Beef olive with pearl barley risotto and grilled vegetables

Thursday, May 28, 2009
"I'd like the beef olive.... without the olives please"

Ever been in a bistro and heard this? It's the idea of a stuffed olive that lends the dish it's name though, rather than the dish actually containing olives.
I've been looking at the WTSIM food blogging event for a couple of years, yet never got round to entering anything. Almost got there last month - retro dishes - but then got so many last minute parties to cook for that it went right down the list of priorities.

This month the task was to blog about a bistro dish - which I do here quite often, since my bistro menu has become more and more popular in the last year.

I was still wondering what to do as I drove up to Home Farm where I was beckoned inside the butchery by Micky, the farmer/ butcher. He had a skirt laid out on the bench - "What do you think?" he asked "beautiful" I said. And it was. An amazing piece of beef skirt.

But I didn't have anything I could do with it - I like to sell things before I buy the ingredients rather than the other way round - but as I reversed out of the yard I stopped, then went back in and picked up the skirt. It was just too good to miss.

I once made a steak baguette for the executive and sous chef at Claridges when I was a more junior larder chef, using what we had in our mise en place - the grilled sirloin steak, tomatoes, rocket, parmesan and shallot mayo. They liked the combination. They liked it a lot. And it became steak parmesan (without the baguette), a classic on the foyer menu - with bearnaise rather than the mayo. So I was thinking of something similar to go inside this piece of beef to make a beef olive. This time I had some blacksticks blue cheese, watercress, sun dried tomato and wild mushrooms which I mixed with some of the home farm sausagemeat. This was rolled inside:
and tied (though you could use cocktail sticks instead)

Then sealed to get a good colour on it and braised for 3 hours in red wine, onions, carrots and beef stock:
You could also use beer instead of wine. Once cooked, I removed the beef olive, onions etc. and re-boiled the sauce to thicken it a little, and added a dash of balsamic, then cut the beef olive into 4 and served it as above with some watercress.

For pearl barley risotto click here
For grilled veg click here

My bistro menu reviewed by a fellow local food blogger: What I Ate Today. They seemed to have left the salad and lemon oil for the starter in their fridge though.

Some other bistro dishes:


Parma ham salad
Tart of red onion and St. Agnes cheese
Smoked salmon blinis

Main course

Shoulder of lamb with tabbouleh
Smoked salmon, leek and tarragon lasagne
Hake with tomato baked beans or beer baked beans
Irish stew with dumplings
Beef and Cotswold Way ale pie
Slow cooked belly pork with creamy lentils
Lamb and apricot casserole
Salmon provencal with red pepper coulis
Involtini of veal


Glazed lemon tart
Sticky toffee pudding
New York vanilla cheesecake
Canary pudding
Hazelnut shortbread recipe for crème brûlée

Frozen bistro meals


Brandy snaps

Sunday, May 17, 2009
Made the weekend before last between 2 and 3am on Saturday morning. Somehow I fitted in 13 parties in 5 days - lucky there are 25 hours in a chef's day.

These accompanied passionfuit panna cotta and the caramelised oranges, requested by the contact who had passed on my details for what turned out to be my first ever dinner party booking, almost 3 years ago. The two events I cooked for that week were following his father's passing, so he was choosing things that might appeal to his slightly older guests - a couple of days before I had done the smoked trout trio, with coq au vin, then crème caramel and a large pear and almond tart. The two desserts (above) on this day accompanied the grilled asparagus and rack of lamb dish made with saddle of lamb rather that racks.

I was going to pipe one of the left over brandy snaps with cream and accompany it with berries and coulis a bit like this, a real retro classic, but the left over ones mysteriously dissappeared......

Very easy to make in fact - like biscuits. You can make the dough and roll it into balls and bake them. As they bake they spread out flat, then you just leave them to cool for a couple of minutes before rolling them on a wooden spoon as shown here, or making baskets the same way as I make the tuile or filo baskets - ideal for ice cream or fresh summer berries spread over an overturned ramekin. If you keep the flat you could also make this simple dessert.

The recipe I used here came from Merilees Parker - but without the lime juice and zest. Jan may not have approved of her venison sauce recipe when she met her, but this worked for me - the BBC test everything of course before they publish it.

It has been bookmarked for anyone else who wants to try it on the virtual recipe drawer that is Bookmarked Recipes - where anyone from anywhere can blog about a recipe they had bookmarked from a cook book, food magazine, food blog, food website, from TV etc, make it and submit it to a weekly roundup. this week hosted by Divya at Dil Se….

Vegetable samosas

Thursday, May 14, 2009
Similar to making the filo rolls - just got to think triangles.

I made a vegetarian curry mix of small diced potato, carrot, onion, peas, curry paste and a little fresh coriander (so tasty - should make that more often) rolled inside and served with yogurt and mint dip.
It was one of the vegetarian canapes to accompany the vegetable en croute and sole.
Related posts:

Beans on toast

I stopped off on the way back to base after my Sunday brunch deliveries to pick some nettles. At last there would be a little time to try making this bread.......

Gluten free nettle soda bread

I used the soda bread recipe I had used before (buttermilk version). As I was using rice flour rather than wheat flour though, I added 1 teaspoon of baking powder and an egg as well to help things along.

Sauteed nettles chilled and pureed with buttermilk. Then just stirred in the nettle-buttermilk mix with flour, soda etc.

I kept some to make a nettle pesto to spoon over the beans.

This went with beer baked beans (last of the frozen left overs)

The verdict - tasty bread. Next time definitely use a mix of rice and tapioca flour - the tapioca being so starchy will help it be less crumbly.

Related posts:


Roasted vegetable en croute

I've done a few of these all vegetarian menus now. This was for a family staying in Chipping Campden for the weekend almost 2 weeks ago, and the hostess was cooking for her daughters, grandchildren and other family members, and wanted everything delivered so she could finish it off simply.

Instead of a starter we went for 6 different canapes. For the main course they were having trouble deciding, and as it was a fish-eating vegtarian party in the end we went for a combination of sole roulades with asparagus coulis (asparagus, white wine, creme fraiche) and these roasted vegetables en croute with vegetarian gravy. I did enough roulades so there were 2 per person, and 5 of the en croute so, if they wanted, they could cut each in half, and then they could each have a bit of both.

Roasted celariac, swede and butternut squash, peppers with creamy mushrooms and leeks (which gives a little moisture).

Served with new potatoes, runner and broad beans.

Related posts:

Beef en croute
New potatoes in chive butter


Lunch near Stratford on Avon

Monday, May 11, 2009
It's always good to catch up with previous clients. Especially when they're so nice, and cooking in their home feels so relaxing. This time it was a lunch party for a select group of friends, and as luck would have it, it was a warm and sunny day.

Just in season at that point (2 weeks ago) I found some asparagus just outside Pershore and re-created the grilled asparagus and parmesan dish which I used to do a couple of years back.

Slow cooked shoulder of lamb with tabbouleh and grilled vegetables

When I cooked the whole lamb in February I really liked the way it went so well with the salads - a much lighter alternative to a traditional Sunday roast with roast potatoes etc.

The slow cooked shoulder of lamb has quickly become popular after I put it on our summer bistro and Sunday lunch menu - I cooked it again that week for 30 people for a Sunday lunch buffet. Being cooked for 6 hours means it is really soft and tender, and because it is sourced directly from the farm you know it's produced by farmers that really care about their animals - and this shows in the texture and flavour of the meat - you can't beat it.

This version was served with tabbouleh (hiding underneath the lamb) and grilled & roast vegetables - aubergine (which is a classic with lamb), courgettes, peppers, a spoon of pesto on top and a wedge of roasted butternut squash on top of that.

Summer pudding

An english classic which is a must as soon as the warmer weather comes along.

What was the verdict?

Thank you so much for cooking such a wonderful lunch yesterday. It was seasonal, fresh & absolutely delicious & was very much appreciated by our guests. After our holiday in France we will fix our entertainments for the rest of the year.

Related posts:

Bookmarked Recipes #53

Here’s this week's round up of Bookmarked Recipes and this week we have some more great recipes from some more great bloggers. This week’s round up is being hosted by James at The Cotswold Food Year

You're wondering what to eat for lunch? You're wondering what to eat for dinner? Don't worry - we've got it taken care of at Bookmarked Recipes this week.

Lunch City Girl (who likes to blog anon) of City Girl Lifestyle finds a great way to chill out on a hot day with this Cucumber watermelon cooler which her husband bookmarked from My Spicy Kitchen. And as yesterday was Mother's Day in the US, Canada and Australia, it would have made a great addition to your Mother's Day celebrations.

Ning at Heart and Hearth has been baking, and shares her easy beer bread from an original recipe from Dog Hill Kitchen. Easy because it contains no yeast, so there's no need to knead - how good is that! You may remember this from a previous Bookmarked Recipes. It's been on my to-make list ever since then. With 2 recommendations now it has to be good! With such wonderful bread, you need the perfect accompaniment. Something like this hot artichoke dip from Patsy at Family, Friends and Food. The recipe, originally from Sweetnicks, was ideal for the monthly Bunko night, and luckily her sons are good at stirring, if they could just remember whose turn it was to stir..... Dinner

Shhh! Can you keep a secret? The secret of the Secret-Secret Geography Club. This time Kindra of The Meal Planner turned the club's attention on the cooking of France and made this decadent dish of Coq au vin. She wanted a recipe that would knock her guests socks off, and found one by Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network. The only problem being, when her guests came to go home they realised they didn't have any socks left.....
P.S. I also know from Foodie at 15 that a Dutch Oven in the US is what we call a casserole dish in the UK. You guys have some funny words.

For dessert you might try making this rhubarb jelly which I found from Keiko at Nordljus and made from the rhubarb growing in my garden. She sets the jelly on top of pistachio mousse, but back on the Cotswold Food Year, I set it in a container and diced it as a garnish for my rhubarb crumble tart. If you adjusted amount of sugar you could use any fruit instead of the rhubarb. Except kiwi of course - the acid content is too high for the gelatine. Thanks everyone for your submissions!!! It's always exciting to see what people have been making and recreating as well as meeting some new bloggers. Next week’s round up will be hosted by Divya at Dil Se…

That's it for this week. Remember if you want to take part here's all you have to do....

1. Pick a recipe from a book/magazine/blog/website/tv show and make it. (Note you can only submit 1 recipe per week)

2. Blog about it - include where you got the recipe in your blog post (including a link to their website if possible) - include a link to this post or this blog in your blog post - include the logo (see above) for Bookmarked Recipes in your blog post - include a photo of your recreation on your blog post

3. Email bookmarkedrecipes[AT]gmail[DOT]com with the following information: - Your name - The name of your blog - The URL of your blog - The permalink for your entry - A photo of your entry - A note of where you got your recipe from

Rhubarb crumble tart with crème anglaise and rhubarb jelly

The rhubarb I planted in my garden 2 years ago is now looking really healthy and abundant. It was time to make the rhubarb crumble tart, and I was thinking about a garnish when I came accross this recipe for rhubarb jelly from Keiko at Nordljus. I liked the idea of serving it in a glass with the pistachio mousse underneath, but instead poured the jelly into a container and diced it below to serve with the crumble tart:
It would be just nice to eat as it is though. If you adjust the amount of sugar you use any other type of fruit to make a jelly like this - strawberries, blackberries, plums.

It has been bookmarked for anyone else who wants to try it on the virtual recipe drawer that is Bookmarked Recipes - your one-
stop shop for tried and tested recipes from the food blogger community updated every Monday which I am hosting this week.


Hen party in the Cotswolds

What could be better than leaving London behind for the weekend and escaping to the Cotswolds for a hen party?

Need a venue? To see some Cotswold houses ideal for hen parties click here

While the Cheltenham Buttlers (emphasis on the 'butt') entertained the hens at Littleton Manor, and the champagne flowed, I got on with preparing the barbecue.....

Honey and mustard Home Farm pork loin steaks with glazed apples

I got a whole pork loin from Home Farm where their pigs are Berkshire/ Gloucester Old Spot cross. I took off the top layer of skin, and cut that into strips and cooked it in the oven to make crackling. Meanwhile, the loin I cut into steaks and marinaded those in honey & mustard. Apples I pan-fried in a little butter earlier in the afternoon and re-heated them in the oven prior to serving. There was actually a lot more crackling than that shown - it was so popular/ tasty it all went.

Chilli prawn skewers with garlic mayo

Salmon and basil skewers

Although I've done these before so many times, these turned out the best. A little dusting with flour before they go on the barbecue means they don't stick to the grill.

No picture of the chicken poached in plum and brandy wine and wrapped in parma ham - but you can see that from a previous barbecue.

Homemade walnut, raisin and rosemary bread rolls and a few salads accompanied this:

Cous cous with barbecued vegetables
Cucumber, yogurt and mint

I picked the mint from the kitchen herb garden to mix through, and the chive flowers, now in their brief season, to sprinkle on top.Salad of spinach, blacksticks blue, baby plum tomatoes, red onion and olives

Then it was a 30 minute dash to the next party of the evening......

Barbecue menu

Other menus

Also useful -

Taste of the Grape - Entertaining and informative wine tastings in your home (or holiday home). We cooked for one hen party after they had had a wine tasting afternoon with Taste of the Grape - it seemed to get the evening off to a great start.

Cotswold Indulgence Tour Tailors has recently launched stylish and sophisticated Cotswold hen weekends with a difference.

Related posts:

Whole roast lamb
Barbecue July 2008
Marquee barbecue for a wedding of 120 guests

Update 6 June 2009

We normally cook for at least one hen party in the Cotswolds a week. On the 6th June it was 4 in the same evening - I cooked for one, my brother Adam cooked for another, Gill cooked for another and one was delivered ready for the hens to finish off themselves.

As it was so busy organising all those events in the same evening, we only managed to get three pictures of the food - the spelt bread which was for one guest who was on a low gluten diet, the muffins cooked early next morning for one of the hen party's breakfast, and the assiette of desserts I served at Upper Court:

Each assiette of desserts is different depending on what guests (or the organiser of the event) choose. In this case we went for:

Mini vanilla creme brulée
Glazed lemon tartlets
Shotglass of homemade orange sorbet - recipe click here
Raspberry shortbread - shortbread recipe click here
Chocolate eclair - eclair recipe click here


Rack of lamb with aubergine and potato gratin, roast courgettes and an oven dried tomato and basil sauce (ii)

Sunday, May 10, 2009
Finally. Finally got it right.
You may remember this from a previous post. All the flavours of moussaka, just done slightly differently.

I had cooked it for a party on Wednesday night (left), but when it came to plating it up the lamb just took over the plate. It was just too big. Today (well last night now, the second party of the evening, above) I trimmed them a little more than the butcher at Home Farm does. Simple things.

Brushed with dijon mustard and sprinkled with breadcrumbs whizzed with cumin, fresh coriander & chives they're roasted for c. 30 - 35 minutes. 58 oC on the probe. Roasted courgettes (right) served seperately.
Then there was just a little assitte for dessert........