Thursday, 29 April 2010

Goat’s cheese and Beetroot and Lentil Salad with English Goats Cheese, Garden Flowers and Herbs

This was one of the courses that I was struggling to rule out, to cook or not to cook. Sometimes you simply have to go with it and cook everything (see my St Georges Day Menu for the other starters). This salad is very easy to make. The reason that it is so good is the flavours that are brought together within it. Simply lovely!

Goat’s cheese and Beetroot and Lentil Salad with English Goats Cheese, Garden Flowers and Herbs


6 x Medium sized Beetroot
Maldon Salt
Black Pepper
Cup of Puy Lentils
1 Stock Cube
1 x Lemon
1 x Carrot
1 x Celery Stalk
1 x Goat Cheese (I had the St George Soft Goats Cheese)
Olive Oil (Rapeseed Oil if you have it!)

From the Garden:

Small bunch of Sorrell
Small bunch of Oregano
Small bunch of Parsley
Small Bunch of Mint
Viola Flowers (Optional)

First to the Beetroot, simply chop of the leaves leaving a small amount of stalk and place in boiling salted water (leave the skins on). They should take 25 to 30 minutes to become tender – check with a knife to see if cooked. Once cooked set aside to cool for 10 minutes and then using your fingers peel and remove the tops and bottoms of the Beetroot. Once peeled set aside to cool completely.

Next to your lentils, find a suitable pan and ¾’s fill with water. Season the water with a generous pinch of salt and add the stock cube, carrot that has been cut in half lengthways and the Celery. Check your packet and cook for the recommended amount of time, again until tender. Once cooked set aside to cool (removing the veg that have now done their job and imparted their flavour).

Once both the Beetroot and Lentils have cooled and you are ready to serve it’s simply an assembly job.

Take the Beetroot and chop into 1/8’s so you have 8 perfect moon shaped pieces.

The Lentils need a good glug of Olive Oil and the juice of a Lemon, stir in and check your seasoning. Next chop your herbs and add them to the lentils.

Now line up your plates and using a spoon place a small pile of the herby dressed lentils in the centre of each plate. Now place Beetroot pieces all over around the piles of Lentils like petals around a flower. Then place another good spoon of Lentils on top of the Beetroot to hold them in place.

Break pieces of goats cheese over the top of the salad and then sprinkle any remaining herbs over the top of the salad.

Finish the plate with a circle of Olive Oil (you know the chef’y way to finish a plate) and your there. As a good friend of mine tells me regularly, minimum effort, maximum impact!

To add to the colours I picked the flower heads from Violas growing in my garden, most of the guests hadn’t eaten flowers before and it turns the dish from a gourmet salad into a centrepiece and talking point!! Try it!

This is a full and mouth smacking starter or appetiser! The sweet Beetroot, creamy Goats Cheese and almost meaty lentils are brilliant together. The Lemon juice, Herbs and Olive Oil just bring the whole thing up and make it, well.. Fantastic!

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Monday, 26 April 2010

Soft boiled duck eggs with Asparagus spear soldiers wrapped in crispy bacon

Asparagus, you wait what seems an eternity for it to arrive, you first start to eat it and the season is already over.

Asparagus for me is one of my favourite vegetables, when it arrives it really feels like you have turned the corner of winter and the new menu is here to stay. Over the month or so that Asparagus is in season I try to eat as much of it as is humanly possible including it or serving Asparagus with every meal. You can add Asparagus to most dishes but the best way to eat Asparagus is simply – steamed Asparagus for me is enough, but as I had a few friends coming over for my St George’s day dinner party menu I thought I would glam it up a little and combine it with a few other fantastic flavours.

Soft boiled duck eggs with Asparagus spear soldiers wrapped in crispy bacon

So simple, can be prepared in advance and looks impressive what else could you ask for in an appetiser or starter?


25 spears of English Asparagus
25 rashers of British cured streaky bacon smoked
Maldon Salt
Black Pepper
7 duck eggs (pick out the blue ones for a better effect!)

I made this dish for 7, but you can easily scale it down you’ll need 3 Asparagus spears, 3 Rashers of Bacon and a Duck egg per serving.

On a chopping board take a rasher of bacon and place on the chopping board, using a knife stroke the bacon with the flat side of the knife and run it along the rasher. This will flatten the rasher and make it longer. Now grind a little Black Pepper onto the rasher (you won’t need salt as the Bacon will season the Asparagus). Place the Asparagus spear on the rasher – the bottom of the spear level with the bottom edge of the bacon and then roll the Asparagus until it has a perfect little coat of bacon and only the Asparagus tip is exposed. Repeat with the remaining Asparagus and bacon until you have 25 snuggly wrapped Asparagus Spears in the beautiful smoky bacon. Now, it was a warm day and evening on St George’s day so I had the Barbecue out however, you could cook these just as easily on a griddle pan or even in the oven.

On the hob place a large saucepan, fill and get the water to a rolling boil.

It’s now all about the timing, get some plates warmed with an egg cup for each and place the Asparagus on the Barbecue (griddle or however you are cooking them); when they are nearly cooked and crispy place the duck eggs in the boiling water. If you are cooking one or two eggs they will take 3 minutes to soft boil, I was cooking 7 so I left them for an additional minute.

Take the top of the duck egg off for your guests and sprinkle in a little Salt and Pepper, serve the Asparagus on the side of warm plate and the egg and its top also on the plate.

Grown up dippy eggs!! Warm duck yoke with crispy bacon and the fantastic flavours of Asparagus and for those who are lucky enough to cook it on a Barbecue a rounded Smokey’ ness too!!

So simple, so delicious!! Try it!

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Saturday, 24 April 2010

St George's day dinner party menu

So yesterday was St George’s day, as a patriot and an Englishman I wasn't going to miss this opportunity - I never allow any patron saint days go as they are all brilliant excuses to cook something different or traditional - I had some good friends coming around and I had booked the day off work to prepare our feast.

To be honest I had been thinking off and on all week about what to cook but had not decided on anything. The morning of the big day was now upon me and I had to decide..

The morning of St George’s day was a little frantic as not only did I have to create the menu I had to shop for it.. I am lucky enough to have a great grocer fairly close by and this was going to be my first stop!

The challenge was to create an English themed menu, that was in season and achievable in one afternoon.. As we were just at the beginning of the Asparagus season this was a must! The previous week I had visited a Farmers market at Denbies Wine estate, what a fantastic Vineyard it is and an amazing English wine that they produce in Surrey Gold!! At the market I had visited a little cheese stand for a small producer based in East Sussex - Nuts Knowle Farm who produced an amazing soft Goats Cheese called St George - which of course I had bought with one eye on my St George's day feast. That was a must for a course too! Englishmen means beef and I wanted to include Watercress somewhere in the menu. Finally my garden was groaning with Rhubarb so I had to put this to good use as well...

So this is the menu that I created for my good friends, I think that you will be able to tell that I was unable to pick one or the other starter so I decided to make them both.

St George’s day menu

Soft boiled duck eggs with Asparagus spear soldiers wrapped in crispy bacon
Goat’s cheese and Beetroot, Lentil Salad with Garden Flowers and Herbs
English Onion Soup with Sage and Cheddar Cheese Crouton
Sirloin Steaks with Anchovy and Herb butter, Watercress and a tower of twice fried chips.
Stem Ginger and Rhubarb Cheesecake
Sticky Toffee Pudding and Toffee Sauce

Lucky for me the weather was unseasonably good and it allowed me to cook some of the courses on the BBQ which adds so much to the meal, especially the steaks!

I’ll be posting my recipes for my St George’s day dinner party menu over the next couple of days after all, the weather is still great and not to be wasted!!

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British Food and British Cooking!

Not sure if you have ever written a blog - this is not my only blog (wild food blog), but I always take a little while to find what to write about first..

This blog is about what matters to me. British Food and Cooking, Seasonal cooking, Food provenance and some of the best ingredients available in the world – ingredients made and grown here in Britain!

I am a home cook, I have a small garden and I love nothing more then to play around growing vegetables and herbs, nothing serious and not always successful but occasionally I get the tastiest and uber local food !!

I love British cooking, the classics and the modern! There is so much talk about the French classics that we always seem to overlook our own. British cooking is what we have grown up on so why not explore our own classics and if you’re anything like me tweak them a little and see what happens.

I am passionate about British produce as well and for many reasons. Whether it be supporting our own farmers, reducing food miles and in turn sending less pollution into the atmosphere or simply because it tastes the better there are many reasons to buy British and I will explore these as I publish articles.

Finally, and this is the primary reason that inspires me, British ingredients… I don’t know if you can hear it in my writing but I am beaming with pride when I think about it. British ingredients such as Worcestershire Sauce or Maldon Salt are globally marketed and sold because they are extraordinary and delicious.

So, if you love British food and cooking why not follow this blog and follow me as we create and talk about great British produce!

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