The Treats That Pass Us By

A highlight of studying real food and cooking from scratch is discovering all those little hints and tips, treats and surprises.  It’s wonderfully satisfying when you come across something that’s terribly simple yet joyfully delicious.  There’s so many of them out there and it’s got to be the easiest way to get people engaged and inspired to start cooking real food for themselves.  It’s exciting to think that I might stumble across something new tomorrow – note that when I say new, I mean re-discovering recipes, skills and techniques that we’ve lost over the years.

Now that it’s Autumn here in the UK, wonderful varieties of squash are starting to appear in the shops and on farmer’s market stands.  The seasonal glut results in very reasonable price tags and I’m always tempted by the myriad of autumnal colours and odd shapes.  Soon it’s going to be Halloween, that time of year when we waste copious amounts of perfectly good food…

Harlequin Squash

So here it is: when you cut your squash or pumpkin and scrape out the seeds, don’t throw them away!  I pop them in a sieve and separate them from the pith.

Harlequin Squash Seeds

Cleaned Harlequin Squash Seeds

After drying them off I have a couple of options; store and sow them to grow more plants, or prep and eat them.  More often than not I roast them in the oven with a tiny amount of oil and salt (150°C for about 20 minutes works but you might want to keep an eye on them and give them a shake).

Once cooled, they make a devilishly moreish and deliciously crunchy little snack!  They’ll happily take a little flavouring like paprika or cayenne pepper and they’re perfect served with drinks before dinner.

Roasted/Toasted Harlequin Squash Seeds

Coffee & Cake Makes Us Stronger

People are awesome.  We had such a great Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support today and raised a stack of cash for the charity in the process.  We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that came along for cake and a natter.  I’ll admit that I had to go with the 7am backup Portuguese Tarts as I wrecked the tiered Ombre Cake that my wife requested… Probably for the best as our guests brought beautiful homemade cakes which were all delicious (and I’ll definitely be going for a run in the morning).  Experimenting with Superfood Brownies and Amazeballs was truly worthwhile and made it accessible to everyone.

The highlight for me?  Whilst Emma was counting up, Felix asked if he could put some money in the box from his piggy bank.


2014 Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support

http://coffee.macmillan.org.uk/

The yearly Coffee Morning is Macmillan’s biggest fundraising event.  They ask people across the UK to hold a coffee morning and raise money for people living with cancer. In 2013, 154,000 people signed up, raising a record £20 million.

What a shame it’s only once a year!

Anna's Banana Cake no-cook superfood browniesMacmillan Cancer Support Coffee Morning

Blackberries you say…

Blackberry Granita

This is great as a dessert for anyone that suffers from intolerances such as Dairy or gluten.  Hell, it’s a great dessert anyway!  There’s a plethora of flavour options; coffee, pink grapefruit, lemon & lime etc.  We’re celebrating the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Ambassador program’s 2nd Birthday with this one!

As we are in the prime of Blackberry season in the UK, here’s an almost free recipe that’s a perfect little treat.

Blend about 300g of freshly foraged blackberries with a dash of water and the juice of half a lemon.

Make a sugar syrup by heating 150g of sugar in 300ml of water until it dissolves.  Strain the blackberry juice and mix it with the sugar syrup in a metal tray.

Blackberry Granita mix

Pop the tray in the freezer and then simply run a fork through it every 30 minutes until you have a crystalline consistency.

You can store the granita in Tupperware in the freezer for ages and dip into it whenever you need an autumnal fix.

Celebrating with a Foraged Blackberry Granita

Elderberry Cordial

Yet another Superfood.  As long as you didn’t go too mad on picking the Elderflowers earlier in the year, the fruit of the Elder Tree can be foraged in Autumn and transformed into a number of delightful offerings. This year we decided on Elderberry Cordial for its lovely flavour, versatility in kitchen and medicinal properties (not only are they packed with antioxidants, but some studies have shown success in prevention and treatment of Influenza).

If you’re making cordial or syrup, you’ll simply require the addition of sugar, water and perhaps a few Cloves or Star Anise.

Raw Elderberries

 

Starting with your basket of Elderberry heads, the first thing you’ll need to do is separate the berries from the stalks.  This is important as Elder foliage is poisonous, but thankfully, it’s rather easy.  All you need is a regular fork.  Surprisingly satisfying it is too.

freshly harvested elderberries

Give them a good rinse to remove any creepy crawlies that may be lurking.

Pop them in a large pot or ideally a preserving pan, although not many people have these unlike in the good old days.  Top the pan up with just enough water to cover them, and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Simmering Elderberries

Next is to strain the Elderberries through muslin cloth to remove the skins and all the little bits.  You’ll be left with a rather attractive looking liquid.

Making Elderberry Cordial

Nearly there.  Measure how much liquid you have, and then add about 450g of sugar for each pint (568ml). At this point you can add in some whole Cloves or Star Anise for a bit of background spice.  Boil for 10 minutes until thick and then remove any spices.

Bottle it up in sterilised bottles or jars and you’re done.  Keep it in your fridge once opened.

The children enjoy it diluted with water – particularly sparkling.  Now we’re looking forward to the colder months so we can drink it with hot water.

Bottle of Elderberry Cordial

 

Next year, Elderberry Liqueur…

Lower Nash Farm Shop

I thought that I was merely going to write a piece about a local producer until I got chatting…  Not only does this family-run Pembrokeshire farm rear wonderful beef, pork and lamb for its idyllic farm shop, but they’re passionate about real food and supporting the local community.  With the addition of home-grown vegetables and carefully sourced products, Nash Farm is a one-stop-shop for crafting a stunning meal with practically zero food miles.

Fillet Steaks from Lower Nash Farm Shop

I was overjoyed to hear that they’ve been handing out Jamie-Style ‘Mothership’ recipe flyers to customers featuring ideas for meals from leftovers on the back – Vive la révolution!

Local?  It is if you’re lucky enough to live in Pembrokeshire.  The farm and Corn Mill Café can be found in Cosheston near Pembroke Dock.

Organic?  Nope, but you get extremely competitive prices as a result (and you can’t have everything).

I love their business model: keep customers coming back regularly by pricing competitively and fairly. Genius!

I’m really chuffed to have come across this little gem and look forward to my next visit.  Perhaps we’ll order a meat box in the meantime.

My verdict?  Definitely worth a visit.

Find them on Twitter (@Nashfarmshop), Facebook, www.lowernashfarm.co.uk or Telephone: 01646 682445

Our dear friends at Trevayne recommended Nash Farm to us and we felt it only right to sample some beef fillet steaks together to say thank you.

beef fillet from Lower Nash Farm

Super Food

Tomatoes truly are incredible.  A superfood that we can all grow with relative ease.  I have very special memories of walking into my Grandfather’s greenhouse which he devoted completely to the growing these precious little fruits.  The unmistakeable smell of the vines transports me back to the halcyon days of my childhood summers with every single sniff.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Now is the perfect time to buy tomatoes in the UK as we are in the height of the harvest.  Better still, many home-growers have a glut and are keen to share.

There’s such an array of things that you can make to prolong the joy; relish, chutney, ketchup, passata.

Why not go a little Spanish with ‘Pa amb tomaquet’ and rub some thick-cut grilled bread with garlic and freshly cut tomato for breakfast…  Maybe some shavings of Manchego cheese to top it off.  Heaven.

Local tomatoes

Raw Broccoli Salad

Speciality diets are very topical at the moment and this recipe fits in nicely with both the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution September challenges and a request from the talented Marie-Elise over at http://www.mazwo.com

Hold onto your hats, we’re going raw, gluten-free, wheat-free, vegetarian…

broccoli

A great friend shared this with us on a camping trip.  I admit that at first I was rather sceptical about eating raw broccoli, and I expect others to be hesitant.  Trust me though, it’s so good that you won’t be able to put the bowl down.

  • Broccoli
  • Flaked Almonds
  • Raisins
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & Pepper

Cut the broccoli into bitesize florets.  Mix them in a bowl with some grated cheddar cheese, a scattering of raisins and flaked almonds, and then add just enough mayonnaise to bind it all together.  Season and serve.

Raw Broccoli Salad

Top Tip: Once you’ve separated a floret from the stalk, slice into the base of the stem and pull it apart rather than just hacking it up.  It’s more time consuming, but they split evenly and you don’t end up with lots of tiny pieces.

Better Than Chocolate?

Many people would argue that there isn’t anything better than chocolate.  We’ve just found that there is… local chocolate.

Raw Cocoa Beans from Doble & Bignall

Who’d have thought that behind a garage door in sleepy Bishop’s Cleeve there would be a local family, busily transforming raw cocoa beans into a range of glorious artisan chocolate products! 

I can’t resist shouting about local producers and recognising how wonderful this is for the community. 

Tawny Owl Doble & Bignall Chocolate

Is it any good?  Having the tagline of “ARTISAN BEAN TO BAR CHOCOLATE MADE IN THE COTSWOLDS FROM FAIRLY-TRADED COCOA BEANS”, what isn’t there to get excited about?

The real test: did Felix approve…?  Grins all round.  

I’m hoping for big things for this brand – show them some love and take a peek at http://www.dobleandbignall.co.uk/

Thanks Mum

Some love and a little time can make the most amazing and heartwarming food from the simplest ingredients. 

Spaghetti Bolognese / Beef Ragu

 

I think it’s fair to say that Miss Winter enjoyed it… 

winter eating spaghetti bologneseEnjoying a family meal around the table is pretty much the best thing in the world.