Tag Archives: Cooking

How To Make The Perfect Roast Potatoes

Much taken-for-granted, the potato is often overlooked or rushed when creating the Sunday Roast. Here, our kitchen provide a quick yet foolproof recipe to ensure you get them just right. Plenty of time to perfect them for Christmas!

PotatoesGather a selection of large potatoes, peal and place in pot of cold water.

Prepare a roasting tray by spreading goose fat around the edges and placing in the oven on a medium high heat.

Cut potatoes up in to around the size of 2 to 3 inches in circumference, place back into the pot and bring up to the boil, in till slightly soft.

Once ready, drain into colander and rumble the potatoes around in the colander until fluffy.

Carefully removing the roasting tray from the oven, evenly place the fluffy roast potatoes in the hot goose fat and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Using a spatula toss the potatoes to ensure they are evenly covered with oil.

Place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, keeping a regular eye on them and regularly turning the potatoes over with a spatula. Voila!

Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

When planning for your wedding day, catering will be one of the biggest decisions you will make. The food is one of the main things your guests will remember from the day, what they had, was there enough, was there too little and how did the food reflect you as a couple? Here are our best tips.

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When it comes to deciding on catering for your big day there are a number of choices: a traditional three course wedding breakfast; a relaxed summer barbecue or even a Champagne afternoon tea. Try and be different – and think about the best bits from previous weddings you would have attended. Make it more about you and your partner.

Upon arrival following your ceremony, guests might be a little peckish; the perfect little appetiser would be individually handmade canapés. Time of year is key as to what this might entail – hot, cold, heavy or fresh. You might want the freedom to choose, some venues are more flexible here than others.

Drinks are also a very important part of the day and not everyone wants to drink, though some do! A range of beverages for your reception depending on the time of year including a Summer Pimms or hot winter cider toddy will go down well and don’t have to break the bank.

The main meal, often called the wedding breakfast, can come in a variety of guises – and our Head Chef, Kelvin Johnson, is happy to design a menu for our guests’ wedding day. Kelvin’s menus are influenced by the seasons, using the freshest ingredients from our local suppliers. Importantly for many, wines to compliment your menu sounds like a minefield but needn’t – our award winning wine sommelier, Chris Neeves would assist on selecting exactly what went with your chosen dish. Whatever you choose though, again consider what you and your partner like.

It is also nice to cater for others for example the vegetarians and children who might need something different to the rest. At Donnington we create ‘Little Meals’ – mini fish & chip cones or mini burgers and chips . If you have a large number of evening guests attending or have a family with a large appetite, a finger buffet is perfect, and we are able to customise to suit any dietary requirements. If you fancy something simple; a bacon, egg or sausage roll will go down a treat too and once the party starts can often be the saving grace!

And throughout the evening, something fun will keep everyone entertained and energy levels high! How about going for your favourite retro sweets, a popcorn machine or even candy floss! A great Summer treat is a slush machine which you can make alcoholic, adults only or even an ice cream stand- everyone loves ice cream!

It can be overwhelming trying to accommodate all of your family and friends’ needs. But most importantly remember the day is your day, and if you choose to have it at Donnington, we are here to make your day as special and memorable for you as possible.

How to prepare duck breast for pan frying

This week, our Sous-Chef Mesut Sen from the Donnington Valley Hotel is going to show you how to perfectly prepare a duck breast to cook in the frying pan.

The main tips given are:

  • Cut excess skin slighty off the sides so the fat does not overlap the flesh
  • Cut squares into duck skin in a diagonal manner from both sides to create a crispy surface
  • Cuts into skin can be made in several directions and forms, as they are also done in order to create an aesthetically pleasing piece of art on the place

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