Thursday, 18 October 2018

Passing the taste test!

As we tip toe out of a wonderfully busy season and into a quieter Autumn, I always find myself keen to experiment with new dishes and new ideas. Typically I head West for 2 or 3 thinking days and really enjoy playing with flavours and textures and seeking inspiration from some of my own food heroes. Over the summer I have been reading (again) Olia Hercules beautiful books and love the sharp/sweet flavours that come with her ideas around fermentation, so I sense a move towards a little bit of pickled crunch in more of our dishes.

Usually I start by trying out new ideas for 2 people - really to work out if I like the dish in the first instance. If it passes the 'taste' test, then I try to work out how it would scale up. Could we cook this dish for a hundred people, sometimes with unfamiliar ovens (thank heavens for temperature guages!) and without, usually, all the trimmings of a professional kitchen on site. Does it work plated and sharing? What sides would we serve? Does it fit one of our core pre-requisites - that food can be beautiful, flavourful and generous?

I also like to see what we can do to bring new life into some of our staple and most popular dishes. Lemon Posset, for instance, is the pudding of choice for so many of our couples. It's sharp; it's lemonny and it's beautifully smooth. We serve it in lovely little vintage glasses - either alone, or as part of a dessert table -  and this year we've been adding a jaunty little white chocolate and pistachio meringue hat. How can we change this up, I've been wondering.

It's quite self indulgent to hide away like this - hoping that it will continue to rain so that I'm not distracted by being outside. And so far, so good. Some new dishes have come into being; some tweaking has taken place and some inspirational fairy dust has worked its magic!

Bashed ginger, garlic and cucumber salad with pickled radish and sesame seed
Tamarind and orange baked salmon with coriander and orange zest (can be served plated or sharing, and as a starter or main)

Pickling cucumber, celery and radish in rosemary spiced vinegar. This became the 'filling' for a venison carpaccio canape 

Chicory, clementine and candied pistachio salad with pomegrante and watercress

So, the lemon posset stays the same but maybe you would like it with a almost savoury pistachio and cardamom shortbread. Almost savoury shortbread is delicious if you get the flavour combinations right!