A Salad need not be boring !

Growing up a salad was boring, in fact I guess we did not really eat a salad as a meal, except on a hot summers day, when a few limp lettuce leaves were put on a plate along with whatever other salad vegetables my father grew in the garden, maybe tomatoes, maybe cucumber, maybe celery and radishes! Back then I loved radishes, if you could get to them before the insects did. Then, on top of that was usually a slice of ham or maybe a slice of pork pie, pickled beetroot, ooh how I hated that, dark red vinegar adulterating my plate finished with HEINZ SALAD CREAM. It was only many years later  I learnt that other countries had mayonnaise but we had Salad Cream!! Today the Heinz company is considering changing the name to Sandwich Cream, because research shows that only 14% of purchasers use it on Salads. As far as I am concerned it can disappear from the shelves for good, but maybe I’m being controversial here, but as I have never bought a jar of it, I am not about to start now !

Many years ago, we were on holiday in Gibraltar, yes Gibraltar ! in those days it was separated from Spain, by a physical border, but it had been a dreadful summer in Europe and we wanted a sunshine holiday. So did the rest of Europe and so off we trotted to Gibraltar, being the only option. The salad here, read my childhood salad, plus a chicken leg, which was frozen ! They still wanted me to pay for it !!

Fast forward several years, and my eldest daughter declared ( home from school for the holidays), “Salads are boring!” I corrected her by saying, that maybe at school they were, but not mine. Forward again, and now on the market there is a plethora of ready-made salads to choose from. All of the fast food outlets, have good salad options as do the ready meals in the supermarkets, along with the small cafés and delicatessens, the choice is enormous!

However these can be expensive, so make yours at home, but they can be time-consuming to do.

Last night I made a salad using the following

  1. green asparagus
  2. courgettes/zucchini
  3. small tomatoes
  4. red chili peppers
  5. padrón peppers
  6. sliced mushrooms
  7. Haloumi cheese or goats cheese
  8. a basil garlic dressing. ( I cheated here by using pesto, olive oil and baked smushed  garlic)

To start with, slice the courgettes into oval rounds, if that makes sense, ie, rounds cut on the slant about 1/4″ thick. Using either a grill pan, a Teppanaki grill or BBQ grill, grill the vegetables, having brushed them with a little olive oil, do not over cook, remove from the grill and place on a cooling tray to cool.

The Padrón peppers are only available in the UK at about this time of year,, small and green they can be used whole, they give just a little zing to the salad. Sweet romano peppers can also be used. If you don’t like spice leave out the chilli peppers, but if you like them, when cooked chop into bits, make sure you remove the seeds before adding to the salad. The haloumi cheese can then be cut into slices and grilled. I used Goats Cheese, which I grilled .IMG_8117

Construct the salad, but layering some baby gem lettuce and some rocket leaves, and then tope with the cooled vegetables, arranging them neatly. Top with the dressing, ( not too much, more can be added if needed)

Remember, a salad can be healthy but never boring !

Oh No ! Not Restaurant Sat Bains Again !!

It’s that time of year, again and Himself has been barred from buying me presents, ( he can buy as many as he likes but not for birthdays or Christmas) and so it means having to put on the thinking cap for some originality. And so, as food is my thing, for Christmas we went to a superb restaurant in the City and on Christmas Eve, to boot and last week saw us off to Nottingham. This is our 3 rd visit, to this restaurant with rooms on the outskirts of Nottingham , on the edges of a trading estate, underneath the Electric pylons, but enter the gates of this former farm , peace and tranquility reign. The garden is beautiful and very practical, growing many of the specialist herbs themselves.

Sat (Satwant) Himself is a very interesting person, one of 6 children, second generation Sikh Punjabi immigrants, grew up in Derby, had a work ethic installed in him at an early age, but more or less fell into cooking by happenstance ( the cooking class, had more girls in it !)

He went to work for Raymond Blanc at the first Petit Blanc and in 1997 won the Roux Scholarship. Finally he went to work at Hotel des Clos in Nottingham, which when it went under he bought and along with his wife transformed it into a Restaurant with rooms. It has I think only 8 rooms, and on our previous visit, we stayed but be warned early booking is very much required. When staying you have the choice of the 7 or 10 course menu. The main restaurant has only 40 covers with 10 extra at the chef’s table and now 6 more on what was ( and still is ) the development kitchen whichm is called Nucleus.

Our first visit was for me to have a one on one morning in the kitchens with the chefs, which was an amazing experience and we had lunch at the chefs table. The second visit , we stayed over and ate the 7 course menu and now this our third visit was in Nucleus, where there are just 3 tables for 2 people each.

So, here we were able to watch the young Chef and Sous Chef create our lunch. Of course all of the prep marinades and sauces had been previously prepared, but the quiet calm in the kitchen has such good vibes! None of the screaming of Gordon Ramsey fame, even if that is for show!

Our meal consisted of the following:-

As far as I can remember this is, Chocolate Jelly with Shitake mushrooms, braised red cabbage ice cream with raspberry, Tapioca cake with matcha, Chinese type bun with xoxo sauce and carrots braised in liquorice, dehydrated with ground almonds!

Our first course was a scallop on ponzu squid ink jelly, with pigs trotters, wild garlic emulsion, tapioca and wild garlic emulsion and dusted with matcha.

This dish is in homage to Amish Kapoor and is made with beetroot.

Jelly beetroot, vinegar, potatoes, nasturtium leaves with braised oxtail.

And on to the third course

Baby new potatoes smoked on a barbecue with cream cheese and chives, farmed caviar from China.

For the fourth course we had pigeon leg and breast parfait on sourdough toast. I was marginally outside of my comfort zone here, and although I eat pretty much anything, I’m not sure about pigeon! However I assume this is because I currently have a vendetta against them as many have decided that my terrace is now their home !

This was followed by caramelised miso fudge with passion fruit gel

Next in line was the chocolate and yoghurt ice cream with balsamic and oil

The seventh course was macerated strawberries with two types of granita, lemon and earl grey with basil leaves

And finally, and for me this was the piece de resistance , candy floss with a surprise in the middle! Thai green curry ice cream! I can’t wait to buy my candy floss machine and try this one!