Tag Archives: Kirsty hale

A Foraged Festive Tipple – How to make Quince Ratafia

When Guy set up thforaged-fruite farm here in Devon he made a point of planting native fruit trees around the place, as much to boost biodiversity as for how they contribute to making it a beautiful place to work and visit. Every autumn the field margins, hedgerows and even the driveways have boughs heaving with sloes, crab apples, quince, hawthorn, elderberries, rowan and medlars, which staff and visitors are free to help themselves to should they be keen. This year we took it one step further decided a staff foraging and preserving event would be good fun.

To this end various members of our marketing, finance, IT, customer services and recipe box teams gathered after work one October evening, to learn from our Riverford recipe matriarch, Kirsty Hale.

crab-apples

After splitting into foraging teams and armed with bramble shears and gloves where necessary, we spread out across the farm; some down to the old rhubarb field margin, some up by the reservoir, some to the cardoon field and some to the medlar tree in the car park.

45 minutes of competitive picking (in some cases) later, we reconvened in our recipe development kitchen and under Kirsty’s instruction, set about preparing our quinces to make quince Ratafia; medlarsquince gin or vodka. As you can see from the pictures, it was organised chaos and brilliant fun, with a loud buzz and clatter of chat, peeling, grating and chopping. In case you are not familiar with it, quince is a beautifully perfumed fruit that brings light, almost floral notes to whatever it is blended with. It is the one fruit you really can’t eat raw; it’s just rock solid and unpalatable. However when baked or poached its texture is transformed to a dense, jelly-like finish, though our aim with this exercise was simply to swipe its beautiful notes to create a festive tipple.

We love talking about veg, but it was good to do something a bit more social with each other for a change!

Next up was hedgerow jelly made using the crab apples and other fruits. If you fancy having a go, here are Kirsty’s recipes:

Quince gin or vodka (ratafia)
gin1
You will need:

  • Sterilised glass bottle/jar and lid (wide necked is easiest), left to cool
  • Quinces
  • Gin or vodka
  • Granulated sugar

Cut the quince into quarters and roughly pick out as many pips as you can. Coarsely grate (or use a processor) and transfer to your sterilised, cold bottle. You want to fill it approx. ⅓ full (exact ratios below). Add sugar, ground cinnamon and nutmeg or mace, top up with booze and seal.

Leave for at least 2 months, longer if you can (up to 1 years, even 18 months). Gently turn it now and then, about every week, so the sugar slowly dissolves.
Strain through muslin for the best finish and decant into cold sterilised bottles.

You can guesstimate the weight ratios, but here’s a roquince-ginugh guide:
2.5 litre jar = 4-5 quince, 500-600g sugar (to your own preference for sweetness), ¼ tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg (more if you like), peel from 1 lemon, approx. 1-1.2 litres booze

2 litre jar = 3-4 quince, 400-500g sugar, good pinch or two of cinnamon and nutmeg, peel from 1 lemon, 800ml-1 litre booze

1.5 litre jar = 3 quince, 350-400g sugar, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, peel from ½ lemon, 600-750ml booze

1 litre jar = 1-2 quince, 200-250g sugar, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, peel from ¼ lemon, 400-500ml booze

You can also make lovely booze with: Sloes (freeze overnight or prick with a pin before adding). A few drops of almond or vanilla essence is good with this, damsons or plums (prick several times), crab apples (use leftover pulp from making jelly), medlars, and many other fruits.
Use – on its own, or over ice. Or top up with tonic, lemonade or bitter lemon (sloes or damsons are very good with bitter lemon). Make cocktails or pour over ice-cream or desserts. Experiment and enjoy!

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Crab apple or Hedgerow jelly

To make approx. 6-8 x 8oz jars, or approx. 4 x Riverford 12oz jars

  • 1kg crab apples + 1 kg other berries eg sloes, hips, hawthorn, elderberries, rowan, or use more crab apples, washed well
  • Granulated sugar – have about 1kg to hand, you may not need all of it
  • Clean, sterilised jars & lids – put jars on a baking tray in a cold oven, heat to 150C for a 15 mins (keep the jars hot in the oven for potting)
  • Cold saucers kept in the fridge (to test for a set)

Put the fruit in a large pan with 1.2 litres of water. Bring up to a low boil. Cook the fruit until very soft, approx. 15-20 mins or so.

Ladle the contents of the pan into a suspended muslin jelly bag. Leave to drip for several hours (or overnight). Don’t squeeze or press it or the jelly will turn cloudy.
jelly
Measure the juice. For every 600ml juice you need 450g sugar. Transfer the juice and sugar to a preserving pan (a very large heavy-based stainless steel saucepan is fine to use).

Heat the pan gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, boil for 10 mins.
Test for a set – put a dessertspoon’s worth on a cold saucer. Leave for 20-30 secs, then push it with your finger. It should ripple when the set is ready. If not set, repeat the boil and test at 10 minute intervals, until you get the ripple effect.

Skim off any scum from the surface. Pot the hot mixture into hot sterilised jars. Seal, turn upside down for 5 mins to sterilise the lids. Label when cool. The pots should keep for up to 1 year.

You can use the leftover drained mushy apples to make crab apple vodka or gin.

Additions:

  • Add a little chilli to the apples/berries when steeping.
  • Pop a little star anise in with your finished jelly – the anise flavour is really good with pork and game.

foragers

kirsty’s cooking blog: samphire

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I don’t think there are many places in the UK where you get a feeling that there’s not another soul around, and most of those I’ve come across are in Scotland.

However, I managed to grab a brief Robinson Crusoe moment on home turf in Devon recently, stranded on the beach as the advance party for a group of food journalists who were invited to pick samphire with us on the Erme estuary, probably one of the most unspoilt in the South West. I was able to get there early and had a tranquil hour, quietly snipping samphire with only a few cormorants for company. Heaven. 

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Erme Estuary

We ate ours served with a huge sea trout donated by my dad (we were lucky to get it, as he had a little unplanned swim shortly after he caught it!)

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Freshly caught sea trout!

To serve samphire very simply, to accompany fish or lamb, simply boil or steam it for a minute, then toss in melted butter with a squeeze of lemon juice and some freshly ground black pepper. It’s good tossed in salads too. 

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Busy picking samphire

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Gathered around our camping set up – enjoying sea trout and samphire

Here are a couple of my favourite recipes; there are lots more on our website.

spider crab & samphire salad, with new potatoes & roasted tomatoes

In the early summer the spider crabs come into shore in vast numbers and are rarely eaten by us; most get sent over to the continent. They have a light, sweet flavour. If I go spear-fishing off the South Devon coast I pick a couple of these up on the way back; they’re a substitute for not catching any sea bass, which tend to be further offshore until the sea warms up later in the year, but by no means a poor one. Cooking them can be a bit whiffy indoors; I usually get the camping cooker out and boil them in the garden. If you can’t find spider crab, use the meat from a brown crab instead.

serves 4

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut in ½ crossways
  • 800g new potatoes, scrubbed clean & cut in ½ or ¼’s, depending on size
  • 4 tbsp good olive oil
  • 200g samphire, washed
  • 200g cooked white spider crab meat
  • a few basil leaves, shredded
  • a few tarragon leaves, shredded
  • (as an alternative to basil & tarragon, try some chopped fresh chervil if you can get it, or parsley)
  • lemon juice, to taste
  • sea salt (see note below) & freshly ground black pepper, to season

Put the cherry tomatoes on a non-stick baking tray and drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven at 180C for 30-40 mins, depending on your oven. They should be sticky and just starting to caramelise. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. While the tomatoes are cooking, put the potatoes in a pan of salted water. Bring to the boil and cook the potatoes for approx 10 -15 mins, depending on size, until tender. Drain and leave to cool. Cook the samphire in another pan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and plunge into a pan of cold water, then drain again and leave to cool. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, tomatoes, samphire, crab meat and herbs. Add the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice to taste and season with black pepper. You probably won’t need any extra sea salt to season, as the samphire is salty enough, but taste before you serve. 

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samphire, sorrel & new potato frittata

samphire, sorrel & new potato frittata

Samphire doesn’t have to be served with fish or meat; if you’re vegetarian it pairs well with eggs too. I’ve included some sorrel in this set omelette, for a citrus hit. If you’ve grown some from your Riverford box to grow earlier in the year, use that, or try a garden centre for a plant; it’s not something you generally find in your local shop.

serves 2

  • 250g new pots, scrubbed clean & thickly sliced
  • a little butter & oil for frying
  • 4 large or 6 smaller sorrel leaves, finely shredded
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 50g samphire, washed
  • sea salt (add sparingly if at all, as the samphire will be salty) 
  • freshly ground black pepper

Cook the sliced potatoes for 5 minutes in a pan of salted boiling water. Drain them and leave to one side. Heat a knob of butter and a splash of oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the sorrel and stir for 1 minute (sorrel loses its green colour when cooked, so don’t be alarmed when it changes colour quite dramatically). Add the drained potatoes, beaten eggs, samphire, salt and a good grinding of black pepper to season. Cook for a few minutes, enough to set the bottom. Finish under the grill or in the oven, until the frittata is just set all the way through.

Happy cooking!

kirsty’s cooking blog: blueberries

There was a bit of a green-fingered rummage in the office on Monday as we gathered up some of the seedlings rejected for not being quite up to scratch for our Box to Grows. Some also go to local schools for their garden projects, and I hope the Totnes Incredible Edible scheme might get a few too; they plant unused spaces around the town with veg and herbs for residents to pick for free.

Those seedlings probably stand a pretty good chance of surviving, but for those heading for my garden, good luck to them! I only have a courtyard garden, but it’s amazing what you can fit in; even artichokes will grow quite happily in large pots. As I have such a small space, I only grow things I can eat, particularly herbs, as I use bucket loads of them.

My blueberry bush, which has survived my murderous attempts for 3 years now, amazes me each summer by offering up a bumper crop. Blueberries seem to grow really well in Devon; they even manage to grow them up on Dartmoor. Mine is only just blossoming, but we have the first of our blueberries available now. Plumper and sweeter than supermarket berries, they’re good with porridge or granola and yoghurt for breakfast. Or try this easy blueberry & yoghurt cake (below), delicately flavoured with a little almond and lemon. It can be made with gluten-free flour too, for those with an allergy.

I’m not a huge fan of meringues, but I love the delicate flavour of saffron, which pairs well in our recipe for saffron meringues with blueberry compôte (below). The meringues also go well with poached pears.

 blueberry & yoghurt cake

prep: 10 mins cook: 50 mins serves: 12

If you want to make a gluten-free cake, Doves Farm make a gluten-free self-raising flour, although it isn’t organic, but you could use gluten-free plain flour with baking powder if you prefer.

you will need:
300g self-raising flour
pinch fine sea salt
175g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
finely grated zest of 1 large or 1 ½ smaller lemons
2 large eggs
150g plain whole yoghurt
125g unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra to grease the tin
1 tsp almond extract
250g blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 20cm cake tin with a little butter on a piece of kitchen paper. Line the base and sides with baking parchment. In one bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, ground almonds and lemon zest. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then stir together with the yoghurt, butter and almond extract. Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredient bowl. Stir until all the ingredients are just combined. Add the blueberries and gently stir them in. Pour into the tin, level it and bake for 50 mins or until just cooked through and golden brown (insert a skewer or cocktail stick in the middle, it should come out clean). Let the cake cool in the tin for 15-20 mins then turn out onto a cooling rack.

saffron meringues with blueberry compôte

prep: 20 mins    cook: 2 hours    serves: 4

for the meringues:
2 egg whites
pinch of saffron threads
100g golden caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar

for the compôte:
250g blueberries
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
juice ½ lime, more to taste
2 mint leaves, finely shredded
whipped double or clotted cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Put the saffron in a small heatproof bowl. Add 2 tsp boiling water and leave to steep. Crack the eggs and tip each half of the shell from side to side over a small bowl to separate the whites from yolks (do this one at a time into the bowl, in case the egg whites and yolks mix together, transferring the egg whites to a large clean, dry bowl. Save the yolks to make mayonnaise or hollandaise. Whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, until the eggs are stiff and have a satin looking sheen. You should be able to tip the bowl upside down without them falling out! Don’t over whisk though, or this will cause the egg whites to break down and the meringues will turn soggy in the oven. Strain the saffron liquid; discard the strands and keep the bright yellow liquid. Add this to the meringue with the cornflour and vinegar. The cornflour and vinegar help the insides of the meringue have a marshmallowy rather than powdery texture. Whisk until just combined. Use 2 dessert spoons to make 8 similar sized oval dollops on the baking sheet. Turn the oven down to 120C and pop the meringues in the oven. Cook for 1 ½ hours or so, until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there to cool completely. This will stop the meringues from cracking.

To make the compote, put half the blueberries and the sugar in a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, about 4-5 mins. Add the lime juice and strain the mixture over a sieve. Stir in the rest of the blueberries. Serve the meringues sandwiched together with cream, with the blueberry compôte.

Kirsty’s cooking blog: making red onion & raisin chutney

Kirsty, Riverford Cook

Kirsty, Riverford Cook

Before I had my first vegbox, about 12 years ago now, I’d always made a few chutneys, because I love the mix of sweet and sour flavours, and their versatility. With my vegbox, I started making more chutneys and pickles to use up any gluts. Now they’ve become a staple in my kitchen cupboard.

Chutneys are one of the simplest of all the preserving kits we’re selling alongside the vegboxes. A bit of peeling and chopping, then let it all simmer gently away until you have a sticky, aromatic concoction. With our ready-weighed spice bags there’s no risk of over or under-spicing, so they’re great for beginners, or for those who don’t like to buy jars of spices and then find them a year later, languishing and stale in the back of the cupboard.

With its warm spices, you might think our new red onion and raisin chutney is more suited to wintry suppers, but if you make it now, it’ll mature in time to be a great addition to a summer spread. Take it on picnics; it’s good with pork pie or cheeses, or serve alongside barbecued meats. For veggies, try one of our giant portobello mushrooms, char-grilled and served on a griddled warm bun with a slick of mayo, preferably a garlic one, topped with a good dollop of chutney.

I’m making my jars now, while the days are still promising much, and squirreling them away for summer feasts on the river Dart and balmy seaside barbecues. Or, if the weather’s like last year, I’ll brave the beach in a mac, shovel in a quick cheese and chutney doorstop, head to the nearest pub to dry off and save most of the jars for bonfire night sausages.

red-onion-raisin-chutney

Riverford red onion & raisin chutney kit

stir up sunday (and soak it up saturday) – Christmas cake recipe

I’ve been asked to write about ‘stir up Sunday’, the traditional day when you’re supposed to make your Christmas pudding, gathering the family round to stir it and make a wish. Stir up Sunday is on the last Sunday before Advent; this year it’s the 25th November.

I took on the mantel of making the family pudding a few years ago, taking over from my beloved Nanna. But as we want you to buy our ready-made Christmas puddings (granted, they are good), I’m not allowed to tell you the recipe for that, although I may get rebellious and start a secret pudding club!

Instead, here’s a Christmas cake recipe, which we don’t sell. This is an adaptation of my mum’s cake, which is always really moist. She has even been known to make it in a festive panic the day before Christmas Eve, adding a glug more brandy, and it still tastes good! If you are making this a week or so after Stir Up Sunday, just feed the cake every 4-5 days instead of every week.

Make it, wish on it, and a star or two for extra luck. Feed it, love it, and we’ll tell you how to make your own marzipan, icing and decorations in a couple of week’s time.

You do need to start soaking the fruit for pudding or cake the day before, so the process really starts with soak it up Saturday – I’ve shared this recipe in two parts; part one – preparation and baking, part two – making your own marzipan (it’s really very easy!) and icing the cake.

Suitable stirring tunes: Elgar, or Bob Marley. He’d probably rather you used rum. And that would be fine.

Kirsty’s Christmas cake

You will need a 20cm/8 inch round cake tin or an 18cm/7 inch square tin; the cake will cook to about 6-7cm deep, so check your tin is deep enough to hold it, sometimes the average Victoria sponge tin isn’t deep enough.

Ingredients

400g currants
200g raisins
200g sultanas
100g pitted dates, roughly chopped
100g glacé cherries, roughly chopped (try to get the darker, naturally coloured cherries rather than the plastic looking light red ones if you can)
100g mixed candied peel
4 tbsp brandy, plus extra for drizzling
250g unsalted butter, diced, softened at room temp, plus a little extra for greasing
250g light brown soft sugar
4 large eggs
250g plain flour
a good couple of pinches of salt
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
75g flaked or blanched whole almonds, roughly chopped
zest 1 lemon
zest 1 orange
1 tbsp black treacle or molasses

The day before you bake:

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Put the dried fruit, cherries and mixed peel in a large bowl. Pour over the brandy and stir together. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to soak overnight.

The next day:-

Preheat the oven to 140c (if you are using a fan oven, reduce the temperature to 120c or it will cook too quickly and burn).

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Prepare your cake tin: line the outside of the tin with 3 layers of greaseproof paper tied with string to protect it.

Use a piece of kitchen paper to grease the inside of the tin with a little butter.
Cut a round piece of greaseproof paper to line the base of the tin, then a long strip to line the side – use a little greasing of butter to stick a couple of strips together if you need to.
Cut a round double layer of paper, enough to cover the top of the cake.
Cut a small hole in the middle of it to let the steam escape.

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In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy (use an electric hand whisk if you have one, it’s easier).
Lightly beat the eggs in a small jug or bowl. Gradually add them to the creamed butter and sugar. Don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled.

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Add the flour, salt, spices, nuts, zests and treacle. Stir to combine, then add the brandy-soaked fruit, together with any liquid in the bowl and stir together. Try not to over-mix it.

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Transfer the mixture to the tin. Level it off and cover with the double piece of greaseproof paper.

Bake on a low oven shelf for about 4 hours (140c in a standard oven or 120c if fan), depending on your oven – start testing it after 3½ hours, then at intervals, by inserting a skewer or cocktail stick into the middle of the cake – it should come out clean.

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Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 mins.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Wrap the base and sides of the cake in foil and place in an airtight container. Prick the top of the cake several times with a skewer or cocktail stick. Drizzle over a little brandy, about 1 tbsp. Seal the container.

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Unwrap and feed the cake once a week for 3 weeks with a drizzle of brandy; about 1 tbsp each time. It’s then ready to decorate.

I’ll be sharing my recipe for making your own marzipan (much simpler than you’d think) in the second week of December when the cake will be ready for covering.

Kirsty

kirsty’s blog – use your loaf

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In our house, my giant hound and I share different views on Hallowe’en and Bonfire night (or whatever you want to call them) – even before we get into the commercial nonsense debate.

I don’t like yo-yoing up and down to feed the trick or treaters, but he loves the attention every doorbell ringer gives him, even if they look like Freddy Krueger. I’m crackers for a firework, while he needs a sedative to get him through the season’s unidentifiable bangs.

Neither of us is that fussed about eating pumpkin though, particularly when there’s tastier squash around – however, if you took away an impossibly large orange orb from one of our Riverford Farm Pumpkin Days last weekend and you’re wondering what to do with all the innards once it’s carved, don’t dump them in the compost. Soup it up with curry spices or ginger to warm your hands in between lighting sparklers, or try this pumpkin and pecan loaf. The puréed pumpkin keeps the loaf moist and it’s easy to make, so it’s good for baking with the kids.

pumpkin & pecan loaf
To make your pumpkin purée, steam pieces of pumpkin flesh until tender. Leave in a colander to cool and drain off the excess moisture, then blitz in a food processor until smooth.

100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
200g light brown sugar
1 large egg
100g pecans, roughly chopped (or use walnuts)
250g self-raising flour
1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
good pinch of salt
120ml milk
225g pumpkin purée

Butter a 1 litre loaf tin and line it with baking parchment. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Beat together until light and fluffy (use an electric hand mixer if you have one, it’s easier). Stir in the pecans and pumpkin purée. Add the flour and cinnamon and stir to combine (don’t over mix it). Stir in the milk. Pour into the tin. Bake at 180C for 50-60 mins, until a skewer inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 mins. Turn out onto a cake rack and leave to cool completely or serve slightly warm, in thick slices.

Kirsty’s cooking blog

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Time to crack open the Rioja, get your best pot of saffron out and cook some of our seasonal peppers, pretending you’re on a Costa del Somewhere Else.

Our long, wobbly romano peppers are great simply roasted in olive oil or stuffed with some of our Laverstoke mozzarella and pesto verde.

It doesn’t claim to be the most authentic paella in the world, but try a warming and tasty chicken & chorizo dish using red peppers to share on a colder evening with friends, or instead of Sunday lunch. It’s great for using up some runner beans too.

We’ve also got some new kids on the Riverford block in the form of our small and feisty padron peppers. Spanish tapas favourites (although they’ve been growing on our French farm in abundance), they’re easy to cook and will have you coming back for more. We made the traditional pimientos de padron, or try them stuffed with our High Weald sheep’s cheese, with a double dose of peppers in our red pepper and tomato dip.

A Julio Iglesias soundtrack is optional. Salud!

Ne’er cast a clout, ‘til May is out

organic rhubarbAt this time of year I usually keep a batch of rhubarb compote in the fridge to have for breakfast with granola and yoghurt. I sit on the back doorstep in the sunshine and watch the giant hound lie all over my newly planted herb beds, perhaps as some sort of protest at me going to work. This year we’ve not yet tried granola or herb squashing, and are dashing out for the morning walk between the torrents. Apparently the cold weather means people are liking our porridge. Try a dollop of the compote with it; you might feel a bit more like you’re in May, not February. Wear your best Sou’wester with your jim-jams if you’re determined to eat it al fresco.

We’ve got new season asparagus and rhubarb coming through in the vegboxes, but when the weather’s this wet we still feel like a bit of comfort food. There’s been much talk of roast dinners and cake on the menu chez Riverford staff (we talk a lot about food in the office, understandably). We’ve got two new recipes for our seasonal favourites that’ll give you a bit of a springtime cuddle in a bowl. If you’re up for a bit of baking on a wet Sunday afternoon, try our gingerbread with rhubarb and orange fool. For a quick midweek dinner, asparagus and bacon linguine fits the bill. Fifteen minutes max, from fridge to plate. Squashed herbs are optional.

Kirsty

Kirsty’s cooking blog – strange fruit

organic avocados

Back in the eighties, my first job was working in a French-style restaurant making steak tartare to serve to paunchy gentlemen in loose ties. There were lots of rum babas, a few too many black Russians and lots of hollering by the wonderful chef (RIP). I survived on avocados and marie-rose sauce. The memory prompted a little laugh this week while watching Masterchef when the actress Amanda Steadman said she ate avocadoes for days on the trot when she first tasted them as they were such a revelation.

It reminded me there are variations of a recipe on websites and in cook books, a curiosity that had to be tried to prove its madness or genius. Chocolate avocado mousse. Dairy and processed sugar free, surely it couldn’t be right? Cacao and avocado were considered as stimulants by the ancient South American tribes, so I guess the combination comes from there. They were in some of the boxes this week, so if you haven’t made anything sensible with yours yet and they’ve turned a little ripe, give it a go and let us know what you think.

It had mixed reactions here, varying from ‘love it’ to ‘chocolate + hand cream’ and it definitely had the consistency of ganache rather than a proper mousse. I think it depends on your hippy rating as to how much you like it. I’d still make guacamole any day of the week, but here it is:

chocolate + avocado mousse

 avocado mousse

Serve with very thinly sliced pineapple, oranges or pink grapefruit. This makes about 5-6 ice cream scoops, so depending on how greedy you are, serves 2-4. It is quite rich, so one scoop is enough.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 25g good cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp honey or agave syrup
  • a few drops vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp cold water

Instructions

Cut the avocado in half lengthways and remove the stone. Scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon and put in a blender or food processor. Add the cocoa, honey or syrup and vanilla. Blitz until smooth. Add just enough water and blitz again until you have a smooth and creamy mixture. Taste, adding a touch more syrup or honey if needed.

 

organic beetrootI also made another pudding this week, chocolate beetroot mousse. Try that one if you fancy doing some baking this week, or for Mother’s day.

Kirsty’s cooking blog – Oval beauty

Eggs BenedictThis week I’ve mostly been thinking about oval shaped things. It all started with the rugby ball that agonisingly didn’t quite go over the line, but for those of you wearing red shirts, like him indoors, it was pretty good news. As we’re supposed to be good natured in defeat, I thought I’d be gracious and make a celebratory supper. The occasion suited Welsh rarebit with leeks, bacon and sage. Cheese on toast is great, with or without a smearing of marmite, but it becomes extra special when you use a mature cheddar like our Wyke Farm’s, spiced up with beer and an egg. I got chastised for not using Brains beer of course, but our organic Sam Smith’sdid the trick nicely, and I got to drink the leftovers. It also used up some of the mountain of leeks I seem to have accumulated in the bottom of the fridge. If you’ve got a glut, try using some up in recipes that call for an onion. Make a leek and potato soup to take in a flask for lunches, or if you’re feeling like baking, try our flamiche tart. Both are easy to make and suitable for freezing.

Usually on a Tuesday (recipe day), I stand in the kitchen with a vegbox and my hopeful assistant, a rather large hound, looking for inspiration. The hound, about work surface height, but not much of a veg eater, always looks a bit disappointed at the array of green. So we both start with an egg. I served his raw, but blinged mine up, making a hollandaise and serving it as possibly my favourite breakfast, eggs Benedict (it would make a special Mother’s Day breakfast too, so keep the recipe for the 18th March). Adding greens to it gets the five a day off to a start; psb or spring greens work well. It also makes a good supper.

My tip to get that perfectly round restaurant-looking poached egg, with no stray white bits, is to line a ramekin or small cup with clingfilm, leaving some overhanging the cup. Gently crack your egg into the cup, then carefully twist the clingfilm to seal it in. Lift the clingfilm out of the cup, gently place it in a pan of barely simmering water (no bubbles allowed) and cook for 4-4 ½ minutes for a runny egg, or 5 for one that’s a little firmer but still soft, if that’s your preference. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and carefully remove the clingfilm, to avoid breaking the yolk. However you poach yours, use the freshest of eggs.

As it’s Fairtrade Fortnight until March 11th, try pairing a couple of oval beauties with some of our fairtrade fruit in a banana and walnut loaf. Foolproof but tasty, you could also serve it up as part of a Mother’s Day afternoon tea. It serves eight, but keeps well in an airtight container and can be frozen if you like.

Happy cooking!

Kirsty