Looking for some new ideas to entertain guests with this Christmas, Rebecca sought some tips from the chefs at Beaverbrook’s School of Cookery
In 1911, Rudyard Kipling and his family spent Christmas with Lord Beaverbrook at his stately Leatherhead home, then called Cherkeley Court. Beaverbrook presented Kipling with a pristine guestbook, asking the poet to write the very first entry. While that poetic entry may not have been Kipling’s most esteemed work, it encapsulated the joy that clearly filled Lord Beaverbrook’s home during the festive period.
Now that Beaverbrook has re-opened as a luxury county house hotel, visitors can not only experience the festive cheer of which Kipling wrote, but also meet the chefs behind the estate’s tantalising menus and learn how to recreate elements of them.
Beaverbrook’s School of Cookery is hosting a number of Christmas-themed workshops throughout December and Kaz Suzuki, head chef at Beaverbrook’s The Garden House Restaurant, agreed to give me a taster session so that I could spread some of the hotel’s cheer among my guests this Christmas. Kaz, who hails from New Zealand and has worked at The Garden House since it first opened its doors in 2016, had put together a menu of three festive vegetarian-friendly dishes using ingredients regularly featured on the restaurant’s menu at this time of year: chicory, heritage carrots, mushrooms and chestnuts.
First up were Chicory Cups, which always go down well with the members of Beaverbrook’s exclusive golf club when Kaz serves them up at the clubhouse. These appetizers, featuring a simple toasted seed and parmesan mix and Kaz’s signature sherry caramel glaze, make a tasty healthy alternative to canapes.
Next Kaz showed me how to make chestnut and mushroom soup. While chestnuts are prevelant at this time of year, they tend to be used in a stuffing or accompaniment to the main meal, rather than being the star of the show so this is a great way to let them shine. “Mushrooms and chestnuts work really well together and Surrey is a great place for foraging,” says Kaz. “Once the soup is ready, serve it in espresso or small tea cups and garnish with cep powder.
Last but by no means least, we put together a heritage carrot, smoked feta and pistachio salad. Salads don’t tend to make an appearance on menus at this time of year but this cooked salad is perfect if you want to eat a bit lighter. What’s more, it’s really easy to make. While smoking the cheese isn’t essential, it adds to the seasonal feel of the dish. Kaz showed me how to create a simple home smoker using smoking chips from the garden centre, a deep roasting dish and foil.
Kaz’s biggest tip for the cook in the house this Christmas? “Don’t try and do everything on the day. There’s enough to think about when your entertaining at Christmas so why would you want to give yourself even more to do? Aspects of all these dishes can be made in advance so you can focus more on enjoying the festive cheer.”
sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and season to taste
1 bunch heritage carrots Tbsp mixed herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano) Sherry caramel, maple syrup and olive oil to drizzle 1 block of Greek feta cheese 1/2tsp soft brown sugar 4tbsp smoking chips Toasted pistachio
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Cut carrots into wedges and place them in a mixing bowl. Add herbs and drizzle over sherry caramel, syrup and oil and mix
Place on baking tray in oven and cook until soft
While carrots are cooking, rub the sugar onto the block of cheese and leave for 2-3 minutes. Place at one end of a tray
Add smoking chips and a drizzle of water in a pan and heat on high until the chips start smoking
Pour smoking chips in the other side of the tray and cover with foil. Leave for 15-30 minutes
Arrange the carrots on a plate, crumble the feta over and sprinkle with toasted pistachio