Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Nut Tree Inn, Murcott

This Bank holiday weekend I was fortunate enough to have the time to visit the Nut Tree Inn, in Murcott, Oxfordshire. after a sucessful morning in Bicester shopping village we went for a search for Murcott and the Nut Tree Inn. Murcott is only 8 miles from Bicester, just the otherside of the M40 on the way to Oxford.

This pub had been on my ‘to go to’ list for a while and this weekend there was no excuse not to pop in.

On arrival, we came to the painted white thatched pub, which had a few spaces at the front, just off the village main street. Around the back of the pub you’ll find a large car park with plenty of room for any vehical.

The Nut Tree is a pub with a Michelin Star, so I had expected to pop in for a drink in the sun and a nose at the menu for another time. The patio and garden is situated at the back of the pub, in a perfect afternoon sun spot, when we arrived the flowers were out too, thanks to the recent warm weather we had in Oxfordshire, making the garden look well cared for as well as a sun trap.

We went into the pub to order our drinks, at which point I asked to have a look at the bar menu, to see if I could be tempted by a nibble, I suspected we would cave and share something. Our drinks were brought out to our table in the sun, along with a bowl of spiced popcorn, this went down a treat.

While we soaked in the peacefulness of the countryside around us, we browsed the bar food menu. The menu offered plenty of meat fish and vegetarian options, there were starters, sandwiches, soups and various boards. We made our individual choices and ordered our mini lunch back inside at the bar, however I’m sure if we had waited someone would have come to us.

What was ordered?
Sausage and onion sandwich, on granary.
Biscuits with cheese.

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When the food arrived we were amazed at the quanity of our meals. 3 sausages halved in a sandwich per sausage, with a pile of salad and a cheese board with plenty of biscuits, which seems to be a rare treat. Next time I have my eye on their salmon.

Was it expensive?
Our lunch bill was £28, this included a glass of white wine, a pint of Pride, and two meals that left us full for the afternoon. The area was tranquil and the setting was a world away from the craze of Bicester Shopping Village, yet only an 8mile drive down the road. So I would say it was a great price for a great afternoon out.

To find the Nut Tree Inn here’s a link to their site

Cod Cakes in tomato sauce

I saw this fishcake alternative in Yotam Ottolenghis’ Jerusalem book. To me it looked like a the sort of dish that you would expect to be served to a large family. It sounded both healthy and hearty and suitable for a weekend dinner, which I made in April.
This dish would be a good one to try on a bank holiday weekend, if you have friends round and no BBQ.
You should be able to make 8 cakes, I managed 7, it will feed 4 adults and leave them full, but no room for pudding.
Alternatively you could serve this to 6 people and add some greens and a pudding.
The best thing about this method is that you can freeze the remaining cakes and sauce, leaving you a nice treat for an easy midweek meal.

Cod Cakes
White bread, crusts removed 3 slices
Cod (sustainably sourced), or pollock fillet, skinless and boneless 600g
Medium onion 1, finely chopped
Garlic cloves 4, crushed
Flat-leaf parsley 30g, finely chopped
Coriander 30g, finely chopped
Ground cumin 1 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Large free-range eggs 2, beaten
Olive oil 4 tbsp

I missed out the parsley and coriander in the cod cakes step, which might be why my cakes seemed paler than the books beautiful photo. Either that or my oil needed to be hotter, which I suspect was the case!

Tomato sauce
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Ground cumin 1 tsp
Sweet paprika ½ tsp
Ground coriander 1 tsp
Medium onion 1, chopped
White wine 125ml
Chopped tomatoes 400g tin
Red chilli 1, deseeded and finely chopped
Garlic clove 1, crushed
Caster sugar 2 tsp
Mint leaves 2 tbsp, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper

First make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid, and add the spices and onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is completely soft. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp of salt and some black pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until quite thick, taste to adjust the seasoning and set aside.

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While the sauce is cooking make the fish cakes. Place the bread in a food processor and blitz to form breadcrumbs. Chop up the fish very finely and place in a bowl with the bread and everything else, apart from the olive oil. Mix well and then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes, about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. I had some ring moulds which I used here, it achieved very neat cakes but perhaps handmade would be more rustic. The mixture should make 8 cakes. If they are very soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.

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Heat up half the oil in a frying pan and sear the cakes for 3 minutes on each side, so they colour well.
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Add the remaining oil as you fry the cakes. Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce. Add enough water to partially cover the cakes, about 200ml. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cakes to settle, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with mint.
Serve with bulgar, rice, couscous or bread, alongside sautéed spinach or Swiss chard.

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I will certainly be trying this dish again, with all of the ingredients next time.