Recipe: Easter Entertaining:

PUBLISHED: 15:18 02 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:54 20 February 2013

Nick Rowberry of The Chequers at Ettington

Nick Rowberry of The Chequers at Ettington

Salmon Gravdlax with Horseradish, Soda Bread and Watercress.<br/><br/>Saddle of Spring lamb with green vegetables, crushed baby potatoes and mint.

Nick Rowberry has been head chef at the Chequers in Ettington for a year and was judged Chef of the Year in the Warwickshire Life Food & Drink Awards 2008, although he says that awards don't matter to him.

"A full dining room is the best reward - people enjoying your food, that's what matters."

Keen pricing is also essential to success, he says. "On a Saturday night we're probably doing 70-75 meals. We probably don't make the margins other restaurants do but we're full. I hear time and time again of places with two Michelin stars that are closing down because they're not making money. At the end of the day you make money by having a full dining room of people enjoying themselves."

The menu

Salmon Gravdlax with Horseradish, Soda Bread and Watercress

Saddle of Spring lamb with green vegetables, crushed baby potatoes and mint

Salmon Gravdlax with Horseradish, Soda Bread and Watercress;

This dish is perfect at any time of year. If you're having people round for diner rather than plated food put out a board of salmon, with some good bread, a sharp knife, horseradish sauce - it's fanastic. Wild salmon is not a necessity, good organic farmed salmon is fine and preserves wild stocks. Beware of farmed fish with suspiciously red flesh this is not natural. It's a bit of a credit crunch dish. Gravadlax is expensive. Raw salmon is half the price. It takes five to eight days to cure so plan ahead.

For the gravdlax

1 fillet of salmon (or large sea trout) about 2kg, pin boned, scaled, skin scored and cut in two (your fishmonger will do all this for you)

90g sea salt (Maldon sea salt is excellent for this recipe)

140g caster sugar

2 bunches fresh dill

15g ground black pepper

kitchen foil and cling film

Some people will tell you to add lemon, DON'T! The citrus will cook and not cure your salmon.

Finely chop the dill and mix with the salt, pepper and sugar and mix.

Place a quarter of the mix on a piece of kitchen foil, lay half your salmon skin side down on this. Put half of the salt mixture on top and place the second piece of salmon flesh side down on top. Cover the top with the remaining salt mix creating a 'sandwich'. Wrap well wrap in the foil and then in cling film and place on a tray in the fridge for 5-8 days. Turn the salmon daily. There is no need to unwrap it during this process. After five to eight days unwrap and drain off the liquor that has appeared. Your gravadlax is ready.

For the horsradish (although a good supermarket sauce is fine if you're short of time)

2-3 tsp finely grated horsradish

1 tsp sugar

200g creme fraiche


zest of half a lemon

Mix all ingredients together and leave refrigerated for at least six hours before use in order to allow the horseradish flavour to develop. This sauce will last as long as the date on your creme fraiche states.

For the soda bread

250g plain flour

10g salt

15g bicarbonate of soda

250g wholemeal flour

1 tablespoon clear honey

1 tablespoon black treacle

500ml buttermilk (available in most supermarkets)

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the buttermilk and mix until it forms a wet dough. Flour your hands and shape into a round loaf; cross the top with a sharp knife. Place the loaf on a greased baking sheet and put into the preheated over (200C, gas mark 6) for about 45 minutes or until it sounds hollow if tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack covered with a damp cloth.

Serve the gravdlax sliced thinly on a wooden board with fresh watercress, the horseradish good salted butter and slices of soda bread.

Saddle of Spring lamb with green vegetables, crushed baby potatoes and mint

With spring lamb and new potatoes coming into season this dish is perfect for the time of year, either for a dinner party or a lighter alternative to the traditional Sunday roast now the weather is warmer. I buy lamb (and all my other meat for that matter) from Barry the Butchers in Stratford-upon-Avon, 01789 267006).

For the lamb;

1 saddle of lamb about 2kg, ask your butcher to bone it out for you.

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

400ml lamb stock

Glass of red wine

Dijon mustard



Salt & pepper

1 onion

A couple of celery sticks

4-5 carrots

Place the lamb skin side down on a clean work surface, season with salt and pepper and rub in the garlic. Then 'roll' the joint together, tie with kitchen string at 1 inch intervals and season the outside. Heat a little oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and brown the meat for 10 minutes, turning regularly. Add roughly chopped celery, onion and carrot, transfer to a 190C preheated oven and roast for at least 45 minutes, a while longer if for some reason you don't like your meat pink! Remove from the pan and allow to rest under a piece of kitchen foil for 15-20 minutes..

While the meat is resting, make the sauce. Remove the vegetables from the pan and put the pan back on the stove. Deglaze with a splash of water and a dash of red wine, add the stock and reduce by just over half, add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a knob of butter stir them in, then pass the sauce through a sieve and keep warm.

For the potatoes;

1kg new potatoes

15 large capers finely chopped


Salt and pepper

Sprig of mint

Sprig of flat-leaf parsley

Boil the potatoes until you can easily push a pointed knife into the centre, about 15 minutes. Drain and place in a heavy bowl, crush with the back of a spoon, add capers, chopped herbs, a knob of butter, salt, pepper and mix together. Be careful not to overwork the potatoes, this will turn them into mash.

For the vegetables;

200g broad beans

200g peas

1 bunch of asparagus, this should be just about coming into season weather permitting.

1 bunch spring onions chopped.


1 bunch mint

Fry the spring onions in a little butter until they start to soften. Meanwhile,

blanch the beans, peas and asparagus in boiling salted water for a couple of minutes. Drain and add to the onions, pour in the lamb sauce add the mint and season to taste. Serve over and around thickly cut slices of lamb and potatoes immediately.

The Chequers

91 Banbury Road


CV37 7SR

Tel: 01789 740387

The Chequers' local suppliers


Matthews in The Cotswolds;


West's Bakery, Wellesbourne, tel: 01789 840252


Barry the Butcher, Stratford, tel: 01789 267006

Fruit and Vegetables

Bailey's Fruit & Veg Wholesalers, Stratford-upon-Avon

Talton Mill Farm Shop, 01789 459140;

and locally from people who grow produce in the village.

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