Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Rhubarb & Apple Chutney Served With Smoked Mackerel Pate

The sun is still shining at The Nook On The Square this week and our fine lady gardener informed me that there was Rhubarb at the end of the garden if I could use it for anything.
Cooking is certainly a passion, but to actually cut produce grown in your own garden and create a recipe for the public to eat and enjoy certainly takes passion to the next level.

Rhubarb In The Nook Garden
Always up for the challenge, I immediately got onto google for ideas and found a few recipes that put rhubarb and smoked mackerel together. Sounded lovely!
Straight away I got some smoked mackerel in and got Eli, my super assistant, to make pate whilst I attempted a chutney to accompany it.
I chopped about 4 sticks of rhubarb and put in a pan with some light brown sugar (about 75g), big handful sultanas, finely chopped red onion, 1 inch grated ginger, salt, pepper, zest and juice of an orange and 5 tbsp white wine vinegar and put on the stove.
I left all ingredients to come to the boil, then let simmer.
If I'm honest I didn't measure the vinegar and put a little too much in and the rhubarb seemed saturated which is where I had the idea to skin, core and chop a couple of apples and add to the pan.

Fresh Chopped Rhubarb

As the mixture reduced I removed from the stove and put in small dishes to accompany the pate.
Served on our rustic wooden boards with toasted sourdough this dish has proved to be another winner on the menu this week.
Smoked Mackerel Pate served with Rhubarb & Apple Chutney and Toasted Sourdough
Linking up with Foodie Friday And Everything Else Party  and have also just discovered Tasty Tuesday to join in with.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Sweet Potato And Salmon Fishcakes With Chilli, Lime And Coriander

Summer has arrived at The Nook!
This week the sun has shone, new bunting hung and the garden has opened for our customers.

Summer at The Nook On The Square
So with the hot weather comes some new summer menu ideas.
This week I've made these lovely Sweet Potato & Salmon Fishcakes served with a fresh summer salad, topped with apple, avocado and mango, for the specials board and they have proved to be a huge hit.
About half hour to prepare and 15 minutes to cook they are ideal as a weekday meal for the family.
If you fancy giving them a go the recipe can be found below the photo.
Linking up this week with Foodie Friday and Everything Else blog hop.

Sweet Potato and Salmon Fishcakes with Chilli and Lime

1lb Sweet Potatoes (cooked and mashed)
1lb White Potatoes (cooked and mashed)
14oz Cooked Salmon Fillet
Zest and Juice of 2 Limes
1 Red Chilli (finely chopped)
Handful Chopped Coriander
Salt & Pepper to taste

Small Bowl Plain Flour
2 Eggs (beaten)
Small Bowl Natural Breadcrumbs

1. Combine the 2 sets of potatoes. Flake the salmon and stir into the potato mix.
2. Add all other ingredients and mix.
3. Mould into small fishcake shapes.
4. Dredge each cake with flour, dip and cover with beaten egg then cover with breadcrumbs.
5. To cook, heat a small amount of oil or butter in a frying pan and add fishcakes. Cook for few minutes and turn in the pan. After another couple of minutes transfer to a baking tray and place in oven heated to 180C for 10/15 minutes.
6. Serve with your choice of salad and dressing.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Italian Festival Chicken Sandwich

On todays menu at The Nook On The Square I have put the Italian Festival Chicken Sandwich, served in award winning red onion focaccia, created by The Revel Bakery.
Based in the small Warwickshire village, Stretton-under-Fosse, The Revel Bakery specialises in artisan bread and patisserie made with good ingredients, time and no additives resulting in, what they believe to be, great tasting products.
Their focaccia breads take up to 16 hours to make and the red onion flavour won Gold and overall category winner in the Tiptree World Bread Awards 2014.
Todays sandwich contained rocket, red pepper, chicken, prosciutto, grated parmesan and pesto mayonnaise. Absolutely scrumptious!

The Italian Festival Chicken Sandwich at The Nook On The Square
The Revel Bakery also supplies The Nook with Artisan sourdough, Panini's, cinnamon buns, fruit buns and they were the creator of our breakfast 'square' muffins.
Find out more about the bakery through this link http://www.revelbakery.co.uk/

The Revel Bakery
This week I've entered this post into a link up party at Rattlebridge Farm blog. Pop over and see what lots of other bloggers have been up to this week http://designsbygollum.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/foodie-friday-and-everything-else.html#more

Friday, 27 March 2015

The Nook On The Square

In March last year I was one of many to watch a very interesting series of programmes called The Restaurant Man where chef Russell Norman followed the journeys of people who packed in their day jobs to follow their dreams of opening a restaurant, despite having no catering experience.
For me, having been in the trade since leaving school 30 years ago, it was a very interesting set of programmes, especially as the final episode was a new cafe opening just 12 mins drive from my home.
Sisters Kate and Alex had a dream of transforming the ground floor of Kates house in the small village of Dunchurch, Rugby into a quaint, shabby chic cafe - The Nook On The Square.
In the program we saw the sisters taken to a top London hotel to learn about the etiquette of afternoon tea service, and to a transport cafe to experience the pressure of fast paced service and finally to France to be shown how to create beautiful square quiches.
Russell felt that being in a quiet village The Nook needed a signature dish to bring in regular customers and the quiches would be that such dish.

The Nook On The Square, Dunchurch, Rugby
Word spread about the cafe and it's involvement with the BBC 2 series and, on opening day, there was a queue down the street of inquisitive customers. A couple of months later the program aired and custom again went through the roof. It was far busier than either of the sisters ever envisaged.
Alex eventually left to return to nursing and a new manager was employed, along with several more staff.
And me? Well out of the blue last August I spotted an advert for a head chef for The Nook On The Square and, having been very unsettled with my job at The Red Lion for quite a while, I had no hesitation in applying for the job!
On August 28th, 2014 my new journey began!

Roasted Squash, Beetroot and Feta Salad

We've had some really good trip advisor reviews just recently.
I have wrote before about the good and bad sides of the site. Constructive criticism is always welcome to improve any business, unfortunately some people can be extremely rude and nasty.

One suggestion on a recent review was that a salad would be a welcome addition to the daily menu as most of the meals were heavy with pastry or bread,and a salad would be a lighter, healthier option.
Taking this comment on board Kate suggested a warm salad with roasted vegetables and feta.
Straight away I looked through pinterest for ideas and put together the lovely salad in the photo below.
The reviewer on trip advisor was correct, it was a great success on the menu. Many were ordered and lots of great feedback was received.

  The dish comprises of mixed leaf salad, cherry tomatoes, warm roasted squash, beetroot,and small chunks of feta. I caramelised some onion in balsamic and sugar and spread over the salad. The finishing touch of was a scattering of pomegranate seeds and roasted pine nuts.

Roasted Squash, Beetroot and Feta Warm Salad

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Ham, Potato, Leek and Herb Hotpot.

I have now adapted the lunchtime menu at The Nook to change every couple of days which keeps me interested in always looking for new ideas and trying new dishes as well as the customer always having a new experience each time they come.
The menu always consists of our signature quiche dishes and then a couple of paninis or focaccia, a light bite and a hot dish of the day.
Searching through recipe books takes up a lot of my time but is well worth the effort when I find something that works well as a dish, and that customers love.

Few weeks back I found a James Martin recipe book in a local charity shop which had a few good ideas for ne to try and what a bargain at £2.00!
The book, called "Eating In With James Martin", contained a brilliant recipe for Ham, Potato, Leek and Herb which I tried and had great success with in the cafe and, since posting photos of my completed dish, I have been asked for the recipe.

So below is a photo of my dish and underneath the photo is James Martin's recipe for everyone who asked for it.
1 Red Onion (peeled and finely chopped)
4 Garlic Cloves (Peeled and finely chopped)
2 Small Leeks (cleaned and sliced)
225g Butter
200ml White Wine
500ml Fresh Ham Stock (if you don't have the time or inclination to make ham stock, use fresh chicken stock, available from supermarkets)
450g New Potatoes (cooked)
550g Cooked Ham (cut into chunks)
Salt and Pepper
65g each of chopped, fresh Basil, Parsley, Chives and Coriander

Serves 4

1. Using about 55g of the butter, sauté the onion, garlic and leeks in a large pan until soft.
2.Add the white wine, ham stock, potatoes and ham and cook for 5-10 minutes until everything is hot.
3. Drain off the liquid, keeping the meat and vegetables warm. Gently simmer the liquid, adding the remaining butter bit by bit, whisking all the time to thicken the sauce. Do not boil.
4. Put all the ingredients back into the sauce and season. To finish, add all the chopped, fresh herbs. Serve piping hot.

Many other really good recipes can be found in this book. Well worth the money!!

Parsnip And Horseradish Pate

During the 80s If I dined out, and had a starter, I would always look for chicken liver pate on the menu as it was my firm favourite.
Chicken livers cooked in heaps of butter and an alcoholic beverage, such as sherry, and compact into a tight mold to eat with warm toasted breads was my idea of heaven.
Over the past 3 or 4 years as my interest in food has developed I have moved on from the traditional meat pate to other vegetable and fish varieties.
It was at The Old Red Lion that I first made mushroom pate to go on the main menu. So easy and quick to make and so tasty.

Mushroom Pate, Onion Chutney and Toast
I can remember during my interview for the head chef position at The Nook On The Square I witnessed Eli whizzing together her own recipe for salmon pate. Frequently on the menu it is a huge hit with the customers as a light bite.

Eli's Smoked Salmon Pate with Cucumber, Cress and Celery salad and Toasted Breads
This week I thought I would try something new. Amongst our vegetables I had a couple of parsnips and a horseradish that had been bought in for another dish but not used.
I used a similar concept to the mushroom pate recipe and fried off some chopped shallots and garlic in a pan in a rather generous helping of butter!
I peeled and grated the parsnip and added to the pan with some salt and pepper. Not really knowing how much horseradish to put in, as I hadn't used it in it's raw form before, I grated 2 heaped tablespoons and added to my mixture in the pan. Adding more butter, so that the parsnip didn't burn, I left to cook until soft. This was probably about 10 minutes.
I transferred the mixture to the food processor and added a small tub of cream cheese and whizzed to a smooth paste.
The taste was lovely, although I did add a teaspoon of horseradish cream from a jar as it needed just a little more taste.
I served the pate on a bed of roasted, mixed veg and toasted sourdough.

Parsnip and Horseradish Pate served on a bed of roasted vegetables with toasted sourdough
And the verdict?
The customers loved it!
I was surprised how many people ordered it but so pleased with the feedback.
Would definitely recommend you try this one!
I have now made 2 batches and they have flown out of the kitchen .