The Bull at Burford Bulletin
12 Oct 2017
The most perfect fish dish
We’ve had a lot of positive feedback to the last couple of Bull Bulletins where Pablo gave his tips for how to cook a poached egg and how to make a hollandaise sauce, so I thought I’d share one of my favourite recipes from growing up in the south of France.
When I was a young boy in the early 60s my mother (pictured) used to work on the fish market in the middle of Montpellier. It was hugely popular and people came from far and wide to buy their fresh fish.
It’s difficult to believe now, but in those days monkfish was cheap and hardly anybody wanted to cook it. On Saturdays I would often walk all the way to the market to wait for my mother, who’d been there since 05:30, and walk home with her for lunch. I vividly remember her boss often telling her to take some monkfish home for Sunday lunch. Money was tight, so funnily enough we had Monkfish most Sundays!
My mother had developed her own version of ‘Bourride de Lotte’, which did not involve expensive ingredients and was very easy to cook. Obviously these days buying monkfish tails is a bit more expensive, but you’ll never eat a more delicious fish dish so I wanted to share the recipe.
The perfect monkfish recipe
To cook this for four people you’ll need monkfish tails for four people, ideally with the bone in (buy a couple of medium sized pieces of fish per person). And for the all-important sauce you’ll need 6 large tomatoes, 1 large onion, 4 leeks, 4 cloves of garlic, some parsley and a bouquet garni (you can buy these ready-made in the supermarket).
1. Steam the 6 large tomatoes, peel them and cut them up to remove all the grains, then chop them up into small pieces.
2. Finely chop the large onion, the whites of four leeks and four cloves of garlic, and some parsley, equivalent to two full table spoons.
3. Prepare a fresh 2-eggs mayonnaise (do not use shop-bought mayonnaise!) Let me know via a facebook comment if you need help with this and we’ll do it next time!
4. In a large casserole, put a glug of olive oil add first the chopped onions, the leeks and garlic, then the tomatoes and finally the parsley and the bouquet garni.
5. Season all that with salt and pepper and cook on a light heat for 20 minutes, tasting to make sure the seasoning’s right.
6. When this garnish is cooked, add in the fish pieces and cook for a further 20 minutes, again on a low heat, making sure the fish is covered by the sauce. (The monkfish will release quite a bit of water, that’s normal and good!)
7. When cooked, remove the fish, put into a serving dish and keep warm.
8. A little at the time, add your homemade mayonnaise to the sauce and stir in. When the sauce is ready pour over the fish and serve.
Take it from me that this is delicious served quite simply with boiled potatoes – that’s all we had back in those days – and if you want add some large croutons. (For the croutons: take slices of a baguette and cook lightly in olive oil. Not the healthiest addition but delightful with this dish.)
13 Sep 2017
Autumn offers and Pablo’s perfect Hollandaise
August was very busy, which is one reason I haven’t written in a while, and September looks to be the same. With 18 bedrooms that guarantees a lot of hustle bustle at the Bull and our staff love it when the hotel is busy, foremost among them our assistant Kali and head chef Pablo, pictured.
One thing we can never quite set our clock by, though, is how busy the restaurant will be and I have a theory that this comes down to human nature.
Burford is a picture-perfect town in the heart of the Cotswolds. It’s a great place to wander and pass the time and it also offers a lot of different places to eat, so in many ways I can understand why clients sometimes end up ‘eating out’, even if it means they’re missing out on the best food in Burford!
It all comes down to taste of course but I think our food is hard to beat and the dinner, bed and breakfast rate we’re offering is tough to find anywhere else. Click HERE to see what I mean.
Eye for a photo?
One thing we’ve been missing is some nice pictures of the food we serve. Our chef Pablo recently took some photos of a selection of dishes, which are on our Facebook page, but he’s no David Bailey!
So I am offering someone the chance to ‘win’ a meal for two at the Bull, in return for coming in and taking some beautiful photos of Pablo’s best work. If you’re local and a budding photographer – ideally with experience of photographing food – send some examples of your work to us at email@example.com and we could invite you and your camera into the kitchen, in return for a meal for two!
Pablo’s Perfect Hollandaise!
Finally, in my last Bulletin I shared our tips for the perfect poached egg. You’ve been asking about the hollandaise sauce to go with it, so here is Pablo’s recipe. Read this with a strong Spanish accent if you can:
1. It all starts with your eggs and I like them to be fresh! Separate two eggs, the whites and yolks into separate bowls.
2. Melt about 100g of unsalted butter in a pan and transfer to a jug.
3. Bring a pan of water to a gentle boil and put the bowl of egg yolks over it, adding a tablespoon of tarragon-infused vinegar and a bit of mustard. Whisk all of that in the pan over the gentle heat.
4. From your jug, add small splashes of butter to the bowl with the yolks, still whisking, until you’ve added all the butter. You should have a smooth sauce?
Some top tips: add a bit of white wine vinegar if the mixture has become too tight. Also, when adding the butter if the mixture starts to split add an ice cube and whisk – this might help! And use the egg whites to make meringues – the kids will love them.
Next time… Bearnaise sauce!
02 Aug 2017
A 50 year love affair with Cotswold hotels
Sometimes people ask me how a Frenchman and his wife come to own a hotel in Burford, and I tell them there’s a short answer and a long answer.
The short answer is that – a few little business detours aside – being a hotelier and restaurateur is all I have ever really known, ever since starting as a very young apprentice (see picture above) at Les Violettes in my home town of Montpellier.
The longer answer goes into a bit more detail about where I worked along the way, and without boring you with all the details there were some wonderful places. After I finished off my apprenticeship at Maison Trois Gros in Rouanne, I ended up as a young waiter at Le Gavroche in London working for the Roux brothers, Albert and Michel (Snr). Michel Roux Jnr (he of Masterchef fame) was there too, but mostly playing with the pots and pans in the kitchen while his father and uncle worked! I wonder if he remembers..
A few hotels and clubs later I went into business with Jack Greenhalgh, the father of my first wife, and together we acquired three hotels in the Cotswolds – the De la Bere (now Ellenborough Park) on the outskirts of Cheltenham, the Close hotel in Tetbury and the Petty France, outside Tetbury. And so began a chapter in the 1970s and 80s where a lot of hard work would bring wonderful rewards and quite a reputation for all three, especially the Close when it came to food.
When we opened the Bull we set out to make it a fine dining experience morning, noon and night. We won awards and rosettes but over time we found that the locals and tourists wanted something a little more modern and accessible. We continue to tinker with the food and beverage, and I think that over time we’ve hit on a nice balance of delicious food, made on site with local produce which offers a lovely variety.
And for the month of August we have a special School holiday special offer where for each adult main course ordered, one child eats free on our kid’s menu. We didn’t do that at the Close!
Pablo’s Top Tip: The Perfect Poached Egg
I was recently asked by a guest after breakfast the secret for cooking the perfect poached egg! In consultation with our head chef Pablo I can pass on these words of wisdom:
Crack each of your eggs into a cup. Get a pan of water so it’s simmering nicely and add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar (this helps the eggs cook faster). Stir your water to make a whirlpool effect in the pan (this will help the eggs bind together and not go everywhere in the water). Then gently tip the egg into the water, white first. Cross your fingers! After three minutes remove the egg with a slotted spoon. Depending on who they’re for cut the rough edges off and serve!
In the next Bulletin maybe we’ll do the Hollandaise sauce?
Jean-Marie Lauzier, owner, the Bull at Burford
31 Jul 2017
Welcome to the very first ‘Bull at Burford Bulletin’
When it was recently put to me that we could have a blog on our shiny new Bull at Burford website I thought they were politely telling me that something had gone terribly wrong… But once it had all been explained I decided it was a good idea.
When I first started in the catering business in the 1960s – as a young restaurant apprentice in Montpellier in the South of France – the world was a very small place.
In many ways the catering business is just the same – ours is a service industry where the customer’s experience, meal or stay is the most important thing – but in other ways it’s changed enormously.
Everyone around the world can now research our hotel and others in minute detail, see the bedrooms, read the restaurant menus, check out the special offers and read the all-important reviews online, and of course make bookings either directly with us on www.bullatburford.co.uk or in lots of other ways. Soon I’m sure someone will devise a way to smell the cooking online!
So it was an easy decision: why not have a regular despatch, a ‘Bulletin’, letting people know about our various offers, the goings-on at the hotel, our menu changes, special visitors and also recipes and ‘Top Tips’ from myself and Pablo our head chef.
No Top Tip this time – there will be one in the second Bulletin – but a reminder that for all of August we have summer holidays special offer allowing one child to eat free on our children’s menu for every adult that eats a main course.
Also, if you fancy a Cotswold getaway break or you have people coming to stay, we have some amazing deals at the moment on Bed and Breakfast and Dinner Bed & Breakfast booking online. Well worth a look.
Jean-Marie Lauzier, owner at the Bull at Burford