Kitchen Heroes: Celeriac

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A nice sharp santoku ready to slice and dice..

Second into the kitchen heroes hall of fame is celeriac.  A root vegetable with a wonderfully mellow celery-esque taste with all the texture qualities of turnip or swede.  It is naturally creamy, sweet and takes on powerful flavours with ease.

Celeriac is a kitchen hero for me because of its versatility.  It is absolutely superb roasted, mashed, steamed, boiled, braised or turned into a delicious soup.  Once you have topped and tailed the root, simply peel the rough skin away before working quickly with your chopping as it will discolour like an aubergine or parsnip.

Here is some inspiration as my current favourite – braised celeriac in white wine with onion, celery, rosemary, chilli and garlic.

Fry off all these ingredients in a saute pan with a matching lid.  When you get a bit of colour on the veg, stir in a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, some chopped pickled chilli and a glass of wine.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes and finish with a swirl of honey, lemon juice and fresh parsley.  Serve as a side with pork tenderloin or your favourite grilled meat.

Celeriac makes it in to our weekly shop more often than not these days, and with it being packed full of vitamin k – great for healing wounds and healthy bones, there is every excuse to give it a go in your shop next week.

Heatwave BBQ with a twist

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Paella on hot coals..

A bit of a recipe this week – but not as I would normally post with the finest of details and ingredients.  That is because I would love my readers to go and experiment with this one.

It’s beautiful BBQ weather in the UK at the moment with temperatures reaching 31 Celsius here today in Bournemouth.  If you’re aiming to feed 6 or so with your BBQ, it’s all too tempting to play it safe with burgers, sausages and co – but why not create a one-pan masterpiece with your own signature paella.

A meal all in one pan, and if you don’t have a paella pan then any all metal pan (no plastic handles) with a reasonably large flat surface area to work with will do.  There is no harm in doing this on the hob either if you fancy.  I cannot recommend enough getting yourself a paella pan from Amazon though.

Now here is where you’re expecting the recipe to start, but to keep you creative I’ll give you the key ratios for a 6-8 person paella:-

  • 500g paella rice (handy as you can buy a packet this size)
  • 200ml white wine (you may just have to drink the rest)
  • 1 litre chicken/veg/fish stock (infuse with saffron if you’ve got some)
  • 400g fresh or tinned tomatoes, chopped

The rest is as flexible as you like.  Start by frying off any combination of onions (red/white/spring), peppers, celery, garlic, chilli, chorizo, chicken or even the traditional rabbit before stirring in your rice for a few minutes.  Pour in the wine and once evaporated, add the stock and tomatoes and simmer away for ten minutes.  You can then finish with any combination of your favourite seafood.  Chunks of haddock or cod, tiger prawns, squid, mussels, cockles – it’s up to you!  Choose what you like and make it your own.

We always finish with lashings of lemon juice, peas and plenty of black pepper.  If you take off the heat and cover with foil for 10 minutes before serving, you’ll have the perfect paella to impress your guests with.

Happy BBQing!

‘Edinburgh’s prestige wines’ – Purslane

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Unique flavour combinations..

This week brings an exciting take on one of the most impressive dining experiences in recent memory.  The overall wine, food and service as a package was wonderful.  Inspired by a previous visit to ‘Purslane’ in Cheltenham, when sampling the Edinburgh dining scene, a visit to the completely unrelated namesake in the trendy Stockbridge area of Edinburgh seemed an obvious choice.

The opportunity to sample ‘premium wines’ was too good to turn down here.  It’s a fantastic way to get to grips with world class wines without paying the premium of an entire bottle.  Paired wonderfully with the 7 course tasting menu option, we were blown away by two wines and the port selection in particular and the entire evening guided by our wonderful server and sommelier extraordinaire, Alex.  Purslane is a small, intimate restaurant with approximately 20 covers, a relaxed atmosphere but fine dining quality food on offer.

Kicking off with celeriac veloute, paired with a crisp glass of Delamotte Brut Champagne, a swirl of rapeseed oil will have been a familiar site from last week’s kitchen hero entry.  Everything you want from an amuse bouche, this one.

The first starter of seared scallops with marmalade, pomegranate and carrot puree was very clever.  I have served scallops at home with chilli jam before but the bitter marmalade goes very nicely with sweet scallops and carrot.  The fresh pomegranate seeds cut right through the dish to finish cleanly.

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Pork, black pudding and apple..but not as you know it..

Our first main course, combining pork, black pudding, celariac and apple, each individual element combining for a cuddle on a plate.  Such hearty flavours but executed in a really refined way.  Small apple balls cut into the shape of a whole fruit, very clever.

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How crispy can you go?

Crispy skinned sea bream, mussels and a mussel and saffron veloute was brought to life by possibly our favourite wine of the evening.  A stunning Sauvignon Gris from Chile.  Our first experience of the less common and more mysterious relation of the widely available Sauvignon Blanc, this 2012 variety from Casa Marin was clean finishing but not before wonderful fresh and smoky oak flavours backed up by floral and spicy aromas.

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No yorkshire pud needed here..

Sunday afternoon roast rolled up into one next, with roast beef rump, fondant potatoes, tenderstem broccoli and a rich but tart oxtail and red wine jus.  A Spanish red with 100% tempranillo grapes swept you along beautifully with this one.

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Bakewell tart, Mr Kipling eat your heart out..

Cheese before pre-dessert, with our 1998 late bottled vintage port washing incredibly well with a smashing selection.  A recommendation for Epoisse if you can find it, a strong creamy cheese much like my favourite french cheese Reblochon.  Pre dessert and a twist on classic bakewell flavours with poached apricot was a unique addition to a tasting menu.

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Another fresh orange and chocolate combo..move aside terry..

Finishing with chocolate mousse, with orange, lemon balm and cardamon brulee, it was a truly incredible evening of food in a relaxed environment.  A huge thank you to Alex who went the extra mile for us with wine and food explanation in a relaxed way.  Casual fine dining may sound like an oxymoron, but for me it absolutely sums up this smashing little restaurant.  A must visit when in Edinburgh.

Kitchen Heroes: Rapeseed Oil

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A finishing touch..

An exciting new series begins this week, with the first of ‘kitchen heroes’.  Adding to my best kept secrets, recipes and restaurant reviews, ‘kitchen heroes’ will highlight every day ingredients that can make the world of difference to your cooking in some of the simplest ways.

There is no better place to start for me than rapeseed oil.  A mellow flavoured, yet sunset yellow oil that can finish off a soup or sauce wonderfully with a splash or swirl.  It is becoming quite the trend, with infused varieties from garlic, chilli and even smoked.  A few drops of smoked rapeseed oil in your favourite mashed spuds is next level stuff, trust me.

Any readers that exclusively watch TV celebrity chefs as their inspiration for cooking would be forgiven for thinking that there is any other cooking oil than the olive variety.  And as smashing as olive oil is, for dressing a salad or kicking off a risotto alongside a knob of butter – it has a relatively low burning point.  That means you are never going to get anywhere near crispy enough potato wedges, or roasted vegetables.  It allows roasting tray ‘on the hob’ cooking before transferring to an oven and is wonderfully light and low in saturated fat.

So grab yourself some cold pressed rapeseed oil and toss generously with par boiled potatoes cut into wedges – throw into a pre-heated roasting tray with some fresh rosemary and garlic.  Crank up and roast at 210c and you will not be disappointed with the results.

Have a browse of the Stainswick Farm site and see if there are any that take your fancy:-

http://www.stainswickfarm.co.uk/index.asp?m=1&t=Home

Catch of the day…

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The ultimate seafood platter..

A new addition to the best kept secrets archive this week, with a recommendation for a fresh seafood selection to die for.  The Seafood Platter, Beer is a quaint pub with access to the finest, freshly caught seafood.  A really relaxed ‘pub grub’ atmosphere is blown totally out of the water by the special sea food menu.

Beer is a superb little seaside fishing village, well worth visiting for the wonderful coastal walks and beautiful cove.

The pictured ultimate platter needs to be ordered when booking a table to ensure you do not miss out all of the elements, including tiger prawns, crab, mussels, scallops, oysters and cockles.  Stunning and served simply with lemon, bread, butter and aioli.

Sometimes you have to look into the unexpected to find incredible food.

The Seafood Platter

Fore Street

Beer

Devon

‘25 mile menu of magic’ – The Pig part three

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Quirky and indulgent..

Welcome to the final feature on The Pig, taking a look at the main event, an experience of the 25 mile menu evening service.

A dining experience at the Pig can only start with a trip to the bar or one of the comfortable lounges, to sample local ciders, a cocktail or perhaps a gin and tonic from the stunning selection of gins from far and wide.  Moving into the dining room, which is almost green house themed, plants growing naturally and mix and match furniture – our starter choices kicked off in style.  A smashing rich terrine with mustard pickle, and home smoked salmon served simply.  Really simple, fresh ingredients being used in absolutely the right way.

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Fresh, rich, rustic..

Main course took comfort food to the next level, pork escalope with crispy chorizo and greens, and a lovely piece of soft and sweet hake with crispy clams.  The staff guided us wonderfully through the menu and helped select a superb Italian white wine which was perfect with all our food selections for the evening.

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Comfort food on another level..

Custard donuts with a white chocolate dipping sauce is the featured picture on this week’s blog entry.  Need I really say more about that combination?  Wonderfully light donuts though and certainly not as heavy as it sounds.  And how about rhubarb cheesecake and sorbet, a rhubarb lover’s dream!

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Attention rhubarb lovers..

Finishing with an espresso martini each, a brilliant evening of food at the Pig certainly didn’t disappoint.  A wonderful stay with a proper garden to plate experience.  Highly recommended for an indulgent but relaxed, cosy and rustic break.

 

‘25 mile menu of magic’ – The Pig part two

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Foraging through the walled gardens..

Welcome back to my May feature on The Pig.  This week, we venture outside the hotel to take a look around at how garden arrives at plate with some foraging, before a sneak peak at some Piggy Nibbles.

The gardens at The Pig have an extensive selection of veg and herbs, driving the on site foragers to hop through ingredients as the seasons change and the menu organically evolves.  Some rainbow chard ready to pick, some starting to sprout, you get a real sense of menu planning taking place in and around what is available on site.  As you walk around you can picture dishes on the restaurant menu building bit by bit.  Spotting rhubarb and seeing it appear among the evening desserts is really quite something.

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Rainbow chard, elephant garlic, chives, the gardens continue to grow at the Pig!

Back into the kitchen for a feature of the 25 mile menu – piggy nibbles.  Homemade pork scratchings are often on offer, alongside these beauties below.  ‘Brock Eggs’, a stunning take on a scotch egg, runny yolk included of course.  Homemade sausage rolls are a rare treat in our house, so it was lovely to sample The Pig’s effort – comfort food is clearly taken to the next level.

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The Pig’s fabulous ‘piggy nibbles’

Next week’s final part three will jump back into the dining experience for a full take on the 25 mile menu.

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