Archive | Sauces

Recipe | Wild garlic and lemon risotto and wild garlic pesto bread

If you go down to the woods today ….

You are quite likely to find a host of lush green edible leaves… and me picking them !

Wild garlic, a.k.a ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek and bear’s garlic has just started to spring up, an exciting sign that spring really is here.

Bears apparently like to munch on it when coming out of hibernation to help get their digestive system fired up which perhaps helps explain its Latin name of Allium ursinum (Ursa being Latin for bear). When foraging here in the UK it is most unlikely that you will need to fend off any bears whilst gathering your wild garlic ( though possibly you will me)!   What you do have to look out for is mistakenly picking the plant Lilly of the valley, which looks similar, but is toxic. If unsure give the leaf a rub and you should instantly be able to smell garlic.

Other animals keen on it are cows which can be unfortunate as it then taints the milk.  Naturally garlic milk would of course be perfect for making a delicious béchamel sauce… but less so when its comes to a nice cup of tea.

So excited was I about smelling, finding and picking my first basket of the season last week, that I took a bag with me on my job cooking in Herefordshire for the weekend.

Personally, when it is in season, I would quite merrily have it in most things including risottos, pasta, bread ( one of the recipes for this postcard), pesto’s and my personal favourite.. laced into scrambled eggs for breakfast.   I did manage to restrain myself from putting it into everything for my clients though as showing diversity in the kitchen is always appreciated and expected in my profession.

I used up my bag on the first day but then discovered down by their river there was a carpet of the lovely stuff (and some amazing Jurassic era looking plants). If you are out on the hunt for it yourself you are most likely to find it in ancient deciduous woodlands, shady lanes, hedgerows, near patches of bluebells ( though they appear after) or dimly lit river banks. Failing that I saw some bunches at borough market, though at £1.50 for a tiny bunch it may be more cost effective to travel out to your nearest woods to try and find your own!

If you find wild garlic I think the best way to harvest it is to cut the leaves near the base instead of pulling up the entire root which will reduce the amount of plants available next year ( the plant reproduces through forming underground bulbs) and bring with it a load of mud. You can eat the bulbs but it is the leaves and in a couple of weeks the flowers you should really be after…

Once you have them back home wash the leaves well several times and depending on where I get them from I sometimes add a dash of Milton to the water to help get rid of any unwanted germs. You should check carefully through your stash before cooking and eating as it is easier to pick up other plants like ivy which you clearly don’t want to be eating.

When not cooking dishes involving wild garlic my other weekend food included an epic curry night ( I have found the best Kerelan curry recipe ever), rhubarb tarts, ice cream and a refreshing rhubarb, ginger and rosemary sorbet, roast beef – Hereford really does produce some fantastic meat, a whole baked monkfish with harrissa and zhoug, and the instgram star of the week avocado, ricotta, tahini, poached eggs with sourdough and chili flakes.

For this postcard I have included not one but two recipes as I would love you to eat lots of it, in lots of different ways before the short 6 week season flies by and ends. When the flowers are out don’t forget to try my fritter recipe from last years wild garlic post  Deep fried wild garlic flowers. It is also worth keeping an eye out in the shops a little later on in the year for Cornish yarg cheese ( normally wrapped in nettles) wrapped in wild garlic leaves.  I like to eat the two types side by side as its quite amazing how the same cheese can taste so different just from being covered by a few different leaves.

This week

Every home should have : a river with banks carpeted in wild garlic in the garden.

Dishes with wild garlic : 7 ( at home)

I’m loving : local Herefordshire beef

I’m driving : a sporty Audi A5 and a Peugeot 208 ( less sporty)

 

Wild garlic pesto laced bread

Pesto

Handful of washed wild garlic

100g freshly grated Parmesan

1 small garlic clove, crushed with a pinch of salt.

Juice and zest from ½ lemon

50g lightly toasted hazelnuts ( skin off)

150ml olive oil

Place everything except the oil in a food processor or NutriBullet ( the are amazing) ( no I’m not sponsored by them) and whizz up till smooth. Stir in the olive oil and season with pepper and possibly a pinch of salt (as the cheese is salty and the garlic had salt when being crushed, you may not need it).

For the bread ;

2 1/2 tsp dried yeast

2 tsp honey

250ml warm water

450g white bread flour (plus a little extra)

1 tsp salt

40ml olive oil plus a drizzle extra

Pre heat the oven to 180 °C fan.

In a jug mix the yeast, warm water and honey together and leave to stand somewhere warm for 5 minutes – it should start frothing.

In a big bowl mix the flour, salt and olive oil then pour in the water. Bring together into a bowl and knead for 10 minutes.

Leave to rise in a bowl covered with a tea towel for 30 minutes then gently fold in a few spoonful’s of the pesto.

Lightly roll out into an oblong 1 inch thick and transfer onto a lightly floured baking sheet or a piece of baking paper.

Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Remove the tea towl and using your fingers make a few dimples in the dough, drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle with some salt flakes.

Bake on a lower shelf for 20 – 25 minutes ( it should be lightly golden and have a firm bottom) .

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before cutting into slices and serving.   You can serve with the extra pesto to smear onto it or save the pesto to stir through pasta or risotto.

Wild garlic risotto.

Serves 2

1 tbs butter

1 tbs olive oil plus a little extra.

1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 sticks celery , washed and finely chopped

300g risotto rice

splash of white vermouth

1 glass dry white wine.

1-liter of light chicken, game or vegetable stock ( hot)

100g freshly grated parmesan

zest and juice of 1 lmon

2 large handful of washed, roughly chopped wild garlic.

In a saucepan gently sauté the onion and celery in the butter and olive oil.

Once softened ( about 10 mins) add the risooto rice and stir until all coated and hot. Add the vermouth and wine and a ladleful of hot stock and stir.

Keep adding the hot stock one ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting for the liquid to be absorbed before you add the next one.

Once the rice is nearly cooked take off the heat and add the lemon zest and juice and 2/3 of the parmesan and some freshly milled black pepper.

In a clean pan fry the washed chopped wild garlic with a little extra virgin olive oil until wilted then stir this and any pan juices into the rice.

Check for seasoning and consistency ( you may want to add a little more hot stock) then serve straight away with extra parmesan on top.

 

Next stop …County Carlow .

 

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Recipe | Romesco sauce

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Nobody expected the Spanish expadition  …

I double read the last minute email from my client, just in case I had misread it,

“ By the way, did we mention we are off to Ibiza? Have sorted your flights, hope that’s fine.”

‘Super fine! I thought, who doesn’t like an unexpected trip to Spain?

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For those not in the know or who have preconceived ideas about Ibiza let me tell you it is an island packed full of beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, swarms of super yachts, prides of cool people and of course a club or two.

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If you have ever bought an item of clothing, got it back home and then thought OMG what have I done, I’m never going to wear that!? (but then kept it lurking in your wardrobe, just in case), fear not, I have the solution.Take it for a spin in Ibiza because there, pretty much anything goes.

Ibiza has to be one of the best places for people watching. Day or night the streets, bars, clubs and cafes are filled with an extraordinary mix of beautiful, wild, daring, ostentatious,  cool, those trying to be cool and those who really don’t care sort of people.

Sequins, string gold bikini (no top just the bottom) birthday suits, lace, glitter, tight pants, non existent skirts, dresses that stop mid buttock can all be successfully pulled off here, so to speak, by the guys as well as girls.

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My weeks work started pretty much straight off the plane when I was handed over the reins of the BBQ at the villa we were renting for the week (that is how chilled people get here as generally I have to pry the males off the spot next to the coals).

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There were long lazy breakfasts of fresh fruit, yogurts and various patisserie, followed by long lazy lunches often consisting of grilled fish, summer salads, fruit granitas and Ibiza Rosé then finally the day was rounded of by long lazy late dinners starting with various tapas and ending in cigars. All very idyllic.

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Early on in the week I managed to pretty much scour the entire island and check out which markets, specialist food shops and areas were best for provisions. Unromantically their Mercado supermarket came out on top as it had a good butchers, excellent fishmongers and vegetable supplies. Though strangely totally lacked in other areas like fresh milk and vanilla pods, but all was forgiven as there were sardines a plenty.  Though this did mean that shopping meant ping ponging myself around the island to get the best of everything and as everyone here is so super chilled even when driving/ shopping  / queueing , it  always took rather longer than expected.

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I totally enjoyed my week focusing on Spanish food and it was a delight to be able to easily get hold of their delicious cured hams like the Jamón Ibérico , use the super tasty local sun drenched figs and watermelon and be a bit more liberal than usual with my sprinkles of paprika.

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For this weeks postcard recipe I am going to share with you an excellent sauce to have as part of your Spanish repertoire, Romesco.

This week

Every villa should have: a view of the Mediterranean

I’m listening to: Ibiza chill out in the am and trance in the pm

We are drinking: Ibiza Rosé

Super yacht spotting is the new train spotting

We learnt : It is not cool to eat dinner before 9:30pm

 

 Romesco Sauce

This toasted nut with tomato, paprika and nora pepper sauce is great to have in your repertoire. It works well with grilled red meats, white fish, and vegetables.

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Serves 6 as a sauce

3 nora peppers (specialist Spanish store will stock these, they are dried so you can buy in bulk and use as needed).

1 head of garlic

150g roasted and peeled hazelnuts

1- 2 tbs sherry vinegar

3 tbs olive oil

 

Tomato sauce

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

400g tinned tomatoes

1 tsp hot paprika

1 tsp sweet paprika

 

Soak the nora peppers in just boiled water for 30 mins (they will bob to the surface so place a saucer on top to fully immerse them.

 

Make the tomato sauce by gently frying the 2 cloves of garlic in the olive oil, when they start to colour add the tinned tomatoes and then the paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 mins or until thickened,

 

Pre heat oven too 180 °c , slice the garlic head in half horizontally and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tbs olive oil. Place on a dish and roast for 10 – 15 mins or until soft and lightly golden.

 

In a food processor blitz the nuts so there are still a few small chunks but most of it is a course meal texture. Place in a bowl. Don’t wash the food processor bowl.

 

Drain the nora peppers, keeping the water, and split open. Remove the seeds and green top. Roughly chop then place in food processor and start to blitz, add the tomato sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic and blitz till smooth.

 

Add the tomato/nora mix to the ground hazelnuts and stir – the sauce should be a little loose so add a couple of tbs of the nora water until you have a slightly loose constituency. Check for seasoning (you may feel you want to add a little extra paprika or vinegar to give it more of a kick).

 Serve at room temperature with grilled fish, meat or vegetables.

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Next stop, Marseille …

 

 

 

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Recipe |Dragons blood sauce

whisk

How to cook your dragon.

My coastal Boston to coastal Wales transition came as some what of a shock. Jet lag muddled with rain and chilly British waters was not a cocktail I was necessarily ready for. However once I had been persuaded that the best way to overcome the jet lag was indeed these chilly choppy waters I soon found myself happily immersed into my new surroundings.

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The area, besides being tremendously scenic with wild ponies, wild flowers and the occasional wild wave is also home to some rather delicious potatoes. The Pembrokeshire Early Potato , harvested in  May, is protected by geographical origin, similar to Champagne orParma Ham. They have been farmed here since the 1700s and it is said the spray from the sea is what makes them taste extra special. We were lucky enough to have a field of their later crop right next to the house, some of which may or may not have made its way into my cooking pot.

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With all this potato talk and my location being in Wales you may think I am missing a trick with a leek and potato style recipe for my postcard however what really caught my attention was the dragons. Local shops seemed to be selling dragon mustard, dragon jam, dragon bread and dragon cheese, which was all very impressive I thought considering I had trouble even getting hold of a local mackerel, let alone dragon.

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Legend has it that many blue moons ago the red dragon was fighting an invading white dragon and the shrieks from the battle were so terrible they caused death and destruction to the living. To deal with this dragon problem the king was advised to dig a pit, fill it with mead and lay a cloth on top. The dragons, as suspected, came along, drank the mead and fell asleep. The king wrapped the dragons in the cloth and buried them at Snowdonia.

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Some years later a new king tried to build a castle in the very spot where the dragons lay buried but every night unknown forces demolished any progress. The king is advised, to solve this problem, he needs to seek out a boy with no natural father and kill him. When they find such a boy and the young lad hears of his fate he tells the king the story of the two dragons. The king is persuaded to excavate the hill, release the dragons who can then finish their fight. The red dragon is eventually triumphant, and the boy, who we all know as Merlin, explains that the red dragon represents the Welsh who refused to yield to the Saxons.   For some the red dragon also marks the coming of king Arthur.

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For this postcard recipe I give you Red Dragon sauce, although, as they seem to be constantly out of season these days I have substituted beetroot for dragon.

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This week

Wet suits ARE my new LBD ( but literally for this week only)

Sandy sandwiches consumed : 0

Crabs caught :0

Every home should have: a fairy princess body board

Pembrokeshire potatoes scrumped : xxx

 

Dragons blood sauce

This sauce is great served with fish or meat and delicious with Pembrokeshire potatoes

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4 small /medium red beetroots

2 tbs horseradish sauce

2 tbs Dijon mustard

3 tbs crème friache

1 tbs olive oil.

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Boil the beetroots in slightly salted water till cooked, then peel.

Blitz in a food processor till smooth then add the mustard, horseradish, crème fraiche and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Blitz again and check the seasoning. Serve at room temperature with grilled chicken fish or some fine Pembrokeshire potatoes. 

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 Next Stop…Provence.

 

 

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Recipe |Horseradish Sauce

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Fishing for condiments

There were members of my second group of jolly fishermen and women (‘fisherpersons’ is probably the PC way forward here) who have been making their 7 hour trip north to the River Findhorn in the Highlands for over 60 years.   Their secret to a successful week of fishing is to stop off on the way and throw a wee dram in the river and obviously have one themselves. Does it work…?

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Well on return to the lodge a victory toot would be sounded if bringing back a salmon.  There were 8 that week – one of them signaling the catch of a magnificent 11 lb. salmon, so the whisky clearly did its magic.

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Having done the week enough times the group had a slick routine and knew a thing or two about fishing. One of the founding members of the group told me how they always took all their salmon home frozen and my face must  have dramatically fell as he came back later that night after a roast pork dinner with,

“The group wondered if you would like to cook one of the salmon for us?”

“Yes !” I said, probably too quickly.

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As per my mantra I cooked the wild salmon simply, pan fried achieving a crispy skin and served with some herby mustard lentils and roasted fennel.  The guests loved it and all piled into the kitchen afterwards agreeing that fresh salmon (as supposed to have having it frozen then defrosted) really was spectacular.

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They then enquired if I myself fished.  Teasingly, I mumbled something about not really being sure if trying to stand in a chilly fast flowing river where I may or may not catch a salmon or even old trout  was my idea of an entertaining day.

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Their jaws dropped and then they lurched into lyrical enthusiastic speeches about the joys of fishing (that got them to bite like a trout on a mayfly I giggled to myself). Within minutes I admitted I was won over and could see by their love and their energy for the subject that it was indeed a sport of skill and even thrill.

You have to read the river, the weather and what you think the salmon might be up to that day all while abiding by certain etiquette.

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Some types of hooks, like sharp spinners, and all live bait are banned as are deemed unsporting.   Once you have chosen the appropriate fly there is the casting bit where you throw your line onto the river trying to gently place it so it sweeps across the river near to where you think a salmon may be lurking. This is done hundreds of times a day and takes many a year to master.

If you are lucky / skilled enough to get a salmon to bite you then have to ‘play’ it, which means attempting to keep it on your line whilst battling the river and the fish until one of you gives up.  This can last around 15 minutes or more.  If you are planning on returning the fish, remembering there is a 70 % return policy to keep stocks healthy, you must think about where to land the fish (grassy banks are much less harmful than stony areas) and that ideally you will use a net to bring it in.

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The thrill naturally is the achievement of bringing one back which  I can easily see the appeal in.  There really is nothing like the taste of the firm orangey pink flesh of a wild salmon. Though if you want to try one yourself, as it is illegal to buy the Wild Scottish river caught ones, it means if you have  befriend a successful fisherman, or go try it for yourself.

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Fishermans Chef

This week;

Every home should have: a selection of tweed caps

Instagram ‘Likes’ results for cute puppies vs. tofu: 89% landslide victory for …puppies  (Instagram phollowphilippa).

I’m driving: a Land Rover Defender (which has a fun GI Jane effect).

Breakfast bacon eaten: 233 rashers

I learnt : Fishing is fun.

I’m obsessed with :cardamom

I’m reading : Tatler

You should read: my Battle of Waterloo inspired recipes in The Field magazine.

 

Horseradish sauce

 After these few weeks of seeing lots of salmon I still stand firm and believe when cooking it do as little possible.  So for this postcard recipe I will give you the recipe for fresh horseradish sauce, which makes and excellent condiment with simple pan-fried salmon and of course a slab of roast beef!

 

200ml double cream

300ml yogurt

1 tsp. Dijon

1 tsp. sugar

Juice from ½ lemon

1 tbs. white wine vinegar

Sprinkle of salt

100 – 300g of horseradish

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Fresh horseradish can vary greatly in heat, use the graph below to see how much to use (though probably best is the taste test).

 

Crying after (Minutes) Horseradish (g) 
1 100g
3 -5 200g
7 + The whole stick

 

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Lightly whip the cream.

Stir in the yogurt, Dijon, sugar, lemon juice, white wine vinegar and salt.

Peel the dark skin from the horseradish then finely grate.

Add immediately to the cream mixture and stir.

Taste to check balance.

It is worth leaving for 20 mins. and then tasting, as the flavours will develop.

Serve with beef or best of all a piece of wild salmon.

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It was certainly an exciting few weeks and I confess the geek like excitement of getting to cook wild salmon next to the river it was caught on has still not worn of. Now, having had more than my share of fresh air, I have packed my bags and am headed for the fair city of Dublin…

 

 

 

 

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