Tag Archives: fine dine

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.

An Interview with Head Chef Kelvin Johnson

Kelvin has been Head Chef at Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa for over 21 years since the hotel opened. Kelvin produces fantastic classic dishes using local quality produce. Let’s find out more about Kelvin.

• How would you describe your style of cooking?
Classic British with a twist of French

• Did you always dream of becoming a chef?
Yes, my mother was a chef so I started very early with her. I also won a competition at school so this pushed and inspired me.

• Did anyone in particular influence you in your career choice?
My Mum defiantly, food was a very big role at home, fresh ingredients were always key. We always sat down as a family for each meal. My Mum however did over stew vegetables so I always make sure mine are cooked correctly.

• What’s your signature dish?
Any sort of fish, simply cooked with seasonal vegetables

• What do you enjoy cooking at home?
To be honest nothing, I never cook at home. My wife is an excellent cook and I believe that my children should be brought up on her food.

• What’s your pet hate when it comes to food?
It has to be wastage, I can’t stand it. I try to use everything that I can, for example if I cook spaghetti bolognaise and I have made too much, I will make a lasagne as well.

• What’s the best piece of cooking advice you could give our readers?
Keep cooking simple and as fresh as possible, don’t over complicate it otherwise you will lose the natural taste.

• What was your first job and how long were you there?
It was at the 4 star Raven Hotel. This is where I started training as a chef and was there for 4 years.

• What do you do to relax?
Play with Apple products – I love them! I also enjoy watching my children play sport

• What’s your favourite ingredient to use in cooking?
It has to be garlic and ginger. These ingredients bring out the flavour in foods

• What’s your most exotic dish?
It would be my venison served with chocolate sauce

At Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa Kelvin offers an A la carte menu as well as the seasonal Market Menu, catering for vegetarians and all types of dietary requirements. With the lunch menu starting from only £18.00 for two courses why not stop by for a bite!

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

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.