Category Archives: Food

Spring Foods

Spring is one of my favourite times of the year with lots of interesting foods coming into season.

Lamb has to be one of my favourite meats! I source our lamb from Thatcham Butchers, who always provide high quality fresh meats that are local. There are so many different types of cuts you can buy from leg, breast, neck, shoulder, saddle, rump and loin. A great dish that I particularly like is rump of lamb braised shoulder faggot, rosemary royal potatoes, spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine and mint jus.

Rocket is very versatile. It can be used to make great pesto, and it’s great in Italian dishes, salads or used simply for decoration on a plate.  It has a strong peppery flavour, a great texture and can be grown easily. We grow our own here at Donnington so why not try to plant some in your garden or allotment.

Garlic a fantastic ingredient and I use it in almost everything. Again like the rocket it is pretty easy to grow. We are lucky to be able to source garlic all year round as it is dried, but I prefer fresh.  Add garlic to your mashed potato and serve with braised pork belly, broccoli and crackling dust; this makes a fantastic evening meal.

It’s not long until fresh asparagus is in season (around 3 weeks) and we source this from our local Cobbs Farm in Hungerford.

Have a go and cook with some of these ingredients or simply join us for lunch or dinner from £23 for two courses and enjoy some delicious dishes freshly prepared with local ingredients – click here to view our sample menus.

Kelvin Johnson
Head Chef
Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

Ingredients in Season

As we are moving away from winter and towards spring there are a variety of delicious ingredients that are currently in season. Here are a few of my dish suggestions.

Ingredients in season:
Sardines
Spring Onions
Clams
Cockles
Mussels
Oysters
Seabass Venison

  • For the sardines try to buy them fresh, then grill them and place on top of toast with a tomato compote – a delicious starter or light lunch, quick and easy to prepare!
  • Try spring onions in mashed potato. Prepare your mash and when adding in your butter add a handful of chopped spring onions along with seasoning. – A great change from plain mash!
  • Combine clams and cockles to make a chowder serve this with a lightly pan fried fillet of brill – easy to make, a great for a dinner party dish.
  • You can’t go wrong with the classic French dish Moules mariniere. This dish has a wonderful creamy and garlicky flavour you can’t help but mop up the sauce with baguette bread.
  • Oysters I prefer to not complicate their delicious delicate flavour. Serve on ice and with some lemon wedges, Tabasco sauce and pickled red onion.
  • For seabass simply pan fry with a bit of butter, serve with wilted spinach and horseradish mash.
  • One of my favourite dishes is pan fried venison loin served with sticky red cabbage, potato rosti and chocolate jus – amazing!

Have a go at home and enjoy the current seasonal produce. Or put your feet up and visit our Winepress restaurant at Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa and enjoy a dish!

Kelvin Johnson
Head Chef
Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

Gluten, Dairy and Sugar free!

I create gluten, dairy and sugar free desserts on a weekly basis for our menus here at Donnington Valley. This is a lovely light dessert that can easly be made at home. Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

Soya Milk 200 ml
Cardamom 6 pcs
Coconut milk 300 ml
Egg yolk  7 pcs
Sweetener  11 tblsp
Gelatine 3 ½
Chopped mango 150 grams
Chopped ripe banana – 1/2 pcs
Mint leaf  – garnish

Method:

1. Warm the soya milk, roasted cardamom and coconut milk together

2. Then add the egg yolk and 10tblsp of the sweetener into the warm milk

3. Keep cooking at a low temperature until it coats the spoon.

4. Dissolve the gelatine in the warm egg yolk, coconut mixture and strain the mixture.

5. Immediately place the warm pannacotta mixture under an ice bath. Continuously mix the mixture until it starts to set.

6. Pour the pannacotta mixture in your favourite mould. Store it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

7. Mix the chopped bananas and mangoes with the rest of the sweetener, rest for 20 minutes.

8. Asemble the pannacotta on a plate and add the banana & mango salsa, use mint to garnish.

Have a go at this dessert and let me know your thoughts.

See you soon at Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa!

Abraham
Head Pastry Chef
Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

Braised Pork Belly

ere is my recipe for braised pork belly, spiced red cabbage, caramelised apple, whole grain mustard mash and jus. This is a delicious dish perfect for a dinner party! Why not try it at home.

For 4 portions:

Ingredients for the Pork:

200ml Orange juice
1 tsp English mustard
2 cloves
3 tsp honey
1tsp orange marmalade
1 bunch bay leaves
1 glove garlic
A pinch of ginger
2 pinches of whole black pepper
1tbsp chopped purple sage
½  of a star anise
1 medium carrot
1 large onion
50 grams celery
50 grams leeks
400ml white wine
Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat the oven to 130c. Put the pork belly in a large oven tray adding all the above ingredients, top with the orange juice and white wine. Braise in the oven between 6 to 8 hours. Once cooked put the meat on a clean tray and press it tight to extract any extra juices. Ideally try to store the meat in the fridge overnight. The next day slice the pork into thick slices about 200g each, reheat the oven to 180c and place the pork in for 25 minutes.

Ingredients for spiced red cabbage:

400grams red cabbage – shredded
50ml red currant jelly
½ tsp mixed spice
1tbsp sugar
1tbsp red wine vinegar
50ml red wine

Method:

Place a pan on a low heat, add the shredded red cabbage & add all the given ingredients together cook slowly for 45 minutes. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Ingredients for caramelised apple:

2 Peeled, cut & cored red apples
2tbsp castor sugar
1tbsp butter

Method:

Place a pan on the stove. Add the sugar & keep stirring until it caramelises. Then add the butter and sliced apple, cook for 4mins until the apple is coated in the caramel.

Ingredients for whole grain mustard mash:

800grams Regular potatoes – peeled and cut
2 tbsp of whole grain mustard
Butter
Salt & pepper

Method:

Place a pan on the heat and fill with water. Once the water is boiling add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes become soft, drain and then mash them adding salt, pepper and a bit of butter. Mix the whole grain mustard with mash potatoes.

Ingredients for the Jus:

250 grams Veal bones
150 grams Chicken bones
300 grams Pork trotter
1 Onion
2 Carrots
50 grams leeks
30 grams celery
1 tbsp sugar
100 ml red wine
1 litre Water
Salt & pepper

Method:

Roast the bones and place it in to a slow cooker with onion, leeks, carrots, celery & water. Cook it slowly on a low heat for 4 hours. Then strain the stock into a separate pan. Add red wine, then reduce the stock to half. Season it with salt & pepper.

To assemble:

Reheat all the cooked products. Assemble just like in the picture & enjoy!

Try this recipe at home or come along to Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa and enjoy a meal in the WinePress restaurant.

Kelvin Johnson
Head Chef
Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

Recipe: A Raspberry Summer Dessert

Try making this delicious dessert at home and enjoy al-fresco on a wonderful summer’s evening or pop down to Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa and our experienced dessert chefs will whip one up for you.

Local farm raspberries, white chocolate milles feuille, black pepper tuile and raspberry reduction

Ingredients

Crispy vanilla sponge:

2 whole eggs
42g caster sugar
½ vanilla pod
45g plain flour

White chocolate filling (mousse):

165ml double cream
20g caster sugar
80g white chocolate

Black pepper tuile (a thin, crisp biscuit):

17g soft butter
17g icing sugar
1 egg white
18g plain flour
A very small tbsp crushed black pepper

Raspberry reduction:

84g fresh raspberries
46g caster sugar
34 ml water
1 tsp glucose

Method (serves 4):

CRISPY VANILLA SPONGE:

1. Heat the oven to 170c
2. Whip the whole eggs with caster sugar to soft peaks
3. Split the vanilla pod with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds
4. Add the vanilla seeds to the egg and sugar mixture and gently fold in the plain flour
5. Put baking paper on a baking tray and spread the mixture evenly on it
6. Bake it at 170c for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

WHITE CHOCOLATE FILLING ( MOUSSE):

1. Whip the double cream with caster sugar
2. Melt the white chocolate in a bain-marie (hot-water bath)
3. Fold the cream into the white chocolate quickly and gently to ensure that the maximum amount of air is retained in the mixture.

BLACK PEPPER TUILE:

1. Beat the soft butter with icing sugar until smooth
2. Add the egg white and mix in well
3. Sieve the flour and fold into the mixture with the black pepper until combined.
4. Bake at 200°Cuntil golden brown, about 6-8minutes. (Do not under bake)
5.  Upon removal from oven, use a metal spatula to lift the cookies of the tray, and place on a rolling pin to obtain the tuile shape or place upside down in a tuile sheet.

Raspberry reduction:

1. Boil the fresh raspberries with water, caster sugar and glucose to 110c in a pan
Cool it down pass through a seive.

Assemble the dish by placing a layer of the white chocolate mousse between rectangles of the sponge. Top with a row of fresh raspberries and the tuile biscuit. Dot some of the raspberry reduction on the plate and serve.

Enjoy!
Abraham, Head Pastry Chef

Visit our website for Alfresco dining at Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

The Season of Asparagus and Strawberries

Be sure to make the most of summer foods while they’re in season. Read on to find out more about two of my summer favourites, asparagus and strawberries.

Asparagus
British asparagus has a short season and is available from May to June. With this in mind it is well worth making the most of this lovely intense savoury flavour whilst it is at its best. Apart from being delicious, asparagus has high levels of vitamins A and C, iron and potassium, perfect for a healthy lifestyle.

If the spears are quite large simply break off the larger end of the spear and throw the woody ends away. Asparagus will naturally break where the woody stems give way to the tender part of the vegetable. You can use this marvellous vegetable for a starter, light lunch or incorporate it into a main meal. One of my favourites, which we make here in the Winepress, is simply to grill the asparagus and serve with a garlic mayonnaise. The simple preparation enhances the flavour of this wonderful ingredient, making it a wonderful seasonal treat. Alternatively why not try using asparagus in a creamy risotto or in a salad with bacon and salad leaves topped with a poached egg.

Strawberries

The arrival of the first British strawberries into the kitchen always brings a smile to my face. For me they are a true taste of summer.

Strawberries have been a key ingredient for classic British summer foods for many years. Desserts such as Eton Mess, summer pudding and the classic strawberries and cream are a few to mention. To get the very best flavour, I recommend eating them at room temperature, or even placing them in the sun for an hour or so, as this brings out their natural sweet flavour and colour.

As a delicious indulgent treat, I like to dip whole strawberries into melted dark chocolate and set aside until firm. You could serve these as petit fours for a dinner party or for children’s parties.

Strawberries need not be confined to the dessert menu, why not thinly slice strawberries and place them over a summer salad – delicious! Using a little balsamic vinegar or freshly ground black pepper enhances their fresh flavour. Make the most of these seasons’ strawberries and enjoy them in as many ways as possible, easy to do as they are so versatile. Why not let us know about any unusual combinations you have tried.

Why not pop over to Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa and let us prepare a mouthwatering meal using the best seasonal ingredients.

Mesut Sen
Sous Chef at Donnginton Valley Hotel and Spa

Pan Fried Brill

Here at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa have love good food; this drives us to share our passion for flavour, aroma and texture in our dishes. We love the kind of food that can transport you back to a once visited faraway place, we don’t eat something just because it sits on a plate, we eat because it is amazing and the best quality it can possibly be.  To help to spread our love of food we would like to share with you one of our recipes.

Pan Fried BrillWith scallop truffle mousse, Chinese cabbage, roasted shallots and saffron vinaigrette.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

2 Brill fillets
4 pieces of pak choi
4 small shallots
100g mashed potatoes
2 tsp of finely chopped fresh chives
4 scallops
30ml double cream
2 egg yolks
2 Chinese cabbage leaves
20ml lemon juice
100ml olive oil
20ml white wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 pinches of saffron
truffle oil

Method

Slice two of the shallots in half and roast them in the oven until lightly caramelised.

In a blender, blend the scallops with the cream, egg yolks a drizzle of truffle oil and a touch of salt and pepper to create a mousse.
Blanch the cabbage in boiling water, remove, drain and refresh in cold water.
Place half of the mousse in each cabbage leaf then roll and wrap in cling film to make a ball.

Place a pan on the heat and fry the fillets skin side down until golden. Heat through the mash mixing in the chopped chives, and lightly wilt the pak choi leaves.

To make the dressing finely chop the remaining shallots and reduce with white wine vinegar a few drizzles of lemon juice and the sugar. Remove from the heat.
Once the reduction has cooled slowly add the olive oil and saffron. Check the seasoning.

Once everything is ready, transfer the mash and pak choi to the plate. Arrange the shallot to one end and slice through the mousse, removing the cling film and arrange on the plate. Top with the brill fillet skin side up and drizzle over the saffron dressing.

Enjoy.