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.