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During our travels last weekend, we visited Mr Rigg’s granny and went out for lunch with her.  We went to The White Oak in Cookham and ate the most delicious lunch.

Now we’ve been to The White Oak once before, but it was on such a sad occasion following a funeral that I can’t remember the food.  However, this time the food will stick with me for a long time.  It was superb. 

Not only has this pub been lovingly refurbished, but the staff are so friendly and polite and the food utterly scrumptious.  Sadly I have no photos of our meal, but Mr Rigg and his granny ate beer-battered fish and chips which was served on a wooden board, the chips (which were excellent) came in a tiny metal bucket. 

For my meal I choose a vegetarian main of Parmesan gnocchi in a winter vegetable broth.  When it arrived it the portion seemed quite small compared to the hunks of batter fish beside me.  However, it was delicate, delicious, beautifully presented, and incredibly tasty.  Just three homemade Parmesan gnocchi sat upon a heap of tiny cubed vegetables surrounded by a pool of clear broth.  Wow – just excellent food.

It was the kind of food I would like to eat every night of the week, but I’m quite sure it would take me many years to learn how to make gnocchi so soft and melt in the mouth, and a clear broth packed with oodles of flavour.  I guess I had better get started!

Images: The UK Restaurant Guide

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Last week I went to the fishmongers to pick up some fish for tea.  I was thinking along the lines of simple baked fish with crushed new potatoes maybe with some softened spring onions mixed through. 

There were both gorgeous red fleshed new potatoes and spring onions at Unicorn so this has steered my thoughts.  On entering the fishmongers there in the chiller was a box of golden mushrooms.  Wild Scottish girolle mushrooms to be exact.

It was one of those moments where you know instantly that you will be eating them for tea.  So I carefully picked out enough for myself and Mr Rigg.  I also bought a piece of Grouper – never tried it before, looked like a good chunky white fish so I thought I’d give it a go.

The fish was really tasty, with quite a strong flavour.  The mushrooms pan fried in hot butter were incredibly moreish.  And the crushed potatoes with spring onions – it’s the sort of food you could eat straight from the pan (and do when no one else is looking!).

Wild girolle mushrooms, baked fish and crushed potatoes with spring onions

Feeds 2

2 pieces of Grouper (or other white fish)
150g wild girolle mushrooms
New potatoes for 2
2 cloves of garlic
4 spring onions
Lots of butter
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to about 180°C.

Rub the fish in olive oil, place on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.  Cook in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until done.

Whilst the fish is cooking, boil the new potatoes in plenty of salted water.

Clean the mushrooms (I used a pastry brush to remove any grit) and tear up any large ones.  In a frying pan heat a generous knob of butter with a splash of olive oil.  Add the mushrooms and fry on a high heat until golden.

Finely chop the garlic and slice the spring onions.

Drain the potatoes.  Put the empty potato pan back on the heat and add some butter.  Add the garlic and spring onions to the butter and cook until softened – don’t let them burn!

Once they spring onions have softened, return the potatoes to the pan and crush them up with the back of a wooden spoon –  you’re not aiming for mash potato, but crushing the potatoes allows all the lovely butter and seasonings to work their way into the hot potato flesh.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

And you’re done – just simply put it all on a plate and eat! 

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My little brother, who is 13, loves fishing.  He is lucky that we have friends with riverside houses who let him sit on their banks and fish for trout for free.  The weekend before last when N and I went home to visit them, the little brother went out fishing and brought me back a handsome trout for my birthday present.  What a treat!

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And what a beauty he caught!  I accepted the gift on the premise that the little brother would gut it and clean it for me.  He did so willingly.  I must add in here that only a year ago he was too squeamish to even touch raw chicken, so he has come a long way.

So the following day, having returned to our little house in Cheshire, N and I decided to cook the trout for my birthday tea.  The weather was scorching, so N prepared the barbeque and I faffed around trying to decide what to do to my trout.  In the end, we just bunged a couple of thin slices of lemon in its belly along with a handful of garden herbs.  We scored deep gashes into the flesh and poked in some slices of garlic, finishing it off with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper.

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The trout was then wrapped in foil and popped straight onto the hot coals and took hardly any time at all to cook.

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In addition to the trout, we boiled up some Jersey Royals and tossed them with lots of butter and mint.  We picked a bowl of salad leaves from the garden and dried them off in our new kitchen toy – a salad spinner!

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I was so pleased with the way we cooked the trout, it was absolutely perfect, just cooked, still moist and a beautiful blush of coral pink.  If in doubt, just keep checking it.

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Next I painstakingly removed all the succulent flesh from the bones, which took a while, but as the kind of person who can easily be put off by chomping on a bone, I felt it was worthwhile.  This was all that was left of the fishy when I was done with it (avert your eyes or quickly scroll down if you’re squeamish – I must say I think there’s something rather beautiful about it):

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We were left with a big pile of gorgeous pink trout flecked with thyme leaves (we devoured the whole lot!):

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So there you have it – an incredibly simple, incredibly delicious and in fact incredibly cheap meal: baked trout, new potato salad and a pile of salad leaves. 

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We realised that ignoring the minor ingredients such a lemon, oil, salt and pepper that our meal had only cost the price of the potatoes.  The rest was free – a fish from a beautiful Cotswold river (the one below in fact), and homegrown salad and herbs from our garden.

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A big thanks to the little brother for catching us such a tasty tea!

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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