Friday, 3 February 2012





I think I'll just call mine the tasting menu.

They've been around for ages now, and I think it's a very good way to enjoy your dinner.

Eight or more courses, all showing off different cooking techniques and styles, hopefully with different wine parings, making people really take their time over a good dinner, or lunch!

Anyway here's mine.

As you can see the East Lodge kitchen is an oasis of calm!

I'll soon change that though, look, Tom's having a chinwag with Matt, Ben's doing some colouring in, and Jon's just trying to work out what's going on!

No, actually, all of our diners at the chef's table are amazed at how peaceful and organized we are, but, you know, we are trying to serve eight courses to lots of different tables we have to be well set up.

So, the easy bit first, the bread.

Made fresh every day, we offer a simple brown, a cheese and bacon and a Guinness and rye sour dough.

Served, warm, on a slate with salted farmhouse butter and home made truffle goats cheese butter.

It was inspired by a visit to Tetsuya's restaurant in Sidney where we had butter mixed with Parmesan cheese and black truffles. Delicious.

Easy to do at home as well, just mix soft goats cheese, butter and white truffle oil, and there you go, sorted! Right that's the only recipe I'm doing tonight!

We get lots of positive feedback over these, and it really sets the tone of the meal to come.

Right, lets eat.

I've talked about the bouche before.

It really shows my love of French food, and how we can change it to suit a multi course menu.

Normally served as a main course, "Rossini" is a fillet steak garnished with sauteed duck livers, truffles and a brioche crouton.

This is exactly the same. Well sort of.

We salt beef fillet, leave it, then air dry it, for a "ham". Sugar cured, marinated duck livers are cooked in the water bath, rolled out and pressed.

A beef consomme is made in the classical manor, poured on top of the chilled duck liver, sliced bread wafers are dried in the oven, Truffle oil is mixed with mayonnaise, radishes are sliced and parsley is deep fried.
I think it's lovely, and it allows me introduce a more modern dish, but still with classical roots.

Right, this one's quite healthy!

It's fashionable to be baking whole vegetables in a salt crust (some use clay as well), so we salt bake celeriac. It's flavour is amazing, and it's so white and soft, I'm going to do it all the time now.

Scooped out and dressed with some olive oil, cider vinegar and a touch of salt, it marries perfectly with some slowly cooked turnips.

These are steamed, as I think they would be a bit small to salt bake. Then rolled in onion ash, to give a smoky dark taste.
This is another new idea, I think, inspired by Noma restaurant. It's just burnt onion peelings, blended to a powder, and it's a nice thing to roll cooked root vegetables in. I was trying to capture those earthy, winter smells and tastes. A boned, pressed chicken wing, bacon, brushed with maple syrup, wood sorrel to add some acidity, and a reduced chicken stock and shallot dressing complete the dish.

It's one of the dishes that always gets good feedback, and I love the sense of winter I get when I eat it.

And, in case you're wondering what I do with all that left over chicken, here it is.

Well, some of it. The legs are salted and cooked in duck fat, mixed with ham and turned into this rather wonderful terrine.

The breasts are used as a main course, so as you can see we are using every last bit of the chicken!

Right, now we start the fish dishes.

Now, I love this one.

I think a big, fat, juicy, caramelised tiger prawn is a real thing of joy!

So I serve two. We use the shells to make an intense prawn bisque, made in the usual way, with tomatoes, saffron, vegetables and herbs.

Reduced to an essence, it gives a massive boost to the dish.

It's Ben's sweet potato puree recipe, made with a caramel, orange juice and hazelnut butter, the richness and smooth texture are very important as we are serving some very pretty, pink, Yorkshire rhubarb with it.

Again, cooked at a low temperature, so it does not break up, with some sugar and sliced ginger.

This to me, makes lots of sense. Lemon is often added to fish, to sharpen up the flavour. And gooseberries can be paired successfully with oily fish, so I thought, why not?

And everyone says how nice it looks when we serve it!

Now, I've got a slight problem now.

The other night, I was a little bit "in it", and I forgot to take a picture of the next course.

It's turbot, my second favourite fish, after Dover sole.

And as I didn't want the turbot to feel left out I've included this picture from last summer.

Anyway, this year it's being served with a smooth, sweet garlic cream. Made by blanching peeled garlic three times, and then cooking in milk and butter, it takes all the harshness away, and goes with a big meaty fish like turbot.

And, along the same lines, we serve meaty Portabella mushrooms along side with a reduced red wine sauce.

Listen, I'm not the first chef to pair a dense fish with red wine and other wintery garnishes, but it's such a good combination, I thought I would include it on the tasting menu. It also allows me to make a classical red wine sauce, as there is not one served elsewhere.

And it means we can start serving red wine as well, ready to lead into the main course.

I'm using pig.

It's belly to be precise.

It's a super cut, and works perfectly as a main, being light and rich, and being so popular, everyone is willing to try it.

We remove the skin (this is saved for the garnish) and bones, placed in a pickling brine for 24 hours, we then cook it in the water bath for 30 hours.

Pressed overnight, all we have to do is portion it, warm it up back in the bath, and then sear it on the plancha.

I made a sweet vinegar reduction using red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar and soft dark brown sugar.

It's just to cut the richness of the pork.

I needed to think of a suitable garnish, and as I was already using sweet potato, didn't want to use another potato in the menu. So I ordered some spelt from Sharpham Park, in the hope of doing a side dish with that.

But, it was just a bit too nutty and firm, so I thought of doing a risotto. Now I think a good risotto should be served as a course on it's own, but the creamy rice, heavily seasoned with cracked black pepper and buttery onions, would work well in this case.

And, remember, the pork skin I saved, well that is roasted and grated to sprinkle on top of the risotto, as a sort of crackling!

Buttered Savoy cabbage provides about 10% of your five a day, so I've covered all the food groups as well!

Now, it's got nothing at all to do with me, the water bath does all the work, but that pork is out of this world.

It's soft, yet sort of firm, sweet, juicy, incredible really. I love it.

I mean, just look at it.

Perfection itself.

So I hope you still have some red wine left, just to finish off with the next course.

I'm using goats cheese at the moment, as it's a lighter cleaner taste, after all that dark sweet pork.

Using fennel as a puree and a sorbet as well, it will cleanse the palate.

Black olive caramel, is also present, made by caramelising sugar then adding pitted black olives, and blending, it goes well with the other flavors.

Orange zest is grated over at the last minute, along with thyme breadcrumbs, it gets the diner ready for the pudding course.

Now that I've written about the dish it seems like it has some Italian overtones, which follow on nicely from the pork and risotto.

Lucky, eh!

So, here it is then.


The Bakewell.

Once, again, all the flavors of a Bakewell, but everything has changed.

I was thinking about changing the frangipane layer to something a bit crisper.

Like a buttery biscuit base.


 But I thought that was a bit silly!

So using cooked rounds of frangipane, with a cooked vanilla custard poured over and finally a layer of strawberry jelly.

A scoop of almond milk sorbet, with a caramel dipped hazelnut and some gold leaf complete this years dish.

On the side are a couple of warm almond sponge cakes, injected with warm strawberry jam. A Derbyshire doughnut I suppose, and some hot custard for dipping them into!

So, you see all hot and cold, and soft and lovely!

Looks alright too!

Right, that's it!

I'll tell you all about the Simon Bradley "spread love" project next time.

And of my new interest in gardening, soil in particular.

And sausage rolls.

Pink socks and hand jiving for me now, can't wait!

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