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29 February 2012

Get ready for Feast East this weekend: 2nd – 4th March 2012

Chilford Hall, Linton, Cambridgeshire 2nd - 4th March 2012

Tim Matthews,
The Artisan Smokehouse
We're getting ready to visit our first foodie event of 2012 – Feast East and we're looking forward to discovering some more great regional produce as well as meet up with some of our Artisan Food Trail members.
Run by Tastes of Anglia the event showcases some of the best small food producers from Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Claire Martinsen, Breckland Orchard
Friday morning is dedicated to trade visitors only, so we'll be taking this opportunity to talk to producers about what we're doing to help raise awareness of artisan food across the UK. By the time we visit, The Artisan Food Trail will be one year old. It has been an interesting journey getting this far and we're still growing as the word continues to spread throughout the food community.

Rachel & Deb, The Nutty Tarts
From Friday afternoon and then on Saturday and Sunday, Feast East is open to the public, so if you're going along please remember to visit
The Artisan Smokehouse, Breckland Orchard and Nutty Tarts Gifts & Goodies, three of our members who will be taking part.

27 February 2012

Octopus & Chorizo Salad

Photo: © childsdesign

Chorizo and seafood is a match made in heaven, so being inspired by the ‘surf and turf’ theme we took a Mediterranean approach to create this salad.

Our original intention was to use squid, but our fishmonger didn’t have any and suggested using octopus instead. Octopus and squid are both cephalopods but require different methods of cooking to get the best from them.

Squid is best quick cooked but octopus being such a muscular creature requires some long pre-cooking to tenderise it. Providing you haven’t procured a beast of gigantic proportions like something from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, it really doesn’t take much to cook it.
Smaller octopus are generally softer and don’t need to bashed before putting them in the pot – the Greeks whack them on a rock!

If you do decide to use squid instead just skip all the pre-cooking part and score and cut your squid into pieces and then marinade and griddle.

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

For the octopus

  • 2 small octopus, cleaned (get the fishmonger to do it!)
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbsp vinegar

For the octopus marinade

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • generous pinch dried oregano
  • salt and black pepper

For the salad

  • 1 tin cannellini bean, rinsed and drained
  • good handful small cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
  • 14cm piece spicy chorizo, sliced
  • juice ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • handful flat-leaved parsley, finely chopped
  • mixed baby salad leaves, such as lambs lettuce, chard, pea shoots

Method
To cook the octopus
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the peppercorns, bay leaves, onion and vinegar. Put in the octopus and turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer. Put on a lid and cook for 1 hour.
The octopus are done when a knife point can be easily pushed into the thickest part of the tentacles.
When done remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
Cut the tentacles off and remove any large suckers. Slice the tentacles into bite-sized pieces. Take the head/body portion and cut it in half lengthways and then slice into strips.

To make the marinade
In a bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
Put in the octopus pieces and stir to coat them in the marinade. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.

To finish making the salad
Put the cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes and capers into a bowl and stir to combine.
Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot and tip in the octopus and sear for a couple of minute until they take on some colour but not to much. Tip the octopus into the bean mixture.
Gently fry the chorizo in a little olive oil and add this to the salad mix too. Give it all a stir.
Add the rest of the ingredients; lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and parsley and mix into the salad.
Arrange some baby salad leaves on a plate and pile the octopus and chorizo salad on top.
Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil to serve.

A Little Leek & Chorizo Frittata

Photo: © childsdesign

You can't beat a frittata for a quick meal and although ours might not be authentic it is just as tasty.
As long as you have some eggs a few other ingredients and a little imagination this will make you a meal in minutes.

Ingredients

  • 10cm piece chorizo, sliced
  • ½ leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten
  • olive oil


  • You’ll need a 15cm frying pan

Method
In a frying pan, fry the chorizo until it releases its oil. Remove the chorizo to a bowl using a slotted spoon.
Add the leeks and fry gently until soft, then transfer to the bowl with the chorizo. Leave to cool slightly.
Tip the beaten eggs into the chorizo and leeks, season with salt and pepper and stir to mix.
Heat your small frying pan with some olive oil and once hot, tip in the egg mixture. Cook on a medium to low heat until nearly set.
To finish the top place under a hot grill.
Turn out of the pan and serve.

Parsnip Soup with Spicy Chorizo

Photo: © childsdesign


This creamy soup is rich and comforting with a delicate sweetness from the parsnips which is perfectly complemented with pieces of crispy chorizo.


Ingredients (Serves 2)
For the soup
½ leek (white part only, finely sliced
vegetable oil
2 medium sized parsnips, peeled and sliced
vegetable stock or water
generous grating nutmeg
white pepper to taste
3 tbsp single cream

For the chorizo
5cm piece spicy chorizo, cut into small dice
olive oil

Method
To make the soup
Heat a small amount of oil in a medium saucepan and add the leeks, fry gently over a medium heat until soft. Do not let the leeks brown, they should just become translucent.
Add the parsnips and stir in, frying them for a minute or two.

Pour in the vegetable stock or water so that it generously covers the vegetables. Add the nutmeg, stir in and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan and leave to simmer gently until the parsnips are very soft.

When the parsnips are ready, blend the soup, either in a liquidiser or using a stick blender, until a smooth consistency is reached.
Season to taste with the white pepper and some salt.
Stir in the cream and keep the soup warm.

For the chorizo
In a small pan heat a tiny amount of olive oil and add the chorizo pieces.
Fry gently until the chorizo releases its red oil.

Ladle the soup into bowls and spoon on some chorizo and finally drizzle with some of the chorizo oil.

Yorkshire Chorizo




Chorizo is probably one of the most versatile pieces of charcuterie to have at hand in the kitchen. The rich meaty sausage is flavoured with smoked paprika which gives a deep red colour and great depth of flavour. It can be eaten just as it is as a snack – sliced or in a sandwich – and can be used in cooking to bring a distinctive flavour to variety of dishes.


We had been lucky enough to get to try some Yorkshire Chorizo, sent to us by Chris Wildman of Paganum Produce. It is made from only the best cuts of British RSPCA Freedom Food pork and the finest smoked Spanish Paprika.

We really loved the texture, chewy but not dry and the flavour is pleasantly intense, meaty with a savoury sweetness. It has the type of flavour and texture that really makes your mouth water and is incredibly moreish.

We were given two types to test, the ‘Original’ and the ‘Picante’ which is given an extra bit of heat with the addition of some cayenne pepper – this proved to be our favourite as we like some spice in our cooking.

The chorizo was given the full cooking test too in our kitchen, with impressive results. The chorizo yields a beautifully coloured oil when heated which certainly brightened up the dishes we made.

To view the recipes click here

We were impressed by the quality of the Yorkshire Chorizo and have awarded both varieties our Artisan Food Trail Approved badge.


For more information about Paganum Produce visit the producer page on The Artisan Food Trail here

6 February 2012

Best Ever Apple Crumble

Photo: © childsdesign

Crumble is comfort food, and often a fond reminder of the good things about our childhood. We can’t think of anything nicer than a warm bowl of apple crumble served with a generous amount of custard to cheer us up.

To achieve the best results, the use of butter is highly recommended (cold and hard, straight from the fridge) to make the crumble topping. Please do not be tempted to use margarine spread instead as this will not give you the right texture or indeed the taste.

View recipe

Photo: © childsdesign

Bramley Apple Week: 5th – 12th February 2012 plus a recipe for Easy Apple Sauce

Photo: © childsdesign

Perhaps it seems unseasonal and a little too early in the year to be thinking about English fruit. It is, however, Bramley Apple Week, a time to celebrate all that is great about this versatile and tasty apple.

Name a typically British fruit and bet you'll say the apple, but there is one, in particular, more deserving of the highest accolade, and that is the Bramley. There is no variety better for cooking, with its sharp taste and melting texture, it is superior in every way. Tolerating just about any cooking process, the Bramley is able to retain its distinct appley flavour that other apples cannot match. The Bramley is a 'cooker' and 'king of apples' in the kitchen.

History
The Bramley apple is just over 200 years old and sprung in to life when in 1809 a young girl by the name of Mary Ann Brailsford planted some pips in her Nottinghamshire garden.
Later in 1846, a local butcher, Matthew Bramley bought the cottage and garden, but it wasn’t until 1856 that the apple became properly established as a new variety. Henry Merryweather, a local nurseryman, asked if he could take cuttings from the tree and start to sell the apple. This was agreed by Matthew Bramley, who insisted that the apple bear his name – hence ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ as it’s properly known.

Bramley Apple Week
Every year, the Bramley is celebrated with an awareness week, and this year it will be held between 5th–12th February.
Joining in the celebration of this versatile fruit, The Bramley Campaign has enlisted the culinary talents of the BBC’s Great British Menu winner, Mark Hix to develop some delicious recipes.

In the Kitchen
There really is so much you can do with a Bramley. Cut into big chunks it makes a perfect filling for pies and crumbles of course, but it really does have so many uses for both sweet and savoury dishes.

Try them simply baked whole in the oven, just core them, score the skin around the equator of the apple (this prevents them bursting) and then fill the centres with a mixture of sultanas, cinnamon, and lashings of muscovado sugar and butter. Place them in an ovenproof dish and bake at 200C, Gas 6 for about 25 minutes until the apples puff up.
When they’re done the apple flesh will be gloriously fluffy and there will be lots of rich syrupy juices to spoon over.

They are also great made into chutney and go well with meats such as pork and game, they even work well with fish such as mackerel. The sharpness complements well by cutting through the oiliness.

Easy Apple Sauce
Next time you’re having roast pork or even just some humble sausages, try making this easy apple sauce to perk up your meal.
It is so simple to prepare and more delicious than the shop bought stuff.

Ingredients

  • 500g Bramley apples
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tbsp water

Method
Peel and core the apples, then slice them.
Place into saucepan with the water and sugar and cook gently, stirring occasionally until fluffy.
Leave to cool before serving.

For a dessert version, add raisins and some more sugar if required – this is lovely as a filling for pancakes or yogurt topping.

For more information on Bramley Apple Week visit the website
www.bramleyapples.co.uk

1 February 2012

Tastes of Anglia gets ready for its annual food festival Feast East 2012

Now in its 18th year, the annual food festival, Feast East held byTastes of Anglia, will take place on 2nd-4th March 2012, in the magnificent surroundings of Chilford Hall in Cambridgeshire. The show consists of three food halls to explore, crammed full of producers from across the region and beyond. The popular cookery demo marquee will also return, where local, up and coming chefs demonstrate a variety of dishes using local ingredients. Feast East kick starts the show season and is always well attended by both trade buyers and public alike. Many local and artisan producers have stands and Tastes of Anglia host Feast East alongside specialist show experts Oakleigh Fairs.


With some 80 stallholders, Feast East is open exclusively to trade visitors Friday morning and allows buyers the freedom to source and meet the producers and talk to Tastes of Anglia about their local delivery service. Public entrance is from 1.30pm Friday and 10am-4pm Saturday and Sunday.


Each year the show attracts thousands of local and regional food fans. They can taste, buy and meet the producers and do it all inside the historic surroundings of Chilford Hall Vineyard and Conference Centre, one of the largest dedicated events venues in Eastern England. The show has a relaxed and friendly feel and boasts popular quirky elements such as the ‘Best Dressed Stand’ competition which is eagerly fought over by the producers, who make such a terrific effort. This year’s event promises to be a real feast for the senses – but especially for the tastes buds!

Local and regional producers will also be joined by other guest producers. Amongst those producers, members of The Artisan Food Trail exhibiting for 2012 are:

The Artisan Smokehouse
Breckland Orchard
Nutty Tarts

Others in attendance include:
St Peters Brewery, Wilkins Preserves, Lucy’s Dressings, Hillfarm Oils, Adnams, Garden of Suffolk, Essfoods (Stokes), Ronaldos Ices, Lakenham Creamery, Crush Foods, Essex Larders, The Chilli Company and Musks Sausages.

If you fancy going there is a chance to win one of five tickets at the bottom of this post!


What is Tastes of Anglia?
Tastes of Anglia is the Eastern region’s food and drink marketing group, set up in the early nineties to be the voice for local food and drink produced in the East of England. It is a membership organisation with over 300 members and is sister group to the other regional food groups across England. It provides members with a wide range of support services including representation at events, workshops, funded training and signposting to many local, national and international opportunities. In 2001 it also launched a local delivery service which now has a turnover of over £1.3 million and serves over 250 customers across East Anglia and into London.

Tastes of Anglia gives support to quality food and drink producers
Tastes of Anglia’s primary aim is to promote the interests of its enthusiastic membership of high quality local food and drink producers, independent retail and catering businesses, affiliate service providers, wholesalers and retailers. Two decades on, it acts as a not-for-profit self-funded venture and represents some of the finest manufacturers and growers of the region's best produce, ingredients and products from large household names to the smallest one-person enterprises.
Beyond its core marketing and business support activities is a dedicated passion in nurturing real local and seasonal food and the whole rural sector across the six counties of its region, namely Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Essex and Bedfordshire.

Growing local and regional network
Operations Director, Tony Bower says “I believe the East of England is the UK’s most vibrant, exciting and diverse region. We are fortunate to work with some of the finest producers and artisan companies in the country, who make a huge variety of amazing products. Our local delivery business started in 2001 and has grown each year as the demand for quality local products from consumers has continued to increase. We were pioneers in giving producers access to many more customers. We are delighted to now supply farm shops, garden centres, delis, independent retailers, CoOps and National Trust properties.”

Delivering choice, quality and provenance
They offer direct weekly deliveries and special point of sale to help highlight their local producer members. They distribute ambient, chilled and frozen products on a fleet of multi temperature liveried vans and represent 75 local producers and have over 2000 lines on their price list. “It’s a team effort” continues Tony, “We are fortunate to work with the finest products made by many fantastic local producers. The retailers and catering outlets have embraced the power of local and provided what their customers wanted; now they can offer more local choice, local quality and real local provenance.”

www.feasteast.co.uk
www.tastesofanglia.com
Tel 01473 785 750

Show stand bookings via Oakleigh Fairs 0800 141 2823
Discounted public entry tickets from www.oakleighfairs.co.uk



Why not enter our competition to win one of five tickets to either Saturday or Sunday of the event? 
Visit The Artisan Food Trail website, answer a simple question, leaving your details and you’ll be entered into the draw.
Sorry this competition has now closed