SHEPHERD MARKET SWEET TART

The Pig

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A hotel nestled in the the Hampshire country side, surrounded by the beauty of the New Forest, The Pig Hotel and Restaurant is no secret. It is packed out by reputation. A large conservatory jutting off the side of the country house adorned with cascading plants, filled with pots of herbs is where we were seated, after a delicious cocktail in the gardens. The restaurant has country kitchen style, rustic yet elegant, a medium which is hard to achieve in most restaurants. The menu. The kitchen garden and forager dictates the menu, so there is no doubt your food is going to be freshly unearthed that day. The staff are lovely, very attentive. I enjoyed the fact that they were all wearing matching blue converse. Thats some “trendy” management they’ve got going on there.

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On the back of the menu we found a map telling us exactly where our food was coming from. The all important pig comes from the Butcher Alan Bartlett of Bartlett and Sons who works closely with head chef James Golding. The meat is sourced from only local new forest farms. I admire The Pig for keeping it local and supporting all the producers in the surrounding areas. 

To start, as we were eating at The Pig and we are self confessed pigs ourselves we had the meat platter, which I feel was the best way to sample the cured meats they have to offer. 

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Three types of cured, spiced, salty meats teamed with pickled turnips, chard and olives, accompanied by bread and spiced tomato chutney. It was a light and delicious way to start the meal. They presented it beautifully on a  rustic style wooden board yet the food was elegantly laid out with the delicate edible petals adorning the meats. The chefs are clearly proud of their produce and want to give it the love it deserves.

For main we had, yes more pig. We had paperdelle with peppered salami, olives, rocket, parmesan and olive oil. No need for seasoning with the salty meat and olives with the peppery rocket. Simple, yet packed with flavour.

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The menu is full of piggy puns and I’m so annoyed at myself for not remembering them. When looking at the desert menu I knew what I wanted in two shakes of a pigs tail (thats my own). There was a name that jumped out at me, ‘Piggy Fours’. A play on the after dinner bite sized french treats petit fours. We got three pieces each, very sweet, so they were more than enough. 

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Tiny jaffa cake inspired squares, ginger fudge and mini marshmallow lemon curd cones. 

We rolled back to our hotel and after a few glasses of wine played a very unsuccessful game of badminton in hotel gardens in the dark, the only way to work off a three course meal at The Pig Hotel. 

http://www.thepighotel.com/hotel-in-the-new-forest/eating-in-hampshire.aspx

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Bit of a “do”

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When I was asked to do canapes for a hen party the first thing I thought was will I have to make “rude” canapes? Tasteful yet distasteful? But I was relieved to find that this was more of a sophisticated hen, not the hanging out of a stretch hummer screaming through Leicester Square, wearing tutus and little else, brandishing blow-up phallic objects type hen. Dodged an awkward bullet there. 

This hen party was a surprise for the bride to be, so instead of laying out the food on simple plates to be handed round I wanted to make a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. 

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I don’t want to stereotype women…..but, on the whole you can’t go wrong with cupcakes and flowers can you? So I wanted to incorporate flowers into my menu as well as just the display, so went to a fantastic site called First Leaf and bought myself a punnet of edible primroses and violas to top my strawberry and ginger cheesecake cupcakes, which I featured in an earlier blog. 

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Then I made little chocolate pots using ginger Green and Black’s chocolate to give them a little heat. Topped with a raspberry to take the edge off the sweetness and a little gold leaf.

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For my savoury canapes I made crostini with honey and thyme-roasted figs and fresh goat’s cheese. A beautiful combination of flavours. I also made mini chorizo, fennel seed and herb frittatas topped with a pea, parmesan and mint puree. Finally, I made mackerel pate on beetroot rostis. A nice little selection: one fish, one meat and one vegetarian - something for everyone.  

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After plating up, I scattered the table with petals and placed roses and anemones between the cakes and plates. I finished as the girls started to arrive. Scarpered before the squealing ensued and the champagne started flowing. Hen parties don’t have to be trashy, they can be pretty and sophisticated, although I didn’t witness the rest of the evening. I’ve never been to a hen do, but the advice I can give is never book a stripper. I made my friend cry on her birthday when I booked her a slightly over-enthusiastic stripper in a gorilla suit…………I’ll leave you with that. It was uncomfortable. For everyone. 

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The reinvention of the canape

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Been a bit rusty of late, but I’m full of the joys of January. My New Year’s resolutions are written down in my sparkly new diary and I’m ticking them off one by one. A big resolution of mine is to start my own little business on the side. This is the business of Canapes. Those bite sized delights that everyone looks forward to at an event, or some dread…that awkward moment when talking to a client and you have to decide to ‘nibble’ or ‘whole in one’. In both situations you could end up with a prawn hanging off your chin or a chive sticking out of your teeth, with everyone nervously grimicing and wondering if you’ve realised you have a dollop of hollandiase on the end of your nose.

After doing a little research I realised how much fun they can be and the amount of creativity you can squeeze in to these tiny morsels. So I took on my first Soiree and came up with four fool proof canapes to get you started.

Smoked salmon on rye with a lemon and horseradish creme fraiche

Smoked salmon - always a winner. I thinly sliced pumpernickle rye bread, folded a generous amount of salmon on top. I then mixed creme fraiche with horseradish (plenty of it), lemon rind, lemon juice and lots of black pepper. Dolloped a spoonful on each and topped the canape off with a caper and a few dill leaves. This is a delicate, elegant looking canape with some great punchy flavours.

Smoked mackerel pate on beetroot rosti

Another fish canape which is incredibly easy to do is smoked mackerel on a beetroot rosti. Again, mixing firey horseradish with smoked mackerel and cream cheese in a blender with lots of black pepper, lemon juice and parsley. There are plenty of rosti recipes to try but, I liked the thought of the earthy beetroot contrasting with the zesty smokiness of the pate.

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Sticky majool dates with lemon infused feta and walnuts or chorizo

This canape is so simple, but combines a great combination of flavours. It’s sweet, tangy and nutty. Start with the feta cheese. Mix in a bowl with lemon rind and the juice of half a lemon and a large pinch of black pepper. Leave in the fridge to infuse.

Cut the dates in half. Fill one side of each date half with the feta and place a walnut in the other side. Top with mint to add freshness. The other option is to replace the walnut with a piece of chorizo, tightly rolled up. The paprika brings a smokiness to the flavour.

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and finally

Manchego, membrillo, parma ham and marinated olive, topped with fresh fig

This is a wonderful canape and it looks great on the plate. Slice even cubes of manchego cheese. Slide onto a cocktail stick, top with membrillo. You can either go for the jam or jelly. Tightly role a piece of parma ham. Put this on the stick followed by the olive and then the fresh fig. It’s so easy. They line up like soldiers on a plate.

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So there are my four canape suggestions. Make these and you’ll be ever so popular at your next party. My next job is an exciting one. The brief is Alice in Wonderland and I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.

Gone are the days of the dated canape. The partially cooked mushroom vol-au-vent, containing a non-descript pale sauce next to the shrivilled chipolatas. Canapes can be fun to look at, inviting to eat and packed full of flavour.

To the canape! As long as there are weddings, hen do’s, work do’s, the “look how nice my new pad is” do’s, there will be canapes and I intend to make the most of them. 

Dishoom

Dishoom

Christmas tasters. Comte on rye with membrillo  (at Tom’s Deli)

Christmas tasters. Comte on rye with membrillo (at Tom’s Deli)

Christmas coffee

Christmas coffee

lamb kofta and tatziki canapés topped with pistachio, pomegranate and mint. First canapé job has been a success!

lamb kofta and tatziki canapés topped with pistachio, pomegranate and mint. First canapé job has been a success!

Porridge with honey and cinnamon. With a nice strong coffee. Good way to start another freezing day (at Shepherd Market)

Porridge with honey and cinnamon. With a nice strong coffee. Good way to start another freezing day (at Shepherd Market)

Mackerel with a fennel, courgette and herb salad. Yum

Mackerel with a fennel, courgette and herb salad. Yum

Daily Sourdough slicing workout

Daily Sourdough slicing workout