Sophia Stovall and Tom Wright are back for the second of the ‘May Bank Holiday Menus’, and third in the series celebrating the best of seasonal produce – this time vegetarian, from loved local businesses. Tom will take you through the dishes while Sophia walks through drinks to pair or simply enjoy this bank holiday weekend.
A note from Sophia
May is a special month in our household. Birthdays and wedding anniversary combine, and what better way to mark the occasion with some of our favourite celebratory cocktails along with our menu.
This bank holiday weekend normally marks the beginning of what would be traditional half term, but this year it also marks the end of Mental Health Awareness Week and what would have been the gardening event of the year – RHS’s Chelsea Flower Show. Whether it be through art, design, craft, cooking or gardening, there is so much happiness to be had from taking pleasure in all aspects of daily life. I hope you enjoy the third of our menus. The below quote felt appropriate, a mantra I try to keep with me at all times.
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. The reward of labour is life. Is that not enough? – William Morris
A note from Tom
The majority of my time spent cooking professionally has been spent at the two Michelin starred Raby Hunt. Whist working there, I was predominantly responsible for the salad dish, a constantly changing and complex dish comprising of up to sixty elements cooked in a variety of ways. During this time, I developed a close working relationship with North East food legend Ken Holland, who is responsible for supplying vegetables, fruit, and micro greens to some of the most celebrated restaurants in the UK. A couple of weeks ago, I reached out to Ken to ask how thing were going in the absence of the restaurant trade, and to my surprise he told me that he was rushed off his feet with an incredibly popular veg-box scheme serving the area surrounding his walled garden in Hexham. This, in part, inspired me to create a menu based around seasonal fruit and vegetables of the sort that a lot of veg-box schemes will be delivering around the North East as we speak.
Starter: Broccoli Amandine with Hollandaise and Crispy Garlic
250g clarified butter
2 egg yolk
15g (or to taste) white wine vinegar
6 cloves of garlic
Purple sprouting or tender stem broccoli
Broccoli is about the healthiest vegetable going, but more importantly, like most brassicas, when gently steamed and then charred, it becomes almost unbelievably sweet and delicious. Here I’ve paired charred broccoli with buttery hollandaise, toasted almonds and crispy garlic.
You can prepare your almonds and garlic ahead of time. To toast your almonds simply spread them out on a baking tray in a low oven until they begin to very gently colour, which should take around 45 minutes. Whilst this is happening you can begin to prepare your crispy garlic, by grating it on the finest setting of your cheese grater into milk, then bringing it to a simmer for a minute or so. Once this is done, drain the garlic through a sieve, dry it off gently, and then fry in hot vegetable or sunflower oil. Once you see the very first signs of colour appearing on the garlic, remove from the heat and once again drain through a sieve, setting aside your garlic to cool on a dry piece of kitchen towel. Be very careful not to overcook the garlic or it will become bitter.
To make the hollandaise, whisk the yolks over a bain-marie until silky, then slowly add your clarified butter, taking care to whisk continually and only add a little at a time. Once all of the butter is incorporated, you can then season your hollandaise with white wine vinegar and salt to taste. Your sauce will sit happily for at least 30 minutes whilst you prepare your broccoli, and to re-heat it you can simply gently warm it over the same bain-marie whilst stirring it.
You are now ready to cook the broccoli. Chose a broccoli that is in season, I used the last of the season’s purple sprouting broccoli for this dish, however tender stem is just coming into season, and will work just as well. Steam your broccoli until it is just barely cooked, add a tiny splash of olive oil, and finish on either a smoking hot griddle pan or ideally, a white hot barbecue. Be brave when finishing the dish – If the broccoli doesn’t look burnt, then it needs longer on the grill!
Main: Pearl Barley in Mushroom stock with Salt Meringue Celeriac
1 onion, finely diced
½ carrot, finely diced
20g cepe/porcini/mixed dried mushrooms
200g fresh button mushrooms, finely sliced
2 sprigs each of parsley and thyme
100ml dry white wine
White pepper, pinch
Salt to taste
Braised Pearl Barley
200g pearl barley
Wild garlic oil and flowers
Salt Meringue Baked Celeriac
6 egg whites
900g table salt
1 medium celeriac
Celeriac is an incredibly meaty vegetable, and lends itself well to being the focus of a dish. Some of the best restaurants in the world including Noma and Frantzen have in the past employed a whole host of clever techniques to create dishes such as celeriac shwarma and even celeriac ‘ham’, and whilst the technique that I’m going to recommend is far simpler, it does result in an amazingly textured and flavoured end product.
The mushroom stock can be made two or three days ahead of time, or even longer should you choose to freeze it. Start by adding a glug of good olive oil to a pan, and adding the garlic, onion and carrot. Cook gently without colouring for about five minutes, then add water, white wine, dried mushrooms, fresh mushrooms and herbs. Bring quickly to the boil, reduce to a low simmer for two hours, then pass through a fine mesh sieve. You can afford to season the stock quite highly, as the pearl barley will be completely unseasoned
To make your salt baked celeriac, first make the meringue by combining the eggs and salt and whipping to stiff peaks. Coat the celeriac in an even layer of the meringue, and bake at 180 degrees for three hours. Once you’ve taken your celeriac from the oven, allow it al least an hour to cool, before breaking off the salt meringue and removing the skin of the celeriac with a sharp knife. The celeriac can now be cut into ‘steaks’ and refrigerated ready to finish on the barbecue.
The final stage before barbecuing your celeriac is to cook your pearl barley. Add your 200g of barley and 800g of mushroom stock to a large pan, reserving 200g of stock for later, bring up to the boil and then and simmer very gently until the barley is tender. For me, this was roughly an hour of cooking, however I’m of the opinion that within reason the longer barley is cooked, the better the texture becomes. Your braised barley can also be prepared ahead of time, should you wish.
Before serving, gently heat your barley, stir through a good handful of chopped parsley, and then add your fresh mushroom stock before taking off the heat immediately. Do not allow too long between adding your mushroom stock and serving, or you the barley will simply absorb the stock, and you will lose the flavour of the stock in the final dish. To finish the celeriac, cook on one side only on the barbecue until it is completely blackened.
In terms of garnish, the dish does need acidity, so capers or something similar are a worthwhile addition. Finally, the flavour of the mushroom stock works very well with garlic. I’ve used wild garlic oil, but garlic butter would work nicely too.
Dessert: Poached Rhubarb Tart with Caramelised White Chocolate Ice Cream
60g unsalted butter
25g whole milk
1 large egg
125g strong flour
3g dried yeast
White Wine Poached Rhubarb
4 rhubarb stems, large
350g white wine
350g demerara sugar
1 star anise
1 piece lemon zest
1 sprig thyme
Caramelised White Chocolate Ice Cream
150g double cream
150g white Chocolate
2 egg yolks
Rhubarb is a quintessentially British ingredient that is right at the peak of its season at the moment. I took inspiration from a Raymond Blanc recipe for a crème fraiche tart which featured a brioche base. The buttery flavours of the brioche work well with the acidity of the rhubarb, and it is actually comparatively easy to prepare.
Though a stand mixer will always make it easier to make a great brioche dough, I’ve developed a ‘hack’ that allows a brioche to be put together in just a few minutes without any expensive equipment. First combine your sugar, milk and butter in a small bowl, and warm in short 20 second bursts until the butter is completely melted, and warm, but not hot. Add your yeast and your egg, and whisk until all the ingredients have been thoroughly incorporated. Add your liquid elements, to your flour and salt, and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon for at least 5 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for a further one hour at room temperature, then repeat. Your dough should now be refrigerated for at least 12 hours before use.
To cook your rhubarb, simply peel off the tough outer skin, and poach in the simmering stock syrup until tender. It is important that you bring your stock syrup to temperature before you cook the rhubarb or else the sugar will not dissolve. Once the rhubarb is gently cooked, carefully remove from the stock syrup and refrigerate for at least two hours. At this point should you with you can also reduce your white wine stock syrup to glaze the tart with once it is cooked.
To make your caramelised white chocolate ice cream, first break your white chocolate into small pieces, and cook it in a 120 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Combine the chocolate with the milk, sugar, salt and cream, and mix thoroughly with an immersion blender. Finally, add the egg to the mixture, and slowly bring it up to a simmer, whisking constantly, taking care not to boil the mixture. Once the ice cream base is cool, it is ready to be churned. If you don’t have an ice cream machine at home, simply use the ice cream base as a custard, or alternatively use store bought white chocolate or vanilla ice cream.
Finally, to assemble your tart, simply roll the brioche dough out to your desired shape, arrange your poached rhubarb on top of it, and allow to prove for around and hour and a half at room temperature. Before baking, brush the exposed dough around the edges of the tart with egg wash, dust the entire tart with sugar, and bake at 180 degrees for roughly 25 minutes, or until nicely caramelised.
Aperitifs & Cocktails
Durham Champagne Cocktail
This is a twist on the traditional Champagne Cocktail, one of Sophia’s favourites and one of the oldest cocktails dating back to the early 1800s and made famous in the film, Casablanca. We used the beautifully elegant Durham Distillery’s Cask Aged Gin instead of the usual cognac – and we preferred it! This wonderfully mellow gin, with the unique notes of American Bourbon and Spanish Oloroso Sherry was a great discovery and a brilliant addition to our drinks cabinet. This combination works really well with the deep richness of the champagne.
1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
25ml Durham Cask Aged Gin
Champagne – top up whatever glass you choose to serve, flute preferred.
The cocktail consist of a sugar cube in the bottom of the flute, a few drops of angostura bitters, over which is poured a measure of gin before being topped up with champagne (but Cremant or good cava would be just as enjoyable).
This is a complex and unique gin – and a favourite of Sophia’s for some time – in both its flavour profile and distillation techniques. You will have come across slow-curing fish in recipes like that for gravadlax, where the process is drawn out over several days. However, a quick cure of salt and sugar enhances the already delicate flavour of a fish such as mackerel. The salt and sugar draw moisture from the flesh, firming the texture as well as seasoning it. The cure, in this case Durham Gin is also the perfect vehicle for lightly spicing the fish with the gin’s 10 botanicals. These include classic botanicals Angelica, Juniper, Orange and Coriander which give the true body to the gin while the more unique botanicals of Celery Seed and Pink Peppercorn add a more savoury but warm spicy note which make this gin stand out from the crowd and a fresh cure.
Ivy Bank Martini | Durham Gin
This cocktail is a stable in the Stovall/Wright household, and the recipe stays the same but the ingredient which we enjoy to play around is gin. Every gin will bring its own distinct characteristics to this cocktail and with Durham Gin it becomes a fresh interpretation of this dirty martini. A perfect balance of fresh florals and earthy notes, helped with the olive brine’s presence.
3 part Durham Gin
1 part White Vermouth
1 tsp olive brine
1 lemon twist
Put no more than 2 servings into a cocktail shaker half full with ice. In two martini glasses put two pimento olive on a cocktail stick, a teaspoon of olive brine and lemon rind twisted over the glass. Shake until ice forms on the outside to the shaker, we find a tea towel helps doing this process to avoid frozen hands.
Negroni | Durham Cask Aged Gin
Simple and balanced, and a favourite in the Wright household for some time – the Negroni is considered to be one of the most famous Italian cocktails in the world. Invented in 1919 by Count Negroni – who asked to add a touch of gin rather than soda to his Americano. The gin in a Negroni shapes the overall flavour of the cocktail and made with Durham Cask Aged Gin it becomes a richer version of this firm favourite. We try to limit to two as they are sneaky and can catch up on you without warning.
1 part Campari
1 part Durham Cask Aged Gin
1 part Red Vermouth
1 orange peel to garnish
Pour all ingredients directly into a rock glass filled with ice (3 cubes), stir and garnish with a slice of orange peel, slightly charred if possible and run it along the rim before serving.
OUR LOCAL LOCKDOWN SUPPLIERS
The North East’s first small batch craft Gin distillery and the first legal Distillery in Durham since the reign of Henry VIII – the earliest license apparently belonging to Durham Cathedral before that. Their Distiller, Jess, makes everything by hand, with a 400L copper pot still.
VEG BOXES & REGIONAL PRODUCERS >>
North Country Ken, Hexham
Ken Holland has been growing fruit and vegetables in the heart of Northumberland for well over 15 years from his Georgian Walled Garden at Kirkharle, the birth place of Capability Brown. He also farms salad leaves and mushrooms from the indoor farm in Hexham.
An organic home-delivery scheme featuring three different box types: the seasonal English vegetable selection, pasta and stir-fry selection and a fruit box. Most of the fruit and veg is home-grown and customers can now place orders online. Delivers to Barnard Castle, Middleton, Richmond, Darlington, Bishop Auckland, Northallerton, Bedale and all surrounding villages.
Gosforth Fruit & Veg
Serving the Gosforth and Jesmond area.
Box scheme serving a 25-mile radius: all organic veg. It also sells organic premium beef from the home-reared Dexter cattle, and organic eggs. The scheme is seasonal and runs from May to mid-January.
Box scheme that has recently expanded its range of homegrown vegetables and is in the process of converting to organic. Alongside seasonal fruit and veg, it also offers its own free-range eggs, organic milk and homemade honey. Deliveries cover a 15-mile radius and the scheme now runs from June-March in order to avoid over-reliance on imported produce.
Runs a box scheme selling seasonal organic fruit, veg, apple juice and eggs, with potatoes, carrots and onions, as regular staple items. Delivers around Teesside and was set up as a sister company to Boxfresh organics in Shropshire.
FLOWERS FARMS & FLORISTS >>
Aka the acclaimed writer and grower Caroline Beck. Caroline and her team created beautiful, natural, seasonal and 100% British floral displays for Sophia & Andrew’s wedding back in 2017 and Sophia has been a fan ever since. Caroline is a Farmer-florist growing bespoke natural & seasonal flowers for weddings and special events in a walled garden close to Durham.
The Wallflower Florist
Based in Bishop Auckland and taking orders through Facebook.
Manor Garden Flowers
Artisan florists & flower farmers with a wild, natural style based in Darlington.
AKA the florist, Kate Norris.
Based in Stepney Bank, Ouseburn a go to for great florals as well as home décor.