Monday, 15 November 2010

Paradise Apple Jelly

Now is the time to collect those paradise apples and we are so lucky this year to have an abundance in our garden. They are so ripe that they are already beginning to fall to the ground so I am glad to have a rain free sunny day to harvest.What beautiful colours of golden reds and yellows!


3.5 Kg apples (weight for other ingredients)

3.5 Kg of confiture sugar (same weight as apples)


Wash and trim the apples. Fortunately there is no need to peel or core these. Place in a large pan with the sugar and bring slowly to the boil. Stew for 20 minutes until soft. Strain through a jelly-bag removing any scum. Bring to the boil and boil until a little sets when tested. Store in glass jars in a cool larder. Apple jelly is a wonderful addition with venison.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Dinner Tonight

Rain rain rain - what terrible weather we have had with storms and gales and now the poor trees are naked having lost their beautiful golden leaves. Well now it is time to light the log fire and dine under candlelight. We always do this but in autumn when the days are short and the weather inclement, there is an extra dimension to life when you close the shutters, pull the curtains, light the fire and find a good book and a nice bottle of red! On the gastronomic agenda tonight we have planned a gourmand pea soup which is surprisingly amazing, to be followed by roast pork with a musterd sauce and peppers. A traditional dessert of home made apple pie with almonds and poppy seed ice cream. The recipe will follow but now I better get cooking.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Salmon & Watercress

The salmon has been revered for centuries by the Celts for its intrinsic ability to bring knowledge to the consumer! There is certainly no longer any doubt that fish oils and specifically the omega-3 fatty acids contained therein are a valuable food source for brain function as well as general wellbeing. We also know that watercress is a wonder salad gram for gram containing more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than milk. It is brimming with Vitamin A (converted from beta carotene) with 80g providing a whopping 42% of the recommended daily allowance. Its curative properties have been revered down the centuries; Hippocrates born in 460BC, the father of medicine, is said to have located his first hospital close to a spring to ensure fresh watercress to help treat his patients, Greek soldiers were given it as a tonic before going into battle and the 16th Century herbalist Culpepper claimed it could cleanse the blood. Educated pagans, filidhs and druids thought very highly of watercress as a plant which increases sexual energy, enhances divination and boosts fertility! Need I say anymore about the health benefits of this recipe!

You will need for 4 servings
1 kg salmon (middle cut)
50g Clarified butter
250ml of fish stock
300g watercress (stalks removed)
250ml double cream
1tsp chlorophyll (optional)
salt & black pepper


Debone the salmon (from the back) and remove the skin. Cut the flesh into 4 good escalopes of about 200g each. Set aside on paper and salt lightly.

Using a sauté pan, heat the clarified butter over a medium heat. Introduce the salmon escalopes and cook for 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm. Pour off the excess fat from the pan and deglaze with the fish stock. As soon as the stock bubbles, introduce the watercress and freshly grounded black pepper (I use madagascar pepper) and simmer for two minutes then add the cream, lower the heat cover and leave for 5 minutes. Add the chlorophyll if you have it. Pour the sauce onto a plate and lay the escalope on top. Steamed potatoes are a good accompaniment with this. Serve immediately with a nice cold glass of dry white wine from the Loire Valley - say a Sancerre or Pouilly.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Snails in garlic butter, black pepper & chives

Are you really into French Dining? Well why not test yourself and your best friends with a gourmet snail in garlic butter dish? It is great as a starter and will certainly get your diners talking!

You will need:

100 snails (if you don't know how to collect and clean your own organic supply just ask - otherwise source a commercial supplier for Helix Aspersa.

Put the snails in a sieve and dunk them in boiling water for a few seconds to kill them. Take the snails from the shells with a small fork, wash them off and then cook.
To cook about a 100 you need a pint of water, ¾ pint of cider, a large carrot and an onion cut into pieces. Make sure the snails are covered in liquid.
Bring to the boil and simmer until tender for about an hour – it may take a little longer.Rinse in hot water to clean off the bits of vegetables. Dry on paper and set aside.

For the Le Poulbot sauce preparation you will need:

450g salted butter (at room temperature)
6 small shallots
3 garlic cloves
20g fresh chives finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme finely chopped
20g fresh parsley finely chopped
20 hazelnuts
600ml double cream
1 tbls green chartreuse
10g freshly grounded Black Pepper.
Good pinch of chervil,dill, fennel seed, basil and sage.

Peel wash and finely chop the shallots and garlic keeping them separate. In a sauté pan set over a low heat sweat the shallots in half the butter. Add all the herbs except the chives and keep some parsley for sprinkling at the end. Toast the hazlenuts under a hot grill for a few minutes until golden brown. Place the nuts into a cloth and rub together to remove the skins. Finally chop the nuts. Add the chopped nuts to the pan. Pour in the Chartreuse and ignite. Stir in the cream, black pepper, remaining butter and garlic and simmer for five minutes. Add the chives season to taste and serve in snail dishes with a sprinkling of the parsley over each dish. Serve with a nice dry white chablis or a muscadet and freshly baked parsley bread rolls.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Parsnip Fritters with chili and chives

There was a time when I deemed parsnip far too important to use as a vegetable because I found they are a fantastic base product for making home made champagne! That is another story! When I was younger my folks would make fritters in order to guarantee that we as children would eat up our vegetables! Fritters are easy to make and lend themselves to a wide variety of interesting combinations. Here is a basic recipe to get you going:

You will need for 4

6 parsnips washed and peeled.
salt and pepper to taste
2 Chili finely chopped
bunch of fresh chives (chopped)


Dice the parsnips and place in boiling water for 25 minutes until soft. When soft, strain off the water and add salt butter and a little milk and pepper. Mash up the parsnip in the pan until fluffy adding the chili and chives. Shape up into fritters and roll in plain flour. Sauté in the pan until golden brown and serve immediately