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An evening at Daylesford Farm Cookery School

We had a great time at Daylesford Farm Cookery School last week. Miele very kindly organised an evening for our design team to attend the cookery school and cook some of the wonderful produce grown on the farm.

Daylesford are dedicated to growing, producing and cooking real food, organically. It must be fresh, and full of texture, succulence and flavour – with the full complement of vitamins and minerals that can only come from natural food that is eaten at its best: in season. In accordance with this philosophy, they practice organic, sustainable farming without using dangerous pesticides and herbicides on the crops. They do not use artificial growth promoters or antibiotics on their animals. They believe that when people eat natural organic food, they can taste the difference.

Daylesford is a community with food at its heart. The Cookery School was established in 2010 to share their love of cooking simple dishes celebrating seasonal, organic ingredients from their farm and Market Garden.

They feel that the only way to truly understand the recipes is to also understand the ingredients that go into each dish, together with their provenance. They introduce their customers to the nutritional benefits of eating organic food, as well their belief that it tastes better too. Daylesford love to share the stories of their ingredients and how they are grown, reared and made on their farm.

Over thirty years ago, Daylesford turned their family’s farmland, first in Staffordshire and then in Gloucestershire, over to sustainable, organic farming. It was the start of a passion: to grow crops naturally, and rear healthy animals, for local people; and to feed children better. They joined a mission to reverse the industrialisation of food, and the pollution of the land that nurtures it.

We were fortunate enough to be hosted by Michelin starred chef Matt Weedon, who joined Daylesford Cooking School last year. Like many chefs, Matt left school aged sixteen, taking a summer job as a kitchen porter at Pendley Manor in Hertfordshire. This job signalled the beginning of a series of jobs working in country house dining, with Matt working his way up the hierarchy of several other country hotel operations, including Glenapp Castle in southwest Scotland, where he won his first Michelin star.

Matt’s next position was at Lords of the Manor, nestled in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, where he worked together with his wife Rachel, who assumed the role of restaurant manager. This job offered him the opportunity to really develop his own style of cuisine. 

Based on the French food he loves, but with a lighter, simpler take on the classics, Matt’s dishes always begin with the best possible ingredients, many from local suppliers. He credits his culinary mentors for this outlook, all of whom were influenced by Raymond Blanc’s style of cooking at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. Lords of the Manor gained its first Michelin star in 2009, only one year after Matt took over as head chef.

For the main course the whole team made a salad of smoked neck fillet of lamb, tomatoes, capers and olives. Neck is a spectacular and often under used cut of lamb, it really is delicious! In this recipe, Daylesford use an unusual method of smoking the lamb and pair it with tomatoes, capers, black olives and Market Garden salad leaves.

To smoke the lamb, season the neck well with salt and rub with a little English mustard and pop onto a lined tray with the tomatoes.

Then you heat the smoking chips in a pan until gently smoking. Add the lamb and smoking pan to an oven at 180°C, cook for 8-16 minutes until the lamb has a firm bounce and is pink inside. Remove and allow to rest.

We made the dressing by combining the mustard, cider vinegar, honey and olive oil, and season to taste.

In a small bowl, we mixed together the salad leaves, tomatoes, capers, olives and a spoonful or so of the dressing and seasoned with salt and pepper.

We sliced the lamb into 5mm thick slices, re-seasoned lightly and placed around the salad. Then drizzled the juices over the meat from the pan and added wild garlic and herbs to the dish for a finishing touch.

It was served with a delicious light red wine.

For dessert we made a seasonal fruit soufflé, with strawberries from Daylesford’s Market Garden, which are bang in season at the moment, but you can vary the fruit as the seasons change.

To make the puree, we blitzed the strawberries with a small amount of sugar. Added the puree to a pan and warmed over a medium heat. Added a tablespoon of water to the cornflour to make a smooth puree and added this to the strawberry puree, whisking continuously; then brought to a simmer. Once fully thickened and smooth, we removed from the heat and emptied into a bowl and added a little squeeze of lemon juice.

We brushed the inside of the moulds with soft butter, left to cool momentarily, before coating generously with grated chocolate, this stops the soufflé sticking to the mould.

Then we made the egg whites. In a large bowl we whisked the egg whites until they formed soft peaks. It is important to do this before adding the sugar, as you’ll never get the volume required if you add the sugar at the start of the procedure. (Some of us learnt that the hard way!)

We were supposed to add the sugar in three stages while whisking until you have a stiff, glossy meringue. Then we mixed 1 third of the meringue into the fruit base until it was combined. Then we added the remaining meringue, and folded through carefully with a spatula.

We divided the mix between the lined ramekins and baked in the Miele oven at 200°C for exactly 8 minutes… provided they were risen and golden brown, but hopefully still a little runny inside…

We made a little hollow in the centre of the soufflé and added some of the remaining coulis and a generous scoop of homemade Daylesford ice cream and wolfed it down. It was delicious!

Suffice to say we had a wonderful time and would highly recommend Daylesford Cookery School. Thank you again to Miele for organising the event.

You can find out more about Daylesford Cookery School by clicking here

And you can find out more about Miele ovens by clicking here

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