Want your friends and family to be awed by the flavour and heavenly texture of your baking?
There’s a simple trick – reach for the Sussex spirits!
Don’t just reserve them for cocktails, or you’ll be missing out on a world of spirits enjoyment.
How do spirits enhance baking?
If rich, moist and flavoursome desserts are what you desire, then a splash of something special will add that je ne sais qoui to your baking. Your friends will be clamoring for the recipe…
Whether a strong, aromatic spirit (such as walnut liqueur) or a simple Sussex gin, you’ll get a nice, boozy quality to complement your cakes, brownies and bakes. And, even if using a ‘neutral’ spirit such as our Sussex vodka, alcohol reacts with other flavour elements to truly enhance taste.
Whats more, if you’re perfecting a pastry crust – add vodka! For a buttery, flaky crust that is positively dreamy, swapping vodka for water will inhibit gluten formation (while allowing the dough to combine) for the ultimate baking hack.
Why choose Sussex spirits?
Quality matters! A bottle of the good stuff can go a long way and result in a superior end product. Low end spirits can be bitter and artificially flavoured – don’t risk your cake!
Plus, you’re supporting local business, making your desserts that much sweeter!
How to use:
You can add a splash of your favourite liquor into batter to imbue with flavour and create a denser, moisture texture.
Seeking a stronger kick? Pour alcohol over baking, soak a sponge cake layer or add to a glaze/creamy frosting. You’ll taste the difference – that’s for sure!
And don’t forget the final way to use spirits: pour yourself a glass while your dessert cooks – you’ve earned it…
Sussex Vodka Cake
Want to cook something sweet with a Sussex spirit? Great! We’ve got a fabulous lemony-vodka cake recipe to show you just how delicious baking with spirits can be…
Preheat the oven to 180c. Combine the butter, sugar, eggs and lemon in a bowl until smooth and fluffy. Gently add in the yogurt and vodka.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Add to the wet mixture and mix to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into your desired baking tray and cook for approximately 30 minutes.
For the glaze, mix the sugar, vodka and lemon in a pan on a low heat for a few minutes to form a syrup. When the cake base has cooled, gently press a fork into the surface to create indentations. Pour the glaze over to imbue with sweet lemony-vodka goodness.
While they may seem to go hand-in-hand with Christmas in the British kitchen, there’re many ways to enjoy this comforting root veg. We’ve got a few ideas up our sleeve to keep them as a cool-season staple – not a once-a-year show.
From breakfast (really!) to dinner, parsnip’s wonderful earthy sweetness is one you simply need in your life.
Other than their palatability – parsnips are good for you.
Want to create the most delicious food you’ve ever cooked in your life?
Homemade stock is the answer! You’ll wonder how a stock cube could ever compare…
There’s no limit to what you can put in. Simply slowly simmer veg, fresh herbs and seasoning of choice. Sieve the liquid from the main ingredients once cooked, and use immediately or freeze for the future.
Aromatic and sweet parsnips are the key to creating an intense stock. Here’s a recipe for inspiration (plus how to make your own stock powder).
Surprising, I know. But it may just be one of the most delicious things you’ll eat. Flavoursome and dense in texture, carrots can step aside and let parsnips steal the cake show for once.
Cozy jumpers, golden leaves, crisp sunny days and the first pumpkins appearing in shops and on doorsteps: autumn has officially arrived. And, what better way to dive into autumn delights than by eating the colours of the season with mouth-watering, locally grown squash.
With their warm, earthy colours perfectly fitting with the season and sweet, starchy flesh, these gourds are the ultimate healthy comfort food to carry you through the cooling season.
And, if you think squash varieties are limited to butternut and pumpkin – think again! From crown prince to red kuri to sweet dumpling, there are so many delicious varieties to enjoy…
But, what to do with them? Well – we’ve got a few ideas!
This is the most simple, fool proof way to cook squash. Simply roasting allows you to truly enjoy the unique flavour of each squash variety for the ultimate veggie appreciation. There’s no need to peel (thank goodness, as peeling a squash can prove laborious!), as the skins become tender and tasty with cooking.
Whole, sliced in half, diced, cut length ways – any shape will do. Drizzle with Mesto olive oil, a good sprinkling of herbs (how about rosemary, cumin and crushed garlic?), seasoning, and bake for approximately 45-90 minutes (or until the squash is tender and golden).
You can add roast squash to any number of dishes for a more intense, sweet squash flavour. But we love to eat roast squash accompanied by other winter foods for a sweet-savoury accompaniment to a weekday dinner. Cut into lengths, roast squash even makes a healthy alternative to fries!
2. Add to curries and stews.
Peel, deseed and dice, and add to your hearty and wholesome stews and curries. You’ll be amazed at the sweet, delicate dimension squash will add to your dishes. Why not try an easy and aromatic red lentil, squash and coconut curry?
Squash and pasta might just be the most heavenly combination. The sweet creaminess of seasonal squash can lighten and enhance the flavour of a comforting pasta dish. Try Pumpkin Pasta, or even add to macaroni and cheese to revel in the true magic of these scrumptious winter veg (a plant-based version here).
A flavoursome side dish, mashed squash and be as simple or elaborate as you like – from simply steaming and mashing with whatever seasoning you care for, to dishes such as this garlic and sage squash mash.
Any of our unusual squash varieties can replace the squash used in these recipes. Let us know your favourite way to each squash in the comments! Don’t forget to like and share if you enjoyed this cooking inspiration.
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…
One of our earliest and fondest dishes. So simple but only excels when the highest produce is used. There is little to hide behind.
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.
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.
· 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.
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!
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.
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.
· 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)
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!)
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!
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 >>.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.