Welsh chef Kate Probert, who runs a cookery school in Gower and previously won guidebook recognition for two much-loved Welsh restaurants, has released her first book, From Mountain to Sea.
It contains a beautiful collection of French-inspired recipes, interspersed with stories of Kate’s life in the UK and France, where she and her husband owned a mountain chalet until recently.
Kate started out cooking at the renowned Fairyhill in Gower in the 1980s and completed stages at both the Roux Brothers’ Le Gavroche and Marco Pierre White’s Harvey’s restaurant in order to hone her craft. She remains friends with Albert Roux, who has written the foreword for her new book.
Kate went on to gain experience in Michelin-rated restaurants in France before returning to Wales to run her own award-winning restaurant, L’Amuse in Mumbles. She then opened her cookery school, L’Amuse Chez Kate. To date, she has run 165 day courses, as well as a number of residential courses in her Chamonix chalet.
Her new book evokes the magic of French cuisine, the pleasures of a life spent cooking and eating in France and Wales, and the joy of entertaining with food. The recipes include French breads, canapes, amuse-bouches, entrees, main courses and indulgent desserts.
“I really enjoyed reminiscing about the past, finding photos and revisiting lots of recipes when creating this book,” says Kate. “Working with Nick Perry, the photographer, was also fantastic. He visited us in Chamonix with his partner so he could capture images of this beautiful location and we had a great time showing him our favourite places and looking at the landscape through different lenses.
“I would love people to feel inspired by the recipes and impressed by the images. Nick’s photography is absolutely outstanding and really shares the true beauty of two places close to my heart – Gower and Chamonix. My hope is that this is a book to feel proud of and will have pride of place on a coffee table as opposed to hidden on a shelf amongst other cookbooks.”
Of her Welsh Breakfast Canapés, Kate says: “I make these frequently in France as I love to show off this wonderful ingredient known as laverbread. I buy my laverbread in Swansea market fresh, then freeze it into smaller portions and use it for all sorts of recipes. However, the tinned product is also very good and handy to have in my cupboard in France. I would serve these at room temperature rather than at the last minute as that would be too fiddly. Make the laverbread mix and cook the eggs up to one hour before. I recommend you assemble them just before your guests arrive.
Take a whole loaf for this and make croûtons out of all of it. They will last for ages in an airtight container and the croutons can be used as bases for other mixtures.”
Oven: 160°C/gas mark 4
For the “fried bread”:
- 12 croûtons from a sliced loaf
For the mix:
- 75 g laverbread mixed with 2 teaspoons oatmeal
- 50 g diced Welsh bacon or pancetta
- 12 quail eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- Some cockles (optional)
- Cut out rounds from a medium sliced loaf with a 3.5/4 cm diameter cutter. Put onto a baking tray and brush with oil.
- Cook in the oven until completely dried out and slightly brown (about 20 minutes).
- Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Fry off the bacon and add the laverbread, oatmeal, vinegar and cockles if using. Season.
- For the fried eggs: break all the eggs carefully into a bowl together and, in a small non-stick pan, heat up the olive oil. When hot, but not smoking (we don’t want crinkly eggs!), pour in all the eggs and with a non-stick, heatproof spatula, quickly separate the yolks so that they aren’t touching each other.
- When the white is firm and the yolks are still runny, slide the whole lot out onto a board and cut around each yolk with the same cutter you used for the croûtons to make a small fried egg.
- Eat the rest of the white in a sandwich or give it to the dog!
- When ready to serve, cover each croûton with the laverbread mixture and top each one with the egg. I used to warm up the mixture on the croûton, but they are delicious as they are so I don’t bother any more.