Recipes from Biota

Biota

by James Viles

Habitat-inspired food that uses local produce to create beautiful and honest dishes.

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GREEN GRAPES, ELDERFLOWER AND FIG LEAF ICECREAM

Biota-grapes-elderflower-fig-icecream

In spring and summer each year we gather elderflower from the garden at Biota; the buds get lightly soaked in vinegar just as they are about to flower. I planted the elder trees four years ago in the watercourse run-off from the dam on the grounds. This refreshing recipe always reminds me of that planting day.

ELDERFLOWER BUDS
20 young elderflower sprigs
300 ml (10½ fl oz) sugar syrup (see simple recipes, page 28)
175 ml (5½ fl oz) elderflower vinegar (see simple recipes, page 29)

Rinse any insects off the elderflower. Seal in an airtight glass jar with the sugar syrup and elderflower vinegar and keep for 1 week before using, if you can, for the flavours to develop. This can be stored for up to 2 months.  

GREEN GRAPES
20 large seedless green grapes
30 ml (1 fl oz) lemon juice

Score the grapes with a sharp knife and drop into boiling water. Leave for 2 minutes, until the skins begin to lift. Transfer to an ice bath and peel off the skins (keep these to use for green grape skins, right). Seal the grapes and lemon juice in a vacuum bag for 1 hour.  

FIG LEAF ICE CREAM
250 ml (9 fl oz) full-cream cow’s milk
100 g (3½ oz) cane sugar
4 fresh fig leaves
3 egg yolks

Pour the milk, half the sugar and 60 ml (2 fl oz) water into a pan and bring to the boil. Pour over the fig leaves and leave to infuse for 6 hours in the fridge.

Put the egg yolks and the remaining sugar in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touchthe water) and whisk until you have a pale and creamy sabayon. Strain the infused milk over the top of the sabayon, whisking constantly, then chill.

Transfer to an ice-cream machine and churn until frozen. If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, pour into a shallow freezer container. Freeze until semi-frozen, then whisk very thoroughly. Freeze and whisk again, twice more.

GREEN GRAPE SKINS
20 green grape skins  (from green grapes, left)
100 ml (3½ fl oz) sugar syrup (see simple recipes, page 28)

Warm the grape skins in the sugar syrup until translucent. Remove and dehydrate in a dehydrator at 60°C (140°F) for 3 hours.

GRAPE AND ELDER JUICE
100 ml (3½ fl oz) green grape juice
50 ml (1¾ fl oz) elderflower water (see simple recipes page 33)     
6 g (¼ oz) iota carrageenan (see glossary)

Pour the grape juice, elderflower water and iota into a pan and heat to 75°C (167°F). Strain and leave to set in the fridge.

PLANTS TO FINISH  
Elderflowers
Flax buds

 

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 

LEGUMES, THEIR FLOWERS AND FRESH CHEESE

Biota-legumes-flowers-cheese

Fresh milk is something we tend to take for granted but it is quite special, especially when pure and free from human intervention. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. If you can use unpasteurised milk from a local farm here, then do so; if not, use the most lightly pasteurised milk you can find. Milk that has had the least amount of human interference will make a better cheese and have a finer texture and flavour.

FRESH CHEESE
400 ml (14 fl oz) full-fat cow’s milk
2 g (⅛ oz) rennet  (see glossary)
1 teaspoon salt

Put the milk in a heavy-based saucepan and heat to 32°C (90°F). Remove from the heat and stir in the rennet.

Pour the mixture into four 100 ml (3½ fl oz) dariole moulds or plastic containers, filling to about 1 cm (½ in) from the top. Put the moulds in a baking tray and fill the tray with warm water. Cook the cheese in a very low oven for 2 hours, keeping the water at 38°C (100°F). Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray.

Line a perforated tray with muslin (cheesecloth) and gently tip the cheeses out of the moulds onto the lined tray. Put this over another tray to catch the whey, and leave the cheeses in the fridge for 2 hours to dry out. Keep the whey for the dressing.

FRESH WHEY DRESSING
150 ml (5 fl oz) whey from the fresh cheese (left)  
30 ml (1 fl oz) olive oil
2 teaspoons salt

Combine the fresh whey with the olive oil and salt and whisk until the dressing is emulsified.

LEGUMES
150 g (5½ oz) fresh broad beans
160 g (5¾ oz) podded fresh sugar snap peas
20 radish pods (see glossary)
20 ml (½ fl oz) linseed (flaxseed) oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt

Double pod the broad beans. When ready to plate, combine the raw vegetables and mix with the oil, lemon juice and salt.

SHOOTS ON THE PLATE
1 punnet pea shoots
1 punnet mung bean shoots
20 new pea blossoms
20 radish flowers

 

Download printable recipe (PDF)

 

RIVER PLANTS, STEAMED TROUT AND BUTTERMILK

Biota-trout-buttermilk

We use brook trout, rainbow trout and brown trout in the restaurant, depending on the time of year and where we've been fishing. We often camp beside the local river; the banks are lush with river mint, fennel and purslane growing among the rocks.

TROUT ROE
80 g (2¾ oz) trout roe
30 ml (1 fl oz) light soy sauce

Put the trout roe and soy sauce in a vacuum or cryovac bag, seal the bag and leave for at least 3 hours in the fridge, to compress and marinate the roe.

BUTTERMILK
120 ml (4 fl oz) buttermilk  
10 g (¼ oz) salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

Whisk together the buttermilk, salt and olive oil until slightly aerated.

TROUT
2 brown trout or rainbow trout, filleted
2 sprigs river mint (see glossary)
10 g (¼ oz) salt

Cut four pieces of baking paper just larger than the trout fillets. Place each fillet, skin side down, on a piece of paper. Put in a steamer, making sure none of the fillets overlap (you might need to use two layers of the steamer).

Put a sprig of river mint on each fish, cover and steam for about 6 minutes. Peel the paper away from each fillet, followed by the fish skin. Season with the salt.

BROWN BUTTER CREME
100 ml (3½ fl oz) brown butter (see simple recipes page 32), at room temperature
300 g (10½ oz) sour cream
10 g (¼ oz) salt

Mix together the brown butter and sour cream and season with salt.

PLANTS TO FINISH
River mint (see glossary)
Fennel
Purslane

 

Download printable recipe (PDF)