#eatsussex Redcurrant Recipes

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Redcurrant and Blackcurrant Compote

Even in the height of a British summer, we have spells where you need something to counterbalance a humid drizzly spell.  Especially on our coastal side of the Downs where we are cloaked in grey sea frets, we can take a quick drive over the hills to bask in warm sunshine.  Although that sometimes works vice versa, so not really complaining about our micro-climate.

But a given is that soups and ragouts may be out of place in hotter climates, there’s a place for a one pot supper at any time of year whether you’re serving it with pasta, rice or salad. A jar of a redcurrant or blackcurrant compote is a handy alternative to imported pomegranate molasses to gently stir into a sauce for instant depth.


Redcurrant Compote

  • 1kg Tibbs Farm redcurrants
  • 4 tablespoons Brighton and Hove honey
  • 4 tablespoons water

In a large stainless steel or copper pan, combine all the ingredients.  Warm together over a slow heat for 5-10 minutes until the redcurrants start to pop.  Cook gently for a further 5 mins, then pour carefully into a large mason jar.

Cool, then fridge and this will keep for up to a week.  Alternatively, divide and freeze into manageable portions.

Use in sauces and stews or mix into porridge or yoghurt.  This is not a very sweet version – just the main tartness has had its edges softened.  The fruitiness still shines through so if you are using in sweet dishes, then you may want to add a little more honey when you swirl through your yoghurt…

Ripe_redcurrants


Sussex Beef Ragout with Redcurrants

Ingredients
Serves: 6 

  • 40g Southdowns butter
  • 900g Sussex braising steak, diced into 2.5cm pieces
  • 3 rashers rindless streaky Sussex bacon, chopped
  • 2 large wet onions, chopped
  • 110g flat Thakeham mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 Tangmere red peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 170g Tibbs Farm redcurrant compote*
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons plain flour (try Weald & Downland)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large tablespoon Brighton & Hove honey
  • 2 pinches of locally sourced Allspice (try Seven Sisters)
  • 300ml stock or a light ale
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150 C / Gas 2.
  2. Melt butter in a large oven proof pan. Add the beef and sear over a high heat, until well browned. Remove the beef and set aside, then add bacon, and cook until crisp.
  3. Add onions and reduce the heat to gently caramelise for around 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Add the beef back to the pan and adding the red peppers and currants. Sprinkle over the flour and season with spices. Mix well and pour over the stock or ale and bay leaves. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and cover.
  5. Bake slowly in the preheated oven for 3 hours or until meat is really tender.
  6. Just prior to serving, remove the bay leaves, add chopped parsley and more seasoning if desired.
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Seven Sisters Delicious Spice Mix (from Lewes)

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#eatsussex Redcurrant Recipes

#eatsussex Easy Green Beans with Pursha, Garlic & Olive Oil

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#eatsussex Recipe

Easy Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic & Olive Oil

Citrus is easily our favourite family flavour, so the thought of going for a whole month without any lemons or oranges, is not our ideal culinary situation.  Adding lemon zest and a dash of juice to most one-pot dish reduces the need to add extra salt; Or just a squeeze of lemon over fish or veggies gives a magical lift.

So, for #eatsussex, we have taken the bull by the horns and grown our own.  An organic pursha fruit mini-tree which was grown by the wonderful Emily at Plants4presents.  I was heading towards the lemon tree, but she diverted us to these little green/yellow fruits which now find their way into most of our dishes.  They are delicate skinned and a cross between a clementine/lemon.  Maybe because they’re fresh from the tree, the smell is pretty heady and sweet…small but powerful fruit.  Because they are so dainty, there’s no need to peel as the pith hasn’t become dry and bitter….just slice and chuck the whole thing in.

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Our olive oil, of course is Mestó grown by Cate and Vasilis at their own farm in Crete and driven back to Brighton by them after pressing.  So, we are including these in our #eatsussex as the provenance is sustainably sourced, organically grown and local.  And the olive oil is bloody good….

Our green beans (or bobby beans as they’re inexplicably known) are grown biodynamically by Toos at Laines.  Freshly picked beans are more nutritious and the freshness of the flavours are pronounced.


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Ingredients

500g green beans

2-3 tablespoons Mestó olive oil

4 cloves garlic (ours was home grown, but we will have Sussex soon)

1 small lemon (or 3 tiny pursha)

Seasoning

Method

Blanch the green beans in a large pan of salted water until tender, 3 minutes or so. Drain and cool.

Gently saute the garlic in the olive oil until softened – for 1-2 minutes.  Add the green beans and cook for a further minute to warm through.

Toss in the slices of citrus and give the dish a quick burst at a high heat to release the flavours.  Serve at room temperature.


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#eatsussex Easy Green Beans with Pursha, Garlic & Olive Oil

Local Blackcurrants and Redcurrants

There’s an abundance of summer fruit right now, but the season is so short that it’s hard to manage.  If you freeze the fruit now and as fresh as possible, then you’ll have a rich supply of nutritious berries for winter porridge, tarts – and savoury dishes.

Our blackcurrants from Tibbs Farm are handpicked and fresh as you like.  Again, this year we are lucky with the weather – seem to remember last year, the rain spoiled so much of the crop.


How to store

Blackcurrants and redcurrants are both prone to mould so don’t wash before storing in the fridge.  Ensure they are dry and loosely pack into a shallow bowl.  Cover and they should store for around 5 days to a week.

How to freeze

Wash the currants carefully, pat try and create a single layer on a baking sheet.  Freeze quickly then transfer to a freezer bag and store.

Ways of using

Currants have a pleasingly soft tartness which is a shame to drown in sugar.  Adding raw honey rounds off the sharp edges nicely so the absolute richness of the flavour can speak for itself.  Redcurrants rarely feature in desserts and are generally relegated to jellies when they are paired with savoury foods.

A British summer is a peculiar beast.  In early and late summer it can be blazingly hot during the day and plummet to toe chilling iciness by mid-evening…and of course, there is the ever present threat of rain in even the bluest sky.  So, barbecues are planned and, one way or another, vast plates of sausages and chicken are cooked.  Inevitably there is usually plenty left over and if a comforting dish is needed the following day to combat being cold/wet/hungover, then a salty salad of sausage or chicken with redcurrants will cover most bases.

Nigel Slater is the master of the simple but imaginative dish with kitchen cupboard ingredients which just hit the spot:

Sausage and redcurrant salad

4 good handfuls mixed salad leaves
5-6 cold, cooked sausages
100g redcurrants

For the dressing
½ tsp English mustard
1 tsp honey
1 tsp cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

Put the mustard, honey and vinegar for the dressing in a small jam jar with a good pinch of salt and pepper, and whisk until smooth. Add the oil, put on the lid and shake to emulsify.

Put the salad leaves in a large bowl and trickle over half the dressing. Toss, then arrange on a large serving plate. Cut the sausages in half lengthways, then cut into half moons and scatter over the salad leaves. Put the currants in a small bowl and give them a quick press or two with the end of a rolling pin or pestle, just to crush a few and create a bit of juice – you want most of them to stay whole. Combine with the remaining dressing, then scatter/spoon over the salad and serve with bread.


Blackcurrant slaw

1 small head of red cabbage
250g blackcurrants
75g raw honey

Julienne the cabbage finely.  Wrap in a clean tea towel and squeeze out excess moisture.

Mash the currants slightly to just burst and drizzle over the honey (to taste).  Fold carefully into the cabbage and toss well.  Cover and fridge to allow the flavours to absorb.

Perfect with rich cold meat such as game, venison or duck.


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Local Blackcurrants and Redcurrants

Learn to love the humble marrow

Harvest Zucchini Garden Green Vegetables Bio

This is probably the most British of vegetables and the most reviled (apart from swedes)??  Probably because most people’s childhood experience of marrow was mushy, bland and watery, which is why modern parents have never served this to their kids and whole generations have grown up with urban legends of slop sliding around their plate.

Not appetising, eh?!  But like most veg that was popular post-war, cooking vegetables often involved boiling or frying and little else.  So, we’re not sure why  marrow has never lived this down, as there are lots of good reasons to love it….it’s versatile, it grows easily, it’s cheap to buy and it can be used in a whole load of different recipes.  So, we are hoping to change your mind about this gorgeously useful veg….

Storing Marrow

It’s not a keeper, for a start.  Unlike other similar fruit (melon and courgette, if you’re interested), the high water content will soon make the flesh mushy, so use within 3 days.

Make sure the skin is dry and fridge the marrow as quickly as possible.

How to use

Firstly, the flesh will absorb flavour so makes a great base for dishes like this comforting Marrow and Tomato Masala. from Vertical Veg –  I love this blog site as it has lots of practical advice for small space growing and also some brilliant recipes like this other tomato and marrow combination smothered in rosemary and cheese, in the form of Syke’s Marrow (or Psyche’s Marrow, as it was back in the day).

Alternatively, add a little chilli spice in a warming and healthy dish like this Marrow and Beans in a Smoky Sauce and heat this as much as you feel like.

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Marrow and Beans in a Smoky Sauce with Quinoa

Stuffed marrow isn’t big news, but there are more exciting ways to do this without resorting to a 1970’s sitcom dinner.  Something like marrow stuffed with lamb, pinenuts and tahini is rich but also fairly light for summer – and using the local saltmarsh lamb gives an even sweeter flavour.

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Marrow with Lamb, Pinenuts and Tahini

If you are still not a fan, then you can always use marrow to lighten up a cake such as this beautiful marrow, almond and lemon cake.  Marrow is a natural partner to light, acid flavour like citrus and tomato so there are lots of natural pairings.

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And of course, you can chop and use marrow in any recipe which asks for courgettes so fabulous ratatouilles and stews.  A friend of mine, Sue, also grates into minced beef to lighten meat dishes like bolognaise for summer evenings.


 

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Learn to love the humble marrow