Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Kitchen - On Course For 5 Star Sabbatical...

As we find ourselves mid-way through 2012, The Elemental Kitchen is enjoying a sabbatical, while our chef, James Lowe, furthers his culinary education and enhances his skills as a chef de partie with the famed, multi-award winning, 5 red star, leading hotel of the world, The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa in the historic coastal town of St Andrews.  

Of course, The Elemental Kitchen is also honouring existing client bookings for the year ahead.

In addition, subject to availability, James may be available for new assignments later this year.  Should you wish to discuss booking James, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy the summer sunshine and all the seasonal delights it has to offer - and if you're in the St Andrews area, perhaps treat yourself to an exquisite lunch, dinner or an overnight stay amidst the historic setting and breathtaking luxury of The Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa...

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Recipe - Soda Bread

Warm soda bread, fresh from the oven, is one of life's great comfort foods; wonderful with a slab of cold butter and some marmalade, with cheese and a nice pickle or with a big bowl of soup, it is always guaranteed to please. It's also really quick to make, and this recipe avoids buttermilk, so that you can always make a loaf of bread from what's in your storecupboard, in less than forty minutes.

Makes one loaf

350ml milk
15ml / 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

450g strong flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven
to 210 degrees centigrade. Lightly oil a baking tray and dust with flour, or lightly oil and dust a 2lb loaf tin, depending on what shape of loaf you want.

Add the vinegar to the milk to sour it. The reaction of the acid with the soda is what causes the bread to rise when added to the dry ingredients.

Weigh the flour into a large mixing bowl. You can use a mixture of strong white bread flour and wholemeal flour, if you're feeling virtuous or want a brown loaf. 300g white to 150g brown works well - good brown bread flavour without the bread getting too heavy.

Add the salt, soda and sugar, and mix well.

Pour in the soured milk and mix quickly into a dough. Don't overwork it, just bring it together into a ball, then tip onto your tray and shape into a  flattened round about  one and a half inches deep, or tip into the loaf tin and press it into the corners.

Dust with flour, score the surface - a nice deep 'x' to quarter the round is traditional - and bake for 35 minutes, or until you have a lovely crust and the base sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool on a wire
rack before slicing and serving.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

One Man's Wilderness...

Wherever God Shines His Light
Off The Beaten Track
Wild Highland Deer
Heather Burning Season
Gathering Storm

Well of Tranquility

Highland Sunset

Here at The Elemental Kitchen, we celebrate the connection between inspirational ingredients sourced from the natural elements and the dishes we serve to guests at your dining table.  However, we don't personally get the chance to venture deeply into the wilderness very often.  So, we were happy to discover that a friend of ours, who lives and works in the heart of the wild, is such a great shot...with the camera!   In A Highlander's Diary -  One Man's Wilderness, he offers us a window on daily life in the Scottish mountains.  Above, we've selected a few photos, taken in February 2012, to whet your appetite.  You can view more of the diary, updated regularly via this pinterest page.

Recipe, Cullen Skink (smoked haddock chowder)

Seatown of Cullen

 Smoking Haddock

 Hand-Warming Soup
Image via Pinterest

Living on Scotland's east coast, as winter resists giving way to spring, we often find ourselves returning from bracing coastal walks in search of a heart-warming soup, served in a big bowl or hand-warming mug! Here's one of our favourites...

Traditionally served in the north east of Scotland as a creamy chowder rich with pieces of leek, potato and flakes of smoked haddock, this is my take on cullen skink,  puréed until wonderfully smooth, then garnished with smoked haddock and wilted leeks. The addition of garam masala is far from traditional but does add lovely warm undertones of spice to the dish.

Serves 4

3 medium fillets of undyed smoked haddock
750 ml milk
5 peppercorns, lightly crushed
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions
2 small leeks
1 large potato
15g butter
1 teaspoon garam masala

Place the haddock fillets
in a pan that will take them in one layer - a large frying pan is good. Pour over the milk so that they are just covered. Add the crushed peppercorns, bay leaf and the cloves. Over a gentle heat, bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the fillets are translucent - this will only take a few minutes. Set to one side to cool slightly.

Chop the onion roughy and sweat in a saucepan with the olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. While the onion is softening, chop the white of the leek into rough dice, and cut the green of the leek into matchsticks (for garnish later). Add the leek to the onions and continue to gently cook. Now peel the potato and cut into small cubes (the smaller the cubes, the quicker you'll be done, minute equals less minutes!). Once the leeks and onion are soft, add the butter, the garam masala and the potatoes, and cook for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it at this stage, as it can catch on the base of the pan.

Gently take the fish out of the poaching milk
, and drain off the aromatics. Now add the haddock-infused milk to the vegetables. If it looks thin or too thick , you can keep some aside or add some more milk - use your judgement and think about how you like your soup to be. Remember that the starch from the potato will thicken the soup as it cooks. Simmer gently until the potato is cooked.

Flake half of the haddock
into the soup and blend using a hand blender. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and add milk while blending if too thick.

When you are ready to serve,
stir fry the reserved leek tops in a little olive oil. Warm the remaining haddock fillets in a covered dish in the oven. Heat the soup and ladle into bowls before topping with the bright green leeks and the flakes of warm smoked haddock. Add a drizzle of double cream for a luxurious finishing touch.

Recipe created by James, Head Chef @ The Elemental Kitchen.

Friday, 10 February 2012

If Music Be The Food Of Love....

....play on.  

Our resident chef is also our resident singer-songwriter and all-round creative, so we're sharing his beautiful, romantic and poetic music with you this Valentines!  For a free songs download go to his music website and sign up to James Lowe - Access All Areas.

"beautiful & indeed very radio friendly" - BBC



Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Simple Pleasures...

If more of us valued food and cheer and song 
above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. 
-J.R.R. Tolkien "The Hobbit"

Recipe - Crunchy, Home-Made Oatcakes

I love oatcakes, and making your own is definitely worth it - they're really easy to make, and the results will outshine anything you can buy. I like to use pinhead oatmeal for a satisfying crunch and crumbly texture. Perfect with some artisan cheese and a glass of whatever takes your fancy!

Makes about 24 oatcakes

300g pinhead oats
150g strong bread flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

100g chilled butter, cubed

100ml cold water

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Rub in the butter with your hands, or, if you have a food processor, pulse the butter and dry ingredients together. In either case, continue until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the cold water and bring together to a dough.
Roll out the dough (I like to do this between two sheets of baking paper as it can get quite sticky) to the thickness of a pound coin.
Cut into discs, and place these on a baking tray.
Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oatcakes over and bake for another 10 minutes, before cooling on a wire rack.

Recipe created by James, Head Chef @ The Elemental Kitchen.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Green & Healthy - 2012 Manifesto

Still unsure about making New Year's Resolutions? Instead, consider picking a Word Of The Year to guide your decisions, OR you could create a Manifesto! We love this Green Manifesto for 2012, discovered via Green Living Ideas - especially because it embodies our core ethos 'celebrate simple pleasures & positive ideals.' Happy 2012!

Recipe - Healthy Mid-Week Winter Dinner...

Pan fried halibut with broad bean and leek fricassée

Sometimes in life, we just want something to eat that is quick to make. It helps if that quick and easy meal is also delicious and healthy, of course. This dish can be on your plate in less than ten minutes, and is a great example of how less is often more in terms of food; simplicity of ingredients and preparation is often simply the best.

As well as what is probably my favourite fish, halibut, this dish also uses frozen broad beans - we all like to eat fresh seasonal produce when we can, but after a long day at work, it is also great to be able to rely on the store cupboard and freezer to get a meal on your table without fuss. Broad beans contain protein, fibre, vitamins A & C, iron and potassium. They also contain levadopa, a chemical the body uses to produce dopamine, associated with feeling happy and motivated - what could be better on a cold January night?

Ingredients to serve 2

2 pieces of halibut fillet, weighing approximately 150g each

1 medium leek
200g broad beans, shelled

30g salted butter
2 cloves garlic
10g parsley

salt and pepper
olive oil


Mash the butter with the garlic cloves; chop the parsley and mix into the garlic butter; set aside.
Boil a kettle full of water.
Trim the leek and remove any dirt or discoloured leaves. Cut the white of the leek into discs approximately the width of your little finger. Shred the green of the leek into matchsticks.
Pour the boiled kettle over the frozen broad beans, to cover them.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the leeks once hot, then season with salt and pepper. Turn the leeks in the oil as they start to wilt and caramelise.

Heat another frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Season the halibut with salt and pepper, and lay the fillets into the second pan. Leave until caramelised on one side, and cooked half way through. Don't be tempted to turn them or move them until you have a crust. Turn down the heat when you turn the fish over, then turn off the heat and leave to rest after one more minute -the fish will feel firm to the touch when cooked

While the fish is cooking, drain the beans, and add them to the pan with the leeks; then add the garlic and parsley butter and toss the ingredients together over a high heat. When the butter is melted, the fricassée is done.

Spoon the leeks and beans onto warm plates, drizzle around some of the garlic butter, and top with the halibut. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the buttery juices.


Recipe created by James, head chef @ The Elemental Kitchen.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Bella Pasta!

Our resident chef - James - is back in our own home kitchen following a long winter assignment in the mountains. You may imagine he'd want a break from cooking - but this afternoon he pulled out the (manual) pasta machine and rustled up some fresh, home-made linguine and tagliatelle. He's serving it simply for dinner with olive oil, salt, pepper, peas, lemon and a little goats cheese. Bella!