Looking for some culinary inspiration for the end of winter or early spring?
Fancy trying cooking something new that’s delicious, but not too time-consuming or overly fiddly?
Farmers Weekly has asked the team at Seasoned Cookery School, based in the grounds of Catton Hall Estate in Derbyshire and owned by dairy farmer’s wife Clare Major, to come up with some ideas.
Here are some suggestions, including a Thai coconut broth with pheasant – which, depending on preference and ingredient availability, you could also make with pigeon, partridge, chicken or beef.
Parsnip, cauliflower and ginger soup
This hearty, warming soup has a hint of chilli, the warming spices of coriander and cumin and a dash of turmeric to give it a beautiful colour. It’s great for a warming lunch, a dinner party starter or to batch-cook and freeze to make the most of seasonal produce. It can be enjoyed straight away, chilled and reheated at a later date or frozen.
1 medium cauliflower
Thumb-sized piece of ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 green chillies, deseeded
1 tbsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
500ml vegetable/chicken stock
500ml milk (adjust to reach your preferred consistency)
½ tsp turmeric
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
A small handful of coriander and some additional roasted cauliflower florets to decorate, if desired
1. Chop the onions, parsnips and cauliflower. They can be chopped roughly as the soup will be blended later. Finely chop/grate the ginger and slice the garlic and the green chillies.
2. In a small pan, dry-roast the coriander and cumin seeds until fragrant. Then crush them in a pestle and mortar.
3. In a large casserole dish, add the oil, heat until hot and add the chopped onions. Sauté for 5-10 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the parsnips and cauliflower, cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the garlic, ginger, chillies, stock and half of the milk. There should be enough liquid to cover the vegetables.
4. Simmer for 20-30 minutes until all of the vegetables are soft. Add the spices and blend with a stick blender if you have one. Add the lemon juice and further milk to reached your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper and taste, adding further seasoning if required.
Thai coconut broth with pheasant
This is a midweek staple in the home of dairy farmers and cookery school owners Rupert and Clare Major. We suggest making the paste in batches and freezing in portions. All that is then needed is simply to defrost, along with some frozen pheasant breasts, and you will have a beautiful, fragrant dish to eat throughout the year utilising any game left over from the season. It also works brilliantly with pigeon, partridge, chicken or beef.
Serves 2 as a generous meal or 4 as a light lunch
For the Thai paste
(We suggest making 4-5 times this quantity and freezing in batches)
5cm of fresh root ginger
3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
2 lemongrass stalks, outer stalks removed and chopped
1 tbsp of peanut butter or a handful of unsalted peanuts
1-2 tbsp of fish sauce, sesame oil and soy sauce (adjust according to your taste and the strength of the brand you are using)
2 fresh red chillies (with or without seeds, depending on their strength)
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 kaffir lime leaves (fresh if possible)
2 portions of rice noodles, soaked in hot water
2 tbsp of Thai paste (above)
400ml coconut milk
400ml vegetable/chicken/game stock
2 pheasant breasts
1 lime, 1 red chilli and fresh coriander to serve
Seasonal vegetables, for example:
1 carrot, peeled in long strips with a peeler
Butternut squash/pumpkin chunks, roasted
1. To make the paste, put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz to a fine paste. If the lemongrass remains stringy, add a couple of tbsp of vegetable oil and blend again in smaller batches.
When ready to make the dish:
1. Soak the noodles in hot water (not boiling) according to the packet’s instructions and get all of the rest of your ingredients ready – the dish is very quick to prepare!
2. In a large casserole pan, add 2 generous tbsp of the paste, along with the coconut milk and the stock.
3. Bring to a gentle simmer. Heat a separate frying pan with some oil, ready to cook your pheasant breast.
4. Cook the pheasant for 2-3 minutes each side, remove from the heat and rest on a plate.
5. Add your vegetables to your coconut broth in the order in which they will need cooking (ie, broccoli, which will take 4-5 minutes, followed by carrot ribbons and pak choi, which will take only 30 seconds).
6. Serve at once, ladling into generous bowls with sliced pheasant breast served on top. Garnish with coriander, a quarter of lime and red chilli pieces.
Rhubarb and ginger pots
For the rhubarb compote
2 gelatine leaves
400g trimmed rhubarb, cut into pieces
1-2 tbsp of caster sugar (depending on how sharp you like it)
2 bulbs of stem ginger
For the posset
400ml double cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp stem ginger syrup
Juice of 1 lemon
Crystallised ginger to serve
To make the compote:
1. Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they have “blossomed” – absorbed water and become soft.
2. Place the rhubarb, sugar and chopped stem ginger in a heavy-bottomed pan. Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes until the juices flow from the fruit and the rhubarb is cooked but still holds its shape.
3. Remove from the heat and strain over a sieve, catching the juice in a bowl underneath.
4. When the gelatine leaves have softened, remove from the water and wring dry with your hands. Add the gelatine leaves to the strained rhubarb juices and stir until dissolved.
5. Place some of the rhubarb pieces and stem ginger in the bottom of 4 glass dishes. Pour the juices with the gelatine in over and place in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours. (If you wish to create some decorations for the top, reserve a little of the juices, add an additional blossomed gelatine leaf and pour into a small container to set.)
To make the posset
1. Place the double cream, sugar and ginger syrup into a large saucepan and heat gently. Bring to the boil and boil for 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2. Add the lemon juice, whisk well and allow to cool.
3. When the compote is set, gently pour over a few tbsp of the cooled posset and allow to set again in the fridge for 1 hour.
4. When ready to serve, remove from the fridge, allow to come to room temperature and decorate with crystallised ginger and rhubarb jelly if using.
Seasoned Cookery School
Seasoned is owned by dairy farmer’s wife Clare Major and is in the grounds of the beautiful Catton Hall Estate in Derbyshire.
It operates more than 100 different cookery and baking courses taught by some of the country’s best chefs, some of whom are BBC Masterchef and Great British Bake Off finalists.
To find out more, visit Seasoned Cookery School’s website