Food for the Soul

PUBLISHED: 12:26 22 December 2010 | UPDATED: 18:19 20 February 2013

Food for the Soul

Food for the Soul

Lee Evans, Head Chef at the Wheatsheaf Hotel and Restaurant at Combe Hay, just outside Bath, puts together some fantastic flavours for a winter feast

The Wheatsheaf is well known as a fabulous summer destination, located in the centre of the Domesday village of Combe Hay, but in winter the bar and restaurant are beautifully cosy, with a roaring log fire and hearty warming winter food. The scenery is still spectacular and brave souls can still be found in the garden, perhaps hugging a glass of spicy mulled Midford cider! The Wheatsheaf is a real countrymans destination, country traditions are observed and dogs are always welcome. I always enjoy the variety of seasonal winter flavours and try to make the most of the game on offer courtesy of owner Ian Bartons shooting days, which started early in August with grouse, then Septembers partridge and
now, until the end of January,
delicious pheasant.
Wild mushrooms are still harvested in January; in particular, look out for black trumpet and chanterelle. These should be available in the shops and unless you are expert I wouldnt advise picking your own. Dried wild mushrooms mixed with a few dark-gilled mushrooms are a good alternative. Old-fashioned lesser-known cuts of meat are becoming more prominent and blade of beef is a fine example of this; most butchers and even some supermarkets are stocking this at the moment. I am fortunate to be able to wander up to my kitchen garden to dig up some horseradish, but it is available in some specialist grocers or in jars from supermarkets. One of the best things about the winter months is the opportunity to create tasty filling dishes to warm the cockles of your heart, so I hope you enjoy cooking up these warming recipes.
The Wheatsheaf, Combe Hay,
BA2 7EG; 01225 833504; wheatsheafcombehay.co.uk

For starters:

Wild mushroom, shallot and Somerset blue cheese tart

Makes about 4 tarts



  • 250g mixed wild mushrooms (such as chanterelles, girolles, ceps, trompettes)

  • 350g good quality puff pastry (rolled out to about 4mm)

  • 4 banana shallots

  • 150g butter

  • 200g Somerset blue cheese (crumbled)

  • Chopped chives and tarragon

  • Lemon

  • Mixed micro cress to garnish and balsamic reduction



1 Cut the puff pastry out into large circles using a side plate or something of a similar size as a template.
2 Place in between two sheets of baking parchment onto a flat baking tray, place another baking tray on top to weigh the pastry down so you get an even thickness. Cook at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 10 minutes until the pastry discs are golden brown and crisp. Remove and cool on a rack.
3 Finely slice the shallots and sweat off in a little rapeseed oil until translucent, season and set aside.
4 Heat up some oil in a pan and fry off the mushrooms with salt and pepper
and a little butter until golden. Add the trompettes at the last minute as they only need a little cooking, then the chopped herbs. Add a squeeze of
lemon juice.
5 Tip the mushrooms onto some kitchen roll to dry off any excess fat.
6 Layer up onto the pastry disc a little shallot mixture, followed by the mushrooms, then crumble the blue cheese on top. Pop in the oven to warm through before serving.

For main course:

Slow-cooked blade of beef, horseradish mash and bourguignon sauce

Serves 4-6 people depending on the size of the blade



  • 1 feather blade of beef

  • 4 potatoes (waxy type)

  • 1 tbsp creamed horseradish

  • Button onions, peeled and cooked

  • Thick slice of dry-cured bacon, boiled and diced

  • 500g spinach

  • Butter

  • Oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Stock vegetables, eg carrot, onion, celery, garlic.

  • 1 tbsp tomato puree

  • bottle red wine

  • Rosemary and thyme



1 Season the blade well with salt and pepper, sear in a pan all over until golden brown.
2 Place into a deep pan with tomato puree, stock vegetables, red wine and water to cover. Add the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Cover with a lid and cook until tender (about 4 hours but can sometimes take up to 8).
3 When cooked, roll the blade in clingfilm tightly. Place in the fridge to set.
4 Strain the cooking liquor through a
fine sieve, place in a pan and reduce until sauce consistency.
5 Make the mash, adding plenty of butter and seasoning, and a tablespoon of creamed horseradish before serving.
6 Slice the blade into portions, remove clingfilm and place in a pan with some
of the cooking liquor and some butter. Place in a moderate oven basting every couple of minutes until the blade is
coating in a thick glaze.
7 Fry the button onions and bacon in
a little oil and butter. Season with salt
and pepper
8 Blanch the spinach just before serving and season with salt and pepper.
9 To serve, place the spinach in a bowl (well squeezed out) and sit the blade of beef on top. Put the onions and bacon around the edge, top with a spoon of mash and pour the reduced sauce
over the top.

For dessert:

Mincemeat and frangipane tarts, rum and raisin ice cream

(Good for using leftover Christmas mincemeat)
Makes one 10 inch tart serving
10-12 people or 10 individual tarts

For the tart:



  • 250g unsalted butter

  • 250g caster sugar

  • 250g ground almonds

  • 125g plain flour

  • 4 eggs

  • Flaked almonds

  • 250g jar of mincemeat




For the ice cream:



  • 1 pint milk

  • 1 pint cream

  • 8 egg yolks

  • 225g caster sugar

  • 150g raisins

  • 200ml rum



To make the ice cream:
1 Boil the milk and cream together in
a pan.
2 Separate the eggs and whisk together the yolks and butter.
3 When the milk is boiling pour onto
the egg mixture, whisking well until
fully incorporated.
4 Return to a gentle heat in a clean pan, continually stirring until the mixture begins to thicken and coat the back of
a wooden spoon.
5 Meanwhile soak the raisins in the rum until plump and juicy. Cool the ice cream mixture in a fridge, then add the raisins and rum.
6 Using an ice cream machine, churn until the consistency of soft-peaked whipped cream. Scrape out and freeze in a tub. (Alternatively, place in a bowl
in the freezer and every half an hour or so stir the mixture with a fork until
almost frozen.)

For the cake:
1 Butter and flour a 10 inch tart tin or
10 small ones.
2 To make the frangipane filling, soften the butter until room temperature, then either by hand or in a mixer beat the butter and sugar together until creamy, then gradually add the eggs one by one so it does not curdle. Then fold in the flour and ground almonds.
3 Spread over the greased tin/s, leaving
a slight indent in the middle for the mincemeat. Add the mincemeat and sprinkle with flaked almonds.
4 Bake at 170/gas mark 3 until golden brown and bubbling. The frangipane should be firm on the outside and soft and gooey in the middle. Leave to cool slightly before serving.
5 Serve with a scoop of ice cream
on top.

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