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31 August 2012

Farm Fresh & Free Range: Morton's Traditional Taste

Photo: © Morton's Traditional Taste

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At Whitwell hall farms you are guaranteed a turkey that is reared to the highest welfare standards with a true "traditional taste" to savour. The Morton family first descended on Norfolk back in 1941 when "Papa" Morton came down from Scotland to establish a dairy herd.

Rob Morton (a 3rd generation Morton) with the help of his wife Becca and (a little helping hand! from there three young children George, Sam and Emily) has been rearing traditional farm-fresh turkeys for the past 10 years. The aim is not to be the biggest supplier (rearing up to 1000 birds) but more to offer customers a true free range bird that is produced in the time honoured tradition.

So what makes a Morton’s turkey different to the one from your local supermarket? Only the best quality chicks make it to Morton’s, where they are given a growing period nine weeks longer than an intensively reared turkey. They are fed on a cereal diet containing no growth promoters or additives, and housed in sheds on clean straw with 24 hour access to range in large paddocks. Morton’s only rear a small number of birds each year, which means they can keep a close eye on them as well as enabling the birds to roam free as they wish. To develop the traditional depth of flavour, the meat is also matured for a minimum of ten days in the cold stores.

The welfare of the turkeys is high priority for Morton’s as they understand that by providing the best possible environment for the birds they can supply a superior product as well as giving customers a clear conscience.
People want to know how their food is produced and the Morton’s website has a lot of information with pictures of how the turkeys live so they can see that they have a happy healthy life.

Rearing different breeds – Bronze and Norfolk Black turkeys – means that Morton’s can offer their customers a range of sizes from 4.5kg up to 11.5kg. The Bronze are the bigger birds and choice of breed is a matter of taste.
The Bronze has a fuller, rounded breast, while the Norfolk Black has a longer narrower breast and a more gamey flavour. Although the Bronze is the most popular choice, the Norfolk Black has a strong following amongst those who appreciate its fuller flavour and who like to support the traditional breed.

After bringing the day-old turkey chicks – called poults – from an Essex farm in June, they spend the following months enjoying the outdoor life on Rob’s family farm in Skeyton. They are eventually prepared on the farm, which avoids the stress of live transportation.

The Smokehouse
At “The Smokehouse” Morton's aim to offer a range of smoked products that are second to none, having spent years perfecting their free range poultry products they have now turned their attention into developing some award winning smoked products.

Using time-honoured traditions and combining the finest meats, cures, smoke and enthusiasm to deliver superb products from the family farm in Norfolk.

So why not try some of their smoked chicken or duck breast, traditionally cured with molasses and gently smoked over whisky infused oak chippings to create a light delicate flavour that is true to the taste.

For more about Morton's Traditional Taste visit their page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here

29 August 2012

Grouse earns fame for The Blackface Meat Company

Photo: © childsdesign

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Eating game may no longer just be the privilege of the aristocracy, but as it is such a seasonal meat, it certainly feels like a privilege to enjoy it and with grouse, especially so. The grouse season is short, starting in August and finishing just 16 weeks later (read our article about The Glorious Twelfth).

Traditionally grouse is roasted whole.
Photo: © The Blackface Meat Company
One of our more recent additions to The Artisan Food Trail, The Blackface Meat Company based up in Dumfries, Scotland were kind enough to send us a brace of grouse to be given our full scrutiny. We enjoy game and this was a particularly special treat.

The birds arrived vacuum packed in a box with chill pouches and lots of shredded paper to keep them cool on their journey. Delivery was prompt and arrived next day after despatch.
The grouse are perfectly prepared to be oven ready and if you’re of a slightly squeamish nature or the uninitiated, we should warn you that the feet are left on – this is traditional.

Traditionally, grouse is roasted whole and served with game chips and bread sauce, which is very good, if a little too autumnal, so we chose to make ours more reflective of the current weather and took the summer flavours route in the form of a seasonal salad and pan frying the breasts.

Photo: © childsdesign

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For the Pan Fried Grouse with Blackberries & Blackberry Dressing 
you will also need
blackberries
small sprig of thyme
cider vinegar plus some water
caster sugar
lambs lettuce
salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to prepare the grouse
We removed the breasts from the grouse. To do this you first need to remove the legs by cutting through the joint close to the ribcage. Then take a very sharp small knife and cut parallel with the breast bone on one side first, making quick light cuts keeping as close to the bone as possible to release the meat – then repeat with the second side. The breasts will come away easily.

To make the dressing
This a very much an adhoc recipe, hence no specific quantities.
In a small saucepan add a splash of cider vinegar and some water, chuck in a handful of blackberries along with the thyme and simmer until the fruit is soft and breaking up.
Pour the juice and fruit into a jug through a sieve. Squash and rub all the juice and pulp from the berries through the sieve and mix the puree into the juice. Add some caster sugar to taste – this is where you’ll need to be a judge of the balance of sweet and sour. If it needs more sourness add a drop more vinegar.
Return the juice to the saucepan and simmer until the volume of the liquid has halved and become syrupy in consistency. Set aside to cool.

Note: We made our own fruit vinegar reduction, but if you'd prefer to use a ready-made fruit vinegar, there are plenty good quality ones available from our Artisan Food Trail producers.

To cook the grouse
In a frying pan, heat a little oil. When the pan is really hot place the grouse breasts skinned side down and cook for 2 minutes, turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the grouse breasts to rest for another 2 minutes before slicing.

Assemble the salad (for 2)
Put some lambs lettuce on to serving dishes, scatter with a few blackberries. Place the sliced grouse breast on top, season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the dressing.
If you want to make the salad more substantial the addition of sautéed potatoes will make it more hearty.

What did we think?
Grouse is termed as an organoleptic experience – is this a worthy description? We have to agree.
The meat is rich in flavour, which can be best described as a combination of duck, venison and pheasant and the texture is fine grained, succulent and meaty without being chewy.
Grouse does actually have a taste all of its own – an almost smoky flavour can be detected – it really is quite special.

We are pleased to award The Blackface Meat Company our ‘Artisan Food Trail Approved’ status for their Grouse.





To take advantage of the grouse season and to experience a gastronomic delight, we suggest you get you order in now!
You can find links to the Blackface Meat Company website on 
The Artisan Food Trail here.

28 August 2012

Speciality & Fine Food Fair 2012: 2nd – 4th September 2012

We are looking forward to visiting the Speciality & Fine Food Fair, which returns to London Olympia for its 13th year showcasing the best in the artisan food and drink industry.
As well as being the perfect place for fine food buyers and chefs alike to discover new gastronomic delights, it also gives us, at The Artisan Food Trail, the opportunity to catch up up with those producers who are members of our food trail and also to meet new people too.

Most days we receive email and telephone inquiries from small producers looking to find ways of promoting their businesses and often it is this way we get to discover more fantastic produce. When we can, we like to get out and about to various events and uncover more exciting gems. For those producers who are interested in what we could do for them we’re happy to have a chat.

While visiting, we appreciate that the exhibitors are looking to sell/find buyers for their products, so we can understand if they may not want to spend too long talking to us. However, The Artisan Food Trail may be the key some producers are looking for to increase their sales and make valuable contacts for supply and distribution.

We are proud to see that some of our AFT producers will be exhibiting. So if you’re a buyer looking for these types of products, please do pay them a visit – they are all great people who have immense pride in what they make:

Agnes Rose (stand 737)
An award winning range of hand made fruit vinegars and herb infused oils made to old family recipes created with the finest quality ingredients in Cumbria.

Breckland Orchard (stand 931)
Award winning ‘Posh Pop from Norfolk’. Produced with passion in the heart of Norfolk but available throughout the UK!

Fudge Kitchen (stand 159)
Handmade luxury fudge hand-crafted to a special recipe for 25 years using traditional methods and a lot of love.

Great Glen Game (stand 009)
Scottish artisan producers of wild venison charcuterie. Range of cured and smoked products: Salami, Chorizo, Pepperoni, Smoked Venison and Bresaola.


Simply Ice Cream (stand 1152)
Award winning Simply Ice Cream is lovingly handmade by a small passionate team using only the finest and (where possible) locally sourced natural ingredients.

Trotter's Independent Condiments (stand 149)
Purveyor of unusual, delicious and seasonal condiments based in Fife. Mr. Trotter says “my condiments are the finest and most tasty in all the land, but I am biased so don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself.”

For more information about the Speciality & Fine Food Fair visit: www.specialityandfinefoodfairs.co.uk

15 August 2012

Chocolate Mousse

Photo: © childsdesign

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This dessert is a real treat and trouble-free to make from Mortimer Chocolate Company. We used their Ecuador Pure Dark Chocolate powder which gave the mousse a rich distinctive flavour. Mortimer describe their Ecuador chocolate as having notes of tropical spices with a hint of smoky tobacco flavour.

And to join their West African Chocolate Powder, we are pleased to award Mortimer Chocolate CompanyArtisan Food Trail Approved’ status for their Ecuador Pure Dark Chocolate powder.




We really like this recipe as it is not too sweet, only the small amount of sugar in the powder is required with no need for any extra. The texture is rich and velvety too.

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 75g Mortimer chocolate powder
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2 large eggs

Method
Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water.
Separate the eggs and put the yolks into a small bowl and the egg whites into a clean dry bowl.
When the chocolate and butter has completely melted, stir gently.
Mix the egg yolks with the hot water, then beat into the melted chocolate.
Whisk the egg whites, until they form soft peaks.
Beat 1 tablespoon of egg white into the chocolate, repeat with a second tablespoon of egg white.
Carefully fold in the remaining egg white making sure it is well combined and now white bits remain.
Spoon into 3 ramekins, or small coffee cups and place in the fridge for several hours to set.

14 August 2012

Samphire Smallholding Open Day In Pictures



Having spent the day at Samphire's Norfolk smallholding a couple of years ago we had to return this year (2012) for another wonderful day.

In addition to the animals on the farm, there were stall holders selling home produced wares and lots of delicious food to buy and eat. You can read our preview article about it here.

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

Crispy Courgette Fritters

Photo: © childsdesign

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These crispy courgette fritters are really easy-to-make and they go down very well with a glass of beer or wine or even with a salad on the side. They’re fried in healthy Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil so a little indulgence can be good for you now and then.
Do make sure you choose a good beer to make the batter – cheap lager will not do!

Ingredients (serves 3 – 4)
2 large courgettes
200g plain flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
approx 250ml good beer
salt & black pepper
Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil for frying

Method
Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the lemon juice.
Add some beer (not all of it yet) and beat into the flour. Gradually add more, beating the mixture until it becomes smooth and is the consistency of thick double cream. You may not need all of the beer.
Season with a little salt and pepper.

Leave the batter mix to stand for at least 30 minutes. It is important to leave the batter to rest as this allows the gluten to be released from the flour allowing it to puff up and become crispy when cooked.

Slice the courgettes thinly (about 5mm).

Heat some rapeseed oil in a deepish frying pan – you will need enough to come up nearly half way. You can test it has reached the correct cooking temperature by dropping in a small amount of batter mix into it. When the batter turns golden and floats on the surface, you’re ready to start frying the fritters.

You’ll need to cook the courgettes in batches – they can be kept warm in a low oven.

Dip the courgette slices in the batter mix until well coated and carefully place them in the hot oil. Fry for about 2 – 3 mins until crisp and golden, turning once. Drain on kitchen paper.

You can serve them simply with just some sea salt flakes sprinkled over or freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

10 August 2012

The Glorious Twelfth

© The Blackface Meat Company

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For those who are lovers of game the day is almost here – the 'Glorious Twelfth' signals the start of the grouse season. This year, however, it will be held on the 13th August because the 12th falls on a Sunday.

Perhaps some would say the date is not a cause for jubilation, well not for the grouse anyway and also it clearly announces that autumn is not that far away.
Up until this time though, the birds have enjoyed a long and fruitful life wandering and foraging on the British heather moorlands, living an entirely natural and most importantly, wild existence. Grouse are truly wild unlike pheasants and partridge which are raised from chicks indoors.

© The Blackface Meat Company
Being highly regarded for its rich, lean meat our native grouse is a prized seasonal British delicacy at this time of year. The flavour is so unique which can be largely attributed to the grouse’s diet as it feeds only on heather and the small insects that live there.

Eating grouse also helps with the conservation of our moorlands as many of the moors are managed to increase the density of the grouse. This ensures that the habitat is maintained to allow many other indigenous birds, plants and animals to flourish, thereby protecting our native flora and fauna.

The wonderful native grouse has been added to the 'Ark of Taste' by Slow Food.  This is a rare and well deserved achievement.
It is referred to on their site as "the finest game bird in the world both from an organoleptic and a shooting perspective."

The best way to enjoy grouse is to roast it simply, rare or medium so that the natural flavour can be appreciated. Traditionally it is served with the thinnest crispiest game chips and bread sauce.
With the season being relatively short at just 16 weeks you’ve really got to seize the moment and luckily you can find grouse on The Artisan Food Trail…

Grouse on The Artisan Food Trail
Our newest addition to the trail, The Blackface Meat Company sell fully plucked and dressed birds that are delivered direct to your door.
Their grouse roams free in the Scottish Uplands and is collected from local estates.
To find out more about The Blackface Meat Company and to find links to their website/online shop visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here.

If fancy your grouse with a difference we can recommend Great Glen Game’s Smoked Grouse Breast. It is rich with a subtle sweetness from the cure and infused with the real oak smoke. Slice very thinly and enjoy with a light salad with blackberries.
To find out more about Great Glen Game visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here.


© Great Glen Game

8 August 2012

Life without gluten

© The Artisan Food Trail/Lisa Childs

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Many things are easy to take for granted, foodstuffs especially so. Most of us don’t have to think an awful lot before we put something into our mouths and many certainly don’t need to consider whether it may be harmful to their wellbeing.
Living gluten free is not always as straightforward as it should be as so many foods contain gluten from various sources, wheat being the most known.
There is much confusion concerning the subject, so we found out more from AFT’s Industry Expert, Priya Tew of Dietitian UK, to get the facts straight.

AFT: What is gluten and how does it affect some people?
PT: Gluten is a protein that naturally occurs in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. It acts like a glue binding flours together and providing elasticity in bread. Eating gluten can cause an immune reaction in some people, where the small intestine becomes inflamed and damaged. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue, headaches, wind and bloating.

AFT: Some people say they have a wheat intolerance which could be related to problems with gluten. Do they have a disease or are they just ‘sensitive’?
PT: There are two types of gluten reactions in the body – coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity. The difference between the two conditions is that coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease where eating gluten causes the body to produce antibodies that attack the bodies own tissues. It causes an allergic response in the body that can be tested for via a blood test. Gluten sensitivity is a non allergic response which cannot be tested for other than cutting gluten out of the diet and seeing a response.

In sensitive people eating gluten can not only cause pain and discomfort but also affect the absorption of other nutrients. The small intestine is lined with mucosa which have finger like projections called villi that stick out into the intestine to catch and absorb nutrients as they pass through. When these become damaged the intestinal wall is no longer able to absorb properly.

AFT: Obviously there are people who need to eliminate gluten in their diet for health reasons, but some choose to avoid it because they believe it is better for them. Do we need gluten in our diets?
PT: Eating a gluten free diet has become a lot more popular and a lot easier over the past few years. I wouldn’t advocate going gluten free just for the fun of it though, or as a way to lose weight. A gluten free diet can be a very healthy way to eat, but it is important to ensure you replace gluten containing foods with suitable alternatives or your diet will be lacking vital nutrients.

AFT: What kinds of foods contain gluten?
PT: Gluten containing foods include bread and bread products, pizza bases, pasta, noodles, couscous, cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals, pastry and wheat flour. Less obvious sources are soups, sauces, stock cubes, cereal bars, soy sauce, sausages and most processed food.

AFT: That's a fair amount of every day foods that we all take for granted ruled out. Which foods are completely gluten free and are there any alternatives?
PT: There is a lot that is still gluten free, natural foods include meat, fish, fruit and vegetables rice, beans, quinoa, yams, potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils. Numerous gluten free foods alternatives include rice products (rice cakes, rice noodles, rice), quinoa, buckwheat, corn, polenta, potatoes, yams and tapioca. There are a wealth of gluten free products now available to buy. Historically these have been dry, crumbly and tasteless, but that’s all changing.

AFT: For those unable to eat gluten often feel they miss out on treats such as cakes that contain wheat flour, is it possible to make cakes that taste good using gluten free ingredients?
PT: Gluten free baking is a whole new area but one that is a lot of fun. There are so many flours to try: polenta, corn meal, corn flour, buck wheat, potato flour, rice flour tapioca starch. Combine with arrowroot, xanthan gum or guar gums and you can create a whole wealth of yumminess.

AFT: When eating a gluten free diet, how do we keep it healthy?
PT: To ensure your diet is still well balanced keep gluten free starchy foods at each meal, alongside fruit and vegetables and protein (meat, fish or vegetarian alternatives).

AFT: What should you do if you think you have a problem with gluten?
PT: If you have a suspicion of coeliac disease it is important to continue eating gluten until you have been tested. The first step is to visit your GP, they will arrange a blood test that test your antibodies and possibly later an intestinal biopsy, where a small tissue fragment is collected and the villi are looked at to see if they are flattened or damaged.

Priya Tew is a registered dietitian who runs her own nutrition consultancy business, Dietitian UK.
As a mum and food lover she is passionate about helping people to discover good quality food and to show them how healthy eating is not just tasty but vitally important.

For information about coeliac disease, Coeliac UK have lots of helpful information www.coeliac.org.uk

Gluten free on The Artisan Food Trail
Although The Artisan Food Trail does not solely concentrate on specialist food for people with specific dietary requirements, many of the producers listed make gluten free products.
For those looking for gluten free products, The Artisan Food Trail has an area here where you can find goods which you can be absolutely sure are safe to eat.

If you're unsure whether a product is gluten free, you are welcome to contact any of the producers. www.artisanfoodtrail.co.uk

3 August 2012

Everyone's a star! AFT producers are Great Taste Awards 2012 winners

We would like to congratulate all our Artisan Food Trail producers who entered the Great Taste Awards 2012 and won gold stars for their excellent produce. 


14 producers, 

33 awards, 

47 stars!


Here they are:

Agnes Rose
Cumbrian Damson Balsamic Vinegar with Local Honey – 2 stars
Chipotle Oil – 1 star

Alder Tree
Raspberry Fruit Cream Ice – 3 stars
Gooseberry & Elderflower Fruit Cream Ice – 2 stars
Damson Fruit Cream Ice – 2 stars
Toffee Apple Fruit Cream Ice – 2 stars
Blackcurrant Fruit Cream Ice – 2 stars
Tayberry Fruit Cream Ice – 1 star
Morello Cherry Fruit Cream Ice – 1 star

Breckland Orchard
Strawberry & Rhubarb Posh Pop – 1 star

Briggs’ Shetland Lamb
Shetland Seaweed Lamb – 2 stars

Cansford Farm
Traditional Cornish Clotted Cream – 1 star

David’s Chilli Oil
Hot Chilli Oil – 1 star

Filbert’s Fine Foods
Californian Salted Almonds – 2 stars

Great Glen Game
Venison Chorizo – 1 star
Venison Chilli Chorizo – 1 star
Mustard Venison Salami – 1 star

Handmade By Hadley’s
Hazelnut Ice Cream – 2 stars
Chocolate Ice Cream – 1 star
Honeycomb Ice Cream – 1 star
Pistachio Ice Cream – 1 star
Stem Ginger Ice Cream – 1 star
Lemon Curd Ice Cream – 1 star
Raspberries & Cream Ice Cream – 1 star

Morton’s Traditional Taste
Free Range Smoked Chicken Breast – 1 star

Peachey’s Preserves
Hot Chutney – 1 star

Samphire
Free Range Plain Pork Pie – 1 star
Free Range Pork Pie with Red Onion Marmalade – 1 star
Tiffin – 1 star

Simply Ice Cream
Lemon Sorbet – 2 stars
Lemon Curd Ice Cream – 1 star

Womersley Fruit & Herb Vinegars
Raspberry Vinegar – 3 stars
Lime, Black Pepper & Lavender Dressing – 2 stars

NB: Whilst every effort has been made to include all winners, we apologise if there are any omissions. The entire list of winners was long and took a while to sift through, so sorry if we missed any. If you're an AFT producer and you're not mentioned, please get in touch and we'll add you :)