Our Blog Has Moved

30 October 2013

Autumn Salad

Photos: © childsdesign

Autumn salad may sound like a contradiction, because who wants to eat salad when the weather is damp and chilly?
This ‘salad’ however, is served warm and has a hint of spice for a cosy satisfying element.
As the cheese melts slightly over the warm roasted squash it makes for a very comforting meal.

This is more of a set of assembly instructions rather than a recipe. There are no strict rules and you are free to improvise but we hope it will inspire you to use some of the great artisan produce on our food trail.

British-grown onion squash is becoming more 
available in the shops now and is a great 
alternative to butternut squash. It is best to 
use a squash or pumpkin that has a denser 
textured flesh and the onion squash is perfect, 
plus it is such a gorgeous deep orange colour.
So what will you need?
Onion squash or butternut squash
Cold pressed rapeseed oil*
Fresh rosemary
Brown sugar
Ancho powder*
Chipotle powder*
Ricotta cheese
Smoked goat’s cheese*
Salad leaves eg. baby spinach, ruby chard, rocket
Raspberry Vinegar*

*denotes suggested Artisan Food Trail producers’ products

Putting the salad together
Remove the seeds from your squash and peel it, then cut into chunks or slices. Toss in some rapeseed oil (we used Yare Valley Oils) and sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Put on a baking tray and roast in a hot oven until soft and browned at the edges.

Prepare the nuts. Place a pan on the hob over a low to medium heat add add a knob of butter. When the butter has melted add a tablespoon of brown sugar and stir to melt. Add about half a teaspoon each of ancho and chipotle powder (we used Capsicana Chilli Co), some finely chopped rosemary and some salt to taste. Tip in a handful or so of walnuts and stir until they are well coated.
Tip out on to a plate to cool.

Put some salad leaves into bowls and lightly drizzle with rapeseed oil and some raspberry vinegar (we used Alan Coxon’s).
Put some roasted squash chunks on top and then crumble over the ricotta and smoked goat's cheese (we used some from
The Artisan Smokehouse).
Scatter over the spicy nuts and finish with a drizzle of more raspberry vinegar.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper if you like.

23 October 2013

Ricotta, Lemon & Raisin Tart

Photos: © childsdesign

With added flavours of fresh lemon, warming nutmeg and rich fruity raisins, the tart is a real treat. Being very much like a baked cheesecake in texture crossed with the flavours of a traditional egg custard tart, there's something for everyone.

Please excuse us for not making our pastry but like many people these days we don't always have much time to spare. Besides it is possible buy very good quality sweet shortcrust pastry dough.

  • 250g sweet shortcrust pastry dough
  • 200g ricotta cheese
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • whole nutmeg
  • 50g raisins

Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas 6.
Roll out the pastry thinly and line a 17 cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Prick the pastry base lightly all over with a fork. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

Place the ricotta in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Add the sugar and carry on beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Grate in the zest of the whole lemon and then beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
Add a pinch of salt, squeeze in all the juice of the lemon, add the vanilla extract, grate in a generous amount of nutmeg and drop in the raisins. Stir well until everything is well mixed.

Pour the mixture into the pastry shell and grate over some nutmeg. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 190C / Gas 5 and continue baking for 35 minutes.

The flan is done when the pastry is crisp and cooked and the filling is golden with a very slight wobble in the centre.
Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.

16 October 2013

Truffle oil trio receives top marks

Widely revered for their pungent aroma and wonderful flavour truffles are an expensive food. The tuberous fungi found in the ground at the base of certain trees may be ugly and gnarled but are so prized for their flavour they can command high prices.
So for those that perhaps cannot afford fresh truffles, truffle oil is the answer.

Most truffle oils that can be found in supermarkets do not actually contain any truffle at all but a flavouring. There’s nothing wrong in this though as it is difficult to obtain a decent truffle flavour by using the truffles alone. The synthesised substance is still the same thing found in truffles but has been created and is considerably less costly. Besides, the truffles are best reserved to be used fresh.

One truffle oil can vary greatly in taste and quality from another and in our experience some either lack punch or veer to other end of the spectrum having an almost petrol-like aroma – not good.

TruffleHunter has worked on creating three truffle oils each with their own distinctive taste and all contain real truffle (there’s a little piece at the bottom of the bottle) as well as TruffleHunter’s own Truffle Flavour.
They kindly sent us a gift pack containing Black Truffle Oil, White Truffle Oil and English Truffle Oil each in 100ml bottles. A little really does go a long way.

The Black Truffle Oil is made from Italian black summer truffles (Tuber Aestivum) and has a delicate flavour and aroma, slightly earthy and nutty.

The White Truffle Oil contains the Italian white truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico) an autumn to winter type plus Truffle Hunter’s Truffle Flavour which is particularly powerful in the flavour department. Like every mushroom you could think of compressed into an intense taste sensation and then there’s the faint whiff of garlic.
Both of these oils are made using extra virgin olive oil so they are perfect for use on pasta and risotto.

The English Truffle Oil is all English made with Cotswold cold pressed extra virgin rapeseed oil, English black summer truffles (Tuber Aestivum) hunted in Wiltshire and Somerset, and Truffle Hunter’s own Black Truffle flavour.
As with the Black and White truffle oils the flavour is complex but is softer so this oil lends itself more easily to be used in salad dressings. The rapeseed oil is a beautiful golden colour and also has a different flavour profile to olive oil being nutty in character.

We have been enjoying the oils very much and have discovered just how versatile they are.

So what does truffle oil go with?
• Asparagus • Potatoes • Eggs • Mushrooms • Pasta dishes • Risotto dishes 
• Polenta dishes • Cauliflower • Celeriac • Popcorn • Pizza • Beef Carpaccio 
• Fish such as turbot or sea bass • Duck • Chicken • Lamb • Chicken 
• White beans…

The list is by no means exhaustive as truffle oil is so versatile.
Experiment but don’t over-do the amount used and pleasing results can be had on lots of things.

We are pleased to award Truffle Hunter our 'Artisan Food Trail Approved' status for their Black Truffle Oil, White Truffle Oil and English Truffle Oil.

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

14 October 2013

Chocolate Week on The Artisan Food Trail

Even we didn’t realise just how much chocolatey loveliness was on our food trail and now after delving deep we’ve found some pretty amazing stuff there and want to share it with you.

Well it is Chocolate Week! 


Who can resist a gooey chocolate brownie? Well we know certainly can’t. The ones from #brownies have our full approval The brownies are not available to buy online but a visit to their website gives a list of outlets and markets where you find them www.hashbrownies.co.uk

Not everyone can eat gluten so Monkeypoodle Cake Company comes to the rescue with their totally gluten free creations. Try any of these: Triple Chocolate Cupcake, White Chocolate & Raspberry Cupcake, Monkeypoodle Chocolate Brownies, Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies, White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies
You can buy them all online here

More gluten free options are available from Harnell Cottage Bakes whose Brownies are just divine. We tried them last week so look out for a blog post about them soon.
You can buy from their website here

For cakes like you make at home – that means no nasty ingredients – Nutty Tarts Gifts & Goodies make an array of delicious ‘real cakes’. Choose from Black Dog Chocolate Beer Cake , Chocolate Biscuit Cake , Chocolate Brownies , Chocolate Pecan Cake , Nutty Chocolate Brownies You can buy them all online here

More bakes with the homemade touch are available from Nana's Kitchen. Have a look at their website where you'll find something chocolatey.

As well as making the finest pork sausages and pies, Samphire also have a nice line in sweet treats too
Chocolate Tiffin Buy online here


If cake doesn’t quite hit the spot, you might like to indulge in a slab of Fudge Kitchen’s gloriously creamy fudge.
Choose from these wonderful chocolatey flavours: Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt, After Dinner Mint , Belgian Chocolate Swirl, Double Trouble, Chocolate Classic, Chocolate & OrangeChocolate Caramel Fudge They can all be purchased online here

For chocolate purists, treat yourself to some handmade chocolates from Bella Cacao. Per Norrgren creates the most wonderfully flavoured ganaches using all natural ingredients which are enrobed in the smoothest high quality chocolate. Details are on the website on where and how to purchase.

For devotees of raw food take a look at Raw Nibbles who produce a range of raw chocolate bars as well as other sweet treats. There are so many to list so do take a look at their website to see the fully range. All products are available to buy online.

Ice Cream
All of the ice creams on The Artisan Food Trail are lovingly hand made using British milk and cream, so for something cool, creamy and chocolatey you’ll surely be spoilt for choice.

Lewis of London dairy ice cream is made entirely on the farm just inside the M25 and has zero milk miles.
Chunky Chocolate More info here

Simply Ice Cream
Divine Chocolate More info here
Stockist info here


For the best tasting cakes and home made confections Mortimer Chocolate Company make a variety of chocolate powders which can bought online here
And we mustn't forget the melt and dip chocolate which you can either melt in the oven or on the barbecue. Find out more about The BBQ Chocolate Fondue and Melt and Dip Chocolate Pot here

Thanks to our members including producers and chefs, we have lots of recipes for you to try. There’s something for everyone whether you like your chocolate light and creamy or devilishly dark.

Recipes from Alan Coxon

  • White Chocolate Panna Cotta with Saffron, Cinnamon and Cardamom served with a chilli chocolate sauce View recipe
  • Chocolate and Amaretti Torte View recipe
  • Double Chocolate Tarte View recipe
  • Divine Chocolate Birthday Cake with Raspberry Ganache View recipe
  • Dark Chocolate Fondant View recipe
  • Chocolate Mousse with Hot Chocolate Casserole View recipe
  • Alan’s Gooey Fair Trade Chocolate Brownies View recipe

Recipe from Fudge Kitchen

Recipes from Mortimer Chocolate Company
These two recipes have been tried and tested in the AFT Kitchen and we can highly recommend them. They taste good, are simple to make and importantly, indulgent.

There are lots more recipes on Mortimer’s website here

9 October 2013

New seasonal fruit vinegars added to Alan Coxon's range

We're excited to tell you about a new addition to Alan Coxon's vinegar range. Those of you who've visited his stand at any recent events may have already seen them.

Alan Coxon has used his multi-award winning historic Roman and Ancient Greek Vinaigres as the base in which to add and blend soft fruit flavours such as Raspberry, Strawberry, Passion Fruit and Blackcurrant.

These four fruity vinegars create a stunning new collection offering fresh vibrant and zingy taste sensations adding more fun and culinary adventures to the kitchen and plate. Whilst these are new to Alan’s food line and range, the fruits and vinegars themselves have been made for centuries.

The fruit vinegars are a special edition reflecting the changing seasons.
We hope you like the labels too as Alan asked us rustle up a quick 'fun, fresh and fruity' idea to add to the bottles.

To find out more about these vinegars and to purchase online visit foodbyalancoxon.com

8 October 2013

Aloo Mutton Shakkarwala (Caramelised Lamb Curry)

Photo: © childsdesign

Having worked on Alan Coxon’s new book From Birmingham To Bombay: Food and Influences of the Punjab and Amritsar, and reading through all the recipes, we just had to have a go at making some. They all sound absolutely delicious so it was difficult on deciding what to make first, but this one caught our eye.
Being slightly non-conformist we chose to used goat meat instead of lamb which delivered perfect results. If you’re not a lover of lamb, and we do know a few, goat is a good alternative – the texture is similar but it is not as fatty and does not have that, well, lamby taste.

If the word ‘caramelised’ conjures up images of toffee sauce, do not be put off. The caramelisation of the sugar is needed to create the rich colour and lends only a delicate delicious sweetness.
We recommend that you make up Alan’s Kashmiri-Style Garam Masala for this dish which can be found in the book but a good quality pre-made one would be fine – we suggest the one from Spice Kitchen.

We really loved this curry. It is rich in flavour with a wonderful combination of spice flavours which build into a gradual heat. Serve with rice and naan bread.

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the marinade:

  • 150ml natural yoghurt
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt
…and the rest…
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 300g lean boneless lamb, cubed
  • 2 tsp Macadamia nut oil ( you can use vegetable oil instead)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 potatoes peeled and quartered

Mix the natural yoghurt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala and salt together and add the lamb. Cover and set aside to marinade for 10 minutes.

Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and caramelise the sugar, until golden brown.

Add the oil and, when hot, add the drained lamb cubes, reserving the marinade.

Brown the meat and add the onions. Stir and cook until caramelised.

Add the ginger-garlic paste and tomato puree followed by the potatoes and the marinade.

Pour in 150ml boiling water and cook for approximately 40 minutes, or until the meat and potatoes are tender. (Add more water if necessary while cooking if the curry gets too dry).

One artisan to another: Creating UsableART™

A slightly unusual collaboration has given birth, or perhaps a whole new lease of life to something as simple as a piece of packaging.
For those of you who’ve purchase any of Alan Coxon’s historic vinegars have no doubt admired the stylish bottles that they come in. It seems such a shame to throw them away when they look and feel so good on the table.

Alan Coxon was inspired to take this a little further knowing that his customers carried on enjoying the bottles putting them to other uses around the home.

When Alan brought out his vinegars he wanted a bottle that evoked the product within, so he set about designing the bottle with a solid feel, had curvaceousness in the hand and a practical application.

He has now teamed up the artist RaRa Jane to produce unique UsableART™ pieces.
The artworks found on the bottles are all one-off individual images, all hand-printed and painted by artist RaRa Jane, who also incorporates silver leaf to add a touch of elegance. RaRa Jane uses the latest techniques and every bottle undergoes a three-day handmade process.

The bottles are real conversational pieces in the home, adding colour and individual art to some everyday areas.
They are not only beautifully useful in the kitchen, but also look great in the bathroom filled with bubble bath, shampoo, in the window with a few elegant flowers or transforming the evening by adding a touch of romance with a candle.

The bottles are presented in silk-lined gift boxes and come with a certificate of authenticity signed by artist RaRa Jane and Alan Coxon offering a stunning unique gift. If you are looking for something more bespoke then your own specific images or art can be applied on to the bottle.

We think the UsableART™ bottle designs are truly stunning and would make fantastic presents.

Please visit the shop to order your UsableART™
You can also order bespoke designs from the shop too.

7 October 2013

Roll Up! Roll Up! To Luton's most exciting food festival this Saturday

We hope that you have your calendars marked for 12th October as The Edible Market Food Festival will be opening its doors to food lovers for the very first time.
The Artisan Food Trail is working with My Events Made Easy to bring a real feast to delight the senses  right in the heart of Luton home to the University of Bedfordshire.

Being held in the UK Centre For Carnival Arts there will be a packed indoor Producers' Market where you can buy food with a difference direct from the producers themselves.
Outside in the courtyard will be the Street Food Market where high quality fresh-cooked food can be enjoyed.

Lisa Childs, Founder of The Artisan Food Trail, who grew up in Bedfordshire said, “I am a supporter of small food producers and enjoy cooking from scratch so it seems fitting that I should return to one of my old stomping grounds to share what I love with everyone.”

“A number of our members have been asking us when were we going to put on a food show of our own, so this is our first event in answer to their requests. We will have no less than nine Artisan Food Trail members taking part in The Edible Market Food Festival and we’re very grateful for their support by participating.”

The AFT Producers taking part are:

The Artisan Smokehouse – They will be bringing an array of smoked foods from their small smokehouse in Suffolk. From meat, fish and cheese to whole garlic bulbs, oils and spices. Don't forget to ask them about their hampers too.

Breckland Orchard – Boutique soft drinks from sparkling to squash in a wonderful array of nostalgic flavours. Try using them as a fabulous mixer for cocktails.

Kandula Tea – All carefully sourced teas from their plantation in Sri Lanka are a delight to drink at any time of day as well as their fruit and herb infusions.

Lewis of London – There are probably not many dairy farms inside of the M25 and that's one of the things that make this ice cream pretty unique. They'll be scooping wonderful cool creamy delights for you all day.

Capsicana Chilli Co – Ben is the chilli meister who not only satisfies the need for heat but flavour as well. Check out his range of sauces which have flavour in bagfuls and there's a rumour of some new ones too. For those looking for some unusual dried chillies and Mexican herbs, spices and pulses, Ben's your man.

Bite Me Spices – For freshly roasted, ground and blended spices. Look out for their gift packs which would be ideal as Christmas presents. They will also be launching a new product at the event.

Morgan House Foods – All products are organic ranging from preserves to dressings and sauces to delicious cordials. Add some zing with their wonderful marmalade and if you want something seriously hot there's the Extra Hot Pepper Sauce.

Driven By Coffee – They will be serving freshly made coffee out in our street food court all day. The coffee beans are carefully sourced and professionally roasted before being expertly made into the drink of your choice.
They will also be bringing along a some of their gift boxes, if you're looking for a present for a coffee lover.

Raw Nibbles – For something a little different why not investigate the pleasures of raw food with some cleverly made indulgent treats and they're a bit more healthy too.

Food & Cooking Demonstrations
A number of free food demonstrations will be taking place throughput the day and our very own AFT member Ben Jackson of Capsicana Chilli Co will be showing you how to make simple, tasty Quesadillas.
Executive head chef of The Illustrated Chef will be showing us how to get the most from our meat and the secrets to getting the best from cheaper cuts.
If you've ever wanted to learn how to make fruit leather and dried fruits, The Jerky Shack will be divulging a few tips and for wine lovers, we have experts Ninesprings Wine who will be giving an insight into South African Wines with some tips on how to pair with food.

It really is going to be a packed day and as we write we are full speed ahead in getting the last details together.
We hope you all can come and if you'd like to know more about the festival and see what other stallholders will be there do take a look at the website www.ediblemarket.co.uk
For the those who like to be well-prepared you can buy your tickets in advance from the website.