James Sommerin: Seasonal Root Vegetables and my Pumpkin Crumble

In the first of a series of guest posts, award-winning chef James Sommerin gives us some Autumnal ideas for root vegetables and provides a great recipe for all the pumpkins that are available this time of year.

As the chill starts to creep into the air and the leaves turn a burnished orange my thoughts always turn to warmth – the glow of fires, hearty stews and cosy evenings in.

There’s no better food type to embody this than the root vegetable but sometimes people are stumped about what to do with them and quite frankly put off by their appearance.

Over the years we’ve become a bit more accustomed to seeing sweet potatoes, celeriac and even yams alongside turnips, carrots and swede on our supermarket shelves, but I find all too often people might like the idea of them but simply don’t know where to begin.

Raw Sweet Potato and Squash

Raw Sweet Potato and Squash

A good starting point might be a simple creamed root soup, roasted vegetables to accompany roast lamb or a traditional cawl with parsnips and swede.

Here at Restaurant James Sommerin we’re serving beetroot alongside Pant-ysgawn goat’s cheese which is not an automatic but works fantastically. Another pairing which is going down well is our vegetable salad with hazelnuts, which adds some depth and seasonality lighter summer salads.

Roots work brilliantly with an array of other ingredients and seasonings. Try adding coconut milk to soup or coating parsnips in honey or maple syrup mixed with orange or cinnamon, perhaps sprinkled with pecans.

A balsamic vinegar or syrup can really liven up a warm root vegetable salad, especially beetroot.

And now for one of the highlights of fresh produce this season, but not only is it not a root vegetable, you may be surprised to know that the piles of pumpkins you’ve been unable to ignore for the past few weeks are not vegetables at all but actually piles of fruit!

But while we’re used to their yearly fleeting appearance the proportion of the them that are used solely as lanterns, with the sweet flesh discarded is likely to be huge and a real shame.

So if an American style pumpkin pie isn’t quite your thing …..

Why not try my Pumpkin Crumble?

Pumpkin Crumble
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 300g pumpkin
  • 50g butter
  • ½ chilli
  • 100g milk
  • 50g cream
  • 100g pumpkin (diced )
  • 100g parmesan
  • Breadcrumbs or pine nuts to top (optional)
  1. Remove the flesh and seeds from the pumpkin. Roast in tin foil with a little olive oil for 30 minutes at 180ºc or until the pumpkin becomes soft.
  2. Once the pumpkin is roasted place into a pan with the chilli, butter and add the milk. Bring to the boil, extract part of the liquid and blend with a hand blender until smooth. Pass through a sieve to create a purée.
  3. With the 100g of diced pumpkin, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to a minute then roast in a pan to add the flavour, maybe add a slice of garlic or rosemary.
  4. Add the roasted diced pumpkin to the the pumpkin purée. Add the 50g of fresh parmesan and stir to a thick paste.
  5. Transfer the pumpkin mixture to an oven-proof dish, top with extra grated parmesan, and, for an extra additional flavour add some toasted pine-nuts or breadcrumbs. Cover with either tin foil or a lid and bake in the oven for 7-10 minutes at 180ºc. This will help to toast the top of the crumble. Remove the tin foil and bake for 1-2 minutes just to finish the top completely. Serve with fresh bread.

Restaurant James Sommerin
The Esplanade
CF64 3AU
Tel: 029 2070 6559
Web: www.jamessommerinrestaurant.co.uk

New Website Porc.Wales Will Promote Welsh Pork

pigShoppers looking for quality, local pork can now find it through a new website.

Porc.Wales will tell the story of the Welsh pork industry and what makes the pork it produces so special. Welsh consumers will be encouraged to eat more high quality, locally produced pork products as well as helping them to find a supplier to support local farmers and producers and cook up a storm in the kitchen with a range of new recipes.

Porc.Wales, created by Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), showcases the finest pig farmers and premier porcine producers from around the country and includes a directory of regional stockists to link consumers directly with pork producers and butchers – enabling them to source pork produce locally. With a growing innovative pork industry, the Porc.Wales website includes interviews with farmers, butchers and chefs who describe why pork produced in Wales is so unique.

Other highlights of the new website include recipes and features which explore how to use different cuts of pork.

Melanie Hughes, HCC Market Development Officer said: “Wales is well known for producing top quality Welsh Lamb and Welsh Beef but this shouldn’t overshadow the nation’s pork offering. The profile of the Welsh pork industry is growing and it has a fantastic story to tell which we can all be very proud of.

“We believe that the pork that is produced in Wales stands out for many reasons; the climate and the landscape, not to mention the expertise and knowledge of the pig farmers which has been handed down through the ages. The sector is also innovative and has a new generation of passionate artisan producers who make award-winning products.

“This new website will inform foodies about the wonderful producers and the products we have in this sector of the meat industry in Wales, and will encourage consumers to buy good quality, locally produced pork. We’re confident that once they’ve tried it, they’ll be discerning about any future purchases.”

Welsh Pork: Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs

Oxford Sandy and Black Pigs

We were asked by Porc Wales to create 2 recipes featuring Welsh Pork. The breed of pork was Oxford Sandy and Black (OSB) and was supplied by Mary Benfield, Teyrdan Hall Farm, Llanelian, Colwyn Bay via Bodnant Welsh Food Centre. The OSB is one of the oldest British pig breeds, having existed for around 200 – 300 years. It is believed to have developed in Oxfordshire. Oxford Sandy and Black are a rare breed pig. They are in the Slow Food Ark of Taste as their numbers are still low. Extinction was a real possibility in the 1980’s but thankfully there are more farmers breeding this pig across the UK.

They are slow growing breed but time does equal flavour! Although flavoursome, OSB is a tender and delicate tasting pork and it makes excellent bacon and ham.

I was inspired by my Bahamian heritage and created a Bahamian recipe using the tenderloin of pork. You should be able to get a copy of the recipe here very soon.

For my second recipe, I was inspired by the fact that this is a rare and old breed pork and I wanted to make a dish using another ingredient that is not as popular today as it was a few hundred years ago: the quince. Quince belongs in the same family as apples and pears and so is a fabulous pairing with pork. I bought the quinces for this recipe at The Riverside Farmers market in Cardiff. I do know I am giving a recipe with an ingredient that is not as easy to find but I am on a little crusade to reintroduce to our plates ingredients that used to be very popular in the UK. If we don’t start using again these traditional ingredients, they will become lost to us.

Rolled Pork Shoulder with Quince
A succulent pork recipe using quince instead of apples,
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: British
  • 2 pound pork shoulder boned and rolled with skin scored for the crackling
For the rub
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Fresh rosemary leaves from 2 sprigs of rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried
For the Vegetable Ragu
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1 large red onion chopped
  • 3 small parsnips chopped
  • 3 large quinces peeled and cored with each cut into 8 wedges (see tips)
  • 5 large garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
  • 1 teaspoon of honey, rowan jelly or red current jelly
  • 1 cup of water (you may need to top up during cooking) (you can use white wine, cider, or chicken stock)
  • Fresh rosemary (2 sprigs)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Juice of half of a lemon
  • A deep roasting pan large enough to take the pork, but small enough that the vegetables form a thick layer on the bottom or they will burn,
  1. Preheat oven to 220ºc (200ºc fan) / 425ºf / Gas Mark 7
  2. Mix the ingredients together for the spice rub.
  3. Spread mixture all over the shoulder including the skin. Set aside.
  4. Add the chopped vegetables (excluding quince) to the roasting pan.
  5. Add the liquid, herbs, honey/jelly and stir.
  6. Put the quinces on top ensuring the bottoms are in the liquid.
  7. Place the pork on top.
  8. To get a good crackling, rub the skin with some sea salt and place on top of the veg in the roasting pan.
  9. Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes. This initial high heat and salt on the skin will give you nice crisp crackling.
  10. After 30 minutes, turn the oven down to 190ºc (185ºc fan assisted) / 375ºf / Gas Mark 5.
  11. Check the liquid in the pot and top up if it has evaporated.
  12. Cook the roast for 35 minutes per pound
There are a few ways to tell if the meat is cooked:

• Insert a skewer in the thickest part and the juices that run out should be absolutely clear without any trace of pinkness.
• Use an instant read meat thermometer. Take the temperature at the thickest part of the roast. When temperature is 62ºC the meat is cooked.

When the pork is cooked, remove from the pot and allow to rest. The vegetables and quince should be nice and tender and the liquid reduced to a nice gravy. Stir in the juice of the half lemon.

To serve

Slice the pork and serve with the vegetables and quinces. Steamed broccoli or cabbage would be a good side dish.

Pork Shoulder with Quince

Tips: Quinces are very hard when raw and can be tricky to cut and core. I freeze the quinces which makes it easier to peel, cut and core. The freezing does not change the taste and will have the same texture after braised.

If you’d like to learn more about Welsh Pork, ‘nose to tail eating’, the importance of ingredients and even gain some basic butchery skills then pop over to Food Adventure and check out our Learn How to Make Pâté, Faggots and Black Pudding course led by Illtud Llyr Dunsford, founder of the award winning Charcutier Ltd.

200 Cookbooks and Counting – Book 2 The Wright Taste

Recently, Mark and I called into Wright’s Food Emporium in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire for lunch. Mark had been before and had been dreaming about their Belly Pork Cubano sandwich ever since. Of course I had one when we went and have been yearning for another ever since. Tender pork belly, spicy sauce and a sharp pickle to balance the richness of the pork…food heaven

Corpulent Capers: Pork Belly Cubano at Wright's Food Emporium

Pork Belly Cubano at Wright’s Food Emporium

Anyway, a few weeks later, I was just outside of Chepstow and nipped into Hanley Farm Shop. They had some beautiful thick cut, middle white pork chops that were calling my name and so I bought some. Looking for a new idea for cooking pork chops, I turned to Simon Wright’s cookbook, The Wright Taste: Recipes and Other Stories. Having been to Y Polyn when he was a partner in it, and now to Wrights Food Emporium to eat, I knew I would find recipes that are simple, honest and would do justice to my beautiful pork chops.

The book tells the story of Simon and his wife Maryann who decided to get a glimpse of producing quality livestock, fit for a superb restaurant by rearing the meat for it themselves. And so the chapters of the cookbook are appropriately named after the animals they reared, Lamb, Chicken, Beef, Pork, Goose and some Duck. Each chapter not only gives recipes but delightful stories as well of a novice turned farmer. Simon talks about the breeds he chose to rear, buying the stock, learning how to care for them and in the end, travelling with his animals to the abattoir where they would then become quality meat for the restaurant table. Some of his stories made me laugh and others made me cry.

If you like what I call rustic honest cooking where you get the best flavour from quality produce, you will also enjoy the recipes in this book. The Lamb section has recipes such as Lamb Hot Pot, Rump of Lamb with Garlic Onion and Thyme Puree, and Chicken and Leek Cobbler. You can find very delicious and simple recipes such as Roast Chicken with Bacon and herbs. And Carpaccio of Beef.

I made the Pork Chops ‘Charcuterie’ with my middle white chops. The chops are seasoned and then seared in a pan with melted butter and oil until brown, and then placed in the oven until they are cooked through. A simple sauce is then made with finely chopped shallots and gherkins, white wine, chicken stock and Dijon mustard. If you do an internet search for “Charcuterie Sauce Recipe” you will find many recipes for this sauce which is a classic French accompaniment for pork.

Corpulent Capers: Pork Chop Charcuterie

Pork Chop Charcuterie

If you are looking for a good read as well as lovely recipes, give this book a go.

You can find this book for sale at Simon Wrights Emporium, good local book stores, as well as on Amazon, The Wright Taste: Recipes and Other Stories

200 Cookbooks and Counting – Book 1 Rhodes Around Britain

For months I have been thinking about our cook book collection. Mark and I have acquired over 201 cookbooks and our collection grows.

I have been thinking about cooking a recipe from each book and writing a blog post, but was paralysed by figuring out which book to start with. So last Saturday, as Mark bought a cookbook from a charity shop I said to myself “might as well just start with this one”.

Cookbook 1 : Rhodes Around Britain.

This book was published 20 years ago in 1994 (happy 20th anniversary Gary). In the introduction, Gary Rhodes reflects on what happened to Britain’s strong cooking tradition. “British cookery had always been simple. Rhodes argues that where other cultures developed new dishes alongside the traditional, Britain left her traditional dishes behind. Rhodes Around Britain revives some of the traditional British dishes that were lost, uses the best of British ingredients to create new dishes, and gives recipes for some classic Italian and French dishes. Rhodes claims that over 90% of the dishes are easy to make at home with ingredients easily found.

This book has over 100 recipes, they fall into the following categories:

Soups Starters and Snacks, Main Courses, Puddings, Sauces Stocks and Pickles.

Soups Starters and Snacks has simple, humble recipes such as Cabbage Soup with Dumplings, a mackerel recipe with an Italian twist, Grilled Mackerel with Stewed Tomatoes Pesto and Onions, and a salad made with traditional breakfast ingredients: Poached Egg Salad with Sauté Potatoes, Black Pudding and Bacon. In the mains you will find traditional dishes ranging from Braised Lambs Tongues and Braised Oxtail to more modern dishes such as Steamed Fillet of Turbot on Green Vegetables with Ginger and Lime. Desserts classics such as Bread and Butter Pudding.

I made the Poached Egg Salad with Sauté Potatoes, Black Pudding and Bacon for a Sunday brunch. I thought this was a lovely idea for brunch as it is lighter than a fry up.

Poached Egg Salad

Poached Egg Salad

I bought some beautiful, dried, cured, streaky bacon from Albert Rees in Carmarthen; who are revered for their dry cured bacon and ham. They had some free range organic eggs and I bought some of these as well. I had some nice Pembrokeshire new potatoes. I substituted a French sausage called “saucisse de Morteau” as that is what I happened to have in my freezer.

I love the traditional recipes in this book and the little blurbs Rhodes includes, telling a little story about the recipe. If you want to discover some traditional British recipes and some modern British recipes that are easy to make at home, give this book a try.

You can find this book on Amazon or maybe you can find it as we did in a charity or second-hand book store.

*If you want to know more about Carol’s adventure with food or even join her on one then check out Food Adventure Ltd.

Dan Lepard’s Classic Christmas Pudding Recipe

This is the recipe I will be using for my Christmas Pudding this year. Stir Up Sunday, the traditional day for making your pud is on the 24th November.  Sainsbury’s is reviving this tradition and has kindly supplied the ingredients.

This year, Sainsbury’s has enlisted the help of baker and food writer Dan Lepard to inspire families up and down the country to revive this old unifying family tradition.

On Sunday (24th November), Dan will be hosting a live Christmas pudding Tweet-a-long between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. He’ll be on-hand to answer all your questions – sharing his insider tips and helpful videos to ensure your Stir-up Sunday is a success.

Dan Lepard's Classic Christmas Pudding
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A classic Christmas Pudding Recipe from an award-winning baker and food wriiter
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Serves: 8
  • 385g Sainsbury's mixed dried fruit
  • 80g Sainsbury's ready-to-eat dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 75g Sainsbury's glacé cherries, roughly chopped
  • 100ml basics brandy, plus some for flaming
  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled cored and grated
  • 1 small orange, zest and juice
  • 100g shredded suet (vegetarian if you wish)
  • 3 medium British free-range Woodland eggs by Sainsbury's, beaten
  • 100g Sainsbury's ground almonds
  • 200g soft muscovado sugar
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 20g Sainsbury's almonds, halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice by Sainsbury's
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon by Sainsbury's
  1. Classic Christmas Pudding
  2. Put the mixed fruit, dried figs and glacé cherries into large pan with the brandy and bring to the boil; turn down and simmer for five minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to soak overnight.
  3. Grease a 1 litre pudding basin.
  4. Mix together the cooking apple, orange juice and zest, suet, beaten eggs, ground almonds, sugar, and flour in a large mixing bowl.
  5. Stir in the soaked fruit, almonds, mixed spice and cinnamon. Pour into the greased basin. Cover the basin with two large circles of greaseproof paper and one of tin foil and secure around the top of the basin with string. Make a handle across the basin with the string.
  6. Place the basin in a large saucepan, with a lid, and pour in boiling water until it comes half way up the basin. Cover with the lid and steam for two hours. Allow to cool, then wrap the whole basin in foil and store until Christmas (see tip).
  7. One hour and 30 minutes before you want to serve the pudding, place into a large saucepan, as before, and steam for 1 hour and 30 minutes until cooked through and springy to touch.
  8. To serve, pour over a couple of tablespoons of brandy and light the pudding. Serve with brandy butter, cream or vanilla custard.
Cook’s tips: Store your prepared pudding, well wrapped and in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Flaming your pudding
Warm a little brandy, pour over the undecorated steamed pudding and light.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 586 Fat: 18.9g Saturated fat: 5.7g Sugar: 49.6g Sodium: 0.28g