Lunch at our Mandagery Creek Farm Kitchen, is we hope, always a fun affair. We love showing off our beautiful farm and most of all, our venison in all its diversity and deliciousness. Especially to a group as interested and enthusiastic as the one we hosted last weekend. These guys booked us, babysitters and a bus and settled in for a long day on the farm and were an absolute pleasure to show around and cook for.
As always, I managed to take a few pictures at the beginning of our lunch but once we began serving and clearing, the camera was well and truly forgotten. In a perfect world I’d re-create the venison dish we served on the day just for photography but in the meantime I’ll just tell you about it; we had barbecued venison fillets with a walnut, verjus and honey sauce with mixed roasted vegetables served with fresh horseradish aioli and a yummy raw sprout salad tossed with finely chopped apple, parmesan and a buttermilk dressing (oh, and topped with warm crispy bacon). For dessert, there were lemon curd tarts with praline and cream and because they were made and ready in the morning, I did mange to snap these babies. Please find the recipe below.
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups and is a cracker.
4 lemons (or a mixture of lemon, lime and/or orange curd)
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cream
Pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Finely grate the zest from all four lemons and squeeze so you have about 100mls juice. Place both zest and juice into a medium-sized glass bowl and whisk in the eggs, egg yolks, cream, salt and butter. Place this bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring most of the time, for 10 minutes, or until mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon. Don’t be tempted to rush this process or cook the mixture over too high a heat or the eggs will curdle. Transfer curd into a jar or jug and put in the fridge where it should set beautifully.
To make the tart; make up a batch of my sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe below) and blind bake then bake until shell is golden and crisp. Now spoon in the chilled curd so it comes up almost to the top of the tart shell and bake in a moderate oven (180C) for 15 minutes.
Sweet shortcrust pastry
This pastry recipe is quite short (ie loads of butter) so it does need lots of resting time in the fridge between handling or it might get fussy and sticky and you might start swearing. Or maybe that’s just me.
150g butter (very well chilled)
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
Place the flour and icing sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blitz for a moment. Add the butter and blitz just until you have a coarse sand-like texture (don’t wait for it to form a ball or it might freak out and become over-processed). Tip the mixture onto a work surface and bring together with the palm of your hand, gently working it into a lovely, smooth disc of dough. Wrap this in plastic and pop in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll it out on a lightly floured work surface until about 5mm thick and then gently drape into your tart tin (about a 22c, diameter seems to work perfectly with this quantity of dough), trim the edges by rolling over them with your rolling pin and return to the fridge for another half an hour or so. Preheat oven to 180C and place a sheet of baking paper inside the pastry-lined tart tin, fill with baking weights (or rice or chickpeas etc) and blind bake for 10 minutes, remove weights and paper and bake for another 15 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Now it’s ready to fill with curd and go back in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Fennel gratin served as a lovely creamy bed for our tender venison fillet, I posted the (super easy) recipe for this here, earlier in the week.
Atholl Brose is one of my husband Tim’s favourite tipples. Basically it’s a mellow brew of whisky, cream, oats and honey left to soak overnight then strained through muslin, and I have to say – not being a whisky drinker (at all) it really is pretty good on a bitter cold winters day. We offered up a little taste of this brew to Saturday’s group and it certainly warmed us all up quite nicely. Tim uses this recipe.
Shaved brussels sprout salad with crispy bacon and apples
This is such a great winter salad; fresh, crunchy and bright it’s the perfect foil for richer braises and comfort foods. Serves 4.
600g brussels sprouts, trimmed and finely shaved (I use a mandolin – with care!)
4 apples (Pink Ladies are great at the moment and the look pretty too), unpeeled and very finely sliced then cut into matchsticks
1 cup parmesan, finely shaved
6 rashers bacon, cut into small lardoons
For the dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice and zest of one lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
To make the dressing; whisk all ingredients together until well combined then set aside. Combine the shaved sprouts, apple and parmesan in a large bowl then cook your bacon. To do this, just heat a splash of olive oil in a large saucepan on medium and fry lardoons until crunchy. Dress the salad (I use my fingers to do this, so much easier to make sure that everything is nicely covered with dressing) then scatter with the warm lardoons and serve.
Variations – you could also chuck in a handful of toasted walnuts or almonds here. And I’ve also had this salad with a very soft-poached egg on top. You break this up and stir it into the salad as a sort of second dressing. Yummo.
Ian Jansen was one of the guests at last Saturday’s lunch, and aside from being one of the nicest guys around, he also happens to be a very talented photographer. Ian has since sent a bunch of photos from the day, and has very kindly agreed to let me share some here. Thanks Ian, please come back soon! All of the images below are his.
Our energetic dog Elton – the hardest working member of team Mandagery Creek Venison. For sure.