I’ve always been obsessed with finding the best way to cook the perfect steak. I’ve tried countless different methods, some good, some a disaster. I’ve never been able to achieve the ultimate rare on the inside, crisp on the outside result. Fortunately for me (and any of my future dates), Daylesford Cooking school in Gloucestershire was the place to learn. Famed for its organic produce the cooking school is one component of the dream like Daylesford Farm; a beautifully peaceful space comprising of a restaurant, spa and deli.
As my father has a house close by, i’ve visited the farm several times. Whether it’s been for breakfast on a sunday morning or for a yoga lesson in the glass fronted barn, nothing prepares you for how breathtaking the cooking school is. From the glossy granite worktops to the rows of mysterious ingredients in glass jars, I was so enchanted by the sight that I could barely choke down my freshly baked carrot muffin.
We met our chef Vlad to discuss the days arrangements, aproned up and promptly got the giggles over a ‘beurre noisette’ demonstration. Of course we immediately pulled ourselves together. Not a single detail can be compromised when the issue of steak is at hand and luckily for you, i’m saving the best till last and sharing my newly acquired skill. Here’s a look at our day.
We began with an Indian vegetable bhuna as it takes about thirty minutes to cook. Normally, I find veggie curries a tad bland with their unappetising array of soggy vegetables. With the addition of onion seeds, crunchy vegetables and lots of chopped fresh mint and coriander, this was such a delight that i’ve made it since. What appeals most is that it’s also very healthy because it’s butter/ghee free and flavoured only by a pungent but widely availably blend of spices. It’s also much easier to enjoy a delicious meal if you’re in control of exactly what goes in so I normally substitute the new potatoes for more cauliflower.
The inevitable ensued shortly after when we started on baked pancakes with spinach, cream and gruyere cheese. Pancake flipping contests and ‘most perfect’ competitions distracted us momentarily but this dish was dynamite when it was done. Whilst it’s certainly not in any way as healthy as the curry, its perfect for a large group on an indulgent Sunday night.
Chicory, walnut and Stichelton salad.
By 12pm, we all decided that a cocktail was the preferable way to proceed. This gorgeous pomegranate spritz was just the right level of sweet, crisp and bubbly as well as incredibly easy to make. A dash of Creme de Cassis and a sprinkle of pomegranate jewels, topped up with prosecco and cheers!
Mackerel is one of my favourite things. I like it baked, in sashimi form and even cold from vacuum packed plastic in the supermarket. When I saw we were making mackerel with shaved fennel salad and a soy lime glaze, I knew that many of my solo future dinners were sorted.
Mackerel does have a pretty strong, fishy taste so the sweetness of the soy lime glaze and the freshness of the fennel really do work perfectly together. We learnt how to debone, filet and score the fish before marinating it in a lime, sugar, ginger and soy dressing. Once this is done, the remaining marinade is boiled whilst the mackerel caramelise under the grill and the salad is prepared. It’s easy, (relatively) healthy and takes about twenty minutes from start to finish.
Now I know some will take issue with the colour of this rice pudding but please, don’t be ‘ricist’. It is one of the best sweet treats i’ve ever had and you need to give it a chance. It’s clean, fresh and has every heat/flavour/texture combination available. Crunchy hot cashews, ice cold mango and passionfruit coulis melt into the sweet vanilla cream of the rice and all come together in one big Thai hug. I had two helpings (yes) and still could have had more.
Finally – la piece de resistance, the feather in my cap and the cherry on top of a very wanton cake.
Ribeye steak cooked in ‘nutty butter’
2 x 225g Ribeye or Sirloin steaks (preferably organic) 2cm thick
1 pinch of sea salt
1 tsp black pepper coarsely ground
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter, unsalted
1) Cut off excessive fat from the steaks and then season with the salt and scatter the black pepper over them, pressing it firmly into the steaks on each side. On a medium heat, in a large heavy bottomed frying pan, heat the oil with the butter until the butter is foaming and smells slightly nutty. If you like (I do) you can add a few pieces of the spare fat to this mixture and allow it to fry with the butter and oil. DON’T let the butter burn or it will become carcinogenic and indigestible, besides tasting unpleasant.
Raise the heat to medium high, lay the steaks in the foaming butter and cook for 1.5-2 minutes on each side for rare, 3 minutes for medium rare and 4 for medium.
Transfer the steaks to a warm plate with tongs. Pour the water into the hot pan and; there will be a startling sizzle and the water and butter will create an emulsion. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and then scrape the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the caramelised residue.
After letting your steaks sit for a few minutes, slice them semi thickly widthways and place the pieces back into the pan basting them quickly with the juices.
Using tongs, place the steak pieces on a warm plate, pour over the remaining juices and serve immediately.