Seasonal cheese – it’s really a thing!

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Did you know that cheese is seasonal? 

When you think of flavour and cheese, what comes to mind? A distinctive, tangy brie or creamy, milk Stilton?

Well, it’s not just about the type of cheese your buying. Nuances in flavour are directly impacted by the environment. You may already consider yourself a cheese aficionado –  but, there’s a whole new level of appreciation of dairy to discover when you consider natural environment and seasonality.

So how, exactly, is cheese seasonal?

It’s all about plant life, of course! Just as late summer apples and spring asparagus have their seasons, the diet cows eat is determined by the seasons. During winter, cattle are sheltered from harsh, biting weather, eating a diet rich in hay, silage and grain. As a result, winter cheese is often the creamiest and tangiest cheese you’ll find. As calving season comes in, milk is richer and higher in fat and protein.

As the weather mellows, a diet rich in green leaves makes for a mild, light and softly-flavoured cheese. An abundance of wildflowers over the summer, and greater variety of plant-life imbues cheese with complexity of flavour and floral notes. Late season dairy returns to a grassier flavour, as flowers die off and greens become a staple once again.

So, for local, artisan cheeses that have escaped the fate of homogenisation for large markets, the seasons provide one of the most intriguing determiners of flavour. From Sussex summer meadows filled with wildflowers to cold winter nights and piles of locally harvested hay – Sussex cheese really is unique!

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Eating seasonal cheese:

If you want to taste the seasonal pleasures of cheese – turn away from the supermarket. With commercial cheeses made to taste homogeneous and consistent in flavour, small, artisan and local producers will open up new worlds of flavour to even the most expeirenced cheese lovers.

The advice from one cheese connoisseur? Enjoy fresh cheeses from the months March to October, and aged cheeses (approx. 6 months) between October and March to make the most of the beautiful summer notes. Of course, all cheese varieties are different. So get to know you’re favourite varieties and how they are made – and observe the seasons to discover worlds of flavour!

Explore our incredible range of Sussex, small-batch cheeses and tell us: What’s your favourite season?

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Image 1: Drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds by Dave_S./Flickr (CC
Image 2: Galium sp by –Tico–/Flickr (CC)

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Seasonal cheese – it’s really a thing!

Sussex baby leeks – what to do with them?

You’ve seen our young, sweet-spicy baby turnips. Next on the Spring menu?

Baby leeks!

These tender little leeks, grown over in the charming countryside outside Chichester, have a delicate, sweetly earthy flavour and beautifully soft texture.

Easily mistaken for spring onions, don’t let baby leeks fool you. With their classic-blue green hue and distinct, pleasant leek-y scent, baby leeks are the sweeter sibling to the mature leeks you’ve become accustomed to.

A treat to cook up, these leeks are a delight for your seasonal plate.

But, how, exactly, do you eat them?

Mild enough to eat raw, you can finely slice and add to salads (but use sparingly as they still have a distinct flavour). Due to their texture and size, baby leeks are perfect for blanching, chargrilling and cooking whole. You can also replace for mature leeks in any recipe that you desire a quicker cooking time, sweeter flavour and softer texture.

They pair beautifully with pork (speaking of, did you see our ethical pork farm share for traditionally reared, healthy and humane meat?), organic Saltmarsh lamb, or flavoursome Sussex heritage potatoes. Simply saute in local, golden butter for a minimalist way to fully appreciate this delicate Spring vegetable.

Be sure to rinse them thoroughly, as grit and soil from growing can easily get caught in leek leaves!

You can use in any number of recipes that strike your fancy. We dug up this mouth-watering dish that we think you’ll enjoy…

Roasted baby leeks with thyme, garlic and cheese:

You’ll need:
20 baby Sussex leeks
A generous dab of local butter
A handful of fresh English thyme
1/2 bulb of aromatic garlic
100g buttery Sussex goat’s cheese
Salt and pepper

Method
Slice the leeks length-ways and wash thoroughly. Place in a heavy bottomed baking dish, and scatter with stalks of thyme and bulbs of whole garlic (these will take on a caramel-garlic quality). Gently melt the butter (or use oil) in a pan over a low heat, and brush the leeks generously. Season well with salt and pepper.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

Crumble on the cheese and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has cooked, and the leeks are a perfect, buttery texture. Cover with foil if necessary for even cooking.

Enjoy on it’s own, or to accompany baked fish or roasted local potatoes…

Go online to try Sussex baby leek today!

Sussex baby leeks – what to do with them?

The most delicious meal you’ll eat this Spring…

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Oh my! Wild garlic is here – and you’ll probably smell it before you see it.

These local pointed, flat green leaves are grown over at Toos biodynamic farm in the charming, picturesque Sussex countryside near Cuckfield. Pungent and wonderfully heady, this woodland leaf deserves to be enjoyed in the most #EatSussex way possible…

Mellower, sweeter and greener than bulb garlic, you can use wild garlic leaves abundantly for the most intense and mouth-watering Sussex meal yet. We’ve whipped together an #EatSussex wild garlic pesto to pair with heritage waxy, flavoursome and yellow-fleshed Belle de Fontenay potatoes.

For an easy lunch, or fresh, green spring supper, this recipe satisfy your seasonal cravings…

Wild garlic pesto and Belle de Fontenay potatoes

You’ll need:
150g Biodynamic, Sussex Wild Garlic 
50g Sussex Parsley
100g Twineham Grange Sussex Parmesan 
125ml Mesto Olive Oil
100g Pine Nuts
1 Organic, unwaxed lemon 
500g Belle de Fontenay heritage potatoes

Method
To make the pesto, wash the wild garlic and parsley, and place in a food processor. Chop or grate in the Sussex parmesan and add the pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of lemon zest. Blend until well combined, and a heady, creamy, aromatic pesto is formed. Set aside to let the flavours meld.

Wash and boil the Belle de Fontenay potatoes whole (leaving the skin on – there’s so much flavour and goodness!) for approximately 25 minutes, or until tender. Either leave to cool and slice, and combine generously with the pesto to form a tangy, tasty potato salad, or heat a large skillet and gently cook the sliced potatoes and pesto for a flavoursome side.

Serve with Sussex rocket for a spring salad, or pair with some uniquely flavoured Saltmarsh lamb for a hearty Sussex main.

Feeling hungry?

Get your wild garlic and Belle de Fontenay potatoes here. (Although with an incredible array of local, ethical and seasonal produce to play with…)

How do you like to enjoy wild garlic? Let us know in the comments, or tag us on social media (@finandfarm)…

The most delicious meal you’ll eat this Spring…

Rhubarb is here! Are you sweet or savoury?

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Want to ignite your taste buds?

Well, the most British sign of Spring is here. Tender, young March rhubarb!

Grown outdoors in the gentle countryside surrounding Worthing, this leafy vegetable is ready for picking and enjoying.

Looking for a tart, fresh flavour you simply won’t find anywhere else? Often treated more a fruit than a vegetable, rhubarb is cooked up in compotes, pies, cakes and a myriad of desserts to offset it’s sharp flavour. But rhubarb is, in fact, wonderfully versatile, and adds a kick to savoury creations.

How to eat:

Prehistoric looking, rhubarb’s large, flat leaves are certainly striking. But – as appealing as they may seem, you won’t want to eat them as they contain high levels of oxalic acid. Their tender, pink bushed stalks, however, are always safe – and are a positive Springtime treat.

Leave the leaves on until you’re ready to cook, as this will keep the plant fresher for longer. Fresh stalks should be firm (a little rubberby), and easy to snap.  Our Sussex rhubarb is new season – so you won’t need to peel. Simply slice, cook in your recipe until tender and enjoy!

Sweet

Simple Rustic Rhubarb Pie

You’ll need:
175g flour
80g very cold Sussex unsalted butter
1 free-range Sussex egg
80ml cold water
6 large stalks of Sussex rhubarb, sliced
85g sugar
Salt

Method:
First, make the pastry. Combine the flour, 10g of the sugar, butter and a pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, combine well until you form fine ‘crumbs’, and make a well for the egg. In a separate container, beat the egg and water until combined, and pour into the well.

Gently, so as not to overwork, combine the egg and flour mixture to form a dough (adding more cold water if necessary). Chill the dough for 30 minutes, before rolling to a 5mm thick, circular shape.

While the dough is cooling, prepare the filling. Simply toss the rhubarb and caster sugar in a separate bowl as set aside until the dough is ready. When ready, simply place the rolled out dough into your desired baking tray and place the rhubarb-sugar mixture in the centre. Turn in the edges of the dough, so that the juice from the rhubarb stewing may not escape, but leave the very top exposed.

Cook for approximately 30 minutes at 180c. Cool and enjoy with a generous serving of Sussex ice-cream!

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Savoury

If sweet isn’t your thing – or you’re just itching to try something new, then this let this Rhubarb Lamb Tagine bring some spice into your life this March.

Rhubarb Lamb Tagine

You’ll need:
2 lbs of high-welfare, organic Sussex lamb, diced
A generous dab of Sussex butter
3 cups of chopped Sussex rhubarb
2 medium biodynamic Sussex onions, diced
250g of fine beans
2 cups of stock
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 hot chilli, diced
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground ginger
2 cans of diced tomatoes
2/3 cup of diced dried apricots
Wild garlic, finely sliced, to serve

Method:
In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter an saute the onions, garlic and chilli until they start to soften. Add the spices and continue to cook for another minute to meld the flavours.

Add the rhubarb, apricots, tomatoes, stock and lamb. Combine, cover and simmer on a low heat until the lamb is tender. When tender, add in the green beans, and gently simmer until the beans are cooked, but still a pleasant green colour.

Serve with rice or local potatoes and sprinkle with wild garlic.

Got the taste for rhubarb? Get your fresh, local rhubarb online here.


 Image 2: Rhubarb Tart by stu_spivak/ FLICKR (CC)

Rhubarb is here! Are you sweet or savoury?

Baby turnips – the best kept secret of winter veg!

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One of the most ancient crops in the world, the turnips has undeservedly gotten a bad rap over the years. (Overboiled by your grandma maybe?)

But we’re here to change all of that!

Throw away the image of a bitter, fibrous root. The baby turnip bears nothing to it’s overgrown autumnal cousin. Delicate, sweet-fiery in taste (they’re a member of the mustard family after all), quick to cook and wonderfully versatile, baby turnips are the best keep winter-root secret ever.

Our baby turnips are grown by Becky and Trevor over in Sidlesham, Sussex, where they’ve grown vegetables for over forty years. Very local, and very fresh, did you know that our Sussex baby turnips are now in bigger bunches? Switch up your squash and potato game, and grab a handful of these beauties to spice up your meals with!

How to cook:

There’s no need to peel. Simply cut into quarters and saute or toss in oil and roast. Try stir frying with spices, fresh greens and adding to rice, or shave into a salad and toss with a flavorsome vinaigrette. Stir in the greens for extra health benefits and aroma.

Need some more cooking ideas? Here’s some of the most mouth-watering baby turnip recipes from around the web…

Enjoy local baby turnips while their growing season is here – go to our website and order now!


Image 1: Baby turnips and sorrel by Robin Catesby/FLICKR (CC)

Baby turnips – the best kept secret of winter veg!

Sussex superfood salad – winter edition!

Brrr, there’s a cold spell on it’s way!

But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the pleasures and nutritional benefits of a winter salad…

The secret? Go seasonal – and go Sussex!

Locally grown, fresh-as-can-possibly-be, nutrient dense foods are the perfect way to support and nourish your body – even when it’s bitter outside.

So delve into a generous serving of aromatic Sussex greens, sweet and salty roasted beetroot, immune-boosting honey-cider vinegar dressing  – all topped off with melt-in-your-mouth local goat’s cheese.

This salad is guaranteed to give you a healthy glow  – and a happy stomach.

Ready for some winter goodness?

The recipe:

Serves 2

For the salad:
Two local beetroots, sliced
Mesto olive oil, for roasting
Two very generous handful of Sussex rocket
A handful of Sussex parsley, torn
One bio-dynamic black Sussex radish, finely sliced in rounds
Three baby turnip, finely sliced in rounds
Local red onion, very finely sliced
Toasted crushed walnuts or almonds
One sweet-tart local Russet apple, cubed
Ash Golden Cross Sussex goat’s cheese, crumbled

For the dressing:
3 tbsp Sussex apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Sussex cold-pressed hemp oil
1 tbsp raw Sussex runny honey
1 tsp fiery dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, grated

Peel and slice your Sussex beetroots, toss in Mesto olive oil with salt and pepper, and roast for approx. 30 minutes. Set aside.

Bed your plates with a generous serving of fiery, aromatic Sussex rocket and parsley. Equally scatter the radish, turnip, red onion, toasted nuts, apple, roasted beetroot and goat’s cheese in a visually pleasing manner.

For the dressing, simply combine the ingredients until well-mixed and pour equally over the salads.

Fancy some extra flair to brighten up your seasonal salad? Garnish with edible Sussex pansies and primroses! (And you’ve simply got to take a picture of it if you… @finandfarm).

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Image: beetroot & goats cheese salad by Michael Verhoef/ FLICKR (CC)

Sussex superfood salad – winter edition!

Pancake day is almost here! Try these mouth-watering Sussex topping ideas…

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Shrove Tuesday is upon us! Have you got your ingredients ready for this once-a-year feast?

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday (aka ‘Fat Tuesday’) is traditionally the day of using up rich foods before 40 days of fasting for Lent on Ash Wednesday.

And how do people celebrate?

Pancakes, of course! These are the perfect way to use up ingredients such as eggs, milk and butter before fasting – hence Pancake Day arose as a delicious way to celebrate before the lean 40 days of Lent.

Whatsmore, the ingredients for pancakes are said to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year: eggs for creation, flour for life, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.

And while the notion of Pancake Day is relatively young, recipes for pancakes have been around since the 1400s. (And pancake tossing isn’t anything new either: “And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619). Are you pancake tossing skills up for it this year?).

The fundamentals of creating mouth-watering pancakes…

You need four basic ingredients to make traditional pancakes – flour, milk, eggs and salt. And if you want really, really good pancakes, use the best (i.e Sussex!) ingredients…

Basic Pancake Recipe:

Ingredients

120g plain flour
2 Sussex highest-welfare eggs
210ml of richly flavoured, non-homogenised Sussex milk
90ml water
Traditionally made Sussex butter (to fry)

Method

Mix the flour and salt together, and form a well. Crack in the eggs and mix well. In a separate container, combine the milk and water. Gradually stir into the flour/egg mixture until you achieve a creamy batter consistency. Let the mixture stand for 20-30 minutes.

When ready, heat a large frying pan and melt in a generous dab of butter, spreading to coat the entire pan. When hot, pour in some pancake mixture to cover the base evenly. Cook for a minute or less (depending on how hot your pan is!) and flip to brown the other side.

Serve and enjoy immediately, or continue cooking to enjoy a stack of delicious pancakes!

Topping ideas:

* The simplest topping may be lemon and sugar (this beautiful combination is a classic for a good reason – it’s divine!). Use unwaxed, organic lemons for a heavenly lemon aroma by grating a small amount of peel onto your pancakes or into your batter.

* Nutella/chocolate spread is a favourite for pancake toppings. But, step up the chocolate game by melting heavenly dark chocolate onto your pancakes for the ultimate sophisticated pancake treat.

* Maple or golden syrup is an utterly delicious and simple pancake topping but…

* …Sussex salted caramel is even better! (And, if you’re feeling indulgent, Sussex chocolate and amaretto salted caramel)

* A scoop of vanilla ice-cream (have you seen Caroline’s Dairy for out-of-this-world Sussex ice cream?) and stewed berries may be just the thing. Delicious!

* Or, looking for something a little healthier? Bio-live, ultra-creamy Sussex yogurt, raw Sussex honey and fruit go perfectly.

* Sweets not your thing? Go savoury! Bacon, eggs, sauteed mushrooms and greens and crumbled Sussex cheese make for perfect savoury pancakes…

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Whatever your topping, why not adorn your pancakes with some Sussex flowers! Don’t forget to tag us in your gorgeous pancake creations! (@FinandFarm)

What are your favourite pancake toppings? Do you have any ideas to add? Let us know!


Image 1: 20080502_368_DSC_1463 by Adrian and Debra/ FLICKR (CC)
Image 2: IMG_5111 by snow/ FLICKR (CC)

Pancake day is almost here! Try these mouth-watering Sussex topping ideas…