Kathers Kitchen Blog

Supper for Syria

On Friday 16th June, Kather’s Kitchen held a Syrian-themed fundraising supper at Monmouth Priory in aid of the Hands Up Foundation. This innovative British charity supports a number of critical projects in Syria including a health clinic in Aleppo, a school in Damascus for children with disabilities and three prosthetic limb clinics in Syria and Turkey.
A fantastic team of volunteer helpers in the kitchen (Claudia, Abbe, Rebecca and Catherine), combined with generous sponsorship of ingredients by McCarthy Marland, meant that we were able to donate 100% of the ticket money to the charity. Local companies also got behind our cause [...]

Easter chocolate tart

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This decadent chocolate tart makes the perfect Easter treat. Once you’ve made the pastry case, it’s plain-sailing too because the filling doesn’t need cooking – it simply requires a couple of hours in the fridge to set.
For this recipe, I used Green & Blacks 70% dark chocolate, which sets beautifully and ensures a rich and not-too-sweet chocolate filling. For the pastry, I included a considerable quantity of icing sugar to make it shorter, lighter and crispier, a lovely contrast to the smooth and indulgent chocolate filling. I normally bake shortcrust tart cases blind at 180C but reduced this to 160C as the icing [...]

Turkish Gözleme

Turkish Gözleme on board, Kather's Kitchen, cookery courses, Monmouth Cookery Club

This absolutely mouth-watering halloumi & mint flatbread has been a real hit whenever I’ve included it on a course menu. Don’t be put off by having to knead the dough. It doesn’t take long and this recipe is very forgiving so don’t worry if you don’t manage to get it perfectly smooth. Just make sure you use culinary tablespoon measures for the bread ingredients as you’ll mess up the quantities if you chance it with cutlery spoons.

Serves 6-8 people
1 tsp fast action yeast (from a sachet of yeast)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
5 tbsp natural yoghurt
2 tbsp melted butter
150ml warm water
300g [...]

Chocolate fudge biscuit cake

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For events I sometimes need recipes for small and indulgent sweet treats that can be served with coffee. So here is my recipe for chocolate fudge biscuit cake. It is definitely worthwhile using good quality chocolate with a high cocoa content.  I use Green & Black’s 70% cocoa Dark Cooking Chocolate.  In this recipe, the addition of caramel to the chocolate biscuit base ties in really well with the flavour of the fudge. To keep things simple I used Carnation caramel, which only has two ingredients in it – whole milk and sugar. I made this recipe in a 20cm x [...]

Doughnut heaven

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These doughnuts only just stayed on the plate long enough to be photographed.
I absolutely love doughnuts. There are few things more pleasurable in life than eating a just-cooked, warm, pillowy, sugar-coated, strawberry jam-filled doughnut.  My two children and my husband are all in agreement, which helps my cause as I can convince myself that creating these heavenly morsels by hand is a predominantly (75%) selfless act.
I wish I had written this recipe but I’m afraid I didn’t. It belongs to the food writer Felicity Cloake, who writes a column for the Guardian entitled ‘How to cook the perfect…’ in which [...]

Jerusalem artichoke tartiflette

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Last month, I stayed near Le Grand Bornand in France, home to the famous semi-soft cheese, Reblochon. Every menu in every restaurant in the area included tartiflette, a delicious combination of potatoes, bacon lardons, onions and lots and lots of Reblochon. I’ve recreated it here using Jerusalem artichokes (one of my favourite ingredients) but you could stick with potatoes for a more authentic dish if you prefer.
JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE TARTIFLETTE
Serves 2
400g Jerusalem artichokes (or Charlotte potatoes)
a knob of butter
2 banana shallots, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
75ml dry white wine
125g smoked bacon lardons
120ml double cream
200g Reblochon cheese

Heat the oven to 190C / [...]

Butternut squash & rosemary lasagne

Butternut squash & rosemary lasagna, Kather's Kitchen

A simple, seasonal, family-friendly recipe that tastes sensational
Serves 6

1 large butternut squash
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
100g butter
85g plain flour
900ml milk
250g fresh lasagna sheets
175g freshly grated Parmesan
a handful of fresh sage leaves (optional)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

- Preheat oven to 220C / Gas Mark 7
- Cut the skin off the butternut squash, remove the seeds and cut the squash into 1½ cm cubes
- Put into a large ovenproof dish or roasting tin, add the olive oil, garlic, chopped rosemary and a little salt and pepper and toss thoroughly
- Bake for 12-15 [...]

Goat kid pastilla

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This recipe is for a large pastilla that serves around 8-10 people. To make individual pastillas (that look like small, triangular samosas) go to the bottom of this recipe.
I sourced my kid meat from Trecorras Farm, Herefordshire - www.trecorrasfarm.co.uk. Trecorras Farm is a high welfare farm producing excellent quality kid meat. They deliver insulated, chilled boxes of half or whole kid nationwide and offer a discount for those who live locally. Click on the link to their website for contact details and further information.
1 tbsp rapeseed oil (or equivalent mild cooking oil)
2 onions, chopped
150g dried apricots, chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp [...]

Braised shoulder of kid meat

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Braised kid meat is delicious served as a main dish with seasonal vegetables and pan juices. Alternatively, it is the ideal starting point for creating other kid meat recipes such as the goat kid pastilla recipe shown alongside this one. 
I sourced my kid meat from Trecorras Farm, Herefordshire - www.trecorrasfarm.co.uk. Trecorras Farm is a high welfare farm producing beautiful, high quality kid meat. They deliver insulated, chilled boxes of half or whole kid nationwide and offer a discount for those who live locally. Click on the link to their website for contact details and further information.

3 sticks celery
1 onion
2 carrots
5 garlic cloves
3 sprigs of [...]

Figs with blue cheese & air-dried ham

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A perfect, simple, seasonal starter
Serves 4
For this recipe, I use Perl Las blue cheese made by Caws Cenarth Cheese. It’s strong but it’s also incredibly creamy and it melts beautifully. You could use any other blue cheese but don’t go for anything too weak as a stronger blue cheese flavour works really well with the figs. To wrap the figs, I use an air-dried ham made by Gloucestershire-based Native Breeds. It’s made from local rare breed pork, which is marinated with juniper, ginger & rosemary before being matured and naturally smoked – and it’s absolutely delicious!

8 figs
200g blue cheese, cut [...]

Asparagus mousse with shaved asparagus, spinach & mint

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British asparagus season is now in full swing and for the next two months, I’ll be taking full advantage of this utterly delicious ingredient!
This light, fresh asparagus mousse makes a very pretty first course. Serve with shaved asparagus, spinach and mint or some lightly steamed asparagus stems.
Serves 8 – For this recipe, you will need 8 x 125ml dariole moulds, ramekins or similar
For the mousse
olive oil, for greasing
300g Wye Valley asparagus (after removing woody ends) plus another 4 stems for the salad
6 gelatin leaves
150ml chicken stock
200g crème fraiche
50g baby spinach, plus a few extra leaves for the salad
a few gratings [...]

Honey panna cotta with poached rhubarb

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Serves 4-5
I included this recipe on the demo menu for the Monmouth Women’s Festival on 12th March, which is during the forced rhubarb season. At this time of year, rhubarb is bright pink, turning an even more vivid pink after cooking. It looks amazing as a layer on top of panna cotta served in a glass. This panna cotta recipe can also be made in ramekins or small moulds and turned out (by dipping the moulds in hot water and inverting on a plate).
For the rhubarb
250g rhubarb
50g caster sugar
75ml cold water
For the panna cotta
2 leaves of gelatin
50g Wye Valley clear honey
75g [...]

Potato gnocchi with brown butter, tarragon & hazelnuts

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Serves 2
300g Maris Piper potatoes (2-3 medium sized potatoes)
100g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
a knob of butter
a small handful of toasted, chopped hazelnuts
a few sprigs of fresh tarragon, chopped
30g Parmesan, finely grated

Put the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, in a saucepan of boiling water. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender but not too soft. Drain well. Pick each potato up in a tea towel and peel it with a potato peeler.
Pass the potatoes through a potato ricer (or use a potato masher) into a large mixing bowl. Agitate the potatoes with a fork to ensure that they’re light and fluffy and there [...]

Smoked salmon tartare with sour cream and dill

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Serves 4
250g smoked salmon, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp capers
2 tsp olive oil
½ lemon, juice only
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
fresh dill sprigs to garnish
lemon wedges to garnish
Toasted sourdough or melba toast to serve (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the smoked salmon, red onion, olive oil and lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Squeeze the excess liquid from the capers, finely chop them and add them to the mixture. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Combine the sour cream and dill in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
Place a small chef’s ring / [...]

Gruyère and artichoke dip

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I got the idea for an artichoke dip from a blog by brilliant Cornwall-based chef Emily Scott. I needed to use up some Gruyère and crème fraiche so I threw them into the mix and the result was delicious… 
1 tin of artichoke hearts, drained (or a jar if you can’t get tinned)
50g mayonnaise
50g crème fraîche
20g Parmesan, grated
70g Gruyère cheese, coarse grated
a small handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
baguette slices, for serving

Heat oven to 200C
Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend together.
Alternatively, finely chop the artichoke hearts, finely grate the cheeses and mix all the ingredients together by hand.
Place in [...]

Mirin-glazed salmon with pickled vegetables

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Serves 4
For the pickled vegetables, you want the carrots, cucumber and daikon julienne strips (or matchsticks) to all be roughly the same length – around 5-6cm.
4 x tall, narrow salmon fillets (thin slices of head end rather than wide slices of tail end)
4 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp Japanese rice wine vinegar
For the pickled vegetables
100ml Japanese rice wine vinegar
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
¼ cucumber
2 small carrots, peeled
3 radishes
1 small daikon, peeled
a few slices of pickled ginger
a small handful of fresh coriander leaves
black sesame seeds, to garnish

Mix the mirin, soy sauce [...]

Coconut & lime cake

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Over the last few days, I’ve been researching new recipes and I wanted to do a traditional cake but using more exotic flavours than, say, a Victoria sponge. So, here it is. A delicious coconut and lime cake with lime and cream cheese buttercream and toasted coconut. I had a couple of small (i.e. large) slices myself then my children had a slice each for tea. The following morning, the remaining cake disappeared around the same time that my husband left for work.
COCONUT & LIME CAKE
175g self-raising flour
175g golden caster sugar
175g butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs
50g desiccated coconut
1 lime, [...]

Marshmallow chocolate brownies

Kather's Kitchen, South Wales cookery courses, Monmouthshire, baking, marshmallow chocolate brownies

Marshmallows and a thick, smooth, chocolate topping turn these intensely rich, dark chocolate brownies into something unimaginably decadent!
Makes 25 small or 16 large brownies
You can use milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate if you prefer a less intense chocolate flavour.
Butter for greasing
150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
140g butter
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g cocoa powder
175g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
50g marshmallows, chopped (or 50g mini marshmallows)
Topping
60g butter
50g sugar
75ml milk
150g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
50g marshmallows, chopped (or mini marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 180C / 160C fan / Gas mark 4
Grease & line a 20cm square, 5cm deep brownie tin with baking parchment and set aside.
Melt together the [...]

Chicory, rocket, clementine & Manchego salad

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This delicious combination of ingredients makes a beautiful, colourful and healthy salad. 
Serves 2
2 heads of chicory, outer leaves removed and core sliced into rounds
5 radishes, sliced into thin rounds
1 red chilli, halved horizontally, deseeded and very thinly sliced
a few sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
a handful of rocket leaves
2 clementines, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp sweet paprika
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
50g Manchego cheese, shaved

Put the chicory, radish, chilli and parsley into a bowl.
Put the olive oil, sherry vinegar and sweet paprika into a clean jar. Put [...]

Chocolate, ginger & cardamom bites

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These delicious chocolates are very easy to make and the cardamom flavour turns them into something truly amazing! They make a great present and are perfect for serving with coffee after dinner.
For this recipe, I use a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin, which yields 49 chocolates (7 x 7)
275g plain chocolate
3 tbsp golden syrup
115g butter
325g gingernut biscuits
60g raisins
100g dried apricots
10-15 cardamom pods

Grease and line a brownie tin (approx 20cm x 20cm) with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.
Crush the gingernuts to fine crumbs in a food processor. Alternatively, put the biscuits in an unsealed freezer bag, wrap in a tea towel [...]

Spiced lamb burgers with herby yoghurt

Kather's Kitchen Abergavenny Food Festival food academy demo

 
Thank you to everyone who came along to the Kather’s Kitchen workshop at Abergavenny Food Festival’s Food Academy.  Forty budding chefs created these delicious mini burgers, whilst learning some useful kitchen techniques and enjoying the fruits of their labour at the end of the workshop!
MINI MOROCCAN LAMB BURGERS WITH HERBY MINT YOGHURT
Makes 10 mini (50g) burgers
450g good quality minced lamb
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
4cm piece of root ginger
a small bunch of fresh coriander
sea salt (for crushing the garlic)
black pepper
2 tbsp mild oil for frying
For the herby yoghurt
150ml Greek yoghurt
½ lemon
a small bunch of mint
For [...]

My lemon wedge rant

Lemon wedges Kather's Kitchen Bristol fish restaurant

My husband and I went to dinner at a fantastic fish restaurant in Bristol the other day and, true to our expectations, the food was sensational. In fact I really couldn’t fault a thing UNTIL my beautiful, succulent, cooked-to-perfection, chargrilled, mouth-watering monkfish was placed in front of me. Nestled beside it was a roughly chopped, unsightly great wedge of pithy lemon. As soon as I squeezed the lemon, about half a dozen pips shot out across my plate and were instantly distributed throughout my food. The crudely prepared, speed-hacked, pip-laden, pith-heavy chunk of citrus had completely undermined an otherwise utterly [...]

BBC films Kather’s Kitchen

Kather's Kitchen BBC2 pop-up dinner

The BBC recently came to film a Kather’s Kitchen pop-up dinner for the new series of James Martin’s Home Comforts. The dinner took place in beautiful Walterstone Village Hall in Herefordshire. It was a really happy, colourful evening and our lovely guests tolerated the cameras with enormous grace!
Kather’s Kitchen collaborated with Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods to showcase some delicious, seasonal and foraged ingredients. The menu included hedgerow gazpacho, smoked trout & horseradish, broad bean & sumac, beetroot remoulade, rolled shoulder of Welsh lamb and rose posset with poached rhubarb & cardamom.
The episode will be broadcast on BBC2 in [...]

Curried yoghurt & mango chutney dip

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Here is a lovely, simple recipe that is the perfect addition to garden lunches, BBQs or with pre-dinner drinks. Serve with a selection of chopped vegetables or bread. This recipe went down a storm on our Glorious Garden Lunches cookery course!

120g mango chutney
140g good quality cream cheese
250g Greek yoghurt
a handful of fresh coriander, chopped
a few mint leaves, chopped
3 spring onions, chopped
1 lime, juice only
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt & Tabasco

Put the mango chutney, cream cheese, Greek yoghurt, spring onions, lime, coriander, mint and spices in a food processor. Blitz until combined. (Alternatively, mix by hand.) Add salt and Tabasco [...]

Spring chicken with asparagus, Jersey Royals & mint pesto

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A vibrant recipe incorporating a selection of the season’s best ingredients. 
Serves 4
6 chicken thighs (deboned & skinned) cut in half
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp seasoned plain flour
500g Jersey Royals, halved
450ml chicken stock
200g baby spinach leaves
a small bunch of spring onions, sliced (white part only)
12 British asparagus spears
150g shelled broad beans
For the pesto
20g mint leaves
10g parsley leaves
10g basil leaves
40g pine nuts
40g Parmesan cheese, coarse grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ lemon
extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the pesto, place the first six pesto ingredients in a food processor and briefly blitz to roughly chop. Drizzle in some olive oil [...]

White chocolate & raspberry brioche bites

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Fabulously indulgent mini brioche tartlets filled with white chocolate ganache and a surprise centre. These are a great alternative to a formal pudding – pile them onto a plate and place in the middle of the table at the end of dinner then soak up the ensuing appreciation from your guests!
For this recipe you will need a 12 cup mini muffin tin and a 7cm pastry cutter
Makes 12
12 slices of brioche (as fresh as possible)
50g butter, melted
15g butter, finely diced
150g white chocolate, very finely chopped
75ml double cream
60g raspberry jam
12 raspberries
icing sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas mark [...]

Wild garlic & mushroom tart with wild garlic pesto

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Wild garlic season is in full swing and I am taking every opportunity I can get to use this delicious, flavoursome herb to enhance a range of Spring recipes. Wild garlic pesto is quick and easy to make and tastes sensational with some fresh tagliatelle and a grating of Parmesan.  Wild garlic leaves can be chopped over salads or soups, added to omelettes and sauces, layered with potatoes to make gratin dauphinois or used as a seasonal alternative to garlic cloves.
Makes 6 shallow (starter size) tartlets / 4 deep (main course size) tartlets
Pastry cases

175g plain flour
115g salted, cold butter, cut [...]

Wye Valley Cheese pasties

Cheese pasty, Wye Valley Cheese, Monmouthshire, Kather's Kitchen

Makes 4 large pasties
Wye Valley Cheese mature unpasteurised cow’s milk cheese is perfect for these pasties. Click here to go to the Wye Valley Cheese website.
For the pastry        

125g butter, chilled and diced
125g lard or white vegetable fat
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
a pinch of salt

For the filling                                                          

2 red onions
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
500g potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper), peeled
400g Wye Valley cow’s milk cheese, cubed
a handful of baby spinach leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten

- Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas mark 6.
- Cut the red onions into small wedges, place into a small [...]

Celeriac remoulade

Celeriac remoulade, vegetarian recipes, cooking courses, Kather's Kitchen

Delicious served with cured and barbecued meats. This salad is best eaten the day it is made. 

1 celeriac
½ lemon, juice only
3 tbsp crème fraîche or double cream
4 tbsp good quality mayonnaise
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
flat leaf parsley, chopped, to garnish

- Peel and cut the celeriac into thin strips. Alternatively, shred it using the grater attachment on a food processor or grate by hand.
- Immediately place in a large bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice and stir to combine (this will stop the celeriac from turning brown).
- In a separate bowl mix together the mayonnaise, crème fraîche and [...]

Sweet potato & wild rose el hanout soup

Sweet potato soup, Kather's Kitchen, Monmouthshire

Serves 6

3 tbsp olive oil
thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 onions, chopped
1 tbsp Forage Fine Foods wild rose el hanout
750g sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1.2 litres vegetable or chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
dried wild rose petals to garnish (optional)

- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based pan then add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes until the onions soften.
- Add the wild rose el hanout, stir and cook for a further minute.
- Add the sweet potatoes, stirring well to coat them in the spicy [...]

Blackcurrant cranachan

Blackcurrant cranachan, Kather's Kitchen, cookery courses

 
Serves 4-6

40g pinhead or medium oatmeal
400ml double cream
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp (malt) whisky, to taste
250g Ty Gwyn blackcurrant coulis

- Spread the oatmeal out on a baking sheet and toast under a hot grill until it smells rich and nutty, taking care not to burn it. Set aside to cool.
- Whip the cream until it is just set then stir in the honey and the whisky. Adjust to taste by adding a little more honey or whisky if needed.
- Stir in nearly all of the oatmeal and gently whisk by hand until the mixture is just firm.
- Fold in the [...]

Beetroot & orange soup

Beetroot & orange soup, Kather's Kitchen, South Wales, cookery courses, Monmouthshire

This velvety dream of a soup is very easy to make and combines deliciously earthy beetroot with fresh, sweet orange. It is finished off with a zesty horseradish cream – all in all a glorious combination of flavours.
(This same combination works extremely well as a salad too – roasted beetroot with freshly sliced orange segments and a creamy dressing with a few gratings of fresh horseradish.)
Serves 6

750g beetroot
a knob of butter
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 litre of stock (vegetable or chicken) plus extra for thinning if necessary
3 oranges
2 tbsp crème fraîche
2 tsp creamed horseradish [...]

Christmas pudding ice cream

Kather's Kitchen Christmas pudding ice cream

 
Here’s a delicious, seasonal recipe to try over Christmas. You don’t need any special equipment to make it but it looks fantastic if you replicate the Christmas pudding shape by using a large pudding mould or several small ones.
It’s a great recipe to use if you’re entertaining over Christmas as people always love how it looks – plus it tastes sensational!
Serves 6-8 people

¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
5 tbsp brandy
50g currants
50g raisins
50g dried cherries, chopped
50g dried apricots, chopped
45g mixed peel
30g crystalised ginger, chopped
500ml fresh custard
300ml double cream
2 tbsp honey
some redcurrants for garnishing

- Mix the spices into the brandy [...]

Sweet blinis with blackberries and crème de cassis

Kather's Kitchen sweet blinis with blackberries & crème de cassis - cooking course, recipe.

This recipe combines authentic blinis with blackberries and crème de cassis to make a delicious, impressive, seasonal pudding. The blini quantities generate a little more batter than you will need for this recipe so you can use the leftover batter to make more blinis for breakfast the next day with honey or jam.
INGREDIENTS

For the blinis
300ml milk
30g sugar
1 x sachet (7g) fast action yeast
100g buckwheat flour
100g plain white flour
1 egg, separated
a knob of butter
mild oil for frying
double cream for serving (whipped to soft peaks)

For the blackberry & cassis sauce
500g blackberries
100g caster sugar
1 lemon, juice only
5 tbsp Crème de Cassis

METHOD

- To make [...]

Sweet orange & rose hip risotto

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Arborio rice with orange blossom water, rose hip syrup, butter and milk make a wonderfully fragrant and creamy, seasonal pudding.

Serves 6

225g Arborio rice
20g butter
900ml full fat milk
2 oranges
120ml rose hip syrup (see earlier blog for recipe)
2 tsp orange blossom water
6 rose hips
dark brown sugar for sprinkling

 - Zest one of the oranges
- Peel & segment both oranges and set aside
- Top and tail the rose hips then halve and de-seed them, ensuring all the tiny hairs are removed from inside.  Then slice the rose hips and set aside
- Put the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the [...]

Rose hip syrup

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It’s that time of year again. Wild rose bushes are starting to become weighed down with delicious, juicy, red rose hips. It’s time to make rose hip syrup.
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose plant. They vary in colour from orange to red through to dark red and even purple – and in shape from the oval shaped berries in the bowl above to plump, round fruits that look like cherry tomatoes.
The ones I use seem to be the most common ones here in Monmouthshire and they’re from the dog rose, which grows wild in hedgerows and along verges. [...]

A walk on the wild side

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I was delighted when Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods agreed to come and lead a day’s foraging as a special Kather’s Kitchen event on the wild and beautiful Ardnamurchan Peninsula last month.
The event took place in and around Salen Bay, which presented an incredible range of habitats in a relatively small area – perfect for a foraging event. Mark found over 70 edible species of plant and mushroom across four different environments – hedgerow, salt marsh, coastal and ancient oak woodland. At the end of the foraging walk, we headed to a fabulous woodland shelter for a wild lunch, [...]

Chicken with herb butter, tomatoes & capers

Chicken with tomato & capers

My butcher sells chicken supremes and I think they’re a great joint to use if you want to raise the stakes when serving chicken.  They’re basically the chicken breast with the top part of the wing still attached.  They are meaty, they look neat and structured on the plate and they’re very low maintenance for the person eating them – there’s only one small bone and it’s extremely easy to deal with.
Because the joint includes part of the wing bone, they seem to retain moisture when cooking, unlike plain chicken breasts which seem to dry out quite easily.  Of course, [...]

Lovely elderflower

Elderflower cordial

It’s elderflower season and roadsides, parks, verges and hedgerows here in South Wales are awash with huge, cream-coloured flower heads. The beautiful, fragrant, sweet-smelling blossom is just waiting to be picked and converted into delicious cordial for all sorts of lovely culinary uses. Serve diluted with ice cold still or sparkling water or add to sparkling wine or champagne. If you want to bring the refreshing, summery flavour of elderflower into your cooking, you could try some of these…

- Elderflower & lemon tart
- Elderflower sorbet – so easy to make as it’s just cordial, water & sugar
- Add a splash [...]

Emergency pudding recipe

Emergency pudding

On Sunday, I managed to recover from an ‘oh my goodness, I completely forgot to do a pudding’ situation and ended up seriously surprising myself when the results of a frenzied rummage in the freezer and the fruit bowl turned into something completely delicious.
It seemed such a useful emergency recipe, I thought I’d post it here in case anyone ever finds themselves in a similar situation. The only thing you have to remember is to buy some ready-rolled puff pastry and a punnet of frozen berries next time you go shopping and hide them in the freezer ready for the [...]

My favourite mussel recipe

Foraged lunch

Here is my recipe for Cuaig Bay Mussels.
1.)  Drive to Scotland
2.) As you venture into the wilds of Scotland, start to marvel at the indescribably stunning surroundings

2b.) and the hirsute residents

3.) Recover from the 600 mile drive (distances may vary but this was my route)

4.) In the morning, pack a metal grill and some matches along with anything else you feel you should take with you e.g. drinking water, wellies, chocolate, your children.
4.) Head across the hauntingly beautiful, desolate Scottish landscape to a deserted bit of coast.

5.) Keep an eye out for dried sticks and fallen branches on the way – [...]

Going via Calais? Make time for La Cour de Remi

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I couldn’t resist posting a review about a place where we stayed in France last weekend because it was absolutely sensational and the food the best we’ve eaten in a long time.  La Cour de Remi appears on the Sawday’s website as a hotel but it’s really more a restaurant with rooms – fabulous rooms and unbelievably good food.

We were there en famille so we chose one of the larger rooms and asked for extra beds for our young children. On entering our room, we walked into a spacious sitting room where the children’s beds had been made up. Stairs led up to [...]

Cape gooseberry marbles

Cape gooseberries

Cape gooseberries (or physalis) dipped in caramelised sugar are not only absolutely delicious, they are also very beautiful and eye-catching to look at – small, shiny, amber coloured marbles that are just asking to be eaten.  They have a sweet and tangy flavour that resembles strawberries and pineapples – and with the added sweetness and crunch of the caramelised sugar on the outside they make an ideal accompaniment to various puddings.  I served them at this week’s pop-up dinner at the farm with honey panna cotta and cinnamon shortbread.
Here is how to make them.  The quantities below will yield enough [...]

Honey panna cotta

Individual panna cotta

I have cooked panna cotta a few times for various courses at the farm and it always goes down a treat.  It’s simple to prepare and is the ideal pudding for serving with seasonal accompaniments such as poached rhubarb or a vibrant, fresh raspberry coulis.  So I decided to offer it as one of the pudding choices at our recent pop-up dinner. I normally pour the cooked cream into ramekins so the panna cotta can be turned out onto a plate but this time, I did them in bulbous glasses with some little cinnamon shortbread hearts (it was a Valentine’s [...]

A new pie for a special occasion

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It was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I headed to Fortnum & Mason last weekend with Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods to do a cookery demonstration as part of Fortnum’s Comfort Food month and Artisan Market weekend.

It was a small miracle that I actually made it to London at all because of the huge dumping of snow we had here in South Wales the night before but it was a relatively simple journey in the end, aside from the fact that I had to negotiate Paddington to Piccadilly Circus by tube, pulling an enormous cool box [...]

Let’s all eat more ox cheek

Ox cheeks

These are the ox cheek recipes from the cookery demonstration I did with Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods at Fortnum & Mason on Saturday 26th January.
 

 
WHY WE SHOULD ALL BE EATING OX CHEEK
The tastiest cuts of meat are nearly always the ones that worked the hardest on the animal. Melt-in-the-mouth fillet steak didn’t have to move a muscle and consequently it wins hands down for texture but not necessarily for flavour…and at around £35 per kilo (sometimes considerably more), you have to really love that texture.
By comparison, ox cheeks have their work cut out so they’re tough, a bit [...]

Hogweed parkin

Hogweed parkin

Hogweed parkin is fast becoming one of the most popular treats at the farm.  I decided to give it a go after a suggestion by Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods that hogweed could go really well in traditional parkin – and true to form, Liz hit the nail on the head.  It is absolutely delicious and a highly original flavour.
Hogweed seeds are part of the same taste spectrum as spices like ground ginger and cinnamon; they’re quite strong and fragrant – but like nothing you would ever have tasted before. Simple-to-spot hogweed seeds are everywhere at this time of [...]

Chestnut, wild mushroom & pumpkin roulade

Pumpkin roulade

 Simple table decorations from Saturday’s course
In honour of Halloween (well, this recipe does contain pumpkin) and the Autumn season in general (it’s packed with other seasonal goodies) here is a recipe I demonstrated on Saturday’s Wild Taste of Autumn course at Humble by Nature with brilliant Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods.
If you’re not counting calories, do what we did on Saturday and drizzle the slices with some double cream & Parmesan before heating through at the end of the recipe.
CHESTNUT, WILD MUSHROOM & PUMPKIN ROULADE

Serves 4

30g butter

1 leek, finely chopped


4 eggs, separated
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
30g Parmesan
150g Greek yoghurt
1 [...]

My Tarte Tatin love affair

Tarte tatin

Tarte Tatin (or Tarte des demoiselles Tatin if we’re going to be really correct about it) is one of my favourite puddings and, being apple and pear season right now, it’s a perfect recipe for this time of year.  I recently cooked apple tarte Tatin for the smallholding course at the farm but I’ve also been doing individual pear tarte Tatins with cinnamon as well as savoury versions including caramelised shallot tarte Tatin and balsamic fig and thyme tarte Tatin (which is absolutely delicious with duck and also with lamb, in which case the addition of rosemary works particularly well).
If [...]

Sausage-making with a star charcutier

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On Friday it was the Humble by Nature ‘Ham It Up’ sausage-making course directed by Graham Waddington of Native Breeds. Graham and I have worked together a few times now and I always eagerly anticipate his courses at the farm because he is quite simply amazing at what he does.  During the course, Graham had everyone producing some seriously sensational sausages and, most importantly, understanding the techniques needed to reproduce them again at home.
 
A PHOTO DIARY OF THE COURSE
Graham started the course by talking about the ingredients used in producing some of the world’s finest sausages, closely followed by a [...]

Salting & curing at Humble by Nature

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A PHOTO DIARY OF FRIDAY’S SALTING & CURING COURSE
I had a thoroughly enjoyable day on Friday supporting Graham Waddington of Native Breeds Curers & Charcutiers on the salting & curing course at Humble by Nature.
Graham did a brilliant talk on the traditions of French charcuterie and handed round some amazing tasters for everyone to try including pork rillettes, confit pig cheeks, pates and salamis. He showed everyone how to salt and cure meat – and guests then went on to create their own dry cure mix for bacon and a salting recipe for pork confit. I demonstrated duck leg confit (which we [...]

Pan-fried fish with orzo, prawns & coriander

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Orzo makes a delicious and simple base for pan-fried fish – and the other ingredients in this recipe add the perfect combination of sweet, salty, herby & zesty. I haven’t specified which fish you should use as the choice is yours. I am currently in love with bream so that is what I would choose!

 
PAN-FRIED FISH WITH ORZO, PRAWNS & CORIANDER
 Serves 2

200g fillet(s) fish of your choice (2 equally sized pieces)
120g orzo
20g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled & finely sliced
100g small cooked & peeled prawns
1 large tomato, diced
1 heaped teaspoon capers, roughly chopped
1 lime, quartered
a small bunch of [...]

Two weeks of feasting on fish

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I have just been away for a couple of weeks – a well-timed break to coincide with a quieter period on the farm – and have spent most of it thinking about, eating or cooking fish. The Portuguese are dedicated fish-lovers and I was determined to take full advantage of the incredible array of fish on offer.
The fish counter at our local supermarket had to be seen to be believed.  Banks of crushed ice housed trays of seafood of all different shapes and sizes – at a glance, there were various flatfish, bass, bream, prawns, squid, eel, rays, monkfish, crab, [...]

Pork rillettes for the pig course

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I love cooking at Humble by Nature so much because no two menus are ever the same.  When guests come to the farm to do a course, the food that they eat reflects what they’ve come to learn that day.  Yesterday, it was the Introduction to Beekeeping course so the menu included honey biscuits when the guests arrived – and for lunch I made a smooth, creamy honey-infused panna cotta with fresh Herefordshire raspberries a little extra Wye Valley Honey drizzled on top.
Today, it’s the Pigs for Beginners course.  As the guests sit down for lunch, there will be Kilner [...]

Courgette, baby spinach & mint pesto tart

Tart

The mint leaves in the pesto give this baby spinach & courgette tart a gloriously fresh, summery taste.  This is really three recipes in one – the pastry recipe is incredibly useful for all sorts of different tarts (and you can simply add a teaspoon of caster sugar if using it for a sweet recipe) – and the pesto also has numerous uses.  It is delicious spooned over hot new potatoes, it makes a fantastic base layer on bruschetta or homemade pizza and it is equally good mixed into some linguine with a bit of extra Parmesan on top (the [...]

Filo parcels with tomato, lemon & cumin

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I made these last night because I had some spare filo pastry and some leftover rice from something else I was making – and they worked really well so I thought I’d post the recipe.
The size and the ingredients could easily be adjusted depending on your taste. I made them quite large as we ate them as our main course with salad but you could easily make them much smaller if you wanted to.

Ingredients

1 packet of filo pastry sheets
150g butter, melted
200g Basmati rice
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or 1 tsp dried oregano
1 lemon (zest only)
2 medium onions, [...]

A child’s dream and a dentist’s nightmare

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This afternoon I got back from a lovely day cooking for the bee-keeping course at Humble by Nature and I was planning on selecting one of the day’s recipes for my end June blog. But something else has since cropped up that I couldn’t resist documenting.
Yesterday was my son’s sixth birthday and he’s having a tea party tomorrow for lots of his friends from school. Six year olds are demanding creatures and expectations run high when it comes to things like birthday cakes. I decided to step fully outside my cooking comfort zone and have a go at creating a [...]

A Wild Taste of Summer

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The Humble by Nature team had a busy few days last week preparing for the ‘Wild Taste of Summer’ course at the farm on Saturday. As it got closer to the actual day, it became increasingly apparent that the weather was going to take a major turn for the worse. Our vision of a happy group of carefree foragers ambling along country lanes in the sunshine, gathering flowers and seeds from the hedgerows was completely dashed when we checked the forecast for the hundredth time the day before the course and it looked something like this…

News bulletins started mentioning severe [...]

Rising to a culinary challenge

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We decided some time ago that we would spend the Diamond Jubilee weekend at our Hut in a remote valley in North Wales. It is a place that time has forgotten and we adore it. It was built in 1929 by my great grandfather and generations of my family have been going there ever since.

It was always our favourite place to spend our school holidays and I have so many happy memories of building dams in the stream, cycling down the lane to collect pails of milk from the nearby dairy farm, playing ducks and drakes in the pool beneath the [...]

A very British recipe

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I just looked at the 5 day weather forecast for the Jubilee weekend and it’s not great. In fact, it’s appalling considering we’ve had day after day of glorious sunshine and accompanying high temperatures over the last working week – and now that there’s a whopping four day holiday on the horizon the weather is on the cusp of breaking into a depressingly familiar pattern of thick cloud and drizzle turning to torrential rain on Sunday. Boo hoo.
So, when I was thinking about a lovely Jubilee recipe to put on my blog I originally thought along the lines of something [...]

Resistance is futile

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I’ve only just posted the Moroccan blog and wasn’t planning on putting anything else up on the website today but this is a very important message. If you want to experience a bit of heaven without the upheaval of having to die first, you absolutely have to try this recipe. It’s by Valentine Warner and it was recommended to me by Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods as she suspected I might like it.
I cooked these for the first time yesterday.  I made 12.  There are 3 left.  They are in the fridge. Next to the whipped double cream that [...]

Two simple recipes for a sociable starter

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On Saturday night, I cooked a Moroccan inspired feast: a sweet lamb tagine with apricots, dates and almonds flavoured with turmeric, ginger, cinnamon and paprika, roasted butternut squash with coriander, chilli, lime and tahini yoghurt, marinated mushrooms with cumin, dill and maple syrup, Moroccan flatbread with fennel and a huge bowl of freshly made hummus with plenty of lemon and garlic.
Whenever I see flatbread as part of a meal like this, it inspires me to ditch my knife and fork and revert to the simple joys of childhood, eating everything with my hands. Flatbread is the perfect vessel for scooping up [...]

A surprising find

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My grandfather was an exceptional cook. He was also a passionate fisherman and a keen shot, which went hand in hand with his skill in the kitchen. He almost exclusively cooked things he had grown, shot, caught or found. He was absolutely adored by his grandchildren because he was hilariously funny and incredibly mischievous and he lived a life that fascinated us all. His bootroom walls were lined with glamorous and exotic photographs of beautiful, empty beaches in Mexico, skiing in Grindelwald in the 1930s, stalking in Scotland, fishing in Ireland and motor racing in Monte Carlo.
While we thought his [...]

Japanese braised pork belly with a difference

Buta no kakuni

 
I had a meeting this week with Graham Waddington of Native Breeds, the Gloucestershire-based charcuterie.  Graham explained to me the science behind why it is so good to brine meat before cooking it so I decided to take his advice and the results have been pretty sensational.
I ended up cooking a pork recipe that is the epitome of slow cooking and quite unbelievably delicious. It’s based on the Japanese recipe for braised pork called buta no kakuni - although I added the brining and marinating stages before cooking the meat to further improve the texture and flavour of the pork.
I took [...]

Cook’s bookmark

Conversion chart

Here is a mini directory of useful cooking information including oven, weight and liquid conversion charts.  I know it makes for a pretty boring post but I also know it’s something people have trouble with as many charts are inaccurate or don’t specify UK or US units.  Simply bookmark this page on your internet browser toolbar and you’ll be able to access it whenever you’re at a loose end with measurements in the kitchen.
COOK’S NOTE – Don’t follow the recipe over a cliff! I read a newspaper article once that said a man had driven over the edge of a [...]

A popular farm treat

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OAT, RAISIN & CINNAMON COOKIES
I’ve just made a batch of them, the kitchen smells amazing and the gannets are already circling.
It’s a very simple, reliable and delicious recipe.  They’re soft cookies so they have quite a cake-like texture – and they attract so many compliments when we cook them for tea at Humble by Nature.  This recipe makes about 30 cookies and, if for some strange reason they don’t all get eaten straight away, you can freeze them.
If you don’t have time to soak the raisins in the egg mixture for an hour (as per the first step of the [...]

Яйца Фаберже

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I feel like I should start talking to my hens in Russian (although my conversation would be mainly limited to ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’ and ‘cheers’.)  That’s because they have been laying Fabergé eggs.
These opulent creations go back to 1885, when Tsar Alexander III commissioned a young jeweller, Peter Carl Fabergé, to create an unusual Easter gift for his wife.  On Easter morning, the finished item duly arrived at the palace.  What at first appeared to be a simple enamelled egg was something far more intricate and extravagant.  The egg contained a golden yolk, which contained a golden hen, which contained a [...]

What a boar!

Wild boar (Chris Grady)

My husband left for work the other day at about 7.30am.  A couple of minutes later, he walked back in to the kitchen to tell me that he’d just come face to face with a wild boar.  He had opened the back door to our house to go to the car and there, at the bottom of the stone steps standing on the gravel just a couple of feet away was a large, hairy wild boar. A real Big Daddy. Man and boar were equally startled by this unexpected meeting. They eyeballed each other for a few seconds before one [...]