The Northgate’s head chef Greig Young talks seasonal fare, preserving, gardening and gives us a tasty recipe to try for ourselves at home
Menu writing is lots of fun at the moment, and I always make a conscious effort to keep the menu feeling fresh and new and, hopefully, not boring but always approachable.
It’s a fine line between being creative for the sake of it and actually making something nice. For me, it always starts with what’s bang in season. If it’s not on the menu straight away I love finding ways of storing or preserving things to stock the larder; and by doing this it makes my job a lot more fun and interesting in the cooler months when you can pop open a jar of rose jam from June to give a burst of summer to a more wintry day.
So needless to say, it’s my favorite time of year. Tomatoes are getting big, courgettes are going mad and broad bean flowers are forming plump little pods. This year we grew less variety but more plants, so we had more of what we loved last year.
Marigolds are always a firm favourite of mine with their spikey little leaves tasting a bit like a cross between mint and tarragon, great with lamb. Walnuts look good to pickle (if anybody has any please send my way) and we have a glut of greengages that I like to pick when they are underripe and brine like olives, very tasty.
This year, I’ll be honest, I have had help with the raised beds at The Northgate in the form of a fantastic kitchen gardener called Matthew Hassan. I have never seen anyone plan a raised bed so quickly, get it prepped and planted and for all the plants to do so well. It’s lovely to work with someone that loves their job as much as I love my own. We are currently looking at a winter bed at the side and I know he is doing some exciting things with one of our sister sites, where you may have seen me cooking a few years ago, The Packhorse in Moulton. I would definitely recommend looking him up.
This month’s recipe I’m going to keep simple and creative with my potato gnocchi with broad beans, and broad bean leaves. . . and if you really want a showstopper add my pistachio and nasturtium pesto.
Last month I promised Kit’s lamb and it is coming next – I just have bigger plans for it now than I had before. Have a lovely month and I hope, as always, you enjoy cooking my recipe.
ROAST POTATO GNOCCHI
150g unsalted butter
28g milk powder
180g strong flour
100g instant mash (potato flakes)
In a large pot bring the butter, water, salt and sugar to a boil.
Whisk in the milk powder and mix until combined. Sieve the flour in and slowly start to cook over a gentle heat continuing to mix with a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon. Once it starts to come to a ball as one and doesn’t stick to the sides, transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
In a dry pan, gently toast your potato flakes until caramelised. Leave to cool to room temperature.
Now slowly add the eggs to the paste while the machine is on until all the eggs are incorporated, then add the potato flakes and a good pinch of salt. You could add any herbs you like at this stage.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Roll the dough into balls or whatever shape you like and place into the boiling water. When they float, they are cooked. Now you can either chill them down to cook at a later date, freeze them for up to a month or put straight in a pan with a good glug of olive oil, a clove of garlic and a nice handful of broad beans and mushrooms.
I like to finish mine with broad bean leaves, a squeeze of lemon and a generous helping of parmesan grated on top, and again, if you really want to impress, add some of my pistachio and nasturtium pesto.
PISTACHIO AND NASTURTIUM PESTO
50g toasted shelled pistachios
50ml rapeseed oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup of nasturtium leaves, hand chopped (or rocket)
Good pinch of nice salt
Blend roughly or smash up in a pestle and mortar. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to a month.
Greig Young is head chef at The Northgate, Northgate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Call 01284 339604