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.

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