A simple vegetable stock can be the basis for a quick and easy meal such as soup, broth, stew or risotto, or even used to add flavour to cooking grains before making a salad from them. Getting a good flavour balance in your stock is key: sweetness from carrots, acidity from fennel and celery and depth from onions and leeks, with a bouquet garni to bring it all alive. We make all our vegetable soups with fresh stock, using up the trimmings. We also ask our chefs to save parsley stalks for the pot, as these can bring a surprising amount of flavour. Only use fresh vegetables for stock, as old vegetables will impair the taste. Be sure to slice the vegetables as they will give up their flavours more readily than if they are whole or merely halved.
There’s nothing quite like beetroot in our opinion – it’s a brilliantly versatile vegetable. It plays its part is our salad counter through most of the late summer and into the winter months and we also make a velvety beetroot and dill soup that is great hot or cold. We love beetroot so much that we decided to squeeze another recipe through our kitchen and make a dip. This is perfect with hot toast and crumbled blue cheese or as an accompaniment to a smoked mackerel salad.
When Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1953 she was given this dish at her banquet. It was created by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume, both principals of the Cordon Bleu school at the time. We have used it in salads over crisp Baby Gem leaves and finely chopped peppers and also in sandwiches between two slices of nutty multigrain bread.
Wild Garlic or Ramsons grow in abundance in shaded British woodland and can be found as early as mid January. You can treat these highly fragrant leaves much the same as spinach, so can be used in salads or added to simple soups. The leaves give way to flowers in mid Spring and the flowers are delicious used is salads or as a garnish to soup or grilled meat. We have adapted our gratin recipe to celebrate this early season wild treasure.
Foraging has become a huge trend in the last few years. Elderflower Cordial is a wonderful thing to have around the kitchen; as well as making the quintessential summer drink, it’s a great addition to cocktails, adds a zing to summer jellies and pavlovas, and our favourite partner; gooseberry fool. We use citric acid to aid and extend shelf life, it’s a harmless natural preservative. Feel free to omit it but make sure you store your cordial somewhere very cool to avoid it fermenting.
Pillows of crisp sugar clouds, softly whipped cream scented with elderflowers and fresh berries from the garden piled high and drenched in icing sugar – what’s not to like about this summery delight. Scrupulously clean equipment is a must here, as even the tiniest bit of grease will stop the egg whites from whipping. We often run a slice of lemon over bowls and whisks to make sure that everything is totally sparkling. The secret ingredients here are the tiny amount of cornflour and white wine vinegar – they produce a chemical reaction in the egg whites – so don’t be tempted to leave them out if you want a lovely marshmallow centre to your crisp meringues.
This is a very quick, tasty bread and there’s no fuss or waiting around for doughs to rise. The quality of the bread will rely on the flour you buy, so go for stoneground versions. This is always best eaten on the days it’s made but will keep for two days under wraps. Serve with soups and cured fish.
We serve this salty, versatile sauce with our breaded chicken. It’s also a fine accompaniment to fish or lamb, or a dressing for potatoes. It will keep in the fridge for a week and, once you see how it makes or breaks a meal, you’ll use it for all sorts of dishes. Try it to dress a purple-sprouting broccoli salad or serve it over braised beans and marinated feta. We have omitted garlic for a smoother flavour, but feel free to include a couple of cloves.
Our classic Ham Hock Terrine – one of our favourites which happily takes you through from late summer picnic to Boxing Day spread. We suggest setting it in one dish or terrine, but feel free to set it in three smaller containers. It’s most successful when the hock is cooked long and slow, to break down the meat and release the flavour.
Everyone loves a cheese straw – and they are the perfect party food. We love to serve them at drinks parties as they can easily be pulled out for last minute festive gatherings. Just take them to the egg wash and sesame seed stage and freeze till needed. Defrost then follow the method for baking. This version gives a slightly more grown up take on the classic with tangy goat’s cheese, salty anchovies, with the addition of aromatic fennel seeds and a hit of heat from dried chilli.
A really decadent and versatile recipe. It’s very simple, but you have to plan for it a day ahead. Thinly slice it diagonally towards the skin, so you can enjoy the flavours and textures of the different layers that the spiced salt has permeated. You don’t need to cure a whole side; you can start with half a side and halve the cure.