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Chefs in action
Lotte Duncan, Thame Food Festival

Last year, I met the very cheery TV chef and food writer, Lotte Duncan, for the first time at IFE in London. At the time, Lotte was looking for stock for her new shop, "Lotte's Kitchen," so she enjoyed a thorough tasting of all our flavours on display. Sure enough, the first order came through shortly afterwards and now, Lotte wows her visitors with amazing dressings using our Cherry, Raspberry or Blackberry vinegars, in particular.

I was interested to see how Lotte uses our vinegars so was delighted when I spotted that she was doing an "Easy Summer Entertaining" cookery demonstration at Lotte's Kitchen. I immediately booked my place which was just as well, because it was sold out. Turning up on a balmy evening, the room was filled with 22 expectant women, all keen to learn a few Lotte tricks. Oh, and there were two other chaps there!
If you have never been to Lotte's Kitchen, let me tell you it is a veritable Pink Palace of Tasty treats. Talking to some of her regulars, I was delighted to hear tales of how much love and care goes into Lotte's dishes and how, for instance, salads are integral to her offerings rather than just a side issue.
On the evening, Lotte put everyone beautifully at ease with her entertaining and relaxed style as she constructed some fabulous recipes:
 

  • Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinegar (recipe below)
  • Leek and Cheese Soda Bread
  • Whole Salmon baked with Rosemary, Orange, Bay and Cloves
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes with Leeks and Cream (lots!)
  • Pink Meringues with Clotted Cream and Strawberries


It really was a fun evening as we were all looked after so well, everyone got a plate of each of the dishes and some even had a go at piping those pink meringues onto the tray...
In fact, the evening was such a success that Lotte has already decided to plan another one on July 3rd. I can strongly recommend it, but book NOW!

 

  Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinegar
by Lotte Duncan
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
8 rashers free-range dry cured, unsmoked streaky bacon
3 tbsp Rapeseed Oil
4 tbsp Raspberry Vinegar (or Cherry/Blackberry/Strawberry & Mint)
1 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
8 Medium, cooked baby beetroot (not in vinegar)
2 tbsp Chopped, fresh Mint leaves 
1 Cos lettuce, leaves roughly torn
110g Young Goat's Cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
Method:
Grill the bacon rashers until crispy, turning occasionally. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
Make the dressing by combining the oil, vinegar, mustard and a little seasoning together in a medium mixing bowl.
Cut each beetroot into four (or smaller, if preferred) and add to the dressing, stirring to coat.
Combine the mint and lettuce leaves and divide them between four plates. Place the dressed beetroot pieces on top of the leaves. Break up the goat's cheese into little pieces and dot on top of the beetroot. Finish with two rashers of grilled bacon on top.
*Optional: decorate with rose petals, as in the photo.
 
Beetroot and Goat's Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinegar


And here is a picture of those meringues- I challenge anyone to eat these beauties tidily!

Pink Meringues with Clotted Cream and Strawberries


Lotte Duncan is also patron of the increasingly popular Thame Food Festival which takes place this year on 29th September (yes, we'll be there!) Last year was our first at Thame and it was a very busy day in glorious sunshine. You can read a little more about the day here.

 

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Many thanks to Sabrina Ghayour for drawing my attention to this nicely written article by Jamie Oliver in the Daily Mail online (published in Femail on 9th March).
And, if you don't want to make your own Raspberry Vinegar, you know where to buy the best!


And here are a few lovely Raspberry Vinegar ideas and a recipe for you:

  • Blend with a fine Rapeseed Oil for a smooth and fruity salad dressing
  • Splash into a glass of fizz or mineral water
  • Drizzle over your Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings
  • Swirl into a hot toddy

 

 
 
SUGGESTED RECIPE
CHICKEN BREASTS WITH RASPBERRY SAUCE
(Serves 4)
  1. Pan-fry 4 boneless chicken breasts in sunflower oil; remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Pour off excess fat from pan and add 150ml raspberry vinegar and bring to boil; reduce quickly until sauce is half original volume.
  3. Add 250ml of whipping cream and bring to the boil; simmer until slightly thickened.
  4. Season with salt and pepper; add some freshly chopped herbs e.g. parsley, thyme, chervil, basil, coriander, tarragon.
  5. Pour sauce over chicken; sprinkle with extra fresh herb. Serve immediately.
 
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After some months of Tweeting to each other, I was delighted to receive this guest piece from Chef Simon Jury recently and hope you will enjoy reading it, too:



 

"Duck and cherry, two of my favourite flavours. I love that gamey meat flavour of the cherry and fresh fruity freshness of the duck...... no, hold on, I think I may have got something mixed up there. I'm also a fan of flavoured vinegars but have found that many cherry vinegars are often lacking or are a bit sharp and, much of the time, too vinegary. Yes I know that sounds a bit odd saying they are a bit vinegary, there are just a lot of flavoured vinegars that really don't offer more than, well, vinegar.

"A few weeks ago, I happened to be talking on the subject of vinegars and dressings and Rupert from Womersley Foods joined in asking if I have tried their vinegars. To my shame I had to admit I hadn't. Shame because I've spoken to Rupert on Twitter for a while now and hadn't really looked at the products that Womersley do. So when Rupert offered a bottle to try, I jumped at the chance. Well I jumped after deliberating over which flavour to choose. I was allowed any bottle I wanted so I had to choose wisely. I saw the cherry flavour straight away and looking back, I'm not sure why it took me so long to decide.

"The package arrived and like an excited child on Christmas morning I tore it open and didn't wait to taste it, I tipped a bit out, dipped my finger in and couldn't taste a thing. This is no sleight to the vinegar, I had a stinking cold and hadn't been able to taste anything for days. A course of antibiotics later and the taste buds were back. I had another tasting session with a ciabatta loaf and dipping bowls with unrefined olive oil and the vinegar. The vinegar is great: fresh, full of cherry flavour and not the usual harshness of vinegar. You could get away with the vinegar on its own as a dressing as it is that smooth. Also it is the first cherry vinegar I've tasted for a while that actually tastes of cherry.

"Finally I got to match the vinegar to duck which I had been waiting for during my cold filled weeks. (Please note I did not have man flu, I really was ill!) I kept the duck salad very simple as the star here was to be the vinegar. I pan-fried two duck breasts, skin side down until the fat was rendered and the skin was crispy. I then turned the duck breasts over and took off the heat to continue cooking through while I made the salad.

"I made a quick red onion salad by peeling, halving & slicing one large red onion, added some chopped cucumber , quartered cherry tomatoes and a few sliced spring onions. I made a dressing using half and half of the vinegar and unrefined olive oil and a pinch of salt. That's all you need for the dressing as there is so much flavour and sweetness in the cherry vinegar. I put half of the dressing in with the red onion salad and mixed this to coat.

"To serve, I made a bed of peppery salad, rocket, watercress & baby spinach and piled the onions salad on top. The duck, now nicely rested, was sliced and placed on top. The remaining dressing was then drizzled over to flavour the duck breast and drip through the salad. Cherry and duck is always a winner and maybe a little bit predictable, but when it tastes this good, who cares?


"Many thanks for the vinegar, it really is great and found out a friend of mine is a big fan too..."

 
You can follow Simon on Twitter @Simonlovesfood 
Simon also has a lovely blog title: saidsimontothepieman.com



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One of the best parts of making a key food ingredient is the opportunity to meet chefs and compare notes on their menus to see how our delights can help make their dishes even more special whilst retaining their unique personality. Fortunately, our fruit vinegars have such "extraordinary depths of flavour" (thank you to Bill King for that quote) that a little goes a long way and they allow for real creativity in the kitchen. Over the past couple of years that I have been sailing the good ship Womersley, I have been lucky enough to welcome aboard many chefs who have shared their enthusiasm with us all. Many have provided recipes on our Trecipe page (Luke Mackay even suggest bathing in Raspberry Vinegar!) and others have also contributed longer recipes on these pages.

 

Dave Aherne at Real Food Festival
 
Certainly, one of the most entertaining chefs you could hope to meet is the lovable Irishman, Dave Aherne. On a trip to London the other day, my wife and I caught up with Dave for the first time in a while, at his current "home" of Ben's Canteen in SW11. Don't be fooled by his bluff, sweary exterior, he is a gentle giant whose piercing blue eyes can spot good food ingredients a mile off! 
 
I first met Dave at the Real Food Festival last year, when he came to our stand and got all ecstatic at our "feckin amazing" vinegars. We have kept in touch ever since...
 
But he didn't even get into cheffing until he was in his mid 30s! Dave told me he came to London hoping to do Event Management, but found himself working at the popular The Ship at Wandsworth (a job found through exchanging tweets with owner, Oisin Rogers). He had a great time there, but eventually moved on to a couple of other places before arriving at this buzzing little place near Wandsworth Bridge: Ben's Canteen.

So we decided to go and have a look and were joined by our good friend, Daphine, too. The three of us tucked in to these fabulous dishes. They were followed by a sublime carrot cake with coffee, but it just about arrived at the table and was gone, hence no photo!

The tenderest cod cheeks and home made Pesto


All day Breakfast Scotch Egg with the perfect soft yolk, mushroom and bacon breadcrumb coating and black pudding.
Very good for you....
Brisket and Bone Marrow Mayo in a bap    

Dave works on many other projects including last year's successful Kaiwecare fund raiser for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. He worked with Mat Follas and many others to raise a staggering £65,000. His next major project is the "Chefs for CALM dinner." CALM stands for the Campaign Against Living Miserably, a charity working exclusively with men who suffer from depression. This is a cause close to Dave's heart, following the sad death recently of promising young chef, Kevin Boyle. Dave will be joined once more by a host of great chefs and others to create a special evening catering for 200 guests in London on 30th April. If you would like to read more about this, do read his blog where you will also find details on how to help out, if you are able.

But, if you find yourself in the Wandsworth/Clapham area at any time, don't miss a chance to visit Ben's Canteen and get a "feckin' good feed."

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Andrew Pern with a bottle
of our Raspberry Vinegar
 


Tucked away in the beautiful Yorkshire village of Harome, near Helmsley, is the thatched cottage of the Star Inn, home to one of Yorkshire's top chefs, Andrew Pern. The Star Inn has won many plaudits over the years since Andrew moved there in 1996, not least by Jasper Gerard, who wrote in The Telegraph in 2008 that "The Star is for jaded explorers on the verge of giving up the quest for the perfect rural pub."
Roux-trained, Andrew has won numerous awards including many years of a Michelin star and, last year being voted 19th in the National Restaurant Awards. He enjoys a great write up in the Egon Ronay Guide which states that "His and his team's cooking is quite exceptional..." and was a successful participant in last year's flagship BBC programme, Great British Menu. Andrew has also written a beautiful recipe book, "Loose Birds and Game" which features this exciting recipe, made with our Raspberry Vinegar...



Fallow Deer Pie with Liquorice Gravy, Scottish Girolles, Womersley Raspberry Vinegar and Curly Kale ‘Colcannon’
(Serves four)
 
I was sitting at home one night ‘in charge’ of the kids, there was a knock on the door. Standing there was Steve Smith, my Head Chef and a pie. We’d been talking about putting a Pie of the Day on the blackboard to keep The Star more ‘pubby’ and Steve conjured up this creation – combining deer and liquorice! In Yorkshire?! Somewhat dubiously, I tasted it, breaking open the shortcrust topping, to the steaming hot inside… and, I must say it is one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten. I can still taste it now, a beautiful, deep flavour with a slight edge of fruit coming from the vinegar, and the vibrant mash to mop up those lovely, liquorice juices. Who’d have ever thought you’d hear me saying that? A must-try-it!

Ingredients

For the Pie:                                                                 For the shortcrust pastry:
1kg venison, diced                                                      50g plain flour
A little oil for frying                                                    30g butter
16 baby onions                                                            Pinch of salt                            
½ bottle of red wine                                                  Cold water                             
1 ltr game stock                                                         
2 cloves garlic, crushed                                              For the Colcannon:
8 Pontefract Cakes                                                     4 Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tbsp cornflour                                                          80g butter
1 sprig of tarragon                                                      20ml whipping cream
Seasoning                                                                    Seasoning
                                                                                    80g curly kale
100g girolle mushrooms
50ml Womersley Raspberry Vinegar
 
Deer Pie with Liquorice Gravy, taken from Andrew Pern's Book "Loose Birds & Game"

Method

Colour off the diced venison meat in a little oil with the baby onions. Fry off until nicely browned, then add the red wine, raspberry vinegar, stock, garlic and Pontefract Cakes. Simmer for approximately 1½ hours or until tender. Thicken with cornflour, add mushrooms, tarragon and seasoning, then allow to cool. Place in a suitable pot or pots, and set aside.
 
For the pastry, rub the plain flour and butter together with a pinch of salt, until ‘breadcrumb-like’, add the water and combine together into a smooth paste. Do NOT over-knead, as it will make the pastry tough. Chill for 30 minutes.
 
For the Colcannon, first boil the potatoes until soft. Drain through a sieve and mash with a little butter, cream, white pepper and salt. Add the sliced curly kale, which will wilt with the heat of the potatoes and keep warm.
 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Roll out the pastry with a rolling pin and using a little flour for dusting to a thickness of 3mm. Place over the pots of venison meat mixture and trim so that the rim is covered. ‘Crimp’ the edges to stick the pastry down and make a little hole in the middle (or use a pot Blackbird!) to let out the steam. Brush the pastry with the remaining egg yolk and bake for approximately 30 minutes until golden brown. Warm the Colcannon and place on the plate with the pie alongside. Eat to your heart’s content!
 
Follow Andrew's Tweets on Twitter
If you would like to try more of Andrew's menu, do contact The Star Inn on 01439 770397 reservations@thestarinnatharome.co.uk  www.thestaratharome.co.uk/ 
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