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

Ethical Sussex Turkey

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Here’s Rita – the new addition to our Fin and Farm team.  At the moment, she’s getting to know some our farms, so first stop last week was Holmansbridge Farm, over near Lewes at the foot of the Sussex Downs – to see the Turkey flock.

You can see from the pic, that the turkeys are free to roam in a spacious field – although the whole experience was a bit disconcerting at first for Rita, who hasn’t picked up a turkey before!

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Space to roam is important for the birds to be unstressed and be allowed their natural behaviour patterns of roaming, scratching around and getting enough fresh air and exercise.  In bad weather they have their barn to retreat.

Holmansbridge Farm have been rearing and preparing turkey in the same way for three generations.  The turkeys are reared on the farm and fed a natural diet – no growth hormones – and since all the preparation is done on the farm, you can be sure of receiving a fine ethical local bird.


How to choose?  White or Bronze?

Holmansbridge rear White or Bronze turkeys.  Firstly, obviously their plumage, but otherwise it’s a matter of taste.

Bronze turkeys were originally brought to Europe from the Americas, domesticated from their wild bird species.  So the Bronze varieties are gamier and darker with a juicier, meatier texture.

White turkey is the result of breeding in Europe over the last couple of centuries and has a lighter, more delicate flavour – and is the variety we are most familiar with here in Britain.  It also tends to carry more breast meat, as a general rule.

However, all the birds are hand plucked and hung for around 14 days for maximum richness of flavour and texture.


What size do I need?

Our birds start at around 4kg and grow up to around 12kg.  Obviously as a natural meat, the size is not exact when you buy, so you must expect to give or take some grams.

The size guide below tells you how many you can feed per kg – allowing enough leftovers for your turkey sandwiches!

  • 4kg:   Serves 4
  • 5kg:   Serves 6
  • 6kg:   Serves 8
  • 7kg:    Serves 10
  • 8kg:    Serves 12
  • 9kg:    Serves 14
  • 10kg:  Serves  16
  • 11kg:   Serves 18
  • 12kg:   Serves 20

How to carve?

You can make the most of your turkey and not make a mash of it, with good carving skills….

Good old Jamie Oliver, has an easy video you can see here, so you can look like a pro.

carveturkey


Roasting and Leftovers?

We will cover this in a separate blog as we’ve been looking at tons of amazing ways to cook a turkey – including freeing your oven by using your barbecue….


 

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Ethical Sussex Turkey

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).

torta-pasqualina1
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

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

Organic Saltmarsh Lamb from Pevensey

Slow-Roasted-Leg-of-Lamb
Picture Good Stuff Slow Roast Leg of Lamb (recipe below)

Where is Pevensey and what is so special about Pevensey Lamb?

If you find yourself with a lazy Sunday afternoon then think about heading over to Pevensey Plains…miles of beautiful marshland and more country pubs than you could ever eat roast dinners.

Pevensey is an area of lowland between Hastings and Eastbourne which has been shaped over time by the changing relationship between land and sea.  Originally it was a lagoon where high tides would seep through but eventually with coastal changes, by Roman times it became a salt mine as land was reclaimed by the wealthy monasteries.  After the dissolution of the monasteries (testing your Tudor history here), the sea walls were neglected and shingle drifted onto the plains creating the salt marsh we know today.

Continue reading “Organic Saltmarsh Lamb from Pevensey”

Organic Saltmarsh Lamb from Pevensey

Raw Sussex Honey from Blackman Bee Farms

Mickelmus Blackman and his bee smokery from last summer

Mickelmus Blackman started beekeeping from one hive in his garden in Hove and quickly developed to a few hives before starting his ethical, sustainable beekeeping enterprise.

From his hives dotted around Brighton and Hove, we have the wonderful Raw Honey – both set and runny.

From his work with other farms in the Sussex area, Mickelmus also produces English Heather Honey and English Borage Honey.

Honey_Sussex

How raw honey is good for you

Raw honey has a wealth of uses and benefits which we explored in our blog earlier this evening from cough mixtures to cake sweeteners and even shampoo and face wash.  Studies by Glasgow University have shown that honey other than just Manuka, which is famous for its antibacterial properties – also have useful bacterial fighting qualities.  And fresh honey produced on your doorstep is surely better in terms of freshness.

Plus the carbon footprint to bring you this honey is tiny when you consider it’s collected and bottled all within a 30 mile radius.  Some commercial honeys are the collective produce of lots of producers and even different countries before being freighted to a bottler…despite their pure labels.

Runny_honey_Sussex

Heather Honey (English)

A perfume that is almost herbal.  Nick says it has a citrussy kick to it.  The texture is grainy like large salt grains from the comb and it’s a dark set honey.  A lovely honey to spread on thick wholemeal toast.

Borage Honey (English)

Lightly scented and ivory clear. The flavour is delicate and smooth and not overly cloying in terms of sweetness.  This would be a good natural sweetener for drinks or cakes or drizzling over pancakes.

Raw Honey, Runny (Brighton and Hove)

Sweet and with a rich honey flavour with almost a very slight smokiness to it.  Deliciously light and smooth texture.  The colour is a beautiful strong gold and again, would make a fabulous breakfast honey.

Raw Honey, Set (Brighton and Hove)

A velvety texture and a buttery creamy flavour.  Now this seems like the perfect Sunday morning honey.


Raw Honey Roasted Beetroot and Carrots

carrotbeetroot

Ingredients

  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp raw runny honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 beetroots, quartered
  • 25g pumpkin seeds
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped.

First simmer the beetroot in its skin until tender and cooked through.  Cooking in the skin is easier than peeling as you can just rub this off with your thumb when cooked.

Heat the oven to 180 degrees/160 degrees fan/gas 4.

In a bowl, toss together the carrots, vinegar, honey and olive oil.  Spread on a baking tray and roast for 30 mins.

About 5 mins before the end of cooking, add the beetroot and return to the oven.

When cooked, leave to cool a little, then toss with the pumpkin seeds and chopped parsley.

Keep this local with a raw cider vinegar with mother from Ringden Farm and Mesto Extra Virgin olive oil produced in Crete from the family farm of Brighton based Cate and Vasillis.

Visit our website at www.finandfarm.co.uk

Raw Sussex Honey from Blackman Bee Farms

So many ways to use Raw Honey

Raw-honey-spoonful-POST

Source

Blackman Bee Farm – Hove

So, our honey comes from Blackman Bee Farm where Mickelmus has extended his hives from just his back garden in Hove to all over the city and working with farms in the Sussex region.   Honey is a hard-working ingredient to keep as your cupboard staple and here are just a few ways to use it…

Continue reading “So many ways to use Raw Honey”

So many ways to use Raw Honey