Kitchen Diary: July

We are several weeks in to what is undoubtedly the longest heatwave in recent memory with record high temperatures being smashed on almost a daily basis. I have to pinch myself to check it’s real, Porthmadog in North Wales had the highest daily temperature at 33 degrees the other day, down here in Swansea it is a fresher 28 degrees strange things are afoot. Firstly it’s July and I’m writing a blog which rarely happens as in the commercial kitchen things are in full swing, the hot weather has extended our restaurant by about another 60-70 covers as people scramble to eat outside who can blame them? Who knows when we will see weather like this again? especially in Wales!

The Penycae Inn

The kitchen is hotter than ever and feels like the inside of a pressure cooker, a wall of heat greets anyone who dares to venture through the double doors and the poor waiting staff are grumbling as they wait for the next order to be plated, they stand fanning napkins much to the annoyance of the chefs who sarcastically announce that they should try being this side of the pass! Gallons of bottled water are being consumed and we are all looking a bit trimmer as our excess body fat melts away. The restaurant has been exceptionally busy already and the school holidays haven’t started yet, the fine weather and World Cup football has seemingly brought the masses out even in mid week to enjoy our delicious food and to sample al fresco a beverage or two.

The hot weather has dictated the early arrival of lighter dishes and cooking to our menu, gone are the heavier, heartier casseroles and pies. The welcome return of lots of seafood to the menu and the Grill menu, which is always popular, is now the bulk of our daily covers (not helping the heat situation one bit!) salads make a welcome come back, the pan seared Halloumi & Sweet Pepper salad being particularly popular. Monkfish tail receives the curry treatment with a Thai style influence of chillis, ginger, garlic and coconut milk served with a fragrant basmati rice. Look out for my signature chowder of all the top notch fish that is in season right now for the ultimate seafood hit in one bowl, see recipe for this lower down on my home page. We’ve also introduced a Welsh Steak burger complete with bone marrow for the carnivores out there, fully loaded with bacon & cheese and served on a ciabatta bun with our own homemade relish and hand cut chips it ticks all the boxes. Or how about a new seasonal special of Surf & Turf as a platter with monkfish scampi and succulent Welsh Ribeye?

New season Lamb from a farm up the road at Cefn Fedw Ganol farm is now available taking pride of place on the specials board look at their website to buy boxed Welsh mountain lamb here http://www.beaconswelshlamb.wales/2018/04/15/hedgelaying/

Steve is very proud of their sheep farming heritage and shows the black sheep at the Royal Welsh Show, we wish him well for next week as he’s at this years show, hopefully I’ll get a day off to see how he gets on.

Here at Penycae we slow roast a whole lamb shoulder and serve it as a sharing platter….

It wouldn’t be summer without the mention of strawberries and now the Wimbledon final has been decided with Djokovic winning his fourth Wimbledon title the price has started to ease as the availability increases and the hot weather has lead to a bumper harvest this year. France had an extended Bastille Day celebration by lifting the World Cup for only the second time in their nations history.

A simple Pavlova with chantilly cream, strawberry coulis and Basil sugar shows the harmony of nature’s ingredients working together with a helping hand from our chefs

IN SEASON NOW

artichoke, aubergine, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, chillies, courgettes, fennel, french beans, garlic, Pembrokeshire Early New Potatoes, kohlrabi, lettuce & salad leaves, mangetout, new potatoes, onions, pak choi, peas, radishes, rocket, runner beans, samphire, spinach, spring onions, tomatoes, turnips, watercress, wild nettles

apricots [i], bilberries, blueberries, cherries, gooseberries, greengages, kiwi fruit [i], melons [i], peaches [i], raspberries, strawberries

basil, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, elderflowers, oregano, mint, nasturtium, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leafed), rosemary, sage, sorrel, tarragon, thyme

lamb, rabbit, wood pigeon

cod, coley, crab, dab, dover sole, grey mullet, haddock, halibut, herring, langoustine, mackerel, plaice, pollack, prawns, salmon, sardines, scallops (queen), sea bass (wild), sea bream, sea trout, shrimp, squid, whelks, whitebait

Enjoy your cooking

Andy

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