The Sandrock - Real Ale Pub & Restaurant, Farnham

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Ask The Chef

We would like to give our customers the chance to ask our chefs a question about anything you can think of to do with catering or cooking, you can even try and test our general food knowledge! If there is a dish that you have eaten here and would like to know the recipe please feel free to email us your request and we will try and have it on the site as soon as possible. You can also suggest any dishes that you would like to see on the menu e.g. Any old favourite, something your granny used to make, especially if it fits in with our Great British menu theme.

All questions, answers and recipes will appear in this section.

You can email our chefs at

Question from Maria Rees:

Hi I have some ingredients but cant think what best to do with them! please help!!!

I have salmon, baby new potatoes, spinach, red pointed peppers, shallots and thyme.

Any ideas would be so appreciated!

Maria Rees

Chef's Answer:

These are quite good ingredients and there are many things you could do with them, here are a couple of ideas:

Simple: If the salmon is good quality, organic farmed or wild with the skin on, then quite often the best way to serve it is the simplest. Clean off any loose scales and wipe dry with kitchen paper. Season it with sea salt and then roast it in a very hot pan, skin side down for a couple of minutes until the skin is golden and crispy. Then transfer it to a hot baking tray, resting it skin side up on a little knob of butter and a good sprig of the thyme. Roast it in a hot oven for 4 to 6 minutes depending on how you like it cooked and how thick it is. Make a salad with the spinach leaves, tossed in a little olive oil with chopped red pepper and a little shallot, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve the salmon on a bed of the salad with hot buttered baby new potatoes. Simple and delicious!

More Ambitious: Salmon and Red Pepper fishcakes, skin the salmon (about four fillets) and chop coarsely, place in a food processor. Char the skins of the peppers with a naked flame and place in a plastic bag to cool. Remove the peppers and slide the skin off. Finely chop. Coarsely chop a shallot and add to the salmon along with two eggs, and one of the chopped peppers. Add a dash of light soy sauce, some sweet chilli sauce (or brown sugar) and the juice of one lemon. Wizz until quite smooth, but not a puree. Remove the mixture and place in a mixing bowl. Mix in almost all of the remaining pepper, reserving a little for garnish. Check the seasoning by heating a little olive oil in a pan and frying a teaspoon of the mixture until set and golden. Taste. Adjust the seasoning by adding more soy sauce, chilli sauce and lemon. To cook the fishcakes heat a little olive oil in a nonstick pan and using a metal ring, form the fishcakes in the pan and cook gently until set and golden on both sides. They must be served immediately. Meanwhile, par-boil the new potatoes and drain. Toss in olive oil and then roast in the oven with some chopped thyme, sea salt and a clove of garlic for about 40 minutes until golden. Wilt the spinach in a pan with a little butter and finely chopped shallot. Serve the fishcakes on a bed of spinach with the potatoes on the side.

Two Courses: Starter- Stuffed Peppers, the pointed or Romano peppers are very attractive and it is nice to serve them whole so that people can see this. De-skin the peppers if you wish, but this works just as well skin on, in fact they tend not to split while roasting if they have their skins. Make a filling for the peppers with finely chopped fried shallot (not browned), a small amount of the spinach, finely chopped, a few of handfuls of fresh bread crumbs, an egg, chopped thyme, a clove of garlic and freshly ground salt and pepper. Stuff the peppers with the mixture (you can add some grated cheese if you like) and topped with a few extra breadcrumbs. Place on an oiled tray and drizzle the top of the peppers with olive oil. Roast in a hot oven until golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Main course- Steamed salmon, very healthy and simple, remove the skin from the salmon and season with sea salt. Wash the spinach leaves and, if they are large, then carefully wrap them around the salmon to form a parcel. Place in a steamer and steam for around five minutes until cooked. If the spinach is the small-leaf baby variety then season and steam separately for a few seconds until wilted. Serve with boiled new potatoes. To make a sauce (not so healthy!) fry a finely chopped shallot in a little butter, not allowing it to brown. Add some white wine and reduce, finish with a splash of cream and season.

Hope this helps, good luck!! Let me know what you end up doing.

Sandrock Chef.

Reply to Chef's Answer:

Thank you so much, what fabulous advice! i done the first one, I'm not very adventurous in the kitchen! the salmon was a real splash out item for us and i must say was delicious! enjoyed over a bottle of dry white!

Thanks again
Maria x

Question from Linda Wilder:

Hello! Having just spoken to David (booked our "office" x-mas lunch on 22nd dec), Iam now perusing your web site (well done!) We always enjoy our meals at The sandrock, and feel very lucky to have you on "our doorstep". I would love to have the recipe for Carol's mouthwatering Thai fishcakes some time.

See you soon
Love, Linda (Wilder)

Chef's Answer:

Hi Linda,

Thank you very much for your comments. We have added the recipe for the Thai fishcakes below, we hope you enjoy making and eating them. Carol says this is for your eyes only and is top secret!!.

Thai Fish and Crab Cakes Recipe:

Menu Picture250g mixed brown and white crab meat
250g firm white fish such as cod, skinned and roughly chopped
1 egg
1 stem lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp chopped flat parsley
1 tbsp strong chilli sauce
2 lime leaves
2-3 bird eye chillies
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce (nam plak)
1 tsp tamarind pulp
1 tsp demerera sugar

Blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until you have a coarse, loose, even mixture.

Heat some groundnut oil in a pan. Spoon the mixture into the pan in neat little mounds, about a dessert spoon each, shape neatly with a palate knife and fry until golden on one side and then turn to cook on the other side. When firm and golden on both sides leave to rest for 2-3 mins in a warm oven.

Serve on a bed of dressed mixed salad leaves, with fresh lime wedges and sweet chilli dipping sauce. Chef happens to know that they go down particularly well with a glass of chilled sparkling rose :-)

Tip: Do a small test cake to check the seasoning. Add demerera sugar to sweeten, Nam Plak for salt and chilli sauce for heat.

Question From Gill T:


I heard about the delicious ham Brian ate yesterday and wondered if it would be possible to have the recipe, it sounded wonderful.

Many thanks, Gill T

Chef's Answer:

Hi Gill

Thank you very much for your email, Here is the recipe for our home roasted ham, glad to hear Brian enjoyed it so much.

Home-roasted Gammon Ham with Orange and Cinnamon Recipe

Menu PictureWe would normal be cooking a whole Gammon, but you could use any size as long as it has a good layer of fat around it.

1 x Large orange (sliced and each slice cut in half)
Half a tablespoon of cracked black pepper
Half a tablespoon of poppy seeds
one and a half tablespoons of cinnamon powder
Four tablespoons of honey
Half a pint of cider
15lb whole gammon

Wash the gammon in cold water to rinse off any salt and leave to stand until at room temperature.
Place the gammon in to a roasting tray and with a sharp knive make several incisions in to the fat on top of the gammon, but do not cut in to the meat, then pull the fat up with your fingers and use the knive to make pockets in between the fat and the meat, and insert the sliced and halved oranges. Spoon the honey on to the top of the gammon and spread evenly, then sprinkle the cracked black pepper and the poppy seeds on to the honey and lastly sprinkle a good, even layer of cinnamon across the layer of honey,pepper and poppy seeds. Pour the cider in to the roasting tray (this keeps the meat moist and the steam adds extra flavour). Then cover with foil and roast for 4 and a half hours. The cooking time for gammon is roughly 20 minutes per pound up to a maximum of four and a half hours.

Question From Jen:

Hi There

My Friends and I are having a huge debate about Hot Cross Buns, are they bread or cake? based on the way they are made and their ingredients. Also does that mean that Stollen is more bread than cake because it has yeast in it?

Please help me settle the debate.


Chef's Answer:

Hi Jen

A bun is defined as a dough roll which is bread based and uses yeast in the preparation, a cake is also defined as a dough but usually does not contain yeast. So by definition i think a hot cross bun is a bread. If you look at the way a hot cross bun is made, it is done using a bread method not a cake method, typically cakes are made by creaming sugar and butter, adding flour and liquid before baking, bread is made by combining yeast with sugar and water, adding flour and allowing to prove before baking. The hot cross bun would fall more easily in to the latter category. The same argument would apply to stollen. Anyway here is a great recipe for hot cross buns:

Hot Cross Buns Recipe:

Menu Picture3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup lard
2 1/2 tsp dried yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 eggs
4 cups sifted flour
1/2 nutmeg grated
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg white
1 tsp cold water
1 cup currants


1 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsps Marg
1-2 tbsps milk
few drops vanilla essence

Scald the milk in a saucepan, add the salt, sugar and lard and cool to lukewarm. Sprinkle the yeast on the warm water, stir. Add to milk mixture with the eggs, 1 cup flour and the spices. Beat with a whick until smooth. Stir in the currants and enough flour, little by little, to make a soft dough that us easy to handle. Beat well with your fist. Place in alightly greased bowl, cover and leave until it has doubled in size. Knock it back and turn onto a floured surface. Pat into 1/2 inch thickness and cut into 2 1/2 inch circles (use a small glass if you don't have a cutter.) Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet and allow to rise, about an hour, until doubled in size. White a sharp knife, make a cross into the surface of each bun, brush the top with the egg white and cold water mixed together and bake in a hot oven, around 200 degree, for about 15 minutes or until golden. Mix the frosting ingredients together. Cool the buns on a wire rack and fill the crosses with the frosting mixture either by piping or using a small spoon.

Note: cheap supermarket buns use a white paste of flour and water stuck onto the bun before baking.

Just in case you are interested, here is a little history, hot cross buns were thought to originate in pagan times as part of a spring festival, but they were hijacked by monks who, by adding the cross on the top, made them a symbol of christian religion. From then on they were baked every good Friday to celebrate Easter.

Question From Jonathon Lane:

Hi Chef,

Could you let me have the recipe for your Beef Wellington, I would like to do it for a dinner party at the weekend.

Thanks, Jonathon Lane

Chef's Answer:

Hi Jonathan,

Beef Wellie:

For the pastry the best cheat is to buy Sainsburys 'taste the difference' all-butter puff pastry (unless you particularly like making puff pastry!) One block will make two Wellingtons. Cut in half and roll into a rectangle about 7" x 10". For the filling you need a 5 - 6oz fillet steak per Wellington. Most people quickly sear the steak in a hot pan to stop it bleeding into the pastry but I think this makes the meat overcooked, so I pat it dry with kitchen paper. Place the steak at one end of the pastry leaving a 1" border. Top the steak with a thin slice of Pate, it is best to use a strong flavoured course pate (again, Sainsburys have some good ones, like
venison and Armagnac)Then slice up a flat mushroom and place neatly on the pate, top with a knob of butter, some freshly ground pepper and chopped parsley. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Now the only hard part.. fold the pastry over to make a pasty shape. It is best to push one hand up to the edge of the meat, under the pastry and stretch over gently, press it down all round and then use your thumb to make indentations all round to seal. It is best to trim the pastry AFTER sealing it down so that you achieve a nice neat edge. Decorate with pastry leaves, stuck down with egg. Refrigerate until you need to cook it. It is best to cook from chilled
as this ensures the pastry cooks evenly. Heat a baking tray in the oven at 200 degrees c or Gas 7 with a little oil, brush the Wellingtons with egg and place on hot tray and bake for 25 minutes until golden. If they start to brown before the time is up then turn the oven down a little as the centre will not be cooked.

Good luck,

Cheers, Chef

Question From kate:

I have just been to the Blacker Hall farm shop up where my parents live near Wakefield, and bought some of its prize winning gammon. I have just thawed it out this morning It says to steam roast I cant find it in any of my cook books. Could you give me some idea what this means and maybe a recipe to do this piece of meat justice. Or Maybe the next one, as today is Sunday and my guests are arriving at 2.00pm! We had the Lamb Henry from the farm shop too. It was amazing.

Best wishes, Kate

Chef's Answer:

Hi Kate,

Steam roast just means roasting in a tin with some liquid in the bottom so that the meat doesnt dry out. I usually score the skin of gammon and rub in some grain mustard. Then sprinkle with mustard seed, caraway or fennel. Pour a little cider in the bottom of the tray (or water) and cover with a dome of foil that doesnt touch the meat. Roast at 180 degrees for two and a half to five hours depending on size. (use a meat thermometer to check it is cooked inside. For around a 10bl joint I would give it 3hrs.

Good luck, Chef.

Question From Michala:

Hi, We are having a turkey stuffed with a duck for Christmas this year, to which our butcher is boning & stuffing for us, Not sure how big the Duck is going to be but the Butcher said he was going to use a 6-8lb turkey, can you give me any advice on how long I should cook this for and any tips as we normally roast our potatoes under the turkey but as the duck will be inside of this adnd they are quite greasy is this going to a problem this year.

Many thanks in advance, Michala

Chef's Answer:

Hi Michala, Goodness, thats an unusual question.

What we need to know here is the overall weight and shape of the joint. If the butcher is boning and rolling the turkey with the duck inside in a long traditional joint shape if will obviously take less long to cook than if he is reconstructing the turkey shape which will be thicker. I can only guess, but I imagine he is going to stuff your turkey with the duck breasts only, which should not be particularly greasy. If this is the case you should end up with a joint around say 9lb which I would cook in the middle of the oven on around 200 degrees for 3.5 to 4 hours. When I have cooked boned and rolled turkeys before I have found that quite a lot of liquid comes out of them so, with the duck as well, I would not put the potatoes in the same tray. Also the potatoes may possibly want to be higher up in the oven to brown (Unless you have a fan oven 190 instead). You could ask your butcher to keep the duck fat for you for your potato tray. Just fry the fat off in a frying pan and then pour on to the pots instead of veg oil. If you do not already have one I would get a meat thermometer. They are in all the supermarkets at the moment. The inside of the joint wants to be over 65 degrees and this will indicate to you when the joint is done. Part way through the cooking time if there is a lot of liquid you could drain this off. I normally cook these sort of joints smothered in butter with a little paprika and sage, under foil. You can remove the foil for the last half hour to brown the skin (baste at this point). You should let the meat rest for half an hour before carving. Leftovers slice up beautifully when cold but remember to get the meat in the fridge as soon as it is room temperature as turkey can be a high food poisoning risk.

I hope this is of some help to you, and wish you every success with your Christmas lunch.

Merry Christmas, Chef