good cheese sauce over the florets and bake in an oven.
Thankfully as I've matured so has my palette, so i find myself enjoying just cooked cauliflower with a sprinkle of sea salt and a turn of black pepper, with the cheese sauce as a treat occasionally. Cauliflower cheese although often relegated to veggie frozen food fodder, should be a treat. A good cauliflower cheese can stand alone or be served as a side say with roast meats, particularly roast beef!
Serve 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main.
1 lge head of cauliflower(outer foliage removed)
200g mature Cheddar(grated)
1 small onion
400ml of milk(semi or whole)
75g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
5 black peppercorns(whole)
1 bay leaf(torn)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
5 tsp double cream(optional)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese(optional)
Pinch of chilli powder(optional)
Pinch of ground mace(optional)
Nutmeg to taste
Sea salt and ground pepper(Please remember that pepper has already been used and that you may have sufficient salt from the cheese).
Roughly chop the onion and place in a pan with the milk,cloves,black pepper corns and the bay leaf. Bring to the boil, take off heat and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes.
Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil(1 tsp of salt per a litre of water).Trim Cauliflower of foliage, cut into bite sized florets. Cook for 8-10 minutes,drain and reserve.
Just before the end of the milk infusion time, melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted gradually sieve plain flour into the butter, stirring to form a roux. This is the basis of the white sauce. Once a smooth paste has formed-free of lumps, strain the infused milk into the roux, whilst stirring at all times. Once incorporated gradually add the cheese. Once smooth add Dijon mustard and double cream-if using.
Adjust seasoning if required and add optional mace and/or chilli if desired.
Placed reserved Cauliflower florets into an ovenproof dish and pour on the cheese sauce, place into a preheated oven 190/375f/gas 5 for 15 minutes, remove, add a grating of nutmeg too taste and the Parmesan cheese. Return too the oven and remove when browned.
While not a standard cheese sauce for cauliflower, and probably not the easiest recipe around the effort is worth it, as they say the proof is in the pudding!
All manner of extra ingredients could be used crispy bacon or pancetta could be added along with breadcrumbs for the final browning. Chopped chives,horseradish sauce or English mustard could be used instead. You could add cooked pasta too the recipe for a hybrid of Macaroni cheese. Really, variations could be endless.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
3 long dried chillies seeds removed and reconstituted in water for 8-12 minutes
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tbsp galangal- skinned and chopped
2 tbsp lemongrass lower 1/3 chopped
2 tbsp purple asian shallots chopped
1 tbsp garlic smashed
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp turmeric skinned and chopped or pwdered if unavailable
Using a pestle and mortar pound all of the ingredients, starting with the hardest first until you form a smooth paste. Alternatively make the paste in a blender/liquidizer with a touch of water if too dry.
Makes 3-4 tbsp
1/2 tsp salt
12 big red dried chillies - seeds removed, soaked in water for 8 - 12 minutes, then finely chopped
1 tbsp galangal- skinned and chopped
4 tbsp lemongrass- lower 1/3 finely chopped
1 tsp shrimp paste
Pound in a pestle and mortar, until smooth. Alternatively for an easier but not so good result place in a blender/liquidizer to form a smooth paste, a touch of water may be needed!
Will make 4-5 tbsp
1 tsp coriander seeds - roasted until fragrant and coloured
1/2 tsp cumin seeds -roasted until fragrant and coloured
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp galangal
3 tbsp lemongrass-white lower 1/3- finely chopped
1 tsp kaffir lime peel- chopped or 2 finely shredded lime leaves
2 tbsp coriander root- chopped(see note)
2 tbsp asian shallots(purple)- chopped
1 tbsp garlic - smashed
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp turmeric- skinned and chopped or dried if fresh not available
20 small green chillies
1 good handful of sweet basil leaves
As with the red paste start with the hardest ingredients first, which in this case would naturally be the dried spices. Pound to a powder, then add remaining ingredients, starting with the hardest(lemongrass). Pound until paste is smooth - 10 -15 minutes. Alternatively place in a blender/liquidizer, you may need to moisten with a touch of water.
Makes 4-5 tbsp
If coriander root is unavailable, use the stems from a coriander plant, or nearest to where the root was to be found. Unfortunately most shops and suppliers sell coriander rootless! The logic behind using the roots is that the coriander plant draws its nutrients and flavour through the roots therefor these will provide a superior flavour!
Sunday, 22 November 2009
1 tbsp coriander seeds (roasted until fragrant)
2 cardamon pods (roasted until fragrant)
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon of salt
10 big dried red chillies - seeds removed and pre-soaked in water for 10 minutes, then finely chopped.
5g lemongrass-chopped (white bottom piece)
5g kaffir lime peel - (alternatively use 2 lime leaves center stem removed and finely chopped. Kaffir limes are harder to come by in the west, kaffir lime leaves are easily bought frozen).
10g coriander root - chopped i(f not available use 10g of the stems closest to the roots)
15g shallots -(chopped) small asian shallots with pink skins
15g garlic - crushed
5g shrimp paste
10 small red chillies
Place the dried ingredients into a pestle and mortar,grind to a powder. Add the rest of the ingredients,hardest first and pound to a smooth paste. This can take long time but the result is well worth the effort.
I find that adding an ingredient at a time and pounding is easier to work with, else the mortar is overloaded. Alternatively add all of the ingredients to a blender or spice grinder, and blitz to a smooth paste. You might need to loosen the ingredients with a little water. This method is not as good as the latter but does make a suitable paste.
The paste can be stored in the fridge for up to a week in a sealed container and can be frozen, but the flavour will diminish.
Monday, 16 November 2009
Anyhow back to the burgers. For a while now i have been wanting to make beef burgers with sweet chilli sauce, and serve them in buns with sliced cucumber! Nothing special, probably bizarre to your average fast food customer, but the result was pleasing and the Fish sauce fiance enjoyed, for me it was just taking ingredients that i enjoy and bringing them together. If you have had the pleasure of eating cucumber in a fish sauce based Thai dipping sauce, then we will more than likely be on the same wavelength!
MAKES 6-8 - DEPENDING ON SIZE
500g lean mince beef
2 tbsp of Thai sweet chilli sauce(shop bought condiment)
2 tsp of Thai fish sauce
1 small onion (finely chopped)
Sea salt and ground black pepper
Sliced and peeled cucumber
Place the finely chopped onion and mince into a food processor and pulse till it forms a ball. Remove and place into a mixing bowl make a well in the middle and add the chilli and fish sauce, and black pepper to taste. Mix using your hands and form into patties of your desired size , season with salt and pepper. Best cooked on a griddle or griddle pan. Cook to your liking, about 6-8 minutes does the trick! Of course you can cook these under the grill or shallow fry.
Rest the burgers for a couple of minutes, meanwhile wipe the griddle of excess fat, then toast your buns or alternatively grill the buns and serve with a little melted strong chedder if desired and sliced cucumber.
Choose your potatoes, give them a peel, and slice into big chips. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, whilst waiting, heat the oven to 220C/gas 7/450 F. Find a suitable tray or roasting tin and place a film of sunflower oil or olive oil over the base(3-4 tbsp). Place the tray into the oven. Once the water is boiling place your chips into the water, bring back to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain then place into the hot oil, coat with the oil and season with sea salt and ground black pepper, back into the oven for 35- 40 minutes or until golden brown. Turn occasionally.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Serves 4- 6
3 tbsp olive oil
25g unsalted butter (optional)
6 parsnips (cut into bite sized pieces)
300g red split lentils (washed)
1 large onion (finely sliced)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 tbsp of tomato puree
1 litre of good chicken stock
1 tsp of red wine vinegar
whole blanched almonds
fresh coriander to garnish
2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp of ground coriander seed
1 tsp of ground cumin seed
1 tsp of black peppercorns (finely ground)
1 tsp of fenugreek
1 tsp of turmeric
Saute the parsnips in the olive oil until starting to colour, add onion and garlic, add the butter allow the onion to soften then add all of the spices, stir to combine then add tomato puree. Allow to cook for 1 minute then add stock and lentils. Bring to the boil for ten minutes then turn down to a simmer. Add 1 tsp of red wine vinegar and allow to simmer for 25 - 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked . If a soup consistency is preferred, top up with boiling water. Check for seasoning throughout cooking, be mindful of saltiness if using bought stock.
Ladle into bowls or similar receptacles sprinkle fresh chopped coriander and blanched almonds.
Monday, 19 October 2009
250g red split lentils (washed and drained)
6 medium carrots (roughly chopped)
3 tbsp of olive oil
1 large onion (sliced)
1 litre of good chicken stock or veg stock
1 tbsp of tomato puree plus 1 teaspoon
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
2 cm piece of fresh ginger (finely chopped)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp of cumin (freshly ground)
1 tsp of coriander (freshly ground)
10 black peppercorns (freshly ground)
1 tsp of turmeric
Heat a large enough pan with the olive oil, once hot add the onions,garlic and ginger and saute for 5 minutes (do not allow to burn). After 5 minutes add the spices and tomato puree - cook for 1 minute, add the carrots cook for a further minute then add the stock and lentils. Bring to the boil and allow to cook for 10 minutes, then turn down the heat and simmer for a further 35 minutes. You will more than likely have to top up with boiling water during simmering, how much depends on how thick you like your soup. Check for seasoning during cooking, but be aware of salt levels if not using homemade stock.
This is a very economical dish to make, and very healthy, you could cut back on the olive oil to 2 tbsp. You do not have to stop at just the soup. Various garnishes could be added on serving or just eat with Naan or flat bread. A small knob of unsalted butter in each dish is a welcome addition and some crisp fried onions could be added great texture.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
First a little background Le Champignon Sauvage is located in Cheltenham - Gloucestershire, nestling on the edge of the delightful Cotswold's. The restaurant is run by a husband and wife team with a very small brigade in the kitchen and two extra staff front of house. The couple are probably one of the most respected in the restaurant industry, due to there dedication to there restaurant with David never missing a kitchen service since opening. Helen his wife deserves equal credit for the way she runs the front of house. With two Michelin stars , 8/10 in the good food guide, 4 AA stars, Cateys,chef of the year and a list of awards and achievements too long to list, this is a serious restaurant at the top of it's game but without a hint of attitude. As paying customers you are made more than welcome. The meal will start with elegant little Gougeres, lovingly handmade at the restaurant, then a shot glass of soup with a froth or foam on top. Pea and coconut is just one of the few we have had. These two amuses are as much a part of the restaurant as the two michelin stars. Breads are too die for, normally presented in 3 -4 different variety's, and all hand baked on the premises. There is a choice of two menus one priced at £25 for two courses and £30 for three courses, which allows you to substitute a cheese course for dessert or cheese as a separate course for £9 supplement (cheese comes with handmade biscuits and bread ,made on the premises).The second menu is priced at £45 for two courses, £55 for three courses or £64 for three courses and cheese. The second menu naturally makes use of more expensive ingredients such as scallops. Coffee and petit fours are £3 per a person and really showcase the skill that this establishment operates at. Mini rum baba, chocolates and nougat can be found among the offerings. The style of cooking is French with inspiration coming from across the globe. Although the cooking has it's roots in the Terroir modern methods are embraced but not abused, and clever use of wild and foraged foods abound. This restaurant proves that good ingredients, skills and knowledge can produce exceptional food from sometimes humble ingredients. On my last visit to start, i ordered a Thai vegetable broth with lemongrass oil which actually tasted of Thailand rather than a miss matched grouping of south east Asian ingredients, for main course i had lamb with Moroccan spices and a chick pea puree, which had been elevated to new heights.
David Everitt Matthias is perhaps one of the only truly world class chefs that Britain has produced as not many can claim the level of skill, knowledge and expertise across all departments in the kitchen and not forgetting skills in wild foods and butchery. I like to think of David Everitt Matthias as Britain's answer to Thomas Keller, but as the saying goes behind every great man is a women and this truly is the case. What would Le Champignon Sauvage be with only excellent cooking, the whole experience is not just based on food alone. The service from the start to finish is truly great with everyone made to feel a part of the restaurant experience.
But the one question i have and i do know others often ask, is why do they only have two Michelin stars? Is it because thirty staff are not on hand? The cooking is of three star quality and the service can match. It is about time Michelin gave this restaurant the credit that is so deserved.
24-28 Suffolk Road
- Tel . 01242 573449
Open for lunch and dinner tuesday to saturday.
Monday, 31 August 2009
With two different menu's on offer this lunch time, we opted for the lunch menu as time was not to our advantage, this menu was then offered at £20 for three courses. On being seated we were presented with a small loaf of bread cut into five slices, apart from the odd number and ensuing argument as there was two of us and five slices, the bread was exceptional , moist, warm and great textured, a real treat, seeing how two of our Michelin 3 starred restaurants buy there bread in!
Although a little slow to start with, the service gradually improved once the wait staff eventually ceased handing out little glasses and showing off with isi syphons, although not a part of the lunch menu some tables were seated after us and received the gas drinks while we were seated empty handed. For first courses my partner had the pigeon and i opted for the beetroot risotto with pickled fennel, pistachios and iced yogurt. The risotto was flavourful if a little pungent, resulting in a good cough on a couple of occasions. The dish was good but the very small portion size, made it a struggle to eat, with all of the accompaniments a deeper beetroot flavour would have been more welcome. Second courses arrived with my partner opting for slow roast pork and salisfy, myself olive oil poached salmon, chicken wing and Jerusalem artichoke puree the salmon had benefited from the olive oil poaching no doubt sous vide leaving a very agreeable moist piece of fish that deserved recognition, as for the inclusion of the chicken wing was it there to make up the numbers we shall never know. My partner's slow roast pork was succulent and a little try of the salisfy was a first for us both, on too dessert i opted for the chocolate tart with beetroot ice cream, it struck as strange in a restaurant cooking at this level to have principle ingredients repeated, although the ice cream had a wonderful texture and good flavour, sadly you needed a magnifying glass to spot the chocolate tart. The chocolate tart was fair showing good technical
skill, but sadly did not pack a big enough punch to warrant it minuscule size. On the other side of the table an angelica ice cream with mango was duly finished and so i am told was rather good.
Not a bad meal but not exceptional either, while far better than any offering in my home town of Plymouth. Following the route of molecular gastronomy is not an easy path. Judgments become clouded, portions become small and sometimes you just want something to eat! This establishment has great potential, and maybe i have lost my patience with Ultra modern cooking, but flashes of brilliance are most definately in the background with the bread and the salmon, while the presentation could hold it's own in any establishment in this country!
We paid approximately £60 for two with two bottled beers and one glass of house wine. At present the lunch pricing is slightly higher starting at £25 per head. Two menus are offered with vegaterian dishes on request.
38 HIGH STREET
WESTBURY ON TRYM
TEL : 0117 959 2884
3 tbsp of tahini paste
2 cloves garlic
1 lime or lemon if preferred
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Using a pestle and mortar pound the garlic with a small pinch of sea salt, when pounded to a paste add the Tahini and combine. Add the lime juice, taste and adjust to preferred seasoning. To achieve the right consistency thin with a little water adding a tablespoon at a time, the consistency should resemble thick cream.
Monday, 24 August 2009
3 TBSP OF VEGATABLE OIL OR GROUNDNUT OIL
2 TSP OF CHINESE FIVE SPICE POWDER
VERY SMALL PINCH OF SALT
4 METAL SKEWERS
16 BABY NEW POTATOES
ONION CUT INTO WEDGES
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER
HALF A LIME
Blanch the new potatoes for 7-8 minutes in boiling water, drain. When cool enough to handle thread an onion wedge then a potato and so on till you end with an onion wedge, you should have four potatoes and five onion wedges. Place on a grill rack or in a roasting tray and baste all over with the marinade, season with salt and pepper, then place into a pre - heated oven (190c/375f/gas 5) for 35 minutes. You should have enough marinade for two more bastes during cooking.
Half a lime for four kebabs. Place the skewers onto a plate, and squeeze the juice of half a lime over the kebabs. This is a great side dish to serve with filled pitta breads or eat alone as a tasty snack.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
In this day and age of odd flavour combinations that for the most part do not work and chemistry labs replacing kitchens and not forgetting the need for the periodic table on a plate, this was a welcome experience even if i had to wear a bloody jacket. The cooking is outstanding and the service excellent, with well executed and thought out dishes, presented nicely without the need for interference from picasso. Recent articles and reviews in cyberspace nod towards the vibe that Royal Hospital road is dated and not adding the wow factor, while this may be true for some, for others the cooking is excellent, classical and refined with enough modern touches to keep up to date with the avent garde of today.
Set lunch £45 - 3 courses
A la carte £90 - 3 courses
Menu prestige £120 - 7 courses
12.5 % gratuity on top of bill
Opening times: 12-2.30pm
18.30 - 23.00
Address: 68 Royal hospital road
TEL: 020 7352 4441
FAX: 020 7352 3334
Reservations on above number up to 2 months in advance, or 1 month on new online reservation system (lunch bookings only)
Dress code: Jackets preferred- no jeans
Restaurant website: http://www.gordonramsay.com/
Friday, 14 August 2009
Wash the beetroot in cold water, then cut off the top and tail end leaving the skin intact. Place into unsalted boiling water for 1 1/2 - 2 hrs depending on size, if the skin comes away easily they are cooked or alternatively pierce with a sharp knife, if there is no give in the beetroot and the knife glides easily through they are ready.
You will need the following;
1 litre/2 pints of malt vinegar
15g 0f Allspice
15g of Tellicherry black pepper corns or black pepper corns
2 bay leafs
6 cooked Beetroot
1 large jar or two medium (enough to hold the beetroot and vinegar)
Bring the pepper,spices,bay and vinegar to the boil, once boiling turn off the heat and allow to infuse. Allow the vinegar to go cold and strain. Slice the prepared beetroot into 5-6mm slices and place into sterilized jar/s, then pour over the cold vinegar, and if desired place the bay leaf/s into the jar/s or discard. Cover with clingfilm if using metal lids and close with a tight fitting lid. Allow 1 week before eating. Pickled beetroot will last up to 9 months in a sealed jar.
To sterilize the jars before use, place jars in boiling water for 10 minutes and allow to dry upside down on a clean tea towel or place into a dishwasher and allow a full cycle.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
PER A PERSON - LET YOUR COMMON SENSE PREVAIL IF SERVING MORE THAN ONE AS A STARTER!!
12 olive oil croutons
2 baby plum tomatoes
5 basil leaves torn
1 tbsp of parmesan cheese
1 tsp of lemon
Pinch of sea sal and one good turn of the pepper mill.
Place the croutons and tomatoes in a serving dish/bowl, season with the salt and pepper. Scatter the basil leaves and grated parmesan then add the lemon. Serve!
Croutons can be frozen or stored for a couple of days in an airtight container.
2 tbsp of Veg oil
700-750g beef mince
100g pancetta or bacon
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
1 tin of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
2 tbsp of tomato puree
150 ml of water or beef stock
1 medium onion (fine dice)
2 cloves of garlic (fine dice)
1 green bell pepper (fine dice)
1 long red chilli (de-seeded and finely chopped)
1 tsp of gold blend or similar coffee
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1 tsp of dried oregano
Sea salt and Freshly ground black pepper
Half teaspoon each of chilli powder and paprika
1 tbsp of coriander seeds (freshly ground)
1 tsp of cumin (freshly ground)
Fry mince and drain, wipe out the pan and heat the oil, once hot add the onion and peppers, cook for roughly two minutes, then add the de-seeded chilli and garlic. After 1 minute return the mince to the pan (season)and add the tinned tomato, tomato puree, and kidney beans - stir to combine. Add the spices and coffee and Worcester sauce. (season)
Allow to cook for 5 minutes then add 150ml of water or stock if using, cover the pan and simmer for half an hour. Check for seasoning before serving!
The serving of chilli con carne is nothing more than a personal choice in my eyes. Baked potato, chips or rice or whatever you fancy! It can be eaten on it's own or with simple accompaniments, left for a day to improve or eaten straight from the pan the choice is all yours. I like a little sour cream, quartered tomato and some strong grated Cheddar with mine, but this is food memories!
For a richer version add a big knob of butter to each serving dish, but whatever you choose enjoy!
Thursday, 23 July 2009
150g dark chocolate 55% cocoa solids (broken into small pieces)
1 tsp of caster sugar
Heat the cream with the sugar, once hot but not boiling, remove from the heat then add the small pieces of chocolate. Stir well, making sure that the chocolate has thoroughly dissolved into the cream. Serve at immediately if hot chocolate sauce is required if not leave to go cold!
Monday, 13 July 2009
(If using fresh make an incision at the vine end, plunge into boiling water for a maximum of 10 seconds then peel. De-seed then finely chop)
125g tomato puree
125ml red wine
2 cloves garlic (crushed with the back of a knife with a little coarse sea salt)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of fresh oregano or 1 tsp of dried
handful of flat leaf parsley
1 tsp sweet paprika
Heat a skillet or large saucepan with the olive oil over a medium heat, add the shallot and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes- season. Add the tomato puree and red wine. Allow the sauce to absorb the wine, then add the oregano and parsley if using. Stir and adjust seasoning. Add the paprika if required stir again and allow to simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
RECIPE - MEATBALLS;
500g beef mince or 250/250 mix of pork and beef mince
75g bread (day old fresh loaf)
Good handful of fresh flat leaf parsley
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
Milk (enough to just cover)
Blitz the bread in a food processor, when finely crumbed add a touch of milk, enough so that all of the crumbs are coated. Once the bread has absorbed the milk add the parsley and garlic - blitz. Add the mince and Parmesan blitz again to break down the mince, then season with salt and pepper. The mince is now ready to be formed into meatballs, this recipe will yield 32 meatballs of the size of a golf ball. Reserve.
If you do not have a food processor, use your hands and a mixing bowl. The food processor is used for a finer texture.
Friday, 10 July 2009
Now as i have come of age, well the last couple of years really, we seek out high end food, experiences that will be remembered, hopefully for years to come. The weekend was planned weeks in advance, phone calls were made- a table for two at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, a table at Casamia in bristol and lunch on the way home in my all time favourite restaurant Le Champignon Sauvage. The idea was to experience a 3 michelin star restaurant for the first time, we have eaten in two starred restaurants and a handful of 1 stars, we have even managed a couple of entries in the worlds 50 best restaurant category. The idea was to take our Champagne tastes on beer money budget through the michelin stars, 1-3 in four days, then disaster struck.
A couple of days prior to leaving we needed to make a reservation for Le champignon sauvage, to find that on the tuesday we had planned they were closed for 3 weeks for summer holidays.
A quick scan of available 2 stars in the area, came up with some nice options, but being a little stubborn it was Le champignon sauvage or nothing, my birthday my choice!
The weekend started with a 3 course meal in bristol at Casamia (Review to follow), a restaurant that is family run with the distinction of winning a michelin star in the 2009 guide, then on too swindon to our base for the weekend and one of my favourite places to eat - my sisters.
Sunday was a day of rest, in prepartion for our first 3 * dining experience, monday came with a short train journey to london and a long walk from Paddington to Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (review to follow), then a stroll along the the Chelsea embankment to the houses of parliment.
Not knowing London too well, as Heathrow is normally my first and last stop, we headed for Harrods with only one department on the agenda - you probably guessed right the food hall!
The hunt for a reasonable quality Balsamic vinegar and a small bottle of Truffle oil, finally came to an end at the checkout, before heading back to paddington, via Notting Hill on a reconnaissance mission to find the location of two bookshops Books for Cooks which was closed mondays and the Travel bookshop. A great four days with a couple of small mishaps Le Champignon Sauvage being closed for holidays and Books for Cooks not being open! I am sure next birthday we will try again, but be sure it will be better planned!
There are ways you can actually spread out what is left, possibly even stretch the leftovers for a lunch time treat. Try warming the bolognese, toast some thinly sliced bread, rub with a little garlic, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil onto the slices, spread a thin layer of bolognese on each slice, a little torn basil and some cheese. Parmesan, Pecorino,Mozzarella or your favourite Cheddar. Pop this under the grill, melt the cheese, you have lunch! It is important that the bread is thinly sliced and the layer of bolognese is spread evenly. Eating will become a chore unless you have a mouth the size of jordan. Of course you could sit and use a knife and fork but where is a the fun in that!
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
The beauty of Spaghetti bolognese - especially for me, is the nostalgia of this hybrid of a dish, with no real version's existing anywhere, the closet being the Italian Ragu (recipe soon), you really could use my own personal recipe as a base to launch all manner of additions.
100g pancetta (diced or cubed)
700g beef mince ( increase mince to 1000g for a six person serving)
1 400g can of good quality tomatoes
200ml of red wine
1 lge onion (finely chopped)
1 carrot (finely diced)
1 stick of celery (finely diced)
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sweet paprika
3 tbsp of tomato puree
3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic ( crushed with a garlic press or minced with the back of a knife and a little salt.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
optional mushrooms 6-8 quartered
Cook off the mince and drain excess fat. Using the same pan(wipe out if desired, i do not wipe out, as i like the flavour from the small amount of beef fat that remains in the pan) add 3 tbsp of olive oil, when at a medium heat, add the onion,carrot and celery, cook for 5 minutes or until softened, now add the diced pancetta. Cook for 2 minutes, add the mushrooms if using, once the mushrooms have softened add the mince and garlic. Give a good stir, then add the wine, when the wine has reduced to a sauce consistency add the canned tomatoes, tomato puree and paprika. Add the red wine vinegar and give a good stir before turning down the heat and allowing to simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Before serving allow enough time for a large pan of water to boil and cook your spaghetti according to your liking, allowing 80 - 100g per a person.
Fresh Basil leaves torn. If preferred roll into a cigar shape and finely slice to produce a chiffonade, a good pinch for a person.
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Try to season at regular intervals, and do not be afraid of the salt, this is not processed food. If you desire a wetter sauce you can add 100 ml of hot water during cooking or some good quality beef stock. I prefer too use hot water if the sauce is too dry.
Saturday, 27 June 2009
click on bad photograph, to view close up of finished texture!
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Serves 4 as a side dish - or 2 hungry people.
500g cooked long grain rice
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic
1 red chilli
10g fresh ginger
90g chopped onion
175g finely chopped free range chicken thigh
2 tbsp of mild curry powder
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp of palm sugar
Optional fresh lime wedge for each plate
Optional peeled cucumber slices
A Turn of fresh black pepper for each plate
Heat a large frying pan or wok with the oil - until hot. Once hot add the garlic,chilli and ginger and stir fry till the garlic is golden. Add the curry powder and stir fry for 10 seconds, now add the onion's, cook for a further minute, before adding the chicken. Once the chicken has coloured add the cooked rice and stir fry -3 minutes. Add the soy sauce stirring through, then repeat with the fish sauce and palm sugar. Stir fry all of the ingredients till you are sure that the chicken is cooked through and the rice thoroughly reheated.
Turn out into bowls and garnish with shredded spring onion(scallions), chopped coriander and a turn of freshly ground black pepper. Place a lime wedge if liked for squeezing over rice and add some peeled and sliced cucumber for texture.
Thursday, 14 May 2009
The book with it's clever outer cover conjures up images of denim with a nifty little tag proclaiming the books title, in the style of very famous branded jeans - red tab anyone! A big picture of the man himself plating a dish also adjourns the front cover with two very influential write ups on the back cover from Mr jay Raynor(Observer food critic) and Marcus Wareing(multi Michelin starred chef), the two statements on the back are shouting this is a serious cook book, not to be taken lightly and certainly not for the kitchen novice.
Recipes are inventive with clever use of flavour pairings and great use of micro herbs and salads. With just over 220 pages and some great food photography this book nearly reaches the food porn category, but is clearly aimed at the serious home cook with big ambitions. I would expect to find this on every budding Masterchef contestants book shelve.
Recipes include Halibut with Beetroot and Orange salad, Roasted Scallops with Apple and Ginger puree with Fennel Sauce, Roasted Smoked Fois Gras with Onion Mousse, Beef Fillet with Parsley Risotto, Braised Snails and Red Wine Garlic. Desserts include Apple and Rosemary Mousse with Calvados Ice Cream, Strawberry and Red Pepper and Orange and Olive Oil Cake with Candied Celery. This is just a selection of many recipes with a good section at the back on fundamentals which include sorbets,stocks and purees. My only gripe with this book is,
that you have to consult other pages during a recipe for components of different dishes.
A really great book with wonderful use of seasonal ingredients, a must also for connoisseurs of fine food and cookbook junkies alike!
- ISBN : 978-1-84773-160-9
- £25 UK price
The Great British menu is a TV series on BBC 2 in the UK. This current series has Chefs from around the UK challenging each other for a place to cook for homecoming troops returning from Afghanistan. The banquet that they will cook for will contain four courses and the winner of each course will cook.All contestants are at the top of there game and most have Michelin stars. Previous series have seen the winners cook for The Queen and French Ambassador.
Monday, 11 May 2009
1 tbsp star anise
1 tbsp sichuan pepper
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp cloves
Grind all of the spices in a pestle and mortar,clean coffee/spice grinder or use the blender attachment on the food processor. Once ground to a fine powder the blend can be stored in an air tight container for 2-3 months after which freshness will be lost leading to inferior five spice, like wise it is essential to use spices that are in date.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
500G red onion
500ml beef stock
25 g unsalted butter
20g beef dripping
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2ml red wine vinegar
sea salt and ground black pepper
First slice the onions into rings. Heat a large saute pan over a medium heat and melt the dripping, once hot add the onion and saute for 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper, then turn down the heat a little and allow to cook down for 20 minutes, add the butter and Dijon mustard cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer adjust the seasoning and add vinegar if required. The gravy should now be ready, or simmer for longer for a thicker consistency.
1.2 kg Maris piper
150 ml of whole milk(warm)
150g unsalted butter
Sea Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into even sized chunks. Add to the boiling water. Once cooked through but not falling apart(check with a sharp knife- pierce the potato, if the potato slides off the blade easily they are done). Pass through a potato ricer into a bowl or sauce pan, now give the potatoes a good mashing with a potato masher to ensure that it is lump free. Warm the milk to just below boiling and add to the potato, start to fold in from the outside, once incorporated fold the butter into the potato in four stages until all used. Season to taste. ( If the potato cools to much add to a non stick pan and gently heat ensuring that the potato is kept moving at all times. A spatula is a good choice of utensil for moving the mash).
A pork sausage with a good fat content would be my choice, but beef sausages can be used with good results. My preferred method of cooking sausages for this dish would be fried, in a little oil to give good flavour and colour. It is a naughty dish so NO half fat sausages, and the best bangers
you can afford!
A potato ricer although not essential, is a handy piece of kit. If you can imagine a giant garlic press, then you have a ricer. The potatoes are placed into the chamber then pushed through a series of small holes with the aid of the press attached to the handle, thus resembling rice!
In all honesty a good old potato masher is sufficient for the job if no ricer is to hand!
Tuesday, 5 May 2009
Boil to just tender, season well with Sea salt and ground black pepper add a couple of pats of unsalted butter(good quality) and a sprinkle of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley. If so desired a hint of lemon can be added, but not to much only a little to help along the butter.
Anya is another superb variety of new potato that is a rather odd shape with a knobbly surface and skin, taste wise Anya has a masculine nutty note and fine texture. Again keep it simple.
Cooking time up to 45 minutes for 400g of sliced onions
White onions - allow 100g per a person
Optional - 1 tsp granulated sugar
A pinch each of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
Coat the bottom of a skillet or suitable sized saute pan with a film of olive oil, place on a high heat, add sliced onions and lower the heat to medium, stirring from time to time to ensure even cooking. After 15 minutes season with sea salt and black pepper, additional sugar if using, then turn down the heat to low. Cooking times will vary but allow up to 45 minutes and a reduction in mass of at least a third. Drain any excess oil before serving.
Please do not be fooled by the amount of sliced onions that you start the recipe with. They will eventually with a little patient on the part of the cook, reduce down to at the minimum a third of there original mass.
Suitable for vegetarians.