Tag Archives: Food

British Produce in June

British produce in June

June is a great month for British produce. Here at Donnington we have been using some great local veg!

We have been lucky enough to source some tasty asparagus from Cobb’s farm (a local farm shop located between us and Hungerford) which we have been using on our weekly changing market menu.

We have also been using fresh peppery Watercress from Hampshire a fantastic compliment to our steaks.

Our breads are another talking point for our guests. Particularly delicious if we do say so ourselves! We use local bakery Shepherds based at nearby Chievley. They supply us with a white, granary and sundried tomato breads.

Our Smoked Salmon (properly garnished) is another treat for the taste buds. Smoked at Severn and Wye Smokery in Glostershire.

And we are planning on making the most of this seasons strawberries on our weekly changing market menu. Keep an eye out for this when you next visit.

Elizabeth Ward
Operations Manager

Book your table on our website or by calling 01635 551199

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

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

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