Spanish Croquetas

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ a small leek, finely sliced
  • 70g Iberico or Serrano ham, diced very small
  • 60g plain flour
  • 75ml stock
  • 325 ml whole milk
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt & pepper
  • 75g plain flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 75g dried breadcrumbs

Method

  1. Sauté the leek until soft.
  2. Stir in the ham and fry for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the 60g flour and fry for approximately 5 minutes until the mixture is golden but not burnt.
  4. Combine the milk and stock and heat until hot but not boiling.
  5. Season with a few scrapes of nutmeg.
  6. Add to the mixture a little at a time stirring constantly.
  7. Cook for around 10 minutes until well cooked.
  8. Add some pepper. The ham can be salty, so go carefully with the salt.
  9. The resulting béchamel should be really thick. Smooth it onto a baking tray and cool in the fridge for an hour or so.
  10. Form the mixture into small sausage shapes, approximately 3 cm in diameter and 4 cm long.
  11. Dust with flour, dip in the beaten egg and then coat with the breadcrumbs.
  12. Shallow or deep fry them in boiling oil and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until golden.
  13. Drain on kitchen paper on a warm dish in the oven.
  14. Allow to cool a little before eating, they get very hot! Serve with salad and crusty bread.

Smoked Haddock & Mushroom Mornay

This recipe is suitable for a starter. If you want to do this as a main course, the quantities will serve 4 people if you make it in one dish instead of 8 ramekins.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 large fillets Natural Smoked Haddock, weighing about 1½lbs
  • 1 pint of milk
  • 4oz butter
  • 8oz sliced mushrooms
  • 3oz breadcrumbs
  • coarsely ground black pepper

Method

  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan. Cut each fillet of haddock in two and put in the saucepan. Bring to the boil without actually allowing to boil.
  2. Drain the haddock from the milk, retaining it to make your sauce.
  3. Make a white sauce by melting half the butter in a non-stick saucepan, mixing two tablespoons of plain flour, and allowing to cook gently for a minute or two.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk in which your haddock was cooked.
  5. Put back on the heat, stirring constantly until you have a nice smooth sauce.
  6. Remove from the heat and put to one side.
  7. Put the other half of the butter in a saucepan, add the sliced mushrooms and cook gently for two or three minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, your fish should now be cool enough to flake and for you to remove the meat from any bones.
  9. Take 8 ramekin dishes, lightly butter the inside and place the chunks of fish in them, followed by the cooked mushrooms.
  10. Season with plenty of black pepper, (don’t add salt, they don’t need it), top up the dishes with the white sauce, sprinkle with a few breadcrumbs and place in a hot oven for six or seven minutes at 240°C / 475°F / Gas Mark 9. They should be bubbling by this time.
  11. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes so that your guests don’t burn themselves and serve with lots of crusty bread for mopping up every last bit!

Salad of Flaky Smoked Salmon & Avocado with a Pesto Vinaigrette

This makes a delicious starter which couldn’t be simpler.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 packets of flaky smoked salmon
  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 bags mixed leaves including some lamb’s lettuce and rocket, if you can get it
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Method

  1. Peel and slice the avocado, sprinkling with lemon juice so that it keeps its colour.
  2. Put in a large salad bowl with the salad leaves.
  3. For the Pesto vinaigrette add two teaspoons of good Pesto to one table spoon of sherry vinegar and three or four tablespoons of Extra Virgin olive oil.
  4. Do not pour the dressing over the salad until immediately before serving, or your nice crisp salad will go soggy!
  5. When ready to serve, dress the salad with the pesto vinaigrette, stir well, and divide onto your eight plates.
  6. Flake the smoked salmon on top of the leaves and finally, season with salt (fleur de sel will make it even more delicious!) and freshly ground pepper.
  7. If you’re into coriander, a small amount of fresh coriander sprinkled on top is nice.

Porcini and Parma Ham Lasagne

This has to be one of the most delicious pasta dishes, made using four classic Italian ingredients: Pasta, Parma Ham, Porcini and Parmesan Reggiano – a very alliterative combination! You can eat this either as a starter or as a main course. It is very rich, so if you use it as a starter, you only need a smallish ramekin per person.

Serves 4 main course / 8 starter

Ingredients

  • 8 sheets of Lasagne Pasta
  • 60 grams plain flour
  • 150 grams butter
  • 1 litre milk
  • 450 grams fresh porcini (or 1 tin from Trencherman’s!)
  • 150 grams freshly grated Parmesan
  • 200 grams Parma Ham, sliced into juliennes
  • a good handful of freshly chopped parsley
  • Truffle oil
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper.

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan.
  2. Add the flour and blend, stirring all the time.
  3. Cook for a couple of minutes to cook the flour, still stirring.
  4. Remove from the heat.
  5. Bring the milk to near boiling.
  6. Place the butter and flour mixture back on a very gentle heat and add the milk a little at a time stirring constantly with a whisk. This will only take a couple of minutes.
  7. Remove from the heat and set to one side.
  8. If you are using fresh Porcini (Cêpes), slice them into chunks and fry gently in olive oil. If you are using tinned Porcini, drain them and add to the béchamel.
  9. Cut the Parma Ham into juliennes and add them too. Sprinkle in the chopped Parsley and season with salt and pepper. Don’t add too much salt as the Parma Ham and the Parmesan both have a certain amount of salt in them.
  10. Bring the mixture to the boil and remove from the heat.
  11. Butter your dish or dishes, depending on whether you are using 8 ramekins or one dish.
  12. Place a layer of pasta on the bottom, cover with the mixture and generously sprinkle with Parmesan. Repeat this until your dish is full.
  13. Place a knob of butter on top of a ramekin dish or several knobs on top of a single dish. Pre-heat your oven to 425 F/220C/Gas 7 and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbling and golden. Just before bringing it to the table, drizzle a little Truffle oil over the top for an extra subtle and delicious flavour.

Parmesan Nibbles

This is really simple, quick and scrumptious!

Serves as many as you can share about 24 with.

Ingredients

  • 125 grams grated Parmesan Reggiano
  • Pinch of Cayenne pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas 4
  2. To make a couple of dozen, take the grated Parmesan and mix with a pinch of Cayenne pepper.
  3. Brush a non-stick baking tray (or you can use kitchen foil) with olive oil.
  4. Make 24 little mounds of the mixture, not too close to each other or they’ll all become one.
  5. Cook in oven for 7 or 8 minutes until golden brown.
  6. The little heaps will have turned into little biscuits. Remove them from the tray immediately, using a pallet knife, and place on a cake rack to cool.
  7. For a pretty curled effect, place over a rolling pin or some other such shaped object.

Omelette Arnold Bennett

More of a smoked haddock soufflé really. The quantities will serve 4 people as a main course, but if you want to do it as a starter, you can put the mixture into ramekin dishes and cook in the oven instead. This will be enough for 6 to 8 ramekins, depending on the size of your dishes.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 fillet Natural Smoked Haddock, weighing about 6oz to 8oz
  • ½ pint milk
  • 1oz butter
  • ½oz plain flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons single cream, coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan

Method

  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan with a slice of onion, a bayleaf, a couple of slice of carrot and 3 or 4 whole peppercorns.
  2. Bring almost to the boil. Place the Smoked Haddock in a flat dish and pour the milk over it.
  3. Leave to stand for ten minutes by which time your fish will be cooked.
  4. Remove from the milk, skin and flake the fish carefully checking for bones.
  5. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid. Melt half the butter in a small non-stick saucepan, add the flour and stir over the heat for one minute or so.
  6. Next add half the milk in which you poached the fish, and cook gently for a minute or two, until the sauce thickens.
  7. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with 2 tablespoons of the cream.
  8. Season with pepper only (salt is unnecessary due to the saltiness of the fish). Stir this into the white sauce.
  9. Add the Smoked Haddock and half the Parmesan.
  10. Whisk the egg whites to medium peaks and fold very gently into the sauce.
  11. In a non-stick oven proof frying pan, melt the remaining butter, coating the whole pan with melted butter.
  12. When nice and hot, pour in your mixture and cook until it starts to set.
  13. At this stage, sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top and pour over the remaining cream.
  14. Place under a pre-heated hot grill until golden and delicious.
  15. Serve with lots of crusty bread for mopping up every last bit!

Oeufs Mimosa

This is a stunningly simple recipe, either for a light meal or as a starter. We include two variations.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 free range eggs, hard-boiled
  • 125g white crab meat (or tinned tuna)
  • homemade or good quality mayonnaise
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Method

  1. Cut the hard-boiled eggs in half lengthways.
  2. Take out the yolk, place it in a small dish and break up with a fork.
  3. Mix the crab meat (or tuna) with a small amount of mayonnaise seasoned with sea-salt and black pepper.
  4. Spoon generously into the egg whites.
  5. Sprinkle the yolk over the top and garnish with chopped parsley.

 

We’ve just tried a new variation of this using Smoked Haddock in a creamy béchamel.

  1. All you need to do is to poach the haddock in milk and then flake it.
  2. Make a white sauce using the haddock milk
  3. Fill your eggs with the mixture.

It is also very good!

Moelleux au chocolat noir, Coeur de chocolat blanc

This must rate as one of the sins – gluttony! But if you’re a chocoholic, you shouldn’t resist. And it’s quick and easy to make. If you don’t fancy the white chocolate inside, just add a few extra dark chocolate buttons. A splash of Don PX dessert wine (a very sweet and rich sherry) would be a delicious indulgence to accompany this dessert.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 200g dark chocolate pistoles (64% + cocoa solids)
  • 50g white chocolate pistoles
  • 100g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 2 soup-spoons flour
  • 5 large eggs

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 °C (gas mark 8).
  2. Melt the dark chocolate and the butter in a bain marie or in a basin over a pan of boiling water.
  3. Meanwhile take 8 ramekins, butter them and dust lightly with flour.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate & butter into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and eggs and mix thoroughly.
  5. Stir in the flour.
  6. Place the ramekins on an oven tray and fill them one third full with the mixture.
  7. Then sprinkle 8 or 10 white chocolate buttons on each and then fill to ¾ of the depth of the dish. Don’t overfill or the mixture will overflow.
  8. Place in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. They are cooked when they have risen nicely, with a slightly cracked appearance on top and nice and gooey in the middle!

Marquise au Chocolat

This light, moist chocolate dessert, which is in fact a glorified chocolate mousse, is easy to prepare and requires no baking.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 oz (225g) plain unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons strong black coffee
  • 6oz (175g) butter
  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 4oz (100g) icing sugar
  • grated rind of one orange

Method

  1. Line a 1lb loaf tin with cling film.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces, place it in the top of a double boiler with the coffee and melt gently, stirring occasionally, taking care that the level of the simmering water is below that of the bottom of the top pan.
  3. Once melted, remove from the heat, add the butter cut into pieces, the egg yolks, icing sugar and orange zest.
  4. Return this to the heat until the butter has melted.
  5. Leave to cool.
  6. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  7. Gently fold half of them into the mixture, then fold in the remainder until the mixture is smooth.
  8. Pour into the loaf tin and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  9. Half an hour before serving, remove from the fridge.
  10. Dip the tin in a bowl of hot water for a second or two, cover the top with a flat plate and turn over so that the mousse ends up on the plate.
  11. Slice into ½” slices with a warm knife and serve garnished with a few cherries in kirsch and a little of the kirsch poured around the slice of Marquise.

Grand Tour 2014

This year we decided to start a trip by ship from Plymouth to Santander. We had never made this crossing before, but it seemed to make sense as we wanted to visit various suppliers in Rioja. The crossing was fantastic with the infamous Bay of Biscay as smooth as the proverbial mill pond. The Brittany Ferry ship was large and comfortable with good facilities and food. We left Plymouth at 15.45 and reached Santander at 12.15 the following day.

etxeganaWe had been recommended a hotel in the middle of nowhere, but on our way to Rioja and it turned out to be a real gem. The Hotel Etxegana, Ipiñaburu Auzoa 38, near Zeanuri was about an hour and a half from Santander and an hour from Bilbao. Lovely little hotel with friendly staff and excellent restaurant.

jardins-de-bakeaThe next day we visited Briones and our friend Miguel Merino whom some of you will have met at our Rioja Wine Tasting dinner. We had a good time with him and moved on to Martinez Bujanda near Oyon. A superb winery set amidst their vineyards overlooking the river. We were taken to a restaurant called Méson Chuchi in Fuenmayor for a splendid lunch. Highly recommended if you’re ever in that area, with wonderful melt in the mouth barbequed suckling pig and milk-fed lamb. From there we travelled the short distance to Olite where we visited the Bodegas Ochoa where Adriana Ochoa, the brilliant young winemaker, took us through some of their recent vintages. Then it was over the border near St Jean de Luz and in to France. We stayed in Les Jardins de Bakea just over the border and ate a brilliant meal in Mattin in Ciboure as well as very good meals in Zoko Moko and in Les Jardins de Bakea.
chateau_pierrailThen it was up to Bordeaux visiting a few of our suppliers there, notably Château Pierrail, staying in St Emilion before heading north via Tremolat and Brantome. We visited our friends in Quincy, did our tourist bit by visiting the stunning Chateau de Chenonceau before heading for the tunnel. Good stops on the way notably at the Villa Fol Avril in Moutiers-au-Perche. Stunning location in a quiet village and lovely hotel with super friendly husband and wife team and excellent food and our last night at a place new to us La Ferme du Vert in Wierre Effroy, which was all right without setting the world on fire. The advantage being that it was only 20 minutes from the channel tunnel. (Do any of you have a really nice recommendation about an hour or less from Calais?) Do ask us for details of any of these places.