New Year Recipes With The Raymond Blanc Cookery School At Le Manoir Aux Quat’saisons, A Belmond Hotel, Oxfordshire
Posted by TEAM WILD BEAUTY
Rhug Estate has been supplying organic meat to the chefs at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for many years now and we could think of no one better to ask than The Raymond Blanc Cookery School for their tips on how to get the best from our planting this year. We are delighted that they have very kindly shared their advice for vegetable plots as well as the recipe for Maman Blanc’s vegetable and chervil soup – a small tribute to Raymond’s mother.
KITCHEN GARDEN TIPS FROM LE MANOIR AUX QUAT’SAISONS, A BELMOND HOTEL, OXFORDSHIRE
Le Manoir has an experienced team of gardeners, and they use this month of traditional hibernation to fine tune their planting schedules for the year ahead to ensure that a long season of homegrown organic produce is ready for the summer guests. Everything edible which is grown in the garden is used in the restaurant’s kitchens and The Raymond Blanc Cookery School. From kale to sprouts and their own mix of young lettuce leaves to heritage French and English varieties, everything is tried and tasted by Raymond, the chefs, and gardeners in order to get the absolute best from each variety to ensure it really “wows” on the plate.
Raymond is passionate about growing as much in the garden organically as possible to ensure optimum freshness & flavour and is constantly developing and evolving his dishes and menus to be better and tastier. Below are some top tips from Raymond and his team for growing your own produce in the garden:
- Grow things you like to eat and cook with first, then move on to edibles that need a little more of your time and nurturing. Plan in the autumn what you want to grow and what manure/compost your soil will need.
- A well-ripened compost heap is almost as exciting as growing your own fruits and vegetables.
- Experiment and try different varieties of vegetables – there are many subtle differences across the carrot family for example.
- Lastly, keep a diary and record flavours – not just the weather! It’s an effective way to learn and grow as a gardener.
MAMAN BLANC’S VEGETABLE & CHERVIL SOUP RECIPE
This is Raymond Blanc’s small tribute to ‘Maman Blanc’, and Papa Blanc, too, as most of the vegetables would come from his garden. The success of this soup depends upon the freshness and quality of the vegetables used. However, you can vary the vegetables and herbs according to the season. Chervil is one of his favorite herbs and is very popular in France but hardly known in the UK, which is a great shame. This soup would always be served in Raymond’s home.
- Serves : 4-6
- Preparation time: 30 mins
- Cooking time: 15 mins
- Special equipment: Blender
INGREDIENTS FOR THE SOUP:
- 15g Butter, unsalted
- 125g 1/2 medium Onion, chopped 1cm
- 60g 1/2 meduim Leek, chopped 1cm
- 175g 2 meduim Potatos, washed, peeled and chopped 1cm
- 15g 1/2 Celery, peeled and chopped 1cm
- 150g 3 medium Carrots, washed, cut lengthways and chopped 1cm
- 100g Celeriac, peeled and chopped 1cm (or celeriac tops)
- Garlic, small clove, roughly chopped (*1)
- 80g 1 medium Tomato, ripe, chopped
- 1cm Chervil stalks, parsley stalks & celeriac tops wrapped in a muslin cloth as a bouquet garni (optional)
- 5g 5 pinches Sea salt (*2)
- ½ g 1 pinch Freshly ground white pepper
- 400ml Boiling water
- 15g / 1 tbsp Chervil, chopped finely
MAKING THE SOUP:
In a medium saucepan on a medium heat sweat (3*) the onion for 3 minutes then add the garlic, and the remaining diced vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a further four minutes, without colour. Add the boiling water. Gently simmer for a further 2 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Add the chopped tomato and chervil and serve. The soup can be pureed in a blender if you prefer a smooth texture
CHEF’S NOTES (*):
*1 Garlic – the British are now eating as much garlic as the French, which is great news! As garlic is a potent miracle food, protecting against heart disease, infections, and hundreds of other ailments. It is the best natural prescription for good health management!
*2 Salt – Always use the best salt with the least refining. Never use salt with horrible anti caking additives.
*3 Sweetening – by applying heat to the vegetables you are converting the starches into sugars, greatly enhancing the flavour of the soup.
This soup can be simplified by omitting some of the vegetables, or you could add any other summer vegetables such as French beans, Coco beans, spinach, Swiss chard etc. could be added or replace a vegetable in this soup.
Any pasta, any bean or pulse would also be a great addition to this soup, it could almost be turned in to a main course – and more garlic of course.
This soup is fantastic if it is finished at the last moment with a fresh pistou, here is Raymond Blanc’s recipe for the pesto.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE PISTOU SAUCE:
- 30g 1 handful Basil leaves and stalks, blanched for 10 seconds and refreshed (*1)
- 20g 4 clove Garlic, puréed (*2)
- 100m Olive oil, extra virgin (*3)
- 1 pinch Sea salt
- 2 pinches White pepper
MAKING THE PISTOU SAUCE:
Purée all the ingredients in the liquidiser, taste and season with salt and pepper, reserve. Keep in the fridge until required.