Whoever says English fare is not tasty and delicious has never tried any English dishes from Chef Rob Rees, also known as The Cotswold Chef. Give these recipes a run in your kitchen and you just might find yourself heading to Britain for a taste of the real thing.
The Cotswold Chef
Chef Rees, one of UK’s leading chefs, does not cook up the typical fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding, or steak and kidney pie (although if he did, it would inevitably be delightful). Instead, he prepares intriguing dishes composed of fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients found in the Costwolds and nearby farms.
The Cotswolds is a range of hills located in central England, just over an hours drive from London. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is lush with green pastures and peppered with family farms. The Costwolds has plenty to offer tourists, from quaint countryside towns to village shopping to unforgettable locally grown food. It has an extremely diverse agricultural landscape as well as a long tradition of hospitality, which when combined, create a deliciously diverse food culture different from Britain’s other characteristic dining options.
Chef Rob Rees plays into the luxury of having quality local ingredients at his fingertips by creating seasonal dishes such as White Onion and Cheddar Cheese Soup, Grilled Spring Lamb Steaks, and Mixed Berries in Lavender and Tarragon Custard. Chef Rees is dedicated to creating a better food culture in England as well as change the unsavory assumptions that people from other countries make about English cuisine.
White Onion and Cheddar Cheese Soup
Makes 6 servings
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) fresh butter
7 large white onions, sliced
1 sprig of thyme
Pinch of nutmeg
1 bay leaf
2 medium potatoes, washed, peeled, cubed
1 1/2 cups shredded Double Gloucester Cheese (or sharp cheddar)
3 cups vegetable stock
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup whipping cream
Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan over medium-high heat then add the onions, thyme, nutmeg, bay leaves and potato. Cover and sweat for 3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Use an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a clean saucepan and return to heat. Add the cheese in three portions stirring well after each addition. Add the whipping cream and season with pepper then serve with warm fresh bread.
Grilled Spring Lamb Steaks
Makes 4 servings
4 large lamb steaks
4 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs lemon thyme
1/2 cup rape seed oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
4 large sprigs chopped parsley
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Place the steaks, garlic, rosemary, thyme, 2 tablespoons rape seed oil and all of the olive oil into a dish, cover and marinate for 24 hours. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped shallots, mustard, parsley, pepper and remaining rape seed oil and set aside. Heat a griddle, grill or frying pan until hot. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator about 15 minutes prior to cooking. Remove steaks from marinade, allowing excess marinade to drip off, and transfer to griddle, grill or pan. Cook for approximately 4 minutes per side or until cooked to desired doneness. Serve garnished with the mustard sauce.
Mixed Berries in Tarragon and Lavender Custard
Makes 6 to 8 servings
6 cups mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 pint whole milk
1 split vanilla bean
3 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon
1 heaping tablespoon fresh lavender
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup super fine sugar
Remove stems from the strawberries. Rinse all the berries with water, pat dry, and place in a large bowl. Bring the cream, milk, vanilla, tarragon and half the lavender flowers to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar together until mixture is a creamy yellow. Gradually pour cream over the egg mixture and stir well. Pour mixture into a saucepan and place on a low heat, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and strain the custard through a sieve over the berries. Use a large spatula to gently mix the custard and berries together taking care not to ruin the softer fruits. Serve hot or cold with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or raspberry sorbet. Sprinkle with the remaining lavender flowers.