NEIL'S RECIPES: STRAWBERRIES AND CRÈME FRAÎCHE SORBET

by Cafe St Honoré in


I have to admit I have a soft spot for Coupar Angus, where we buy our strawberries. My father is from there and our family have a long history in that wee village. I have very fond memories of being sent to my Auntie’s for a summer ‘’at the berries’’ and eating as many as I could pick! I can still remember the taste of the ham and tomato rolls my wonderful Auntie made for our packed lunches. It is wise not to play around too much with our brilliant strawberries. Keep at room temperature and just a rinse under the tap before eating. And with this cracking crème fraîche sorbet it’s perfect on a hot day ‘’at the berries’’!

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 

1 to 2 punnets of strawberries – I get mine from Coupar Angus – husks removed, gently washed and at room temperature

A few sprigs of mint or sweet cicely

750g crème fraîche, I use Katy Rodgers

375g unrefined caster sugar

325g water

50g glucose

Juice of half a lemon

METHOD 

To make the sorbet, start by making a stock syrup by bringing the water, sugar and glucose to the boil and simmering for 3 minutes. Allow to cool and retain a little for a coulis. Whisk in the crème fraîche then add lemon juice to taste. Chill and freeze in an ice-cream machine following the manufacturers instructions. Keep in the freezer until required.

To make a coulis, take a handful of strawberries and place into a liquidiser with a squeeze of lemon juice and a little of the stock syrup and blitz until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve into a squeezy bottle for ease of serving.

Before serving, ensure the berries are room temperature, as they taste so much better. Fill 4 bowls with halved strawberries and squeeze over the coulis then top with a ball of sorbet. Garnish with some fresh mint or sweet cicely. 


COLLEGE PRIZE IN NEIL'S HONOUR

by Cafe St Honoré


It was an honour for Neil to attend Edinburgh College's prize-giving ceremony on Friday. Especially as he was presenting the inaugural 'Neil Forbes Award for Professional Cookery'.

This was presented to Adam Madaci (pictured with Neil) who was selected as he: "demonstrated lots of flair within the kitchen and shows a bright future and is one of the college's youngest students.".


NEIL'S RECIPES: CHOCOLATE TART

by Cafe St Honoré in


Lovers of rich chocolate will adore this, although I can only manage a small slice. Of course, it all depends on the ingredients you use. I’m using Montezuma’s organic dark chocolate just now, and adore it. The trick to this dish is to trust your oven and serve the tart on the day you make it. It’s just not the same the day after! 

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Makes on 9-inch tart – but small, individual tarts work very well too

INGREDIENTS

9-inch pastry case, lined

275ml double cream

200ml whole milk

400g dark chocolate, I use Montezuma’s

3 whole eggs

Cocoa powder for dredging (optional)

For the pastry (this will give you some for your freezer for next time):

600g plain flour, sifted

185g icing sugar, sifted

215g unsalted butter, diced

3 eggs, cracked and gently whisked

METHOD

Cream the icing sugar and butter together for a few minutes until light in colour. Add the flour and scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding the eggs - a little at a time - to make a soft, wet paste. Chill for 20 minutes then roll out and line your pastry case and allow it to rest for a further 20 minutes in the fridge.

Remove from the fridge and cover the pastry with greaseproof paper or a triple-layer of cling film, add baking beans and bake at 180°C for 35 to 40 minutes, until just golden and crisp. Remove the baking beans and greaseproof paper.

Meanwhile, warm the cream and the milk together in a pan until it nearly comes to a boil. Then remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Mix well with a whisk, and then allow it to cool gently for 5 minutes or so.

Add the eggs to this mixture one at a time, stirring gently as you do. Then pour this mixture into the blind-baked tart shell and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until there is no wobble when you gently shake the tray.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing carefully from the tin. Dust with cocoa powder (optional). Cut into slices and serve with crème fraîche.

A top tip is to use a sharp, hot, wet knife to cut the tart into perfect slices.


NEIL'S RECIPES: SCOTCH BEEF CARPACCIO

by Cafe St Honoré in


Grass-fed organic Scotch Beef contains significantly more vitamins and minerals than non-organic, grain-fed beef; and its fat has a higher content of Omegas which are crucial for our health. Hung correctly and matured for further flavour and tenderness, it is almost effortless to prepare and cook with beef of this standard.

This dish is named after a Venetian painter and is usually served with a little olive oil, lemon and white truffle or Parmesan. It’s totally raw, truly delicious and perfectly safe to eat. Serving raw beef is a real test of the quality of the meat and the provenance of the cattle. I’ve made this dish using many different cuts of beef for this in the past, but here I’m using fillet. It is expensive, but consider this a special dish to be savoured. 

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

250g piece of fillet of Scotch Beef, trimmed and silver skin removed

1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil

1 large tablespoon Arran mustard

Good salt and pepper

250mls cider vinegar

250mls water

250g unrefined caster sugar

400g mixed veg for picking e.g. cauliflower, carrot, onion, courgette, red pepper

A few aromas like star anise, cinnamon or thyme for flavouring your pickles

A few salad leaves

A few shards of Corra Linn or Bonnet cheese

METHOD

Firstly bring the vinegar, water and sugar to the boil on the hob with your chosen aromas and simmer for 3 minutes, then season with salt and pepper.

Blanch the pickling veg in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes until just starting to soften, then refresh under cold, running water. Then place them into the hot pickle liquor. Once done these can be stored for weeks in a sterilised jar.

Season the beef all over with salt and pepper then get a heavy frying pan very hot and add half the rapeseed oil. Then very quickly sear the beef all over for a couple of minutes maximum. This is just to remove the raw outer layer of the beef.

Make a paste with the mustard and the remaining oil, then season with salt and pepper. Rub this paste all over the just-seared beef and wrap it very tightly in cling film until it resembles a sausage. Make sure it’s firmly secured and tie the ends so it won’t unravel. Then place the beef in your freezer for about an hour. You don’t want it to be frozen solid, just to be firm.

To serve, simply remove the beef from the cling film and slice very thinly with a very sharp knife and arrange on a plate. Season with salt and pepper, then some salad leaves and some pickled veg. Lastly, add the shards of cheese and a final seasoning.


WE'RE THE UK'S FIRST 'ORGANIC SERVED HERE' RESTAURANT!

by Cafe St Honoré


The Soil Association has launched a new organic award in Scotland  - Organic Served Here - and we're the first recipients! We've been awarded three stars out of five in recognition of our sourcing. 50-75% of all ingredients we use hails from certified organic farmers, growers and processors.

Organic Served Here recognises restaurants, cafes and eateries committed to serving organic food. Launched this month, initially in Scotland only, the award encourages chefs and restaurateurs to share their commitment to organic food with their customers, whilst providing a reliable way for diners to find establishments serving food made with certified organic ingredients.

Our Chef Director Neil Forbes said: "I feel very honoured to accept the UK's first Soil Association Organic Served Here award. I strongly believe that everyone should have access to good food, and good food starts even before the seed is planted, with our soil quality determining the quality of the food we eat. This award encourages everyone who prepares and sells food to think about that quality. So let's all grow, cook, eat and learn together, and be part of a future of better food for all." 

Alison Muirhead, Business Development Manager at Soil Association Scotland said: “We are very excited that Cafe St Honoré have become the first restaurant to hold our Organic Served Here award. The team are a great example of what’s possible with organic, sourcing 50 – 75% of their ingredients from certified organic suppliers, which is a huge achievement. Everyone that chooses to dine there can know that by doing so, they aren’t just getting a wonderful meal; they are supporting top-quality organic farmers and suppliers, bringing you ingredients produced to the highest standards of care for the environment and animal welfare.”


NEIL'S RECIPES: CARAMELISED ONION AND CLAVA BRIE TARTS

by Cafe St Honoré in


This is a very tasty dish and one that is on the menu a lot at Cafe. It’s simple to create, even if you have a go at making your own pastry. The slowly-cooked onions add truly amazing flavours to the dish. And the purple sprouting broccoli, very underused in my opinion, adds another layer of deliciousness, and pairs really well with the creamy Clava Brie from Connage Highland Dairy near Inverness. But you could try a different cheese, like a Lanark Blue, for a stronger flavour.

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Makes 4 small tarts

INGREDIENTS

250g plain flour

125g unsalted butter, diced small

Cold water to bind the pastry

12 slices of organic Clava cheese

2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced

A good handful of purple sprouting broccoli, woody stalks removed

Good salt and pepper

50ml cold-pressed rapeseed oil

A few sprigs of thyme

METHOD

To make the pastry for the tart cases, add the plain flour and the diced butter to a mixing bowl and rub together until they resemble breadcrumbs. Then add a pinch of salt and trickle in enough cold water to make a good pastry dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour or so to rest.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C and lightly grease and flour 4 small tart tins. Remove the chilled dough from fridge and flour your work surface. Cut the pastry into four evenly-sized pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Then roll each ball into 2mm-thick circles and place into your cases, trimming off the edges of any excess pastry. Blind bake with greaseproof paper (or 3 layers of cling film) and baking beans for 40 to 50 minutes - until the tarts are crisp and golden brown.

To caramelise the onions, heat 25ml of oil in a pot then add the sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper then put the lid on and cook on a medium heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally. The onions should be golden and caramelised. Remove from the heat and stir in a few sprigs of thyme.

Divide the onions between the 4 tart shells, then lay 3 slices of Clava cheese on top of each tart and trickle with a little oil. Top with some thyme leaves and season again. Gently warm the tarts under the grill or in the oven.

Next, bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the purple sprouting broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes until tender. Remove from the water and season.

Divide the broccoli between 4 warmed plates and place the tarts on top. Trickle any remaining oil all over the tarts and broccoli, and serve.


Food Made Good Awards 2016

by Cafe St Honoré


We've been shortlisted for the Food Made Good Awards 2016!

We're delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for the Scottish Restaurant of the Year in recognition of our commitment to sustainability. Our Chef Director Neil Forbes commented: “The whole team at Cafe are so thrilled to be shortlisted in this year’s Food Made Good Awards alongside some wonderfully sustainable places. It's a real privilege to be shortlisted and I am very much looking forward to the ceremony in London."

Run by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) the awards reflect the hugely positive changes the industry has made in recent years to meet the dining public’s ever increasing appetite for food that’s delicious, ethical and sustainable.

Neil is attending the ceremony on Tuesday 22nd March at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Hall in London, where SRA President, Raymond Blanc OBE will be presenting the awards.


NEIL'S RECIPES: CÔTE DE BOEUF WITH TWICE-FRIED CHIPS, ROASTED GARLIC, MUSHROOMS AND WATERCRESS

by Cafe St Honoré in


Côte de Boeuf is French for beef rib. It makes the perfect sharing dish and is a real treat. Why not buy your beef from somewhere other than the supermarket for a change. Try your local butcher, farm shop, farmers’ market or order online from an organic farm. And as I always suggest, try to buy the best you can afford. This dish needs all the elements to make it work: the chunky twice-fried chips dusted with good Scottish salt; watercress for the peppery hit, roasted garlic to smear over the meat as you eat; and the juicy mushrooms that are so full of flavour. A big glass of red wine always goes well with this dish.

Images: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

500g côte de boeuf

1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil

2 bulbs garlic, peeled

1 bulb garlic, top 2cm removed

2 sprigs of thyme

A few flat mushrooms, whole

3 large potatoes, peeled

Oil for frying the chips

A big bunch of watercress

Good salt and pepper

A small knob of butter

METHOD

Marinate the beef in the cold-pressed rapeseed oil, peeled garlic bulbs and a sprig of thyme for at least one hour.

Place the garlic bulb in a sheet of tin foil with some salt and a knob of butter. Scrunch up and roast for 45 minutes in a medium-hot oven.

Cut the potatoes into chip shapes and fry at 130°C in a fryer for 7 to 10 minutes - until just cooked. Remove the chips and turn the fryer off.

Place a griddle pan on the hob and cook the mushrooms for 5 or 7 minutes on one side, then turn them over to cook through. Keep warm.

Sear the marinated beef on an oven-proof griddle to create a criss-cross pattern. Then season and place the griddle in a moderate oven with the thyme and butter for 7 to 10 minutes for medium rare, or longer if you like it more well-cooked. The longer the cooking and grilling the more well done it will be. Allow the meat to rest on a clean plate in a warm place so it becomes more tender and easier to carve. Any resting or cooking juices can be simply drizzled over the steak as you serve.

Turn the fryer up to 190°C and submerge the chips in the hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

I like to serve this dish on one large wooden board with a few slices carved into the beef and all the other components scattered around. I suggest squeezing the roasted garlic over the beef and the mushrooms before you tuck in, it’s delicious!


WE'RE FOOD MADE GOOD 3-STAR CHAMPIONS!

by Cafe St Honoré


We've just received the results from our Food Made Good sustainability report - and we are over the moon! Not only have we retained our 3-star status, but we have achieved an overall sustainability score of 90% (our best yet!) thanks to the hard work and dedication shown by everyone in the Cafe St Honoré team. We were rated on 14 key sustainability criteria, divided across the Sustainable Restaurant Association's three pillars: Sourcing, Society & Environment.


NEIL'S RECIPES: VENISON STEW AND DUMPLINGS

by Cafe St Honoré in


This has to be one of my very favourite dishes to eat when it’s cold and wintry. My children always ask for it for dinner and it’s so easy to make - they can both make it from scratch! If venison is difficult to find, just replace with beef or lamb. I prefer to use proper suet, so ask your butcher or stallholder to get you some. Keep it in the freezer in small bags and take out as and when you need it. Add whatever veg you like but always include carrots, onions and turnips. Top tip is to keep any leftover gravy to use in stews and casseroles. Remember to pop the lid on after you’ve added the dumplings, 30 minutes before serving.

Images: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Images: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

500g diced shoulder of venison, beef or lamb would be as good

2 local carrots, washed, peeled and diced

2 medium-sized onions, peeled and roughly chopped

1 wedge of turnip, peeled and diced

500ml really well reduced good beef stock

200ml leftover gravy or sauce

½ a cinnamon stick, optional but a hint of spice in winter adds something special.

1 glass of red wine

1 sprig of thyme

1 bay leaf

Good salt and pepper

100g self-raising flour

50g proper beef suet, minced, packet suet would do!

Herbs e.g. chives; horseradish, mustard, optional flavourings for the dough balls

Extra flour for dusting

1 tablespoon cold-pressed rapeseed oil for frying

METHOD

Add the oil to a hot casserole dish and fry the diced venison until golden brown. It will take a few minutes on high heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the diced carrot, turnip, onions and the cinnamon if you’re using some and fry for a further 5 minutes until you achieve a good colour.

Still on a high heat, add the wine and reduce slightly. Then add the thyme, bay leaf, gravy and stock. Season again and bring to a simmer.

Place in a hot oven (180°C) without a lid for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Then turn down the heat to 150°C and cook for a further 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so to ensure the stew doesn't dry out.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings by adding the flour to a bowl and stirring in the minced suet and salt, then combining with cold water until you have a rough dough. Don't overwork the dough. You can add any flavourings you like such as chopped chives, horseradish or mustard.

Divide the dough into 4 balls - you may need extra flour for rolling as it can get quite sticky - and plop them into the stew pot after the first 3 hours is up and place the lid on. Turn the heat up to 180°C again and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and serve at the table in the dish it’s cooked in.


NEIL'S RECIPES: PEASEMEAL AND HAM SOUP

by Cafe St Honoré in


Golspie Mill in Sutherland produces incredible stone-ground peasemeal flour made from ground yellow peas. It's an absolute revelation, and simple to use. This traditional Scottish ingredient was popular in days gone by because it was cheap, filling and very tasty. Just by adding a hot stock, some butter and seasoning you’ll make a substantial soup, to enjoy on its own or with added ingredients like ham. By choosing peasemeal from Golspie Mill, you’ll ensure this tradition will be carried on. So, throw away those instant soup packets, this is a thousand times better!

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 

4 tablespoons peasemeal

500ml hot stock or water (ham stock is good)

A knob of butter

A handful of leftover gammon or ham (or cook a ham hock and flake the meat off - after braising for 3 hours in just water, retain the stock for the soup)

Salt and pepper

A large pinch of curly parsley, roughly chopped

METHOD

Boil the stock or water and season with salt and pepper. Add the butter.

Next, add the peasemeal flour to the hot liquid and whisk vigorously for a few minutes. Check the seasoning and add more butter if required.

Let it bubble for a minute then pour into warm bowls. If it seems too thick, just add a little more liquid.

Crumble on the ham, gammon or hock and garnish with the chopped parsley. Serve steaming hot.


NEIL'S RECIPES: BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING

by Cafe St Honoré in


In the colder months, this is one of the consistent favourites at Cafe St Honoré. Full of sweet, vanilla flavours and rich custard, it’s the perfect way to use up stale bread. With the addition of plumped-up, juicy Californian raisins and a touch of mixed peel, it’s a warm and welcoming friend when it’s chilly outside. It is a rich one this, so don't eat too much, and serve with a little pouring cream at most.

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS 

Half a loaf of leftover bread, crusts removed. Panettone or brioche are also good.

250g unsalted butter, melted

500ml double cream

1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out

3 egg yolks

150g sugar

1 whole egg

1 small handful of Californian raisins and mixed peel

2 tbsp jam or marmalade, warmed. I like home-made plum jam.

METHOD

Rub an ovenproof dish with a little of the melted butter.

Slice the bread 1cm thick and submerge in the melted butter. 

To make the custard, heat the cream and the vanilla pod on the stove until it comes to the boil, turn off the heat and leave to infuse for a few minutes. Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy, and whisk into the cream. Whisk in the whole egg as well.

Layer the butter-soaked bread with the custard and raisins and mixed peel, repeating until you reach the top of the dish. Don't put fruit on the top layer as it will burn in the oven.

Bake in an oven at 180°C for 45 minutes until hot. Top with a few more raisins and mixed peel, then spoon warm jam over the top. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.


NEIL'S RECIPES: GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH YOGHURT AND CUCUMBER

by Cafe St Honoré in


This recipe is inspired by a recent family holiday to the wonderful sun-baked island of Crete. I'm using best end of lamb here but you can use gigot chops. I'm going to suggest you cook it a little more than medium. I usually like my chops rare but to be true to Crete, I think a more well-done chop works better with the tzatziki. It's good idea is to marinade the lamb in a little olive oil with thyme and fennel seeds the night before cooking.

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Image: Paul Johnston, Copper Mango

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

Allow for 3 to 4 chops person - ask your butcher or stall-holder to French trim them

A few sprigs of thyme and marjoram

400g 10% full-fat natural Greek yoghurt - try Total, it’s very good, but a organic one is would be even better

1 medium-sized cucumber

1 small clove garlic, crushed

Good salt and pepper

A drizzle of olive oil – from Crete if you can

Half a lemon

METHOD

Place a griddle on the hob to heat whilst you marinate the chops in olive oil, thyme and marjoram (reserve some of the herbs for garnish). Aim to get the griddle to a moderate heat.

Grate the cucumber into a bowl. Squeeze the water out of the cucumber and mix in the yoghurt and crushed garlic. Season with a little salt and pepper.

Remove the excess oil and herbs from the chops and place onto the griddle and cook for around 5 to 7 minutes on each side in total - check them as you go and turn frequently. Don't cook to well done stage, but don't cook too rare either.

At the end of cooking, season the chops and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Serve with a huge dollop of the yoghurt mix and garnish with some marjoram and thyme.


FOOD MADE GOOD

by Cafe St Honoré


The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) are launching a new consumer platform Food Made Good on Friday 18 September. Having grown from 50 to 5,000 member sites since their launch in 2010, and with membership now encompassing many different sectors beyond the traditional restaurant, they felt the time was right to engage the great British dining public more overtly, boldly and engagingly.

Food Made Good is a consumer-friendly platform, offering a simple and transparent way to enable people to find ‘good’ eating out options with its Diners’ Guide, as well as provide an invaluable source of events, offers and recipes.

Our chef director Neil Forbes, a founder member, has joined SRA President Raymond Blanc in making a pledge to ensure he always eats out sustainably: "I pledge to only eat in restaurants that care about the environment". Mr Blanc has pledged “...to tell all my chef friends to choose their ingredients grown as close to their restaurant as possible”.

Managing Director, Mark Linehan, commented: “If we are to go to the next level we must engage the consumer. Food Made Good celebrates everything that goes into making eating out a genuinely good experience. Foodservice businesses that ignore their customers’ interest in sustainability or fail to communicate about the good things they do, do so at their peril. Instead they should be celebrating their suppliers, and highlighting their positive impact on the community and the environment – helping their customers enjoy their meals that little bit more”.

The SRA's latest research discovered that the number of people who care where the food on their plate is from and how the tips they leave are distributed has not only increased, but is set to continue to grow rapidly in the next five years.

A new survey conducted by Harden’s for the SRA reveals the increasing importance of sustainability criteria in diners’ decision making:

  • 93% say they consider these issues more now than in 2010.
  • 95% said they expect sustainability issues to exert an even greater influence on their dining decisions by 2020.
  • More than 90% said they would be more likely to choose a restaurant if it told them about the provenance of their food as well as their impact on society and the environment.
  • Three quarters said a restaurant’s ethical and sustainable achievements represent greater value than a 10% discount on the bill.

The new website - www.foodmadegood.org - will be online from Friday 18 September. You can also follow on Twitter (@FoodMadeGood #MakeFoodGood), Instagram (@FoodMadeGood) and Facebook www.facebook.com/FoodMadeGood.


FRESHERS' FOOD FESTIVAL

by Cafe St Honoré


Our chef director Neil Forbes is delighted to be taking part in the third annual Edinburgh University Freshers’ Food Festival on Friday 18 September, helping to encourage students to make healthy and sustainable food choices in the new academic year.

2015 is Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink and September is the time to celebrate the best food and drink in Edinburgh.

With 20 stalls showcasing food and drink providers and organisations from Edinburgh, and an exhibition area, the festival is free to attend.

Neil will be hosting a cooking demonstration from 2.30-3.30pm followed by a talk with Fiona Richmond of Scotland Food & Drink from 3.45-4.15pm.

The festival, located at the heart of the campus in Potterrow Dome, Bristo Square and runs from 2-5pm.