Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Pan-fried Venison with parsley polenta and red wine sauce

Although most game is a concern of the Autumn and Winter months, there are certain wild meats that can be enjoyed all year round. Wood Pigeon is great at this time of year, as is my old buddy-pal Thumper. A freshly killed Rabbit flashed above the hot coals of a barbecue is a rare treat. The venison season for certain species of deer can start as early as July (Red deer stags) and finish at the beginning of May (Fallow bucks), so the season isn't quite as brief as one might expect. Truly wild Venison can be trickier to find in the summer months, although farmed is readily available all year round. This recipe works equally well with beef. Serves 4.

4 Venison steaks
150g Quick cook polenta
1 Litre Chicken stock, plus an extra 150ml for the red wine sauce
100g Mature Cheddar cheese, grated
2 Garlic cloves, finely grated
A handful of flatleaf parsley leaves
A splash of red wine
3 Juniper berries
Olive oil

1 Cook the polenta according to the pack instructions, then stir in the Cheddar, garlic, parsley and season to taste.
2 Heat a splash of olive oil in a non-stick pan (you can cook the meat on the BBQ if the sun's out). Season the venison steaks, then sear for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the meat onto a plate to rest. 
3 De-glaze the pan with a generous slosh of red wine, then add the remaining 150ml of stock and the juniper berries. Keep the sauce on a quick bubble, until it has reduced and has thickened nicely.
4 To plate up, slice the venison steaks and arrange on top of a plate of polenta. Spoon over the red wine sauce and serve with a few sprigs of fresh parsley.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Nectarine & blueberry cake with vanilla cream

Recipe and food styling: Jan-Marie Harford-Brown

This recipe can be made with other seasonal fruit combinations such as apricot and blackberry, cherry and orange zest or my all time favourite banana and passion fruit syrup.

2 large Nectarines
100g fresh Blueberries
230g Butter, softened
337g Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
4 Eggs
2 tblsp Lemon Zest
345g Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
pinch of Salt
4 tblsp Icing Sugar
200ml Creme Fraiche
1 Vanilla Bean

Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of an 8 inch round cake tin with baking parchment.
2 Halve each of the nectarines and slice into wedges. Set aside along with the blueberries.
3 Beat together the butter, vanilla and sugar until pale and creamy. Then add eggs, beating in one at a time.
4 Fold in the flour, baking powder, lemon zest and salt (This will make a super thick batter). Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and level the top with a spoon.
5 Place the Nectarine wedges randomly over the top of the cake batter, then scatter over berries and gently press the fruit into the batter. Dust with 2 tblsp of icing sugar.
6 Bake in the preheated oven for 1 ¼ hours, or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
7 To make Vanilla Cream. Mix creme fraiche, 1 tblsp of icing sugar and vanilla bean seeds until combined.
8 Once the cake is cooled, remove from the tin and dust lightly with more icing sugar. Serve a slice of the cake with a dollop of the vanilla cream.

Asparagus and wild sorrel tart

The Wild Sorrel season is a thing to cherish. It has such a unique flavour; the leaves contain Oxalic acid, giving them a lemony sourness that makes the mouth water with a burst of juicy tang. As with all Sorrels, one has to be careful not to eat too much, but these little Sheep Sorrel leaves are great in light, summery tarts and salads.

500g pack of shortcrust pastry
About 15 Asparagus spears, depending on size
A handful of wild Sheep sorrel leaves
The zest of half a lemon
75g Goat's cheese
3 Eggs
200ml Single cream
50g Finely grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
Garlic mustard flowers, to serve (optional)

1 Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Line a 22cm tart tin with pastry (don't trim off any excess), then blind bake for 20 minutes (remove the parchment and baking beans after 15 mins). Allow to cool, then carefully trim off the overhanging pastry with a knife.
2 Reduce the oven to 180C/fan 160C/ gas 4. Arrange the Asparagus on the pastry base, making sure that the spears aren't sitting too close together. Crumble the Goat's cheese between the gaps, then scatter over the sorrel leaves and lemon zest.
3 Whisk the eggs and cream with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in the Parmesan, then carefully pour into the tart case. Any Asparagus or sorrel tips that are poking above the surface should be pushed back under (otherwise they might catch and  burn). Bake for 30 minutes, then serve warm or cold with a flourish of Garlic mustard flowers.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Roast tomato and broccoli fusilli

We're really struggling to keep up with the broccoli frenzy in the garden. It just keeps on coming; I pick and pick, but never seem to make a dent in the purple expanse that spills across the vegetable patch. Not that it's a bad thing; it's sweet, crunchy and everyone in our house loves it. I keep finding Amelie nibbling on raw florets as she hunts for snails among the leaves; I've tried them raw too - she's definitely onto something...

6 large tomatoes, cut in half
2 Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
A couple of fresh Rosemary sprigs
Olive oil
400g Cooked Fusilli pasta

1 Red chilli, chopped
2 large Shallots, thinly sliced
A large handful of Purple sprouting broccoli florets
2Tbsp Raisins
1Tsp Capers
Salt and pepper
Brocolli flowers, to serve (optional)

1 Place the tomatoes in an oven proof dish with the rosemary. Season, drizzle with oil and then roast in a low oven for 30-40 minutes.
2 Soften the chilli, garlic and shallots in a pan. Add the broccoli, then stir in the roasted tomatoes, capers and raisins (along with a small splash of water). Stir in the Fusilli, season and serve. A scattering of broccoli flowers adds a nice bit of colour if you can get your hands on them.


Monday, 21 May 2012

Garden herb trout

My son Rafferty was born a week ago today. He's a beautiful but somewhat nocturnal soul; in these sleep-deprived times the cooking is being kept quick and simple at Appledrane HQ. Heat an oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Wedge two large bay leaves, a few sprigs of thyme, parsley and some wild fennel fronds into the inner cavity of a rainbow trout, season well, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 2o minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, buttery Jersey royals and steamed asparagus spears. Time for an early night...

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Lentil and bacon soup

Recipe: Caroline Hire
Food styling: Val Barrett
Recipe >>> Here <<<

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Morel risotto with buttery hop shoots

The Hop shoots are going wild in my neck of the woods. Thin green tendrils snake through the hedgerows, twisting upwards towards the sky in a flourish of Spring exuberance. It took me minutes to pinch off a large bowful this morning. I quite like crunching on them raw, but they're equally tasty quickly cooked through with a little butter.

2 Large garlic gloves, finely chopped
8 Shallots, finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
A good splash of white wine
8 Large Fresh or dried Morels, chopped (if dried, keep the water that you've soaked the mushrooms in, to add to your stock)
300g Arborio risotto rice
1 - 1.5 Litres hot Chicken or vegetable stock (kept hot of the hob)
75g Hard goat's cheese, grated
25g Unsalted butter
A large handful of Hop shoots
25g Unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

1 Melt a knob of butter in a pan and soften the garlic and shallots in a splash of olive on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly. Stir in the rice, bay and mushrooms, then continue stirring until the rice grains start to look transparent. Pour in the wine, leave for a few minutes, then begin to gradually add the stock. Add it slowly, a ladle at a time and only add more when the liquid has been absorbed. After about 25 minutes the risotto should look rich and creamy, and the rice should be cooked (while still retaining a bit of bite). Season to taste. Just before serving stir in 25g of the goat's cheese and a good-sized knob of butter, to add an additional sheen of glossy richness.
2 For the buttery hop shoots, simply melt 25g of butter in a pan, then flash the shoots in the heat for 3-5 minutes. Season, then spoon on top of the risotto, with an extra grating of cheese for good measure.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Lamb tagliata with watercress and tomatoes

Recipe & food styling: Jane Hornby
Prop styling: Jo Harris

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Lime leaves

Now's the time to gather young leaves from the Common lime. But be quick; as with many wild greens, their light succulence is replaced by toughness and astringency later in the season. Lime leaves have a pleasant, cooling flavour and subtle melon notes; they're great in spring salads or sandwiches. I like to use them to make little canapes; flake a thin line of smoked mackerel along the centre spine of a leaf, squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto the fish, finish with a few Ramson flowers and then roll into cigarellos (secure with a cocktail stick if necessary).