• Looking forward to next year already

    I had absolutely no idea what to expect at the Wiltshire County Show, hosted by Barbury International Horse Trials this weekend. The date has been in my diary for quite a while as I was invited much earlier this year to demonstrate at the CGA Festival of Food which was, for the first time, a central part of the county show but having had a spectacularly busy few months I hadn’t given very much thought to what the event was going to be like.

    Now, at the end of the weekend, I can’t wait for the 2013 dates to be announced so that I can put them firmly in my diary, whether or not I am going to have any involvement. For me, the combination of food and horses with a plentiful supply of top notch shopping thrown in made for a weekend of pure heaven.

    Barbury Castle provides an absolutely perfect setting for this event. Quite often if you are keen to see a variety of cross country fences you have to don your wellies and prepare to tramp across miles of countryside to view one jump at a time. At Barbury the course criss crosses the land on the other side of the valley and from the trade stands you can see practically all of the fences at once.

    This would have been a treat for me at any level of event but Barbury just happened this year to provide the final run for the British Olympic eventing team before their quest for medals later this month so, quite unexpectedly, I found myself with my children this afternoon watching the best riders in the country flying round the beautifully built course in fine and definitely medal-winning fashion.

    On top of all that there were the many and varied attraction of the Wiltshire County Show; quite literally something for everyone. My children spent a blissful day enjoying the climbing wall, the army obstacle course, the water spheres, the paint balling and many other attractions. I, of course, was constantly drawn back to the Festival of Food marquee where there were some excellent food stalls showcasing the increasing variety of wonderful local artisan food; cheeses, chutneys, oils, and sausages as well as thermal cookers and other remarkable gadgets.

    On both mornings of the weekend though, I had to tear myself away from the rest of the action and give my demonstration on the Aga Rangemaster stage compered by the incomparable James McIntosh. I felt very honoured to be part of an illustrious list of chefs including Brian Turner, Hywel Jones and Andrew Kojima and found if fascinating, having given so many demonstration recently myself, to sit and watch the others at work; I definitely picked up a few hints and tips!

    This time I demonstrated my crab salad starter and a simply cooked fillet of sea bream with crushed new potatoes and, one of my all time favourites, salsa verde. It is such a fantastic sauce to have in your repertoire and can be adapted to accompany practically any meat or fish you can think of. My version uses lemon juice rather than vinegar as I think it works so well with the fish, and I left out garlic so it didn’t all get too overpowering for the delicate bream. The recipes for both dishes are below and I hope you have a chance to enjoy them this summer, whenever it decides to appear.

    Crab salad with mango salsa and passion fruit dressing

    300g White crab meat

    Coriander cress, if available, or some fresh coriander sprigs (to serve)

    For the brown crab mousse

    50g Brown crab meat

    75ml double cream

    1 dst sp. Mayonnaise

    Squeeze lemon juice

    For the mango salsa

    ½ large or 1 small mango, finely diced (about 125g)

    1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

    ½ lime, zest only

    Freshly chopped coriander

    For the passion fruit dressing

    2 passion fruit, juice and pips

    Caster sugar (equal weight to juice)

    ½ lime, juice only

    For the crab mousse, lightly whip the cream until it just thickens. Fold through the mayonnaise and crab meat then pass the mixture through a sieve. Stir through the lemon juice and check for seasoning. Make sure the mousse is thick enough to hold its shape and if necessary whisk it a little more. Transfer to a piping bag and leave in the fridge until you’re ready to plate up.

    For the salsa mix all the ingredients apart from the coriander together and leave in the fridge.

    For the dressing, put the passion fruit juice and caster sugar in a saucepan and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir through the lime juice then leave to cool before putting in the fridge until needed.

    Very nearly all of the preparation for this can be done in advance so there is virtually nothing to do at the last minute except plate up. Spoon the white crab meat in a line across the plate and top with some mango salsa into which you have stirred some freshly chopped choriander. Pipe the crab mousse in varying sized circles each side of the line of crab meat then add small spoons of passion fruit dressing prettily around the plate. Garnish with coriander cress if possible, or select some small sprigs of coriander herb.

    Fillet of Sea Bream with crushed new potatoes and salsa verde

    2 Sea bream fillets

    500g new potatoes

    Big bunch of basil, parsley and mint

    1 tbsp capers in salt, rinsed

    3 anchovy fillets

    1 tsp Dijon mustard

    Juice ½ lemon (or to taste)

    Rapeseed oil

    For the salsa verde, you could use a food processor or mini chopper but will get a better texture if you make it by hand. Finely chop the herbs first then keep chopping whilst you add the capers and anchovy to the mix, combining it all as you go. Move it all to a bowl and add the Dijon mustard and lemon juice, stirring well to mix it all together. Finally, stir in enough olive oil to loosen the mixture. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Keep in the fridge.

    Cut the new potatoes into evenly sized pieces and boil them until just tender. Mash them very roughly with the back of a fork. Take a tablespoon of the salsa verde and loosen it a little more with some olive oil then stir it through the potatoes so they’re all lightly coated. Leave to one side and when you’re ready to serve you can just warm them through on the hob, stirring now and then.

    To cook the fish, put your pan on a medium high heat (remember that fish is a delicate meat and doesn’t need searing over a ferocious heat like red meat) and when it has heated up add a tablespoon or so of rape seed oil (or light olive oil). Season the fish on both sides and lay the fillet in the pan, skin side down and, after holding it down for a second or two, just leave it alone! There should be a gentle sizzle when it touches the surface.

    Nearly all of the cooking, when pan frying a fillet, is done skin side down. You will be able to see the fish cooking from the bottom up and should wait until the cooked section is nearly at the top before turning it over for only a very short time to cook the top surface.

    For a really delicious finish, when you turn the fish over throw a knob of butter into the pan, followed by a squeeze of lemon juice (the latter both stops the butter from burning and adds flavour) and spoon this mix over the fish during its final minute in the pan.

    Just like with meat, it’s a good idea to allow the fish to rest off the heat for a couple of minutes before you plate it up

    This is delicious served with freshly dressed salad leaves, or perhaps some tender stem broccoli or asparagus when in season

    1 Comment

    • 1. Jul 2 2012 6:22PM by mrd-thethermalcook

      It was really nice to meet you at the show. Thank you so much for doing the interview....I am not sure though I still understand why people put themselves forward for MasterChef. I will be using the interview in my next thermal cooking podcast which will should be out a little later this month.


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I'll be blogging regularly to keep everyone up to date with how things are going with the cookery demos and including lots of tempting recipes. Let me know what you think!

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