The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

Yep, when you’re the designated driver, standing at the bar leaves you with difficult decisions.  To leave the pub at the end of the evening with your heart racing from probable caffeine overload – or the nasty sugary taste left after too much fake raspberry.

Non-alco drinks don’t have to be dull/sweet/fizzy.  A little while ago, Nick and I were invited to join a group at an award evening.  It was a foodie award sponsored by our own Brighton Gin.  A bottle of gin was drunk with a very special Kombucha mixer – according to the brochure.  We had a massive pitcher of this deliciously decadent tasting pink stuff on the table, so assumed our hosts had kindly pre-mixed and left us a gin cocktail.  After much sharing, a red-faced waiter came over WITH OUR GIN.  We hadn’t even noticed that we’d been drinking the unlaced mixer.  So, clearly debunking the power of conditioning is that a great drink must be alcoholic (or maybe that’s just us…).


Kombucha Mocktails Muddle with fresh herbs and juices – Kombucha gives your mocktail a kind-of sophisticated, adult flavour…and there are some gorgeous recipes to be found just here >>.

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Apple Juice – well, we are in Sussex, aren’t we?  If we didn’t have more varieties of juice than you can possibly count, then things aren’t as they should be.  It’s a joy walking through the orchard at Ringden Farm, where there are fields of apple trees of heritage and modern varieties.  All these are picked through their season and some are pressed at the farm.

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So, from Ringden, there are varieties of juice to choose from, which are as complex as choosing a bottle of wine.  From the heritage Grenadier – a tart, citrussy juice through to the honeyed sweetness of a Russet.  All the apple juices and apple-juice blends are described here in their categories.

So….the blended juices. Whenever we have done a farmers market, we always have bottles of Beetroot and Apple.  Most people are not so keen to try but nearly all are converted and love the slight earthiness that beetroot brings to a sweet juice…which is obviously preaching to the converted, if you’re a smoothie maker.

The Apple and Strawberry is also a winner with the drivers, as surprisingly, it’s one of the less sweet juices.  Not sure why that is- it just has a kind of pleasant fruitiness.

Mocktails Using Apple Juice – Well, naturally, as it’s a great base to lighten up or add punchy flavours like ginger.  A refreshing one for us is the Virgin Mojito or for a party pitcher, maybe a Red Apple Sangria type cocktail is light and add as much lime as you feel will add a bit of zing.

Or, warm the cockles with a lively glass of Mulled Apple.

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Elderflower Cordial combined with apple, is something you can keep as a drink all year round (and not just for sloshing into fizz).  Apple, Elderflower and Mint is light and refreshing for adults or kids.

Or for a drink that has a sparkle of colour, since it’s the party season descending, after all -then Jamie has the ideal unboozy fizz with this Elderflower Lemonade with Frozen Berries.

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Visit us at www.finandfarm.co.uk

See our range of juices and water online.


 

 

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The Best Non-Alcoholic Mocktails

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.

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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

Happy Launching!

SHC Logo Web

Our new venture is coming along!

8th September

After two years of discovering, tasting (lots) and setting up, we are a hair’s breadth away from launching our new hampers.

For years we have been selling and sourcing fresh Sussex farm produce, but along the way, we’ve found some fabulous stuff out there.  Tucked away in all kinds of interesting places, we have silversmiths, brewers, leathermakers, jewellers and artists.  Fin and Farm is devoted to fresh Sussex produce so we have been trying to work out a way of incorporating handmade, beautiful things.

Setting up hampers is definitely harder than we thought it would be!  We love wicker hampers, but they aren’t everyone’s cup of darjeeling, so first off has been to find a perfect wooden box that can be kept and used…as well as gorgeous, tactile wicker, of course.

Anyway, boxes are generally Useful Things to have….At home, we have a ‘memory box’ with things added from family life over the years…photos, school reports and things collected on walks and holidays.  In the kitchen, we use wooden boxes for storing extra kitchen stuff like icing nozzles, biscuit cutters and party bits…and boxes for recipes and widgety things.  Now we come to think of it, we do have rather a lot of stackable storage!  Photo boxes and random cd’s all get swept into crate format, as we do love hiding away our family chaos!

So, inevitably, we got quite excited about boxes and hampers, given that they are unlikely to be crushed and sent to landfill…and we are not encouraging more waste.

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This is our first attempt at producing a great box….now sorting, leather straps, stamping and sealing so all can be 100% safe and secure.  All our family members are perfectly happy to act as delivery guinea pigs so we can test how well they travel.

The fun bit this year – and the hardest – has been whittling down our list of what to bring you on day 1.  After months of hard thinking, looking at what things we would like for ourselves, our own families or our customers and suppliers – and what you will like – and discussing and cogitating over big glasses of Sussex wine (for reference only…) we’ve selected what we believe you will love.

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The wicker hampers will be stuffed full of mouthwatering Sussex-made sweets and gifts.  Award winning wines, orange blossom and earl grey turkish delight, gin truffles and chocolates with rum-soaked raisins (3 weeks soaked) boozy chocolates…the list goes on and on (!) so we will tell you more about everything shortly…

Anyway, we are nearly there just now and are looking forward to our launch party on 8th September – and there is no way this would go live without the amazing input of our designer Sarah Ferrari, who has painstakingly interpreted what we want for our site (and that we can’t wait to go live) – and the wonderful photography of Sarah Ketelaars.

So finally, we are just putting the finishing touches to everything (ie last minute fretting about nips and tucks) and this week managed to finally clink a glass to celebrate that we have got this far…

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Happy Hampering! 

We will tell you more soon…


Our website will be up and running soon:

www.thesussexhampercompany.co.uk

But in the meantime, please follow us on

Facebook and Twitter:


 

 

 

 

Happy Launching!

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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Visit us at www.finandfarm.co.uk

 

 

Local Game: Pheasant

Visit to Tibbs farm!

Morgane, our intern, is doing the rounds of visiting our customers and growers to get an idea of how food works in Sussex, from her Parisian point of view.  Here’s her first interview with Robert from Tibbs Farm, at Udimore, who grows our delicious summer fruit.

Morgane’s interview with Robert at Tibb’s Farm (June 2016)

Muir and I went to visit Tibbs farm, in Udimore, East Sussex. At the moment they are growing mainly strawberries and gooseberries but other summer fruit will come soon. They specialise in “pick your own fruits”.

We met Robert Wheeler there, owner of the farm. He showed us round his farm, where he grows all the delicious fruit bushes. I had the opportunity to interview him.

 

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Could you please tell me the story of your farm? And how did you become a farmer?

So I’m from a farming family going back a long time. We’ve been growing hops for six generations. So I’m a sixth generation hop grower, so that goes back to the 1790s. My immediate farming family also goes back a long time. My father came here in 1956 and this is where I work now. That’s how I became a farmer.

Why did you choose to follow the family path? Did you have the choice to do something else?

I certainly once had a choice. I went to university and could have got a job but farming is a way of life, isn’t it, so that is why I wanted to become a farmer.

What fruit do you produce?

Well we have strawberries, loganberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and redcurrants and further on we grow raspberries as they’re quite popular fruits.  Later on, we also have blackberries.  We grow our fruit – on this sloping bank for drainage and easy access.

Do you have pickers to pick your fruits?

Yes, we have pickers in for that. We try not to waste any, that’s the point. Nobody likes waste, so we do pick quickly.  There are some fruits whose shelf-life is very short, like loganberries, and if you don’t pick them when they’re ready, after a day, they go mushy and juicy, and must be thrown away.

When do you grow?

We are now so used to seeing strawberries in shops all year around. You have them in glass- houses and you have them from South Africa or anywhere you like, they’re all coming but flavour is best when they are properly grown in season. So, you can have strawberries all year around. But the traditional way in this country; they start about June-July, and that is the peak season for strawberries.

And here, we grow them in the ground without cover, so we don’t force them to come early and we don’t try to make them come late.  We choose different varieties so the season can last as long as possible.

How do you treat your fruit?

We try to be as organic as possible. We just have to make sure we don’t have disease problems. There are aphids and other insects, but we live with them!

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Come and visit us and see our online shop at www.finandfarm.co.uk

Click on Delivery to see if you are in our delivery area.

If not, then hopefully at some point we can deliver to you!

Visit to Tibbs farm!

Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers

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Picture from Real Food Runner – Bell Pepper Salad

A freshly grown, naturally matured pepper is a joy to eat with a sweet richness that time and forced growing hasn’t completely been bred out to leave just a crisp watery shell.

Tangmere Airfield Nurseries are sited on the historical ‘Battle of Britain’ airfield near Chichester just ahead of the Sussex South Downs.  Following the airfield closure in 1970, the land fell into decline until it was regenerated as farmland.  Tangmere have been growing peppers there since 1988.

In 2001 they bought a farm in Spain so they could supply peppers all year round – which for us as consumers is great as we have complete traceability from responsible growers; Tangmere are a LEAF demonstration farm (Linking Environment and Farming) which aims to combine traditional farming with environmental awareness.

We buy their peppers because they are hands down, the sweetest most delicious and fresh peppers we’ve tasted.  Even green peppers, which are usually mildly bitter, have a softer sweeter flavour as they’ve had time to develop their flavour naturally.

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Ways to use Bell Peppers

The edible capsicum family are all rich in nutrients, particularly Vitamin C and has fantastic antioxidant properties when eaten raw or lightly cooked.

Cooking can really highlight the sweet, almost fruity flavour and peppers can as easily stand up for themselves with strong meaty textures as well as light, fragrant salads.

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You could add spicy chorizo for a stew just made to be eaten with bread to mop up those juicy sauces.

A red pepper and walnut dip is perfect for parties and barbecues.

Baked eggs in peppers is low in carbs and deliciously healthy for a quick supper.

A perfectly topped pizza with peppers and an olive stuffed crust has a beautifully luscious and smoky flavour.

Try roasting a batch of peppers and preserving in oil or freezing for adding to chillies and bolognaise for those sweet notes.

Green peppers are often used in Indian cooking and this mildly sour creamy chutney is a delicate alternative to raitha.

We had never really thought about a curried gravy to add to a Biriyani or dry curry before, but this blogger Swathi’s recipes has opened our eyes to a number of possibilities to create a sauce which can be used alongside various main courses for all our vegetarian/meat eating guests…genius.

If you are looking for the ultimately sophisticated canape, then these little balls of red pepper puree with goat’s cheese are just delightful to look at, never mind eat.

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A more earthy take from these Great British Chefs borrows flavours from Greek cooking to take a quintessentially British lamb stew up a notch with their Lamb and Red Pepper Ragout.

Finally, peppers are so sweet but we haven’t come across them as an actual sweet before and not sure why.  We love this Great British Chef site so much for their unusual and creative spin on old favourites.  However, these red pepper tuile biscuits are extremely impressive and we think would work equally well alongside a sorbet as a canape.

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Visit us at our website

www.finandfarm.co.uk

 

Perfectly Seasonal – Sussex Grown Peppers