Notes from a Working Kitchen – August 2014

James Goss of The King’s Arms in Wing tells us every month what is happening in his busy garden and kitchen, cooking delicious and inventive seasonal food. Join the Great Food Club for 15% off the a la carte menu.

One of our busiest months coming up now, even with the amazing heat and humidity in the air there are small hints that the seasons are marching on. However at the peak of summer we get excited about flowers here, namely courgette flowers. Paul Hill of Hazel Hill farm at the end of the village is supplying us with some of the most fresh and large courgette flowers I’ve seen for a while. Coinciding nicely with the Cromer Crab Season it doesn’t take much imagination to add a bit of lemon, ricotta and parmesan to make a great stuffing for the flowers.

Stuffed FLowers 2

Also great as a vegetarian option is some of Jane and Alan Hewson’s Colwick Cheese from Crossroads farm. A crispy sumptuous meal which we choose to serve up on a small bed of leaves with a heritage tomato salad for the vegetarian option and for the crab lovers we also add a small amount of our crayfish tails to the vinaigrette for that extra little surprise.

The great variety, colours, textures and shapes of our heritage tomatoes allow us to give a real depth of flavour to our dishes at the moment. Now when they are at their best supporting rare varieties also ensures we have continued choice and are not beholden to the mass produced hot house Dutch tomatoes. Their individuality and perfect ripeness is what makes them such a treat. A really popular use for them this summer has been roughly diced up and served up in a warm Samphire salsa alongside line caught Sea Bass and creamy Cromer crab mashed potatoes. A basic tomato and balsamic onion salad, or grilled with mackerel for instance.

As the smaller cherry varieties start to go soft and are no longer easy to dice we super slow roast them in oil, basil and garlic. With the resulting Confit we have a great base for seared scallops topped off with some punchy watercress, or blitzed to a sauce or enriched with cream as a soup. There really is no reason to bin them once they go a little over, ‘waste not want not’, as my granny used to preach.

The baby beetroot varieties available right now are for me a great personal favourite, sweet and slightly earthy. We are using 2 varieties, a golden round one and a purple tubular. Oven roasting them releases their natural sugars and softens them up for use. Pairing the two is easy with our beetroot cured salmon and our homemade single malt smoked salmon a small horseradish dressing just helps to tie it all together. A perfect foil for goats cheese in a salad, I am looking forward to adding a drop of pear to the salad soon, our trees are bursting with them.

The new season venison is also slowly becoming available. For me at this time of year one of the greatest cuts on these young animals are the tenderloins. Not dissimilar from filet steak in texture but on the small fallow deer we use are considerably smaller. Given a light brine for a couple of hours and then cold smoked we can add another dimension to the meat. Coming from a thrifty family we were always taught not to waste anything. Some of my favourite dishes have come from finding uses for produce that would otherwise end up in a stock pot. The trim from the tenderloins is used to make a smooth venison farce with which we fill some of our homemade tortellini. This adds some bite to our venison dishes and contrasts with the seared tenderloin filet. There will be plenty more venison talk over the winter months. Luckily the redcurrant bushes were packed this year and plenty of jelly has been made to go with the ensuing game season for those who prefer it to the elderberry jelly we make soon.

Veni & Tort

So there is plenty to do this month for us all to get ready for winter months ahead. It will be time to start laying down chutneys, pickles, jams, jellies and relishes from the glut of produce on our doorsteps. We can’t wait to get started here and try a few new recipes and tweak some of the old ones, let’s see what the fields, allotments and hedgerows give us to play with this year.

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The author:

James is head chef and owner at The King's Arms pub in Wing, Rutland