In the picturesque outskirts of Oxford lies one of the finest restaurants in Britain. Le Manoir is a slice of French perfection and the brain-child of Raymond Blanc OBE. The grounds are elegantly laid out with a well kept British lawn surrounded by quintessential British Trees and blooming lavender. The building itself is draped with an ensemble of climbers and ivies framing the period windows. Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons is an undeniably stunning setting for fine french food.
Whilst you enjoy an aperitif, perhaps a glass of Champagne or Rosé, you will enjoy a quartet of ‘amuse-bouche’. Starting with the canapé closest to you working backwards in a straight line (starting on the right in the picture) you enjoy these excellently presented tantalizing adventures for the mouth. These mouthful sized adventures last a few seconds: from the moment you pinch the base between you thumb and index finger until the last flavours leave your mouth and you sigh in hungry desire for more. Whether its a sweet and creamy guacamole filled cherry tomato on a seeded biscuit, or a tower of melt-in-the-mouth air-dried beef on a foundation of soft cracker, these give you an idea of what to expect from your meal – outstanding quality and imagination.
Then the main adventure starts: Les Saveurs de Juillet (Flavours of July) – a five course journey through local, seasonal dishes of pure delight. The dim lights create elegant shadows across the food. To begin, Confit De Saumon, Verveine, Pommes, Oseille. To avoid getting ridiculously stuffy I’ll adopt a more informal voice from here. Okay, so what even are all these things. Confit de Saumon is a slowly cooked piece of salmon with a warming, tender texture. Verveine is verbena in english a lemon tasting herb – the long green herb in the picture below. This nicely complements the fish without overpowering its delicate flavours. Pommes is french for apples, which here come from the garden’s very own orchard and are presented here as a trio: both with and without skin, and also pureed. Oseille is Sorrel, which is sometimes called dock. This has a strong tangy apple flavour with an acidity similar to lemon perfectly balancing the rest of the meal. The food is presented like crown – simply flawless. The pinks and greens colours complement each other to create a warm yet summery looking dish. The colours have been chosen to avoid the salmon looking cold and limp. The apples are shaped nicely to drawn the eyes towards the centre pieces topped with a sprinkling of caviar. Caviar pops on your tongue and has a salty flavour which naturally helps season the dish. Three texture emerge in this dish; the soft warm salmon and pureed apples; the crunch apples, and the sparkling caviar. The presented crown becomes a cosy firework display in your mouth – divine.
I cooked this the other night and it went down really well. There are no complex skills or equipment required; however, this dish won’t fail to impress. The latkes form a sweet, slightly curried orange-coloured base whilst the green broccoletti and red peppers form an elegant contrast. The pink langoustines finish up this tasty dish.
Each of the components can be cooked separately so you can easily mix and match with other recipes. For example you can eat the latkes on their own with some greek yoghurt for a light and healthy lunch.
I would start the langoustines first and begin the other dishes whilst they you wait for them to marinate.
Recipe serves 4.
[ingredients title=”Ingredients Latkes”][box type=”info” border=”full”]Time: 20 minutes[/box][box type=”tick”]Vegetarian [/box]
- 1 and a half large sweet potatoes or yams
- 1 medium onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tbsp of cumin
- 1 tbsp of coriander
- 3 large eggs
- Olive oil
[directions title=”Directions Latkes”]
- Grate the sweet potatoes (skins on for a rustic feel, skins off for a smoother texture) into a large mixing bowl.
- Finely chop the onion (should be no bigger than the peels of potato) and the garlic and add to the mixture.
- Add all the spices and 3 eggs, mixing well with a fork.
- The mixture should now be wet but not runny. You should be able to form small highly-textured patties from the mixture. If it runny add a heaped tablespoon of flour (or reduce the number of eggs by 1 next time.)
- Heat a wide frying pan on medium-high with plenty of olive oil.
- Place a small amount of the mixture onto the frying pan (it will crackle under the heat) and use a fork to push into a flat patty. An ideal size should be a little smaller than the palm of your hand – similar to the size of a burger patty.
- After roughly a 3 minutes flip the patties over a brown on the other side. They should be golden-brown colour when finished: Black and it has been cooked for too long (though will still taste okay); orange and you should cook for longer (or adjust the heat). They will stay together nicely when they’ve been cooked.
- Season to taste.
- Replacements: the sweet potatoes with regular potatoes, the spices can be removed if your wanting less of a curry flavour for example at breakfast with fruit.
[ingredients title=”Ingredients Roasted Red Peppers and Steamed Broccolletti”][box type=”info”]Time: 30 minutes[/box]
- 2 Sweet red Peppers
- 2-3 Bunches of Broccolletti, Long steamed Broccoli or Purple flowering Broccoli
- Oliver Oil
[directions title=”Directions Roasted Red Peppers and Steamed Broccolletti”]
- Place the Broccolletti in a wide saucepan and fill with 2 inches of water.
- Place the saucepan on a high heat with the lid on.
- Cook for roughly 12 minutes or until stalks are tender. You may want to move the Broccolletti around after 6 minutes.
- Slice up the red peppers into long, 2 cm wide pieces.
- Place in a roasting dish and cover with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Shake the dish so that the peppers are evenly covered and place in the oven at 200C/400F.
- Remove after they have started to take on a softer texture and blackened in places (Usually after about 20 minutes).
[ingredients title=”Ingredients Chili and Lime Langoustine Tails”][box type=”info”]Time: 20 mins[/box] [box type=”note”]Needs time to marinate [/box]
- 1 and a half pounds of Langoustine tails or Prawns
- 50 ml of white wine
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tsp of chili flakes
- 1 tbsp of fresh ginger
- 1 lime
[directions title=”Directions Chili and Lime Langoustine Tails”]
- Put the Langoustine tails in a large bowl.
- Grate the lime rind and squeeze the lime juice into the bowl.
- Grate the ginger and add the chili flakes to the bowl.
- Chop the garlic finely and add to the bowl.
- Stir well and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
- Melt the butter in a small frying pan until foaming but not brown. (If you burn the butter empty the pan and start again.)
- Add the langoustine tails and wine, cooking for about 3 minutes ( not too long as they will go chewy). They should go a healthy pink colour.
Now you have created all the individual parts; to serve you simply have to place 2-3 Latkes in the middle of a plate leaning on each other. Place 2 -3 stems of broccoletti on top of the latkes; half a peppers worth of the roasted peppers on top of the broccletti. You can either place the Langoustine on the side or on top (if you think they will stay in place. Drizzle the remaining juice from the pan of the Langoustines on top. Enjoy!
Welcome to my Food Blog which unfortunately is under-construction. Make sure to check back later!
Cooking is an art which requires determination, skill and passion. Food is a central part of our lives which I find is often neglected in many people’s lives. Whenever possible we should endeavor to eat great food. My Food Blog includes recipes, reviews and ideas on how to cook great food. Whether you are on a budget, looking for exciting vegan or vegetarian foods, interested in learning some of the basic skills or wanting to try something novel there will be something for you in my blog.