Dorset-born chef Steve James studied fine art before taking cookery classes at the Lesley Waters Cookery School at the age of 24. Steve's studies there led to him becoming involved in the school's cookery demonstrations and recipe development as well as assisting with teaching the classes themselves. Since this time Steve has launched his own personal chef company based in Somerset, catering for private events and all sorts of special occasions. With seasonal menus that change on a regular basis, Steve James Ltd has gone from strength to strength since opening for business in 2017 and has won a string of awards including The Luxury Travel Guide award for Best Dining Experience in Somerset 2017 and 2018 and the Chef of the Year Award 2018.
Steve particularly enjoys working with watercress thanks to its versatile nature and ability to complement a wide range of dishes. He has created a fantastic series of mouth-watering recipes which really demonstrate the superior flavour and many varied uses of this superb little leaf.
Sicilian salmon with watercress, courgette and pea salad
October 10th 2018
For the salmon
2 salmon fillets, skinless and boneless
Zest of 1 lemon and juice of half
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika
For the salad dressing
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Juice of half a lemon (use leftover half from the salmon)
1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
For the salad
30g watercres plus a few extra leaves for serving
1 large courgette
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a large bowl, mix together all the salad dressing ingredients. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed, then set aside.
Boil the peas on the hob for five minutes then drain and place in cold water to refresh them. Use a vegetable peeler to peel long strips from the courgette, then use a griddle pan on a high heat to make char marks on either side of the courgette strips. You don’t need to add any oil when cooking. Leave to one side to cool.
Place the salmon on a baking tray. Sprinkle over the paprika, chilli flakes, lemon zest and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper. Then drizzle the salmon with a good amount of olive oil and the juice from the lemon. Roll the salmon around in the mixture to combine, ensuring it is well coated. Place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes to cook.
When the salmon is nearly ready mix the courgette, drained peas and watercress through the dressing and serve on plates. When the salmon is ready serve on top of the salad. Roll the few extra watercress leaves together, finely slice, then sprinkle over the salmon to finish.
Squashetti with watercress bacon and prawns
September 18th 2018
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 butternut squash
1 tbsp butter
2 medium egg yolks
4 rasher smoky bacon, diced
1 litre fish/chicken/veg stock
250ml dry white wine
1 tsp chilli flakes
Zest and juice of one lemon
170g large king prawns (raw)
Salt and pepper
1. Firstly prepare your squash by peeling it and slicing in half lengthways. Remove the seeds from the middle with a spoon. If you have a spiraliser pass it through there to create spaghetti shaped squash noodles. If you do not own a spiraliser the best option is to pass it through a medium sized grater of a food processor.
2. Put your stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn down to a low heat. Add the egg yolk, parmesan, watercress, lemon zest and parsley to a food processer and blitz till all mixed together.
3. Place the onion with about a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook until soft. Once your onion is soft then add the bacon to the pan and fry until nicely golden.
4. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for about thirty seconds. You don’t want to overcook the garlic or it will make your dish bitter. Once your garlic is ready put your squashetti in the pan and stir through the bacon, garlic and onions. To this add the white wine which will help to start cook the squash. Keep stirring the squash through the liquid.
5. Once all the wine has cooked down and the pan has just a small amount of liquid left in it start adding the stock a ladle at time, waiting each time until the pan has just a little liquid left in it. Make sure to leave one ladle full of stock for later.
6. To check the squash is cooked through (this usually takes around 8-10 minutes but differs depending on the heat of your hob, the squash and your pan) test it by trying a little, it should be soft but still with a little bite. Once it is cooked through remove the pan from the heat. Add a new frying pan to the hob and add a splash of rapeseed oil, you will need this in a minute for your prawns.
7. To the cooked squashetti a good squeeze of lemon juice, the chilli flakes, a good seasoning of salt of pepper and then add the egg yolk mixture with a splash of the left-over stock, make sure to do this off the heat otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs. Stir this all through quickly and you will end up with a creamy sauce. Add a little more stock to loosen if needed. Check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper, lemon juice or chilli flakes if needed.
8. Put the squashetti to one side. In the new frying pan cook your prawns with a little salt and pepper, about 1-2 minutes on each side depending on the size of your prawns.
9. To serve, place a good amount of the squashetti into a pasta bowl or plate. Add the prawns to the top of this and garnish with some watercress sprigs.
Steve’s Watercress Mayonnaise
August 30th 2018
Steve developed this fantastic recipe for watercress mayonnaise which is perfect served inside a steak baguette, alongside fish or chicken goujons, or as an accompaniment to halloumi and roasted vegetables.
3 medium egg yolks
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
200ml rapeseed oil
100ml garlic rapeseed oil
1. In a food processor place the egg yolks, lemon and Dijon mustard. Start the processor and once these ingredients are mixed start by pouring in the garlic rapeseed oil, you need to do this very slowly so that the oil and egg yolk emulsify. The best way to do this is to pour the oil from the bottle if it has a small outlet a the top or pour it into a jug so it is easier to pour slowly into the mixer.
2. Add the watercress to the food processor, stalks and all. Blitz this all together until smooth with the flecks of the watercress leaves running through. Add salt and pepper to taste and more lemon juice if needed. If the mayonnaise is too thick you can add a tablespoon of water at a time to loosen to the required consistency.
For an extra kick in your mayonnaise why not add some dried chilli flakes, horseradish or wasabi. These would all work well with the peppery watercress.