Thursday, 17 February 2011

Island Living...

The Elemental Kitchen diary is booking up for the year ahead and we're looking forward to returning to two of our favourite islands - at home and abroad. A couple of years ago we spent 3 months living on The Isle of Mull and we've been back and forth for assignments ever since. This year, we return to provide bespoke hospitality for a client's family holiday at the beautiful Knock House. The island has been described as Scotland in miniature, with incredible mountains, white sandy beaches and crystal clear west coast waters....

Some time ago, we also spent a month on the stunning island of Corsica, for an assignment with a French client at their beautiful holiday villa on the south coast, near Portovecchio. We return this year and look forward to yet more crystal clear waters, lush mountain-scapes, sea fishing, fresh market produce and light mediterranean cuisine.

To book The Elemental Kitchen for your holiday or special occasion, please go to

Open Kitchen - Acoustic Wave Cafe...

Menus & artists announced for our next not-for-profit pop-up Acoustic Wave Cafe on Saturday 16th April, from 1 pm.

Delicious food, beautiful music & awesome the sea.

Find out more over at Postcards From The Coast.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Love Food?

image via google images, artist unknown

Less Cooking, More Kissing...

The Elemental Kitchen's head chef, James, recently teamed up with our award winning local Ardross Farm Shop to create a delicious, romantic Valentines menu using lots of locally sourced ingredients. James includes the menu, ingredients list and full instructions here.

Hot Tip: If you want to impress but you're keen to spend less time in that hot & steamy kitchen, skip starter, create a delicious main course at home and treat yourself to an instant dessert from your farm shop.

The E Kitchen...

If you'd like a little help with menu-planning, ideas, recipes or cooking tips for any occasion, James is available for consulation by phone, email or skype via our virtual personal chef service, The E-Kitchen. Find out more via or go directly to Elemental Experiences to find out about all of our special packages.

The Food Of Love - Dine Out...

Don't forget that we will be cooking at The Cocoa Tree Cafe in Pittenweem this Valentines Weekend - Saturday 12th February - to create a special Valentines Dinner - Set Menu. There are still just a few seats available - surprise your beau with a beautiful meal surrounded by decadent cocoa - after all, who doesn't love chocolate? Find out more here.

Ultimate Indulgence - Dine In with The Elemental Kitchen...

to truly impress, invite The Elemental Kitchen into your home to provide you and your guest/s with an indulgent bespoke hospitality experience....


Valentines Day - Complete Menu...


To Start...
Smoked salmon with celeriac remoulade

For Main...
Sirloin of Ardross beef with roasted vegetables and peppercorn butter

To Finish...
Lemon posset with spiced pear compote

With this menu for Valentines Day, the emphasis is on simplicity; letting great ingredients speak for themselves with a minimum of fuss or effort - so that you can spend less time in the kitchen, and more time with your loved one!

These quantities are for two, and the courses have been designed so that any work is mainly done in advance.

Hope it's a sizzling night!


Shopping List

For the smoked salmon dish

6 slices of cold smoked salmon or 2 pieces of hot smoked salmon
salad leaves to garnish, if desired

For the mayonnaise to make the remoulade:
1 fresh free range egg yolk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
250ml groundnut oil

1/2 celeriac
1 teaspoon capers
a few sprigs of parsley
lemon juice to taste
dijon mustard to taste

For the main course

2 sirloin steaks
2 tablespoons of green peppercorns in brine
50g salted butter
1 carrot
1/2 small squash
2 medium potatoes or 1 sweet potato
1 medium parsnip
1 large bulb of garlic
a few sprigs of thyme
olive oil - a couple of tablespoons, maybe 3
sea salt & pepper, squeeze lemon juice (optional)

For the pudding

300ml double cream
1 lemon
75g caster sugar

1/2 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
2 star anise
zest from 1 lemon
2 pears
100g caster sugar

Your Cooking Guide....

We'll begin well ahead of the meal by making the lemon posset for pudding. This is a cinch to prepare in advance and once done, you don't have to worry about it at all.

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 lemon. Stir well before pouring into 2 glasses, and cover with cling film. Chill for approx 2 hours to set.

For the pear compote, you will first need to poach the pears in sugar syrup. Choose a saucepan which will snugly fit the pears. Add the the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise to the pan with about 350ml of water. Warm the mixture until the sugar melts while you peel the pears. Add the pears to the syrup, bring to a simmer and poach until tender - about 15 minutes, or maybe more depending on the size and ripeness of the pears. When done, take off the heat, allow to cool in the syrup, and when cold, remove, core and finely chop the pears. Spoon as much or little as you like onto the set cream, then cover and return to the fridge until ready to eat.

Next up, we'll prepare the remoulade to serve with the smoked salmon starter. Put a pot of salted water onto boil. Peel the celeriac, cut in half (we'll only need half for this recipe) and slice as finely as you can. Once sliced, line up the slices and then shred into matchsticks - as fine as you can. If you're not comfortable doing this, you can grate the celeriac - but the cutting is worth the effort, it improves the texture and appearance of the dish. When done, add to the boiling water, stir the celeriac, then let it come back to the boil (should take no more than a minute and a half). Once it has, drain it and refresh in cold water to arrest the cooking. Set aside.

Now prepare the mayonnaise. You can opt to substitute shop bought here... but this is a labour of love, isn't it? In a bowl, combine the egg yolk, 1 tsp dijon mustard,1 tbsp white wine vinegar, and the 1/2 tsp salt with a whisk. Now gradually add the oil in a slow trickle, all the time whisking to emulsify the mix. Start slowly, a drip at a time, and increase the trickle once it starts to come together. (you can also do this in a food processor). When all the oil is in, you'll have a lovely thick mayonnaise. You won't need it all for the remoulade, but we can't half the egg yolk for the mix! Remember to refrigerate and use any leftover mayonnaise quickly, as it does contain raw egg yolk.

Take half the mayonnaise and add the other ingredients - finely shop the capers and the parsley, add the lemon juice and dijon mustard to taste before folding in the blanched celeriac. We want the texture of coleslaw with a nice sharp hit of lemon, a little mustard kick, and the aniseed celeriac bite coming through. When you're happy with the balance of flavours, cover and refrigerate until time to serve.

When you want to serve the starter, arrange your salmon on the plates with a nice spoon of remoulade on the side, a wedge of lemon and some crusty brown bread - dressed salad leaves also if you want them, but I don't think they're needed. Keep it simple but delicious!

The first part of the main course is to prepare the simple peppercorn butter. Just drain and lightly crush the peppercorns before folding through the softened butter with a fork. At this stage, you can add a little lemon juice if you like. Shape into a log, then wrap with clingfilm and refrigerate.

Now for the vegetables. We want everything to cook at the same rate - so try to get everything roughly the same size and shape. Peel and quarter the carrot and parsnip lengthwise, removing the tough centre from the parsnip. Clean and cut the potatoes (or sweet potato if you're using) into wedges, peel and deseed the small squash and cut this into wedges too. Combine in a bowl with the olive oil, a liberal smattering of sea salt and a good grind of black pepper. Pick the leaves from the thyme before adding and combining everything so you have a good coating of seasoning on all the cut surfaces of your vegetables. Now, leaving the bulb intact, cut the top off the bulb, exposing the very top of each clove, before loosely wrapping the bulb in foil.

Depending on how pre-prepared you want to be, all of the above can be done in advance, so you just need to plate the starter, and then concentrate on cooking the vegetables, and the steaks, when it comes to dinner.

When you're ready, preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade. Throw the garlic foil package in and cook for 15 minutes. Take out your sirloin steaks at the same time - it is better for them to come closer to room temperature before cooking. After the 15 minutes, heat a shallow baking tray that will take the vegetables in a single layer . When the tray is nice and hot, give the vegetables another mix, and add them to the tray - they should sizzle! Transfer the garlic to the vegetable tray (still in foil) and pop in the oven for 30 minutes. Don't be tempted to turn them or fiddle before this (unless they're small and scorch before they cook, that is!). Turn them after 30 minutes, drizzle with more oil if they look dry. Cook for another 15 minutes, or until they are soft in the middle, and chewy / crisp and caramelised on the outside.

Heat a shallow frying pan that will take the steaks. When hot, add olive oil to the pan. Season the meat with plenty of good salt and pepper. Add to the hot pan - then don't be tempted to touch them. We want colour and crust on the cooking side before we turn them - and ideally we only want to turn them once. Colour equals flavour! How long to cook them depends on your preference, and on the thickness of the steaks, but for medium-rare, it shouldn't take more than 4 minutes each side. The springier it feels, the more cooked it is! The most important thing is to rest the meat on a warm plate for five minutes once you've cooked them to your desired doneness - this lets the juices redistribute and the meat relax - making for a more tender eat. While the meat is resting in a warm place, unwrap your chilled peppercorn butter, slice it very thinly and place on top of the meat to let the butter warm and melt over the meat.

While the meat is resting, you can finish the vegetables. Unwrap the foil garlic parcel. The bulb should be soft if cooked - and smell mild, sweet and aromatic. Taking care not to burn yourself, squeeze the soft garlic 'mash' over the vegetables and fold this into them before piling up on warmed plates. Discard the papery garlic clove skins. Top the vegetables with the rested meat, peppercorn butter and resting juices. Serve with mustard and plenty of wine, safe in the knowledge that your refreshing pudding is ready and waiting!