V and H Café’s #EatSussex Seasonal Specials (guest blog!)

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Harry from V and H Cafe shares his seasonal specials…

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…

Caprese Salad

One of our earliest and fondest dishes. So simple but only excels when the highest produce is used. There is little to hide behind.

Ingredients:

· Coeur de boeuf tomatoes (or a ripe mixed variety)
· Mesto extra virgin olive oil (New Harvest)
· Buffalo mozzarella
· Arundel bail pesto (recipe below)
· Toasted hazel or pine nuts
· Fresh basil to garnish

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.

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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.

Ingredients:

· 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.

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Stuffed Tomatoes

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!

Ingredients:

· Coeur de boeuf tomatoes x6
· 900g Sausage or seasoned Pork mince
· 20g Dry Oregano
· 3 cloves garlic
· 150ml Mesto extra virgin olive oil

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.

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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.

Ingredients:

· 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)

To Serve:

· Northaim Dairy natural yoghurt
· Tibbs Farm Sussex raspberries
· A squeeze of lemon
· 1 tbsp unrefined sugar

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!)

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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!

Ingredients (Serves 2):

· 1 head of Butterhead lettuce
· 200g smoked chicken
· 1 avocado
· 2 shallots
· Handful of radishes
· 50g walnuts
· Bunch chives
· 50ml Mesto extra virgin olive oil
· Tspn Dijon mustard
· 20ml red wine vinegar
· Tspn Sussex honey
· Salt/pepper

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.

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Bon Appétit!


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…

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V and H Café’s #EatSussex Seasonal Specials (guest blog!)

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

Local game: Wild Venison and Pigeon

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A bit about venison 

Venison, is meat from the Fallow deer (and others, but in Sussex, primarily Fallow) and is low in fat, high in protein and stacked with vitamins and iron. It has a wonderful flavour that lends itself to a variety of cooking methods. The meat is dark, lean and generally tender, though wild venison might be a little tougher than farmed, as the deer have had more exercise. Age has also an influence on the level of tenderness – the younger the animal, the more tender the meat…

Free-range, it has a slightly finer grain than beef, but it can however be treated the same way – with the haunch best for roasting, and steaks and chops fried or barbecued.

Nutritional facts about venison

Venison has more protein than any other red meat, which means that it keeps you full and satisfied for longer. It is also particularly rich in iron and full of B vitamins.

How to store venison

Store venison in the fridge, wrapped, for up to two days. If you’re marinating your venison, keep the meat with its mix on the bottom shelf of the fridge for up to two days, in a covered container. Take out of the fridge around one hour before cooking, to allow it to return to room temperature.


Cooking venison

Venison is very lean, so either cook it fast and high, or add extra fat (belly pork, bacon, or butter) to keep it moist. Tougher cuts (shoulder, neck and shin) should be braised or stewed or made into mince for venison burgers or sausages.

Brown in hot oil, then roast (about 10 minutes per 500g.). Grill, barbecue or fry (brown quickly, then cook for one minute on each side).

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A bit about pigeon

Wood pigeon is very different from town pigeon; they are entirely wild and feed greedily both on vegetables grown in gardens and on crops in farmer’s fields. The meat is versatile with a lovely, wild gamey flavour. Wood pigeon is actually the perfect meat for anyone who wants sustainable and local food.

Rapidly seared and then rested, soft, succulent boned breast has the fine grain of a prime steak, but thanks to the diversity of its wild diet (seeds, acorns, buds, berries, green crops) it has a more complex earthy, woodland taste.

Ideal flavours to pair with wood pigeon

Fruits: blackberries, quince

Herbs: thyme, rosemary

Spices: cloves, chilli, ginger, cardamon, juniper

Vegetables: cabbage, celeriac, mushrooms

 


Cooking wood pigeon

 Season the birds with a little fat or butter and sear in an ovenproof pan first on their backs, sides and briefly on their breasts until golden brown, before turning over onto their backs and roasting in a pre-heated oven. Roast at a high heat for a short period. Slow cook or casserole older birds.

Here is a delicious recipe made with pigeon breasts. And as pigeon breasts are quite small, they are just perfect with salad and a really quick supper if you simmer the raspberry reduction first (or while getting on with other jobs!).

Wood pigeon salad with raspberry balsamic reduction

Serves 6 / Cooking: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • Wood pigeon breasts
  • raspberries
  • 3 tbsp of water
  • golden caster sugar
  • 40 ml. balsamic vinegar
  • pine nuts
  • baby salad leaves
  • salt, freshly ground
  • pepper, freshly ground

 

  1. To make the raspberry balsamic reduction, heat the raspberries, water and a large pinch of sugar in a small saucepan. Break up the raspberries with the back of a spoon and stir occasionally over a medium heat until the raspberries have broken down completely into a puree.
  2. Remove from the heat. When cool to touch, press the puree through a fine sieve until only the seeds remain. Add the balsamic vinegar to the mixture and return to the heat. Simmer until the mixture is reduced by half. It should be thick, but you should still be able to drizzle it over the salads. Set aside to cool.
  3. Toast the pine nuts lightly in a medium, dry frying pan. Arrange the salad leaves on 6 plates and sprinkle over the pine nuts.
  4. Return to the now hot pan you used to toast the pine nuts to the heat and turn it up to the high. Pan-fry the pigeon breasts for about 3 minutes on each side, making sure not to move them around the pan so you get a nice crust. Store them on a warm plate under kitchen foil while you’re cooking the whole batch.
  5. Slice the breasts with a very sharp knife and arrange over the salads. Drizzle generously with the raspberry balsamic reduction and serve immediately.

 

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Find the recipe on http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/recipes/pan-fried-wood-pigeon-salad-recipe

 


 

Visit our website at www.finandfarm.co.uk 

Local game: Wild Venison and Pigeon

Local Game: Pheasant

 

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Pheasant is native to Asia and has been widely introduced elsewhere as a game bird. Roaming pheasant enjoy scratching around in woods; their ideal habitat and are so familiar in landscape.

Our pheasant is supplied  by Chanctonbury Game – in Sussex at the foot of the downs.  They are experts in preparing dressing wild game – all of it wild and never farmed.

Nutritional facts about game … there are real health benefits to eating game. Pheasant and partridge contain a high level in iron, protein, vitamin B and selenium, which helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Pheasant is also appreciated for its low fat content as it contains nearly half the fat found in a equal size of beef.

But what does the pheasant taste like ?

Wild pheasants generally have a gamey flavour characteristic of whatever the birds have been eating. Their flesh is pale, lean and firm. Cooking game can minimize their deep flavour by soaking it in salt water or milk, if you prefer a less rich taste. The breast meat is more delicate in flavour and tender than the legs, which tend to be darker in colour and more meaty.


Cooking pheasant

In general, young birds are more tender than older ones, and are best roasted or grilled. Older birds are better cooked slowly such as in a casserole or braising.

Usually sold in a brace – a hen and a cock – young birds only need quick roasting and benefits from covering with a layer of streaky bacon or regular basting during cooking. Older birds stand up well to being braised or are even robust enough to curry.

Some cooking tips for your pheasant…. Pheasant hens tend to be plumper and better for roasting. Cock pheasants take well to lengthier cooking times as they can be tougher and age is also a factor.

In a traditional spirit, here is a recipe for roast pheasant with white wine and Charlotte potatoes. This recipe was developed to keep the bird moist and experimenting with different traditional ingredients.

Simple Roast Pheasant

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 pheasants (young hens are best)
  • olive oil
  • 1 pack (100g) pancetta lardons
  • 1 red onion, peeled and cut into thin rings
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped into slithers
  • 2 juniper berries crushed with a few black peppercorns
  • 700g Charlotte potatoes, cut on the diagonal into 3 pieces
  • 6 rashers pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 2 large glasses white wine

Preheat the oven to 200°C Mark 6. Salt and pepper the pheasants. In the bottom of a large, cast-iron casserole dish, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and brown the pheasants all over. Set aside. Tip in the lardons and fry until nearly crisp on a high heat. Add the onion, turn the heat down and cook for a few minutes, stirring continuously until soft. Add the garlic, a small sprinkle of salt, crushed juniper berries and peppercorns and cook for a further minute. Add the potatoes and stir it all together.

Sit the pheasant on top and cover the breasts with the pancetta rashers or bacon. Heat the wine and pour it over. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour.

 

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Local Game: Pheasant