Interview at the Limetree Kitchen! (from the archives)

From the archives: intern Morgane visited Limetree Kitchen in Lewes, to chat to Alex, about seeking inspiration and using local produce…


Last week, we went to see Alex, chef of the Limetree Kitchen restaurant in Lewes. Alex’s restaurant offers innovative dishes, using the best quality, locally sourced ingredients. From meeting the local producers to creating amazing dishes inspired by modern European cooking, a passion for food is truly at the heart of Alex’s creation.

 

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What made you decide to open a restaurant?

I love cooking, I’ve always cooked all my life, since I was 4. I always loved the idea of having my own restaurant or bar. And then I got a bit bored with working for other people and not having as much creative freedom as I liked. So when I found the right property, I just went for it. I had worked in other restaurants and I was already a chef, you know, but I wanted my own place.

Was it difficult to open the restaurant?

Yes, it was very hard. Especially when you don’t have a lot of money to do it. At first, I only had a small domestic oven, all the tables and things we had were all garden furniture. I just tried to put all the money that I had into the food, and you know eventually you can start doing the other bits and pieces. Some people are a bit obsessed about it, they want the perfect restaurant – but I couldn’t afford to do that and the food is the most important thing to me in a restaurant.

Alex_sitting_bandwAnd are you from Sussex?                                    

No, I’m from London originally.

And what brought you to Lewes?

A girl actually!

How do you choose your menus?

We speak to our suppliers, to know what’s really good, the produce that is best at the time and then we write the menus around that – if we see something that is quite inspiring and different, we just work around that too.  The weather is a factor as well.

And where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere. Sometimes we’ll just see something, like I saw a photograph somewhere, of autumn leaves and I thought that would be really wonderful if we found some sort of way of putting that underneath a dessert, to make it look like an autumn floor. So yeah, we are inspired by what’s seasonal and what’s fantastic at the time. Or sometimes we just get something to try and we just think “that would be incredible, that would work really well with that….”

What about local food? Do you think that’s important?

Absolutely yes. I think if you can support the local farmers and the local growers – particularly, as a small independent place rather than having to go through big supermarkets. As a chef you have a responsibility to support the people who support you.

So that’s why you choose Fin and Farm?

It is, yes! Nick called me quite a few times and the boss I was working for was loyal to another company, so we never had the chance to work with Fin and Farm – but soon as I had my own business I wanted to use Nick so I called him.

You can see more of Limetree on their website here.

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Come and visit us at www.finandfarm.co.uk

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Interview at the Limetree Kitchen! (from the archives)

Sweet Chestnuts!

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Often scarce on the supermarket shelves (except at Christmas), Chestnuts can leave us a little perplexed with just what to do with them. But chestnuts have populated the British Isles since Roman times – and positively flourish in the South of England. We may associate them with Christmas, but chestnut season is here, and these delicious fruits deserve to be enjoyed!

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A true seasonal delight, chestnuts are sweet, complex and richly flavoured. Their comforting starchy texture is wonderfully versatile for cooking. Whether sweet or savoury, chestnuts can be as wholesome or as decadent as you like. Mmm, it’s time to reintroduce the chestnut back into our culinary know-how…

How to cook

Chestnuts need cooking to become palatable. If you’ve cooked chestnuts before, then you can certainly attest to the rich, aromatic flavour cooking brings out. You can boil (approx. 30 minutes), microwave (approx. 3-4 minutes) or roast (approx. 30 minutes) – just be sure to score an X or line into the bottom of the shell to allow for peeling and to stop them from ‘exploding’! Cooking them in an open flame winter fire is, perhaps, one of the most loved ways to eat chestnuts in this country.

No matter how you’re cooking them, be sure to peel chestnuts when they’re still warm. When they’ve cooled, this can feel like the impossible task!

How to eat

There are a myriad of possibilities when it comes to enjoying chestnuts.  Blitz in a food processor to make chestnut flour – a healthy, gluten-free alternative with a slightly nutty flavour. Puree to fill a dessert such as the renowned French Buche de Noel (chocolate log filled with chestnut puree – yum!) or as a mashed potato alternative. Throw into roasts for texture and taste, or, add to rustic soups and stews to infinitely enhance with an earthy, sweet flavour.

Recipe

Decadent Chocolate-Chestnut Torte

We may associate chestnuts with Christmas and open fires, but chocolate and chestnut might just be the most heavenly combination. Haven’t tried it yet? Well, we’ve got a recipe that’ll make your mouth water…

Gluten-free, deeply chocolatey and enhanced with the flavour of pureed chestnuts and enticing walnut liqueur, this cake won’t fail to please.

You’ll need:
450g chestnut puree
230g dark chocolate
6 eggs
125g butter
65g sugar
2 tablespoons walnut liqueur

To serve:
Cream (as desired)
50g dark chocolate

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm (but not quite meringue texture). Melt the dark chocolate over a bowl of boiling water.

In a food processor, combine the butter, sugar and chestnut puree. Add in the egg yolks, liqueur and dark chocolate and combine.

In a mixing bowl, gradually fold through the whisked egg whites. Pour into a baking tin and cook for approx 40 minutes in the oven. Allow to cool before enjoying with whipped cream and chocolate shavings (and possibly an extra shot of walnut liqueur)!

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Order your chestnuts today!

Let us know in the comments how you like to enjoy this seasonal delicacy..


Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson Chocolate Chestnut Cake (gluten free)  
Image 1: Chestnuts by Kristian Mollenborg/flikr (CC)
Image 2: Chestnuts by Simone Piunno/flickr (CC)
Image 3: dark chocolate torte by kylesteed/flickr (CC)

Sweet Chestnuts!

Seasonal Spanish-Style Stew

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Pumpkin season is finally here! This delicious and colourful season only comes about once a year – so don’t miss out. There are a million delicious pumpkin recipes to play with, but we love this Spanish inspired chorizo-pumpkin stew for it’s punchy flavours. Oregano, chilli, chorizo and sweet pumpkin combine for a meal that won’t fail to please family and friends. Hearty, bright and warming, this seasonal stew is the perfect thing to ease you into this grey and stormy October…

Recipe

You’ll need:
2-3 tbspoon of Mesto extra virgin olive oil
1 can of chickpeas
1 can of butter beans
2 cups of fresh diced tomatoes
1 tbspoon tomato puree
1 medium pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 generous handful of red kale (or any seasonal veg you care for)
2 medium onions
1lb of spicy chorizo
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tsp of dried oregano or a handful of fresh
1/2-1 hot chilli (according to taste)
2 tsp paprika
A pinch of saffron
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp black pepper
Stock

To serve:
Slivered almonds
Parsley
Fresh crusty bread

Method:
In a large pan, saute the onions, garlic, spices and chorizo in the olive oil until the onions are translucent and the spices fragrant. Add the pumpkin, oregano, fresh tomatoes and stock and simmer until the pumpkin is tender and flavours have melded. Towards the end of cooking, add in the beans and kale, continuing to cook for 3-4 minutes until the kale soft, but not overcooked. Finally, add in the tomato puree to thicken.

Garnish with a swirl of olive oil, seasoning, slivered almonds and fresh parsley. Enjoy with friends and family, and good crusty bread!

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Using the whole pumpkin

Don’t forget that the seeds and the skin are edible – and, more importantly, delicious! Scoop out the seeds and rinse, and toss with the pumpkin skin in some olive oil, salt and spices. Bake in the oven at 180c for 20-30 minutes (Keeping an eye on the pumpkin skin to make sure it doesn’t burn!). These make for a tasty, healthy and zero food waste snack!


Recipe inspired by GourmetGents.Blogspot.Co.Uk/ Image 1: Pumpkin by Michael Brown/Flickr (CC)/ Image 2: Cuddle in a Casserole by Manipa Mandal/Flickr (CC)

Seasonal Spanish-Style Stew

Medlars: What To Do With Them?

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Once adored by the Victorians, Medlars were loved as a sweet treat for their caramel-apple flavours. Every Sussex resident would have known what to do with them! But today, Medlars have fallen from our culinary know-how as a result of some pretty unflattering names (cul-de-chien anyone?) and a lengthy ripening process.

But why miss out on this delicious, historic and locally grown fruit? With a flavour somewhere between applesauce and dates, medlars can be enjoyed raw or used in any number of recipes. Our medlars come from Ringden Farm on the Kent/Sussex border, so are definitely an #EatSussex discovery.

How to ripen

You can’t eat medlars when they’re firm and green – they need to blet ( i.e. go ‘beyond’ ripening.) This process is necessary for other fruit, such as quince or  persimmon to undergo before they’re edible. Store them in a cool, dark place until they are soft, dark brown and slightly wrinkled. This should take about two weeks.

How to eat

With a flavour somewhere between apple-sauce and dates, medlars can be enjoyed raw or used in any number of recipes. Mash and enjoy with creamy, local yoghurt for a caramely breakfast treat, make into jelly to eat with cheese. Or, how about baking in a cake?

Autumn-spiced medlar cake

This dark, sticky and aromatic cake has a wonderful texture and caramel depth of flavour. We recommend enjoying with thick local cream or served warm with heavenly cool vanilla icecream.

You’ll need:

200g medlars, stones removed and mashed to a pulp
85g walnuts
60g salted butter
80g caster sugar
75g muscovado sugar
2 free-range eggs
180g flour of choice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Method:

Preheat the en to 180°C. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy, adding in the eggs until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and spices until well mixed. Stir in the medlars and walnuts.

Spoon into a buttered baking tray and cook for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, and enjoy!


Have you tried medlars? How do you like to enjoy them? Let us know in the comments or tag us on social media! (@finandfarm).

Recipe inspired by Bucksedwood.org.uk
Image: Ripe Medlar by Filip Maljkovic/ Flickr (cc)

Medlars: What To Do With Them?

7 Delicious Things To Do With Squash

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Cozy jumpers, golden leaves, crisp sunny days and the first pumpkins appearing in shops and on doorsteps: autumn has officially arrived. And, what better way to dive into autumn delights than by eating the colours of the season with mouth-watering, locally grown squash.

With their warm, earthy colours perfectly fitting with the season and sweet, starchy flesh, these gourds are the ultimate healthy comfort food to carry you through the cooling season.

And, if you think squash varieties are limited to butternut and pumpkin – think again!  From crown prince to red kuri to sweet dumpling, there are so many delicious varieties to enjoy…

But, what to do with them? Well – we’ve got a few ideas!

1. Roast.

This is the most simple, fool proof way to cook squash. Simply roasting allows you to truly enjoy the unique flavour of each squash variety for the ultimate veggie appreciation. There’s no need to peel (thank goodness, as peeling a squash can prove laborious!), as the skins become tender and tasty with cooking.

Whole, sliced in half, diced, cut length ways – any shape will do. Drizzle with Mesto olive oil, a good sprinkling of herbs (how about rosemary, cumin and crushed garlic?), seasoning, and bake for approximately 45-90 minutes (or until the squash is tender and golden).

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You can add roast squash to any number of dishes for a more intense, sweet squash flavour. But we love to eat roast squash accompanied by other  winter foods for a sweet-savoury accompaniment to a weekday dinner. Cut into lengths, roast squash even makes a healthy alternative to fries!

2. Add to curries and stews.

Peel, deseed and dice, and add to your hearty and wholesome stews and curries. You’ll be amazed at the sweet, delicate dimension squash will add to your dishes. Why not try an easy and aromatic red lentil, squash and coconut curry?

3. A delicious twist to a classic quiche

Did you see Muir’s Easy #EatSussex Quiche recipe? Use whatever vegetables and squash varieties you like – and we promise it will still be delicious! How about using butternut for a classic?

4. Step up your pasta

Squash and pasta might just be the most heavenly combination. The sweet creaminess of seasonal squash can lighten and enhance the flavour of a comforting pasta dish. Try Pumpkin Pasta, or even add to macaroni and cheese to revel in the true magic of these scrumptious winter veg (a plant-based version here).

Want to take it to the next level? You can leave out the pasta altogether and have actual squash-pasta! Spiralized butternut squash makes a surprisingly tasty spaghetti alternative. How about a herby goats cheese butternut-noodles? In lieu of a spiralizer, nature has provided us with spaghetti squash – simply roast and scoop out the flesh for a pasta alternative.

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5. Mash

A flavoursome side dish, mashed squash and be as simple or elaborate as you like – from simply steaming and mashing with whatever seasoning you care for, to dishes such as this garlic and sage squash mash.

6. Cool weather soups

A fail-safe ingredient for a delicious, sweet, naturally creamy soup to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters. How about trying this superb squash soup by Jamie Oliver?

7. Desserts

Yes, really! Winter gourds are so versatile. Step out of the box of using veg only for savoury dishes and add a little wholesome sweetness to your life. How about a Japanese kabocha squash pie? Or fragrantly spiced squash-molasses cookies?

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Any of our unusual squash varieties can replace the squash used in these recipes. Let us know your favourite way to each squash in the comments! Don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed this cooking inspiration.


Feeling inspired to cook with this magical veg? Check out the local, unusual varieties of squash that we sell! More varieties are on their way as we head deeper into Autumn…

Don’t forget to use the hashtag #EatSussex so we can see your divine seasonal squash pictures and home-cooked treats on social media…

 

7 Delicious Things To Do With Squash

The Best Sussex Breakfast

We headed over to Kemptown’s award-winning boutique bed and breakfast, The White House Brighton, to talk to owner and chef Sean. We find out what makes Brighton the best city in the country, why using local food is better for business, and just what the best Sussex breakfast to cook is…

Watch below for the full interview:

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Love Brighton or have a favourite Sussex breakfast? Let us know in the comments!


Love eating Sussex grown and produced food? Use the hashtag #EatSussex and tag us in your social media so we can see your gorgeous Sussex posts! Want to be featured in our blog? Contact us – we’d love to hear from you!

The Best Sussex Breakfast

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…

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