Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Seasons Greetings....

This is just a brief note from The Elemental Kitchen to wish you a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! We are still working and playing in the Scottish Highlands - see our post below, featuring our stunning private accommodation in the heart of the mountains. We'll be back in our perfect seaside sanctuary - the East Neuk - in early January AND we're excited to be launching some fabulous new packages in 2011 - for our local area and further afield - so scroll down to find out more....

Again, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you...& thanks for your interest & support in 2010. See you in 2011....

Best wishes

James & Vicky x :)

Monday, 6 December 2010

A Perfect Highland Cottage...

During the winter, The Elemental Kitchen is spending lots of time in the highlands for a bespoke hospitality assignment at a beautiful hunting estate. While here, we're staying in a perfect little cottage in the foothills of the Cairngorm mountains. It's such a special place, we really want to share it with you - and the great news is we can! Laggandhu, near Nethy Bridge, is available to book via this website. Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek inside (and outside) this exceptional location...

Elemental Experiences...

Baked Alaska by The Elemental Kitchen

This winter, The Elemental Kitchen is launching a range of new packages including The East Neuk Elemental Experience, our special winter food lover's retreat which is exclusive to the East Neuk of Fife. We're also launching The Chef's Table, Cooking On Ice and The E-Kitchen, which we are now pleased to offer alongside our established service, The Elemental Kitchen - Bespoke Hospitality. For full details on our range of Elemental Kitchen packages, go to Elemental Experiences.

The East Neuk Elemental Experience...

The festive season is here and 2011 is just around the corner! So, we're celebrating the new year by introducing some fabulous new Elemental Experiences from The Elemental Kitchen, including a special winter package, exclusively available around our stunning coastal base, the East Neuk of Fife. Find out more about our East Neuk Elemental Experience below or go to our Elemental Experiences page for full details on this and more new packages.

A Bespoke Food Lover's Retreat, exclusively in East Neuk

A special package, available 6th January to 31st March 2011

Retreat to the comfort of your own home this winter, for your very own foodie's experience. We're bringing you this exclusive & limited introduction to The Elemental Kitchen, from 6th January to 31st March. Ideal for all food lovers - beginners, intermediate and more experienced home cooks. The package includes....

Gift Card - Your subscription will be confirmed with our EK card
Introducing EK - We'll call you to say hello and chat about your culinary taste, style & goals. We'll set the dates for your events and follow up with an email to confirm your menus for each occasion.
Grocery shopping - No hassle! When you've chosen your menus, we'll source the ingredients for both your demonstration lunch & your dinner party, using local produce wherever possible.
1 x Bespoke Hospitality evening - Relax & dine at home with friends this winter - enjoy the exclusive services of our Chef & Host for your bespoke EK dinner party (for a party of up to 8).
1 x The Chef's Table - Our Chef & Host will come to your home to create a delicious demonstration lunch for you and your guests (party of up to 8), while you observe, ask questions and perhaps enjoy a bottle of wine!
The E-Kitchen - We'll send you a step-by-step guide to your Chef's Table experience (by email), with shopping list, recipes, key pointers, notes and reminders from the demonstration. If you wish, we'll also include a telephone/skype consultation (up to 15 minutes), to answer any of your cooking queries, ensuring that you'll be able to confidently recreate an Elemental Experience.
Tip Of The Week - We'll add you to the mail list for Elemental News and we'll include a subscribers only cooking tip or recipe, emailed to you once per week, up to 31st March 2011.
20% discount - The Chef's Table, Cooking On Ice, The E-Kitchen and The Elemental Kitchen - Bespoke Hospitality (for party of up to 8). Applies to EK experiences taken within the 3 month subscription.

Package: £300
To ensure our best service is available to each client, our spaces are very limited
Excludes cost of basic ingredients & travel expenses, charged at point of delivery
Dates are subject to availability, so please book early
3 month subscription period, 1st January 2011 to 31st March 2011
Excludes Valentines weekend 12th, 13th, 14th February
Full payment required at point of booking

Don't live in the East Neuk?
Rent a holiday cottage and enjoy The Elemental Experience during a weekend retreat...

Our recommendations:-
The Rocks, Elie - Fabulous Locations
1 Midshore, St Monans - Coastal Life

East Fife Letting - Properties throughout East Neuk

Or, if you'd like us to travel further afield, let us know where you live and we'll create a bespoke quote for you.

For full details on this and other packages, go to
Elemental Experiences .

Monday, 22 November 2010

Working in a Winter Wonderland...

This winter, we're decamping to the Scottish Highlands, where The Elemental Kitchen will be providing bespoke hospitality for a lovely family at their stunning hunting estate. We're returning to the Strathspey estate, following an incredible assignment there last year - the most snowy winter in 15 years! Here are a few of our favourite snapshots....

The Cairngorm Mountains

The Main Lodge

Crab Salad with Sweet Chilli Dressing

Welcome to Narnia

4x4 - Access All Areas

Vegetable Terrine

Our Hideaway Cabin

The Early Breakfast - Host Vicky

Snowed In - Our VW Transporter

Chef At Work - James

Kitchen View

Gypsy Tart

The Deep Freeze

Strathspey Sunset

Pork Terrine - a tasty festive starter...

We think this recipe would make a particularly delicious starter for a festive dinner party. The best part is that you make it in advance, so you're able to relax and enjoy an aperitif with your guests!

Pork Terrine

Makes 1 terrine

350g minced belly of pork
350g coarsely minced shoulder of pork
250g chicken livers
8-10 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon
75g breadcrumbs
A handful of herbs - Basil, Thyme, flat leaf parsley
lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/4 pint of booze - half red wine / madeira / port, half brandy / whisky
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste

First, make the forcemeat for the terrine:

De-vein and chop the chicken livers
Add to a large mixing bowl with the minced belly of pork and the pork shoulder
In a blender, combine the breadcrumbs with the handful of herbs (any or all of the listed, as long as it’s a big handful), the garlic, and the grated lemon zest
Pulse until finely chopped and combined, then add the herb & breadcrumb mix to the meat along with the salt, pepper, the booze and the egg
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly
You may wish to fry a small piece of the mix to check and adjust the seasoning if needed

Line a loaf tin with cling film – with plenty of overlap on all four sides

Stretch each bacon rasher on a board with a knife, then line the base of the tin with the bacon

Spoon the forcemeat mix into the tin, pushing into the corners and levelling with a spoon

Pull over the edges of the bacon, then the cling film and seal the top, then cover the top with tinfoil (this will stop the top from roasting / colouring when you cook it)

Place the tin in a large baking tray and place in a preheated oven – 190 degrees centigrade

Pour boiling water into the tin – or until the bain marie is 3/4 of the way up each terrine

Cook for 1 hour 40 to 2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the terrines comes out clean and also hot

Remove from the bain marie and weight down the terrine with boards / heavy tins to press and compact it as it cools. If you have another loaf tin, use that to follow the shape, and add more weight in / on top of that to apply pressure

When completely cold, remove the weights and refrigerate until use

It is easier to slice the terrine with the clingfilm still intact.

Delicious served with little slices of toast, mustard mayonnaise and a little gherkin salad...

Bon Apetit!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Fishing for compliments...

A few days ago, one of our clients who recently visited Scotland from America, wrote us a lovely email about a fish dish our chef, James, had prepared for them during their holiday. We were delighted to hear that their teenage daughter, who previously hadn't been a fan of salmon, was still talking about how much she enjoyed it! The recipe has 4 key elements but each is fairly simple and worth the effort. It's a beautiful, colourful dish which we created for our client in the summer, but it can easily be adapted into a delicious winter warmer too. Over to James...

Salmon with crushed potatoes, warm cherry tomato compote and lemon hollandaise

This is a great dish for a crowd, as you can prep most of the elements ahead and just finish everything off and assemble at the last minute. The four elements are simple, but work really well together - a winning combination!

I find it best to think of the dish in terms of four separate, smaller jobs, so will present this as four miniature recipes. As with most of my savoury recipes, the amounts for most things are up to you - the science is reserved only for the sauce! Use your judgement, your eye, and most importantly, taste, taste, taste.

First, prep your crushed potatoes. Pick a nice fluffy variety so that they can take on lots of flavour - something like a maris piper will be perfect. Just cook as normal in plenty of salted water - to coincide with the timing of the rest of your dish. This will depend on the size you cut the potatoes, the amount of water, the number of potatoes...the prevailing wind..... I know that you know how long your potatoes will take. When they're done, drain them, then tip them back into the pan. Now add a generous pinch of sea salt, lots of freshly ground black pepper, grate in the zest of a lemon, along with the juice of the aforementioned lemon. Now add a really generous glug of olive oil. More than you think would be necessary......and gently combine everything with a spoon. The potatoes will break up and soak up the lovely flavours. It is up to you now - taste it and balance things so they are how you want them - lively with lemon, or oozing with lovely olive oil aromas. When you're happy, pop a lid on the pan and leave it somewhere warm ready to plate up.

Tomatoes next. If you're using little tubs of cherry tomatoes, we want about a third of a tub per portion. Cut all of the tomatoes in half before you begin. Take a sauteuse pan, a large , deep frying pan or even a wok - and get it really, really hot. This is the most important part of the method! Now add a large glug of olive oil, and get that really hot too, before throwing in your tomatoes. Leave the heat high. We're looking for a really good sizzle when they hit the pan - they should begin to give up their juices almost immediately. Now season the tomatoes with sea salt and pepper. By now they should be softening, releasing juice, bubbling, and smelling amazing. Now......still with the heat high,so it hisses when it hits the pan, tip in a large glass of wine, and let it come to the boil. Cook this for a few minutes until there's no alcohol smell at the back of your nose when you smell over the pan. It will be nice and syrupy, like a cross between a thick sauce and a stew consistency. It should also taste delicious. Adjust the seasoning to taste, and keep warm until you're ready to serve.

EK Lemon Hollandaise (Part 1) This is not a standard recipe, its just my way. My way is quick, tasty, easy, I think every bit as good......but you have to give it your full attention last thing. So, it is best to get all the ingredients ready before dinner, and give this your undivided attention while the fish is resting, and the rest of your components are done. You'll need a small saucepan, and a whisk. These quantities are for 3 to 4 people. Before dinner, take one egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of water (30 ml), juice of about a third of a lemon, a pinch of salt, and combine in your saucepan with a whisk. Now chop 85g of cold butter into cubes, and add to the mix in the pan, and leave it somewhere cool until you need it.

Now for the salmon. We're going to part steam, part roast it in the oven, easy to do and clean in terms of working. If you have lots of mouths to feed, pan frying lots of pieces would be a strategic nightmare. Simple is best! I like to cut the filleted sides of salmon into portions before cooking, as it is much easier to serve neatly that way. For now, I'd leave the skin on at this stage. Ensure there are no pin bones in the fillet before cutting up - you could just ask your fishmonger to do this for you. Now, pour a little white wine into the base of a deep roasting tin. Squeeze in some lemon juice, and add some herbs if you want to infuse a litttle more flavour to the fish - perhaps a few sprigs of tarragon or dill. Season each piece of samon with salt and pepper, then lay on top of the wine in the tray, with a gap around each portion. Cover the tray with tinfoil and 'bake' in a very hot oven - 250 degrees centigrade - for about ten minutes. The fillets will be opaque at this point and firm to the touch - with a little bit of 'give' to the touch. If not cooked, pop back in the oven until you're happy. In any event you must let the fish rest for a few minutes when cooked - a perfect opportunity to finish your sauce and warm your plates.

EK Lemon Hollandaise (Part 2) When the fish is resting, put your sauce pan on a low heat, and gently whisk it. The cubes of butter will melt gradually, and you'll incorporate volume into the sauce once it starts to take the heat. Don't worry about classic methodology. We're not making a sabayon first. We're not doing this in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. We're not dribbling pre-melted butter into our yolks combined with a pre-prepared reduction. We're just watching the sauce, giving it our undivided attention. Once the butter has all melted, you can pick up your speed with the whisk without splashing everywhere. Keep it moving, all the time, over the gentle heat. It will seem thin at first, but as soon as it starts to thicken, start being more careful. Take it off the heat and keep whisking to see where you're at. If you're at the right temperature, it will finish thickening off the heat. If not, back on the heat it goes until it does. Gently does it. Once you've done this once, you will know when to stop. When it thickens, you must stop or you'll continue cooking the yolk until it scrambles and separates. You'll have a lovely, thick, velvety smooth sauce when you're done. Taste. Season with salt, or more lemon, if needed. Serve immediately.

Plating up - take a spoon of warm crushed potatoes and place centrally on a pre-warmed plate. Spoon into a ring if you want neat presentation, or create a quenelle shape with two spoons. Now spoon your warmed tomato compote around the potatoes. Peel the skin from the samon fillet and place on top of the potato, before drizzling the hollandaise around the plate. Enjoy!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Perfect Pear...

This week, Eat The Seasons has featured PEARS as the perfect fruit to eat, right now! If you haven't already done so, it might be time to try this recipe.
Image via Eat Drink Better

Festive Food For Thought...

This Christmas, The Elemental Kitchen will be enjoying delicious food, good company, naturally beautiful surroundings and so much more when we cook for our clients and spend time with family & friends in the Scottish highlands. We're also really happy to be helping the homeless this festive season, via Street Smart. The Elemental Kitchen is donating 25% of our Christmas Day rate to the initiative, which provides invaluable support to our nation's homeless people. Restaurants, chefs and their patrons all over Britain are also taking part by adding a voluntary £1 contribution to table bills at the end of each meal. You can go to the Street Smart website to find your nearest Street Smart restaurant. Alternatively, like us, you can make a donation online.

Friday, 22 October 2010

If music be the food of life...

"time to scale the heights,
stretch for the surface,
reach for the light"
- James Lowe - The Sense

At this time of year, we love to snuggle down to celebrate life's simple pleasures - like delicious food, good company, inspiring words, natural beauty.....& beautiful music! So, our resident cook & talented singer-songwriter James Lowe is giving you another free track from his debut album Radio Friendly. Click on the link to James Lowe - Facebook Page, go to Band Profile and download! You can buy the complete album & find out more about James Lowe at his official website www.jameslowe.info. James has been known, on occasion, to happily sing for your supper. So, if you're booking The Elemental Kitchen, don't hesitate to ask about opportunities to hear James perform live in your living room....

"beautiful & indeed very radio friendly" - BBC Radio Scotland
Image via labelleviegirl

Friday, 15 October 2010

Easy Peasy, Lemon Posset...

This is such a great recipe that we almost want to keep it secret! Almost. On the other hand, it's too good not to share! Guests & clients absolutely love this delicious, refreshing dessert! It's so simple, yet never fails to impress...

Lemon Posset

Makes about 8

900 ml double cream - heavy cream, I think you'd call it in the US
220g caster / fine sugar
3 lemons

Pour the cream and the sugar into a saucepan, and put on a high heat on the hob. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then let it come to a rolling boil
Turn off the heat and add the juice from the 3 lemons.
Stir well before pouring into glasses
Chill for approx 2 hours to set.

Top with strawberries, blueberries, whatever you fancy!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Essense of Elemental...

We're just back from Dell Estate, near Loch Ness, where we cooked for Mr Ian Thompson and his hunting party. What delighted us about this group was their absolute passion for eating the spoils of their hunting trips. The Elemental Kitchen celebrates the connection between ingredients sourced from nature, our preparation of those ingredients in our kitchen and the presentation of the final dishes at your dining table. We prepared venison, trout, partridge and duck across the weekend, all sourced directly from river, skies and land within a few miles of our kitchen window - for us, this celebrates the true essense of 'elemental'.

Dell Estate and Dell House are situated close to Foyers and the immense Foyer Falls...

The house is only a few miles from picturesque Fort August & mystical Loch Ness...

"Occasionally it all comes together as it did for us at Dell last week. After a little email tennis it was clear that James and Vicky were absolutely on our wave length regarding our needs for our stay in Scotland. After a day on the hill or loch it was great to be looked after so magnificently by James's fantastic expertise in the kitchen and Vicky beautifully managed the front of house with great attention to detail. James's skills in preparing and presenting game was much appreciated by our army of sportsmen who marched very well indeed on their expanding stomachs! Thank you." - Ian Thompson

You can find out more about booking Dell House or the surrounding cottages via George Goldsmith. Call The Elemental Kitchen for our availability - we're always happy to cook up a storm with your fresh & wild ingrdients...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Chef's Musings & Delicious Starter Recipe...

I'm going shopping this afternoon - taking a stroll along the East Neuk coastal path from St. Monans - Elie and stopping off at the Ardross Farmshop to see what goodies they have in store this week...

The pick of last week for me was some red chard leaves, which were lovely wilted in a hot pan with olive oil, salt and pepper to make a vibrant red and green pillow for a pink-roasted saddle of venison. I have a mind to buy some of our local Anster Cheese while I'm at the farm today! Also, this might be the time to feature another favourite cheese of ours, which we frequently use when we're in Ballater, as featured in last weeks post...

Strathdon Blue is a wonderfully creamy blue from that neck of the woods which for me surpasses any other; I'd wager it could convert doubters of the merits of blue cheese in one mouthful! I like to serve Strathdon Blue with pickled pears as a starter - a nice partner as the sweetness of the pear and sour hit of the pickling liquor (which doubles as a dressing) balances out the richness of the cheese. This is another 'recipe without a recipe'. I like to do things by eye, and more importantly, by taste. So just go with what you like - and I'm sure your guests will like it too, if it's made from the heart.....

Starter: Strathdon Blue with pickled pears

Make a sugar syrup by dissolving caster sugar in water and bringing to the boil in a high sided pan that will take the pears in one layer. Add some aromatics - perhaps a stick of cinnamon, two or three star anise, a couple of teaspoons of mustard seeds, a few cloves......then add some vinegar. I usually use white wine vinegar, you could use balsamic if you want a darker syrup. Add it to taste - until you can taste the vinegar but still have a nice sweet / sour flavour. Let it come to a simmer while you peel and core the pears (I use a melon baller to take out the core of the pear in two goes. As you peel them, drop the pears in the water so they don't discolour. When you've finished, cover with a circle of baking paper - to help keep the pears submerged while they cook. Gently simmer until a skewer goes through the flesh - the time it takes varies.....but at least 20 minutes is usual. We're not in a race, are we? Just check them until done, and when they are, switch off the heat and leave them to cool in the liquor.

That's all the cooking you need to do, I'm happy to report. From here on in, this dish is just about assembly. You can opt to complicate things if you wish - sometimes I'll take some of the warm poaching liquor, add some bloomed gelatine leaves and make a pickling jelly to serve alongside. I've also been known to reduce the liquor to a more syrupy consistency for drizzling. You could halve the pears and fan them out, or leave them whole, or crumble the cheese - even add some crunch with a few toasted pine nuts. The basics remain the same, however - when the pears are cold, they're ready to serve atop a nice slice of Strathdon Blue. Drizzle some poaching liquid around; dress with a few leaves and enjoy!