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Dear Wild Cooks,

It is not often that you get asked to be a part of a brand new food festival by a local Michelin starred establishment. So when I was approached by The Devonshire Arms to participate in their 2011 Food Festival it was a real pleasure to accept the challenge.

It was a battle between the Harrogate chefs as I competed against Tom Van Zeller from his award winning restaurant in Harrogate.

Harrogate Chef, Tom Van Zeller

Harrogate Chef, Tom Van Zeller

The day started with an early morning cup of coffee with the Breakfast Chef at the Devonshire Arms…it all seemed so civilised! I then ran through my menu with Restaurant Manager, Valentin Gadjonov, and his team.

Briefing the Restaurant Manager and the team before the Devonshire Food Festival
Briefing the Restaurant Manager and the team before the Devonshire Food Festival


Tickets sold out rapidly and therefore the pressure was on as we both demonstrated in front of a full house trying to win votes on their preferred menu.

Here is my menu:

Roast Duck Salad
beetroot hedgerow crisps and forager’s relish
( A Wild Cook’s idea of fun. I love the combination of the sweet and sour and the forager’s relish really cuts thought the fat of the Yorkshire free range Leven ducks)

Pork Fillet
confit potato cake, quince (forager’s fun again!) and Ampleforth amber liquor sauce
(The pork fillets were locally sourced from Easingwold. I also use confit of pork ashen in a potato cake with leeks rolled and fried in Scotch large oats – lovely stuff!)

Apples, Plums and Pears
(I left this to the guests’ imagination however it was made up of a dark chocolate marquise with flambé plums, pear parfait and apple crumble with vanilla sauce)

Plating up my starter

Plating up my starter

Tom’s menu
 
Scallops Escabeche
pumpkin sorbet and pumpkin seeds
(Escabeche literally means ‘marinated’)

Local Partridge
Tom’s partridge was rolled into a sausage shape and gently poached and served with a selection of accompaniments including black pudding crumbs and pastry parcels, it looked stunning.

Frozen Pannacotta
flambé quince

Tom with his Sous Chef, the Devonshire Pastry Chef Ellen and her colleague Archie prepare his pudding plates

Tom with his Sous Chef, the Devonshire Pastry Chef Ellen and her colleague Archie prepare his pudding plates

Although Tom’s menu won on the day, it was a great challenge and a real pleasure for me to cook at The Devonshire Arms.


Personally I think Steve Smith, Head Chef at the Burlington Restaurant, is a legend on the northern food scene and in my opinion is arguably the finest chef in the North of England.

A special hello to Ellen de Jager, the Pastry Chef at The Devonshire Arms, and her Commis Chef Gemma. They did an amazing job helping me with my mini puddings!

All in all it was a great day and well done to Tom and the team at The Devonshire Arms. Rebecca Hill, Marketing Manager, did a fantastic job of organising and overseeing the day.

Steph x

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Dear Wild Cooks,

It is not often that you are asked to cook a lunch in such a beautiful setting, surrounded by amazing produce and for such a worthy supplier. So when Ampleforth asked if I would be interested, I agreed straight away! 

It was amazing to see the Ampleforth orchards laden down with so much fruit. The stores of apples are distributed all over Yorkshire and most importantly to Father Rainer’s cider and brandy making cellars. Let me tell you, the new Amber Liqueur is fantastic! 

The day started nice and early with a torch lit foraging session in the grounds at Rudding Park. Thankfully, however, I knew where to forage for my starter ingredients! It was then a case of hot footing it back to the Clocktower kitchens to make my nominated courses, the forager bread, the starter and the cheese course.

When I arrived at Ampleforth, Darren from the White Swan at Pickering had just arrived and Andrew Pern from The Star arrived soon after. They were both there to prepare the lunch for many foodies in the area and journalists from further a field such as London.

The banter in the kitchen was great and the cooking standards were very high. Many thanks to Carol for the constant topping up of the tea pot! Great to work with you.

Steph x

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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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Cider MakingWhen Peter asked “would you like to come and join our family cider making day?” I was very excited.  So I pulled on the Wild Cook wellies and headed off to Markington to pick a few apples. 

find out more

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