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Archive for October, 2010

My Dear Wild Cooks,

What could be more daunting…a 22 minute taste of fame on Street Market Chefs tonight at 7:30pm on Channel 5 or a house full of 11 mates watching it?! 

Steph foraging for flies!

Steph foraging for flies!

It has been great fun to be involved in Street Market Chefs and the filming for the programme flew by! I could not believe that it took five hours to film 22 minutes (how naive am I?!). The whole day went really well and Rob Ramsden, from Deli Fresh, and I are delighted to have been involved. However, that said, neither of us have watched the program yet! I saw Rob at Harrogate’s Countryside Live Show on Sunday 24 October, where he was doing a cookery demonstration in the Deliciouslyorkshire cookery theatre, and I think we are both as nervous as each other about watching our big moment!

As you can probably imagine there was a distinctively foraged flavour to the dishes I chose to cook.

Dish 1

Dish 1

Please find the recipe for my Mackerel with Gooseberry Jelly and Fresh Pea Salad here.

Dish 2
Dish 2

Please find the recipe for my Loose Birds Honey Roasted Duck here.

Steph, Amanda and Rob

Steph, Amanda and Rob

Mackerel with Gooseberry Jelly and Fresh Pea Salad
Loose Birds Honey Roasted Duck

Steph x

Off to do some hoovering!!

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“Steph it is that time of year Love?” said Mrs N, an old family friend. “Mr N and I are going on a cruise next week. You will have to come and get the quince yourself dear – you know where the trees are, don’t you?” said Mrs N in her usual bubbly voice “All we want is a jar of quince jelly for us!”

Following on from our conversation, I set off to Settle to pick some quince. They are found on prickly little bushes and Mrs N needn’t worry about me locating the trees, I know exactly where they are…oh yes! I love autumn and quince picking time is fine by me.

Steph foraging in Mrs N's garden!

Steph foraging in Mrs N's garden!

My batch last year was not as good as the year before. However, I must admit I was so eager to show these quince some love, and nurture a great jelly, I had no reservations to set off straight away to pick them again this year.

What is a quince …..? These are little sour punchy apple like fruit and are full of flavour. My dear wild cooks, the quince is a difficult fellow to know, not very hospitable to pick as the thorns may get you, but like all ingredients that are a touch more difficult to prepare, wow – what great jelly these unfriendly fruits can produce! The flavours bounce around your mouth like a ping pong ball.

Peter, one of our other wild cooks and Managing Director of the luxury hotel, golf and spa Rudding Park, is the preserve king so I hope this jelly can live up to his Rowan Berry Jelly, challenge on!

What would nicely accompany this quince jelly folks? How about a mean addition to a cold meat platter or served alongside some roast pork, or why not with a ham sandwich for a quick lunch?

Quince Jelly

Quince Jelly

This free food is worth that extra effort…

Quince jelly recipe.

Steph x

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It was an amazing weekend, the rain poured down continuously but the crowds still flocked to the “World Curry Festival” at Leeds Millennium Square. I got an amazing opportunity to do a cookery demonstration on a line up of some of the world’s best chefs!

Steph's "Yorkshire Curry" Demonstration

Steph's "Yorkshire Curry" Demonstration

Billed as “The Yorkshire Chef”, the curry I cooked had to have a real Yorkshire twist and, amongst these culinary heavies, it had to live up to a really great curry! I cooked Yorkshire Style chicken saag, and even managed to include some foraged ingredients! Click here to read the recipe and try doing it yourself.

Jean Christophe Novelli now runs a Chefs Cookery School and it has been voted as one of the top twenty five cookery schools in the world. I asked Zulfi, the organiser of the World Curry Festival, for some photos with the chefs, so when Jean Christophe asked “you wanna picture?” I did not hesitate and jumped right in! Thank you Jean Christophe Novelli – what a genuinely nice guy and it really meant a lot to me that stars like him are so giving.

Steph meets Jean Christophe

Steph with Jean Christophe Novelli

To meet the chef of the Taj Hotels was also a truly great honour. Another great chef and with his restaurant, Wasabi, being the 54th Restaurant in the World on the S.Pellegrino list, I felt very privileged to be in his company. Chef Oberoi is in charge of the food in the finest group of Hotels in Asia; 103 hotels over many countries including UK, America, Maldives, Africa, to name a few. He was a really knowledgeable chef and he even offered the local Leeds City College students the opportunity for one place, all expenses paid, for a student to go and work over in Mumbai with his team.

My Yorkshire style chicken saag recipe.

Steph x

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Wild Cooks, we are trend setters! Even Giles Coren from The Times newspaper is writing about foraging.

Rene Redzepi, the amazing chef from Noma, took Giles for a trip into Denmark’s countryside, and showed him what foraging was all about.

It is amazing to remember the food I helped Sam Miller, sous chef from Noma in Copenhagen, to prepare on the 5 August this year, along with some other local chefs at The Cooking Rooms in York. It is still so fresh in my memory, truly a great event and you can still read all about it here.

Cooking alongside Sam Miller Post.

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My dear wild cooks fear not- I have not been watching Strictly Come Dancing but out in the hedgerow picking the Blackthorn fruit otherwise known as the sloe berry.

Sloe Berries

Sloe Berries

These blue bullets of bitter sweet flavour are best used to make a handsome bottle of Sloe Gin. You will be able to recognise them from other fruits as they are the plump berries with a stone inside, and the Blackthorn branches live up to their name and have sharp thorn like stems growing off them.

Foraging with Dom and Aurelian

I set off with my comrades, Dom and Aurelian, out onto the golf course at Rudding Park to pick a few sloes expertly pointed out by some of the lady golfers. Amazingly I had not found this sloe berry bush on previous foraging trips however we returned with a full baskets!

Once we returned Dom and Aurelian had to have a quick change into chef whites and off to service at Clocktower, which left me to make my Sloe Gin. Wild cooks, it is amazing to find sloes as they are so highly prized and everyone wants them. So when you do it is even more fun to make the gin!

Why not have a go at this yourself? They make a great Christmas gift and a real talking point after dinner.

I have always tried to make improvements to my sloe gin recipe and this one is the best yet….simply sloe and sensational!

Sloe Gin recipe

Wild Cook Steph x

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I recently stayed with some friends in the Highlands outside Kinloch Rannoch. Their back garden runs into the mountainside, where the lower slopes are covered in mature birch and pine forests.

Chanterelle mushrooms

Picking the chanterelle mushrooms

Nestled in the moss and grass and under the birch trees are chanterelle mushrooms (rather confusingly they look the same as birch leaves). Chanterelles love shady and mossy spots. When picking them, cut the base rather than pulling them out to ensure they come again next year. Please take care when foraging for mushrooms as some varieties can make you seriously ill and in some cases can be fatal! I recommend taking a guide or guidebook with you.

A wild cook after a successful foraging trip

A wild cook after a successful foraging trip

Once you have returned home with your foraging delights, I have a great serving suggestion. Simply fry them in butter and garlic and serve warm on a piece of crusty bread…delicious!

Frying the mushrooms in butter and garlic

Frying the mushrooms in butter and garlic

Wild Cook Peter

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These berries can be picked and gathered from Rowan Trees (also known as Mountain Ash) in early September. Many recipes for this jelly use ½ apples and ½ rowan berries. However, the further north you go the tendency is to use a greater percentage of rowan.

If you are lucky the apples can be gathered from the roadside where they are free!  Please take care when foraging on a roadside as pesticides may have been applied to crops and fields that are within your foraging range. Do not peel or core them, but chop them roughly and put them in a pan with the rowan berries. The more rowan you use the deeper the colour and the tarter the taste is.

rowan berries and apples in the pan

Rowan berries and apples in a pan

Cover the fruit with water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours or until soft.

Strain through a jelly bag or an old pillow case and allow to drip overnight but do not squeeze as this will make the jelly cloudy. We hung our fruit from a stool in the kitchen, oh and make sure the bowl underneath the sack is large enough to catch all the juice!

straining the cooked berries

Straining the cooked berries in a sack

Measure the volume of the resulting juice, re heat it in a pan, and then add 1 pound of sugar for every pint of juice. Continue to heat gently until all the sugar dissolves, and then bring to a fierce boil for approximately 30 minutes.

Bringing the liquid back to the boil

Bringing the liquid back to the boil

To test for setting, add a small amount of the liquid to a saucer and allow to cool. The less ripe the apples were the higher the pectin content and the more likely the jelly is to set well.

the jelly setting test

The jelly setting test!

If your liquid does not set, bring it back to the boil for a little longer and try the setting test again.

Once you are happy with your liquid, pour it into small jars which have been warmed (but not roasted) in the oven. Leave on the side in the jars and hopefully you can enjoy this delicious jelly the following day!

Jelly in the warmed jars

Jelly in the warmed jars

Wild Cook Peter

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