Media Sales Executive

Round & About


Media Sales Executive

Full time, permanent position in Wallingford
£19,000 -£24,000 pa. salary depending on experience

With an exciting expansion plan coming out of lockdown, we need a Media Sales Executive to join our award-winning commercial team.

About the role

Reporting to the Sales Manager, you will manage an existing client base, maintain current sales levels whilst building key relationships through effective account management. Once you are up to speed with your current customers, you will also seek out new leads and sell multi-platform, advertising solutions to businesses across the Thames Valley, ultimately increasing the volume of client advertisers in our award-winning magazines and online.

If you currently work in advertising sales and want to transition to a company that has continued to publish through the last difficult months on top of the last 26 years, this is a great opportunity to work for a family run business that really cares and invests in its employees and wants them to succeed and develop. If you work in other sales or account management roles and believe you can be a success at advertising sales, we want to hear from you too. You must be organised, self-motivated and interact well within a buzzy team environment.

We have an extremely rewarding package with a competitive salary, a good bonus structure and uncapped commission to be earned. Our team culture is friendly, supportive and sociable. We are based on the award-winning Howbery Park, with a canteen, gym, tennis court, free parking but importantly in a beautiful green environment on the river Thames to work in.

Responsibilities include:
· Sourcing new business leads
· Dealing with incoming enquiries
· Growing your own accounts and pipeline of prospects
· Working towards monthly sales targets
· Developing your own portfolio while working as part of a team

The ideal candidate:
· Creative thinker
· Goal driven
· Team player
· Punctual and organised
· Presentable
· Quick to learn

About the company

Round & About Magazine is the regions’ leading free publication and the 11th largest circulating free magazine in the UK. Started in 1994 and now covering 7 counties, reaching over 505,000 homes every month with 25 area-specific magazine titles, we have a strong brand and well-known product for you to sell. We will be adding 2 new area editions of the magazine this year and are keen to expand our sales team.

What we can offer:
· Commission pay
· Bonus Scheme
· Company pension
· Performance bonus
· Company events
· Great facilities on-site – gym, subsidised canteen, sports club
· Monday to Friday – no weekend work

Located on the award-winning Howbery Business Park in purpose-built offices, mid-way between Oxford and Reading, you can enjoy beautiful surroundings and free parking.

As a company, we like to reward our hard work, having regular social outings and often enjoy press tickets to major events each year.

COVID-19 considerations

Our offices are operating with full Covid regulations in place, including distancing, cleaning and testing.

Work remotely:
· Temporarily due to COVID-19

COVID-19 precaution(s):
· Remote interview process
· Social distancing guidelines in place
· Virtual meetings
· Sanitisation, disinfection or cleaning procedures in place

If you fit the requirements and are interested in the Media Sales Executive role, please send a cover letter and CV to [email protected]

Find out more about our team

Liven your home with green walls

Round & About

Gardarica offers ‘living walls’ tailor made to the needs of your home, garden or business from design to construction

The last year had us all spending much more time indoors, whether due to lockdown or self-isolating. It is more important than ever to create a living space that is refreshing both aesthetically and to create a better atmosphere to live and work.

Living Walls has been the new thing for interior design and landscape design, and an amazing solution for a quick and easy renovation, breathing life to your home.

Benefits of green walls

Improved mental & physical health

The presence of living walls reduce bacteria, mould and dust, ensuring that your environment is healthier. People in spaces with green walls experience less headaches and tiredness than people in traditional homes. A greener environment will make your home more relaxing and allow for better productivity.

Better air quality & flow

Living walls purify the air converting harmful particles into oxygen. Studies have shown that better air quality leads to a more positive mood. This is a fantastic way to make your property a more positive environment.

Temperature Control

Living walls naturally regulate the temperature in your space, creating a pleasant atmosphere.

They simply look great!

Apart from all the practical benefits, a simple fact remains, a green wall looks fantastic and it will lift your mood!

Did you know?

There are several plants that boost your immune system and limit viruses in the atmosphere

There are plants, like Aloe Vera and many more, that produce oxygen even in night time

You can choose to have a green wall designed and constructed for you, or if you are on a low budget you could even start one yourself

Gardarica uses patented products from recycled oceanic plastics to create a unique design that matches your needs and budget.

Contact Gardarica to find out more at or call 020 398 319 60.

 

For our tips on how to show your home some love, click here

Star Q&A: Raymond Blanc

Round & About

Liz Nicholls asks star chef Raymond Blanc about feeding the soul in isolation, finding your calling & his surprising favourite foodstuff…

Q. Many of us parents have been home schooling, or stressing about home schooling over the last few months… Being self-taught, do you have any encouraging words about how youngsters can find their calling, school or no school? “The key is to find your passion and follow it. I am self-taught in the sense that I didn’t ‘study’ my craft but I did ‘learn’ my craft from the best. This includes my maman who taught me so much as a child about taking the best local, seasonal ingredients and turning them into wonderful, hearty, family dishes. I learnt from great chefs who I worked under – I paid attention, I practised, I pushed forward and made my own way into a world that inspired me so much.”

Q. Your childhood sounds idyllic. What’s one thing parents can do to nurture their children’s love of food? “There is nothing that will inspire children more or make them want to try new tastes and textures than to have been part of the creative process of preparing and cooking the dishes. To this day certain dishes like a simple and delicious apple tart evoke such strong and joyous childhood memories of being in the French country kitchen, cooking with my mother.”

Q. Is there anything you don’t eat or drink? “I do all I can to avoid processed food. I once bought a processed loaf and could not believe that after two weeks there was no mould on it! In France, every little village has a boulangerie and the French buy fresh bread sometimes three times a day. Today there are a wealth of wonderful artisan food producers in the UK and they must be supported.”

Q. What’s the one food or drink that you just couldn’t do without? “Not a food I can’t do without but one I have only recently discovered – brown sauce! Yes, who would imagine a Frenchman loving the humble brown sauce. I had been Living in England for almost 40 years when one day a friend offered me a bacon butty with brown sauce. I can tell you now, it was a revelation. I cannot believe I waited so long!

Q. What’s the most useful kitchen gadget or kit no kitchen should be without? “I think most chefs would agree when I say a great set of kitchen knives. Having the correct sharp knife for each and every task in the kitchen will make everything so much easier and so much more enjoyable. Good knives are easy to handle, they are well balanced and, looked after properly, can last you a lifetime.. Another piece of kit I love is my Kenwood Chef kitchen mixer. I’ve used these machines for over 30 years, in my kitchens and cookery school, and the precision and durability is fantastic.”

Q. We’re supporting our hospitality heroes – how important it is this industry? And do you have any words of solidarity for your fellow hospitality heroes? “The UK hospitality industry employs over 3 million people, many of them just starting out on the career ladder – young, eager and full of high hopes and expectation. For them, and for the whole of the hospitality sector I say try and stay strong. It has been such a hard year but we are all in this together and we know that once this if over our restaurants, pubs, hotels will be the first places people will want to visit to reclaim some normality and joy. We live to deliver those special moments of magic and will be back to doing what we do best very soon.”

Q. What one piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out as a chef? “One route is via apprenticeships. There are very many excellent apprenticeships that will give you a superb introduction to commercial kitchens. We run them at both Le Manoir and at Brasserie Blanc and can take someone with basic skills, give them the best training they could hope for and set them up for a successful career with no limits. Some of the best known chefs in the UK started this way, including Michael Caines and Ollie Dabbous who were both apprentices at my Le Manor!”

Q. How have you coped throughout the last year & what have been your go-to sanity savers? “I was at home, and isolated from most of my family – as well as my team of chefs at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Brasserie Blanc. My way of keeping sane was to cook and cook! I chose simple dishes that evoked happy memories and provided the connection to those who I missed so much. I used ingredients that were easily-available and needed only basic kitchen equipment and out of this came the inspiration for my new television series and book Simply Raymond.”

Q. Who would be your five dream dinner party guests, living or dead, real or fictional? “Other than friends or family, of course, what could be better, I think it would be amazing to have one big table with all the great chefs I have been lucky enough to train over the years. What great things they could teach me now.”

Q. Like me, you eat regularly at Brasserie Blanc… What are your favourite dishes on the menu? “Yes, I live very close to our Brasserie Blanc in Oxford so I am in there at least once a week. I help to create the seasonally changing menu with our Executive Chef Clive Fretwell who learned his craft under me at Le Manoir – we have worked together for over 30 years now – amazing! I know all of the dishes very well, every season I have a new favourite but some dishes are classics and stay on the menu throughout, including our very special cheese soufflé. I enjoy this as a starter but also on its own for a light lunch – it is so incredibly light in texture that you can almost imagine it is calorie-free!”

Q. What other exciting plans do you have on the horizon? “I currently have the new television series Simply Raymond Blanc running on ITV on Saturdays mornings. This will be repeated over the summer on weekday evenings so if you have missed any of them don’t worry! My new recipe book is also coming out any day now – Simply Raymond. Like the television series the book is a collection of my favourite, simple home-cooked recipes – nothing fussy or over-complicated. These dishes are the ones that mean the most to me; the ones that connect me to my dearest family and friends.”

March recipes: Spice of life

Round & About

Mandira Sarkar of Mandira’s Kitchen serves up a wonderful suggestion for Mother’s Day: spiced biscuits & masala chai to deliver to your mum’s doorstep if you live close enough to her…

Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Ingredients:

• 100g ghee (clarified butter)
• ½ cup powdered sugar
• 1 cup plain flour
• ½ cup semolina
• ½tsp powdered cardamom
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp baking soda
• Nuts for garnishing

For the masala chai:
• 1/4 cup milk
• One green cardamom
• ½ tsp grated ginger
• Two crushed peppercorns
• Two cloves
• 1 tsp loose leaf tea

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, 14th March. But, even if you can’t be with your mum, we thought this was a good excuse for tea & biccies.

Mandira, who can’t be with her mum as she is in Calcutta, tells us: “My earliest memories of tea time remain interspersed with the sounds of the Jeep arriving at the porch signalling Dad coming home at the end of his ‘kaamjari’, excited barking of the dogs and my sister and I running across the long verandah to greet him.

“Signalling the close of a working day, the world seemed at peace with itself… the setting sun casting its beautiful glow over the emerald green tea bushes and the blazing bougainvilleas looking as though someone had set off a light within…

“A very heavily laden three-tiered trolley would shortly make its way from the kitchen wheeled in to the verandah where we would all sit for tea… everything was arranged in some sort of predetermined order – the plump tea pot covered with a hand embroidered tea cosy filled with fresh brew straight from the factory and glasses of steaming milk from the cows (all children usually had their personal cows!) sat on the top tier with accompanying plates, starched napkins and cutlery… The second tier had savouries whilst the bottom tier cakes and biscuits. I still find it amazing how we had high tea every single day of the year with at least four things but no two days did the menu look or taste remotely similar. There were seasonal specialities like samosas made with a delicate homegrown potato and cauliflower filling – a sign that winter was nigh… Hot roasted ‘bhutta’ or corn on the cob picked straight from the ‘maalibari’, served with butter and slivers of lime in midsummer.

“These were melt-in-the-mouth nankathais that would put a Parisian bakery to shame and sandwiches with the most exciting of fillings from ‘chutney’ to ‘sausage’… Every different Memsaheb and cook had their own specialities. Given that there was no equipment like electric beaters, piping bags or even a temperature controlled oven, it is astounding the standard and quality of what came out of those huge wood-fired Agas and cool tile-lined kitchen counters…

“Those days are long gone… Most cooks like Monglu, our cook have passed on and the Memsahebs now live very different, albeit social, lives in bustling metros… However I cannot help thinking those tea times live on in their own way in the homes of the numerous ‘chai ka baby and babas’ scattered all over the globe … Through recipes… Embroidered linen, little silver bells… In my house it is my mum’s tattered Duliajaan cookbook handed down to me, those amazing chutney sandwiches, white fluffy nankathais or even the light of the early evening sun on a summer evening falling on my freshly mowed lawn…

Here is Mandira’s recipe for Nankathai cookies & masala chai (hearty spiced tea)

Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Beat the ghee and sugar until light and fluffy. To this add the flour, semolina, baking powder and baking soda, after they’ve been sieved. Mix to form a soft dough. Make small balls (the size of marbles) and put on a greased baking tray – they will spread so make sure there is adequate space in between.

Put a cashew nut or almond as garnish and bake the cookies for 15 minutes making sure they cook but do not brown.

Gently remove from the tray whilst hot and put on a baking rack .
These melt-in-the-mouth crumbly cookies are best served with masala chai.

To make this, boil one cup water with 1/4 cup milk and add the green cardamom, grated ginger, crushed peppercorns and cloves until the flavours are infused – which should take about eight minutes. Add one tsp of loose tea leaves and then strain and serve.

Order a special Indian inspired afternoon tea from mandiraskitchen.com/product/mothers-day-afternoon-tea & use the code AboutMum for free chilli chocolates

Slow-cooked duck with duck gravy

Ingredients:

• 2 large Aylesbury ducks, about 2kg each
• 3 tsp ground mace

For the duck gravy:

• 500g duck bones and wings, chopped A little vegetable oil for cooking
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
• 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces 1 onion, peeled and diced into 3cm pieces
• 1 garlic bulb, cut across in half, through the equator
• 150g runny honey
• 4 cloves
• 2 litres chicken stock
• 50ml soy sauce
• About 500g unsalted butter
• Lemon juice, to taste (optional)
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 90 minutes

SERVES: 4

Some dishes end up defining you, chef and restaurant. This is one of them. I cooked it at the Great British Menu banquet for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. That raised our profile into the stratosphere: everybody suddenly wanted to book a table at The Hand & Flowers and order duck and chips!

Method:

Remove the legs and wings from the ducks and take out the wishbone (reserve for the faggots, gravy etc., see right and overleaf). Remove the excess fat and skin, placing it all in a frying pan. Now carefully cut away the backbone; you should be left with the crown.

Place the pan of fat and skin over a low heat to render the fat out. Set aside for later use.

Score the skin on the duck crowns and rub in the mace. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the duck crowns and sear on all sides for 5–10 minutes to render the fat and give the skin a good golden colour. Remove the duck crowns from the pan and allow to cool.

Put each duck crown into a large vacuum-pack bag and vacuum-seal on full pressure. Immerse in a water-bath at 62°C and cook for
1½ hours.

Lift out the vacuum-pack bags and remove the ducks. Carefully cut the breasts from the crowns. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Duck gravy:

Preheat the oven to 205°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6–7. Put the chopped duck bones and wings into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots and colour until darkly caramelised. Add the celery, onion and garlic and similarly colour until well browned.
Remove the duck bones and wings from the roasting tray and add them to the saucepan. Drain off the excess fat from the roasting tray, then add the honey and cloves to the tray. Place over a medium heat and take the honey to a dark golden caramel.

Add a splash of the chicken stock and the soy sauce to deglaze the tray, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Add the liquor to the duck bones and vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and reduce down by half, to 1 litre.

Pass the liquor through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan and skim off any excess fat from the surface. Add 250g butter to every 500ml duck liquor and reduce down until it has emulsified into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice if required. Set aside for serving.

See our other recipes

Keep memories alive with Fusions Craft

Round & About

Discover millions of creative and crafty ways to share your life stories for future generations

In the time of the most advanced technology on record, the most money humankind has ever had, and more ways to get entertained you could possibly wish for, the strange truth is that the levels of stress, depression, and anxiety are also the highest they’ve ever been.

According to studies, children doing GCSEs today experience the same levels of stress as veterans in the times of the Vietnam war. How did it happen exactly that as we’re moving faster and faster toward the next thing exclusively designed to make us happy, we often feel like the most important thing is missing?

How does today’s lifestyle affect our mental health and what psychological benefits can art provide? Is it true that art cleanses your soul? And if it does, could it make you feel so much better you’ll actually feel the difference?

According to the world-renowned scientist Mikhailo Csikszentmihalyi, the feeling of flow created by intensely crafting (for example, writing, scrapbooking, working with clay) can cardinally change your life, infusing it with never before seen clarity, passion, purpose, and quantifiable changes in happiness. Don’t take our word for it though!

Although it can feel like modern technologies have taken over our lives to the point where our phones are controlling how we feel, how much time we spend with our family, and who watches our every move, you’ll find that there is one simple solution that includes a surprisingly old technology.

Have you ever felt that visceral emotion brought back by music or perfume or place when you remember your loved ones? Memories could very well be the most important thing in our lives, and it would be a great shame for them to fade with time.

As a family business, we know there’s nothing more important than family. With Fusions Craft, you can discover a panacea to stress, frustration, and a way of stopping the frenetic rat race and slowing downtime to a halt so you can spend it in a truly Buddhist fashion, inspecting scrapbooks you created.

In the days to come, the next generations will cherish these and learn about you with tender wonder. It’s one thing to hear about your grandma’s life story, but it’s entirely different to see the photos and feel the smell of the ink.

Fusions Craft specializes in the almost lost art of keeping your memories alive. Starting off as a small hobby, the craft unfolded and grew like a flower leaning toward the sun; soon it became a family business that specializes in scrapbooking supplies: if you need
• Paper & Card,
• Scrapbooking paper,
• Stencils,
• Embossing powder and Moulds
• and tons of other supplies you can possibly think of, you’re in the right place.

Why Fusions Craft?

Fusions craft is about so much more than photo albums. We provide you with every tool you can think of so you can produce nothing less than works of art to tell the most amazing stories, like so:

With stencils, moulds, flowers, embellishments, stamps, sprays, and much, much more, you can discover the magic of artistry that can be taken with you anywhere.

Learn of a million different ways of decorating the pages of your love stories, family sagas, photos of children and travels, adventures, tales of forest fires and heroic doctors, life wisdom learned from the darkest nights, indescribable beauty and courage and faith – with items that best reflect the emotions that will now, thanks to your contribution, will never be lost to the world.

2020 may have been called the most difficult year in history, but it also saw humans at undoubtedly their best: we saved animals in burning forests, spent more time with our family and loved ones, cried together, got saved by governments we criticized so much, stoically battled the virus and died like heroes, gave each other masks, and helped strangers.

Fusions Craft is your chance to let those who will come after know how we stood together even though we were forced to be apart. Create postcards, panels, decorate boxes, build mesmerizing scrapbooks with photos of your loved ones, adventures, your stories, unique moments caught on camera, and all those things you’d be heart-broken to forget. Now you never will.

It’s up to you what you want to remember. You could choose to remember this year as the toughest on record. Or you can keep documentary proof that along with everything that happened in 2020, it actually didn’t make us less human but instead much more. How will you remember this year?

Fusions Craft isn’t just a shop. It’s a place where you will write history.

Our Website: fusionscraft.com

Read our tips on creating a locldown time capsule

Bramley Golf Club fund-raise for hospital

Round & About

Bramley Golf Club members tee up a great fundraising effort for hospitals

Members of Bramley Golf Club have raised over £10,000 in less than a week to supply frontline clinical staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford and Milford Haslemere Hospital with individual well-being packs.

The members wanted to support the health and well-being of the hardworking and dedicated staff at this critical time. The packs are intended as a morale boost and a small token of appreciation and each contain a handwritten message of hope and appreciation.

Once the members’ collection reached £2,000 the club added its own donation to double the amount and from there the members just kept on giving to get to the £10,440 raised so far.

The first 250 packs have been delivered to the Royal Surrey with a further 750 on their way over the next four weeks.

Established in 1913 and located just outside of Guildford, Bramley Golf Club has members from around Guildford, Godalming, Cranleigh, and the villages of the Surrey Hills, an area of outstanding beauty.

The club is home to 900 members, 641 golfing members. The club boasts an excellent junior section with 44 junior members and an adult academy with 24 players learning the game. BGC Ladies section makes up 23% of the golfing members which is above the national average of 15%.

 

Read our Golf feature from this time last year to find out about local clubs and courses.

Build a lockdown family time capsule

Round & About

Kirsty Prankerd, from photo keepsake retailer Write From The Heart, explains how to build a time capsule with the kids.

If you’re currently looking for an educational family activity that will keep the kids busy during lockdown (and who isn’t at the moment?) then why not try building a time capsule?

Not only is this great fun, but it can help encourage the kids to learn more about the past, and to imagine their futures. Here, I’ll share my tips for creating a capsule as a family.

Make it educational

Before you set out to build your time capsule, you’ll need to decide how long you want to wait until you re-open it. Then, ask a few questions and get your children to use their imaginations.

For example, how old will they be when it’s re-opened? What might they be doing? What will the world be like in the future?

Find a sturdy box

Of course, before you can assemble your time capsule, you’ll need to find a strong box that will keep everything safe for a long time — preferably one that’s water- and air-tight. If you’ll be burying your capsule, it may help to double up and use multiple boxes to help provide an added layer of protection. Placing photos, letters, and newspaper cuttings in plastic wallets will also help to keep them safe.

Decide what to include

You can include any objects that you think might be interesting to revisit years into the future.

All of the following items are perfect for a time capsule:

Money. A few coins and notes will show future generations how money has changed over time.

A list of prices for everyday items, e.g. a pint of milk. This is a great opportunity to teach slightly older children about how the value of currency changes

Newspaper cuttings.

A few handwritten diary entries describing what an average day in lockdown is like — perfect for getting the kids to practice their writing skills!

A family photograph.

A note or letter to your future selves.

Find a spot to stash or bury it

Finally, you’ll need to find a place to buy or stash your time capsule. Remember, you don’t necessarily need to bury it in the ground if you don’t have access to a suitable location. Instead, you can always stow it in an out-of-the way place like an attic or storage space.

Once you’ve buried or stashed your time capsule, remember to make a note of its location so you don’t lose track of where it is!

 

Let us know how you get on and send any photos of your time-capsule in the making to

Patrick Ebbs: Ciceri e Tria recipe

Round & About

Try the traditional dish of Ciceri e Tria (Chickpeas and Pasta) as recommended by Godalming author Patrick Ebbs in his book about all things to do with Puglia, Reale Italian Cooking – Italian recipes from Reale Italians.

This is a very traditional and popular Salento dish. Tria is Salento dialect and originates from the Arab word ‘triya’ meaning pasta. Its name is probably a legacy of the Arabs who once invaded southern Italy. With this recipe, most of the pasta is boiled as per normal, but about a quarter of it is fried until it is golden brown, giving the dish a lovely, crispy texture. The recipe is included below.

Ciceri e Tria (Chickpeas and Pasta)

Ingredients:

• 400g chickpeas
• 1 potato, peeled and chopped
• 1 celery stalk, chopped
• 5 tomatoes, chopped
• parsley, a handful
• water
• 1 garlic clove, peeled & chopped
• salt and pepper
• 1 bay leaf
• 400g fresh pasta, tagliatelle
• 1 onion, chopped

Note: you can use tinned chickpeas if you wish (1 tin)

SERVES: 4

Method:

If not using tinned chickpeas, soak the chickpeas overnight in lukewarm water.

Next day, thoroughly wash the chickpeas, drain and rinse. Put them in a pan and cover completely with water.

Bring to boil and simmer for about 2-3 hours until cooked.

Skim the excess foam from the top – ensure that the chickpeas are always covered in water whilst cooking.

In another pot, heat some olive oil. When hot, add the celery, parsley, garlic, bay leaf, onion, potato and tomatoes.

Fry for 2-3 minutes, then add a litre of water and cook for about 2½ hours over a medium heat. Then drain and just keep the liquid, discarding the vegetables.

Drain the chickpeas when cooked and take 5 tablespoons of them and blend with a little of the stock. Add this back to the stock.

Combine the stock and the chickpeas together. Season with salt and pepper.

Take a quarter of the pasta and cut it into 10cm strips and fry in olive oil.

Meanwhile, cook the remainder of the pasta and when cooked combine with the fried pasta.

Then add to a large warmed serving bowl with the chickpeas.

See our other recipes

February recipes: Blooming lovely

Round & About

Star chef & hospitality champion Tom Kerridge’s new Hand & Flowers cookbook is helping us find reasons to be cheerful. We’ve teamed up to share recipes for you to cook at home.

Chocolate ale sponge with salted caramel

Ingredients:

• 350g plain flour
• ½ tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 400ml dark ale
• 100g cocoa powder
• 220g unsalted butter, softened
• 550g soft dark brown sugar
• 4 large free-range eggs

Salted caramel

• 100g caster sugar
• 40ml water
• 3.5g sea salt

PREP: 10 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 12

The Hand & Flowers is a pub. Pubs serve ale. We always needed an ale cake! So that’s the idea behind this particular recipe, which grew out of my first book and TV series, Proper Pub Food, where I taught people how to cook the simpler pub classics at home.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line a 33 x 26cm deep baking tin with baking parchment.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda together; set aside. In a small bowl, slowly mix the dark ale into the cocoa powder to form a paste.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended, then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the cocoa paste and flour mixture alternately, a little at a time.

Spread the mixture in the prepared baking tin and bake for 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the sponge from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, cut the chocolate sponge into 2cm cubes and put
to one side.

Salted caramel:

Melt the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat, then bring to the boil and continue to cook the sugar syrup until it forms a golden caramel. Add the chopped sablé paste and cook, stirring, for a minute.

Pour the sablé caramel onto a silicone mat and leave to cool slightly.

When it is cool enough, roll out to a thin sheet. While still warm, press a 4cm cutter into the sheet make sablé discs. Leave until cooled and set then lift the sablé tuiles off the mat.

Slow-cooked duck with duck gravy

Ingredients:

• 2 large Aylesbury ducks, about 2kg each
• 3 tsp ground mace

For the duck gravy:

• 500g duck bones and wings, chopped A little vegetable oil for cooking
• 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 3cm pieces
• 4 celery sticks, cut into 3cm pieces 1 onion, peeled and diced into 3cm pieces
• 1 garlic bulb, cut across in half, through the equator
• 150g runny honey
• 4 cloves
• 2 litres chicken stock
• 50ml soy sauce
• About 500g unsalted butter
• Lemon juice, to taste (optional)
• Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

PREP: 20 minutes

COOKING: 90 minutes

SERVES: 4

Some dishes end up defining you, chef and restaurant. This is one of them. I cooked it at the Great British Menu banquet for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2010. That raised our profile into the stratosphere: everybody suddenly wanted to book a table at The Hand & Flowers and order duck and chips!

Method:

Remove the legs and wings from the ducks and take out the wishbone (reserve for the faggots, gravy etc., see right and overleaf). Remove the excess fat and skin, placing it all in a frying pan. Now carefully cut away the backbone; you should be left with the crown.

Place the pan of fat and skin over a low heat to render the fat out. Set aside for later use.

Score the skin on the duck crowns and rub in the mace. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the duck crowns and sear on all sides for 5–10 minutes to render the fat and give the skin a good golden colour. Remove the duck crowns from the pan and allow to cool.

Put each duck crown into a large vacuum-pack bag and vacuum-seal on full pressure. Immerse in a water-bath at 62°C and cook for
1½ hours.

Lift out the vacuum-pack bags and remove the ducks. Carefully cut the breasts from the crowns. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Duck gravy:

Preheat the oven to 205°C/Fan 185°C/Gas 6–7. Put the chopped duck bones and wings into a roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 25–30 minutes until golden brown and caramelised.

Heat a little oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the chopped carrots and colour until darkly caramelised. Add the celery, onion and garlic and similarly colour until well browned.
Remove the duck bones and wings from the roasting tray and add them to the saucepan. Drain off the excess fat from the roasting tray, then add the honey and cloves to the tray. Place over a medium heat and take the honey to a dark golden caramel.

Add a splash of the chicken stock and the soy sauce to deglaze the tray, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Add the liquor to the duck bones and vegetables. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock and reduce down by half, to 1 litre.

Pass the liquor through a muslin-lined sieve into a clean pan and skim off any excess fat from the surface. Add 250g butter to every 500ml duck liquor and reduce down until it has emulsified into the sauce.
Season with salt and pepper and add a little lemon juice if required. Set aside for serving.

Smoked haddock omelette

Ingredients:

• 12 medium free-range eggs
• 4 tbsp unsalted butter
• 100g aged Parmesan, finely grated
• Sea salt & ground pepper

Poached smoked haddock:

• 1 side of smoked haddock, 600g, skin and pin bones removed
• 600ml whole milk

Smoked fish béchamel:

• 250ml smoked haddock poaching liquor (see left)
• 15g unsalted butter
• 15g plain flour
• Sea salt & ground pepper

Omelette glaze:

• 4 tbsp warm smoked haddock béchamel (see left)
• 4 tbsp hollandaise sauce
• 4 medium egg yolks
• Sea salt & ground pepper

PREP: 10 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

SERVES: 4

A delicate, beautiful omelette is one of those pure dishes that makes you realise great food does not have to be about hundreds of ingredients on a plate. It’s about allowing a simple product to sing.

Method:

Check the smoked haddock for any tiny pin bones. Bring the milk to the boil in a wide-based saucepan. Carefully lay the smoked haddock in the pan, ensuring it is covered by the milk. Place a lid on the pan, turn off the heat and leave the fish to poach in the residual heat for about 10 minutes.

Once the haddock is cooked, remove it from the milk and gently flake the fish into a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Cover the tray with cling film and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
Pass the milk through a fine chinois into a clean saucepan and keep to one side.

Smoked fish béchamel:

Bring the smoked haddock poaching liquor to a gentle simmer.

In a separate pan over a medium-low heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Gradually ladle in the warm poaching liquor, stirring as you do so to keep the sauce smooth. Cook gently over a very low heat for 20 minutes.

Pass the sauce through a fine chinois and cover the surface with a piece of baking parchment or cling film to prevent a skin forming. Set aside until needed. (You won’t need all of the fish béchamel but you can freeze the rest.)

Omelette glaz:

Gently warm the béchamel in a saucepan then pour into a bowl and whisk in the hollandaise and egg yolks. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pass through a chinois into a warm jug or bowl. Keep warm to stop the glaze from splitting.

To assemble & cook the omelette:

Crack the eggs into a jug blender and blend briefly to combine. Pass through a chinois into a measuring jug. Place 4 individual omelette pans (we use Staub) over a low heat.

Take the smoked haddock from the fridge, remove the cling film and lay on a grill tray. Warm under the salamander or grill.

To each omelette pan, add 1 tbsp butter and heat until melted and foaming. Pour the blended egg into the pans, dividing it equally. Using a spatula, gently move the egg around in the pans until they start to firm up. Remove from the heat; you want the eggs to be slightly loose, as they will continue to cook off the heat.

Season the omelettes with salt and pepper and sprinkle the grated Parmesan over their surfaces. Divide the flaked smoked haddock between the omelettes, then spoon on the glaze to cover the fish and extend to the edge of the pans. If the glaze spills over the side of the pan, wipe it away, as this will burn on the side when blowtorching.

To finish, wave a cook’s blowtorch over the surface of the omelettes to caramelise the glaze. Allow the glaze to become quite dark, as
the bitterness will balance out the richness of all the other ingredients.

See our other recipes

Hogs Back Brewery offers vaccination help

Round & About

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has stepped up to the national COVID-19 vaccination drive, offering its Hop Hangar as a drive-through facility for people in the area to receive the life-saving jab.

The brewery’s offer is currently being assessed by the Local Resilience Forum, the alliance of councils, police, NHS and other strategic partners which is co-ordinating the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Hogs Back’s Surrey and Hampshire heartland.

By opening up the large doors at either end of the Hangar for vaccine recipients to drive through, and housing the medical staff and chilled vaccines in the adjacent Tap Room bar, Hogs Back believes the brewery site in Tongham offers an ideal space for the vital programme.

Rupert Thompson (shown in main image), managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, says: “We’re offering the Hop Hangar as our contribution to the vaccination roll-out, and we’ll work with the Local Resilience Forum to ensure we can meet its requirements.

“Our brewery is in a location well served by main roads, and we believe it would be very effective as a drive through facility.

“We have fridges for the vaccines, and rooms for the medical and support staff.

“We can even offer those who’ve been vaccinated a cup of tea afterwards, and for the staff manning the site, we’ll also provide a free bottle of our very own TEA – our flagship Traditional English Ale – for them to enjoy once they’re off duty.

“With the whole of the UK now getting behind the programme, we’re keen to play our part and support our friends and neighbours.”

The Hogs Back Hop Hangar opened in the summer of 2020 as a facility to process the harvest from the Hop Garden adjacent to the brewery, and at other times operates as a bar and function space.

Read more about the local business at their website www.hogsback.co.uk