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!)

Invicta Gooseberries from Tibbs Farm

About gooseberries 

Gooseberries are related to blackcurrants but Invicta are slightly larger, like small grapes. The Elizabethans loved them but over the years popularity has dwindled until recently when imaginative foodies have restored their reputation.  They are a natural partner to oily fish, in salads and add the same tartness to creamy puddings that you would usually use citrus flavours.

The Invicta gooseberry is a popular variety. The Invicta gooseberries we sell come from the Tibbs fruit farm, in Udimore, East Sussex, where they mostly grow strawberries and gooseberries until the small summer fruits come through (soon).

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How do they taste?

The Invicta gooseberry is a large yellow-green fruit – and their taste can vary, depending on where they are grown, but we can definitely say that this variety is smooth and not too tart.

How to store them?

To store gooseberries, just place them loosely in a shallow container, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate (for up to 2-3 days). Don’t wash them until they’re ready to be eaten, as they can grow a bit mouldy if they’re left damp in the fridge.

If you want to freeze the berries, wash them carefully in cold water, pat dry and place in a single layer on baking tray in the freezer. Once the berries are frozen, transfer them to airtight containers or freezer bags and return them to freezer.


What foods pair with gooseberries?

Most recipe ideas use the base of a gooseberry compote… A delightful combination of gooseberries and sugar, or honey/maple syrup work equally well, reduced down with a splash of water till soft and pulpy.

If you’re looking for food that pairs well with gooseberries, try adding elderflower cordial – add a spoonful of your compote to elderflower cordial with a little fresh ginger for a refreshing summer drink.

You can also use compote in stunning cakes – spread a spoonful of compote along with softly whipped cream as an alternative filling to Victoria sponge or a delicious topping to party buns or the perfect accompaniment to ginger scones.

Gooseberries can also be used in pastries and pies;  you could whip up a delicious patchwork strawberry & gooseberry pie. (link to the recipe http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3147693/patchwork-strawberry-and-gooseberry-pie)

Gooseberries are not just great for dessert; they work equally well as part of a savoury main meal too. Pair them with oily fish, like salmon alongside seasonal greens for a balance to the rich flavours. Or try gooseberries combined with Asian flavours like soy, chilli and fish sauce to achieve a hot and sour taste which is a little similar to the Japanese sour plum umami sensation.

But if you prefer, you could also try to cook a simple but delightful old fashioned gooseberry pie.:

Ingredients 
  • 250 g. unsalted butter
  • 140 g. icing sugar
  • 5 eggs yolks
  • 500 g. plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the filling 
  • 900 g. Invicta gooseberries
  • about 200 g. caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

 

  1. To make the pastry, mix the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl, then tip in 4 egg yolks. Add the flour and mix it all together with your fingers until you get a crumbly texture like damp breadcrumbs. Work in 1-2 tbsp water until the pastry just comes together, then divide it in half and roll it into 2 balls. This will make double the amount you need, so freeze half for another time. Lay the ball you are using on a floured surface, flatten it out with your hands, wrap the dough in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins.
  2. For the filling, tip the fruit, sugar, or a splash of water into a saucepan and simmer everything for about 10 mins until the fruit is soft. Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if you think it needs it. Pour the fruit into a pie dish about 25cm wide and 5cm deep.
  3. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface so it’s big enough to make a lid for your pie dish. Cut a thin strip of pastry to stick onto the lip of the pie dish – this doesn’t have to be one continuous piece. Stick it on with a little water, then moisten the strip with more water and place the pastry lid on top. Press down firmly, trim off any excess pastry and crimp. Make a hole in the middle of the lid, brush the top with the remaining egg yolk and sprinkle over some caster sugar. You should have enough pastry trimmings left over to make some artistic leaves to decorate your pie, if you like. Bake for 30 mins or until the top is golden brown. Leave the pie to relax a little, then serve it with custard or vanilla ice cream.

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Come and visit us to see our online shop at www.finandfarm.co.uk 

Invicta Gooseberries from Tibbs Farm

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

Celeriac

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

Proper Sussex Bramley Apples

Bramley

The other day, Nick took this picture of these Bramley apples from the farm at Ringdens. Just so different from those monstrous waxy green supermarket specimens…. local fruit picked from orchards are blushed and rosy with an almost lime-coloured flecked white flesh, these have a wholesome apple flavour.  They are just slightly too tart to eat raw, but not massively.  Continue reading “Proper Sussex Bramley Apples”

Proper Sussex Bramley Apples