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 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

Perfect Sussex Charmer Rarebit

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Since Hove Museum has closed it’s cafe doors, we have been on the lookout for a replacement proper Welsh Rarebit.   A good Rarebit is not necessarily just posh cheese on toast.  It’s a melting combination of whipped cheese, butter and flour with the lightly nutty aftertaste of a dash of beer and served with a crisp, spicy rocket salad.  Sometimes served with an additional egg, but that’s just overkill in our book.

I’ll say traditionally a good Rarebit has been made with a salty, mature cheddar, but of course, the dish itself was (is!) a Welsh tradition appropriated by the rest of the UK and Cheshire or Caerphilly cheese is often used.  Both Cheshire and Caerphilly cheeses have a slightly citrussy tangy taste, so for us, we prefer something a little more oozy and mildly buttery.

We are very lucky to have THE perfect Rarebit cheese from a local cheesemaker, Rob, from Bookham Harrison over in leafy Funtington, near Chichester meandering at the foot of the South Downs.  Sussex Charmer is a punchy hard cheese which is the lovechild of Cheddar and Parmesan (and certified vegetarian) with the gutsiness of a good Parmesan and the creaminess of cheddar.

How to make a perfect Sussex Rarebit

Important note here…the bread is very important.  A good thick slab of a wholemeal sourdough is delicious and robust enough to withstand a rich sauce without becoming soggy .  But that said, if you prefer white, then just cut it from a good fresh loaf and don’t stint on the thickness of the slice.

Serves 4 | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 10 minutes

Ingredients

225g Sussex Charmer cheese
25g salted butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (if you’re vegetarian, we had a go at making vegan Worcester sauce – recipe here)
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
4 free range egg yolks
A good sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of golden beer – try Long Man Long Blonde or Dark Star Hophead
4 thick slices of bread

Method

Mix the mustard with the beer in the bottom of a small pan to make a paste, then add the butter and about 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce – you can always add more later if you like. Heat gently until the butter has melted.

Mix in the cheese and stir carefully until it has just melted but be careful not to let it boil or burn.  Once you have a sauce, season if required, then allow to cool until just slightly warm, being careful the mixture doesn’t cool to be come solid.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high, and toast the bread on one side and just lightly toast the other. Beat the yolks into the warm cheese until smooth, and then spoon on to the toast and cook until bubbling and golden.

Serve immediately with a spicy leaf salad and some tiny cherry tomatoes to balance the rich flavours.

 


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Perfect Sussex Charmer Rarebit

Sussex Organic Eggs from Springles Farm

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As you know, at Fin and Farm, we are committed to only selling the best produce.  We’ve been asked about certified organic eggs (although all our eggs are absolutely free range and not fed with grain that has added growth hormones or other undesirable chemicals).

When we were researching eggs, the reality of what constitutes free range, in some cases, is pretty thin and welfare statements about access to fresh air, light and space can be manipulated.  This is why we carefully choose our farms and although organic eggs are subjected to tighter regulation, we wanted to see for ourselves before introducing them on our list.

So we visited Springles Farm in Barcombe this week and had the chance to meet Andy, the owner of the farm. He gave us a tour, where we saw the chicken-roosts and the large fields available for the hens to roam.

Andy and his team believe that their hens deserve a happy and healthy life, providing them with an environment that meets their needs. Hens –for example- have easy access to the outdoors (as you can see in the picture above). They must live in a place that gives them fresh air, light, space to exercise, clean food, water and plenty of bedding.

And as taking care of his hens is the most important thing for him, Andy feeds them with high-quality organic feed. The chickens are fed with Humphrey Feeds, which is produced by a family run local company which has 80 years experience of highest quality feed.


 

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Lots of eggs are misshapen…which you’ll never see in the supermarkets… so we asked Andy about it, and he told us that funny shaped eggs are pretty common.  It take approximately 25 hours for a hen to produce an egg and all kinds of things can affect the shape of the egg… maybe a result of something simple, like being bothered by another hen who’s trying to steal her roosting spot or the food she has been eating. It happens all the time, but these eggs are often rejected by large supermarkets, so we are used to seeing only the perfectly regular specimens – sadly.

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Storing eggs

There are lots of schools of thought about storing eggs.  It is thought that if you do keep them in the fridge, then it’s best not to store in the door.  The constant change in temperature can cause them to degenerate quicker.

Eggs in the supermarket aren’t kept in the fridge, but they are at a pretty constant temperature and it does seem that the rule of thumb is that keeping them chilled gives them the same consistent temperature to keep them as fresh as possible.

Bring eggs up to room temperature before cooking to stop the yolks from breaking too easily.

Can you freeze eggs?

Apparently, yes – this blog from Home Farmer gives you lots of tips on freezing eggs.  However, it seems that the best use is for cakes as eating a gelatinous egg white doesn’t fill us with glee with our morning scrambled egg.


 

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Sussex Organic Eggs from Springles Farm