V and H Café’s #EatSussex Seasonal Specials (guest blog!)

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Harry from V and H Cafe shares his seasonal specials…

August and September have been plentiful, busy months. The weather this summer has been kind to us (despite what many cynics may say) and this has reflected in the quality and the abundance of produce. Trying to make the most of every seasonal miracle is near enough impossible for this very reason: there’s too much of it and too many varieties to try and squeeze onto the menu! By the time we find space, it can already be too late and you have to wait until next year – but that’s all part of the fun!

We said at the beginning of the #EatSussex campaign that the real challenge would be using all of the available produce, not struggling with what to cook. So we gave it our best shot, and here are some of our favourites…

Caprese Salad

One of our earliest and fondest dishes. So simple but only excels when the highest produce is used. There is little to hide behind.

Ingredients:

· Coeur de boeuf tomatoes (or a ripe mixed variety)
· Mesto extra virgin olive oil (New Harvest)
· Buffalo mozzarella
· Arundel bail pesto (recipe below)
· Toasted hazel or pine nuts
· Fresh basil to garnish

Slice the tomatoes as you wish. Coeur de boeuf tomatoes a better sliced but the mixed varieties are best chopped randomly. Season lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Arrange in layers slices of mozzarella, basil leaves and tomato onto on a base of homemade pesto. Garnish with crushed nuts, more olive oil and smaller tips of basil leaves.

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Arundel Basil Pesto

This pesto is a staple at the café. It varies slightly every time depending on the time or who is making it so is always unique.

Ingredients:

· Large bunch of Arundel basil leaves
· 2 cloves garlic
· Extra virgin olive oil 50ml
· 50g Nuts (Hazel, walnut or pine depending on season)
· Pinch of salt
· 5 drips of lemon

In pestle and mortar, start by crushing the garlic with the salt. Followed by crushing in the basil and nuts, and gradually pouring in the olive oil to create your desired pesto texture. Season to taste.

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Stuffed Tomatoes

If you have ever been to Greece you will be familiar with these ingenious lunchtime staples. Batch cooked and kept warm, they sell out fast as a wholesome, delicious and seasonal lunch. They’re also dead simple to cook. We made pork stuffed tomatoes using our recipe below. However, we’ve also made veggie ones using pearl barley and cranberry risotto with Grana Padano – but I have no measurements or quantities for that one. We made it up as we went along!

Ingredients:

· Coeur de boeuf tomatoes x6
· 900g Sausage or seasoned Pork mince
· 20g Dry Oregano
· 3 cloves garlic
· 150ml Mesto extra virgin olive oil

Carefully slice off to tops of the tomatoes with the stalks on, about an 8th of the way down. They will be lids. Using a spoon and a small knife if necessary, scoop out the inner membrane and seeds of the tomatoes doing your best to retain the structure of the tomato. Cook the innards of the tomatoes with 50ml of olive out and a clove of garlic, nice and slowly. Meanwhile we can mix the pork mince with the remaining oil, garlic and oregano, a good pinch of salt and pepper then roll it into six 150g balls to stuff into the tomatoes. Place the lids back on and bake for 1 hour at 180 degrees Celsius.

To serve, blitz the tomato innards in a food processor to form a rich sauce and sit the baked tomato on top, serve warm, not hot.

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Tibbs Farm Raspberry Ripple Yoghurt & Granola.

I didn’t know the real taste of a raspberry until the punnets arrived with Nick, just picked from Tibbs farm that day. We had to immediately reorder them. Such was my excitement about these dark, blood red, sweet, juicy flavour-bombs, that I shared them out to every customer and member of staff we had. Do yourself a favour: eat raspberries that are LOCAL and IN SEASON and NOTHING ELSE! The kind you buy in the supermarket are not even from the same planet as far as I’m concerned…

Granola is great, you can keep it in the dry store to be sprinkled on all sorts.

Ingredients:

· 500g jumbo oats
· 150g South Downs honey
· 70g soft dark brown sugar
· 250g mixed Sussex nuts (cobnuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, sweet chestnuts)
· 50ml Mesto olive oil
· 1 tbsp cinamon
· 1 tbsp sea salt
· Dried fruit (optional depending on season)

To Serve:

· Northaim Dairy natural yoghurt
· Tibbs Farm Sussex raspberries
· A squeeze of lemon
· 1 tbsp unrefined sugar

Making the granola is simple. Combine all of the above granola ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and, when combined, spread onto a large baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 150 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes crudely break up the granola to form large nuggets. Leave out to dry out, turning every 5 minutes or so. If it’s still a bit moist afterwards either bake it again for another 5 minutes or leave in a warm dry place such as the airing cupboard!

The raspberry ripple component is make by a simple maceration process. In a mixing bowl place your fruit with the sugar and a few drops of lemon. Toss gently just using the bowl and leave in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will intensify the flavour and create a wonderful natural syrup.

To put the dish together, combine a spoonful of the macerated raspberries with a portion of yoghurt and loosely marble. Top with as much granola as you like, some fresh raspberries and extra honey if you wish. (We also love sprinkling on some bee pollen!)

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Butterhead Lettuce & Smoked Chicken Salad.

We love butterhead lettuce. Big leafy multi-textured ears of crunchiness, bitterness and sweetness. It’s also beautiful to look at. We tend to keep them whole, retaining the natural structure and contours. They’re so perfect.

As for smoked chicken, it’s a wonderful ready-to-go ingredient with so many uses and is an interesting alternative to regular chicken. Ensure it’s a naturally smoked free-range bird. We buy ours from Springs Smokery, Edburton. You can put all sorts with salad – so go wild!

Ingredients (Serves 2):

· 1 head of Butterhead lettuce
· 200g smoked chicken
· 1 avocado
· 2 shallots
· Handful of radishes
· 50g walnuts
· Bunch chives
· 50ml Mesto extra virgin olive oil
· Tspn Dijon mustard
· 20ml red wine vinegar
· Tspn Sussex honey
· Salt/pepper

For the dressing, combine the oil, mustard, vinegar, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper using a whisk or in a food processor and taste. Using a minute splash of boiling water will help to emulsify the mixture. Add more acidity, salt or sweetness depending on personal taste. Throw in an inch or so of finely chopped chive stems from your bunch.

The rest is self explanitory really! Tear the chicken, half the butterhead (washing and drying gently), thinly sliced radishes the remaining chives and scooped teaspoonfuls of the avocado all together and dress with the dressing.

Thinly slice the shallots and caramelise in a pan without busting them up too much. Toast the walnuts. Add to the salad with any spare chives.

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Bon Appétit!


Making you hungry? Check out the award winning cafe on Holland Road for delicious and seasonal eating. Visit their website, instagram and facebook for more mouth-watering and inspiring seasonal dishes.

Fancy contributing to our blog? Let us know! And don’t forget to use the hashtag #EatSussex in your seasonal, locally sourced and delicious creations this autumn…

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V and H Café’s #EatSussex Seasonal Specials (guest blog!)

The end of #EatSussex?

We did it! 

A whole month of eating strictly Sussex-grown, sourced and produced food – completed. We weren’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves into when we started #EatSussex August, but with our line of work, we knew this was a challenge that we had to try.

And we’re glad we did! August is the perfect month to #EatSussex in. New fruits and vegetables have been coming into season each week: it never felt boring, and after such an abundant summer, we couldn’t feel healthier. We’ve definitely picked up a few life lessons along the way, as well as discovered a newfound love and appreciation for eating in harmony with our surroundings.

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Just how much of a challenge was it?

It may have been a delicious month – but it hasn’t always been easy. The main challenges? Giving up treats, and of course, convenience! There’s been a lot going on this month, and baking your own bread isn’t exactly time friendly…

Meals out with friends (to local restaurants that, although use Sussex produce, aren’t 100%), unexpected guests bringing food, family visiting and, yes, giving in to the odd treat (living with a teenager means chocolate is usually pretty near by…) all caused #EatSussex hiccups. But for the most part it was #EatSussex all the way – so we don’t feel too guilty about the odd divergence.

Our favourite #EatSussex discovery?

With a carousel of seasonal produce and hearty meals cooked up from scratch – not to mention unusual kitchen experiments like our cucumber cake – there’s no one favourite. But, the best thing by far? Local businesses, organisations and individuals on board. It was wonderful to see others share our enthusiasm for local, seasonal produce…

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What did we learn?

That we loved it! It’s truly a pleasure to reconnect with seasonal eating. Whether for flavour, nutrition or for environmental reasons, eating locally grown/produced food feels superior. It’s something we’re eager to continue beyond August – only, not as strict. After a month of a pretty rigid #EatSussex, the idea of loosening the reins and simply eating as seasonally and locally as possible seems… well, delightful.

We’re eager to cook up more #EatSussex meals and continue to explore our local-food loving community. So, let’s see what the autumn and winter months bring as we head out of summer. Stay tuned for more seasonal Sussex insights…

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The end of #EatSussex?

Easy #EatSussex Hemp Milk

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Want to eat #EatSussex but need a dairy free alternative to milk? We’ve got you covered! With hemp seeds grown over in Arundel, West Sussex, by Vitality Hemp, this plant based #EatSussex milk is creamy, earthy tasting and highly nutritious.

And, the best part? It’s so easy to make!

Recipe

You’ll need:

1/2 cup of hulled or unhulled hemp seeds
2 cups of filtered water
A blender (if you don’t have a high speed blender, soak your hemp seeds for a few hours or overnight for a finer blend)
A sieve
(You can add a teaspoon of raw Sussex honey to sweeten. If you’re only partially #EatSussex, a medjool date and some vanilla powder!)

Combine the ingredients in the blender and blitz until very well combined. Pour through a sieve into a jug or other container for the milk to refine. Store in the fridge and enjoy in tea, coffee, over cereal, in smoothies, in cooking – you name it!

Watch the demo below:

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Don’t forget to tag #eatsussex in your local, seasonal and Sussex sourced creations! We can’t wait to see what you cook up!

 

 

Easy #EatSussex Hemp Milk

(Guest Blog!) Merryhill Mushrooms introduces us to their wonderful world of mushrooms.

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Nestled at the foot of the South Downs, just outside the village of Storrington West Sussex, lies Merryhill Mushrooms. Supplying local pubs, restaurants, farm shops and wholesale with the finest organically grown chestnut and exotic mushrooms, Merryhill Mushrooms have carved their niche for mushroom expertise and excellence in the Sussex area. 

Who are Merryhill Mushrooms?

With expertise built over six generations, Merryhill Mushrooms started in 1914 with Sir Arthur Linfield, horticulturalist and founder of Chesswood Mushrooms. His grandson Dick Rucklidge is now chief grower – after an interesting career in growing and consultancy for advising companies across the world. Today, Dick’s wife Miriam runs the office, daughter Tracey takes mushrooms to local markets and food fairs and grandson Kieran is in charge of the web sales, the wholesale business and manages new products. If there’s one quote that sums it all up: “Mushrooms are definitely part of the family!”

With new product launches, more varieties of both mushrooms produced and mushroom kits on offer, the mushrooms business is growing in both size and popularity!

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What type of mushrooms do Merryhill Mushrooms grow?

Everything! We have some weird and wonderful varieties now which you’d be hard pushed to find in the supermarkets such as our Nameko Mushrooms. But our main speciality is chestnut and portabello mushrooms. These are actually the same variety of mushroom just picked at different sizes: the chestnut “closed cup” mushrooms are picked off the block earlier, while 10-12 are left to grow into big mature portabello mushrooms perfectly for stuffing!

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We started with the chestnuts and portabelllos, later branching out into more exotic mushrooms while also increasing our production of the chestnuts. Starting with one growing shed, we now have four spaces all tailored to suit each mushroom variety, as the conditions to grow each type varies hugely and not all of them get on together! There’s definitely an art to growing different varieties.

The oysters and shiitakes are grown in slightly different conditions and are popular with adventurous foodies and restaurants. The vibrant yellows and pinks are used in our mixed Restaurant trays

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How do Merryhill Mushrooms grow their crops?

The mushrooms are produced in specially built mushroom ‘sheds’, with each shed equipped with systems to regulate temperatures, humidity and air exchange. Each crop of mushroom are looked after carefully throughout the growing cycle – you can really tell the difference with the taste of lovingly grown, fresh local produce! We believe in reducing the time from pick to plate. The benefits of this are easily observed when comparing both the look and taste of fresh mushrooms compared to imported mushrooms. (You’ll just have to try them to taste taste the difference!)

To start the growing process we have to combine the mushroom compost with a top layer of casing peat. This is a non-nutritious layer which the mushroom mycelium colonizes, then forming its fruit body “pins” whilst drawing nutrition from the compost below. Around 20 days later, with careful looking-after, the first crop of mushrooms is ready to pick!

Got a taste for mushrooms after reading this? We supply both loose mushrooms and pre-packed punnets for residential use which are perfect for mushroom recipes!

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You can order Merryhill Mushrooms from the Fin and Farm website hereHave you tried their incredible mushroom jerky? This veggie/vegan snack packs a flavour punch, and just has to be tried to be believed! 


Interested in writing a guest blog? Contact us and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

(Guest Blog!) Merryhill Mushrooms introduces us to their wonderful world of mushrooms.

Mini Recipe Roundup! #EatSussex Inspirations…

If you’re curious about some of the #EatSussex August dishes we’ve been eating, here’s a few snapshot recipes to (hopefully) inspire you to try some 100% Sussex-sourced cooking. Quality is essential for creating delicious food, and with unusual varieties from small-scale producers, our #EatSussex meals are a joy to eat. Believe me, you haven’t eaten kale until you’ve tried our amazing organic red kale…

Garlic Crushed Comfort Potatoes

A comfort recipe for delicious garlicky crushed potatoes. Using our amazing Sussex grown potatoes really add flavour and texture!

You’ll need: 
4-5 flavoursome medium-sized Sussex potatoes (we used Pink Fir Apples)
4 -5 cloves of garlic, peeled (we got ours from a friend with an allotment!)
A generous glug of Mesto Olive Oil
Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes whole in salted water. When al dente, add in the garlic cloves whole and continue to boil until the potatoes are fully cooked. When soft, drained and crush the potatoes, garlic and a generous amount of olive oil with a potato presser or fork. This should be fairly roughly crushed – not a smooth puree like conventional mashed potatoes. Season well and serve with greens, a stew, pulses, sausages – anything you like!

IMG_0870 (3)                     Try different potato varieties to discover delicious flavour nuances!

 

Kale and Potato Soup

This recipe was created after a craving for leek and potato soup. We didn’t have any Sussex leeks, so we adapted with very good results!

You’ll need:
Mesto Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium Sussex onions
Several flavoursome Sussex potatoes
A generous bunch of kale
1 generous tsp cumin
1 generous tsp black pepper
A few stems of fresh rosemary
Rosemary and hemp bread to serve.

Saute the onions in a good serving of olive oil. When they started to soften, add in the garlic, cumin and black pepper. Roughly chop the potatoes and add to the pan. Cover with water, adding the rosemary, and allow to slowly simmer until the potatoes are soft (approx. half an hour). At the end of cooking, add in the fresh kale, roughly chopped, and continue to cook for a few minutes until the kale is tender.

Serve steaming hot with slices of fresh wholemeal sussex bread! (We love our rosemary and hemp recipe for extra flavour).

kalesoupA satisfying evening meal of beautifully flavoured kale soup.

Spiced Summer Apples

If you want something that’s a bit of a treat but still on the wholesome side, this seasonal apple dish will satisfy. With borage honey, sweet-sharp apples and notes of cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger, you’ll be dreaming of this dish for summers to come…

You’ll need:
2 tart discovery apples, diced
1 good teaspoon of borage honey
A splash of Elderberry liqueur
1 generous tsp mixed spice
1 tub of creamy biolive Sussex yogurt

In a pan with a splash of elderberry liqueur,  simmer  the chopped tart discovery apples with a teaspoon of honey and mixed spice. Cover and simmer until the apples are soft and the flavours have melded (about 15 minutes). Serve hot with cool, thick, creamy biolive Sussex yogurt straight from the fridge.

summerapplesPink discovery apples are worth waiting the year for!


Do you have any #EatSussex recipes? Use the hashtag #EatSussex and post to your social media so that we can see and share your seasonal discoveries and cooking adventures!

Mini Recipe Roundup! #EatSussex Inspirations…

Pursha and Cucumber Cake: an #EatSussex experiment

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August may be the perfect month for summer fruit (have you tried gorgeous sweet August cherries  or tart summer plums?), but sometimes you really just need a little indulgence. And, while we’ve been baking bread, cooking up stews, and experimenting with plenty of savory foods, we haven’t cooked up any #eatsussex desserts…

…until now!

Muir whipped up this pursha and cucumber cake using only Sussex grown and sourced ingredients (#EatSussex adapted from a Veggie Desserts recipe). Which means – no sugar! Our Sussex sweetener of choice? Local, raw runny honey from Blackman Bee Farm.

This cake was delicious – though definitely far from a conventional cake in regards to flavour, texture, and, well, everything. Made with a robust and fruity tasting wholemeal flour, it didn’t exactly form the airy base of a Victoria sponge. With plenty of honey to sweeten, the result was more a dense, buttery ‘honey-bread’ with citrus notes than conventional cake (which still sounds pretty good to me).

Recipe

1 medium cucumber
A handful of pursha (or use an unwaxed lemon)
200g wholemeal flour
2 eggs
150g butter
150g honey
A pinch of baking powder

For the glaze
2 tablespoons of Gin
2.5 tablespoons of raw honey
(we recommend using lemon juice, but we did’t have any Sussex grown lemons!)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Lightly grease a 9 inch round cake tin.

In a food processor, blitz the cucumber and whole purshas/lemon. Add in the butter, eggs and honey and process to combine. Next, to the wet ingredients, add in the baking powder and flour and thoroughly blend until a smooth cake batter in formed (Yes, it’s that easy!).

Pour the batter into the cake tine and bake in the oven for 30 minutes/until golden brown. Allow to cool and remove from the tin.

For the glaze, whisk together honey and gin/lemon juice to form a liquid.  Pour over the cooled cake  – and enjoy!

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What did we learn about making #EatSussex cakes?

It’s not so easy! Without sugar and white flour, a traditional fluffy, sweet cake is off the table. But still, we loved this wholesome alternative. Next time, we might even make a vegan version (as soon as we get those apples in for apple sauce…) In the meantime, though, it might be easier to stick to easy summer crumbles and Sussex yogurt with honey and berries…

Do you have any #EatSussex dessert ideas? We love cooking up gorgeous produce and using Sussex-sourced ingredients, so if you have some favourites or baking inspiration – let us know in the comments!

PURIngredients for baking.

Pursha and Cucumber Cake: an #EatSussex experiment

Muir’s Easy #EatSussex Quiche

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We were invited to dine in the unbelievably idyllic location of the Fork and Dig It HQ, nestled in the heart of Stanmer Park. Among beds of organic vegetables growing lusciously in the August sun and surrounded by rolling Sussex hills, we spent an evening eating Sussex-grown food and talking plants with the Fork and Dig It team. There was salad, potatoes, courgette fritters, apple tart, blackberry cake and, of course, wine…

We love to support our local community, and Fork and Dig It teach and practice sustainable agriculture while encouraging a healthy lifestyle. With wonderful land, produce, people and ethos, we definitely need more of this in the world!

Our contribution to the evening? Muir’s #EatSussex sweet dumpling squash quiche. This is (she assures me) and easy to make recipe – and has definitely been a go to this August for a delicious all-Sussex meal. It makes a satisfying lunch or dinner, accompanied by freshly picked salad leaves and sweet summer tomatoes. Follow with new season tart apples for dessert, cooked up with spices and local honey, and the taste of a Sussex summer will be imprinted in your memory…

Muir’s Festival Squash Summer Quiche

You’ll need:
1 medium sweet dumpling squash, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
1 medium Sussex grown onion
A good bunch of spinach or chard
1½ tbsp Mesto olive oil
200g Sussex goats cheese, crumbled
1/2 jar of Quince chutney (or any fruit chutney – we will be stocking quince shortly)
3 eggs
150ml Sussex double cream
150ml Sussex crème fraîche
Salt and pepper

For the Pastry:
150g Lurgashall wholemeal flour
75g Southdowns Butter
4 tablespoons of water

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/200ºC Fan/Gas Mark 6.

To start, bake the festival squash with some light seasoning and olive oil, for about 30 minutes or until golden.

In the meantime, prepare the pastry. Combine the flour and butter with a pinch of salt in a food processor and blend until a crumbly butter-flour mixture is formed. Add in water little by little ad pulse until you reach a smooth, thick dough. Remove from the food processor and roll the pastry to a 3mm thickness. Place in a 24cm baking dish to cook the quiche in and chill for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.

When chilled, remove the pastry from the fridge and cover the base with the quince/fruit chutney.  Add the roasted squash, spinach leaves (these will wilt down) and chunks of goat cheese. Place the eggs, cream and crème fraîche in a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk together and then pour into the quiche dish to mostly cover the squash and cheese. Saute the onions in a generous amount of olive oil to caramelized, and add to the top of the quiche mixture.

Bake for approx. 40 minutes, or until the quiche mixture has set. Remove from the oven and allow to rest before removing from the tin and enjoying!

(Vary the ingredients according to what you have/what’s in season, and this gorgeous dish is good to go all year round!)

Scenes from the evening.

 

 

 

 

Muir’s Easy #EatSussex Quiche