Perfect Sussex Charmer Rarebit

Welsh_rarebit

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

The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

Yep, when you’re the designated driver, standing at the bar leaves you with difficult decisions.  To leave the pub at the end of the evening with your heart racing from probable caffeine overload – or the nasty sugary taste left after too much fake raspberry.

Non-alco drinks don’t have to be dull/sweet/fizzy.  A little while ago, Nick and I were invited to join a group at an award evening.  It was a foodie award sponsored by our own Brighton Gin.  A bottle of gin was drunk with a very special Kombucha mixer – according to the brochure.  We had a massive pitcher of this deliciously decadent tasting pink stuff on the table, so assumed our hosts had kindly pre-mixed and left us a gin cocktail.  After much sharing, a red-faced waiter came over WITH OUR GIN.  We hadn’t even noticed that we’d been drinking the unlaced mixer.  So, clearly debunking the power of conditioning is that a great drink must be alcoholic (or maybe that’s just us…).


Kombucha Mocktails Muddle with fresh herbs and juices – Kombucha gives your mocktail a kind-of sophisticated, adult flavour…and there are some gorgeous recipes to be found just here >>.

kombucha-mocktail-2

Apple Juice – well, we are in Sussex, aren’t we?  If we didn’t have more varieties of juice than you can possibly count, then things aren’t as they should be.  It’s a joy walking through the orchard at Ringden Farm, where there are fields of apple trees of heritage and modern varieties.  All these are picked through their season and some are pressed at the farm.

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So, from Ringden, there are varieties of juice to choose from, which are as complex as choosing a bottle of wine.  From the heritage Grenadier – a tart, citrussy juice through to the honeyed sweetness of a Russet.  All the apple juices and apple-juice blends are described here in their categories.

So….the blended juices. Whenever we have done a farmers market, we always have bottles of Beetroot and Apple.  Most people are not so keen to try but nearly all are converted and love the slight earthiness that beetroot brings to a sweet juice…which is obviously preaching to the converted, if you’re a smoothie maker.

The Apple and Strawberry is also a winner with the drivers, as surprisingly, it’s one of the less sweet juices.  Not sure why that is- it just has a kind of pleasant fruitiness.

Mocktails Using Apple Juice – Well, naturally, as it’s a great base to lighten up or add punchy flavours like ginger.  A refreshing one for us is the Virgin Mojito or for a party pitcher, maybe a Red Apple Sangria type cocktail is light and add as much lime as you feel will add a bit of zing.

Or, warm the cockles with a lively glass of Mulled Apple.

mulledapple

Elderflower Cordial combined with apple, is something you can keep as a drink all year round (and not just for sloshing into fizz).  Apple, Elderflower and Mint is light and refreshing for adults or kids.

Or for a drink that has a sparkle of colour, since it’s the party season descending, after all -then Jamie has the ideal unboozy fizz with this Elderflower Lemonade with Frozen Berries.

elderflowerfizz


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See our range of juices and water online.


 

 

The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers

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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

 

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Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers

Practical Advice – Storing and Using Spinach

spinach

Our organic spinach from Fletching Glasshouses is brilliant to have in the kitchen for more than just taste reasons.  The leaves are larger than baby spinach but not as large as the huge mature broad leaf.  This is a godsend in that it’s pretty versatile as it’s mild enough to shred in a salad but also robust enough to wilt – which is pretty hard to do with baby leaves.

Anyway you care to use it…it’s freshly picked when we deliver so we couldn’t possibly waste such a lovely bag of nutritious goodness!


How to cook spinach

The best way to cook spinach is to wilt it gently.  Just be careful not to overcook and lose the vibrant green colour and rich flavour.

Method

1.  Clean the spinach thoroughly to remove any grit from the leaves. Heat a large pan with a knob of butter
2.  Add the spinach – the leaves touching the base of the pan will wilt very quickly, so stir occasionally to ensure all of the raw leaves make contact with the base. Season with salt
3.  Once the spinach has just about wilted, remove the pan from the heat and strain off any excess liquid. Serve immediately.

How to store

A bag of slimy wilted leaves is pretty offputting.  Obviously, the best thing in the kitchen is to use up greens as quickly as possible to make the most of their nutritious benefits – but given that it isn’t always possible, you can extend the life with careful storage.

Here is a link to storing spinach with The Kitchn which gives you tried and tested results using different storage methods.  We love these blogs where people give really useful tips!  NB – this is why our leaves are always sold in plastic bags.  Not because we don’t have environmental concerns but but because even freshly picked leaves can dry and wilt while we are driving around the Sussex roads in the few hours from picking if they are put into brown paper bags.

saladgreens


 Alternative Ways to Use Spinach

There are loads of regular ways to use spinach…sauteed, soups dah di dah… But here are some more ways that may well be useful if you’re looking to add more greens to your diet…

Torta Pasqualina – OK this is a little late for Easter, but a delicious spinach, artichoke, parsley and egg pie is a perfect dish for either a vegetarian main course or even picnic slices (if the rain stays away).

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Picture: http://www.misya.info/2014/04/01/torta-pasqualina.htm

Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette – It’s the vinaigrette made from a little of the melted bacon fat mixed with a red wine vinegar glaze that makes this so special.  This is a salad haters salad!


Quick Quesadillas – these are our daughter’s favourite snack from school and she can cook a pile of them in minutes.  Keep them healthy by using feta cheese and avoiding the sour cream.  Combine with a strawberry salsa for full antioxidant benefits.


Puree spinach and add to pancake batter for super-healthy pancakes.  They genuinely go with sweet fillings like banana and blueberry so if your kids are up for green pancakes, these really do work.


Spinach and aromatic herbs are perfect partners.  Combining with sage and parmesan makes this a perfect quick supper dish as Spaghetti Piemontesi

spaghettipiemont


Again, strong flavours work well with spinach and these little Creamy Smoked Haddock and Spinach Omelette Appetisers would work equally well left as longer wraps as part of a main course.

smokedhaddock


When our daughter was small, we kept pureed spinach in ice cube trays in the freezer and added it to just about everything.  We lost the habit as she got older and ate adult food but it’s a great way to add extra iron, vitamins and minerals to a dish quickly and without any hassle…whatever you’re cooking…pasta sauce, soups, stews etc.


Add to scrambled egg or scrambled tofu.  The flecks are pretty and it adds earthiness to any breakfast dish…and a bit less washing up than making a traditional Eggs Florentine.


Use pureed spinach as a pizza topping instead of tomato.  Just as delicious and a perfect partner for rich cheese melted on top.  Try this spinach garlic puree or even a spinach pizza base…(just don’t let anyone see the raw dough…it looks amazing cooked, but raw…really not a good advertisement for a delicious dough.


 

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www.finandfarm.co.uk

Practical Advice – Storing and Using Spinach

Organic Heritage Salad Leaves from Fletching Glasshouses

saladbannerv1About Fletching Glasshouses

There’s always the risk that leaves form the base of a salad allowing other ingredients to take centre stage. But once you’ve served a really good salad leaf mix, then you are spoiled for ever after as second rate greenery just doesn’t cut the mustard..

Isobel and Emily Rae, who own and run Fletching Glasshouses have years of experience growing a broad variety of certified organic crops. It’s their experimental flair of combining leaves that has created really special fragrant and colourful salad mixes.

This season there’s a tantalising selection of mixed bags and also some fantastic heritage leaves to mix your own combinations.

Fletching

Fletching Glasshouses is pretty unique. Firstly, it’s no ordinary set of greenhouses as the Raes have dug a reservoir on the land. It’s not just a picturesque place to hang out but is a haven for wildlife and creates an environmentally supportive way of supplying water to the plants.

Secondly, the growing culture has a personal touch with the careful choice of leaves that they choose to plant. Every year the salads have a special secret ingredient – well, perhaps not secret, but something different to create exciting new flavours as the seasons progress.

Thirdly, the leaves are genuinely freshly picked. Early each morning, there is a team of people picking ready for collections a short while later – and we generally arrive on our collection round about 8ish or so – so the salads have not long left the ground. Leaves are bright and crunchy without the generally sad droop that you find in commercially packing.


 What’s in the Salad Mixes

In the winter salads you’ll find Tere – which isn’t well known as a salad leaf here but eaten widely in Turkey. It looks like a sturdy fleshy rocket leaf and has a wasabi kick which melts into a sweet aftertaste which is a little citrussy.

You’ll see Tere in the potent Mustard Mix salad, which compliments and adds roundness to the spicy Mustard frills and a little is added to the Herb and Spring Salad Mixes to give a small amount of keenness to the milder flavours.


Organic Mixed Bags

There are two mixes available this week – Summer Mix and Mustard Mix with a delicious Herb Mix soon to come:

Summer Mix

The Organic Summer Mix is a soft, leafy mix of seasonal leaves.  The actual mix varies week by week depending on what’s flourishing or picked but generally it’s an aromatic mix of:

  • A selection of young freshly picked lettuce leaves – Butterhead, Oak Leaf (Red and Green) and Little Gem
  • Chicory – Sugar Loaf and Rosso
  • Land Cress
  • Claytonia
  • Sorrel – Red Vein and French

Mustard Mix

A spicy mix of Tere, mustard leaf, mizuna and purple frilled leaf.  With a little salad from above to give balance – especially chicory to give the tang to compliment the sharper leaves.  This is a zesty salad mix.

  • Spicy Leaves – Tere, Red Mustard frills, Mizuna
  • Salad Mix – as above
  • Bitter mix – Sugar loaf chicory and Rosso

 Coming Soon – Herb Mix

Soon we will have some wonderful Herb Mix – gentle salad leaves with fragrant edible flowers – marigold and borage and added fragrant chives and parsley.


Organic Heritage Leaves

Currently, Fletching are also growing a fabulous range of heritage leaves that have been well known staples, but you generally don’t find in the shops…Here are just a few that are currently growing….

 Claytonia – you can buy this as a single leaf

 

Claytonia400x400

Also known as Winter Purslane or Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia has pretty heart shaped leaves with tiny central flowers. Originally it grew in America and took its name from the California Gold Rush Miners who ate it to prevent scurvy. So, a leaf rich in vitamin C as well as the B vitamins and iron.

It’s a fantastic leaf as it isn’t bitter and is fresh tasting and mild. . It’s fairly fleshy, so can easily be used as a substitute for spinach – a pretty versatile leaf for the kitchen.

 Land Cress – available as a single leaf

landcress2

Land Cress is rich and peppery like watercress but a smaller denser leaf. It is a native cress although now it’s often known as American Cress and has always provided greenery through the winter months. These dense leaves are also pretty versatile and can be cooked – although they pretty much melt instantly, so flash cooking required.

Red Mustard Frills – also as a single leaf bag

mustard-red-frils

Picture from the Biking Gardener

Mustard greens are something of a superfood as they are reputed to reduce cholesterol and are anti-inflammatory and have powerful antioxidants according to studies.  Red Mustard frills has a vibrant wasabi flavour and crunchy texture – it’s the spiciest leaf in the mustard family.  The frills are radiant, deeply serrated leaves with slim green stems.

Mizuna – Also single leaf bags available

mizuna
Mizuna is has long deeply serrated silky leaves with trailing stems that meet at its root base. Mizuna has a bright sharp but earthy flavour which is a beautiful bridge between a spicy and a sweet salad leaf.

Salad Rocket – as a single leaf

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The organic rocket that Fletching grows is a broad leafed mildly spicy variety with a full sweet flavour.  The peppery flavour of rocket is renowned for it’s pairing with deep smoky flavours like pancetta and parmesan.  It goes deliciously with the Mestó olive oil, where the grassy notes sit beautifully with fresh tangy rocket.

French Sorrel (from next week) – as a single leaf bag

frenchsorrel

Sorrel was once a staple leaf in British cooking and traditional medicine, but somehow dropped out of everyday use. French Sorrel is the broader larger leaf that we generally find under the name ‘Sorrel’ and a bit milder than the Red Vein variety.

It’s great with fish and eggs, but old recipes add it to Turnips and Swede and wilted down with butter as an accompaniment to goose or pork instead of apple sauce. The old cookery book we looked through described it as adding a ‘quickness’ to salads rather than tartness – which we think sounded beautifully descriptive.


 What to do with these wonderful leaves?

Cook up a fresh and healthy supper or brunch with a Land Cress Frittata with Ricotta and Parmesan…and in the spirit of being local, you could use Sussex Organic Ricotta and Veggie Parmesan cheese.

Land Cress in a delicious raw state works well in this recipe for Grilled Scallops with Land Cress and Tarragon Mayonnaise. If you can’t find scallops then chicken would work well and we stumbled across an intriguing blog which gave a recipe for vegan scallops.

Claytonia – Hearts for your heart. A healthy salad recipe with walnuts, parmesan and apples.There are loads of recipes but truthfully, it’s lovelier raw and even looks pretty in a vase.

salmonclaytoniasalad

Claytonia pairs beautifully with marjoram, avocado and nuts and white beans, as well as hard cheese, fish and shellfish. If serving with meat, the most delicious pairings are with duck and lamb.

Sorrel – where to start? It’s delightful with fish and eggs, but works as a perfect partner with goat’s or sheep’s cheese as well. Use as a foil for strong leafy greens and you’ll love it as a leaf in the Mustard Mix salad.

Try in the summer with a White Peach and Sorrel salad with honey vinaigrette for a real mix of sweet and tart flavours.

If you love Middle Eastern flavours, then try Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Fried Beans with Sorrel, Feta and Sumac as lovingly described by David Lebovitz.

friedbeans

I have heard that in Crete Sorrel is used in a version of Dolmades – little folded pastry triangles stuffed with rice and seasoned with fresh herbs and cooked in olive oil.

Sorrel is also a fantastic partner to Salmon where a sorrel sauce is eaten in one form or other throughout Europe.

Pozole Verde is a traditional rich Mexican dish which uses wild sour-grass to contrast with pork belly and sharp lime, but in Diana Kennedy’s delicious recipe uses sorrel.

Mizuna has a bright and slightly earthy peppery flavour.  Try a delicious and simple potato salad by tossing fingerling potatoes with chopped mizuna and olive oil.

mizuna_potato_salad_1

Salad Rocket is made to go with pancetta and Jamie has the perfect recipe here for a warm salad.

When in doubt, then you can never go wrong with rocket pesto. Let’s face it, Basil is a summer veg but we want to enjoy some fresh greens and pesto takes seconds to whizz up in a food processor – and you can keep a jar in the freezer to cheer up a rainy day.

Make a powerful Salsa Verde with Red Mustard Frills, olive oil, garlic and capers.  Wonderful with pasta.

 

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Organic Heritage Salad Leaves from Fletching Glasshouses

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.

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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