Scallops and Samphire and Pheasant, Chestnut and Chanterelle Soup


Yesterday was Stephen’s birthday and, as is only right and proper, he got to choose how we spent the day. Luckily for me, it involved a trip to Charing Cross Road to look at cookery books, followed by a visit to Borough Market, a quick stop off at the Tate Modern before returning home to drink some good wine and cook dinner. Anyone would think it was my birthday.

We hadn’t planned anything for dinner but had a few ideas based on browsing some new cookery books (kindly provided by Quadrille Publishing) the night before. Mark Hix’s British Seasonal Food is the follow-up to British Regional Food which we received as a Christmas present a couple of years ago. It’s an interesting read but not a book we use to cook from very often, more of a bedside read than a kitchen companion.

Having only just received the latest offering, I’ve only had time for a quick browse but already a number of recipes have caught my eye. I particularly like the fact that the book is organised by month as I tend to use recipe books when I’m looking for inspiration and have no idea what to cook, this makes it easy to see exactly what’s available and means I don’t waste time paging through the salad section in the middle of winter.

One of the recipes that caught my eye was this Pheasant, Chestnut and Chanterelle Soup. We didn’t have the book with us when we went to the market but luckily enough we managed to remember what we needed and were able to find them everything easily. I popped into Borough Market a couple of weeks ago on a Thursday and was surprised at just how many stalls they were, it’s also a bit quieter on a Thursday which makes browsing easier and more enjoyable. I know it’s largely dismissed as touristy and over-priced by many but I still enjoy wandering around looking at the produce, particularly at this time of the year when he seasons are changing and everything looks new and exciting.


Having bought the pheasant and everything else we needed, we decided that we ought to get some scallops to go with the samphire we’d seen and serve them as a starter. A quick stop for lunch at the Ginger Pig (who make the best sausage rolls ever) followed by a glass of wine and off we went to the Tate Modern. We checked our bags in when got there and had an amusing conversation with the employee who told us we wouldn’t be able to leave our bags if we’d bought cheese as they’d had ‘an incident’ recently – something particularly ripe and smelly had found it’s way on to someone’s jacket which led to all manner of complaining.

I felt quite embarrassed that we didn’t have any cheese actually, (what sort of person walks past Neal’s Yard Dairy and doesn’t buy cheese?) but at least it meant we weren’t denied access to the gallery. Although, after about five minutes I was back to wishing we did have the offending cheese: Tate Modern + Half Term = many, many Bugaboo and iCandy pushchairs which = incredibly bruised ankles.

So, we didn’t stay long which was probably for the best as our over-priced ingredients had been hanging around in their designer jute shopping bags for long enough and it was time to get on with the really important business of the day.


Conscious of the disaster that occurred last time we attempted to cook scallops and game birds, we gave ourselves plenty of time for preparation and drank our wine slowly. This forward thinking served us well to begin with as the scallops turned out as we intended: just cooked with a good crust and a great match for the salty samphire.


This was of course followed by the Pheasant and Chanterlle Soup which we managed to get almost completely right until we lost focus (or, had drunk too much wine) at the very last moment and forgot to add the cream. I’m not sure just how much this contributed to my disappointment in the dish but I’m guessing it was a fairly vital ingredient. While the pheasant had a really good depth of flavour and wasn’t at all dry like it often is, the flavours in the dish didn’t really come together for me which is really my own fault for not reading the recipe properly. Luckily, Stephen didn’t have the same complaint so his birthday dinner wasn’t entirely ruined. Would have been nice to finish with some cheese though.

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