As I may have mentioned one or ten times recently, our beautiful region is currently celebrating its annual F.O.O.D festival. Last weekend we kicked off our own little program of events with Farm Kitchen lunches on both Saturday and Sunday.
The past week or so have seemed a little like an endurance test with the kids on school holidays, lunches and dinners to cook for our Farm Kitchen and a stream of visitors popping out for farm tours.
But with only a few more kilos of quinces to peel and poach, and roughly the same quantity of potatoes to mash and peel; we are almost there. So thank you to all the lovely guests who have visited us this week, to our family for helping us look after said guests and Alice and Tom too. And thanks Tim for (kindly) advising me to take a deep breath and ‘suck it up’ whenever the anxiety levels creep a little too far in the wrong direction.
Just before I head back to the sink, here below are a few recipes and photos from the weekend. For starters we had little bowls of the pumpkin, pear and sage soup. Then, after a farm tour, sat down the below carpaccio of venison with a honey and verjus dressing (recipe can be found over here on my regular Village Voices spot).
And for the main course, what else but a beautiful venison backstrap. We served it barbecued, with a simple potato Dauphinoise and porcini sauce. Dessert was a dense almond cake with poached quinces and gingerbread ice cream, but by that point on both days, we were so busy serving, washing up and chatting that I missed a ‘plated’ photo opportunity so will recreate the dish for our own pudding next week and post then.
And finally, if you are at all keen on coming to any of our lunches, we host them on the second Saturday of every month, please email me for more information.
Seared venison backstrap with porcini sauce
1 x Mandagery Creek Venison backstrap (about 1kg)
Sea salt and pink peppercorns
For the sauce
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in one cup of warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
2 tbsp thyme leaves
1 cup beef stock
1 tbsp cornflour
Preheat oven to 200C or light a barbecue with a cover and heat well. Crush the pink peppercorns and rub these, with the sea salt, all over the venison. Set aside to reach room temperature.
If cooking on the barbecue – ensure it is hot as possible.
Heat a little more olive oil in an oven-proof saucepan and place over high heat. Or ensure the barbecue is on high. Cook the backstrap for one minute on each side, until well seared and then either place in the oven or covered barbecue for 10 minutes. While the meat is cooking, start on the sauce. Heat the olive oil over medium and cook the garlic for one minute, add the mushrooms, the thyme, soaking liquid, beef stock and cook for a few minutes. Add the cornflour and stir to thicken.
Remove from heat and let rest under a tent of foil. Slice across the grain and serve with porcini sauce or warmed chutney. Serves 8.
This recipe comes from Karen Martini’s brilliant book Feasting
8 Dutch cream potatoes
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
5 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp sour cream
300ml chicken stock
Preheat oven to 200C. Place the garlic, thyme, cream, stock, sour cream and butter in a large saucepan and gently heat so the butter melts and the cream just reaches boiling point. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, peel and slice the potatoes as finely as possible (we use a mandolin). Place the potatoes in a lightly oiled baking dish, pour over the hot cream and cover with a layer of baking paper then a tight lid of foil. Bake for one hour, then remove paper and bake for a further 15 minutes. Serves 6
Baby Spinach, pear and walnut salad
Toast the walnuts for about 10 minutes in a moderate oven. Toss with finely sliced pear, baby spinach and then dress with two parts extra virgin olive oil and one part apple cider vinegar.