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!

Fingerling Potatoes – How to Store and Cook

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Picture of Rosemary Roasted Fingerling Potatoes from The Dish

After chatting with our aunt, she made a very good point that a meal without potato is missing a limb. That sums up how important potatoes are in all their gorgeous versatility.  Plus a good reason why we are excited that fingerlings are the potato of the month.  We can happily enjoy their sweet nutty flavour for the next four weeks…

Fingerlings appeared relatively late in potato history – both are Victorian varieties and specifically cultivated to create their unique texture and flavour.  La Rattes were Danish and Pink Fir Apples, British, but they rapidly emigrated across the channel to France where they became the chef’s darling.

Anyway, our potatoes, as you will have seen from previous blogs, come from the beautiful Morghew Park in Tenterden, the specialist potato farm which sits on the Kent and Sussex border, who manage to produce such a stunning collection of heritage potatoes.


 

Mixed Bags or Available Singly

The special offer potatoes this month are available as either single kilo bags, mixed 2kg bags if you like a selection or single 5kg boxes.


 

La Ratte Potatoes

La Ratte, also known as Asparge potato or La Reine du Touquet.  Even though they’re Danish, their legacy is definitely French as Rattes are the chef’s choice for famous French dishes and rich potato purees.  Equally they are delicious as salad potatoes or in casseroles and stews, as they keep their shape in cooking.  They have a pale cream skin and flesh and a slightly hazelnutty flavour.

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Pink Fir Apple Potatoes

Pink Fir Apple potatoes are long and knobbly with a wonderful nutty, earthy flavour.  They boil and steam well, keeping their shape and are extremely delicious roasted.  They have a pinkish skin and creamy yellow flesh, which after cooking is satisfyingly waxy, soft and buttery.

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How to store

Fingerling potatoes are less tough than other varieties as their skins are more delicate, so keeping them in the fridge can actually encourage them to absorb the damp and go off more quickly.  Ideally, keep them in a brown paper bag in a dark cool cupboard and they should stay fresher for a bit longer.


 

How to cook

These are absolutely perfect boiled or steamed as they hold their shape well.  Their nuttiness pairs smoothly with a smoked salt or in a salad.  Equally, they are delicious roasted. Either way, no need to peel as they are delicious in their skins.

Fingerlings are firm and waxy, which is why they have been so popular in French dishes where they are slow roasted with cream or butter and still keep their shape well.

Here are some more ways to use – plus a really interesting chocolate pastry recipe.  Some call for a Jersey Royal but La Ratte would work just as well.


Some ways to use Fingerling Potatoes

Don’t know about you but we can’t resist a roast potato.  Fingerlings are sublime roasted and this recipe with chive pesto is a glorious combination of colours. However, til local chives are through we would probably use a delicious spicy rocket or wild garlic, shoudl that still be available.

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The Secret Recipe Club has a delicious and healthy protein rich recipe which would make a quick midweek supper with her Roasted Broccoli and Fingerling Gribiche

Pizza and potatoes sounds like a step too far, but the waxy texture of fingerlings actually seems like it should work and provide that smooth creamy base for the blue cheese in this Gorgonzola and Fingerling Potatoes, Radicchio and Rosemary Pizza

As a side dish to a roast, fingerlings can cope with some robust flavours so don’t be put off by combining with strong flavours such as mustard, paprika, pancetta, bacon or other cured meats.  Roasted with a mustard crust here.

Or, there are a couple of stunning Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipes here which take the flavours one step further with the spicy Italian Devil potatoes and a rich Pan Haggerty, which is a Northumbrian dish of pan-fried potatoes, onion and cheese (we love this version!).

Or, and this one is intriguing and will be on our cooking list next weekend are waxy potato and chocolate pastries – we will keep you updated on that one.  This calls for Jersey Royals but La Ratte are perfect (and local) and our feeling is that the potato will be a creamy moist base for buttery pastry.

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Visit our website at

www.finandfarm.co.uk

Fingerling Potatoes – How to Store and Cook

So many ways to use Raw Honey

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Source

Blackman Bee Farm – Hove

So, our honey comes from Blackman Bee Farm where Mickelmus has extended his hives from just his back garden in Hove to all over the city and working with farms in the Sussex region.   Honey is a hard-working ingredient to keep as your cupboard staple and here are just a few ways to use it…

Continue reading “So many ways to use Raw Honey”

So many ways to use Raw Honey

Leftover Light Apple Fruit Cake

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A leftover apple cake that is lighter than traditional fruit cakes – would make a perfect Simnel cake.

I was browsing ways of using up a couple of our Ringden Farm Egremont Russets and Jonagold apples that were a little past their prime and thought I’d make a cake for a friend coming over for supper.  Cake recipes are generally heavy on refined sugar one way or another so we thought the best balance is probably to incorporate more fruit and eat a delicious cake in smaller slices, using the best ingredients possible.

This cake is pretty much a lighter version of a fruit cake, but you could swap leftover ingredients or use whatever dried fruit you have in the cupboard.  It would work equally well with cranberries, cherries or pears.

It’s a nice grown-up kind of cake as well, that would work equally well with afternoon tea or as a delicious Easter Simnel Cake.

One thing is that we don’t eat cake every day – but when we do, it has to taste bloody good. We came across this cake on the BBC site, which with a bit of tweaking became the cake below and it’s one we’ve added to our little black book of cakes to repeat.

The comments on the BBC site said their cake was a little crumbly, so we upped the apple content to give it some moisture (worked brilliantly) and to counterbalance the fat.

It’s a little heavy on the butter side, but we only use Sussex Southdowns butter and this is our small indulgence (Southdowns is a traditionally-made butter that goes off if you don’t use it, unlike most commercial butters which must be irradiated or something…).

We have pinned this recipe in our December notes as it would make a fantastic lighter Christmas cake if you include homemade glacé cherries and nuts.  On the subject of which, if you’re foraging around at the back of the cupboard, then we found the remains of a bottle of Cointreau from the Christmas cocktails and soaked the dried fruit beforehand.

Nick is most definitely not a fruit cake fan, but he liked this as it has a lighter texture and is more moist and plump than a traditional fruit cake without the heavy leaden lining on your stomach afterwards!

Apple Fruit Cake

Ingredients

  • 150g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 large tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 200g spelt flour
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 good size eating apples , grated (approx 120g each)
  • 300g mixed sultanas and raisins
  • A drizzle of Cointreau or brandy
  1. Put the dried fruit in a dish and drizzle over the liqueur.  Leave to absorb for a couple of hours.
  2. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
  3. Butter and line the bottom of a deep, round 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. Beat the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl (electric hand- beaters are best for this), until pale and thick. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold in the fruit until evenly combined.
  4. Spoon the batter into the tin and bake for 50 mins-1 hr or until the cake is dark golden, springy to the touch and has shrunk away from the tin slightly. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean when it’s ready.
Leftover Light Apple Fruit Cake

Howgate Wonder Baked Apples With Rhubarb

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Of course, we always recommend our Bramley apples from Ringden Farm over near Etchingham – BUT on this occasion we urge you to try the early Howgate Wonders.  When they are picked early they are mild and citrussy but their flavour mellows over time.  They are a different kettle of fish to the Bramley so ring the changes with a traditional Edwardian cooking apple.

This recipe waxes lyrical about eating outside on a summer’s day – but since apples and rhubarb are at their sweetest and best, we will have to sit by the radiator and pretend.

A note about the recipe….we wouldn’t bother with the demerara sugar, sticking as we do to a good local honey…especially a borage honey if you can find it, for the fragrant rosy flavour and aroma.

We also sell delicious creamy yoghurt but the large tubs are generally to special order, as most people prefer low fat, these days.

To overcome this and keep variety in our fridge, we often have a pot of Northiam Creme Fraiche and mix with low fat yoghurt (if we mix it – it’s so rich and creamy, it’s tempting to leave as is)…it gives another layer of tart depth to the flavour which works well with the malic acid in the apples.

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Baked Howgate Wonder apple and rhubarb with vanilla-honey yoghurt

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 6 apples
  • 150g of rhubarb, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 15g of butter
  • 1 tbsp of Demerara sugar, to sprinkle
  • 200g of Greek yoghurt
  • 40ml of honey
  • 1 vanilla pod
1  Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.
2  Score each apple horizontally to slightly pierce the skin – this allows the flesh to expand while cooking.
3  Core the apples by pushing an apple corer down through the apple until it pierces the bottom, discard the core. Repeat for all apples.
4  Mix the rhubarb, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Stand the apples up side by side in a baking dish.
5  Use your fingers to push the rhubarb mixture into each apple, dividing the mix evenly.
6  Add a blob of butter to the top of each and sprinkle over the Demerara sugar.
7  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the apples are cooked through – you can check this by piercing the apples with a skewer.
8  Meanwhile, split the vanilla pod in half with a small knife. Scrape out the seeds and add to a bowl with the yoghurt and honey, whisk to combine.
9  Remove the apples from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve on plates with the yoghurt. Drizzle over the juices from the baking tray.

 

Recipe by Nathan Outlaw – Great British Chefs

Howgate Wonder Baked Apples With Rhubarb

Cooking for Mother? Keep it Local and Seasonal

It’s so easy on the internet to list your ingredients and have at your fingertips a whole load of recipes for every occasion.

So there’s really no excuse to go off course from local Sussex produce on the grounds that ‘there’s nothing to cook!”…

Continue reading “Cooking for Mother? Keep it Local and Seasonal”

Cooking for Mother? Keep it Local and Seasonal

Celeriac – Our Unsung Hero

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Toos’s daughter helping on the farm picking celeriac

Known also as celery root or turnip celery, this is a vegetable is a Mediterranean staple but slower to be loved here in the UK.  But root veg seems to be having a moment this year – the sweet flavours released in chips, crisps and roasted wedges.

We have two celeriac growers…outdoor grown and left to mature in rich soil from Worthing and Biodynamic Organically grown celeriac from Toos in Cuckfield.  Take your pick… Continue reading “Celeriac – Our Unsung Hero”

Celeriac – Our Unsung Hero