Bring me my spear

Bring me my spear

Not quite burning gold but purple sprouting broccoli is edible treasure for Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor of The Sail Loft in Southwold

Early spring is far from a purple patch for chefs and gardeners; the brassicas are mostly over, the root vegetables might store well but quite frankly we’re getting bored; the game season long since finished, mussels are off the menu but lobster and crab really aren’t about much yet and asparagus is still a good few weeks away; but all is not lost, there is one glorious vegetable to savour.

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Margarita time

Margarita time

Precious downtime from the stove in his busy kitchen means easy comfort food for Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor of The Sail Loft in Southwold

This month I thought I would take it easy or rather you might with a favourite pizza recipe. It is perfect for nights on the sofa in front of a good film, for the kids on a sleepover, for a light lunch al fresco with salad, and for whenever you feel like taking it easy in the kitchen. Pizzas are the easiest dish to do in a hurry as there are so many cooks’ cheats you can use or you can make the tomato sauce and bake the bases ahead. Below is my idea of a perfect pizza but if you don’t have the time to make the ragù or the dough, there are lots of ready-made alternatives. For the sauce, you can use simple tomato and garlic purée and/or basil pesto (green or red both work well) and for the bases, thinly-cut baguette horizontally is delicious as are naan or pitta breads. You’ll see I make the basic margarita recipe and then top it with raw ingredients, this keeps the flavour and texture in the lovely ham and olives but if you prefer it all baked together, be my guest.

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Man-size happiness!

Man-size happiness!

Spoil your Dads and Grandads this Fathers’ Day with a proper burger, says Jonny Nicholson, chef-owner of The Sail Loft in Southwold

Fast food joints might be obviously quick and easy and the kids love them of course. But whilst their pretty adverts try to convince us how authentic their take-aways taste and other than being convenient on a long journey, I do try and avoid them.

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The Food of Love

The Food of Love

 

All it’s all about shared indulgence come February 14 for Jonny Nicholson of The Bell At Sax’, Saxmundham

Perhaps every day should be Valentine’s Day, not just one day when we celebrate Cupid and his proverbial arrow, but I guess the heartfelt expressions and good intentions on the big day make us appreciate our loved ones even more all year round.

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Nothing quiche like it

Nothing quiche like it   

Late summer lunches need to flex to the weather and be versatile hot or cold dishes for Jonny Nicholson, Chef-Proprietor of The Bell At Sax’

Tarts, frittata, tortilla, quiches, a hearty wedge of something savoury and egg-based makes a lovely light bite, especially at lunchtime. They fill you up without weighing your afternoon down and go well with simple dressed green leaves on the side. Or accompanied with something more constructed like a warm salade niçoise with green beans, new potatoes and anchovies.

And quiche is queen of them all - a real treat, particularly if still just warm from the oven. Supermarkets have a lot to answer for, the pappy, claggy, dry excuses they call quiche lorraine and the like would scar most kids for life away from ever trying a home-made one. But if you take time to bake your own and can convince the family to try it, you are all in for a treat.

Here are a few of my favourite quiche fillings:

Smoked haddock, curried onions and basmati rice– the classic curried Indian kedgeree brunch in a pastry case

Courgette, pea and green pesto – a herby mouthful, finished with mascarpone and more basil leaves

Spicy sausage, red chilli marmalade and roasted peppers – a zingy choice if you like spicy and hot

Lamb meatball, charred aubergine, mint and feta – bring a Mediterranean feel with a Middle Eastern edge

Smoked bacon, leek, wholegrain mustard and blue cheese – a variation on the traditional quiche lorraine flavours

Butternut squash, fennel, chickpea and ricotta – a hearty late summer vegetable treat, lovely topped with red onion marmalade

This month’s recipe is a modern quiche classic and one that really works well whatever the weather; enjoy it al fresco or inside, still hot from the oven if it’s wet and windy or at room temperature if it’s beaming down on one of those balmy Indian summer days we often enjoy in September or even October (a polite cook’s plea to never serve quiche from the refrigerator, give it at least 30 minutes to warm up before serving).

Feel free to have fun with the recipe, mixing it up with whatever you fancy or have at hand, just add your own little spin on it. Alternatives which work well would be things like watercress or rocket instead of the spinach, courgettes or fennel to replace the peppers, cheeses like feta, mascarpone or ricotta for the goats’ cheese. Just be mindful to how long substitutes take to soften, if they are chunky or firmer, then soften them on the hob or in the oven first.

I like replacing the simple onions with red onion marmalade, red chilli jam or a tasty chutney. Piccalilli might be a step too far, just depends how gastronautically experimental you’re feeling?!

Enjoy....                                                

                                                                               Jonny

Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor, The Bell At Sax’

 

The Bell At Sax’, High Street, Saxmundham, IP17 1AF.  A laid-back restaurant-with-rooms with good food, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients.  W: www.thebellatsax.co.uk   T: 01728 602331.  

A TASTY OFFER FOR COMMUNITY NEWS READERS

A great lunch deal with The Bell At Sax’ - free dessert and coffee!  Book a table and order two courses per guest of a starter and a main course from our a la carte menu, and we’ll offer you complimentary dessert and coffee on us, completely free!  Available Tuesdays – Saturdays 12 noon – 2pm during September 2016 by arrangement.

 Goats’ cheese and red pepper quiche (serves 6+).

Ingredients:  Deep pastry case, blind-baked, 23cm wide approx, in the tin; Good olive oil; 1 red onion, peeled and sliced; 2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced; 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced; 1 red chilli, finely shredded (optional); Handful baby spinach leaves; Handful of preserved sunblush tomatoes; 200g goats’ cheese, broken into pieces;  3 eggs; 175ml double cream; 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika; Sea salt and black pepper.

Method: Pre-heat the oven to 190C.  Heat a glug of oil in a hot frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion and peppers. Stir occasionally until softened, add in the garlic (and chilli if using) and cook for a few more minutes. Take off the heat and when cooled, transfer with a slotted spoon into the pastry case. Spread out and top with the goats cheese, spinach and tomatoes evenly.  Beat the eggs with the cream, seasoning and paprika. Pour onto the pastry case to just below the rim and bake in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the quiche is golden and set in the centre. Allow to cool until warm before eating.