Henley hits a high!

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As the UK’s only black-tie festival, Henley Festival, between 10th and 14th July is glamour personified, offering Michelin-starred food, award winning comedians, critically acclaimed artists and the biggest names in popular, world, jazz and classical music.

Many festival goers arrive by boat, and the green lawns of the festival are transformed into a Great Gatsby vision, as black tie clad revellers spill across the festival site, champagne in hand, while fireworks explode overhead.

Established 37 years ago as a classical music charity event, Henley Festival continues to be run on a not for profit basis supporting charitable projects at both a national and local level. This year grants from the festival will go to two charities. Dedicated to supporting young people with depression, and encouraging discussions around mental health, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust was set up in memory of a young man who took his own life whilst suffering from depression. The Teenage Wilderness Trust supports students who find it difficult to engage with mainstream education by offering reengagement courses using bush craft, wilderness learning techniques and practical life skills to encourage students to get back into learning.

Pop icon and mega star Boy George will open the festival on Wednesday 10th July night. Universally recognised as one of the music scenes most iconic artists Boy George was recently presented with the Ivor Novello lifetime achievement award.The new-wave legend will bring his extravagant showmanship to Henley to kick start UK’s most dazzling festival weekend of the year.

On the Thursday night, multi-platinum selling artist Jessie J will return for the first concert of a three-year retrospective bringing back some of Henley Festival’s most popular artists. On Friday night, the festival audience are in for a treat as Brit Award and Ivor Novello-winning songwriting sensation Tom Odell takes to the floating stage.  In a Henley Festival first, Friday night’s performance by Tom Odell will be followed by a DJ set on the floating stage by the legendary Jo Whiley! Bringing you all the best tracks from the greatest decade for music, think Blur vs Oasis, Fatboy Slim, Primal Scream, The Verve, The Chemical Brothers, Faithless, The Prodigy and a whole lot more.

If you love Mamma Mia! Saturday night is for you, as Henley Festival welcomes the internationally acclaimed BJÖRN AGAIN show. Designed as a rocked-up light-hearted satirical ABBA spoof, the show rapidly achieved world-wide Cult status and acknowledged for singlehandedly initiating the ABBA revival which brought about ABBA Gold, Muriel’s Wedding and Mamma Mia! Hailed as “the closest thing you can get to seeing ABBA” by Benny Anderson himself, this brilliant band will bring the party and leave you with very sore feet! Henley Festival is delighted to announce that Classic FM’s popular film music programme Saturday Night at the Movies will be brought to life with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra directed by Pete Harrison, with guest soloists Johanna Röhrig (violin), Oliver Poole (piano) presented by popular Classic FM presenter Aled Jones. This special showcase will be filled with popular classical music used in iconic films from the past 50 years together with some of the greatest Oscar-winning original soundtracks.

The 2019 comedy line-up is set to be bigger and better than ever, with the likes of Ed Byrne, Andy Hamilton, Julian Clary and Murray Lachlan-Young among the biggest names of the 20 comedians performing at this year’s Festival. The comedy line up will also include a very special performance by the Richard Herring who will be recording the show for his podcast with Barry Cryer. One of Britain’s favourite comedians Julian Clary will also be bringing his jaw-achingly funny show to Henley. Brit pop era gem, stand up performer and poet Murray Lachlan-Young will present his latest stand up brilliance at Henley. After performing with the likes of Dita vo Teese and The Pretenders, Lachlan-Young’s set is not to be missed. In addition, up and coming comics including Vikki Stone, Kai Samra, Steve Bugeja and Luke Kempner will also be keeping audiences entertained.

Henley Festival’s very own Jazz Club in the stunning Spiegel Tent offers dining and live jazz music before and after the main headline act. Hailed as one of UK’s supreme boogie piano players after working with heavy weights such as The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry, The Ben Waters Quartet will open Henley’s Jazz Club on Wednesday night with his delicious melting pot of musical influences. On Thursday night, The Dime Notes will bring their blues-drenched 1920s style New Orleans Jazz to Henley.

And there are loads more highlights including world and folk music in the Bedouin tent, Afrosamba are a Brazilian band covering styles such as Afro Brazilian Jazz, Samba and Bossa Nova.

Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett MBE will return to Henley Festival 2019 to run Europe’s biggest field restaurant, creating a bespoke menu exclusively for Henley, at the Riverside Restaurant. Angela Hartnett’s astonishingly creative, flawlessly executed dishes focus on purity of flavour and reverence for ingredients. A festival for food lovers, Henley caters for all tastes offering a huge number of restaurants and pop ups from street food to fine dining. Restaurant’s popping up at the festival will include Garden Bistro by Jimmy Garcia, Game Keeper, Halloumi Guys, BBQ Club and Snob Lobster, Hotel Chocolat, Jessecco Prosecco, Tonbo Japanese Kitchen and many more.

Artist duo Mike Blow and Alison Ballard will bring their unique British Arts Council backed audio visual installation Colony to the festival. Consisting of seven large spherical, sonic sculptures, the installation allow the audience to experience the physicality of sound through listening, touching, and hugging. Sculpture artists Brendon Hesmondhalgh and Laura Jane Wylder will also provide major works that will be placed around the festival site in addition to a plethora of galleries taking part in this year’s festival.

Henley Festival’s very own Jazz Club in the stunning Spiegel Tent offers dining and live jazz music before and after the main headline act. Hailed as one of UK’s supreme boogie piano players after working with heavy weights such as The Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry, The Ben Waters Quartet will open Henley’s Jazz Club on Wednesday night with his delicious melting pot of musical influences. On Thursday night, The Dime Notes will bring their blues-drenched 1920s style New Orleans Jazz to Henley.

And there are loads more highlights including world and folk music in the Bedouin tent, Afrosamba are a Brazilian band covering styles such as Afro Brazilian Jazz, Samba and Bossa Nova.

Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett MBE will return to Henley Festival 2019 to run Europe’s biggest field restaurant, creating a bespoke menu exclusively for Henley, at the Riverside Restaurant. Angela Hartnett’s astonishingly creative, flawlessly executed dishes focus on purity of flavour and reverence for ingredients. A festival for food lovers, Henley caters for all tastes offering a huge number of restaurants and pop ups from street food to fine dining. Restaurant’s popping up at the festival will include Garden Bistro by Jimmy Garcia, Game Keeper, Halloumi Guys, BBQ Club and Snob Lobster, Hotel Chocolat, Jessecco Prosecco, Tonbo Japanese Kitchen and many more.

Artist duo Mike Blow and Alison Ballard will bring their unique British Arts Council backed audio visual installation Colony to the festival. Consisting of seven large spherical, sonic sculptures, the installation allow the audience to experience the physicality of sound through listening, touching, and hugging. Sculpture artists Brendon Hesmondhalgh and Laura Jane Wylder will also provide major works that will be placed around the festival site in addition to a plethora of galleries taking part in this year’s festival.

And while the festival is an adult only event, Sunday daytime sees the festival turned into a huge playground for families and kids of all ages, with activities and entertainers, who captivate and enchant. 2019’s Family Sunday offers balloon making, glitter tattoos, music lessons, comedy for kids, toddler disco, choir performances. Comedian Murray Lachlan-Young will also be bringing his special performance of Modern Cautionary Tales for Children to Henley and Turn Around Theatre will be presenting the tale of The Thief, Fox and The Phoenix at the festival.

Pancake Day!

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Follow our easy recipe and then make any day Pancake Day.

EASY PANCAKES

Makes 12-14 pancakes

Ingredients

• 2 large eggs
• 100g plain flour
• 300ml milk
• 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying

Method:

Add the flour, eggs, milk, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug.

Whisk to a smooth batter. Set the mix aside for 30 mins if you have time, or just start cooking.

Set a medium frying pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe it with oiled kitchen paper. Once the pan’s hot, cook your pancake for 1 minute on each side until golden.

Keep the pancakes warm in the oven on a low heat while you carry on cooking the full batch.

Serve classic with lemon and sugar, or get creative with any toppings you fancy.

Tag us in your impressive pancake posts!

Life of pie: March recipes

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Homity pie

Popular in the 1970s and ’80s, homity pies were often seen as somewhat worthy – leathery, unappetising with a smug crust. But we thought this pie deserved a second look. This recipe is the grandson of those early pies and – we bashfully believe – a great improvement. We’ve cut down on the potatoes to make it less heavy and added some broccoli and other root veg – although you can vary these as you like. Celeriac and swede would also work well. A great veggie dish that can be enjoyed by all.

(Prep: 10mins – Cooking: 20 mins – Serves: 4-6)

Ingredients:

• 400g waxy potatoes, diced
• 300g carrots, diced
• 150g turnips, diced
• 200g small broccoli florets
• 15g butter
• Two onions, thickly sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 175g Cheddar cheese, grated
• 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
• 50ml milk or water
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard
• 200ml double cream
• Sea salt
Pastry:
• 125g plain flour
• 125g wholemeal flour
• 150g cold butter, diced
• 1 egg, beaten

Method:

Put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt in a food processor and pulse until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and just enough cold water to bind. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film, and chill in the fridge. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add potatoes, carrots and turnips and bring back to the boil. Cook for four minutes, then add the broccoli. Cook until the vegetables are just done but still with a little bite – about another two minutes. Drain and leave to cool. While the veg is cooking, melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft and lightly coloured. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes. Remove pan from the heat and set aside. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Put the cooled veg into a large bowl, add 100g of the cheese and the parsley, mix and set aside. Roll out the pastry and line a 20cm cake tin or a deep pie dish. Spoon the filling over. Whisk the milk and mustard to make a thin paste, then stir this into the cream. Season with a little salt. Pour this mix in a slow and steady stream over the filling so it soaks through the layers of vegetables. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the pastry is crisp and cheese has melted and started to brown. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Salmon pie with spinach

 

Not many people know this about us but we are both keen fishermen. One time when we’d caught loads of trout in a river in Scotland we made this pie and it was so good that we wanted you to have some too. We found it tastes even better with salmon which is harder to catch but easy to find in the supermarket!

(Prep: 10 mins, Cooking: 20 mins, Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

• 4–5 tbsp hollandaise sauce
• 500g salmon fillet
• 450–500g baby leaf spinach
• 375–500g pre-rolled
puff pastry
• Grated zest of one lemon
• 1 tbsp finely chopped tarragon (optional)
• One egg, lightly beaten
• Sea salt and black pepper

Method:

Make hollandaise (recipe in our book!) and leave to cool by putting the bowl of sauce into a larger bowl of iced water. Put the salmon in a large pan and add cold water just to cover. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave for a further five minutes. Strain off the liquid and leave the salmon to cool then flake the flesh, keeping the pieces as large as possible. Wash the spinach, then without draining it too thoroughly, put it in a pan. Place the pan over a medium heat and push the spinach down with a wooden spoon. When it has completely collapsed leave to cool, then squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Unroll the puff pastry. Arrange half of the salmon over the bottom half of it, leaving a 2cm border along the bottom. Season with salt and pepper, and top with half the spinach. Stir the lemon zest and tarragon (if using), into the hollandaise, then spread half of the sauce over the spinach. Repeat these layers with the remaining salmon, spinach and hollandaise. Brush the border and exposed pastry with beaten egg. Fold the pastry over and roll the edges to seal. Brush the pie with egg and cut a few slits along the top. Bake for 35–45 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed up and is a rich golden-brown and the filling is piping hot.

Tickets now on sale for An Evening with The Hairy Bikers – www.gigsandtours.com
The Hairy Bikers British Classics is published by Seven Dials

Dog & Duck: twist on tradition

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Eager to have someone else do the cooking, Karen Neville headed off for a cosy pub meal.

The Dog & Duck in Emmbrook describes itself as stylish and welcoming and after an enjoyable meal there I’d agree and add good food and friendly service to the accolades too.

Having undergone a major refurb just over a year ago, it has been transformed into its current guise but retains much of its heritage, dating back to the 1850s. Traditional features of oak beams, sash windows and antique prints combine with modern elements of light wells and bi-fold doors leading out to the garden.

When we visited it was definitely not weather for sitting outside but it was weather for enjoying a warming lunch. Topping up on festive excess we chose the whisky and chicken liver pate with brioche and brandy cherries and the potted smoked salmon and soda bread for starters. Both were delightfully rich and full of the flavours of the season.

Comfort food beckoned next with chicken, ham and leek pie – deliciously crisp shortcrust pastry, none of the puff that’s all too common in pubs – with creamed mash and broccoli and slow braised “falling apart” ox cheek with beef dripping mash, both mains were like having a hug on a plate as we looked out on the cold sunny day.
As we finished off our New Zealand Featherdrop Sauvignon Blanc which was crisp, fresh and full of zesty flavours, I tucked into the passion fruit posset with pumpkin seeds and shortbread. The light and zingy taste was the perfect ending.

It proved to be a great example of traditional and modern fare matching the look and feel of the pub.

The Dog & Duck, Matthewsgreen Road, Emmbrook, RG41 1JT.

Call 0118 978 0544 or visit www.dogandduckemmbrook.co.uk

Chinese Whispers: February recipes

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Ahead of Chinese New Year on Tuesday, 5th February (the Year of the Pig), local star Ching He Huang shares her wisdom…

Cheat Char Siu Pork with Pak Choy

(Prep: 10mins – Cooking: 20 mins – Serves: 4-5)

I love the flavour of char siu pork but it takes some time to roast and if you want dinner in minutes then this is my cheat char siu pork
stir-fry. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil, 2 garlic cloves – crushed and finely chopped, Knob of fresh root ginger – peeled and grated, 1 tablespoon Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry, 200g pak choy leaves – sliced in half on the diagonal

For the pork
250g pork fillet – cut into 5mm slices, 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1 teaspoon hoisin, 1 teaspoon runny honey, Pinch of sea salt flakes, Pinch of ground white pepper, 1 tablespoon cornflour

For the sauce
50ml cold water, 1 tablespoon low-sodium light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce, 1/2 teaspoon yellow bean paste or miso paste

Method:

1. Place all the ingredients for the pork, except the cornflour, in a bowl and turn to coat the meat evenly. Dust with the cornflour and set aside.

2. Whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce in a jug, then set aside.

3. Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking and add the rapeseed oil. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for a few seconds to release their flavours.

4. Add the pork fillet and let it settle for 10 seconds to sear and brown, then flip it over. Add the Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry and toss for another 5 seconds.

5. Add the pak choy leaves, then drizzle in 1 tablespoon cold water around the edge of the wok to create some steam to help it cook. Toss for 30 seconds to wilt the leaves, then pour in the sauce and toss again.

6. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.

Shiitake, Kimchi and Pineapple Fried Rice

(Prep: 10 mins, Cooking: 20 mins, Serves: 6-8)

A delicious sweet, umami-flavoured fried rice. Perfect for supper, any night of the week.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil, Knob of fresh root ginger – peeled and grated, 5 large fresh shiitake mushrooms – rinsed, patted dry and cut into thin slices (stalks optional), 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon fermented cucumber kimchi – finely sliced, 300g cooked brown rice (150g uncooked), 2 tablespoons low-sodium light soy sauce, 100g fresh pineapple – finely diced into cubes, 5g spring onion to garnish – sliced on a deep diagonal

Method:

1. Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking and add the rapeseed oil.

2. Add the grated ginger and stir-fry for five seconds, then add the shiitake mushrooms and stir-fry for 30 seconds.

3. Season with the dark soy sauce, then add the sliced cucumber kimchi followed by the cooked rice and toss together for one minute.

4. Season with the light soy sauce, then add the fresh pineapple cubes and toss gently into the rice.

5. Garnish with the spring onions and serve immediately.

Zhajiang Smokey Bacon Noodles

(Prep: 10mins – Cooking: 20 mins – Serves: 2)

Zhajiang mein means mixed sauce noodles. This classic Beijing dish is made with fresh hand-pulled noodles. There are many varieties and some are saucier than others, the traditional Zhajaing noodle is slightly drier – my personal preference.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp rapeseed oil,  tbsp finely chopped garlic, tbsp finely chopped root ginger, 2 tbsp diced baby leeks, teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, 200g smoked lardons, finely diced, tbsp Shaohsing rice wine or dry sherry, tbsp fragrant oil (see tip), tsp dark soy sauce, 150ml hot chicken or pork stock, tbsp tian mian jiang or hoisin sauce, tbsp yellow bean paste or miso paste

For the noodles:
tbsp sesame oil, tsp dried chilli sauce laced with chilli oil, 200g plain wheat flour or egg noodles, cooked, drained and tossed with 1 tsp toasted sesame oil

For the garnish:
2 small red radishes, sliced into matchsticks, 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and sliced into matchsticks, 1 spring onion, finely chopped

Method:

1. Divide sesame oil and chilli sauce between two serving bowls. Place cooked noodles in the bowl, toss in oil and sauce and set aside.

2. Heat wok over high heat until smoking, add rapeseed oil.

3. Add garlic, leeks and peppercorns and toss , add lardons and stir-fry for a minute.

4. Add rice wine or dry sherry, fragrant oil and dark soy sauce, stir fry for a minute.

5. Add stock, tian mian jiang or hoisin sauce and yellow bean paste or miso and toss well.

6. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring until pork is cooked.

7. Divide the pork mixture between the two bowls of noodles and garnish as above. Sprinkle spring onion and serve.

CHING’S TIP
Heat 5 tablespoons of groundnut oil. Add a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon grated ginger and 1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion, cook for 1 minute then strain the oil into a glass jar. Keep for 5 days in a cool place.

• Recipes from Stir Crazy, published by Kyle Books, photography by Tamin Jones. Visit www.chinghehuang.com

Vegan virtues: January recipes

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Star chef Dipna Anand shares some Punjabi-inspired vegan recipes to warm the cockles as we enter a new year.

alu gobi

(Prep: 10mins – Cooking: 20 mins – Serves: 4-5)

Not only extremely popular across India, alu gobi has also made its mark in Britain. It’s a customer favourite, enjoyed with a naan or a chapatti as a main meal or even a side dish. If you are looking for the perfect Punjabi vegetable dish which is quick and easy to prepare then look no further; it’s what I call simple food – hearty and tasty at the same time.

Ingredients:

6 tbsp vegetable oil, two finger green chillies, finely chopped, one medium onion, finely chopped, 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste, 2 tomatoes, finely diced, 1 ½ tsp salt, 2 medium potatoes, peeled, diced into ½ inch cubes, 300ml water, 500g cauliflower florets, 2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp turmeric, ¾ tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan for one minute.

2. Add the cumin seeds to the oil together with the green chilli and when the seeds begin to sizzle, add the chopped onions to the pan and cook for three or four minutes until the onions begin to colour.

3. Add ginger and garlic paste and cook for one minute before adding the turmeric, red chilli powder, diced tomato and salt and cook for one further minute.

4. Add the diced potatoes to the sauté pan with 150ml water, cover the pan and simmer on a low-medium heat for about eight to 10 minutes (mix occasionally).

5. Add the cauliflower florets to the sauté pan with the remaining 150ml of water, cover the pan and cook for nine or 10 minutes (mix occasionally, if more water is required in between and the alu gobi is drying out, add as needed).

6. When the cauliflower and potato are cooked, add the garam masala, dried fenugreek leaves and fresh coriander to the pan and cook for a final one or two minutes.

7. Garnish with finely chopped ginger juliennes and chopped coriander stalks.

BEGAN BHARTHA

(Prep: 10 mins, Cooking: 20 mins, Serves: 6-8)

This is my mum’s version of the dish and it’s packed full of flavour yet does not use that many spices. Some recipes use a lot more ingredients and spices and complicate the method, yet Mum’s way is simple and straightforward and the result is hearty and flavoursome!

Ingredients:

Two large aubergines (800g), 4 tbsp olive oil, two finger green chillies, finely chopped, one medium onion (finely sliced), 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste, 3½ tomatoes, blanched, skinned and chopped 1 ½ tsp salt, 160g peas, frozen or tinned, 5 tbsp water, 2 tbsp fresh coriander (finely chopped) . Tadka (finishing touch!): ½ tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp coarse black pepper, 1 tsp turmeric powder, ¼ tsp white pepper powder ¾ tsp garam masala. Garnish suggestion: aubergine skin, rolled into tubes and roasted in the oven for 10 minutes

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4.

2. Cut the aubergines in half, length-ways, lay them flesh-side up and roast on an oven tray for 45 minutes. Once cooked, let them cool.

3. Using a spoon scrape out the inside pulp of the aubergine avoiding scooping out any of the skin and put the pulp into a bowl.

4. Cut the stem from the skin and mix with the pulp, leave the aubergine pulp to one side and discard the aubergine skin or save for garnish.

5. In a sauté pan, heat the oil, add the green chilli, cumin and coarse black pepper and onions. Fry the onions until golden brown and almost caramelised, this should take about seven or eight minutes on a medium heat.

6. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook for two minutes.

7. Add half the chopped tomatoes and cook for four or five minutes.

8. Add the salt, turmeric and white pepper powder and cook for a further three or four minutes.

9. Add the peas to the masala and cook for 4-5 minutes.

10. Add the aubergine pulp and stems to the masala sauce together with the remaining tomatoes and water and cook for eight to ten minutes.

11. Add the final touches of garam masala and fresh coriander and cook for a further two or three minutes.

12. Serve with a fluffy buttered chapatti, spread like pâté.

• Dipna Anand is the founder of London restaurant Dip in Brilliant – visit www.dipinbrilliant.com

Peace offerings: Christmas recipes

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Here are some indulgent yet wholesome and uncomplicated recipe ideas to help keep us grounded throughout this mad month.

Almond biscotti

(makes 24)

These are great to make ahead and present in a glass jar or tin when you are serving coffee or after-dinner liqueurs. Dip these in Vin Santo to transport yourself to heaven. Give me these over mince pies any day!

Preheat your oven to 170°C. Add 220g of plain flour, 1½ tsp of baking powder, generous pinch of salt, 60g of ground almonds, 120g of whole almonds and 150g of golden caster sugar to a large bowl and mix together. Lightly beat two eggs and add to the mixture with 1tsp of almond extract and bring together with a wooden spoon. Use your hand to bring the dough together into a ball (it may be a little sticky) then lightly flour a work surface, divide the mixture into two and roll it into two long sausage shapes, about 20cm long each. Lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and slice into 1cm thick pieces using a serrated knife then lay flat back on to the baking sheet and cook in a cooler oven at 150°C for another 20-30 minutes or until crisp and golden.

Chuck steak con carne

(serves 6-8)

This is the kind of one-pot dinner that gives you a break after all the fiddly, feasting food. Really hearty and another crowd-pleaser. Serve with sour cream with a dusting of paprika, grated cheese, nachos and rice or winter slaw.

Heat your oven to 170°C. Chop 1kg of beef brisket into 2.5cm chunks then brown in a hot pan with 2tbsp of vegetable oil in batches. Transfer the beef to a casserole pan then finely chop two red onions and sauté until softened and starting to turn golden. Add five minced garlic cloves, cooking for a few minutes then add 2tsp each of ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried oregano and ½tsp of ground cloves. Add more oil if you need and cook out the spices then add 2-3tbsp of chilli paste (chipotle or ancho work well) and transfer everything to the casserole with the beef. Add two tins of plum tomatoes and 500ml beef stock and bring to a boil then put the lid on and transfer to the oven for two hours. Drain and rinse two tins of kidney beans and add to your casserole, cooking for a further hour without the lid until the beef is tender. Check seasoning and serve.

Winter slaw

(serves 6-8)

Something fresh and tasty to go with leftover turkey or ham. This makes a large bowl and looks great piled high in the centre of the table for people to help themselves. Add some pomegranate seeds for a little sparkle.

In a large bowl mix together 4tbsp of buttermilk, 1tbsp of Dijon mustard, 1tsp of celery salt and the juice and rind of one lemon. Add in two grated carrots, ¼ red and ¼ white cabbage, finely shredded, five finely sliced radishes, five sliced spring onions and a large handful of roughly chopped parsley. Mix together, adjust seasoning to taste and pile high into a serving bowl.

 

Chive blini with salmon, caviar and crème fraiche

 

This is always a great crowd-pleaser. I like to serve these on Christmas morning between breakfast and lunch, as we are all opening presents with some bubbles. It is really worth making these yourself as they are far more tasty than shop-bought, just warm in the oven before serving.

In a large bowl weigh out 100g of plain flour and add a generous pinch of salt. Separate an egg, adding the white to a clean mixing bowl and the yolk to the flour. Measure out 150ml whole milk and add half to the flour. Use an electric whisk to whisk the egg white until it begins to stiffen and leave to one side whilst you then whisk the flour mix until smooth. Gradually add the rest of the milk while continually whisking then 25g of melted butter and a handful of chopped chives. Fold through the egg white. Warm a pan and brush with a little butter until it begins to foam then add small spoonfuls of your batter. Cook on a low heat until the bottoms begin to brown then flip and repeat. Serve warm with a dollop of crème fraiche, smoked salmon, caviar and dill.

 

 

Squirrel Sisters: nutty and nice

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We talk to Fulhamites Gracie and Sophie – aka Squirrel Sisters – about their mission to bring their vegan snack bar start-up to the masses.

Q. You’ve both lived in Fulham all your lives – why do you love it here?
“We were born in Richmond but we moved to south-west London after university. Fulham is amazing because it’s so central and well connected with that buzzy London attitude at the same time as having a lovely village feel to it. You get the best of both worlds in Fulham.”

Q. Tell us a bit more about how you went about starting the business…
“Health, wellness, food and how it makes us feel has always been a passion of ours so we started Squirrel Sisters as a blog in 2014. Our blog gained a large following quickly; people connected with our mission and the fact we are two normal girls with a busy lifestyle who want to enjoy life while feeling great.

“With a growing following on our blog we saw an opportunity to turn our blog into a business so after much planning and preparation we launched our snack bars in November 2015, which we already had the recipes for [Gracie used to make them for Sophie due to her gluten intolerance.]

“We wanted to prove that healthy could be delicious and exciting so set off on a mission to help people make better and healthier choices more often. We wanted to help others believe that in treating yourself you can treat your health.”

Q. You’re stocked in an impressive range of places! Have you found it hard to break into the supermarket giants?
“We are extremely proud of our distribution – after two and a half years you can now find our products in more than 1,000 stores across the UK including Waitrose (you can find our cacao brownie and cacao orange flavours stocked in the Waitrose by Parsons Green), Morrisons, Boots, Whole Foods (all our flavours are stocked in the Fulham Whole Foods), Planet Organic, Selfridges, Ocado, Amazon and hundreds of independent delis, cafes and supermarkets.

“Launching into supermarkets is a challenge for a small company, especially if you haven’t had investment. We have won several awards for our bars (including three Great Taste awards) and we have great branding so this really helped with breaking into the bigger supermarkets.”

Q. There are lots of small, independent shops and supermarkets around Fulham. Do you think these are important as well?
“So important! In our first year we focused on all the independents and created good sales case studies that we could show the big supermarkets to prove how popular our bars were. We always make a conscious effort to support the smaller independent stores.”

Q. Which healthy cafes or restaurants do you like to visit in Fulham?
“We love Little H (especially because they stock our bars) on New Kings Road [www.littlehlondon.com], Esquires Coffee (they do the best avocado on toast) just across the bridge in Putney, Megan’s by the Green on Parsons Green Lane and Boy’s N Berry on Fulham Road.”

Q. And what are your plans for the future?
“We have big plans for Squirrel Sisters – we are currently in the process of securing investment, which will really take us to the next level. We want Squirrel Sisters to be accessible to everyone. We want to be a global brand that is known for its real, honest and exciting approach to health.”

Q. Anything else to share with our readers?
“We recently published our first cookbook, Naturally Delicious Snacks & Treats, which is available in all good bookshops and online retailers including Waterstones and Amazon.”

Squirrel Sisters maple bacon popcorn

Recipe: bacon maple syrup

The ultimate sweet and savoury popcorn combo – you’ll make this again and again!

• 2 slices dry-cure smoked streaky (fatty) bacon
• A splash of olive oil
• 50g / 1 3⁄4 oz / 1⁄4 cup popcorn kernels
• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1⁄2 tsp sea salt flakes

Put the bacon in a non-stick frying pan (skillet) with a small splash of olive oil. Fry over high heat until crispy and golden all over, turning when needed so that it all browns evenly. Remove the bacon from the pan with tongs and leave to one side to cool.

Tip any fat left from the bacon into a large saucepan with a lid. Add the popcorn kernels and pop the lid on. Heat over high heat until you begin to hear pops. Keep cooking, shaking the pan frequently so that none stick and burn, until the popping subsides. Turn the heat off and leave it for another 30 seconds or so before removing the lid to make sure any late-popping kernels don’t fly out at you. Tip the popcorn into a bowl, discarding any un-popped kernels.

Once the bacon has cooled and hardened a little, put it into a food processor and blitz to a coarse powder.

Drizzle the maple syrup over the popcorn, stirring gently all the time so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle in the bacon powder and sea salt flakes, mix well and serve.

We have teamed up with Squirrel Sisters to offer a mixed box of bars and a cookbook to one lucky reader. Click here to enter

Bear Necessities

Round & About

food

Ella Reeves enjoys a summer highlight at the newly renovated historic gastropub The Bear & Ragged Staff in Appleton Road, Cumnor.

Head Chef of the restaurant at The Bear & Ragged Staff
The specials in restaurant of The Bear & Ragged Staff

The Bear and Ragged Staff is a charming gastropub in the village of Cumnor, retaining many of its original Tudor features. I knew we were in for a treat, as my Great Uncle Tom, who lives in the area and has excellent taste, goes there a couple of times a week.

It was the ideal location for a clement summer evening, with a well-kept display of flowers welcoming visitors on arrival. And boy, did we need welcoming. In retrospect, it would have been lovely to have taken a cycle ride to the Bear and Ragged Staff. Or, you could stay in one of the nine lovely rooms on the premises. My clumsy mistake meant we got on the wrong bus, which led to a traumatic journey, but we were put at ease when we were met by the lovely and professional staff.

We started with a drink on the south-facing terrace before dinner. I was keen to try the cocktail menu, and chose a cosmopolitan, which was perfectly balanced on sweetness and sharpness from the lime. My partner, partial to a good rosé, ordered a pinot blush, which went down a treat. Sometimes, it’s the little details that count: lavender and rosemary in little plant pots on the tables. I also noted the biodegradable straws, a good sign of a forward-thinking, sustainable establishment.

The restaurant was managed like a well-oiled machine. The staff were knowledgeable about the menu, answering each question and attending to each request with discreet elegance.

I love a good eatery with a menu dilemma… The kind of place where everything sounds so delicious that you just cannot choose and have to “panic order”. We were not rushed by the ever-patient and charming staff, but our hungry tums and salivating mouths necessitated twe order without delay.

I always wonder if it is fair to review the specials, but I have it on good knowledge that the selection is on par each evening. I was torn between the special starter of blue cheese croquettes with pickled shallots and toasted pine nut salad, and buffalo mozzarella, heritage tomato and basil salad. My decision was made when my partner agreed to let me sample his croquettes.

Digging into the crispy exterior, the blue cheese oozed onto the tangy salad leaves, set off by the gentle crunch of the pine nuts. It was described by my partner as the “best starter ever” and I knew he was genuine as it is rare he would eat his greens with such enthusiasm. I had to agree when I was allowed to sample – just a bit though, that’s shallot!

I dug into my starter and was transported back to my recent visit to Venice, where the caprese salad became my favourite dish to order at any restaurant.  The Laverstoke mozzarella – sourced from the first farm to produce authentic mozzarella in the UK – was every bit as creamy as it should be, complimented by the basil-infused dressing and stylishly multi coloured tomatoes, sweet and plump enough to rival their Italian counterparts.

It was beautifully paired with a sauvignon blanc that was every bit as crisp, fresh and lemony as it should be – just the way I like it.

Then, the mains. Oh, the mains! We both opted for duck, and were impressed by the creative talent of the chef to create two very different dishes.

My choice was the special, a roasted duck breast, served beautifully tender and pink, with crunchy pancetta, hispi cabbage, and a perfectly seasoned ‘jus’. I come from the sort of family where you would set your relatives in a state of panic by setting out a full roast and not bringing the gravy until last, so it took a great deal of self-control to resist licking my plate clean. My partner’s duck Bolognese was a welcome twist on a classic, with crispy duck crumb adding depth through the texture contrast.

Feeling that we were reaching capacity, we opted for a light finish of a trio of Jude’s free-range ice creams (him), and an espresso martini (me). I am known for being fussy about all my drinks (to say the least) and the espresso martini is no exception: it must have the perfect balance of sweetness. They nailed it.

Call The Bear & Ragged Staff on 01865 862329 or visit www.bearandraggedstaff.com

Christine Wallace: in the mix!

Round & About

food

Hello everyone! Is it just me or is there a feelgood factor in the air recently?

In general people seem to be quite happy and smiley. Just passing someone in the street or at the shops seems to generate a “hello” and my goodness, doesn’t it make you feel good!? I put it down to summer, the weather isn’t bad and holidays are on everyone’s mind so lots to be happy about. There also might be a measure of trying to forget that we live in quite a troubled world and the news can be depressing so let’s just live for the day! Whatever it is, I hope it lasts!

July brings hedgerows heavy with berries, fennel to liven up salads and lots more including aubergines and courgettes. Cherries and peaches are at their best and the glorious gooseberry is here. The poor gooseberry doesn’t get a good press and it’s hard to find them, even in farm shops. But there are wonderful recipes using this vitamin C-rich fruit; poached gooseberries with a creamy vanilla custard, gooseberry compote which is super used in cakes or to top a cheesecake, gooseberry jam or the very delicious gooseberry fool. Take 400g gooseberries and cook with 50g sugar over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat, crush and cool. Pour two tablespoons of elderflower cordial and 1tbsp lemon juice into 400ml double cream and whisk to medium peaks. Add 4 tablespoons of ready-made custard. Fold half the gooseberries into the mixture. Spoon half into four glasses. Layer the rest of the gooseberries, then top with the rest of the cream mix. Chill until ready to serve. You’ll love it!

Also in shops is new-season lamb (the best is from Kent). Lamb breast is a great make-ahead meal – slow cooking turns a cheap cut into a luxury. Tom Kerridge’s breast of lamb with broccoli, anchovy and caper dressing is lovely!

The Greeks and Romans are returning! Stretch Didcot’s Roman Festival at the Didcot Girls School on Saturday, 7th July (10.30am-5pm) will have more than 20 different experts and events, including me! Tickets are a fantastic £4.

Visit www.christinebakes.co.uk and please get in touch!