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!)

Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most

leeks

Leeks when they are freshly picked have a sweetness that they lose after they’ve been sitting in a supermarket chiller.  The biodynamic leeks that Toos grows in Cuckfield are so tender and have a real potency of flavour that lifts any dish they’re added to. Continue reading “Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most”

Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most

Organic Sweet Lightning Squash

SweetLight

Our organic squash is grown in the warm soil at the lovely Fletching Glasshouses (just on the other side of the Downs behind Lewes) and watered with fresh water harvested from their reservoir.

Each squash is roughly 1kg (ish) so these are individual portion size fruits.

The Sweet Lightning is a perfect dual purpose squash.  Looks lovely on display – like a little mini stripey pumpkin…and also has an excellent sweet flavour.

Perfectly easy you can just slice in half, scoop out the seeds, smother with butter and roast and they are perfect individual portions.  A chefs favourite to serve stuffed with beautiful smokey flavours like bacon or paprika-spiced quinoa or rice.

Squash also works beautifully with sage and again the soft creaminess of chicken doesn’t overpower the sweetness.

This Pithivier of Chicken, Squash and Sage from the Great British Chef also looks wonderful as a centrepiece and you could probably use Butterbeans for a vegetarian version – this recipe is pretty easy and serves 6.

PithiverSquashSagePithivier of Chicken, Squash and Sage

Ingredients

  • 2 Puff Pastry Blocks, 500g each (or make your own!)
  • 250g of chicken breast
  • 500ml of chicken stock
  • 1 butternut squash, neck end only  (Sweet Lightning is just the right size for this)
  • 100g of portobello mushroom
  • 100g of spinach
  • 10g of sage
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten for glazing
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • plain flour, for dusting
1.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5
2.  Peel the squash and slice lengthways into long slices about 2cm thick (you will get roughly three slices). Season with salt and a little olive oil and wrap in foil. Bake for 30–40 minutes until just cooked
3.  Meanwhile, add the chicken stock and a pinch of salt to a large pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the chicken breasts and poach for 15–20 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through, allow to cool in the poaching liquid
4.  Fill another large pan with salted water and bring to the boil. Blanch the spinach for 1 minute, then quickly drain and refresh in iced water. Squeeze out any excess moisture from the spinach using kitchen towel and roughly chop
5.  Remove the chicken from the stock and pat dry on kitchen paper, chop into small pieces
6.  Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and peel and chop them. Pan fry for 5–6 minutes and drain on kitchen paper (it is important that all the filling components are dry, otherwise the pastry will become soggy)
7.  Mix together the chicken, spinach, sage and mushrooms and reserve
8.  To assemble the pithivier, lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll one packet of the pastry out so that it is about ½ cm thick. Trim the edges to create a circle (roughly 20cm in diameter) and place on a baking tray
9.  Roll the other packet to the same thickness and trim to form a slightly larger circle, keep to one side
10.  Arrange the slices of squash over the base of the pastry, leaving a thin border around the edge (you may need to trim the squash slices to make them fit)
11.  Pile the chicken, spinach, mushroom and sage mixture on top of the squash to make a domed shape
12.  Place the larger piece of pastry over the top, and press so that it fits tightly around. Push down on the border with your fingers to seal. Transfer to the fridge for 1 hour to firm up
13.  When the pastry has chilled, remove from the fridge and brush with the egg yolks to glaze. To score the pastry, gently run the tip of a knife down from the centre point of the pastry lid to the edges in curves, repeating all the way around. Return to the fridge to rest for a further 15 minutes
14.  Preheat the oven up to 200°C/gas mark 6
15.  Bake the pithivier for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for a further 30–40 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and crispy
16.  Serve with some simple steamed beans, or seasonal vegetables
Organic Sweet Lightning Squash