Hoping for a spring out of lockdown, Lee Bye, chef patron at Tuddenham Mill, has his eyes set on one rather delicious ingredient
Now there’s a thought. . .
We never even scratched the surface of spring in the restaurant last year, missing out on an entire season of delicate ingredients.
The first of the ramsons, early and late varieties of brassica, mallow, black mustard leaf and the famous Tilbrook’s asparagus. . . Ask a cook, they will tell you the importance of cooking within the seasons and the importance of keeping your ingredients the best of British. All fingers are crossed we have our knives back on our boards again this spring.
Every year in the restaurant a natural stick of rock always finds its way to the back door of the kitchen. The unrivalled Yorkshire forced rhubarb, ‘tricked’ into an early spring.
In cathedral style lit sheds across Yorkshire, bulbs pop under candles acting for photosynthesis and stems tower and creak with forced growing pains, it is such an unusual almost mythical way to grow something which is used to the rough and tough of its Siberian beginnings. Love and labour play a huge part in fulfilling its growth, but surely that is the cost to anything worth its rewards and results.
Forced Yorkshire rhubarb, slender and tender it needs no introduction on the menu at the mill where this time of year we would always serve it up with a gamey mallard, or a starter of oily mackerel tartare, or simply as a fool with local honey, whisky and toasted oats.
With the much celebrated Burns Night passing us by in the culinary calendar I wanted to share a little recipe we do at the restaurant with a nod to ‘Rabbie’ Burns and the ‘King of Scottish desserts’. . . the cranachan.
Traditionally celebrated and eaten during the harvest season of Scottish summer raspberries.
This cranachan dish is simple and delicious and will give the wonderful forced rhubarb a chance to showcase itself in a new glory.
This year the 25th January was not only the night we celebrated Robert Burns.
It was also a very special evening for another proud Scotsman. The jewel in the Bury St Edmunds crown, Justin Sharpe of Pea Porridge restaurant, who for years has dedicated himself tirelessly to his craft, shackled to his stove giving us all memories of original and rugged flavours and always, always, always cooking right from his heart.
The much loved bistro went through the culinary ceiling putting a star in the Suffolk sky on Burns night. Very fitting for a chef and gentleman who I have been lucky to share special culinary moments (from what I can remember) across three messy days in Barcelona. I can still taste the 3am Crème Catalan in Tapas 24 and the venison heart for breakfast. It is safe to say Barcelona knew we had been in town!
Bravo to Karine and Pascal of Maison Bleue on your prestigious Michelin sommelier award.
Two true industry titans whose love, genuine charm, and dedication for the industry is truly infectious.
Suffolk sure is singing from the top of her voice.
400ml double cream
2-3 tablespoons Glenlivet Scottish whisky
60 grams toasted porridge oats
3 tablespoons wild honey (I use the honey here in Tuddenham)
The rhubarb compote
Slice the rhubarb as thin as possible with a sharp knife. Place in a heavy bottomed pan with the sugar and mix well. Place on a medium to high heat until the sugar dissolves stirring well. Once the sugar has dissolved, place a lid on the pan so it is air tight and cook quickly until the rhubarb has all broken down. Be careful not to catch the rhubarb on the bottom of the pan. We are not looking to caramelize the rhubarb, just soften it and retain all the flavour by cooking it fast. Once cooked, spread over a chilled tray and place in the fridge straight away to enable the cooking process to slow right down. This will be ready after about an hour.
While this is cooling it gives you time to make the fool part of the cranachan. Whip the cream in a chilled mixing bowl just so it starts to fall off the whisk. Be careful not to over work the cream as it will be too stiff and any ingredients that are folded in will cause the mixture to become grainy. Once the cream is the correct consistency, fold in the whisky, the honey and two thirds of the toasted oats. Taste and texture are huge players in this elegant, timely dessert.
When the rhubarb is ready, gently spoon a healthy amount over the cream mixture and finish with the remaining toasted oats. Taste throughout the whole process for sweetness – rhubarb can catch you off guard sometimes, so it’s really important you taste, taste, taste.
Lee Bye is chef patron of Tuddenham Mill, High Street, Tuddenham IP28 6SQ
Call 01638 713552