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20 June 2012

More pies pass the taste test from Bray's Cottage

Photo: © childsdesign

You may or may not know that Bray's Cottage Pork Pies make a variety of porky fillings for their delicious pies and we had the opportunity to test two more.

Read full review

We are pleased to award both pies our 

Artisan Food Trail Approved status!

For more information about Bray's Cottage Pork Pies visit their page on The Artisan Food Trail here

Photo: © childsdesign

19 June 2012

The 'Made at Home' book series by Dick & James Strawbridge: Curing & Smoking • Eggs & Poultry • Preserves • Vegetables… Plus win them all in our competition!

Following on from last month's book competition to win Arthur Potts Dawson's 'Eat Your Veg', the lovely people at Octopus Publishing have given us some more great books to give away.
This month we have four full sets of the 'Made at Home' series to go to our lucky readers and followers of The Artisan Food Trail. (Link at the end of this article).

In this four-part series, Dick and James Strawbridge known for their popular BBC television programme It’s Not Easy Being Green show you how to grow, harvest, preserve, cook and make the most of seasonal produce. Each book is packed with expert advice and tips on choosing the best ingredients; methods of creating delicious hand-crafted foods; and recipes for truly mouth-watering and memorable meals, because ultimately it’s all about the eating! This is a very timely series as many people are returning back to the traditional ways of living and self-sufficiency. Whether you are a city-dweller or country lover, it’s easy to have a go at the Good Life.

Made at Home: Curing & Smoking
These are two of the best ways to preserve and enjoy meat, fish and dairy produce. This helpful how-to guide on the subject presents simple methods that can be tried at home. With very little effort you can create your own cures, hot and cold smoke with wood chippings and even smoke delicate meats and seafood on your stovetop with scented teas and rice. Featuring step-by-step practical instruction on brining, dry curing, air drying and hot and cold smoking, and recipes for creating your own luxury grub, such as salt beef, dry-cured hams, salamis, smoked cheeses, gravadlax and smoked oysters - you can enjoy the delicious results for months on end.

Made at Home: Eggs & Poultry
Whether you have a large country garden or a small city enclosure, keeping a couple of hens is essential if you want to be self-sufficient. You’ll have fresh eggs daily and all the expert knowledge necessary; from housing to feeding, breeding and safe-slaughter. With sections on chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys, and featuring recipes that range from simple egg dishes to home-made favourites, like Southern fried chicken and turkey curry, there’s plenty to whet the appetite.

Made at Home: Preserves
Shows you how to take best advantage of plentiful, fresh, seasonal produce and enjoy it all year round. It is a how-to-guide to preserving and pickling, featuring step-by-step practical instructions for storing fresh produce and recipes to make your mouth water. From strawberry leather to sweetcorn and pepper relish, to honeyed figs with lamb and goats cheese crostini, sauerkraut to piccalilli, and the perfect Bloody Mary, you’ll learn how to preserve good quality cordials, syrups and jams to herb oils and accompaniments and to create fantastic dishes every time.

Made at Home: Vegetables
Whether you have a tiny urban patch, a dedicated allotment or plenty of space in your own garden, growing your own vegetables is one of the easiest ways to transform the way you eat. You’ll have fresh ingredients at your disposal and, with this book, the knowledge to cook with them to create perfect dishes every time. Lots of people are unsure what to do with some of the really easy to grow veg such as kohlrabi and Jerusalem artichokes, so with the step-by-step guides to growing and cooking you’ll be sure to increase your flavour palate and transform your meals, enjoying such dishes as pea and mint risotto, kohlrabi coleslaw and baked sweet potato and goat’s cheese pie.

Made at Home series by Dick & James Strawbridge, published by Mitchell Beazley on 7th May, £12.99 (each)

About the authors – Dick & James Strawbridge
Dick & James Strawbridge are experts on the Good Life – and it’s the life they lead at Newhouse Farm, their smallholding in Cornwall, in the southwest of England. On just 3 acres of land in the midst of a village they produce an abundance of good things to eat and drink: fruits and vegetables that they eat fresh, juice, ferment and preserve, pigs for ham, sausages, salamis and bacon, a mixed flock of birds for eggs and eating, and bees for honey – to name a few. It’s a lifestyle driven by their desire to eat well every day.

Dick and James appear regularly on TV in the UK and Australia. The whole family featured on the BBC’s It’s Not Easy Being Green – which documented their move to Newhouse Farm. Dick is a regular host of C4’s Scrapheap Challenge, contributes frequently to Coast on the BBC and last year came 2nd place on the BBC’s Celebrity Masterchef, showcasing his cooking talent. Dick & James are appearing together on ITV1’s The Hungry Sailors in early 2012, and there’s more to come!

When they’re not on location, tending the garden, feeding the animals or cooking and eating, they’re spreading the word and sharing what they’ve learned.

Sorry this competition is now closed

If you missed the competition or did not win, why not buy the books?

18 June 2012

BBC Food & Farming Awards 2012

Photo: © childsdesign
Nominations are now open for the BBC Food & Farming Awards 2012. For the thirteenth year running the awards will be celebrating the lives of the unsung heroes of the food world.

The annual search begins again to seek out the best in British food.
Not only does the food have to taste good but it needs to be the food that’s changing the country and us for the better, even though we’re right in the middle of the recession.
The awards will be looking for food that’s reviving towns, creating fulfilling jobs, boosting the economy, involving people in the food system, preserving what’s local and helping to teach our children the pleasures and value of food – all of the things that The Artisan Food Trail supports.

Farmers, cooks, market traders, food and drink producers and retailers are all in the running – but people who help us change the way we think about food are also being considered, so writers, campaigners, bloggers and broadcasters are also celebrated by the awards.

Award-winning chef Angela Hartnett launched this year's BBC Food & Farming Awards in a special edition of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme (click here to listen) on Sunday 17th June. She made an appeal to the British public to celebrate food in their local areas by nominating the most deserving.

Angela says: 

“The Awards this year are more important than ever. We’re in the thick of a recession and money is tight and it’s a tough time to be in business. After decades of decline and having among the world’s worst reputation for food, we now manage to produce some of the best you can find. But this progress is fragile and is now at risk of being lost if we don’t shout about what we have.
We need to celebrate the people making a difference in food and drink.”

Sheila Dillon, judge and presenter of The Food Programme on 
BBC Radio 4, says: 

“These Awards are like a barometer of British food; they’re a great guide to what’s happening across the UK.
Each year we receive more nominations and I can’t wait to see who we meet, and what we get to taste this year.”

There are nine categories as follows:
Best Food Market
Best Street Food or Takeaway
Best Food Producer
Best Drinks Producer
Best Local Food Retailer
Best Big Food Idea
BBC Farmer of the Year
Best 'Dinner Lady' / Public Caterer
The Derek Cooper Award

The panel of judges who will decide the shortlist and winners of the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards 2012 based on your nominations:
Angela Hartnett
Valentine Warner
Adam Henson
Arthur Potts Dawson
Victoria Moore
Pete Brown
Charles Campion
Christine Tacon
Helen Crawley
Kath Dalmeny
Sheila Dillon
Simon Parkes

Your nominations are important to us

The Artisan Food Trail would like to ask you to consider the people/businesses on the food trail and include one or some of them in
your nominations.
Each and every one has such pride and passion for what they do. They make amazing food, share their knowledge and are seriously making a difference to the face of British food.

Maybe you think The Artisan Food Trail is also a worthy contender?
We’ll leave that to you.

The BBC Food & Farming Awards are open for nominations from 17th June 2012 and close on 12th August 2012.

For further information on the awards and to make your nomination
please visit

16 June 2012

Fathers' Day Chilli Fiesta bringing spice to Bedfordshire this Sunday!

Nicely planned to fall on Fathers' Day, the 2012 Chilli Fiesta will take place at The Mansion House, Old Warden Park on
17th June.
Last year's event was a staggering success with thousands of people flocking from across the UK. This year is set to be bigger and better than ever before.

There's no better way to spend a fantastic Father's Day with guaranteed fun for all the family. Just a few of the treats in store include: demonstrations from award winning chefs in the Chilli Kitchen; Chef's Academy Cook-along and stalls offering free samples and selling everything chilli from cheese to chocolate.
If things get too hot, you can quench your thirst in the Chilli Bar which sells chilli beer and other refreshments. To keep children entertained there will also be circus games, a funfair and entertainers.

Among the many food exhibitors, these are the 

Artisan Food Trail producers that are confirmed as taking part:

Cardona & Son
A small and family run producer of the loveliest and tastiest rare breed pork - on menus in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire pubs.

Edible Ornamentals
Situated in Chawston, Bedfordshire where market gardens are abundant and growing delicious vegetables is simply a way of life. Passionate, slightly obsessive chilli growers.

Award winning food from Norfolk smallholding.
Gary Rhodes said their rare breed sausages were the best he's ever tasted and Giles Coren gave their pork pies 10/10.

Alder Tree
Award winning ices are handmade on their fruit farm in Suffolk to a traditional family recipe. Made with only fruit, cream and sugar, they are naturally delicious!

Bray's Cottage Pork Pies
Famous award winning hand made pork pies well known amongst foodies nationally for being the pork pie unlike other pork pies.

Yare Valley Oils
Producer of a high quality Extra Virgin Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil in Norfolk.

Breckland Orchard
Award winning ‘Posh Pop’. Produced with passion and available throughout the UK.

Here are just a few of the fun activities on offer at the 2012 Chilli Fiesta...

Chef's Academy Cook-Along
Spice up your meal times and join in cooking some of the hottest dishes around. All the equipment and ingredients is provided so you just have to turn up, pay £5 and be prepared to have some fun!
What's more, there will be an Academy Award prize of free tickets to the Rhythm Festivals for whoever creates the best dish.

Chilli Arena
Sit back, chill out and enjoy the live music, circus acts, flame-throwers and a wide range of other entertainment throughout the day at the Chilli Arena.

Chilli Bar
If things get too hot, you can quench your thirst in the Chilli Bar which overlooks the entertainment area and sells chilli beer, real ales, soft drinks and other refreshments.

Chilli Kitchen
Can you stand the heat of the Chilli Kitchen?
Showcasing some fabulous, fiery food these free demonstrations are presented by award winning chef Raj Mandal throughout the day.

Chilli Eating Contest
How much heat can you handle?!

This competition is only for the brave! See if you can you beat last year's winner.
Only £3 to enter and you could win free tickets to this summer's Rhythm Festivals at The Mansion House.

Gardening Academy
Throughout the day there will be demonstrations from a range of gardening experts including Artisan Food Trail member Joanna Plumb from award winning Edible Ornamentals demonstrating the secrets of growing a successful chilli crop. In addition, Kathy Brown will talk about edible flowers and local honey man Wally Thrale on bee-keeping.

What's more the fiesta will host its very own version of Gardeners' Question Time. A panel of horticulture experts from Shuttleworth College will be able to answer any gardening questions you may have. Just turn up with your question on the day.

Garden Quarter
For those of you with green fingers this area will provide you with a wide range of unusual plants, seeds and equipment. Not to mention a wide range of chilli plants of course!

World Food Quarter
The world is your oyster in the World Food Quarter. You can wonder from stall to stall at your leisure, try before you buy and give your taste buds a well deserved treat!

For more information about the event visit the website: www.chillifiesta.org

11 June 2012

Food Safety Week: 11th – 17th June 2012

Food Safety Week will take place from 11 to 17 June and the theme is ‘food safety on a budget’. This annual event, held to promote the importance of good food hygiene in the home, will focus on how people can ensure that they keep their food safe when trying to save money. This year it is supported by the Love Food Hate Waste campaign.

Emma Marsh, Community Partnership Manager at Love Food Hate Waste, commented: ‘The Love Food Hate Waste initiative is delighted to be supporting this year’s Food Safety Week. Making the most of our leftovers and understanding ‘use by’ dates, are not only key food safety issues but are also vital in reducing food waste. We hope that this will provide environmental health teams with the opportunity to work collaboratively with waste officers to communicate this important advice to local residents during Food Safety Week’.

Top tips for food safety on a budget

During Food Safety Week The Food Standards Agency will be reminding people of the following food safety advice.

Understanding ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates

  • ‘Use by’ dates appear on foods that go off quickly. It can be dangerous to eat food past this date, even though it might look and smell fine. But if cooked or frozen its life can be extended beyond the 'use by' date.
  • Check the ‘use by’ dates on the food in your fridge on a regular basis and be sure to use (eat, cook or freeze) food before its ‘use by’ to help you avoid throwing food away unnecessarily.
  • Once food with a ‘use by’ date has been opened, follow any storage instructions such as ‘eat within 3 days of opening’.
  • ‘Best before’ dates appear on food with a longer shelf life. They show how long the food will be at its best quality. Using food after the ‘best before’ doesn’t mean it will be unsafe. The exception to this is eggs, providing they are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date.

Use leftovers safely
Eating leftovers can be a good way of making a meal go further.

  • If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (ideally within 90 minutes) cover them and eat them up within two days.
  • If you are going to freeze them, cool them before putting them in your freezer. Once foods are in the freezer, they can be safely stored there forever – but the quality will deteriorate so it’s best to eat them within three months.
  • Make sure you defrost leftovers properly before reheating. Defrost them in the fridge over night, or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straightaway. Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze. The only exception is if you are defrosting raw food, such as meat or poultry, once it’s cooked it can be refrozen.
  • Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout.
  • Don’t reheat leftovers more than once.

Plan your meals

  • Before you go shopping check what’s in the fridge and freezer.
  • Think about what you are going to eat that week and write it down.
  • Make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it! Impulse buys can be expensive and, if not part of your plans, could lead to something else being wasted.
  • If you do get tempted by special offers in the shop, like ‘buy one get one free’, think about adjusting your meal planner for the week to add it in, or freeze the extra pack before the ‘use by’ date. Or you could cook larger portions and save some for another time.
  • Label food before it goes in the freezer, so you know what it is and how long it’s been there.

For more information and useful downloads see the Food Safety Week page on The Food Standards Agency website www.food.gov.uk

6 June 2012

Breckland Orchard introduces Posh Squash

Photo: © childsdesign

In addition to Breckland Orchard's fine range of Posh Pop a new line of Posh Squash has been added for more cooling refreshment this summer.

The three new cordials come in Plum & Cherry, Lemon & Mint and Rhubarb & Ginger flavours.
Each 330ml bottle contains a highly concentrated cordial needing just one part Posh Squash to eight parts water.

The Artisan Food Trail has been currently sipping the Plum & Cherry and Lemon & Mint varieties mixed with sparkling mineral water over ice. We like both of them as they are not over-sweet and taste very good.

There's so much you could do with Breckland Orchard's Posh Squash – mixing them into cocktails would make an exciting grown-up drink.
We have a few of our own ideas for other things too…

We are pleased to award Breckland Orchard our 'Artisan Food Trail Approved' status for their Lemon & Mint Posh Squash.

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