The Secret Garden

Now I think it’s fair to say from previous posts I am a fan of the lovely chef Jimmy Garcia and his wonderful food. His new summer pop up launched a couple of weeks ago and I was lucky enough to snag a table on opening night (hectic days has caused a delay to this being posted!). Called the Secret Garden, it leads your imagination to think of all things summer, and even though it was raining the night we went, I do believe the restaurant exudes summer!

The Secret Garden

Buzzing the bell to get in you make your way up stairs through the vines, candles are lit and you are on an outside terrace. As you make your way inside and are greeted by the front of house you are not quite sure what to expect as the diners are behind a set of double doors. Walking in you are greeted by quite a dark room, lit with candles, the floor covered in grass ( the fake kind, don’t worry ladies no mud to be had in this garden), vines and flowers hanging from the ceiling and there in the middle in all its grandeur a beautiful wooden tree. Its like the kind of garden everyone wants, low maintenance, no bugs or mud and it has a bar in it!

The centre of attention, the grand tree of the Secret Garden

The centre of attention, the grand tree of the Secret Garden

Sitting at a table by the bar, long grass created a bit of a divider from the bar area which was a nice touch, we had a view of the whole place. It was busy, and tables continued to empty and fill throughout the evening even though we didn’t sit until 9pm proving the popularity of this pop up chef.

Now the menu has changed a bit since we first went, the indoor BBQs have unfortunately gone and the menu is now a standard Starter, Main and Dessert using the dishes that made up the small plates element of the original menu. Do not let this put you off because we had the small plates (which are now bigger plates) and they were great. The menu like with Jimmy’s other pop ups are seasonal, using as much local produce from small producers as possible and of course his dad’s Spanish chorizo. The meat on the menu is varied using a range of game and fish such as pigeon, rabbit, Guinea fowl and sea bass, which adds a varied depth to the menu and when paired with ‘garden’ inspired foods you have delicious plates.

‘Run Rabbit’ Wild Rabbit Loin, Pickled Baby Veg, Rabbit Veloute, Rabbit Pop Corn

‘Run Rabbit’ Wild Rabbit Loin, Pickled Baby Veg, Rabbit Veloute, Rabbit Pop Corn

'Porky Beans' Belly, Smoked Eel Beignet, Fava and Bacon Beans, Carrot Puree

‘Porky Beans’ Belly, Smoked Eel Beignet, Fava and Bacon Beans, Carrot Puree

Papa G’s Chorizo, Guineafowl ballotine, Chorizo and Parmesan risotto, skin shard, cherry tomatoes and Spinach

Papa G’s Chorizo, Guineafowl ballotine, Chorizo and Parmesan risotto, skin shard, cherry tomatoes and Spinach

Seared Sea Bass, Deep Fried Oyster, Radish, Squid Ink Aioli, Chardonnay Foam

Seared Sea Bass, Deep Fried Oyster, Radish,
Squid Ink Aioli, Chardonnay Foam

As always presentation is faultless. The plates are delicate and beautiful even though some are carrying these hearty and robust meats on them. My favourites were the ‘Run Rabbit’ rabbit ballotine and the Chorizo and Guinea fowl, both hearty, delicate and busting with flavour.

If you have room for dessert then go for it. The Edible Garden is lovely and chocolate heaven while the Ice Cream Factory allows you to fill your face with sugary goodness and throw caution to the wind for any future dental visits!

This is definitely a must try so if you can get yourself a reservation do, as this is great food in a cleverly put together theme.

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Chorizo Sausage Rolls

The sun is out, spring is here which can only mean one thing, summer is on its way and picnic season is upon us!

I love a picnic, it’s all about grazing, sitting in the sun and grazing as you watch the world go by. Hell, I like any meal that’s about grazing maybe that’s why I end up in the local Lebanese a little too often. I was inspired to make these fabulous chorizo sausage rolls after an afternoon tea at the Ham Yard Hotel, I had never had them before but combined some of my favorite things, sausage, chorizo and pastry! I immediately went home and started looking at recipes.

Depending on what equipment you have, you can blitz the chorizo up with the sausage meat or dice, depends whether you want a full on red roll or just chunks. Adding the chorizo just adds another layer to home made sausage rolls. If you get a good quality chorizo you will have those wonderful spices, the deep red running through the meat and of course that sweet paprika smell.

This is a fairly easy recipe and the best thing is you can freeze them so you have a supply ready at all times. See no excuse not to be whipping up a batch!
Ingredients

Filling

25g butter plus extra for greasing

dash of olive oil

150g peeled shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp granulated sugar

450g pork sausage meat

2 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley

100g cured chorizo cut into small cubes

1 tbsp fresh soft breadcrumbs

black pepper

Pastry

375g sheet of ready rolled puff pastry

plain flour for dusting

1 large beaten egg to seal and glaze

1. For the filling heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Gently fry for about 5 minutes until they have softened. Sprinkle in the sugar and continue to cook over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes until they have caramalised. Remove from the heat and allow them to cool.  At this point pre heat the oven to 200 degrees/180 degrees fan. Lightly grease a baking sheet and line with baking paper.

cook the onions until they are sweet and caramalised

cook the onions until they are sweet and caramalised

2. Put the sausage meat in a large mixing bowl and add the parsley, chorizo and breadcrumbs and season with black pepper. Then mix it all together really well so the chorizo is well dispersed.

Your three main ingredients, sausage meat, chorizo and lots of parsley

Your three main ingredients, sausage meat, chorizo and lots of parsley

Mix everything together

Mix everything together

Until it is well combined

Until it is well combined

3. Lay out the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and cut in half lengthways. Divide the shallot mix in half and spoon one portion onto each piece of the pastry in a 5cm wide strip lengthways down the centre. Divide the sausage meat mixture in half and shape each into a sausage shape as long as the length of pastry. The lay it on top of the shallots. Brush the long edges of each pastry piece with beaten egg then take one long edge and roll around the meat and shallots to encase. Pinch the pastry together to join and cut away any excess. Turn each roll over so that the join is underneath.

spread the caramalised onions onto the pastry

spread the caramalised onions onto the pastry

then top with the sausage meat

then top with the sausage meat

and roll that bad boy, roll!

and roll that bad boy, roll!

4. Brush each roll with beaten egg and cut the long sausage into pieces. I got about 8 small sausage rolls out of each roll but you can make them as big or as small as you like. ( If you are going to freeze them then do not do the egg wash just cut them up and wrap them up and pop in the freezer, only egg wash when you are read to cook them)

Cut to your desired size

Cut to your desired size

5. Place the sausage rolls onto the pre prepared baking sheet and bake in an oven for 25-30 minutes. Make sure you give them space on the baking sheet as the pastry will puff up and you don’t want them sticking together.  Once cooked all the way through and golden brown remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

Golden brown gorgeous sausage rolls!

Golden brown gorgeous sausage rolls!

Yum!!

Yum!!

Serve these delicious sausage rolls as a snack or with a salad or accompaniment to a fabulous picnic.

Enjoy xx

Roast Chorizo Hash

Staring back at me in the fridge is a chunk of left over Chorizo, its been there for a couple of days now, its baiting me, I can hear “eat me” every time I look at it. My problem with chorizo is once I open the packet I want to consume the whole thing straight away, the moment I smell the sweet smoked paprika I am lost, so having a piece of chorizo left in the fridge is torment. This particular chorizo was bought to make a spanish chicken casserole ( to appear on this blog shortly) but I didn’t need the whole thing so I am left debating what to make with the left overs. I could of course just fry it off and toss it on a salad, or make a tortilla, but no, I want something new,something exciting and then on a sunday morning it hits me – Chorizo Hash!

Chorizo

The Hash solves many a meal time dilemma, its quick and easy and you can pretty much make it with any meat. Of course my favourite to date is my Mum’s corned beef hash which I never seem to be able to make as well so fate has meant me to make my own signature hash!

Throwing the Chorizo in a roasting tray with some new potatoes and red onion, top with herbs and roast. 20 minutes later topped with a poached egg I had a perfect brunch!

Hash, its such a perfect meal! Normally I always make it with corned beef but when chorizo calls. This recipe makes about 2 meals, or 3/4 if you are just having it as a side dish to something else. The poached egg is optional but I would always recommend it as the runny yolk is just what you need on the side.

Roast Chorizo Hash

275g new potatoes chopped or cubed

100g chorizo sliced

1 red onion chopped ( fairly chunky)

a touch of oil

salt and pepper

Par boil the new potatoes for about 7/8 mins then drain and pop them into a roasting tin. Add the chorizo and onion and drizzle with olive oil and season.

Chorizo hash

Pop them in an oven ( 180 degrees) for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are crispy and golden.

Chorizo hash and poached egg

Serve your hash piled high and topped with a poached egg!