Sweet Chestnuts!

chestnut.png

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!

chestn.png

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)!

torte

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)

Advertisements
Sweet Chestnuts!

Medlars: What To Do With Them?

m.png

Once adored by the Victorians, Medlars were loved as a sweet treat for their caramel-apple flavours. Every Sussex resident would have known what to do with them! But today, Medlars have fallen from our culinary know-how as a result of some pretty unflattering names (cul-de-chien anyone?) and a lengthy ripening process.

But why miss out on this delicious, historic and locally grown fruit? With a flavour somewhere between applesauce and dates, medlars can be enjoyed raw or used in any number of recipes. Our medlars come from Ringden Farm on the Kent/Sussex border, so are definitely an #EatSussex discovery.

How to ripen

You can’t eat medlars when they’re firm and green – they need to blet ( i.e. go ‘beyond’ ripening.) This process is necessary for other fruit, such as quince or  persimmon to undergo before they’re edible. Store them in a cool, dark place until they are soft, dark brown and slightly wrinkled. This should take about two weeks.

How to eat

With a flavour somewhere between apple-sauce and dates, medlars can be enjoyed raw or used in any number of recipes. Mash and enjoy with creamy, local yoghurt for a caramely breakfast treat, make into jelly to eat with cheese. Or, how about baking in a cake?

Autumn-spiced medlar cake

This dark, sticky and aromatic cake has a wonderful texture and caramel depth of flavour. We recommend enjoying with thick local cream or served warm with heavenly cool vanilla icecream.

You’ll need:

200g medlars, stones removed and mashed to a pulp
85g walnuts
60g salted butter
80g caster sugar
75g muscovado sugar
2 free-range eggs
180g flour of choice
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg

Method:

Preheat the en to 180°C. In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy, adding in the eggs until well combined. Stir in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate and spices until well mixed. Stir in the medlars and walnuts.

Spoon into a buttered baking tray and cook for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, and enjoy!


Have you tried medlars? How do you like to enjoy them? Let us know in the comments or tag us on social media! (@finandfarm).

Recipe inspired by Bucksedwood.org.uk
Image: Ripe Medlar by Filip Maljkovic/ Flickr (cc)

Medlars: What To Do With Them?

Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers

slice 9

Picture from Real Food Runner – Bell Pepper Salad

A freshly grown, naturally matured pepper is a joy to eat with a sweet richness that time and forced growing hasn’t completely been bred out to leave just a crisp watery shell.

Tangmere Airfield Nurseries are sited on the historical ‘Battle of Britain’ airfield near Chichester just ahead of the Sussex South Downs.  Following the airfield closure in 1970, the land fell into decline until it was regenerated as farmland.  Tangmere have been growing peppers there since 1988.

In 2001 they bought a farm in Spain so they could supply peppers all year round – which for us as consumers is great as we have complete traceability from responsible growers; Tangmere are a LEAF demonstration farm (Linking Environment and Farming) which aims to combine traditional farming with environmental awareness.

We buy their peppers because they are hands down, the sweetest most delicious and fresh peppers we’ve tasted.  Even green peppers, which are usually mildly bitter, have a softer sweeter flavour as they’ve had time to develop their flavour naturally.

Tangmere

Ways to use Bell Peppers

The edible capsicum family are all rich in nutrients, particularly Vitamin C and has fantastic antioxidant properties when eaten raw or lightly cooked.

Cooking can really highlight the sweet, almost fruity flavour and peppers can as easily stand up for themselves with strong meaty textures as well as light, fragrant salads.

Hugh-Fearnley-Whittingsta-008

You could add spicy chorizo for a stew just made to be eaten with bread to mop up those juicy sauces.

A red pepper and walnut dip is perfect for parties and barbecues.

Baked eggs in peppers is low in carbs and deliciously healthy for a quick supper.

A perfectly topped pizza with peppers and an olive stuffed crust has a beautifully luscious and smoky flavour.

Try roasting a batch of peppers and preserving in oil or freezing for adding to chillies and bolognaise for those sweet notes.

Green peppers are often used in Indian cooking and this mildly sour creamy chutney is a delicate alternative to raitha.

We had never really thought about a curried gravy to add to a Biriyani or dry curry before, but this blogger Swathi’s recipes has opened our eyes to a number of possibilities to create a sauce which can be used alongside various main courses for all our vegetarian/meat eating guests…genius.

If you are looking for the ultimately sophisticated canape, then these little balls of red pepper puree with goat’s cheese are just delightful to look at, never mind eat.

redpepperpuree

A more earthy take from these Great British Chefs borrows flavours from Greek cooking to take a quintessentially British lamb stew up a notch with their Lamb and Red Pepper Ragout.

Finally, peppers are so sweet but we haven’t come across them as an actual sweet before and not sure why.  We love this Great British Chef site so much for their unusual and creative spin on old favourites.  However, these red pepper tuile biscuits are extremely impressive and we think would work equally well alongside a sorbet as a canape.

tuile

 

Visit us at our website

www.finandfarm.co.uk

 

Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers

Fingerling Potatoes – How to Store and Cook

Roasted-Fingerling-Poatoes-recipe

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.

laratte

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.

pinkfir


 

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.

roasted-fingerlings-chive-pesto

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.

img17169.1426x713

Visit our website at

www.finandfarm.co.uk

Fingerling Potatoes – How to Store and Cook

Wild Garlic – How to use it

wildgarlicMarch2016

Our Morghew Park Wild Garlic

Wild garlic is prolific at this time of year, if you know what you are looking for and have time to don your wellies and head out into the countryside for the few weeks it is around.

The first bit is the easy bit – it’s easy to find as you can smell the gentle whiff of garlic in the air – but if time is not your friend, then heading out to shady woods before everyone else has got there first, might not work for you.

Our garlic is foraged on the private Morghew estate by the owners, so there is no risk to the environment by stripping the woodland.  Morghew Estate is set in the most stunning woodland and arable land (where our potatoes are grown, by the way) and is managed sensitively and responsibly.

Continue reading “Wild Garlic – How to use it”

Wild Garlic – How to use it

Howgate Wonder Baked Apples With Rhubarb

apple

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.

howgate

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

The Triple Heritage Potatoes

mashed-potatoes-2

Picture from Veggie on a Penny

What could be a lovelier sight than a fluffy mound of mashed potato?  But to do it right is still an art form and everyone has their own preferred routine.

But…one thing that everyone must agree on is that the right potato is key.

For our potato of the month, we have three heritage varieties for you to try – and all make spectacular mash.

All three of these are floury potatoes with a low water content so are pretty good keepers if kept cool and dry.

All these glorious potatoes are grown on the fertile Morghew Estate which sits on the Kent/Sussex border.

Continue reading “The Triple Heritage Potatoes”

The Triple Heritage Potatoes