PUBLISHED: 16:35 15 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:35 15 May 2013
Spring arrives, with many visitors to Norfolk; And, as the popularity of the county grows, so does the deserved reputation for great ingredients and the food we produce and serve. There are, of course, lots of people who have played an important part in this, but there has been one lady who has quietly got on with doing what she does amazingly well, cook and serve wonderful food , and in doing so unwittingly been an important part of this wonderful food movement, Alison Yetman.
Ali moved to Norfolk with her husband Peter, and opened their restaurant in Holt. Her menus always seasonally, based on local produce from small producers. Lots of local fish and shellfish, fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products and wild foraged ingredients went to make up the dishes.
In 2007 having closed her restaurant, Ali set up and ran the kitchen at Wiveton Hall Café, which was an instant success, with the café menus built around the glorious seasonal fruit and vegetables grown on the farm.
The ease with which Ali cooks and creates imaginative dishes that are packed full of flavour, makes her the perfect person to give us a spring time vegetarian master class, here are two of her wonderful recipes. Worth a try whether you are vegetarian or not.
This spring will see the opening of a new café and food hall at Creake Abbey, just outside Burnham Market and Ali’s latest role is as chef, of this exciting new venture. To find out more www.creakeabbeycafe.com
HOT GOUGERE FILLED WITH LEEKS, BROCOLLI AND CHEESE SAUCE.
These can be made ahead and either wrapped and kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen. To reheat – place in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, whilst you make the filling.
For the gougere
75g plain flour
225g good flavoured cheddar cheese grated
3 eggs, plus an egg yolk for glazing
½ tsp salt
Pre heat the oven 220c/Gas mark 7, grease or line a large baking sheet with non-stick paper.
Place the butter, water and salt in a saucepan over a medium heat, and bring to the boil and dip in the flour in one go. Remove the pan from the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a soft ball, Allow to cool slightly the add the eggs, one at a time, gently beating the mix until you have a soft dropping consistency. Then stir in the grated cheese. Using two dessert spoons, make four to five moulds of mix on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them well apart, then glaze with the extra egg yolk mixed with a little water. Then place baking sheet on top shelf of oven for 30-40 mins, until well risen and evenly crisped and browned. Once cooked carefully transfer the gougere to a wire rack to cool.
Whilst they are in the oven, make the sauce
2 thin slices of onion
50g plain flour
120g cheddar, grated
2 med sized leeks trimmed, washed and sliced into 2cm rounds
400g broccoli (use the stalks too, cut into half cm slices) and cauliflower cut into even sized florets
Salt, a little dry mustard powder and sprinkle of cayenne pepper to season
Put the milk, onion, bay and cloves in a small saucepan and heat gently until a skin starts to crinkle on the milk. Draw the pan off the heat and allow to stand for 20/30 mins to infuse the flavours then strain. Melt the butter in another pan and stir in the flour to make a roux, then gradually add the milk stirring evenly and gently , letting the mixture thicken between each addition. Add the cheese, stirring until it melts, taste and season, and keep warm. If the gougeres need reheating a little pop them back into the oven for five minutes at this point.
Add salt to a large pan of boiling water and throw in the cauliflower, boil for a minute, then add the broccoli followed by the leeks, boil for another minute or so until the florets are just cooked with some bite left in them. Drain thoroughly, then gently stir the vegetables into sauce. Split the gougeres across their equators using a serrated knife, place bottom halves on heated plates, pile the sauce into each and sit their lids on top. Serve immediately with a simple dressed green salad.
SPICED ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH BUTTERY COUSCOUS AND YOGHURT
This recipe is a wonderful mix of spice and root vegetables. It could be served individually but equally in a large dish to share.
1 large parsnip, peeled
500g chunk of squash, peeled and deseeded
1 head fennel
1 lg onion, peeled
400g celeriac, peeled
1 large carrot, peeled
1 large red pepper, halved and seeded
4 garlic cloves unpeeled but halved
4 tablespoons olive oil
Half a tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tsps cumin seed
3 or 4 sprigs thyme or rosemary
salt and black pepper
250g couscous (wholemeal is nice if you can get it)
½ tsp salt
2 tsps fennel seed
About 350ml boiling water or veg stock (a decent stock cube is fine)
A small bunch of coriander or parsley, chopped
Greek or thick plain yoghurt to serve
Preheat your oven to 220c/gas mark 7.
Halve the onion, then cut each into quarters, keeping the root intact, do the same with the fennel. Chop all the root vegetables and the pepper into even sized chunks, about 3cm. Then put all the vegetables into a roasting tin, sprinkle over the chilli, salt and pepper, tuck in the garlic and herb sprigs. Drizzle the whole lot with the olive oil and just gently turn all with your hands to combine evenly. Roast at the top of your oven for 40 mins to an hour, turning the vegetables regularly. The vegetables should be tender with a few crispy edges. Pick out the herb sprigs and squash the garlic cloves out of their skins.
Put the couscous in a bowl with the butter salt and fennel seed. Pour over enough boiling water or veg stock to just cover and leave to stand for five minutes, then gently stir with a fork to separate all the grains. Stir in the chopped parsley or coriander.
To serve divide between four plates, pile the roasted veg and all their juices on top and a dollop of thick yoghurt. Or layer in a large serving dish.