Monday, 19 May 2014

Return to Inner Farne

I was back on the Farne Islands today, for the first time since last summer. I had been tasked with making lunch for some guests of the National Trust. It was so lovely to return in the beautiful warm sunshine. I had my own chauffeur driven boat from Billy Shiel's to take me over in the morning, we chatted about the dolphins that had been spotted a few weeks back, and watched out for puffins on the sparkling water.

Lunch took place in the beautiful St. Cuthbert's chapel, where I held a couple of supperclubs last summer, such a stunning spot. I had made spring chicken terrines, gruyere tarts, wild garlic damper bread, courgette and mint salads, beetroot and rocket pesto salads and more. Thankfully everything had made the journey in tact!

After packing up I sat on the jetty waiting for my lift home, so peaceful and sunny. The boat drove slowly round the cliffs of Inner Farne on the way back, so we could look at the thousands of nesting  birds. Then when we were nearly home, the driver gave a shout, he thought he had spotted a porpoise up ahead; it turned out to be 6 or 7 dolphins, who came over and swam with our boat as we travelled home. I nearly jumped out of my skin when one leapt out of the water right in front of me, they were such huge beautiful creatures, an amazing end to the day...

Thursday, 15 May 2014

A bit more about Cook House

Cook House is going to be my new kitchen in the Ouseburn. A space where people can have something to eat, sit, rest, work and hang out. A kitchen to cook from for my events, a space to host supperclubs; that will also serve breakfast and lunch.

There will be a small food school programme, where interesting food folk talk about or demonstrate what they do every month. There will also be other chefs cooking now and again; and a garden out the back and on the roof growing as much as possible. A bit of a kitchen hang out with lots going on. I’ll be there making some food, so pop by, say hi, and have something to eat. Opening early July...

Monday, 12 May 2014

Cook House

I am opening my own Cook House. Breakfast, Lunch and Events. You can follow the story here over the next couple of months...

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Wild Garlic Damper Bread

If you're quick you can still catch the wild garlic season. They say once the flowers appear it is past it but I picked some in Jesmond Dene on Friday, the flowers were just beginning to bud, and as long as you get the fresh little leaves from the base it is still delicious. The bigger leaves are beginning to get a bit tough. You will know when you've found it as it is pretty pungent, a green leafy garlic smell filling the air...

My latest supperclub was a rustic French affair on Friday in the lovely tasting room at Carruthers and Kent. I served the wild garlic as part of the main course in a Spring Stew, cooked in butter with baby onions, asparagus, peas and courgettes, it was delicious alongside Confit duck and Pomme Anna, and went down a treat, thankfully...

I also made this little loaf last weekend in the Lake District where the wild garlic has only just appeared so you have a little longer over there. It is a very simple loaf that I saw Lorraine Pascal making on one of her programmes ages ago. I made a Red Pepper, Thyme and Anchovy Damper loaf a while ago which was delicious, so thought I'd give it a go with fresh wild garlic.

For this version I just made a little loaf so double the amounts if you want a larger loaf. To start heat your oven to 200°C and mix 225g of self raising flour with quarter of a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add 110ml of water and mix everything thoroughly until you are left with a ball of dough. Knead briefly until it is combined and smooth.

Dust your work surface with some flour and flatten out the ball of dough into a circle. I finely chopped a large handful of wild garlic. You could use any combination of fillings you fancy really; chopped green or black olives, roast soft garlic, diced chorizo, roasted tomatoes. Pile your filling into the centre of the dough and start to fold the edges over the top until it is sealed. Turn the dough over and knead it to distribute the wild garlic. The aim is a ball of dough with the filling mixed through evenly inside. Once you have it under control flatten it out a bit and squash the handle of a wooden spoon into it to create triangular segments.

Finally bake in the oven, Lorraine said 35 minutes for her olive version, mine took about 40 minutes, if you use wetter fillings it takes longer again. It should be golden and risen and sound hollow on the bottom when tapped. 
So green bread is a little strange visually, but it was delicious! It was TLI's birthday so we took it on a walk up the valley armed with a picnic basket and some fizzy wine. A thick piece of cold butter went perfectly with the bread, it tastes like garlic bread, funnily enough, but fresh and mild. Give it a go if you come across a patch while it lasts...