Vitelotte Potatoes – Our potato of the month

 

Our potato of the month is the gorgeously purple heirloom potato, Vitelotte – also known as Truffle Potato or Chinese Truffle.  On digging up it has a lovely rich trufflish skin although you can see the glossy purple shades, once it’s washed.  Oddly enough, the cooking water is turquoise, if you boil them.

You can use it as a regular potato, but quite honestly, it makes stunning crisps and chips and worth using just for that.

Plus, Vitelotte has quite a chestnutty flavour which lends itself very well to being snacked on and dipped into savoury sauces…giving a bit of ballast to creamy or spicy flavours.  The flavour is not dissimilar to Pink Fir Apple, but a little more on the savoury side.

This potato is massively popular in France and there are tons of recipes using purple potatoes, but less well known for some reason over this side of the Channel.  Time that changed, we think!

These particular Vitelottes are grown, as all our delicious heirlooms are, at Morghew Park Estate on the Kent/Sussex border overseen by the cool and efficient Nicki Crawley.


Vitelotte CrispsWash the potatoes and dry well making sure all moisture is dabbed off, for the fluffiest chip.
Thinly slice the required amount of potatoes – 500g per 4 portions – we quite like this waffle pattern above (Youmiam.com).Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.Heat a chip pan to 160 degrees.  Cook in batches for 4 mins, taking care not to overcook.Drain well on kitchen paper then serve.


Purple potatoes also lend themselves well to potato salads – try this stunning salad with Blue Cheese, Pancetta and Tomatoes for a variation on a traditional Italian tricolore.

bluecheesesalad


More for your salad and barbecue season (it’s National Barbecue Week this week) is the pretty Vitelotte and Radish salad – making the most of the green/purple contrast from the chopped spring onions!

Purple_potato_salad


A warmer recipe is this Tarte Tatin of Smoked Duck Breast and VitelotteNB:  When Nick is cooking meat recipes and we don’t have time to source specialist ingredients then we tend to poach chicken with our smoked sea salt and this provides a snapshot of the flavour…Also, online we found a number of variations of this using Camembert and Smoked Ham or even a Dutch version using ricotta cheese and golden beetroot, which looks delicious.  It’s a shame that these images don’t look as appetising in pictures as they do in the flesh.


As warmer meals are always needed at hand, another good find from the treasure troves of French recipe archives is the Hâchis parmentier.  This is similar in many ways to Shepherd’s Pie – ie. basically meat topped with potato, but the pretty colours of the gratin and potato make it quite special for a weekday dish.  Plus the flavour of Vitelotte can stand up well to meaty flavours making this quite a full-flavoured dish.

Hâchis parmentier


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Local Sussex produce to commercial and home kitchens.Dairy & eggs, beer & wine, fruit and veg, meat, spices and other larder ingredients

 

Vitelotte Potatoes – Our potato of the month

Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers

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Picture from Real Food Runner – Bell Pepper Salad

A freshly grown, naturally matured pepper is a joy to eat with a sweet richness that time and forced growing hasn’t completely been bred out to leave just a crisp watery shell.

Tangmere Airfield Nurseries are sited on the historical ‘Battle of Britain’ airfield near Chichester just ahead of the Sussex South Downs.  Following the airfield closure in 1970, the land fell into decline until it was regenerated as farmland.  Tangmere have been growing peppers there since 1988.

In 2001 they bought a farm in Spain so they could supply peppers all year round – which for us as consumers is great as we have complete traceability from responsible growers; Tangmere are a LEAF demonstration farm (Linking Environment and Farming) which aims to combine traditional farming with environmental awareness.

We buy their peppers because they are hands down, the sweetest most delicious and fresh peppers we’ve tasted.  Even green peppers, which are usually mildly bitter, have a softer sweeter flavour as they’ve had time to develop their flavour naturally.

Tangmere

Ways to use Bell Peppers

The edible capsicum family are all rich in nutrients, particularly Vitamin C and has fantastic antioxidant properties when eaten raw or lightly cooked.

Cooking can really highlight the sweet, almost fruity flavour and peppers can as easily stand up for themselves with strong meaty textures as well as light, fragrant salads.

Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingsta-008

You could add spicy chorizo for a stew just made to be eaten with bread to mop up those juicy sauces.

A red pepper and walnut dip is perfect for parties and barbecues.

Baked eggs in peppers is low in carbs and deliciously healthy for a quick supper.

A perfectly topped pizza with peppers and an olive stuffed crust has a beautifully luscious and smoky flavour.

Try roasting a batch of peppers and preserving in oil or freezing for adding to chillies and bolognaise for those sweet notes.

Green peppers are often used in Indian cooking and this mildly sour creamy chutney is a delicate alternative to raitha.

We had never really thought about a curried gravy to add to a Biriyani or dry curry before, but this blogger Swathi’s recipes has opened our eyes to a number of possibilities to create a sauce which can be used alongside various main courses for all our vegetarian/meat eating guests…genius.

If you are looking for the ultimately sophisticated canape, then these little balls of red pepper puree with goat’s cheese are just delightful to look at, never mind eat.

redpepperpuree

A more earthy take from these Great British Chefs borrows flavours from Greek cooking to take a quintessentially British lamb stew up a notch with their Lamb and Red Pepper Ragout.

Finally, peppers are so sweet but we haven’t come across them as an actual sweet before and not sure why.  We love this Great British Chef site so much for their unusual and creative spin on old favourites.  However, these red pepper tuile biscuits are extremely impressive and we think would work equally well alongside a sorbet as a canape.

tuile

 

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Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers

Asparagus – Your Super Food

asparagus

It’s gloriously sunny and according to Frogshole, this is the week we should start to have their wonderful asparagus.

Our regular customers know this asparagus is really special – and a really exciting time as the season isn’t for long.

You may think we’ve had English asparagus for a month or so now,

but there is a world of difference between forced asparagus and locally sourced.

home-broom

Asparagus is not only delicious but is one of the world’s healthiest foods to eat.  Our Frogshole asparagus is not certified organic, but the farm are responsible growers and have organic crops growing close by such as wheat, barley and oats. Frogshole also maintains a diverse habitat and the farm is surrounded by hedgerows, shaws and woods and a stunning water meadow alongside a tributary of the River Beult.

Asparagus needs warm, moist weather to grow so mid to late May sees the bulk of the crop emerge. Frogshole continue to pick until mid June, after which the spears need to be left to grow to sustain the plant for the following year.  Then it’s fingers crossed for the winter to have the right balance of cold weather and rain so the crop will survive for the following year – growing asparagus is a risky business and the best crops can take five years to come to fruition.

asparagus3

So it’s worth waiting for – you’ll get sterling tender spears with real sweetness and flavour..which you just can’t find in forced asparagus.


How to store asaparagus

Treat it like flowers or herbs and you’ll keep it fresh and ready for use.

Asparagus can be kept but you must stop it drying out otherwise it will become stringy and tough – so you’ll need to chop more off!

  • So, when you receive your asparagus, chop a little off the end – just like you would do a bunch of flowers.
  • Keep the band round it and stand it around 5cms of water in a jug.  Put a clear plastic bag over the top.
  • Keep in the fridge and you can store and keep the freshness for up to around a week. If the water starts to look cloudy, just change it.

Asparagus2

Taken from The Kitchn where there are more handy tips

How is asparagus good for you?

So, why eat asparagus?

It has health benefits and more so when it’s freshly picked!

Loaded with nutrients – Asparagus is a great source of fibre, vitamins A, C, E and K as well as essential minerals such as chromium which helps regulate blood sugar.  Vitamin K is said to help the absorption of calcium and help tackle osteoporosis and also to help blood clot (which also means that anyone taking Warfarin should check whether they should eat asparagus).

  • Along with avocado, kale and brussels sprouts, asparagus is a rich source of gluthathione – a detoxifying compound that helps break down harmful free radicals.  This is why eating asparagus is suggested to help protect against certain forms of cancer and to slow down the ageing process.
  • Asparagus contains healthy levels of folates which are said to help protect against cognitive decline – especially when combined with vitamin B12.  Another excellent reason to eat dark, leafy greens such as kale – but also fish, poultry, meat and dairy.
  • Folates may also help stop the body forming an excess of homocysteine which can interfere with the production of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine – which regular mood, sleep and appetite.
  • Asparagus contains the amino acid asparagine, which is a natural diuretic.  This is said to be beneficial to people who suffer from high blood pressure or oedema to help them rid their body of excess fluid and salts.
  • Eating asparagus can also help the digestion and relieve constipation due to the high figure and water content in the spears.

Ways to use asparagus

  • To eat with a grain for maximum nutritional benefit, try this delicious pearl barley, asparagus and mushroom risotto.
  • Here is a green feast of asparagus, peas, courgettes and spicy jalapenos in this take on a pasta primavera.
  • Pasta is a perfect partner so if you prefer something less spicy, combining with smoked salmon and broad beans has a beautiful flavour.
  • Asparagus, Horseradish and Parmesan tart is a wonderful trio of flavours.  In fact, click the link for even more delicious asparagus recipes in this Guardian post of their ten best.
  • Simply cooked is also delicious and here is a wonderful way to bake in the oven.
  • Similarly, try griddling with lemon and parmesan for an equally stunning side dish.
  • To blanch, simply leave as a bundle or as individuals and drop into a large pan of boiling water.  Cover and cook for 3-5 mins, depending on their thickness.  Drain and immediately plunge into ice-cold water – or serve immediately.
  • If you prefer to steam, just cook for three mins in the steamer – no need to overcook otherwise they become slightly bitter and droopy.
  • Instead of using celery in your Bloody Mary, try pickled asparagus as an alternative.  Very easy to make and could also with cheese.
  • Make the most of lighter foods with a gorgeous beetroot, feta and asparagus salad.  Blanched or shaved – local asparagus is delicious raw.

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www.finandfarm.co.uk

Asparagus – Your Super Food