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)

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Sweet Chestnuts!

The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

Yep, when you’re the designated driver, standing at the bar leaves you with difficult decisions.  To leave the pub at the end of the evening with your heart racing from probable caffeine overload – or the nasty sugary taste left after too much fake raspberry.

Non-alco drinks don’t have to be dull/sweet/fizzy.  A little while ago, Nick and I were invited to join a group at an award evening.  It was a foodie award sponsored by our own Brighton Gin.  A bottle of gin was drunk with a very special Kombucha mixer – according to the brochure.  We had a massive pitcher of this deliciously decadent tasting pink stuff on the table, so assumed our hosts had kindly pre-mixed and left us a gin cocktail.  After much sharing, a red-faced waiter came over WITH OUR GIN.  We hadn’t even noticed that we’d been drinking the unlaced mixer.  So, clearly debunking the power of conditioning is that a great drink must be alcoholic (or maybe that’s just us…).


Kombucha Mocktails Muddle with fresh herbs and juices – Kombucha gives your mocktail a kind-of sophisticated, adult flavour…and there are some gorgeous recipes to be found just here >>.

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Apple Juice – well, we are in Sussex, aren’t we?  If we didn’t have more varieties of juice than you can possibly count, then things aren’t as they should be.  It’s a joy walking through the orchard at Ringden Farm, where there are fields of apple trees of heritage and modern varieties.  All these are picked through their season and some are pressed at the farm.

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So, from Ringden, there are varieties of juice to choose from, which are as complex as choosing a bottle of wine.  From the heritage Grenadier – a tart, citrussy juice through to the honeyed sweetness of a Russet.  All the apple juices and apple-juice blends are described here in their categories.

So….the blended juices. Whenever we have done a farmers market, we always have bottles of Beetroot and Apple.  Most people are not so keen to try but nearly all are converted and love the slight earthiness that beetroot brings to a sweet juice…which is obviously preaching to the converted, if you’re a smoothie maker.

The Apple and Strawberry is also a winner with the drivers, as surprisingly, it’s one of the less sweet juices.  Not sure why that is- it just has a kind of pleasant fruitiness.

Mocktails Using Apple Juice – Well, naturally, as it’s a great base to lighten up or add punchy flavours like ginger.  A refreshing one for us is the Virgin Mojito or for a party pitcher, maybe a Red Apple Sangria type cocktail is light and add as much lime as you feel will add a bit of zing.

Or, warm the cockles with a lively glass of Mulled Apple.

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Elderflower Cordial combined with apple, is something you can keep as a drink all year round (and not just for sloshing into fizz).  Apple, Elderflower and Mint is light and refreshing for adults or kids.

Or for a drink that has a sparkle of colour, since it’s the party season descending, after all -then Jamie has the ideal unboozy fizz with this Elderflower Lemonade with Frozen Berries.

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Visit us at www.finandfarm.co.uk

See our range of juices and water online.


 

 

The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

Ethical Sussex Turkey

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Here’s Rita – the new addition to our Fin and Farm team.  At the moment, she’s getting to know some our farms, so first stop last week was Holmansbridge Farm, over near Lewes at the foot of the Sussex Downs – to see the Turkey flock.

You can see from the pic, that the turkeys are free to roam in a spacious field – although the whole experience was a bit disconcerting at first for Rita, who hasn’t picked up a turkey before!

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Space to roam is important for the birds to be unstressed and be allowed their natural behaviour patterns of roaming, scratching around and getting enough fresh air and exercise.  In bad weather they have their barn to retreat.

Holmansbridge Farm have been rearing and preparing turkey in the same way for three generations.  The turkeys are reared on the farm and fed a natural diet – no growth hormones – and since all the preparation is done on the farm, you can be sure of receiving a fine ethical local bird.


How to choose?  White or Bronze?

Holmansbridge rear White or Bronze turkeys.  Firstly, obviously their plumage, but otherwise it’s a matter of taste.

Bronze turkeys were originally brought to Europe from the Americas, domesticated from their wild bird species.  So the Bronze varieties are gamier and darker with a juicier, meatier texture.

White turkey is the result of breeding in Europe over the last couple of centuries and has a lighter, more delicate flavour – and is the variety we are most familiar with here in Britain.  It also tends to carry more breast meat, as a general rule.

However, all the birds are hand plucked and hung for around 14 days for maximum richness of flavour and texture.


What size do I need?

Our birds start at around 4kg and grow up to around 12kg.  Obviously as a natural meat, the size is not exact when you buy, so you must expect to give or take some grams.

The size guide below tells you how many you can feed per kg – allowing enough leftovers for your turkey sandwiches!

  • 4kg:   Serves 4
  • 5kg:   Serves 6
  • 6kg:   Serves 8
  • 7kg:    Serves 10
  • 8kg:    Serves 12
  • 9kg:    Serves 14
  • 10kg:  Serves  16
  • 11kg:   Serves 18
  • 12kg:   Serves 20

How to carve?

You can make the most of your turkey and not make a mash of it, with good carving skills….

Good old Jamie Oliver, has an easy video you can see here, so you can look like a pro.

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Roasting and Leftovers?

We will cover this in a separate blog as we’ve been looking at tons of amazing ways to cook a turkey – including freeing your oven by using your barbecue….


 

blog from Fin and Farm

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Ethical Sussex Turkey