Oxford Foodies Festival

Just setting off for the Oxford Foodies Festival in South Parks.   It’s not raining, which is good, but it’s not warm either.   But if previous years are anything to go by the audience will be warm and welcoming and of course, the food will be fabulous.

Here are my  recipes for today, making the most of the excellent crop of English plums, and reintroducing an old favourite – proper home-made salad cream.

Old-Fashioned Salad Cream with coarse grain mustard and tarragon


Serves 4-6


2 hard-boiled egg yolks

½ tablespoon coarse grain mustard

a good pinch of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp sugar

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

100ml single cream

Finely chopped leaves 1 large sprig tarragon


Mash the cooked egg yolks in a bowl, then work in the mustard, sugar, cayenne, vinegar and salt.  Gradually whisk in the cream.   Stir in the tarragon. Taste adjust seasoning, adding a splash more vinegar and/or salt if needed.



Seared Lettuce and New Potato Salad with Home Made
Tarragon Salad Cream


Serves 4

400-500 g new potatoes

A splash of white wine vinegar

a little sunflower oil

salt and pepper

2 little gem lettuces, quartered lengthways through their bases

Home-made salad cream (see above)


Boil the potatoes in their skins in salted water until tender.   Drain and halve or quarter depending on their size.   While still warm, dress with a little vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.   Leave to cool.

Shortly before serving, put a heavy griddle pan or frying pan on a high heat.   Brush the cut sides of the lettuce with oil.   Lay, cut side down, on the hot pan.   Turn onto the other cut side as soon as the first is patched with brown.   Brown the other side, then toss with the potatoes in a serving dish.   Drizzle over some of the salad cream and serve the remainder alongside.







Chicken Escalopes with Plum Sauce

Serves 4

60g butter

280-300g English plums, stoned and roughly chopped

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 star anise

sugar to taste (around 50-60 g)

2 spring onions, finely chopped

2 large or 4 small chicken breasts

a little sunflower oil

a few handfuls of watercress

salt and pepper

To make the sauce, melt half the butter in a saucepan and add the plums, chilli and star anise. Cover and cook over a low heat until the juices begin to run, then raise the heat slightly. Continue cooking until fruit is very tender. Remove the star anise.  Mash the fruit roughly and stir in the remaining butter, just enough sugar to take the edge off the sourness, the spring onions, salt and pepper.

Now beat up your chicken breasts.   If they are quite small, just sandwich each breast between two sheets of clingfilm.  Use a rolling pin to bash and roll them out until very thin.  Try not to make too many holes in them.   If you have really big chunky chicken breast, cut them in half horizontally, then sandwich each half between sheets of clingfilm and bash them gently to a nice thinness.


Shortly before you want to eat, heat a large heavy frying pan or griddle pan over a high heat until massively hot.  Brush the chicken escalopes lightly with oil, and lay on the frying pan without overlapping (you’ll probably have to cook them in two batches, or two frying pans).   Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn and cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side, until cooked through.   Season with salt and pepper.

Make a bed of watercress, lay the chicken escalopes on the watercress, and spoon over some of the plum sauce.   Serve at once, with the remaining sauce on the side.

Recipes from Elder Stubbs Festival 2018

The Elder Stubbs Festival is one of the most joyous intimate festivals of Oxford, set amongst the verdant allotments, so full of fruit and vegetables and flowers.  This year’s theme, the Rainforest, prompted an exuberant outburst of stuffed parrots, colour and sparkle.   It prompted ideas for the recipes I used in my demonstration,  armed with beautiful produce from Restore’s vegetable patches.

From the allotments:  onions, pumpkin, basil, chard

From the rainforest:  cashew nuts, brazil nuts, chocolate, avocado


Stir-Fried Chard with Cashew Nuts, Brazil Nuts, golden raisins, olives and feta

Serves 2-3

A  bunch of chard

a small handful Cashew nuts

A small handful Brazil nuts, roughly chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, sliced

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

a small handful golden raisins, soaked in  water for half an hour

A handful of black olives, stoned and roughly chopped

Lemon juice

Salt and pepper


To serve:

Lightly toasted sourdough bread

Crumbled goats cheese or feta


First prepare the chard.   Fold leaves in half and cut out the broad stem.   Shred the leaves to a thickness of around 2 cms.   Set to one side.   Now cut the stems into 1 cm pieces, cutting across the grain.

Heat a large wok, or a heavy frying pan over a moderate heat.   Add the nuts and dry fry, stirring all the time, until lightly browned.  Tip out and reserve.   Wipe nutty crumbs out of the pan, and return to the heat.   Add a generous slurp of olive oil, then add the onion and chard stems and fry for a few minutes until beginning to soften.   Next add the garlic cook for a minute or so.

Raise the heat high and add the chard leaves.   Turn and stir and toss until they are tender.   Around 5 minutes.   If they are still a bit on the chewy side, add a splash of water, cover the pan tightly with a lid, and leave to steam for a few more minutes.

Now remove the lid if necessary, add the raisins, olives, toasted nuts and thyme.   Season with salt and lots of pepper.   Toss and turn for another minute or so, then turn off the heat.  Add lots of fresh lemon juice, then pile on top of the sourdough slices.   Scatter with cheese and serve.



Serves 3-4

Around 600-700g chunk of pumpkin or squash

A little Sunflower oil

100g Caster sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1-2 tablespoons Clotted cream, plus extra to serve

Roughly 25g dark chocolate,

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract


Peel the squash and discard seeds and woolly fibres.   Cut the squash into slices about ½ cm thick.

Preheat either a barbecue or a griddle pan.  Oil the rack of the barbecue or the griddle pan well.   Cook the slices of pumpkin/squash over a high heat, turning once, until they have brown scorch stripes on them.  Don’t overlap or it won’t work.   They don’t have to be cooked through, just striped with brown.

Now transfer to a saucepan, dredge with sugar, add the vanilla and 100-150 ml water.  Set over a gentle heat, and turn the pieces of pumpkin, so that the sugar dissolves.   Now bring up to a good boil, shaking the pan gently to get the sugar syrup evenly distributed.   Cook for some 10 minutes or so, turning the pumpkin pieces frequently, until the pumpkin flesh is soft and tender, and the liquid has virtually evaporated.  Mash with a fork or your spoon, or with a potato masher. Leave to cool.   Mix in 1 or 2 of tablespoons of cream, depending on how rich you would like it.

Pile into little serving glasses or bowls,add a scoop of clotted cream, grate chocolate over it and serve.



Serves 3-4

1  ripe avocado

A handful of basil leaves



Scoop the flesh of the avocado into the jug of a liquidiser.   Add the basil leaves, roughly torn up and a good squirt of honey, and somewhere around 250-300 ml milk.   Whizz up together.   Add more honey if you would like it sweeter, more milk if you would prefer it thinner.

That is it.  Drink and enjoy.