June’s recipes from Head Chef James Harris

Recipe 1 

Grilled Wye valley asparagus, allotment salad

A decent salad shouldn’t be a daunting idea! So here I have put together my favourite salad and a couple of other key recipes for a good salad. A quality salad hangs on two things, the freshest ingredients and a tasty dressing.

For the tasty dressing, basic rule of thumb is 1 part acid, like vinegar or lemon, and 3 parts good quality oil and then a smidge of mustard and then salt and sugar to balance and season the salad.

For my grilled asparagus salad I’m going to use a lemon dressing. For this you will need 1 part lemon juice ( freshly squeezed is a must, none of the jiffy nonsense) and 3 parts virgin rapeseed oil. For a local rapeseed oil, you can’t beat Fussels.

For the salad I’m going to have the grilled asparagus (absolutely in peak season at the moment – you have no excuse not to use British!) and then a great leafy salad that I have picked from my wife’s allotment spinach, lollo rosso and watercress (watercress is from the supermarket).

To the cooking, fire up your bbq, make sure the flames have died down and your charcoal is white, this is when the flavour is best and you won’t tarnish your food with dirty acrid soot. On a plate, season your asparagus with some oil and sea salt and then put them over the charcoal. If cooking directly on the charcoal give them a brush so your asparagus doesn’t get covered in white ash.

Take your washed and dried salad leaves and chuck them in a bowl. Give a good drizzle of lemon oil and a good pinch of quality sea salt like Maldon for example. At this point you can add a nice light goats cheese or some blanched couscous or some smashed avocado, or go wild and add them all and give your salad a good but light toss so you don’t bruise your leaves.

Now, on a plate put a handful of your dressed salad in the middle then place your fresh hot asparagus on top and follow with a little fine lemon zest over the top.

There you have a fresh, zesty, grilled asparagus salad with lemon dressing.

Recipe 2 – Fruit scones

Hello! I hope you are keeping well. Today we are going to tackle a classic British sweet treat – fruit scones. I for one am missing a cream tea. I don’t know about you, but there is something special about sitting down to a cream tea with freshly baked scones and a mug of builder’s tea. So, I thought I would share with you my favourite recipe. You will need the following:

For the scones:

900gr Self raising flour

270gr Whole milk

270gr Crème fraîche

250gr Chilled unsalted butter

200gr Raisins

100gr Caster sugar

2gr Salt

For the egg wash glaze

2 yolks

Pinch of salt

Tiny splash of water

Method

Rub the flour, salt, sugar and butter together to a nice even breadcrumb texture. Once the breadcrumb texture is achieved gently mix the raisins through, followed by the milk and crème fraîche. Continue mixing the dough very gently, we don’t want to work the gluten. Once the dough is about 80% mixed, turn it out onto a work bench and continue to mix slowly, using more of a ‘squeeze and squash’ motion than a kneading one, until nearly all the flour is incorporated. Allow the dough to rest at this point, if you have space in your fridge ideal, if not a cool place will suffice.

Now we need to roll and cut out our scones, roll to about 1.5″ or about 4cm. Using your preferred floured ring cutter, with gentle and even pressure cut the scones out. Reserve the trimmings as they can be re rolled and cut again.

This is when I preheat my oven to 180°c.

Now to egg wash the scones, using 2 yolks, a pinch of salt and a tiny splash of water we are going to glaze the scones three times. Leaving about 15 minutes between each glaze, this allows the previous layer to get tacky and not run off down the side of the scone. Once glazed it is time to bake, depending on size they can take between 20 and 30 minutes, however there is a little bit of judgement involved as there is with most cooking. If the scones are looking nicely coloured, they are probably ready, if they are looking a bit paler then you would expect, then cook them for a little longer.

Enjoy warm with clotted cream smushed on first and then strawberry jam slapped on second.

Here is a link to my YouTube channel, with this recipe:

https://youtu.be/sqJykSQXwGU

Thanks, take care and happy cooking.

James Harris (Head chef – The Packhorse South stoke)