Archive for the ‘Recipe’ Category

Mark Apsey Demonstration - Wokingham Food Festival

Photo courtesy of Rich Voysey

Sous Chef Mark Apsey wows the crowd at Wokingham Food Fesitval

Mark first worked at L’Ortolan in 2005 as Alan Murchison’s first apprentice at the age of 15. He left in 2007 to broaden his Michelin experience working with Nathan Outlaw in Cornwall then with John Campbell as part of the opening team at Cowarth Park. Mark’s ambition and enthusiasm earned him the position of Sous Chef at L’Ortolan aged just 23. He believes in using the best ingredients available, locally sourced where possible, and is an expert forager making the best use of traceable ingredients from the surrounding countryside. As a natural teacher Mark is keen to share his knowledge and passion with people who enjoy great food and want to learn more.

Last week Mark Apsey took to the demonstration stage at the Wokingham Food Festival, captivating the audience with his classical to contemporary cuisine as part of the three-day event promoting the best in local food and drink. Mark’s Lemon and Chocolate Tart was a clear favourite amongst the foodie festival goers, so we asked Mark to share the secret behind his delicious dessert recipe.


Lemon and Chocolate Tart Recipe

1 Egg Yolk
125g Plain Flour
50g Icing Sugar
75g Butter

Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, and then fold in the flour gently. Rest for 1 hour before rolling out to 3mm thickness and cook on 180°C.

75g Lemon Juice
2.6g MSK Hy-Foamer
150g Sugar
30g Water

Whisk the lemon juice and Hy-Foamer until forming stiff peaks. Boil the sugar and water until 121°C and pour onto the stiff peaks. Whisk mixture until cold.

100g Cacao Barry Altosol Chocolate
90g Cherry Purée
30g Cream

Boil the cherry purée and pour onto the chocolate. Mix together until fully smooth and glossy.

Poached Cherries:
100g Stoneless Cherries
100g Cherry Purée
50g Red Wine
50g Sugar

Bring the purée, wine and sugar to the boil and add the cherries. Return to the boil and then remove from the heat.

Lemon and Chocolate Tarte

Photo courtesy of Rich Voysey


L’Ortolan Cookery Demonstration Programme

Wednesday 4th Sep – Art of Home Smoking
The art of producing your own smoked foods at home and how to make your own small smoker.

Wednesday 18th Sep – Bread at Home
The home baker. Machine vs hand made, yeast vs natural leaven. How to make perfect breads to suit even the least experienced baker.

Wednesday 2nd Oct – Simple Vegetarian Cookery
Michelin starred vegetarian dishes to suit all budgets.

Wednesday 16th Oct – Sunday Lunch
The perfect Sunday roast – with all the trimmings!

Wednesday 30th Oct – Sweet Tooth
A handful of Michelin starred desserts you can create at home to add the perfect finish to your dinner parties.

Wednesday 13th Nov – 3 Course Dinner
Michelin inspired 3 course dinner party to cook at home.

To book your L’Ortolan demonstration please call 01189 888 500 or email info@lortolan.com.


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L'Ortolan Demo Studio

In 2008 Alan Murchison wanted a new demonstration kitchen at L’Ortolan that would both match the quality of the restaurant and be practical to cook in. He turned to bulthaup Winchester who were able to translate Alan’s vision into a reality. Ever since, the L’Ortolan butlhaup demonstration kitchen has played home to a number of cookery demonstrations and masterclasses run by Sous Chef, Mark Apsey. As a natural teacher Mark is keen to share his knowledge and passion with people who enjoy great food and want to learn more, indulging their culinary passion and teaching them to cook food with Michelin flair.

With Mark’s love for locally sourced ingredients and his passion for foraging, last week’s demonstration topic ‘Summer Kitchen Garden’ was the perfect masterclass for any aspiring Chef. Looking at ingredients that grow locally in gardens and footpaths throughout Summer, Mark showed his willing students an exciting selection of dishes from a beautiful summer berry Mille-Feuille to a fresh tomato Gazpacho. After tasting Mark’s Gazpacho we asked him the secret to creating such a delicious Spanish summer soup.


Tomato Gazpacho Recipe


3kg Ripe Plum Vine Tomatoes, roughly chopped
600g Cucumber, peeled deseeded and chopped
1.5kg Red Peppers, diced
130g Onions, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
12 Basil Leaves
50ml White Wine Vinegar
25g Salt
70g Sugar


1. Mix all of the ingredients together and place in a refrigerator overnight
2. Place the ingredietns in a food processor and blend until smooth
3. Pass the mixture through a coarse sieve to remove any skin and seeds
4. Season to taste

Tomato Gazpacho


Mark’s tomato Gazpacho is now available every lunchtime at L’Ortolan on our Menu du Jour.

Two courses £28.00

Three courses £31.50

Call us on 0118  988 8500 to make your reservation or click here to book online.

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L'ortolan Macaroons

Yesterday our demo studio came to life with an afternoon tea inspired Patisserie Demonstration from L’Ortolan Pastry Chef Samantha Rain. Our demonstration guests arrived to a beautifully sunny L’Ortolan and introductions were made over tea and coffee in the bar. Afterwards the guests took their seats in the studio to learn how to produce a stunning selection of pastries both appealing to the eye and delicious – the perfect accompaniment for afternoon tea!

Macaroonier Sam demonstrated her perfect Liquorice Macaroons; a small light biscuit, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, made with ground almonds, sugar and egg whites. Macaroons are one of our favourite current sweet crazes so we asked our very own L’Ortolan Pastry Chef for a lesson in baking the popular French confection.

Liquorice Macaroons


300g Icing Sugar
300g Ground Almonds
10g Liquorice Powder
115g Egg Whites
80g Water
300g Sugar


1. Blitz together 300g icing sugar, 300g ground almonds and 10g liquorice powder and pass
2. Whisk 115 egg whites to stiff peaks
3. Boil 300g sugar and 80g water to 118°c and pour onto egg whites
4. Whisk egg whites until fluffy and add to dry mix
5. Once the Italian Meringue is cold, combine all the elements into a smooth paste
6. Pipe the mixture and leave to form a skin
7. Bake at 150°c for 6-8 minutes

Liquorice Pastry Cream Filling


250g Milk
1 Vanilla Pod
60g Sugar
4 Egg Yolks
22g Cornflour


1. Boil 250g milk, 30g sugar and vanilla
2. Pour milk onto egg yolks and whisk, then place mixture back into the pan and cook out
3. Combine 30g sugar and 22g cornflour
4. Add Liquorice compound to taste

Liquorice Macaroons_______________________________________________________________

L’Ortolan Cookery Demonstration Programme

9th April – 3 Course Dinner Party – Bring a little Michelin star flair to your dinner party at home with some ideas and inspiration from the L’Ortolan kitchen.

23rd April – Chocolate Heaven – The perfect indulgent treat for serious chocoholics. During this masterclass you will be introduced to a variety of different chocolates including some of the world’s finest single estate chocolate.

14th May – Shellfish Masterclass – Delicious ways to prepare and cook shellfish – include a selection from lobster, oysters, clams, mussels, crab and razor clams depending on availability.

11th June – 3 Course Fish Supper – How to select and prepare the ‘catch of the day’ and cook your fish to perfection.

18th June – Summer Barbecue with the Big Green Egg – The Big Green Egg can be used to smoke, bake and slow cook as well as a barbecue. Join chef on the terrace and discover some new techniques and recipes.

To book your L’Ortolan demonstration please call 01189 888 500 or email info@lortolan.com

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L'ortolan Shellfish MasterclassWednesday saw the demo studio come to life once again with an entertaining Shellfish Masterclass from L’Ortolan Chef Ian Swainson. Due to the bank holiday weekend the demo was rescheduled for the following day, so we breathed a sigh of relief in the morning when the freshly caught shellfish arrived.

Our demonstration guests arrived early and introductions were made over tea and coffee in the bar. Afterwards the guests took their seats in the studio to learn how to prepare dressed crab, cooked lobster, clams mariniere and oysters with pickled shallot & chilli.

Here is one of the recipes that Ian demonstrated:

How to make Clams Mariniere


1kg – Clams (washed)
200ml – White Wine
1 – Banana Shallot (diced)
1 – Clove Garlic (pureed)
100ml – Double Cream
Parsley (chopped)
25ml – Riesling


  1. Take a large saucepan and heat until very hot.
  2. Add the clams and pour in the white wine, cover with a lid. The clams will steam in the wine very quickly.
  3. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
  4. Finish with the cream, followed by parsley and Riesling.

Following the demonstration Ian showed the guests around the L’Ortolan kitchen and introduced them to the rest of the culinary team. Once the party were seated in the main restaurant for their lunch, Ian took a couple of minutes to demonstrate how to remove the tail meat from the lobster that was cooked earlier. Take a look at the video.


L’Ortolan Cookery Demonstration Programme

11th September – Shellfish Masterclass – If you love shellfish but like many find preparing and cooking it a daunting task, then our Shellfish Masterclass will teach you how to transform it into some wonderful and tasty dishes.

9th October – Game Cookery – As we embrace the game season the L’Ortolan Chef’s will be revealing secrets behind some of our favourite signature dishes

30th October – Food and Wine Matching – Basics

27th November – Food and Wine Matching – Advanced

18th December – Turkey Masterclass – Taking the strain out of Christmas

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Impress your dinner party guests with a surprise course – our Mango with Coconut Espuma.

Our ‘fried egg’ pre-dessert is often a talking point amongst diners at L’Ortolan, as it adds an element of playfulness and amusement to our guests’ experience. It’s a delicious, simple dish to make and the mango even flows onto the espuma in a ‘yolk’-like fashion.

L'ortolan Mango & Coconut Espuma

How to make the Mango with Coconut Espuma

(approximately 20 servings)


  1. 250g – mango purée
    35g – sugar
    2-5g – ultra-tex (a starch based powder that thickens liquids and sauces). Alternatively xanthan gum may be used as a substitute (Available from many health food stores).
  2. 10g – vege gel
    250ml – water
  3. 250g – coconut purée
    25g – sugar
    ¼ – lime juice


  1. To make the mango yolk blend the first step of the ingredients together (mango puree, sugar and ultra-tex) and freeze in half sphere moulds.
  2. Once frozen dip into the water and vege gel.
  3. To make the coconut espuma blend the third step of the ingredients together (coconut purée, sugar & lime juice) and pipe using a cream whipper.
  4. Garnish with black pepper and coriander.

As you can imagine, this popular pre-dessert receives countless feedback comments from our guests. Here is what a few of them say;

‘My younger son is still taking about the ‘fried egg’ of coconut and mango, his favourite part of the meal.’
– Guest January 2012

‘The “fried egg lookalike” pre-dessert was really good fun.’
– Guest January 2012

‘The food was of a very high standard and had a few outstanding surprises (e.g. the mango and foam “fried egg”)’
– Guest November 2011

‘What at first glance resembled a fried egg, turned out to be a supreme coconut espuma with a delicious mango purée centre.’
Food and Drink Guide

‘Visual jokes add levity to the occasion, as when a pre-dessert of coconut espuma with mango purée in it is fashioned to look like a fried egg.’

Read more recipe blogs from L’ortolan

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Chef Chris Horridge

Chris Horridge has produced a special menu for L’Ortolan which is being prepared throughout July

Throughout July guests at Reading’s only Michelin starred restaurant will have the chance to enjoy top quality food prepared by a celebrated ‘superhealthy’ guest chef.

L’Ortolan is delighted to welcome Chef Chris Horridge into the kitchen this July. Chris is widely recognised for his truly unique cuisine which delivers innovative flavours packed with health promoting nutrients.

“I want to create great food, that’s massively attractive and can also be enjoyed by the majority of people,” explains Chris, “I want to produce ‘healthy’ food that doesn’t taste like healthy food – people should be able to enjoy what they eat!”

Chris has prepared a special gluten and sugar-free menu for L’Ortolan guests to enjoy in July – 6-courses for £49 – and here Chris explains how to create a dish that’s not on the L’Ortolan menu in your own home.

Cured wild pigeon

Wild pigeon tends to be on the menu more infrequently these days particularly as it tends to have a strong flavour which is becoming less appealing to the modern palate. Curing the breasts tends to temper the strong aroma making it more palatable and subtler.

The recipe for the pigeon cure is as follows (with experience you can adjust it to your taste). To bring the wild angle back into the dish I usually serve it on a tile with a fruit puree and wild herbs. It can equally be served with more traditional accompaniments to cured meats.


  • 6 – 8 Pigeon breasts boneless, skin off, (1 breast per starter portion)
  • 50g Coarse sea salt
  • 50g Sugar
  • 1x 6” sprigs of savory or thyme
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 5 Cloves
  • 9g Garlic cloves
  • 6 Black pepper corns
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 250ml Red wine
  • 10 Juniper berries



  1. Crush all spices and herbs before using
  2. Add the salt and sugar to the wine and bring to the boil
  3. Remove from stove and add the other ingredients.
  4. When temperature is cool place pigeon in marinade cover and chill
  5. Turn every 12 hours leaving for a total of 48 hours
  6. When the meat is sufficiently cured it should be fairly firm to the touch
  7. If it still feels tender then continue to marinade for further 12 hours
  8. Wipe off the excess marinade wrap in cling film and freeze until solid
  9. Unwrap and using a very sharp knife slice as thin as you can or use a meat slicer (Be very careful – see below)
  10. As you slice lay the meat on a plate, this is important otherwise on defrosting (which is almost instant) the meat will clump together, being almost impossible to separate
  11. We slice the pigeon breast lengthways which allows us to roll it up around some wild herbs

Please note that cutting frozen meat with a sharp knife is difficult and the knife may sometimes slip if you are not very careful. Obtaining a meat slicer is a safer option –  household editions are now reasonably priced.

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With another bank holiday upon us it may be time once again to think about getting your family around your dining table.

But with the weather heating up, dinner parties can be tricky your guests start watching their figure.

So the Michelin starred chefs at L’Ortolan restaurant in Shinfield have created a recipe that is guaranteed to impress your dinner party guests which it is not only low in fat and carbohydrates but also packs a punch on the taste buds.

Pan fried bream, sag aloo puree and a curry foam

Steamed Sea Bream with Sag Aloo and Cauliflower Puree

Serves 4 – 6


  • Steamed sea-bream (or similar) – one fillet per person
  • Squeeze of lime juice for seasoning
  • 4 large potatoes
  • Florets from half a cauliflower
  • 1 bag of spinach

For sag aloo curry mix

  • 1 finely diced onion
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon madras spices

For Cauliflower puree

  • Half a cauliflower (sliced)
  • Water
  • Milk
  • Butter (optional)

For plate dressing (optional)

  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Sprinkling of black onion seeds
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander


  1. First make the cauliflower puree.  Place sliced cauliflower in a pan and half-cover with water.  Then add milk to the pan until the cauliflower is completely covered by the water and milk mixture.  Cook until soft.  Drain well and blend for 10 minutes until smooth.  Add a knob of butter (optional) and blitz again, seasoning as desired.
  2. For the main dish dice potatoes into half cm cubes, cook until firm and not too soft.  Refresh in cold water. Blanch the cauliflower florets
  3. Whilst doing this make the sag aloo mix by sweating the onions until very soft.  Roast the spices together in a pan before adding to the onions and cooking for 5 minutes.
  4. Heat potatoes and cauliflower in a pan with a little of the curry mix and wilt some spinach through.
  5. Steam sea-bream and season with a squeeze of lime juice.
  6. Carefully spoon curried vegetable mixture onto centre of plate before carefully laying hot sea-bream fillet on top of vegetables.
  7. Dress plate with a spoon of cauliflower puree, and sprinkled dish with fresh coriander, black onion seeds and cayenne pepper.

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