29 April 2012

New Book: Eat Your Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson Plus Win 1 of 5 signed copies!

We are very pleased to have teamed up with Octopus Publishing who have kindly given us five copies of Arthur Potts Dawson's new book, Eat Your Veg, to give away. Not only will you get the chance to own the book soon after its release but it will be signed by the author himself. This is the start of some very exciting competitions and we hope to bring you more great book prizes over the coming year.

With many people consciously deciding to reduce their intake of meat, whether it is to save money, reduce environmental impact on the planet or just to lead a healthier lifestyle, vegetables are returning to take centre stage on the table.

However this isn't a book about being a vegetarian. Arthur Potts Dawson says,

“We all know we should eat more veg. 

We all know we should eat less meat. This book isn’t a preach or a rant about why cooking and eating fresh, seasonal, local, organic food matters, though of course, it does. Eat Your Veg is simply a storehouse of my favourite recipes encouraging you to do just that – eat more vegetables.”


Arthur Potts Dawson is passionate about good food, eating well and making the most of what’s fresh, local and seasonal. Most people will know him from his appearances on Market Kitchen and also as the founder of The People's Supermarket.

In this new book, vegetables are very much put at the forefront of cooking that celebrates all that is tasty and good about fresh produce.
Eat Your Veg presents a mix of classics, basics, simple food and show-off dishes that make the most of what’s in season. Whether you receive organic food box deliveries, go to farmers' markets or raid what's on special offer at the supermarket – you can enjoy more veg, every day.

There are recipes for beetroot soup with cumin and coriander; butternut ravioli with brown butter; radish salad with pomegranate & cannellini beans; leeks on toast with cheese and Worcestershire sauce; and raw porcini salad with parmesan & parsley – all arranged in an easy-to-use format by vegetable type. As well as individual recipes, there are also four gorgeous Feasts that can be pulled together for entertaining family and friends. Arange of sharing dishes (some which contain a bit of meat or fish) which together will create a fantastic spread centred on vegetables.

Alongside an essential seasonal guide to what’s best when, Arthur also provides key skills that will help you get the most out of vegetables – whether it’s mashing, roasting, pickling, etc. In Eat Your Veg Arthur provides a refreshing range of delicious recipes and adaptable ideas that will provide inspiration for everyone – even a die-hard meat freak.

To whet your appetite here is a recipe from the forthcoming book.

Braised chickpeas with chard, fennel & tomato

This dish is the type of cooking I do every day at home. All the ingredients complement each other brilliantly, are super-nutritious and can be eaten as a complete meal.

Serves 4–6
Ingredients

  • 400g dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
  • 400g red chard, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and tough outer leaves discarded
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 2 red onions, finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp herb vinegar

Method
Put the chickpeas into a large saucepan and cover well with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil, skimming off any white foam that rises to the surface, then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until just tender but still with some bite. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the chard in a saucepan of salted boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside. Cut each fennel bulb into eighths and cook in a separate saucepan of salted boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, until the garlic starts to turn golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the cooked chard and fennel and the vinegar. Stir through, season with salt and pepper and serve.

For your chance to win a signed copy of Eat Your Veg by Arthur Potts Dawson visit our competition page here (Sorry – this competition has now closed)


Eat Your Veg
By Arthur Potts Dawson
Published: 7th May 2012 by Octopus Publishing
Price: £25.00


If you missed out on the competition or didn't win you can buy a copy of the book here:

Tasty, versatile and healthy – we love watercress

Photo: © childsdesign

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May sees watercress being celebrated with its very own ‘week’, the perfect time to explore this humble leafy plant. Experiment with it and don’t just leave it to languish as an undervalued salad garnish on the side of the plate.

Historically watercress is known to be a blood cleanser and more recently there have been suggestions that it could help to suppress certain cancers. Watercress does indeed contain lots of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidant properties which are all good for our health. That said, it tastes so good and is versatile enough to be used in so many ways that it shouldn’t need to be bolstered by a healthy eating campaign to urge us eat it.

Watercress used to be a very important part of our culinary heritage, when during Victorian times it was sold on the streets of London and eaten by the bunch. Known then as the 'poor man's bread', as impoverished labourers could not lay their hands on bread but could get watercress. People would clutch posies, much like we'd hold an ice cream cone, biting off chunks of leaves.

The county of Hampshire has long been the main producer of Britain's watercress, the chalk landscape giving rise to mineral-rich water that feeds the watercress beds. There is a festival dedicated to watercress and this year it is being held on 20th May in Alresford.
In times gone by, the popularity of the leafy vegetable was so high that a railway line was specially built to carry the watercress to London ensuring it reached its destination as fresh as possible.
Probably less known are the Hertfordshire watercress beds. In fact there are some located near to The Artisan Food Trail's HQ at, Whitwell, near Hitchin.

It may be an acquired taste for some people, the peppery flavour can be quite strong and might be a shock to younger palates, but if used as an ingredient, the flavour can be tempered. If you love it just as it is, then freely stuff it into a sandwich and enjoy it raw and fresh.

Having such a robust almost mustard-like taste, it can be used very much as an ingredient, giving flavour as well as the crunchy juicy texture coming from the stalks.
Try it roughly chopped and stirred through mashed potatoes or it makes an interesting filling for an omlette along with some mushrooms and Stilton cheese.

We have rustled up two simple recipes in The AFT Kitchen which celebrate the boldness of British watercress:
Watercress Soup
'A Very British' Watercress Pesto

Watercress Soup

Photo: © childsdesign

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To extract all the gorgeous green goodness, a watercress soup is refreshing and an ideal lunchtime treat, but it is also elegant enough to serve as a dinner party starter.
Take care not to overcook the soup once the watercress is added as this will destroy the flavour and the colour may not be so appealing.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 250g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 600ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 150g watercress roughly chopped
  • 50ml cream
  • a little milk if needed
  • salt and black pepper

Method
In a large pan gently melt the butter, add the onion and cook the onion until soft and translucent but not browned.
Add the potatoes and stock and cook until the potatoes are soft, for approximately 15-20 minutes. When potatoes are almost cooked, add the watercress and cook no longer than 5 minutes. Tip into a liquidiser, add the cream and blend until smooth. Use a little extra milk if the soup seems too thick. Season with salt and black pepper and serve hot. Drizzle with some extra cream to serve.

'A Very British' Watercress Pesto

Photo: © childsdesign

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We've taken the Italian recipe and transported it into the heart of the British Isles. By taking some elements and substituting them for something from our homeland, it makes a vibrant and fresh tasting sauce.

Rapeseed oil is fast becoming Britain's equivalent of olive oil. In its cold pressed extra virgin form, rapeseed oil is healthy and flavourful. You can find quality rapeseed oil producers on The Artisan Food Trail from Yare Valley Oils.

We prefer to make pesto by hand as it gives a much better texture. There’s something to be said for bruising the flavours out of the leaves rather than just chopping everything up in a food processor.

This pesto is good mixed into linguine pasta or used in which to toss some Jersey Royal potatoes served along side a good piece of poached salmon.

Ingredients

  • 1 large fat clove garlic, peeled
  • 50g watercress leaves, thick stalks discarded
  • 25g whole blanched hazelnuts
  • 25g hard goat’s cheese, grated
  • 75ml extra virgin, cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • sea salt flakes and fresh ground black pepper

Method
In a heavy pestle and mortar, drop in the garlic clove and some sea salt. Pound until the garlic is pureed. Add the watercress and keep pounding, then add the hazelnuts and bash them until they are well broken down and combined with the watercress. The mixture should resemble a medium textured puree.
Tip in the grated goat’s cheese and work in to the puree with the pestle. Drizzle, the rapeseed oil, a little at time, and work into the rest of the mixture. It’s best to add the oil gradually so that you can control the consistency of the pesto more easily.
The end result should be relatively creamy in texture. If it’s too thick, then add more oil.
Finish off with a good grind of fresh black pepper and stir in.

12 April 2012

AFT Producers at The Exeter Food & Drink Festival: 13th – 15th April 2012


The annual festival is held in the courtyard of Exeter Castle and the surrounding Northernhay Gardens, right in the centre of Exeter. Taking place over three days, the Festival also includes two evening Festival After Dark Events featuring live music, chef demos and a great atmosphere.

Now in its 9th year, the 2011 festival attracted more than 15,000 visits, with people flocking to Exeter to indulge in top-notch South West food and drink, see national TV celebrities, to learn from the many cookery demonstrations and workshops and to enjoy family hands-on activities. 2012 promises even more!

Exeter Castle Courtyard: Here you will find the Festival Cookery Theatre, the Festival Bar and a host of stalls serving delicious food and drink through the day and during The Festival After Dark.

Northernhay Gardens: 3 Food Pavilions with over 100 individual producers stalls selling a mouth watering array of food and drink , the Darts Farm Food is Fun Teepees with demonstrations and hands on activites, the Festival Gardens bar, the Little Cookies at the Festival and so much more await you in the gardens.

If you're going please visit the following Artisan Food Trail members who'll be exhibiting (click their names to be taken to their AFT page):

David's Chilli Oil
A rich, exotic, healthy and intensely flavoured chilli oil perfect for drizzling over food, cooking, marinating and dipping. Made with quality produce from the Cotswolds.

Filbert's Fine Foods
Producers of amazing award winning hot air roasted nut snacks – made with 100% natural ingredients and each with their own unique flavour twist.

For more information about the event visit: exeterfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk

11 April 2012

Hot and Cold at The Suffolk Food, Drink and Music Festival 2012


With its inaugural event taking place in 2011 with over 5000 visitors, The Suffolk Food, Drink and Music Festival is back for the 2012 season with an exciting addition of the Framlingham Country Show taking place in conjunction to the event, this weekend, 14th – 15th April.

Situated in the beautiful grounds of Framlingham College in Suffolk, the Suffolk Food, Drink and Music Festival is now a permanent fixture in the show calendar and the Suffolk social scene, showcasing the best of local and national producers, chefs and musicians.

The Suffolk Food, Drink and Music Festival combined with the Framlingham Country Show will bring together a host of sights and experiences for the visitors with top class cookery demonstrations and talks in the 300 seat demonstration area whilst in the event rings everything from dog agility to geese herding can be seen while in the music area up to 9 live bands a day will provide additional entertainment. The combined event offers new and seasoned traders the opportunity to meet a variety of visitors and to market their products to a much wider audience.

Meet the Producers
And why have we titled this post as 'Hot and Cold'? Well two of AFT's producers will be exhibiting.
Firstly chilli growers Edible Ornamentals and secondly fruit ice makers Alder Tree. So, if you're going please be sure to drop by their stands, have a chat and buy their produce.

For more information about the event visit
thesuffolkfoodanddrinkfestival.co.uk

Flour-free Brownies and Blondies pass the taste test: #brownies is Artisan Food Trail Approved

All photos: © childsdesign
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Most weekends there are homely baking smells wafting from the AFT kitchen but any cake making has been sadly arrested until the oven is fixed. Something's up with the gas valve so it won't stay lit which is frustrating to say the least.
Luckily our need for sweet treats was sated when a package arrived from up North in the form of brownies and blondies freshly handmade from #brownies.

We weren't disappointed. The brownies and blondies had a lovely gooey but light texture that just melted in the mouth and the flavours were amazing.

Top row from left to right: Bounty Blondie, Snickers, Raspberry & Vanilla.
Bottom row from left to right: Peanut Butter, Candied Orange, Peppermint & Chilli.
***
#brownies sent us six of their many flavour creations: Bounty Blondie – flecked with chocolate pieces and coconut; Candied Orange – a rich chocolate brownie containing zesty, moist orange peel and decorated with artful orange marbling; Peanut Butter – smooth and gooey with a generous raspberry jam stripe; Peppermint & Chilli – dark chocolate with a delightful hot and cool sensation; Raspberry & Vanilla – full of bursting berry flavour and Snickers – yes, just like the chocolate bar but better.

Having tried such a wonderful selection, asking us which one was our favourite would be a difficult decision to make. However there were a couple of stand-outs for us. The Candied Orange and Raspberry & Vanilla especially but then there was the Snickers, Peanut Butter… See what we mean?!

To find out more about #brownies visit their page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here

10 April 2012

AFT Producers at the BBC Good Food Show Spring 2012

This a new event added to the BBC Good Food Shows calendar, It will be held at Glo, Bluewater, Kent from 12th – 15th April and with a variety of exhibitors, cookery demos and celebrity chefs looks to be an exciting event.

If you're going please visit the following Artisan Food Trail members who'll be exhibiting (click their names to be taken to their AFT page):


Edible Ornamentals
Situated in Chawston, Bedfordshire where market gardens are abundant and growing delicious vegetables is simply a way of life. Passionate, slightly obsessive chilli growers. Stand FLF8

Fudge Kitchen
Handmade luxury fudge hand-crafted to a special recipe for 25 years using traditional methods and a lot of love. Stand A44

Simply Ice Cream
Award winning Simply Ice Cream is lovingly handmade by a small passionate team using only the finest and (where possible) locally sourced natural ingredients. Stand PK2

British Fine Foods (stand A60)  will also be exhibiting and stock products by the following AFT producers:

The Artisan Smokehouse
A small family run and owned smokehouse on the Suffolk coast producing award-winning smoked food, made in small quantities to ensure quality and freshness.

Great Glen Game
Scottish artisan producers of wild venison charcuterie. Range of cured and smoked products: Salami, Chorizo, Pepperoni, Smoked Venison and Bresaola.

Womersley Fruit & Herb Vinegars
Yorkshire artisan maker of fine fruit vinegars and herb jellies. Balanced recipes allow maximum versatility in the kitchen ensuring that the true aromas of all the flavours shine through.

Cotswold Gold
Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil grown and produced on the family farm by Charlie. This is a very healthy and versatile oil for all culinary needs. Stand FLF18


For more information about the event visit: bbcgoodfoodshowspring.com

5 April 2012

Spring Time Frolics



As it's very nearly Easter we couldn't resist posting this video by Brigg's Shetland Lamb of their adorable lambs gambolling over the hillside.
The video was made last year of week old Shetland lambs playing at Benston, South Nesting, on the Shetland Islands.

To find out more about Briggs' Shetland Lamb visit their page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here