Perfect Sussex Charmer 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


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


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

Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most


Leeks when they are freshly picked have a sweetness that they lose after they’ve been sitting in a supermarket chiller.  The biodynamic leeks that Toos grows in Cuckfield are so tender and have a real potency of flavour that lifts any dish they’re added to. Continue reading “Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most”

Sussex Organic Leeks – make the most

Nicola Potato – Our potato of the month!


Thanks to Nicki from the Potato Shop for the pic of her Gratin Dauphinois

The perfect potato for salads (and Gratin Dauphinois) – Nicola potato.  (By the way, so you can try this potato out, we have discounted it this month…).

There are loads of salad potatoes on the market, but Nicola is unusual as it has flavour that many other varieties lack.

This is a firm, waxy potato that stands up well to boiling and keeps its shape well.  It is an oval, smooth skinned potato with a creamy coloured flesh.  No real need to peel, but you can do for an even more refined finish.

Continue reading “Nicola Potato – Our potato of the month!”

Nicola Potato – Our potato of the month!

Brussels Sprouts – a Super Food and not just a side dish

What is there to say about Brussels Sprouts that can convince they are not just a Christmas food…but a superfood that is incredibly easy to cook with complimentary flavours…so much more than a side-dish.

Relegating this to just a windy veg is a massive shame, as these little cabbages are reputed to be one of the most nutritious cruciferous veg (ie cabbages, kales etc).  They also grow all year, but our Sussex farmers rarely keep the crop growing due to demand.

Continue reading “Brussels Sprouts – a Super Food and not just a side dish”

Brussels Sprouts – a Super Food and not just a side dish

Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheddar Dumplings


I keep being drawn back to this chef’s website simply because their food photography is so good it makes me hungry enough to want to just dive into the kitchen and cook.

This soup is just so smooth, velvety and moreish…a real hats off to simple produce that can be sourced around Sussex easily…well for the next couple of weeks, at any rate.  Our fabulous Nutbourne tomatoes will be finishing soon, so there isn’t too much opportunity left to enjoy a bowlful.

The cheddar dumplings are so simple, and an upgrade from our usual crusty bread and cheese on the side.  This recipe calls for Davidstow Cheddar but we pooh-pooh stuff from all that way over the other side of the country as we have our own amazing Sussex Cheddar – both organic and non-organic.  Cheddar is hearty and sweet, but we also like to experiment with cheese with a slightly nuttier and more mature flavour – like the Olde Sussex, from The Traditional Dairy or Lords Burgh from Plumpton Down.

This soup works with a ripe classic vine tomato and don’t skimp on quality.  Tinned tomatoes are great as a cupboard basic, but there is a massive difference in tomato soup as canned or even tetrapak-ed tomatoes will leave a slight metallic aftertaste.  A good ripe fresh vine tomato will give a more rounded edge.

Any breadcrumbs will also work, but Monica Shaw, this recipe’s cook recommends wholemeal – and we found they did make a difference to the flavour.


  • Roasted tomato soup

  • 1kg tomato, ripe
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of basil, small, separated into leaves and stalks
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • olive oil
  • Dumplings

  • 2 slices of bread, crumbled, or approximately 55g of breadcrumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 55g of Cheddar cheese
  • salt
  • black pepper
1.  Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5
2.  Cut the tomatoes in half and arrange cut-side up in a baking dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper
3.  Bake for approximately 1 hour, until the tomatoes are totally soft and beginning to char around the edges
4.  Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion, carrot and garlic. Cook for approximately 7 minutes until softened. Meanwhile, chop the basil stalks and addd to the pan. Cook for another minute
5.  Add the roasted tomatoes (including any juices that seeped out) to the pan along with the vegetable stock. Stir, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down. Cover and leave to simmer for about 10-20 minutes (until the carrots are very soft)
6.  Blitz the soup in a blender then return to the pan and gently reheat
7.  Meanwhile, make the dumplings by mixing together all of the ingredients – you should have a moist doughy mix that’s easy to shape into small balls (about the size of a teaspoon)
8.  Drop the balls into the hot soup and simmer with a lid on for approximately 10 minutes
9.  Ladle the soup and dumplings into bowls and garnish with grated cheddar cheese and fresh basil leaves before serving
Roasted Tomato Soup with Cheddar Dumplings