Monday, 15 September 2014

Charlotte's Butchery at Cook House Food School

Last week I held the first installment of 'Food School' at Cook House. I aim to get interesting food folk in every month or so to tell you about what they do, demonstrate, cook, chat; an informal fun way to learn more about other people's skills and talents. To start we welcomed Charlotte from Charlotte's Butchery in Gosforth.

Charlotte arrived with a whole lamb over her shoulder, and over the course of the evening she talked us all through how to break it down into its various cuts. The audience loved it, full of questions and interest for Charlotte and her profession, I genuinely learnt a lot. Charlotte is a very entertaining guest, especially when weilding a saw and the bloodied carcass of a lamb... she can come round any time...

There will definitely be more, from Charlotte again, perhaps with a pig next time... but before then there will be some wine tasting, bread baking and coffee education... dates will be available soon.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Roast Carrot and Cumin Seed Salad with Feta, Mint and Honey

People wander down from offices and studios around the Ouseburn for their lunch, friends and family visit, people staying at Hotel du Vin pop in, tourists and curious visitors to the Victoria Tunnel tour ask what I’m up to. Someone new and interesting seems to pop their head in everyday to ask what exactly is going on in this little shipping container.

There have been so many lovely customers in a very short space of time; I have only been open a month... long may it continue. I’ve met lots of new faces and taken on some new and exciting projects as a result. I can honestly say that I’m thoroughly enjoying the whole Cook House experience, albeit whilst totally exhausted...

I’ve been trying to plan my menus a week ahead, but I’m still getting used to the nuances of running my own ‘caff’... How much people will eat, how many people will come, what days are busy; it is all a learning curve that I’m trying to map out with tasty food... I think everything I have put on the menu has gone down pretty well so far. Most days are a balance of hearty meaty sandwiches or tarts with interesting tasty salads, which have been very well received. Today was Cauliflower Cake with mint salad, Pancetta and Gruyere Tart, Green Herb Couscous, Roast New Potato Salad with Dill and Orange and this... Roast Carrot and Cumin Seed Salad with Mint, Feta and Honey, a tasty new addition to the menu...

Chop 500g of carrots on the diagonal, cutting them down again if your carrots are particularly large, think bite size pieces... Then toss them in olive oil in a large roasting dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper and lots of cumin seeds. Roast them for 25 minutes at 200°C, until they have started to turn golden brown in places but still have a slight bite to them.

Turn them out into a large bowl and toss with a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Keep giving them a stir as they cool to room temperature so the dressing can sink in. When they have cooled stir through a large handful of lambs leaf lettuce and a large handful of chopped mint. To serve crumble over about 100g of feta cheese... I’ve added toasted walnuts before if you fancy that too, and you can use caraway seeds as an alternative too... The carrots are sweet and spiced, delicious with fresh mint and creamy cheese, a tasty lunch...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Cook House Launch

It all looked so beautiful.... It was lovely to see Cook House finally finished, with happy people, laughing, eating, drinking and generally having a good time last Thursday.

Hannah and Beth, some talented friends of mine are in the process of launching themselves as 'Blume' and they came along to 'dress' Cook House ready for her guests. It was lovely setting up with talented creative friends, bringing everything together, with Garrod on hand to take beautiful photos for us...

The supperclub marked the start of a range of events at Cook House, there will be monthly supperclubs and food school events, private dinners, guest chef take overs and much more. You can check the Cook House website and book in to any you fancy, or just pop in...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Cook House Supperclub - 28th August

Thursday 28th August 2014, 7.30pm - sold out

Cook House has been up and running for a grand total of two weeks now! It has been so busy and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. From now on I will be running regular Supperclubs from Cook House with changing seasonal feast menus. To kick this off we are hosting a special launch night Supperclub in the beautiful newly decorated space, a feast of summer, full of soused silver darlings, pickles and pates; sea trout, Scandi salads and summer puddings.

I have joined forces with Beth and Hannah of ‘Wildflower in Blume’ for this special launch evening, they are all about the styling… ‘We love flowers. We also love the finer details. We style weddings and events that create an atmosphere and tell your story. Our talents are broad, our enthusiasm endless.’ It promises to be a beautiful and tasty evening.

Tickets are available now, priced at £30, we will be serving a special welcome drink, a three course generous sharing feast and coffee, please byo other boozy drinks. You will be sent the final menu before you arrive so you can decide on your chosen tipple. As ever tickets go pretty quickly, please email to book your place and bring cash on the evening. You will be emailed asap if you have got a place…

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cook House is opening...

The sun hits the front deck of Cook House as soon as it comes up over the river, it’s a lovely peaceful spot first thing in the morning,  sitting on the bench with a cup of  fresh pour over coffee.

This is my new kitchen in the Ouseburn that will be ready to welcoming visitors from 8.30am Wednesday 6th August. I have used the place previously for events, but have now taken on the space full time. Two converted shipping containers; a new oven, dishwasher, a lick of paint, some new furniture and a spot of dressing with bits I have been collecting and shoving in cupboards at home for years.

The doors will be open for breakfast and lunch, weekdays from 8.30am until 3.30pm, come and have a bite to eat. I will be there cooking away for supperclubs and events, testing recipes and writing menus.  A daily changing small menu of seasonal food that is local and tasty. The breakfast offering will include poached fruits, yoghurts and granolas, the occasional bacon sandwich and toast with honey from the Ouseburn bees.

A new garden is growing rapidly out the back, with a lovely deck which is dappled with sunshine as you sit and have lunch. There are French beans, spring onions, a selection of squashes, radishes, broad beans, courgettes, salad and herbs all making themselves ready for people’s plates.

The lunch menu at Cook House the through the summer months will be full of big salads, herbs, toasted nuts, crumbled cheeses, tasty dressings; as well as delicious homemade bagels and sandwiches, ham hocks with soft pease pudding, roast lemony chicken with homemade mayo, soft salt beef with sweet cucumber pickle.

We have some pop ups lined up with some really exciting regional chefs in the next few months, and we will also be running a food school programme, with interesting local folk showing you what they do so well. We have wine tasting, butchery and coffee skills lined up and available to book soon...

Have a look at the new website to find out more...

Monday, 28 July 2014

Lindisfarne Summer Dining

We were back up at Lindisfarne Castle at the weekend for the summer supperclubs. I love being on Holy Island at any time of year, it's such a beautiful part of the world whatever the weather. We had a mixed bag this time with glorious sunshine, a bit of a haar, torrential rain and various levels of wind...

Cooking in the castle kitchen seems to bring the place back to life, with tasty smells drifting down the corridors, visitors popping their head in and I pass time imagining who cooked in the kitchen before me. I bet there were some characters... I think that is one of my favourite things about working with the National Trust in these special locations, using places as they once were, rather than just feeling like you are in a museum. Welcoming our guests, drinks before dinner on the battlements, sitting down to dine, then relaxing in the Ship Room at the end of the night. I have begun to feel very at home there!

Tickets are still available for the Farnes Islands Summer Supperlcub on Saturday 9th August. Click here for full details...

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Ricotta, Radish, Mint and Fennel Salad

I’m working on my salad repertoire... The menu, at my new venture Cook House, will be full of local seasonal flavour, huge delicious salads, salt beef bagels, roast chicken sandwiches with homemade mayonnaise, granola, stewed fruit, the occasional bacon sandwich, I’m nearly ready to show you the website... so watch this space...

This is a very simple salad I’ve been making for a while now, originally from the Polpo recipe book, I have free styled a bit. It’s really delicious. The radishes are my own, they are so easy to grow and I love the real kick of spice you get from home grown radishes, a much more powerful tasty version of the little bags in the supermarket. I’m also going to give homemade ricotta a go and try it with that... I’ll keep you posted.

These amounts will make one large plate of salad. Use a mandolin or a very sharp knife and thinly slice a big handful of radishes, take half a fennel bulb and thinly slice that too. Add everything to a large bowl. If you have some fresh radish leaves you can thinly slice the small ones and scatter them in, then add a large handful of roughly chopped mint. Add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of quarter of a lemon, add more to taste, and a pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Toss the salad and scatter over a large plate. Then crumble half a pot of ricotta over the top of everything and drizzle over a little more olive oil...

This is delicious with spicy radishes, aniseed fennel and creamy ricotta, fresh mint and lemon, it’ll be on the menu soon, when I’m open and the thunder stops...

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Ouseburn Festival Feast

What a lovely day the Ouseburn Festival Feast turned out to be! The forecast said it was going to rain all day, but in the end there wasn't a single drop, the sun even came out at the end... It was a very busy tasty day, with lots of people picnicking, listening to the music and shopping for treats. I bought enough to last all week...Until next year, thanks to everyone who came along, and of course to the brilliant stall holders...

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Ouseburn Festival Feast - Sunday 6th July

This weekend sees the return of the Ouseburn Festival and I am organising their food market once again... 20 stalls of food and drink will be down on Malmo Quay in the Ouseburn Valley on Sunday 6th July from 11am - 4pm. Freshly baked breads, pastries, fruit and vegetables, fudges, chocolates, Italian street food, traditional cakes, local sausages, pies, pickles and brownies... Need I say more!

Sit in the sunshine at our picnic site, browse the stalls, shop for amazing food and drink, listen to the live music, have lunch... Sounds lovely!

Elsewhere in the valley there will be parades, duck races, live music, cycle courses byThe Cycle Hub, children's activities at the Ouseburn Farm, craft stalls, pony rides, exhibitions, tours of the Victoria Tunnel and brewery tours! Come and spend the whole day...

Current stall line up for you to feast on!

The Feathers Inn
Carruthers and Kent
The French Oven
North East Organic Growers
Emily Botham Brownies
Marco Polo Street Food
Northumberland Sausage Company
La Petit Creperie
Yummy Things
La Fiesta Kitchen
Teasy Does It
Northumbrian Smokehouse
Sugar Down Bakery
David Kennedy @ Vallum
David Lawson Ceramics
Muddy Fingers Pottery
Electric East

Hope to see you there! Malmo Quay, Ouseburn Valley, Quayside (Opposite The Tyne pub)