Tag Archives: Christmas

Five fresh ideas for alternative Christmas puddings

From a sophisticated chocoholic dessert to something simple, warming and homely.  If you’re looking for something a bit different to finish off your Christmas day feast, we’ve got some fantastic suggestions right here.

Sticky toffee pudding

A complete favourite in the canteen here on the farm where it’s known as rocket-fuel!  This sticky toffee pudding is not easily forgotten and you certainly won’t have any leftovers for long.

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Seville orange marmalade pudding

For a bit of zing after a big festive feast, this pudding is just what you need.  It’s light and fluffy and even more tempting when served with oodles of cream.

Baked eve’s pudding with homemade custard

A simple classic.  This dessert is warm, satisfying and great for sharing. Served with custard, this is pure comfort food and just the thing for Christmas day.

baked eve's pudding with home made custard

 

Chocolate pots

These little pots of chocolate heaven can be made well in advance of the big day and are perfect for bringing out just before, or with coffee.

Chocolate beetroot mousse cake

Nothing will please chocoholics more than this recipe for chocolate beetroot mousse.  Its deep, dark chocolate flavour is coupled with the moistness of the beetroot to keep it light and airy.  It’s also gluten free!

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Five favourite recipes for brilliant brussels

Convert any sprout sceptic with these bold and brilliant recipes for brussels. Simple and quick to make, these dishes are great served as a side, or even to eat on their own by avid sprout lovers!

We’ve got five of our tried and tested recipes and a handy video to help you get the perfect brussels sprouts every time!

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Brussels sprouts with brown butter and almonds

Rich, sweet and indulgent. This way of preparing the little green veg gives it an extra crunch and texture with the addition of flaked almonds.

roasted brussels with sage & chestnut butter

 

Sprouts with chestnuts and bacon

A more traditional way of serving brussels, this dish is just the thing to serve up on Christmas day. The warm chestnut and bacon flavours are great for tempting sprout haters.

Roasted brussels sprouts and caramelised onions

This recipe is a simple way of using up any left over sprouts and is great served with the last of the turkey and plenty of gravy. Once roasted the caramelised onions will work wonders bringing out the natural sweetness of the sprouts.

brussels sprout, red onion & blue cheese gratin

 

Brussels sprouts with horseradish

Give your sprouts a bit of oomph with this fiery dish that’s not for the fainthearted. Add as much horseradish as you dare!

Brussels sprouts with bacon and almonds

This recipe is pure comfort food. Sweet, salty, warm, rich and with a bit of bite. Try with mash potato for an easy and filling lunch dish.

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5 veggie Christmas recipe ideas

We’ve got five great veggie centrepiece recipes to treat your vegetarian friends or family for Christmas dinner on the big day.

Leek and smoked cheese pithivier

Pithivier is a French pie made with puff pastry.  Traditionally sweet, this one has a smoky cheese and leek filling.  It’s hearty and rich and makes a great showstopper for the big day.

leek & smoked cheese pithivier

Christmas pie with greens, chestnuts and feta

This pie is easily prepared in advance and put into the oven just ahead of dinner.  The feta makes sure the spinach and kale are moorish and creamy, while the chestnuts give it texture.

Squash, chard and stilton pithivier

These individual pies look smart when served and are great for impressing festive guests.  Roasted squash is one of our favourite things and together with chard and soft cheese, it’s hard to go wrong with this dish.

Leek, cheese and herb vegetarian suet pudding

Sweet leeks and soft pastry work together in this dish to create a warming and satisfying centerpiece.  It’s quickly and easily prepared ready to go straight into the oven so you can get on with enjoying the day.

Roasted veg toad in the hole with onion gravy

A classic dish done up for Christmas.  With caramelised onions, softly roasted veg and a crispy and filling batter, this dish is just the thing on a cold Christmas day.

Be sure to send us photos of any of the dishes you make, we love to see what you’ve made!

5 cracking Christmas cocktail ideas from Riverford

Hosting a Christmas party this year?  Looking for ideas to take along to someone else’s?  We’ve got five great Christmas cocktails, and a few extra tipples, that are guaranteed to get any party started!

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Blood orange & prosecco cocktail – click here to see recipe

A celebratory drink  when blood oranges are in season (but you can substitute with normal oranges). For this we suggest using prosecco for the fizz, or if you’re feeling extravagant, champagne. A splash of Campari doesn’t hurt either!

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Riverford mulled cider – click here to see recipe

The mulled cider was so popular at our London Christmas fair last year that we’ve had lots of requests for the recipe. This is from Ben Watson’s mate, Cider Andy. He’s adamant that to get the genuine article, you need to use his two-year-old Dartmoor Cider, but any dry, scrumpy type cider will do.

Apple, pear & ginger smoothie – click here to see recipe

A great drink for drivers or kids, this nutritional smoothie is sweet and warming. Dress it up with a fancy straw in a nice glass.

Bloody orange mary – click here to see recipe

Great with brunch, or as a hang over cure, this cocktail is a twist on the classic using vibrant blood oranges (or standard oranges).

Tangy orange appetiser – click here to see recipe

A take on the classic Savoy cocktail of orange juice, gin and dubonnet, said to be the Queen Mother’s favourite tipple.

blood orange cocktails

Don’t miss! Veggie cocktails at Riverford at The Duke of Cambridge:

In January our pub in Islington,  Riverford at The Duke of Cambridge will be serving veggie inspired cocktails and mocktails, for those who are recovering from all the celebrations.

The recipes are highly secret, but if you fancy yourself as a bit of a mixologist, then our cocktail master at the Duke has let you know what the main ingredient combinations are below.  If you’d rather let someone else do the hard work then head over to The Duke in the new year to taste how it’s done by the professionals!

Non-alcoholic blends:

Beetroot, apple and celery juice

Apple, carrot and ginger

Alcoholic blends:

Apple, beetroot and amaretto

Apple, mint, cucumber and damson vodka

Ben’s wine blog: win a trip to Italy & cracking Christmas wines

Ben takes us through his top picks of wines that are just right for getting the Christmas celebrations started, plus buy a bottle of festive Pizzini fizz or our Christmas mixed wine case and you could win a trip to the Barone Pizzini vineyard near Verona in Italy to see how it’s made!

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It’s been a year since I was handed the poisoned chalice that is the Riverford corkscrew and I’d like to think that we’ve made good progress – better wines at better prices as you’ll see from the Christmas list. New wines for Autumn and Christmas, available from November, include two very different Sauvignon Blancs. Domaine de Petit Roubié from Picpoul in the Languedoc is medium bodied with typical grass and floral notes. The other, Bodegas Menade from Rueda in northern Spain is elegant, aromatic and fragrant with notes of herbs and citrus peel.

Refreshing whites

Our Christmas special white is a classy Sancerre from the Loire. Domaine Vincent Gaudry’s Le Tournebride ticks all the boxes that have made good Sancerre one of the world’s great white wines; crisp, flinty minerality with classic citrus grapefruit and lemon flavours. Class in a glass. Another highlight is Davenport Vineyards Horsmonden dry white form East Sussex. A winner in the Soil Association 2014 Organic Food Awards, it’s a joy to have a real, quality, English organic wine on the list. Chardonnay is still the most noble of white grapes and by far the best with food. Gilles Louvet ‘O’ Chardonnay is a no nonsense, great value example. Similar to Chablis in weight and character but the Languedoc sun opens it up and makes it far more accessible. Definitely a crowd pleaser, it’s the perfect white wine to pair with rich food on the Christmas table.

Rounded reds

From the same stable we have ‘O’ Pinot Noir. Winemakers try so hard to stamp their mark on Pinot Noir that often their egos and the grapes’ idiosyncrasies make for a love/hate relationship that can only end in tears. Gilles Louvet Pinot Noir is no such thing. Well made and great value, it’s perfect with the turkey. If you’re more into your Bordeaux, hopefully, Chateau Coursou will float your boat. A traditional blend of Cabernets Sauvignon, Franc and Merlot, it was head and shoulders above the other clarets we tried.

Top of the pops on the red front is Montirius, Vacqueyras ‘Le Clos’. From one of Jancis Robinson’s favourite Rhone producers it’s Syrah predominant, full bodied, big and beefy. As close to a Chateauneuf du Pape as we could find, this is definitely one for the goose and Stilton.

Warming winter tipples

Last year Pedro Ximénez sherry was touted as being the perfect match for Christmas pudding – not surprising really given that the grapes are dried to an almost raisin-like intensity. We haven’t been able to find any organic sherry but we have come up with a similarly unctuous ‘sticky’ made up the road near Cordoba. Peidra Luenga Pedro Ximémez is a classic deep mahogany colour with intense aromas and a palate of dried fruits, raisins and figs, with notes of chocolate and coffee. Smooth and velvety on the palate, with great length and balance – it’s close to being the most moreish drink I’ve ever had. There’s an equally good Fino made, as is the PX, using the traditional solera ageing system of passing from barrel to barrel leaving a small residue to help age the next batch.

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Festive fizz

Lastly, and definitely my favourite, is Barone Pizzini’s Animante Franciacorta. Franciacorta must be one of Italy’s best kept secrets, a tiny appellation north east of Milan, specialising in sparkling wines using the same grapes and method as Champagne. In a recent FT article on the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championship, Jancis Robinson put two Franciacorta fizzes in her top eight (five of the other six were Champagnes). The Animante wasn’t one those but it won gold at the prestigious Sommelier Wine Awards and at £19.99, it bridges the gap nicely between Prosecco and Champagne. It’s got everything Champagne has, including that luxurious, creamy mouthfeel, apart from the name, and it’s half the price.

Win a trip to Barone Pizzini vineyard in Italy!

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Win an Italian trip for two when you buy a bottle of Pizzini fizz or a Christmas mixed wine case. To enter, simply buy a bottle of Barone Pizzini’s Animante Franciacorta (1 bottle or a case of 6), or our Christmas mixed wine case.

Get into the festive spirit with a bottle of our Barone Pizzini animante fizz, or our Christmas mixed wine case, and we’ll enter you into a free prize draw to win a 2 night stay at the Barone Pizzini organic vineyard near Verona in Northern Italy. Franciacorta, near Lake Iseo, is the perfect place for making Italy’s best fizz. Franciacorta is the name of the area, the production method (traditional, bottle fermentation) and also the name of the wine. Barone Pizzini has recently celebrated 140 years since the company was founded. It is one of the oldest wineries in Franciacorta established in 1870. It was also the first winery in Franciacorta to adopt organic viticulture methods.

We have limited stocks, so if you fancy some festive fizz and the chance of a trip to Italy, add a bottle to your order now!

T&Cs

1. Holiday includes: 2 return flights from UK to Italy, UK departure location to suit winner, but only subject to approval by Vintage Roots (promoter).  Accommodation of a 2 night stay in a minimum 3* hotel near Barone Pizzini Vineyard, near Lake Iseo, with dinner and breakfast. ½ day tour of Barone Pizzini organic vineyard and an Italian lunch, leaving free time afterwards at your leisure.

2. Not included in prize: transport to & from airport in UK, transport from airport in Italy to accommodation. Barone Pizzini representative will collect and return you from your hotel on the day of the tour.

3. Over 18s only.

4. Entrants have to buy any bottle (single or multiple) of Barone pizzini franciacorta animante or a Riverford Christmas mixed wine case to be entered into the draw. Products have to be delivered by 31st December 2014.

5. Only one entry per person, multiple bottles do not mean multiple entries.

6. Holiday has to be taken between 1/1//15 – 1/4/15 (excluding half term dates and bank holidays). Provider reserves the right to offer flight and travel in Italy details and refuse travel on very expensive dates.

7. Competition provider is Vintage Roots and Barone Pizzini.

8. Winners will be contacted within 14 working days of closing date. If winners do not confirm prize with 7 days of notification, promoter reserves the right to pick an alternative winner.

9. Riverford is not responsible for lost, late, incomplete or damaged competition entries or data lost due to circumstances beyond their control.

10.Prizes are non-transferable and cannot be exchanged. The winner may not use the prize in conjunction with any other offer, promotion or prize draw.

11. Riverford and its partners reserve the right to substitute stated prize with a similar item should prize offered become unavailable.

12. Judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

13. Promoter is Riverford Organic Farms Ltd and Vintage Roots

14.A list of winners and their areas will be available upon written request from 2nd January 2015.

Make your own decorations: Christmas star

A lovely way to brighten up your home or Christmas tree, or to give as a gift to a friend, – we’ve been busy making these lovely Christmas decorations from a few twigs and some string, here’s how we did it:

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Step 1: Make the most of a countryside walk gathering up dry twigs and sticks from your garden, nearby park or winter stroll in the park.

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Step 2: When you’ve got a collection of twigs, you will need the following to your Christmas star:

  • twigs
  • strong scissors or secateurs
  • garden or brown string, or pink ribbon

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Step 3: Cut the twigs into 6 equal lengths (about 6-10cm long will make it easier to tie the ends together).

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Step 4: Take 2 twigs and cross two ends into a triangle shape. Place the string under the cross and tie a knot.

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Step 5: Take a third twig and cross it to make a triangle with 3 equal sides. Repeat with the remaining three twigs.

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Step 6: Place one triangle over the other to make a star shape.

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Step 7: Take a piece of string and tie the two stars together at the join (see picture above). Repeat at the join opposite.

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Step 8: Take a piece of string or festive ribbon and make into a tag to hang from your Christmas tree.

Kirsty’s blog: Christmas cake recipe, part 2 – marzipan & icing

This is the second part of our Christmas cake bake.

Once your cake has been fed with brandy, it’s time to ice it. We’re using homemade marzipan and royal icing for a rough snow effect. If it’s your first time at making a Christmas cake, this way of icing is easier than trying to get a smooth surface with fondant icing, as marzipan or royal icing doesn’t have to be perfect. We’re also giving you a recipe for a generous amount of icing, as there’s nothing worse than having to scrimp and scrape the icing round the cake, particularly if you’re a novice. If there’s any left in the bowl, it’s pretty good eaten off the spoon!

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If you don’t like marzipan and icing, then you can decorate your cake with glacé fruit and nuts: warm 4 tbsp brandy with 2 tbsp apricot jam in a small pan, brush a little over the top of the cake then decorate with your fruit and nuts. Brush the rest of the glaze over the top to preserve it.

for the marzipan:
350g ground almonds
175g golden caster sugar
175g icing sugar, plus more for dusting
a few drops almond extract
a squeeze of lemon juice, about 1 tsp
2 egg whites from medium eggs (if you’re unsure about the size, weigh the whites, you need about 60g)
3 tbsp apricot jam

for the icing:
4 egg whites
1 kg icing sugar, sifted
1-2 tsp glycerine (glycerol), this is different to liquid glucose, so check the label (this is optional and makes the icing softer so add it according to your preference)

To make the marzipan, put the ground almonds and caster sugar in a large bowl. Using a sieve (apparently metal ones can taint the sugar, but I’ve never had that problem), sift in the icing sugar. Stir it all together. Lightly beat the egg whites and add them along with the almond extract, and lemon juice. Beat the mixture together with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth paste. It should be soft but quite firm. Dust some icing sugar onto your work surface. Using your hands, lightly knead it until it’s smooth. Try to keep your hands cool and don’t over knead it or the paste will be too oily. Make it into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 mins. Warm the apricot jam in a small pan. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the cake all over to coat it with the jam (you might want to sieve the jam if it’s particularly lumpy). Take the marzipan out of the fridge. Unwrap it and cut about 1/3 off it. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with icing sugar and roll the smaller piece until you have a circle the size of the top of the cake (use your Christmas cake tin as a template to cut around if you like). Roll it over the cake and press it down. Roll out the rest of the marzipan into oblong strips, the width of the sides, and press them on, using your fingers to join any strips and the top together. You can use your rolling pin to smooth the joins too. Once the marzipan has covered the cake, ideally cover it and leave it for a few days to dry out a bit, to stop the almond oil leaking into the icing and discolouring it (don’t worry too much if you’re making it all a bit last minute, you’ll probably be eating it before you have to worry about that!) To ice it, lightly beat the egg whites in a large bowl. Add half the icing sugar and stir well until it’s smooth and runny. Add the glycerine if using, then the rest of the sugar, in large spoonfuls, stirring well to incorporate each time. Keep beating until the mixture forms smooth, firm peaks. Use a palette knife to spread the icing all over the cake, then to spike up the icing. Leave it to firm up, then cover and keep in a cool place until needed. Tacky or classy decorations, up to you! Happy Christmas!

Penny’s gardening blog – how to make a Christmas wreath

Christmas wreath

There is nothing quite like going out in December and gathering some winter foliage to make a wreath for your front door. I do so a lot at this time of year as I make wreaths to sell through Riverford Farm Shop at Staverton, here in Devon. It really does make me feel very close to nature as I walk a hedgerow on a few friend’s farms looking for bits of black berried ivy, a few sprigs of bright red holly berries and some spindle berry if I am lucky. This mixed with some Christmas tree off-cuts, maybe a branch of yew or camellia in bud that you are trimming in your garden, or a few prunings from your apple tree covered in lichens, will make a pretty winter picture on your door.

Suggested foliage:  Evergreens such as holly, ivy, pittisporum, yew, eucalyptus, camellia,  eleagnus, bay, some lichen covered twigs, old man’s beard, Christmas tree off cuts all make great plants to use. You don’t need all of these, three to five different types of foliages will be enough and about six to eight sprigs of colourful berries.

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What you need: String, secateurs, reel wire, wreath base, moss, and plenty of foliage and some berries for colour. You can buy wreath bases from a florist for a few pounds, or make use of an old wire coat hanger if you are feeling creative!

ImageStep 1 –

Attaching moss to base: First attach the string to the base. Place a handful of moss onto the base and secure by winding the string around both the moss and the wire base. Continue to add more moss, winding the string around it until the whole base is covered. Tie off the string.

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Step 2 –

Starting the wreath: Now attach the reel wire to the mossed up base – tie one end of the wire to the base wire using a knot, then leave the wire reel attached ready to wind around each bunch of foliage as you go. 

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Step 3 –

Make a small bunch of foliage and place on the mossy base and secure by winding the wire around the base a couple of times, pulling it fairly tight each time.ImageStep 4 –

Make another bunch and place this on the stems of the last bunch and secure again by winding round the wire. Keep an eye on the shape and composition as you go along.

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Finishing the wreath: When you have covered the whole wreath, tuck the last bunch of foliage stalks right under the first bunch of foliage leaves to complete the circle seamlessly.

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Step 6 –

Turn the wreath over and secure the wire onto the base and tie off.  Make a loop with a piece of string (or wire) and attach it to the base of the wreath to act as a hanger.

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Voila! The finished wreath

Last step –

Attach to door: Use the hanger to attach the wreath easily to your front door.

Caring for your wreath: Ideally a wreath should be placed on the outside of a door. This chilly position will ensure the wreath looks good for a few weeks. Spraying it with a fine mister would also help it stay looking fresh.

 

How to make citrus candles

Throughout December, we’re posting tips, ideas, downloads and recipes on our Facebook page (our version of an advent calendar). Today we show you how to make citrus candles. These are fun to make, look great and will fill your room with the smell of fruit.

you will need:

candle wax (you’ll need about 1½ times the volume of your mould)
wick (you can make your own by dipping some string in melted wax)
candle mould (you could use a plastic beaker or a margarine tub)
dried slices of oranges and lemons
cinnamon stick, cloves and/or star anise
a large pan
a heatproof bowl
blu-tack
a pencil
essential oil

method:

Make a hole in the bottom of your mould with the tip of a sharp pencil or some scissors. Thread the wick through the hole, with a bit poking out of the bottom of the mould. Press some Blu-tack around the wick on the outside of the mould – this will stop any wax escaping later.

Gently pull the other end of the wick until it’s taut in the middle of the mould. Balance a pencil on the top edges of the mould and wrap the long end of the wick around the pencil.

Put the wax and a few drops of essential oil in a heatproof bowl over a pan of water. Heat the water until it simmers and gradually melts the wax. While the wax is melting, arrange the slices of fruit, cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise in the mould.

Pour the melted wax into the mould. Tap the outside of the mould to make any air bubbles rise and disappear to one side.

When the wax has cooled down, remove the Blu-tack from the wick, tap the bottom of the mould and pull gently on the other end of the wick attached to the pencil. If the candle doesn’t come out easily place the mould under a running hot tap for a few moments and try again.

Christmas drinks

Throughout December, we’re posting tips, ideas, downloads and recipes on our Facebook page (our version of an advent calendar). Today we’ve got a couple of recipes for alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from Heron Valley (who supply us with juices and cider) and one for sloe gin and orange from The Telegraph.

dangerous winter party recipe

ingredients
2 ltrs heron valley cider – order from Riverford
2 bags mulling spices – order from Riverford
2 large cups sugar
½ lemon – order from Riverford

Warm the Heron Valley cider in a large pan with the mulling spice bags, some sugar to taste and half a lemon and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. 

 

safe winter party recipe

ingredients
2 bottles heron valley sweet apple juice – order from Riverford
2 bags mulling spices – order from Riverford

Warm the Heron Valley organic sweet apple juice in a large pan with the 2 spice bags and allow to infuse for 10 minutes.  

For an alcoholic version of the above add a shot of rum, sloe gin or winter Pimms™ to the mulled apple juice

sloe gin & orange

This Angela Hartnett cocktail appeared in The Telegraph on 14th March 2007. You can order sloe gin from Riverford.

ingredients
ice cubes
7fl oz/200ml sloe gin – order from Riverford
3½fl oz/100ml dry vermouth
1 pint 2fl oz/500ml blood orange juice, preferably fresh
sanguinello
2 limes – order from Riverford

Put a couple of handfuls of ice in the bottom of a large jug. Pour the sloe gin, vermouth, blood orange juice and the juice from one of the limes over them. Mix well. Put a few ice cubes in a cocktail glass and pour in the cocktail.

Order alcoholic or soft drinks from Riverford.