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21 December 2011

Chocolate Brownies

Photo: © childsdesign

There's nothing more irresistible than a chocolate brownie. Somewhere between cake and fudge, the intense gooey texture is lip lickingly good. The secret to a decent brownie though, is to use good quality chocolate and this recipe is from Mortimer Chocolate Company, makers of high quality chocolate powders. The powder isn't like cocoa powder, in fact you could just eat it straight out of the packet (confession: we did) it really is that good.
Mortimer's West African Chocolate is best for brownies and this recipe does actually feature on the back of the pack. The chocolate is very easy to use and produces a fantastic result with a deep, rich and almost fruity flavour.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 100g Mortimer chocolate powder
  • 125g butter
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g plain flour

Method
Melt butter.
Add chocolate powder and whisk until melted and glossy.
In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and sugar.
Mix this into the chocolate.
Sieve in the plain flour and beat until smooth.
Pour mixture into a lined, 9 inch (23cm) square tin.
Bake at 180C for 20 minutes.
Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

To find out more about Mortimer Chocolate Company visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here

19 December 2011

Roast Potatoes

Photo: © childsdesign
To be served a roast dinner without roast potatoes would be a serious misdemeanour. The meal would not be complete without these heavenly golden crunchy caskets encasing the fluffy potato within.

You can never make too many either as we don't know anyone who doesn't love a roast potato, so they're bound to want second helpings!

For the best results you will need floury potatoes such as Maris Piper, King Edward or Desiree.

How to make perfect roast potatoes
Peel your potatoes, removing any eyes or blemishes and cut the potatoes into halves. Put into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil.

Add about half a teaspoon of salt. Don't skip this part as the salt the allows the potato's cells to crumble which will give a crunchier texture.

Parboil the potatoes for 7 minutes if the chunks are large or 5 minutes if they are small. Drain into a colander and leave to allow the steam to evaporate off and dry out.

Give your potatoes a good shake in the colander to break up their surfaces, but be careful that you don't smash them completely to bits. The fluffy surface you have created will crisp up when roasted.

There are various approaches to the next stage – adding the fat.
You can choose from a variety of fats and oils – it's up to you. Some people swear by goose or duck fat, pork lard or even beef dripping for that traditional old fashioned flavour but you could you use olive oil, but we like to use extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil for ours.
Many cooks heat the fat in the tray before adding the potatoes, but we've found that by coating the potatoes in the cold oil first then tipping them into a very hot tray produces a good thick crunchy crust.

You'll need to get your oven good and hot, 220C / Gas 7, to heat the tray. Once you place the tray of potatoes into the oven turn down the heat to
190C / Gas 5. This works best as some fats are prone to spoiling at very high heats. Put your potatoes on the top shelf and roast for about an hour. Sprinkle them with a little flaked sea salt, and if you like, add some sprigs of rosemary or thyme. Turn the potatoes twice throughout their cooking time. You should get nice evenly roasted potatoes with a golden colour and thick crust.

Once cooked remove the potatoes using a slotted spoon and keep warm in a serving dish. Don't leave the potatoes sitting in the cooking fat. They should stay crisp for at least 20 minutes, but the sooner you get them on the plate the better.

14 December 2011

Mortimer Chocolate Company win Best Drinking Chocolate 2011 award!


Thank you to everyone who voted following our requests via Twitter and Facebook, a couple of weeks a go. You nominated Mortimer Chocolate Company to win the Best Drinking Chocolate 2011 award and the response was just fantastic!

Adrian Smith received the award from Yael Rose, organiser of The Chocolate Festival, this week, for Mortimer Chocolate's West African chocolate.
We're very proud to have Mortimer Chocolate on The Artisan Food Trail – we've already tried some of their products and can say that they are very good indeed. Look out for some articles and recipes on the AFT blog soon.

8 December 2011

Vote for The Artisan Food Trail in The Great Exhibition 2012

The Great Exhibition 2012 is all about celebrating Britain at its best and it is creating innovative ways to work out what really makes Britain 'Great'. Rather than them telling you what makes the country 'Great' they want you to tell them who is making it in Britain? Who, What and Where makes Britain 'Great'?



The brilliant thing about this inititiave is that it encourages the great British public to nominate their 'Greats' not least the businesses themselves who are also urged to list themselves as a 'Great'.
After some deliberation we decided to put ourselves forward. The decision was not for vanity but because we saw it as the perfect opportuntiy to give our Artisan Food Trail members some more exposure.

We need your vote please
There's lots of information on The Great Exhibition website, but in short, we need to get 100 votes or more by the end of December to go through to the next round. Once through, we'll be placed in head-to-head contest and will need to get more votes to stay in the running.

The competition closes on the 30th of June 2012, with the Top 10 of each sub-category being promoted online and throughout the media – to showcase what makes Britain 'Great'.
The business with the highest amount of votes will get the opportunity to win free space at the Live Event, so if we do get that far (fingers crossed) we would be able to exhibit on the big day and promote all of our Artisan Food Trail members.

We would really appreciate your support. Voting is simple – you just need to register with your email and a user name, that's it.

Vote here!

Thank you for supporting us and all our British artisan food producers.

More info: www.thegreatexhibition2012.co.uk

5 December 2011

Cranberry Sauce

Photo: © childsdesign
***
Bright red and shiny, cranberries are the very essence of Christmas. Not only do they look festive but they are the perfect accompaniment to turkey and many other meats eaten at this time.
Cranberry sauce is so easy to make, there really is no need to buy it in jars. Made fresh, it is zingy and pleasantly astringent, just the thing to perk up anything from chicken to ham or as a fruity partner to offset the richness of venison. It even goes well with cheese such as a well-matured stilton.

Ingredients

  • 300g fresh cranberries
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 5 tbsp caster sugar

Method
Put the cranberries, orange zest and juice into a saucepan and place over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally until the berries begin to pop and burst, releasing their juices.
Add the sugar and stir gently until dissolved. More sugar can be added if you prefer the sauce to be sweeter.
Tip into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge.

2 December 2011

My Little Porkie – a gift with a difference




What is My Little Porkie?
Samphire always has Gloucester Old Spot and Saddleback piglets scurrying around and My Little Porkie gives you the chance to own one of them.
Don’t worry you don’t have to look after it, Samphire will do all that for you. You just choose your piglet at the start and then they will send you regular updates and photos showing you what it is getting up to. They can even arrange a visit. All you have to do is decide how you want your pork at the end (you'll be helped with that).

Free Range
All the pigs are pedigree rare breed and completely free range (sometimes a bit too free range when they escape!). The pigs are fed a natural diet and they have access to forage all year round. They get loads of apples in the autumn and all the excess from Samphire's kitchen garden throughout the year. This mixed diet produces the best tasting pork, ever.

Great Taste
They also live twice as long as their commercial cousins which makes a real difference to the cooking qualities of the pork. As they mature they lay down fat in the muscle and this melts when the meat cooks, basting it. No more dry, tasteless pork – moist meat and crunchy crackling every time!

Get Yours
You can order at any time of year and it will normally be about 5 months before delivery. If you can’t wait then just get in touch because there are normally a few older pigs being kept for Samphire themselves and they may be able to let you have one of them.

How Much?*
Because you get all of your pork at the end it isn't possible to tell you exactly how much it will cost as it depends on how much your pig weighs. Charges are £7.20/kg (offal is free) and most of the pigs give between 40-50kgs of meat so that works out at c.£300. (Delivery by overnight courier is £10).
A deposit of £95 is asked to reserve your piglet.

Bit worried that a whole pig is a bit too much? Why not get together with neighbours and have half a pig each?

If you are interested in knowing where your food comes from, My Little Porkie gives you a direct connection with the animal and how it lives – real provenance.
*Prices correct at time of publishing

For more information about Samphire, just visit their page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here where you'll find contact information and a link to their website

Vote for Mortimer Chocolate Company and WIN a year's supply of drinking chocolate!

The people at The Chocolate Festival are looking for your favourite drinking chocolate and we are hoping that we can count on your support by nominating one of our Artisan Food Trail members.
Our most recent addition is Mortimer Chocolate Company that makes some truly amazing chocolate powders that can be used in a variety of recipes and of course, can also be mixed into a wonderful hot chocolate drink.

All we're asking you to do is visit The Chocolate Festival's voting page, where you'll find instructions, to make your nomination. Everyone will be entered into a prize draw and one lucky winner will receive a year's supply of drinking chocolate from some of the nominated brands.*

Just state Mortimer West African chocolate drink when you nominate.

Vote here!
Sorry – the poll has now closed
Did they win? Click here

For more information about Mortimer Chocolate Company visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here
*The competition is run by The Chocolate Festival and is not associated with The Artisan Food Trail