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Archive for January, 2012

Neil and Pip were in for a treat after winning a personal chef for the night in Rudding Park‘s 12 Days of Christmas email campaign. The prize included dinner cooked for them and up to eight guests by myself in the comfort of their own home..what could be better I ask…?!

Pip, Neil & Steph with their dinner guests

Pip, Neil & Steph with their dinner guests

I was joined by Chris Root, a Management Trainee from Rudding Park, as we set off on a freezing cold Saturday night in January to hopefully surprise the guests with a memorable gastronomic food and service experience.

I had met Pip a week before to discuss the menu and I could tell that both the hosts and their guests were great foodies who really wanted to go all out with their selected dishes. In agreeing, I had set Chris and I a rather demanding challenge!

The evening began with canapés and bubbly on arrival before calling them through to the dining room for the main event. As the candles burned and the music played the guests had some homemade bread rolls and a seafood selection to really get the party started…

Whitby Crab and Lobster Celeriac Remoulade
layered with lobster bisque, king scallops, brown shrimps and rocket

The room fell quiet as guests began to sample the dish and Chris and I were busy preparing the main course. After a short while everyone started talking about the dish, the flavours they could highlight, the textures of the different ingredients and the feeling next door in the kitchen was that it went down well! Phew…round two…ding-a-ling!

The lamb was locally sourced and cooked with a confit lamb bon bon and slow cooked shoulder of lamb…

Roast Nidderdale Lamb
butternut puree, baby carrots and leeks, Bloomin White Cheese potato gratin

The lamb gets the sauce!

The lamb gets the sauce!

The carefully selected Fleurie red wine really hit the spot and complemented the lamb perfectly, especially as we had incorporated the Fleurie into the jus.

It is an unusual thing to cook in someone else’s kitchen but when the kitchen is as well equipped as this one it was a real joy.

Now the party was in full swing it all boiled down to executing a perfect dessert…

A Zesty Lemon Experience
lemon soufflé, lemon sorbet, lemon jelly, lemoncello shot with lemon foam, mini lemon meringue pie and micro basil

Chris waits for the souffle - I hope they like lemon!

Chris waits for the souffle - I hope they like lemon!

As you can probably imagine the guests were rather full at this point and so a cup of coffee and homemade petit fours went down a treat to finish off a great meal.

Chris and I really enjoyed cooking for these very appreciative guests and I was even given a bunch of flowers – a lovely gesture.

I guess i’m hoping that one day someone may offer to cook for me….!

Happy cooking,

Steph

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Dear Wild Cooks

Whether you pronounce it “Harwood” or “Harewood” this place is beautiful and a mere 6.9 miles away from Rudding Park.

Harewood House Estate provides some great walks and a chance to go foraging too. Following the Christmas excess eating and drinking period I felt it was time to take charge of the waist line and do something about it!

Steph going wild on the Harewood walk!

Steph going wild on the Harewood walk!

If you like picturesque views, Harewood is a great place to explore and one to quite literally get your feet wet on a windy wet winter’s day (try saying that after a few Christmas Sherries!) Remember to pick up your camera on the way out – you’re sure to get some great shots.

Through the gates.... Yorkshire looking mean, moody and magnificent!

Through the gates.... Yorkshire looking mean, moody and magnificent!

Home of the Lascelles family, Harewood House is open to the public and offers guided tours, cafes, gift shops and an adventure playground. The last time I came to Harewood was to watch a drive in movie screening of ‘Top Gun’. As Maverick says “I felt the need for speed” time to head back to Harewood…

So last weekend I rooted out the walking boots and drove to the village of Harewood, parked up and walked past the impressive Harewood House gates. We then walked past the Harewood Arms Pub and set off down the back lane and into the estate.

A peaceful walking route to follow

A peaceful walking route to follow

The picnic had been packed, the weather was the best it had been for a good few weeks and, as we set off a little later than anticipated, we even packed the torch incase it began to get dark! Surprisingly there was no Kendal Mint Cake in my rucksack – an oversight on my part but I am trying to lose weight!

Baar Humbug- Sheep busy bleating the Christmas Blues

Baar Humbug- Sheep busy bleating the Christmas Blues

The walk was not too busy and the sound of pheasants and my sighting of two deer in the fields was brilliant. The walk had many foraging items along the way including burdock “velcro” buds which indicated places where there would later be amazing burdock roots to pull up, peel and honey roast with parsnips! Please remember that with any root ingredients you must get permission from the owner of the field before pulling it up.

Harewood House in the distance

Harewood House in the distance

I found Douglas-fir on my walk. This is a particular type of fir that can be safely eaten however you have to know your stuff Wild Cooks as some types of fir can be poisonous and we do not want that on your plate!

Fir, Fir, Fir Fantastic...A group of Fir trees

Fir, Fir, Fir Fantastic...A group of Fir trees

So I found some Douglas-fir and decided to make homemade pizzas for dinner. The recipe is simple to follow and good fun to make. If you are concerned about using Douglas-fir, try something else, a herb perhaps to flavour up your dough.

Kneading the dough

Kneading the dough

Douglas-fir is a foraged item used by a fellow contestant on something I cannot talk about (under embargo) being shown on TV in four months…! Initially I was worried about using fir as some are honestly quite dangerous but I managed to find what I was looking for and knew it was safe.

Pizza fun Wild Cook style

Pizza fun Wild Cook style

As we were heading back to the car and passed the magnificent House, the sun began to fall and the torch was our savior! We were in almost complete darkness for the last 1/2 mile but arrived safely to be met with a flask of hot coffee! When exercising it is great to have a reward and what better a reward than a nice slice of homemade healthy pizza.

Pizza Recipe

Walking has never been such fun!

Steph (your intrepid Wild Cook explorer) x

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