Everyone has 'that' restaurant. For some 'that' restaurant can be a guilty pleasure, shrouded in memories or just because you love it and can't quite put your finger on it. For me, The Valle D'Oro at Newbury is the restaurant I always call upon when I need something. Sometimes it's to fill a hole with so much cheese I can barely walk, other times it's just because I love it. Why do I love it? I cannot be specific as all the aspects of being there work together to ultimately provide an evening you cannot leave without feeling satisfied.
Thursday, 26 April 2012
You may have heard that I had my first live cookery demo at the weekend. I’ve done a few smaller ones before but they were more a case of me trying to persuade people to try my wares as they walk past; people seem to think I'm trying to sell something so they tend to steer clear. Or maybe people don't want to eat cabbage at 9am on a Sunday morning.
This time it was all proper; kitchen, stage, mirrors above the worktop and everything. Fortunately it was inside so I didn’t have to contend with the weather as well as my nerves. I had no idea what to expect and not a clue how it was going to go. There were a few things that I had in mind to say but nothing particular. I had a bit of time to prep and get organised before I started but that went by in a flash.
Saturday, 21 April 2012
The third and final part of my demo is raw asparagus salad. This is a brilliant way of enjoying asparagus. It almost tastes of fresh peas or beans. Eating asparagus raw means you can enjoy its crunch and subtle flavours. Don’t worry though, it’s far more elegant than shovelling whole spears in your face, it’s delicately peeled into thin strips with a very simple dressing.
Friday, 20 April 2012
The second part of my cookery demo is all about griddled asparagus. This is a great way of cooking asparagus as you can do it on a griddle inside or outside on the BBQ if the weather is on your side! Whichever way you choose you will get a wonderfully smoky, almost nutty flavour to the asparagus. It’s fantastic on its own or on the side with some poached fish, especially with the chive and crème fraîche dip!
I like this way of cooking asparagus as you can sort of leave it to its own devices as a little charring on the asparagus adds to the flavour. It also makes a brilliant noise as it cooks, popping all around the pan. This is particularly delicious if served with a poached or fried egg on top, even more exquisite if each spear is wrapped in
ham and dipped in a soft boiled egg. Parma
Thursday, 19 April 2012
This weekend I am doing my first proper cookery demo at The Greener Living Show in the New Forest. To make things as easy as possible I am keeping it simple and seasonal. I will be cooking asparagus three different ways to show how one vegetable, if prepared differently, can taste completely different.
First and foremost; boiled asparagus. A great way of cooking asparagus but it’s hampered with the lingering fear of over cooking it and ending up with a soggy, limp green stalk. I don’t bother putting only the stems in the water so the heads can steam gently, I just throw it all in and it works every time. I like this way of cooking asparagus because it has a silky, soft texture when done.
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Considering how long these sloes have been hanging around it's remarkable they're still able to be made into something delicious. They were picked early Autumn last year and have so far been made into glorious gin and pleasing port. There comes a time in sloe port making where the sloes have to be removed. It's an emotional time; what can you do now that many sloe avenues have been exhausted?
Sunday, 15 April 2012
I do like purple sprouting broccoli. It seems less like broccoli than a standard green tree and so I feel I should pay it extra care and attention. As much as I enjoy a stem or two on the side of the plate sometimes I want it to be the star attraction. There was a lot of purple sprouting broccoli to get through; a whole bag full in fact from the veg box. One of the reasons I like purple sprouting so much is that it signals the start of Spring. Along with rhubarb, when you see the purple tipped stems standing proud you know it's only a matter of time until 'the other stuff' starts appearing; asparagus, beans, fruits, tomatoes and all sorts of other treats.
Tuesday, 10 April 2012
My sloe journey started on an early Autumn day when I was full of enthusiasm for making sloe gin. After rambling through the hedgerows, dodging a few rabbit holes and being careful of the thorns I had a basket rammed with sloes. I had romantic visions of sloe picking scenes but in reality it was pretty hard work. Was it worth it? Absolutely.
Sunday, 8 April 2012
As it's the Easter weekend it would be rude not to do something interesting. We set off to Bath yesterday filled with anticipation. Bath is one of my favourite cities, there's always something happening and I consistently find a new shop in which to poke around. The problem with going somewhere you don't often frequent is finding somewhere to eat. Which continent do you choose? Italy, France, Spain, Greece, America, India all provide their own flavours but it's hard to put your money somewhere that might end up being a letdown.
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Easter provides an opportunity to make things you don't normally make; Simnel Cake, Chocolate Nests and Hot Cross Buns to name a few. If the weather is horrible it provides time to bake at leisure. This is a recipe for when you have bought or made too many hot cross buns in all the Easter excitement and they have gone a bit stale. It could also be used to disguise a less than perfect batch of homemade hot cross buns. It’s a brilliant way to make the most of this lovely, fruity spiced bun. Warm, crisp on top, gooey centre; what more could you want?