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

Organic Heritage Salad Leaves from Fletching Glasshouses

saladbannerv1About Fletching Glasshouses

There’s always the risk that leaves form the base of a salad allowing other ingredients to take centre stage. But once you’ve served a really good salad leaf mix, then you are spoiled for ever after as second rate greenery just doesn’t cut the mustard..

Isobel and Emily Rae, who own and run Fletching Glasshouses have years of experience growing a broad variety of certified organic crops. It’s their experimental flair of combining leaves that has created really special fragrant and colourful salad mixes.

This season there’s a tantalising selection of mixed bags and also some fantastic heritage leaves to mix your own combinations.

Fletching

Fletching Glasshouses is pretty unique. Firstly, it’s no ordinary set of greenhouses as the Raes have dug a reservoir on the land. It’s not just a picturesque place to hang out but is a haven for wildlife and creates an environmentally supportive way of supplying water to the plants.

Secondly, the growing culture has a personal touch with the careful choice of leaves that they choose to plant. Every year the salads have a special secret ingredient – well, perhaps not secret, but something different to create exciting new flavours as the seasons progress.

Thirdly, the leaves are genuinely freshly picked. Early each morning, there is a team of people picking ready for collections a short while later – and we generally arrive on our collection round about 8ish or so – so the salads have not long left the ground. Leaves are bright and crunchy without the generally sad droop that you find in commercially packing.


 What’s in the Salad Mixes

In the winter salads you’ll find Tere – which isn’t well known as a salad leaf here but eaten widely in Turkey. It looks like a sturdy fleshy rocket leaf and has a wasabi kick which melts into a sweet aftertaste which is a little citrussy.

You’ll see Tere in the potent Mustard Mix salad, which compliments and adds roundness to the spicy Mustard frills and a little is added to the Herb and Spring Salad Mixes to give a small amount of keenness to the milder flavours.


Organic Mixed Bags

There are two mixes available this week – Summer Mix and Mustard Mix with a delicious Herb Mix soon to come:

Summer Mix

The Organic Summer Mix is a soft, leafy mix of seasonal leaves.  The actual mix varies week by week depending on what’s flourishing or picked but generally it’s an aromatic mix of:

  • A selection of young freshly picked lettuce leaves – Butterhead, Oak Leaf (Red and Green) and Little Gem
  • Chicory – Sugar Loaf and Rosso
  • Land Cress
  • Claytonia
  • Sorrel – Red Vein and French

Mustard Mix

A spicy mix of Tere, mustard leaf, mizuna and purple frilled leaf.  With a little salad from above to give balance – especially chicory to give the tang to compliment the sharper leaves.  This is a zesty salad mix.

  • Spicy Leaves – Tere, Red Mustard frills, Mizuna
  • Salad Mix – as above
  • Bitter mix – Sugar loaf chicory and Rosso

 Coming Soon – Herb Mix

Soon we will have some wonderful Herb Mix – gentle salad leaves with fragrant edible flowers – marigold and borage and added fragrant chives and parsley.


Organic Heritage Leaves

Currently, Fletching are also growing a fabulous range of heritage leaves that have been well known staples, but you generally don’t find in the shops…Here are just a few that are currently growing….

 Claytonia – you can buy this as a single leaf

 

Claytonia400x400

Also known as Winter Purslane or Miner’s Lettuce, Claytonia has pretty heart shaped leaves with tiny central flowers. Originally it grew in America and took its name from the California Gold Rush Miners who ate it to prevent scurvy. So, a leaf rich in vitamin C as well as the B vitamins and iron.

It’s a fantastic leaf as it isn’t bitter and is fresh tasting and mild. . It’s fairly fleshy, so can easily be used as a substitute for spinach – a pretty versatile leaf for the kitchen.

 Land Cress – available as a single leaf

landcress2

Land Cress is rich and peppery like watercress but a smaller denser leaf. It is a native cress although now it’s often known as American Cress and has always provided greenery through the winter months. These dense leaves are also pretty versatile and can be cooked – although they pretty much melt instantly, so flash cooking required.

Red Mustard Frills – also as a single leaf bag

mustard-red-frils

Picture from the Biking Gardener

Mustard greens are something of a superfood as they are reputed to reduce cholesterol and are anti-inflammatory and have powerful antioxidants according to studies.  Red Mustard frills has a vibrant wasabi flavour and crunchy texture – it’s the spiciest leaf in the mustard family.  The frills are radiant, deeply serrated leaves with slim green stems.

Mizuna – Also single leaf bags available

mizuna
Mizuna is has long deeply serrated silky leaves with trailing stems that meet at its root base. Mizuna has a bright sharp but earthy flavour which is a beautiful bridge between a spicy and a sweet salad leaf.

Salad Rocket – as a single leaf

Rocket400x400

The organic rocket that Fletching grows is a broad leafed mildly spicy variety with a full sweet flavour.  The peppery flavour of rocket is renowned for it’s pairing with deep smoky flavours like pancetta and parmesan.  It goes deliciously with the Mestó olive oil, where the grassy notes sit beautifully with fresh tangy rocket.

French Sorrel (from next week) – as a single leaf bag

frenchsorrel

Sorrel was once a staple leaf in British cooking and traditional medicine, but somehow dropped out of everyday use. French Sorrel is the broader larger leaf that we generally find under the name ‘Sorrel’ and a bit milder than the Red Vein variety.

It’s great with fish and eggs, but old recipes add it to Turnips and Swede and wilted down with butter as an accompaniment to goose or pork instead of apple sauce. The old cookery book we looked through described it as adding a ‘quickness’ to salads rather than tartness – which we think sounded beautifully descriptive.


 What to do with these wonderful leaves?

Cook up a fresh and healthy supper or brunch with a Land Cress Frittata with Ricotta and Parmesan…and in the spirit of being local, you could use Sussex Organic Ricotta and Veggie Parmesan cheese.

Land Cress in a delicious raw state works well in this recipe for Grilled Scallops with Land Cress and Tarragon Mayonnaise. If you can’t find scallops then chicken would work well and we stumbled across an intriguing blog which gave a recipe for vegan scallops.

Claytonia – Hearts for your heart. A healthy salad recipe with walnuts, parmesan and apples.There are loads of recipes but truthfully, it’s lovelier raw and even looks pretty in a vase.

salmonclaytoniasalad

Claytonia pairs beautifully with marjoram, avocado and nuts and white beans, as well as hard cheese, fish and shellfish. If serving with meat, the most delicious pairings are with duck and lamb.

Sorrel – where to start? It’s delightful with fish and eggs, but works as a perfect partner with goat’s or sheep’s cheese as well. Use as a foil for strong leafy greens and you’ll love it as a leaf in the Mustard Mix salad.

Try in the summer with a White Peach and Sorrel salad with honey vinaigrette for a real mix of sweet and tart flavours.

If you love Middle Eastern flavours, then try Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Fried Beans with Sorrel, Feta and Sumac as lovingly described by David Lebovitz.

friedbeans

I have heard that in Crete Sorrel is used in a version of Dolmades – little folded pastry triangles stuffed with rice and seasoned with fresh herbs and cooked in olive oil.

Sorrel is also a fantastic partner to Salmon where a sorrel sauce is eaten in one form or other throughout Europe.

Pozole Verde is a traditional rich Mexican dish which uses wild sour-grass to contrast with pork belly and sharp lime, but in Diana Kennedy’s delicious recipe uses sorrel.

Mizuna has a bright and slightly earthy peppery flavour.  Try a delicious and simple potato salad by tossing fingerling potatoes with chopped mizuna and olive oil.

mizuna_potato_salad_1

Salad Rocket is made to go with pancetta and Jamie has the perfect recipe here for a warm salad.

When in doubt, then you can never go wrong with rocket pesto. Let’s face it, Basil is a summer veg but we want to enjoy some fresh greens and pesto takes seconds to whizz up in a food processor – and you can keep a jar in the freezer to cheer up a rainy day.

Make a powerful Salsa Verde with Red Mustard Frills, olive oil, garlic and capers.  Wonderful with pasta.

 

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www.finandfarm.co.uk

 

 

Organic Heritage Salad Leaves from Fletching Glasshouses