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12 veg of Christmas – 5 Christmas leek recipes

Guy says
leeksOur leeks are pulled, stripped and trimmed by hand. Surviving the grim hardship of a January day spent bent over in a windswept field with 5 kilos of mud clinging to each boot also requires a zen-like quality possessed by only a small minority. I reckon the pickers deserve to be paid more than bankers but I’m not sure we would sell many leeks if they were. The winter-hardy varieties ready at Christmas tend to be shorter and stouter with darker leaves, and arguably they taste better for the climatic hardship they have experienced.

Prep
Leeks tend to harbour a bit of mud. If you have only one to clean, cut it in half lengthways, leaving the root base intact. Hold each half under the cold tap, root end up, fanning out the leaves with your fingers. For a bigger batch, it’s easier to slice the leeks first: cut off the root base and the dark green top and use the white and paler green section. Let the rings soak for a few minutes in a bowl of cold water so the dirt sinks, then drain in a colander.

Riverford leek & smoked cheese pithivier

Pithivier is a circular puff pastry pie with a curved pattern cut into it. You could add some sliced mushrooms to the leek mixture.

leek-pithivierknob of butter
1kg leeks, finely shredded
100g cream cheese
sea salt & ground black pepper
80g smoked cheddar cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
2 sheets ready rolled all-butter puff pastry (you need about 600g if making your own or rolling out a block; roll to about ½-¾cm)
1 egg yolk, mixed with a splash of milk

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the leeks and cook gently for about 10 mins until soft. Add the cream cheese and stir until melted. Season well. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and chives. Leave to cool completely. Roll out one piece of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and use a dinner plate as a template to cut around to make a circle. Spread over the leek mixture, leaving a gap of 5cm all the way around the pastry circle. Roll out the other half of the pastry and lay over the top. Press the edges down to seal. Trim the edges. Brush with eggwash. Use a sharp knife to score curved lines on top of the pie and the edges. Bake at 180°C for about 30 mins, until the top is golden brown and the pastry cooked through. Serve warm.

leeks with garlic cream & tarragon

serves 4-6 as a side

leek-cream-tarragonknob of butter
2 large leeks, trimmed & washed
2 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
125ml double cream
handful tarragon leaves, chopped

 

 

Halve the leeks lengthways, and slice into 1cm slices at an angle. Gently heat the butter in a saucepan add the leeks, season and cook on a low heat for 15-20 mins until soft, tender but not coloured. Place the garlic in a small pan with the cream and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 10 mins until the garlic has cooked, and the cream has reduced and thickened. Fold into the leeks, adjust the seasoning and add the chopped tarragon.

lemony leeks

serves 4-6 as a side
A sweet and sour poaching liquor can simply lift humble vegetables to a new level. This would work equally well with cauliflower, romanesco, or carrots. You’re looking for a good mix of sweet and sour, so tweak the lemon and sugar to taste.

600g leeks, trimmed
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
2 lemons
100ml good olive oil
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp dried dill

Peel off any tough or muddy outer leaves from the leeks and chop into 5cm lengths. Soak in a bowl of cold water to remove any grit, turning now and then, and rinse. Put the olive oil, garlic, 1 tbsp of the sugar, the lemon juice and 300ml water in a pan. Add the leeks and gently toss together and bring to a simmer over a medium heat for approx. 15 mins, or until the leeks are soft. Add a splash more water if needs be to stop them drying out. Stir the parsley and dill into the cooked leeks. Check the seasoning and adjust sugar, lemon juice or salt while the leeks are still warm to give a good mix of sweet and sour. Serve the leeks on a platter or in a large bowl, with the poaching liquor spooned over the top. For a more intense flavour, reduce the liquor down a little before pouring it over.

leek and feta fritters

serves 4
A very moreish starter or light lunch with a bitter leaf salad. The dip includes sumac, a deep-red, lemony spice used a lot in Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s increasingly available in supermarkets, but if you can’t find it, use a little extra lemon juice and a couple of grinds of pepper instead.

for the fritters:
3 leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
25g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large eggs
50g crème fraîche
70g self-raising flour
30g gram (chickpea) flour (or just use a total of 100g self-raising flour)
1 tsp baking powder
80g feta, crumbled
small bunch of tarragon, leaves chopped
cayenne pepper
dash of milk (if necessary)
sunflower oil, for frying
salt and black pepper

for the dip:
zest and juice of ½ lemon
150g crème fraîche
sumac (or see introduction for alternative)
lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Lightly fry the leeks in the butter and oil in a frying pan over a medium heat until starting to soften, about 7 minutes. Whisk the eggs and crème fraîche until light and starting to increase in volume. Sift in the self-raising flour, gram flour, if using, and baking powder and gently mix into a batter. Fold in the leeks, feta and tarragon. Add a pinch of cayenne and some salt and pepper. You should have a consistency that will drop slowly from a spoon. If too dry, add a dash of milk; too wet, add a pinch of flour. Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of about 5mm and heat until a test teaspoonful of batter sizzles immediately. Using a spoon, add three or four separate dollops of batter to the pan. Push each one with the back of the spoon until you have small patties about 8cm across. Cook until golden, about 3–4 minutes on each side. Remove the cooked fritters to a baking tray and repeat until you have used up the batter. You may need to heat up fresh oil between batches if it starts to run dry. When all are done, place the fritters in the oven for 10–12 minutes to warm through. Meanwhile, make the dip. Mix the lemon zest into the crème fraîche with a pinch of salt and add the lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle liberally with sumac and serve with the lemon wedges.

Variations
* Add chopped, fried crispy bacon to the batter, or replace the feta with cooked, shredded chicken.
* Instead of tarragon use dill or mint.

leek and Parmesan tart

serves 4-6
The secret of this recipe lies in cooking the leeks long and slow, so that they become sweetly caramelised. The rest takes no time at all and you can exercise your imagination adding extra toppings.

leek-parmesan-tart3–4 tbsp olive oil, or 50g butter
6 large leeks, washed, dried and thinly sliced
bunch of thyme, tied with string
1 x 300g ready-rolled sheet all-butter puff pastry
25g Parmesan (or vegetarian equivalent), finely grated
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Heat the oil or butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the leeks and thyme. Slow-fry the leeks until they are very soft and starting to brown, a good 10–15 minutes. Cover the pan initially to help them sweat, then take off the lid halfway through so the liquid evaporates. Stir at intervals to stop them catching. Season with salt and pepper then cool. Meanwhile, lay out your pastry flat on a lightly greased non-stick baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until it has completely puffed up and is golden brown. (Check the bottom of the pastry is cooked too.) Flatten the pastry back down by covering it evenly with the leek mixture, leaving 5mm around the edge. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and any other toppings (see suggestions below) and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.

Variations
* Onions work as a replacement for or combined with the leeks.
* Experiment with extra toppings, just like a pizza: try anchovies, olives or different cheeses, such as mozzarella or goat’s cheese.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic leeks to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 festive carrot recipes

Twisty-Riverford-carrotsGuy says
Carrots are more highly bred than our royal family. Through 500 years of intensive selection, the Dutch have selected out all the freaks so that what we have left are fast-growing, uniform, bland-tasting roots with ‘robust handling characteristics’, meaning that you can drop them out of an aeroplane without them breaking – crucial for mechanical harvesting, grading, washing and packing. I once visited a carrot variety trial and throughout the day I never saw anyone taste a carrot or even mention flavour. We try hard to do better and customers often cite the flavour of our carrots as a reason to recommend us. Here’s how to make the most of them!

roast carrots with honey and fennel

serves 4 as a side
Roasting the carrots intensifies their flavour and really makes a stand-up side dish.

roast-carrot-with-honey-fennel1kg carrots, peeled
2–3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1½ tsp fennel seeds
4 tbsp honey
a good pinch of salt

Heat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Cut the carrots into long wedges or roll-cut them into angular pieces. If they are small and slender, leave them whole or cut them in half lengthways. Toss with the oil, fennel seeds, honey and salt. Spread the carrots in a single layer over a roasting pan lined with baking paper. Roast for around 30 minutes until cooked through and caramelising in places – check after 20 minutes and turn over to ensure even roasting. Serve hot or warm.

carrots in a bag

serves 4
This nifty technique seals in the flavour and lets the veg cook in its own moisture. It also brings a nice bit of theatre to the Christmas dinner table! You’ll need baking parchment and a stapler.

carrots-in-a-bag2 rosemary sprigs
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
knob of butter
8 good-sized carrots, peeled
and chopped on the
diagonal into 1cm chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.To make the bag, spread out a rectangle of baking parchment, approximately 60 x 30cm, with the longer side towards you. Fold it in half from left to right. Double-fold the top and bottom ends and staple the folds closed with two staples. Using a pestle and mortar, bash the rosemary, bay leaf and garlic roughly (you can also do this using the back of a knife on a chopping board). Put the mixture into the bag with the butter. Put the carrots in a bowl, season well with salt and pepper and drizzle over enough of the olive oil so that the seasoning sticks to them. Tip into the bag. Double-fold the open edge of the bag and staple in both corners and in the middle. Lay in a roasting tin and bake for about 25 minutes; the bag should puff up.
Turn out into a bowl or open at the table like a big bag of crisps. Watch out for the staples!

roasted carrot & chickpea salad with tahini dressing

serves 4, prep: 15 mins, cook: 40 mins
You can also make this with cubes of squash, sweet potato or other roots.

roasted-carrot-chickpea-salad600g carrots, peeled & cut into large chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp clear honey
100g mixed salad leaves
400g tin chickpeas, rinsed & drained

for the dressing:
2 tbsp light tahini
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Toss the carrots in a baking dish with the oil, chilli, cumin, coriander and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 mins, until tender. Remove from the oven and toss in the chickpeas, coating them with the spices. Leave to cool slightly. Scatter the salad, chickpeas and carrots over a large serving plate. Make the dressing: stir the tahini with the yoghurt until you have a smooth paste. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients with a few tbsp water, just enough so the dressing has the consistency of pouring cream. Drizzle over the salad.

beetroot, carrot & alfalfa salad

serves 2, prep 15 mins, cook 0 mins

beetroot-carrot-alfalfa-salad2 large beetroot, peeled
2 large carrots, peeled
handful alfalfa sprouts, washed
4 tbsp mixed toasted seeds
1 pack wootton white cheese or feta

for the dressing:
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp finely grated ginger
4 tbsp good olive oil

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together and seasoning with salt and pepper. Very thinly slice the beetroot and carrot, then cut into matchsticks. Arrange on a serving plate. Sprinkle over the alfalfa and toasted seeds. Drizzle over the dressing and crumble over a little of the cheese. Drizzle over a little extra olive oil to serve.

carrot hummus

serves 4, prep 20 mins, cook 20 mins

carrot-hummus1 tin chickpeas, drained & rinsed
700g carrots, peeled & diced
6 tbsp light tahini (sesame paste)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp paprika, plus extra for garnish
good olive oil
small handful toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds

Boil the carrots in salted water until tender (approx 10 mins, depending on size). Drain and cool. Place in a food processor and add the tahini, chickpeas, garlic, juice from 1 lemon, cumin and paprika. With the processor running, gradually trickle in enough olive oil to make a thick dipping consistency, to your liking. Add salt and more lemon juice to taste. Serve sprinkled with toasted pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, a little paprika and drizzle over a little good olive oil.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add organic carrots to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

12 veg of Christmas – 5 festive ways with Brussels sprouts

The 12 veg of Christmas starts here! We’ll be uploading recipes to make your Christmas vegetables sing every day; first up is our beloved sprout.

You’ll be able to download a whole Christmas Day recipe booklet soon. Forget boring boiled veg – our recipes will make the green stuff the star of your Christmas table.

picking-sproutsGuy says
Sprouts are the most bitter of the edible brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, swede and broccoli), but bitter can be good provided it is not combined with the abuse of overcooking. It is the harnessing of this bitterness that gets sprouts singing through a dish. Contrast it with the sweetness of chestnuts; pair it with the acidity of balsamic vinegar, the richness of honey and the toasty crunch of pine nuts; or balance it with cream and bacon in an oozy gratin.

Prep
Remove any ragged or tough outer leaves. Trim the base if it is long or discoloured. Unless your sprouts are huge, there’s no need to score a cross in them to speed up cooking – it may make them a little mushy. Rinse in cold water and don’t be tempted to save the trimmings for stock unless you want a kitchen smelling of school canteen cabbage.

5 of the best brussels sprout recipes

stir-fried sprouts with cranberries & pecans

serves 4 as a side

50g dried cranberries
75g pecans, toasted in a dry frying pan & roughly chopped
500g brussels sprouts
1 tbsp oil
knob of butter
sea salt & ground black pepper

Put the cranberries in a bowl and pour over boiling water to just cover them. Soak for 10-15 mins, then drain. Cut the sprouts in half, lay each half flat on your chopping board and finely shred the leaves. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, add the sprouts and fry for 3-4 mins. Add the cranberries and nuts, season and toss together to serve.

roasted Brussels sprouts with sage and chestnut butter

serves 4
You will make more butter than you need for this recipe, but it’s not worth making any less. It’ll keep in the fridge for a week, or can be frozen and sliced as you need it.

sprouts-with-sage-chestnut-butter500g Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
olive oil, to roast
125g salted butter, at room temperature
100g cooked and peeled chestnuts (or use precooked), finely chopped
8 sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.
Put the sprouts in a baking dish and toss in just enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 20–30 minutes, until just tender but still with some bite. Toss once during cooking. Meanwhile, put the butter in a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until very soft. Stir in the chestnuts and sage. Lay a piece of cling film on your work surface. Spoon the butter in a line down the middle. Fold the cling film over and twist both ends to form a taut sausage. Chill until needed. When the sprouts are roasted, toss with about six thin slices of the chestnut butter. Check the seasoning before serving.

• Add a few unpeeled garlic cloves to the sprouts before roasting
• Toss the sprouts with other cooked greens

teriyaki sprouts with chilli & sesame

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 6 mins
Guy’s brother Ben runs the farm shop and kitchen where we make the teriyaki sauce sold alongside our vegboxes. It’s great for quick meat stir fries, but is also good with green veg. Serve with cooked rice or egg noodles tossed in a little sesame oil for a simple vegetarian supper (add some tofu for protein), or add leftover pieces of cooked chicken, beef or pork from a roast.

500g brussels sprouts, trimmed
oil for frying to a high temp, eg. sunflower
1-2 red chillies, depending on your preference for heat, thinly sliced, seeds removed for less heat, if you prefer
2 garlic cloves, peeled & thinly sliced
3cm fresh ginger, peeled & grated or cut into very thin matchsticks
2 tbsp Riverford teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp sesame seeds (we used black ones for colour, but normal ones will do)

Boil the sprouts in a pan of salted water for approx 5 mins, depending on size, until just tender. Drain, refresh in a bowl of cold water, then drain again. Leave whole, or cut larger ones in half. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in wok or large frying pan. When hot, add the sprouts, chilli, garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 2 mins, then add the teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds and toss together for a few moments before serving.

creamy sprout, leek & smoked ham pancakes

makes 4, prep 15 mins, cook 30 mins

for the pancakes:
100g buckwheat flour
1 egg
300ml milk
50g butter, melted

for the filling:
25g butter
1 leek, finely shredded
200g brussels sprouts, thinly shredded
25g buckwheat flour
300ml milk
75g strong cheddar cheese, grated, plus a little extra for sprinkling
2 tsp dijon mustard
small handful of roughly chopped dill leaves (optional)
1 pack of Riverford smoked ham

make the pancakes:
Put the flour and a good pinch of salt in a bowl. Crack in the egg, add a splash of milk and whisk together to form a thick, smooth paste. Gradually add the rest of the milk, whisking as you go. Add a teaspoon of the butter to the batter. Use kitchen paper dipped in a little of the butter to grease a non-stick pancake pan (or a 20-21cm frying pan). Ladle in enough batter to just cover the pan, rolling it around to spread it out. Cook on a medium high heat for 1½ mins, until small bubbles start appearing and the underneath is golden. Carefully turn it with a fish slice or spatula. Cook for approx 1 minute more, until the other side is golden too. Remove to a plate, cover with greaseproof paper or foil, and repeat until you have 4 good pancakes (sometimes the first one can go awry).

make the filling:
Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the leek and sprouts and fry on a low heat for 10 mins, until softened. Add the flour and stir for 2 mins. Gradually stir in the milk, then add the cheese. Simmer for a few mins until the cheese has melted and the sauce thickened. Season and stir in the mustard and dill. Lay the pancakes on a grill tray. Lay slices of ham over half of each pancake, then add a couple of spoonfuls of the filling. Fold the pancakes over, sprinkle a little extra cheese on top and grill on a low to medium heat, until the cheese has melted and the tops of the pancakes are a little crispy. Or you can warm them through in a medium oven if you prefer.

brussels sprouts, red onion & blue cheese gratin

serves 4, prep 10 mins, cook 50 mins

500g brussels sprouts, trimmed & outer leaves removed
2 red onions, peeled & cut lengthways into 6-8 wedges with the root intact
a few thyme sprigs
olive oil
100g blue cheese eg. cropwell bishop stilton or caws cenarth perl las blue
25g dried breadcrumbs (ideally panko for added crunch)

Preheat the oven to 190˚C. Toss the onions in a baking dish with the thyme sprigs and just enough oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 mins. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the sprouts and cook for 4 mins. Drain, then toss with the onions. Roast for 15-20 mins, until the sprouts are just starting to crisp up a little. Crumble over the blue cheese and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs. Roast for 10-15 mins, until the breadcrumbs are golden.

Visit the recipe pages on our website for further recipes, or add brussels sprouts to your order.

For more ideas for a Christmas rich in veg, download our seasonal booklet full of recipes and tips from our Riverford cooks and you, our customers. Available to download here: www.riverford.co.uk/christmas-veg.

Guy’s Newsletter: more recipes & less mud

Our veg box scheme was founded on my blinkered assumption that most of our customers were like me, and grew up in a farm kitchen with a stock pot on the Rayburn, where mud was a way of life and dead animals hung in the larder. Over the years it has dawned on me that I was being a bit narrow-minded; even clean living urbanites with small kitchens like to eat veg and it is our job to help them, ideally without them losing the connection with where their food came from or those who grew it.

Long-standing customers will have noticed that there is now less mud in their boxes; one of our more obsessive recipients once weighed the earth over a few months and reported that we delivered an average of 112g of soil per week, and that he would rather we didn’t. Well we don’t any more, and even go as far as to wash the roots when excessive amounts of field hang on. We also trim the vegetables a bit more on the basis that fewer people make stock, and the organic matter is more of an asset in our fields than in your bins.

When I delivered the first boxes in the early ‘90s it quickly became apparent that many customers need a little help with more whacky veg, but also inspiration for the more familiar. The Riverford quarterly, then monthly, then weekly newsletter was born with recipes cribbed from Jane and Sophie Grigson, Elizabeth David and my mother, adapted and tested on my growing family and photocopied late at night. I even did the illustrations. Our first recipe book, The Riverford Farm Cook Book, followed in 2008 and was written with Jane Baxter, our first chef at the Field Kitchen. She is as opinionated about food as I am about farming; it won lots of awards and I am still very proud of it. Our second book, Everyday & Sunday, had some good recipes but too much cream and too many esoteric ingredients, so did little to make life easier for less experienced cooks. After many revisions and delays we now have two new books called Riverford Companions, designed to redress that balance: Spring & Summer Veg and Autumn & Winter Veg are very practical, focusing on quick and easy home cooking with a minimum of ingredients, implements and stages. If you have found yourself asking, “What is it? What can I make with it?” then they should provide the answer. Visit the website for more details.

Guy Watson

A Foraged Festive Tipple – How to make Quince Ratafia

When Guy set up thforaged-fruite farm here in Devon he made a point of planting native fruit trees around the place, as much to boost biodiversity as for how they contribute to making it a beautiful place to work and visit. Every autumn the field margins, hedgerows and even the driveways have boughs heaving with sloes, crab apples, quince, hawthorn, elderberries, rowan and medlars, which staff and visitors are free to help themselves to should they be keen. This year we took it one step further decided a staff foraging and preserving event would be good fun.

To this end various members of our marketing, finance, IT, customer services and recipe box teams gathered after work one October evening, to learn from our Riverford recipe matriarch, Kirsty Hale.

crab-apples

After splitting into foraging teams and armed with bramble shears and gloves where necessary, we spread out across the farm; some down to the old rhubarb field margin, some up by the reservoir, some to the cardoon field and some to the medlar tree in the car park.

45 minutes of competitive picking (in some cases) later, we reconvened in our recipe development kitchen and under Kirsty’s instruction, set about preparing our quinces to make quince Ratafia; medlarsquince gin or vodka. As you can see from the pictures, it was organised chaos and brilliant fun, with a loud buzz and clatter of chat, peeling, grating and chopping. In case you are not familiar with it, quince is a beautifully perfumed fruit that brings light, almost floral notes to whatever it is blended with. It is the one fruit you really can’t eat raw; it’s just rock solid and unpalatable. However when baked or poached its texture is transformed to a dense, jelly-like finish, though our aim with this exercise was simply to swipe its beautiful notes to create a festive tipple.

We love talking about veg, but it was good to do something a bit more social with each other for a change!

Next up was hedgerow jelly made using the crab apples and other fruits. If you fancy having a go, here are Kirsty’s recipes:

Quince gin or vodka (ratafia)
gin1
You will need:

  • Sterilised glass bottle/jar and lid (wide necked is easiest), left to cool
  • Quinces
  • Gin or vodka
  • Granulated sugar

Cut the quince into quarters and roughly pick out as many pips as you can. Coarsely grate (or use a processor) and transfer to your sterilised, cold bottle. You want to fill it approx. ⅓ full (exact ratios below). Add sugar, ground cinnamon and nutmeg or mace, top up with booze and seal.

Leave for at least 2 months, longer if you can (up to 1 years, even 18 months). Gently turn it now and then, about every week, so the sugar slowly dissolves.
Strain through muslin for the best finish and decant into cold sterilised bottles.

You can guesstimate the weight ratios, but here’s a roquince-ginugh guide:
2.5 litre jar = 4-5 quince, 500-600g sugar (to your own preference for sweetness), ¼ tsp each cinnamon and nutmeg (more if you like), peel from 1 lemon, approx. 1-1.2 litres booze

2 litre jar = 3-4 quince, 400-500g sugar, good pinch or two of cinnamon and nutmeg, peel from 1 lemon, 800ml-1 litre booze

1.5 litre jar = 3 quince, 350-400g sugar, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, peel from ½ lemon, 600-750ml booze

1 litre jar = 1-2 quince, 200-250g sugar, pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, peel from ¼ lemon, 400-500ml booze

You can also make lovely booze with: Sloes (freeze overnight or prick with a pin before adding). A few drops of almond or vanilla essence is good with this, damsons or plums (prick several times), crab apples (use leftover pulp from making jelly), medlars, and many other fruits.
Use – on its own, or over ice. Or top up with tonic, lemonade or bitter lemon (sloes or damsons are very good with bitter lemon). Make cocktails or pour over ice-cream or desserts. Experiment and enjoy!

gin3

 

Crab apple or Hedgerow jelly

To make approx. 6-8 x 8oz jars, or approx. 4 x Riverford 12oz jars

  • 1kg crab apples + 1 kg other berries eg sloes, hips, hawthorn, elderberries, rowan, or use more crab apples, washed well
  • Granulated sugar – have about 1kg to hand, you may not need all of it
  • Clean, sterilised jars & lids – put jars on a baking tray in a cold oven, heat to 150C for a 15 mins (keep the jars hot in the oven for potting)
  • Cold saucers kept in the fridge (to test for a set)

Put the fruit in a large pan with 1.2 litres of water. Bring up to a low boil. Cook the fruit until very soft, approx. 15-20 mins or so.

Ladle the contents of the pan into a suspended muslin jelly bag. Leave to drip for several hours (or overnight). Don’t squeeze or press it or the jelly will turn cloudy.
jelly
Measure the juice. For every 600ml juice you need 450g sugar. Transfer the juice and sugar to a preserving pan (a very large heavy-based stainless steel saucepan is fine to use).

Heat the pan gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, boil for 10 mins.
Test for a set – put a dessertspoon’s worth on a cold saucer. Leave for 20-30 secs, then push it with your finger. It should ripple when the set is ready. If not set, repeat the boil and test at 10 minute intervals, until you get the ripple effect.

Skim off any scum from the surface. Pot the hot mixture into hot sterilised jars. Seal, turn upside down for 5 mins to sterilise the lids. Label when cool. The pots should keep for up to 1 year.

You can use the leftover drained mushy apples to make crab apple vodka or gin.

Additions:

  • Add a little chilli to the apples/berries when steeping.
  • Pop a little star anise in with your finished jelly – the anise flavour is really good with pork and game.

foragers

Guy’s newsletter: wild garlic & potato patience

I am in the midst of my annual wild garlic fest; whether mixed raw in a salad or sandwich, wilted into an omelette or over pasta, ground into pesto with roasted hazelnuts or melted into a risotto, the possibilities are endless. To add to that, unlike so much foraged food, wild garlic is quick and easy to use too.

Such is my enthusiasm that about eight years ago we started harvesting wild garlic from the woods and including it in the veg boxes; a few people said they would rather forage for their own, but the huge majority of you welcomed it, so we have continued. We did pause briefly after accidentally including a Lords and Ladies leaf in a bag; unfortunately wild garlic, known as ‘ransoms’ locally, shares its habitat with a number of mildly poisonous plants, most notably Lords and Ladies and Dog’s Mercury. Today our pickers are very careful and a second team sort through the leaves again in the barn before packing it into bags; even so, please keep an eye out for any odd leaves and if in doubt, discard them. Having said that, last year I nibbled the tiniest corner of a Lords and Ladies leaf as an experiment; it felt like a fox had sprayed in my mouth and I’d washed it down with sulphuric acid. Indeed a search of the web suggests the sensation in the mouth (caused by needle-like oxalate crystals) is so rapidly unpleasant that it would be hard to eat enough to cause lasting harm.

Meanwhile we have planted most of our early potatoes but it will be May before lifting starts even in the most favoured parts of west Cornwall and the Channel Islands; faster varieties like Rocket and Swift can be ready in April but they are invariably a disappointment when it comes to flavour. The remaining potatoes from last autumn’s harvest are being stored in the dark at 3°C and the most dormant varieties (mostly Desiree and Valor) will slumber on until May, as if they were lying dormant underground believing it is still winter above. We bring them up to 10°C before grading and bagging and you will find that from now on they will have a growing propensity to sprout; keeping them in the fridge helps if you have the space, but don’t worry about sprouting; they will still eat well provided there is no greening of the skins. They may even be sweeter.

Guy Watson

Tasty turkey leftover recipes from Riverford

We’ve selected our favourite Christmas leftover recipes to help you make the most of any turkey or ham you might still have left on Boxing Day.

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Bubble & squeak with hollandaise: see recipe here

A great Boxing day brunch dish. Leave out the hollandaise if you like, or if you’re not confident cooking poached eggs, you can fry them instead.

 Turkey risotto: see recipe here

A tasty favourite with a turkey twist. Makes a great recipe for using up the remains of a roast dinner, or substitute leftover goose or turkey after Christmas.

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Turkey quesadillas: see recipe here

Feel like it’s time for a Mexican twist? Try our turkey quesadilla recipe to add a little spice to the festive season.

Turkey vermicelli soup: see recipe here

This hearty, warming soup uses up the scraps left over from a roast.

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!