26 November 2013

Halloumi Lentil Salad

Photo: © childsdesign

***  
Like our Autumn Salad this is another hearty delicious meal that suits the colder months.
To be honest it was one of those dishes where we looked in the fridge and thought, ‘what would go together to make something tasty’, so the recipe that follows is as flexible as you want to make it.

Having a good chunk of Halloumi cheese from Lewis of London, to play with, we chose ingredients that complemented it. Something robust and flavoursome with hints of the Mediterranean seemed appropriate.

Halloumi cheese is a magical substance as it does not melt when you cook it, so is perfect for frying. This produces a lovely crispy exterior with soft, warm milky interior.

This is lovely dressed with some fruit vinegar which adds a little sparkle to everything.

You will need

  • Halloumi cheese (we used Lewis of London’s)
  • Black pepper
  • Plain flour
  • Olive oil
  • Green lentils (about 60g per person)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Bay leaf
  • Red pepper (the long pointed type)
  • Salt
  • Green olives
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Lemon juice
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • Mixed salad leaves
  • Fruit vinegar of your choice
Making the salad
Rinse the green lentils thoroughly in a sieve. Put the lentils, garlic cloves and bay leaf into a saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Place on the hob and bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender. Drain in a sieve removing the bay leaf and garlic.

Peel and halve onion lengthways. Cut into thick slices lengthways. Heat some oil in frying pan drop in onions and fry gently until golden stirring occasionally. Put into a large bowl.

Char the red pepper over gas flame or under very hot grill. Place in plastic bag for 10 mins. Remove from the bag and peel off the charred skin. Giving the pepper a gentle rinse under a cold tap will help the skin come off.
Remove stalk and seeds. Slice into thin strips about 6cm long.
Place the pepper strips into the bowl with the onion.

Take a handful or so of green olives and cut them half. Add to the bowl.

Take a few cherry tomatoes and cut them in half. Add to the bowl.

Tip in the drained lentils. Add some salt and freshly ground black pepper, a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir to mix well.

Tear in some whole parsley leaves and stir in.

Place some salad leaves into bowls and drizzle with a little Red Pepper Drizzle.

Pat the halloumi dry and cut into half centimetre slices. Grind over some black pepper and press it on so that it sticks. Scatter about a tablespoon of plain flour on to a plate. Coat the halloumi with the flour on all sides.
In the pan in which you cooked the onions, gently fry the halloumi on both sides until golden brown.

Put the lentil salad mixture over the salad leaves and top with the fried halloumi, finishing with a good fruit vinegar and olive oil.

25 November 2013

Full marks for zero milk miles cheese



There are probably not many dairy farms on the edge of London, just inside the M25 and we think this is one of the things that makes Lewis of London particularly special.

The business at Fold Farm, near Barnet, dates back to 1962 and has been a family concern ever since.
Lewis of London is now run by brothers Rhys, Owen and Daniel Lewis who have created a true field-to-tub real dairy ice cream. Not all the milk goes into ice cream, we discovered, when they asked us to try some of their cheese.

With a chunk of ricotta and halloumi to take back to the AFT Kitchen this set the culinary cogs in motion and we came up with a couple of good ways to use the cheeses.

Ricotta
Photo: © childsdesign
Technically, ricotta isn’t actually a cheese. Originating in Italy it is made from the whey left from regular cheese production. Ricotta literally means ‘re-cooked’. The whey will still contain some protein and when the liquid is left to ferment for one or two days and then heated to near boiling this causes the protein to separate out to form a fine soft curd which is then strained through a cloth.

Lewis of London’s ricotta is made from cow’s milk, pure white in colour with a clean, sweet flavour and creamy texture. Initially it feels a little drier than the ricotta you find in tubs in the shops, but the mouth-feel is very pleasing and just melts away.

Photo: © childsdesign
We found it cooks well too when we made this Ricotta, Lemon & Raisin Tart. The ricotta beats well into a luscious consistency allowing it to combine well with the other ingredients. The result was rich but light at the same time.
In its plain state it was a great addition to our Autumn Salad.

Halloumi
Traditionally, Halloumi is from Cyprus and often made with sheep’s milk, but it can be made with cow’s milk as with the Lewis of London product.

Halloumi is a ‘magic’ cheese in that it does not melt when heated. It will soften significantly but keep its shape and when grilled or fried takes on a lovely golden-brown exterior. This is due to the low acid content.

Photo: © childsdesign
We decided to fry ours to top this salad. It has a lovely milky flavour and you’d swear you could taste all that lovely green grass, buttercups and daisies of Barnet’s pastures on which the cows graze.
There is just the right amount of saltiness too and the little squeak as the cheese cools when you chew.





We are pleased to award Lewis of London our 'Artisan Food Trail Approved' status for their Ricotta Cheese and Halloumi Cheese.


To find out more about Lewis of London visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here

Other reading
An interesting article from September 2013 that appeared in nfu online here: www.nfuonline.com/about-us/our-offices/east-anglia/latest-news/the-dairy-farmers-aiming-for-capital-growth/

22 November 2013

Chocolate & Beetroot Cake

Photo: © childsdesign

***
Chocolate and beetroot is actually a very good combination and even if you say you don’t like beetroot, it really does take on a whole new taste sensation this way.

This is a cake of contrasts and contradictions. So dark in colour it should be exceedingly rich, but surprisingly it is quite light. The beetroot lends a little sweetness and also its reddish-purple juice manages to tint even the darkest of chocolate.

Serve with a dollop of cream or creme fraiche.

Photo: © childsdesign
Ingredients
  • 200g fresh beetroot
  • 150g Ecuador Chocolate Powder (from Mortimer Chocolate Company)
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs

Method
Boil the beetroot for an hour until tender. Drain and leave to cool. Remove the skin and chop the beetroot into pieces. Using a blender, purée until smooth.

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4. Grease a deep, 17cm cake tin with butter and lightly coat the inside with flour.

Place the beetroot purée in a saucepan and warm through on a low heat. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate powder and stir gently to melt and mix. Grate in the ginger, add the cinnamon and stir until all mixed together. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.
Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in another large bowl.
To the egg yolks add the sugar and butter and beat until pale, creamy and fluffy.
Whisk the egg whites until they are quite stiff and form peaks.

Fold the yolk mixture into the flour until well combined. Then fold in the egg whites, a third at a time until well mixed. Gently stir in the beetroot and chocolate mixture.

Spoon into the cake tin and smooth the mixture evenly over the surface. Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 50 minutes.
Check the cake is done by inserting a skewer into the centre. The skewer should come out clean (no liquid cake mix should show) and the cake should have a fudgey consistency.
Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

Photo: © childsdesign

13 November 2013

Find AFT producers at these upcoming events…


There are fair number of major events coming up focussing on food and gifts for those wanting to find something special for Christmas.
We're pleased to tell you that there will be some Artisan Food Trail producers attending too, so we hope you will get to meet them and buy some of their exceptional produce.

Information listed below and clicking on the producer's names will take you to their pages on The Artisan Food Trail website for further details.

Ideal Home Show at Christmas
13th – 17th November 2013
Earls Court, London
Fudge Kitchen
Morgan House Foods
www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk

BBC Good Food Show London
15th – 17th November 2013
Olympia, London
Cotswold Gold
Fudge Kitchen
The Artisan Smokehouse
www.bbcgoodfoodshowlondon.com

Country Living Christmas Fair, Glasgow
21st – 24th November 2013
SECC, Glasgow
Great Glen Game
Trotter's Independent Condiments
www.countrylivingfair.com

Taste of Christmas
21st – 24th November 2013
Tobacco Dock, London
Edible Ornamentals
www.tasteofchristmas.com

BBC Good Food Show Winter
27th November – 1st December 2013
NEC, Birmingham
Cotswold Gold
Edible Ornamentals
Fudge Kitchen
www.bbcgoodfoodshowwinter.com

11 November 2013

Big stockist for Mortimer Chocolate Company


The Mortimer Chocolate Company has made its first deliveries of its award-winning hot chocolate products into Sainsbury’s Supermarkets all over the UK, just in time for customers to warm themselves up with the delicious chocolate drinks.


Their award-winning West African Chocolate Powder (which is already stocked in Waitrose) is going into nearly 600 Sainsbury’s stores, while their Ecuador Chocolate Powder will be stocked in nearly 400 stores.
This is good news for The Mortimer Chocolate Company which aims to bring fine chocolate drinks to a UK market dominated by sugary drinks lacking a real chocolate credential.
“Having our chocolates in the two top quality supermarkets in the land shows just how good our chocolates are!” said Adrian Smith, managing director of the Mortimer Chocolate Company. “Walking into my local Sainsbury’s and seeing two of our products side-by-side on the shelf is a great feeling! I want to tell all their customers how good a drink it is. And it is now available all over the UK!”

The Artisan Food Trail says: “Both chocolate powders have received our AFT Approved status and we are pleased for Adrian and Felicity whose knowledge, passion and hard work has produced a fine chocolate product which will now be available to a greater customer base.
Wider availability also means customers have more choice and the opportunity to make a better choice.
Being stocked in a supermarket has not meant that the products have been compromised though. Mortimer Chocolate Company have stuck to their original principles and it is heartening to know that they are getting the recognition and respect from the larger stores.”

Adrian added,“Our customers tell us how much they love our chocolate, now we hope that Sainsbury’s shoppers will fall in love with it too.”

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

Christmas Food Fayre at Gladleys Deli


The festive season is only a few weeks away so now is a good time to start making plans for what food to buy for the celebrations.

Gladleys Deli in Stevenage is holding a Christmas Food Fayre this weekend, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th November, giving you the opportunity to see what is available and to place orders.

From the best free range turkeys and all the trimmings to top quality hams and a range of hand selected cheeses to create the ultimate festive cheeseboard.
Gladleys take pride in sourcing the best produce, some of it very local, and will be offering many items that cannot be found in the supermarket, which means your Christmas table can be something quite special.

There will be plenty to choose from and don't forget that food also makes a great gift too.

When: 16th – 17th November 2013
Where: Gladleys Deli-Bistro, 5a Middle Row, Stevenage,
Hertfordshire SG1 3AN

To find out more about Gladleys Deli-Bistro visit their page on 
The Artisan Food Trail here



View AFT_Gladleys Deli-Bistro in a larger map

4 November 2013

Truffled Potato & Celeriac Bake

Photo: © childsdesign

***   
Creamy baked potatoes and celeriac taste sublime but add a little truffle oil and they’re heavenly. The addition of dried mushrooms gives the dish a decidedly ‘woodland’ character – they are something a little extra that we felt would make things more interesting, but you can leave them out if you want.
This is great as a side dish with roasted meats or even with a crisp green salad or just on its own. As it cooks the smell of truffles fills the kitchen as well as making us impatient to eat to it.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 15g dried porcini or wild mushrooms (optional)
  • 1kg potatoes, peeled
  • 1 small celeriac, peeled and halved
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 500ml double cream
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp truffle oil*, plus extra for drizzling
  • 100g Parmesan cheese, grated

Method
Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 15 minutes until softened, then chop into small pieces.

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas 4.

Cut the potatoes and celeriac into half centimetre thick slices. Put the slices into a large saucepan, cover with cold water, add some salt, place on the hob and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then drain in a colander. Leave the potatoes and celeriac in the colander for a minute or two to allow the steam to evaporate off.

Tip the potatoes and celeriac back into the pan with the cream, garlic, thyme, porcini mushrooms, truffle oil, half the Parmesan and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Mix together, then tip into the baking dish spreading out evenly. If there's any mixture left in the pan, pour this over the top. Sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan, cover tightly with tinfoil and cook in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown.

Check the potatoes are cooked through by inserting the point of a knife in the centre – they should be soft.
You may need to remove the foil about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time to help the top brown.

If you want more truffle flavour just add a few drops of truffle oil to the top when serving.

* We used Black Truffle Oil from Truffle Hunter

1 November 2013

A new place to eat & drink with all the right ingredients

This post is a little out of the ordinary as we don't normally cover things that are not on The Artisan Food Trail (as it were), but this time we felt compelled to make an exception.

After receiving an invitation to attend a preview party at Cambridge's newest eating and drinking establishment, we took ourselves to Pint Shop last night and we can honestly say we were very impressed.
Pint Shop's statement tagline is simply 'MEAT. BREAD. BEER' which is simply done, very well.

We enjoyed great food and drink and were spoilt for choice when it came to the selection of craft beers and the large array of gins. The food tastings were delicious (and generous): Slow braised rabbit pasties, sweet beetroot with chunky pesto on toasted artisan bread, perfectly seasoned pulled pork with plums, stuffed breast of lamb, the most amazing steak cooked over hot coals and to finish, Cox's apple & gin sorbet. The jars of handmade pork scratchings on the bar were just a little too moreish!
It looks like we somehow missed out on the scotch eggs as we went upstairs for a couple of talks from The Cambridge Distillery and Barker Brothers.

Pint Shop work closely with the traditional local butchers, Barker Brothers in Great Shelford to source the highest quality meat and they have also had a specially tailored gin made by The Cambridge Distillery which interestingly, contains peas. We can assure you that it does taste very nice.

Anyway back to the real point here for this post. Pint Shop shares the same ethos as The Artisan Food Trail – sourcing the best quality food (locally where possible), respect for great ingredients and supporting small producers. The Pint Shop team enjoy passing on their knowledge and spreading enthusiasm for the best in food and drink.

Pint Shop have bagged themselves a great premises too, right in the centre of Cambridge in Peas Hill.
We suggest that you go and see for yourself when it opens next Monday 4th November. We think you'll enjoy it too.

Thank you Pint Shop for inviting us and we'll definitely be back for more – let's keep in touch.