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!)

(Guest Blog!) Merryhill Mushrooms introduces us to their wonderful world of mushrooms.

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Nestled at the foot of the South Downs, just outside the village of Storrington West Sussex, lies Merryhill Mushrooms. Supplying local pubs, restaurants, farm shops and wholesale with the finest organically grown chestnut and exotic mushrooms, Merryhill Mushrooms have carved their niche for mushroom expertise and excellence in the Sussex area. 

Who are Merryhill Mushrooms?

With expertise built over six generations, Merryhill Mushrooms started in 1914 with Sir Arthur Linfield, horticulturalist and founder of Chesswood Mushrooms. His grandson Dick Rucklidge is now chief grower – after an interesting career in growing and consultancy for advising companies across the world. Today, Dick’s wife Miriam runs the office, daughter Tracey takes mushrooms to local markets and food fairs and grandson Kieran is in charge of the web sales, the wholesale business and manages new products. If there’s one quote that sums it all up: “Mushrooms are definitely part of the family!”

With new product launches, more varieties of both mushrooms produced and mushroom kits on offer, the mushrooms business is growing in both size and popularity!

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What type of mushrooms do Merryhill Mushrooms grow?

Everything! We have some weird and wonderful varieties now which you’d be hard pushed to find in the supermarkets such as our Nameko Mushrooms. But our main speciality is chestnut and portabello mushrooms. These are actually the same variety of mushroom just picked at different sizes: the chestnut “closed cup” mushrooms are picked off the block earlier, while 10-12 are left to grow into big mature portabello mushrooms perfectly for stuffing!

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We started with the chestnuts and portabelllos, later branching out into more exotic mushrooms while also increasing our production of the chestnuts. Starting with one growing shed, we now have four spaces all tailored to suit each mushroom variety, as the conditions to grow each type varies hugely and not all of them get on together! There’s definitely an art to growing different varieties.

The oysters and shiitakes are grown in slightly different conditions and are popular with adventurous foodies and restaurants. The vibrant yellows and pinks are used in our mixed Restaurant trays

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How do Merryhill Mushrooms grow their crops?

The mushrooms are produced in specially built mushroom ‘sheds’, with each shed equipped with systems to regulate temperatures, humidity and air exchange. Each crop of mushroom are looked after carefully throughout the growing cycle – you can really tell the difference with the taste of lovingly grown, fresh local produce! We believe in reducing the time from pick to plate. The benefits of this are easily observed when comparing both the look and taste of fresh mushrooms compared to imported mushrooms. (You’ll just have to try them to taste taste the difference!)

To start the growing process we have to combine the mushroom compost with a top layer of casing peat. This is a non-nutritious layer which the mushroom mycelium colonizes, then forming its fruit body “pins” whilst drawing nutrition from the compost below. Around 20 days later, with careful looking-after, the first crop of mushrooms is ready to pick!

Got a taste for mushrooms after reading this? We supply both loose mushrooms and pre-packed punnets for residential use which are perfect for mushroom recipes!

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You can order Merryhill Mushrooms from the Fin and Farm website hereHave you tried their incredible mushroom jerky? This veggie/vegan snack packs a flavour punch, and just has to be tried to be believed! 


Interested in writing a guest blog? Contact us and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!

(Guest Blog!) Merryhill Mushrooms introduces us to their wonderful world of mushrooms.