It’s apple season and British apples are back on the market.
For those who didn’t realise that apples ever went out out of season, you were most likely munching away these last few months, on apples flown or shipped in from warmer climates.
Now is the time to show your support to our British farmers and look out for homegrown apples. If you’re in London and Sussex then keep your eyes peeled for these - the Collina - biodynamically grown by our friends at Brambletye Fruit Farm in East Sussex. We make sure that every other week we get to their stall at Brixton farmers market or to our hometown of Kingston where they sell their apples as well as their other crops (look out now for colourful swiss chard).
Collina apples are early growers but their season is short - once they are ready these apples fall straight off the tree within a day of each other and the apple pickers have to be at the ready to catch them before they get damaged.
Their sweet flavour is incredibly complex, they are unbelievably delicious - nature’s sweet treats.
And if you find a Brambletye stall then make sure you grab yourself a box of their Orchard Eggs - and remind your tastebuds what they’ve been missing.
Try out our Dutch apple pancake - making good use of these Autumn goodies!
HEMSLEY+HEMSLEY Squash, red lentil and coconut curry for
This is a simple, no fuss, one pot, colourful supper that comes in at just under £1 a portion with a base of organic ingredients. We’ve been making versions of this dish for the last 4 years - friends loved it because it was tasty, healthy and so easy to knock together - so much so that it became the inspiration for our cooking classes and later - our company.
We thought that this was just the dish to fit The Soil Association’s brief for their September ‘Small Changes’ campaign.
The Soil Association asked us to create a family meal for 4 people for just £6. Since we often double this recipe and freeze it for a mid-week supper we thought we’d show you how cost effective this dish can be because it works so well in bulk. The Soil Association also asked for at least one ingredient to be organic as - we’ve managed 6 of the 12 ingredients!
Super easy, no technique needed - freezes and reheats beautifully with a dash more water - a great one to make once a week that everyone always loves (your kids will love this too, just leave out the spice).
The star of this show is one of our favourite products - a bar of organic creamed coconut by Biona from £1.79. We love this bar of nourishing coconut cream and oil - it is richer/ more concentrated than coconut milk so you use much less - you can chop off what you need and save the rest in your fridge for ages (unlike tinned coconut milk). Buy these Biona bars online in bulk for the best price and keep in your cupboard to add to curries, soups, porridges and smoothies. You can also do other clever things such as using just the coconut oil to fry with i.e. garlic and onions but in the case this of this stew, with it’s bold flavours, we don’t need to - which is why we love it all the more - one pot, throw it in dish!
Our squash & lentil coconut stew is inspired by an Indian dahl and a Thai curry. Red split lentils provide the base for this dish, they are cheap, cook to a creamy consistency in 20 minutes and don’t require any soaking. The stew boasts other hard-working ingredients - we’ve got garlic, onions and spinach - but any seasonal greens will do. The coconut and ginger have incredible immune-boosting properties and are antibacterial and antiviral - perfect for the change in weather ahead. The fat content of organic virgin coconut oil is not only a fantastic source of energy, it is also good for the heart - so please no reduced-fat versions of coconut milk in your cooking.
As usual we like to sneak nourishing home-made stock into all our cooking - dirt cheap, find a local organic butcher and buy some chicken carcasses or take home some beef bones for free and slow cook them for hours - don’t forget that you can use your leftover roast chicken carcasses in the same way. For this recipe, bone broth is more for the nutritional value than the taste. The stew is so flavourful you can afford to skip the home-made stock if you haven’t taken the time to make your own - please don’t be tempted to use stock cubes!
The coconut and butternut make this dish naturally sweet so children love it - just leave out the chilli in the cooking - you can always sprinkle a little cayenne on your own dish later - just go easy! Fresh coriander adds wonderful flavour as well as garnishing the dish nicely - making this one pot supper smart enough to serve to guests.
And did we mention that this is delicious cold? Packed lunches sorted!
Organic baby spinach or use cabbage/seasonal greens, sliced
7 cloves organic garlic, chopped
150g fresh coriander, washed well
2 small limes or 1 and a half large lemons, juiced
6 inches fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
Optional ½ tsp cayenne or chilli flakes
Peel the squash and dice into 1 inch chunks.
Place the garlic, onion, ginger and squash into the pan with the creamed coconut and pour over 2.2 litres of water or homemade stock.
Put the lid on and bring to a medium simmer.
10 minutes later, add the red lentils, chilli or black pepper if using, stir and let simmer on medium for a further 15-20 minutes until the lentils are soft and the squash is tender. You might wish to add the extra 200ml of water during cooking - it depends if you like your stew thicker or thinner.
In the last few minutes, add the sliced cabbage/greens and stir through. If using spinach, just add when you turn off the heat so it wilts.
Turn off the heat, add the sea salt and pepper, the juice of the lime or lemon and check for seasoning and consistency - it should be like a thick stew - add more water if needs be.
Stir through the roughly chopped coriander and ladle into shallow bowls to serve.
Butterscotch bliss balls - the perfect snack for your handbag
HEMSLEY + HEMSLEY for
Bliss Balls are all the rage on the health scene and it’s no surprise - so easy to make, easy to transport and they keep really well. If you have a blender you can forget about shelling out on the dried fruit and nut bars and protein balls at your local health shops and make your own customised sweeties
We’ve been making Bliss Balls and the like for years now. They are the ultimate treat to experiment with as you can’t really go wrong. Too wet? Add more of the dry ingredients. Too dry and crumbly? Throw in more of the sticky stuff. Want them fudgy - pop them in the fridge. Too tempting? Lock them in the freezer!
We wanted to make a quick recipe for all you fashionistas psyching yourself up for fashion week. These will see you through those crazy times when you need a pick-me-up that won’t make you crash out an hour later. Just whizz up some superfoods like walnuts, maca, coconut oil and raw honey and roll into little butterscotch Bliss Balls. Freeze up a batch and then pop a couple into a non-toxic Kids Konserve stainless steel container and keep cool in your handbag.
The Organic Food Awards are a celebration of great organic food that is produced sustainably and to the highest welfare and environmental standards, food that has top quality provenance and an interesting story to tell.
The Soil Association is the UK’s organic certification body and it’s leading organic food and farming charity. They believe, as we do, that good food is a right not a privilege.
We spent a wonderful sunny afternoon at the Duke of Cambridge organic pub in Islington as guest judges for the Soil Association 2013 awards.
Jasmine was part of the egg judging team along with Graham Harvey and Melissa was with the cheese panel.
We were in the company of some of the big ‘cheeses’ of the food world - Graham (former agricultural editor of The Archers), Anna (author of Eat Slow Britain, Cheryl (Queen of the Farmers Markets) and Fabio (of the Real Food festival)
Having tested 6 egg entries and 18 different types of cheese, we cooled down with some peppermint tea sitting in the sunshine outside of the Duke of Cambridge.
The prize winners to be announced on 19th September at Wholefoods, Kensington, stay tuned for the winner reveal!
As summer draws to an end one thing we can at least look forward to is the crop of figs - one of the most alkalising of foods. Ancient in their heritage the figs are celebrated throughout cultures and history, even Buddha is reported to have achieved enlightenment under the sacred fig tree….a wise man indeed.
We love this sweet and alkalising fruit and often use them as natural sweeteners in our cooking. We came across this simple salad earlier in the year whilst staying at the Chewton Glen Hotel and enjoying the array of salads available at their spa Alkaline bar. With figs in season it seemed the perfect time to share this recipe. Served either as a main or side dish this salad is always a crowd pleaser.
Another good thing about this dish is that you can make it out of season too with the wonderful dried figs on offer - eat them chewy, or plump them up with a little boiling water. A word on dried fruit though - they are a concentrated source of sugar so don’t snack on them willy nilly, it’s all too easy to eat too many and they don’t have the same hydrating benefits as fresh fruit. Choose organic to avoid the often sulphur dioxide that is often added to dried fruits.
Figs were an expensive import but times are changing and British farmers are turning their hands to growing them, the recent mini heatwaves have really helped the crop along. Ripe figs should look like they are about to burst, plump and heavy - as they won’t ripen after picking. They should be soft and dark in colour and smell fragrant and sweet. Take care in transporting them home and eat them quickly as they won’t keep for long. So keep an eye out in your local stores and farmers markets for some home grown goodness.
They should look like they are about to burst, plump and heavy - as they won’t ripen after picking. They should be soft and dark in colour and smell fragrant and sweet. Take care in transporting them home and eat them quickly as they won’t keep for long.
Part 4 - Brambletye biodynamic apples and Orchard Eggs
Brambletye Fruit Farm & Orchard Eggs
On the final leg of our tour we headed out to the High Weald of Sussex, where an area of natural beauty hides Brambletye Lane, home to one of the UK’s few biodynamic farms. We’ll come on to explain biodynamic in more detail, but in simple terms – it’s organic … and then some!
The farm supplies fruit and eggs to farmers markets, supermarkets and local independents. We visited Brambletye, as the team got ready for the first harvest of apples this year – the lovely sweet, juicy Collina.
The entire team is made up of just two young families, who have built their own self-sufficient homes on the farm, and several friends and Biodynamic apprentices. The farm is managed daily by a core team of under 10 people, and then when harvest time comes around they pull in as many people as they can to pick the fruit before it drops.
Stein and Ellie took us on a tour of the orchards with their 6-month old baby Tristan. First stop is the chicken coop, home of Orchard Eggs, and just in time to release the birds so they can spend the day roaming the orchards freely.
There are a total of 3,000 chickens at Brambletye, and each has a key role to play in biodynamic farming. They feed off the fallen fruit and bugs, which not only protects the trees, but when nature calls, it provides the best fertilizer a tree could want. This holistic cycle is the key to biodynamic farming. Its principals are based on a closed system – giving back to the earth what you take out. Very little waste is created as it’s mainly farmed back into the land, and since no pesticides or herbicides are used, biodynamic farming will only use a minuscule amount of outsourced materials.
Unlike commercial farming, biodynamic farms take far longer to yield fruit good enough to sell in any kind of volume. For example, at Brambletye, they’ve been waiting 5 years for their pear trees to harvest a good yield to sell on. In commercial farming – it would typically take 2 – 3 years to get your first good yield. So you’ve got to love a bit of gambling too! Nature rules.
Despite the wait and sacrifices you have to make, fruit grown in this way tastes so much better. At Brambletye they grow 15 varieties of apples, pears, blackberries, and redcurrants. We tasted the blackberries and early Collina apples and they’re definitely worth waiting for.
In taste tests, seasonal fruit will always win. Fruit grown on biodynamic farms will also play well on your conscience – they’re 100% free from chemical nasties, and you’re giving back to the earth, helping to secure the future growth of the fruit we love.
The other great thing about biodynamic farming is the presence of animals (a key difference to organic farming). Biodynamic farming is a regenerative farming system focused on soil health and the integration of plants and animals. At Brambletye it’s all about the chickens - taking the concept of free range to a whole new level. By day, chickens do as they please, running around the farm and orchards – some of them even followed the pickers to join them for a cup of fresh mint tea with raw honey oozing straight from a honeycomb. By night, the chickens get some much needed sleep in their coop laying lots of eggs in the morning.
The biodynamic cycle paves the way for happier, healthier chickens, which ultimately results in tastier eggs. The eggs are sold under the name Orchard Eggs and can be bought from local farm shops and markets in and around Sussex, such as Infinity Food Shops in Brighton, and Tablehurst Farm Shop in Forest Row. If you’re not local to Sussex, you can also get hold of delicious Orchard Eggs through a number of home delivery box schemes. Visit their website to find your nearest shop.
Brambletye presented us with the perfect combination of delicious ingredients to combine - eggs and apples. This is our kind of pancake - the low effort, no flip, no fuss kind. Great for a sweet breakfast or add some fresh cream to turn it into a homely dessert. The flavours in this dish really conjures up a farmhouse feel, even better when baked in a real farm house wood fired oven like we did at Brambletye.
Freshly picked red currants and blackberries straight from the orchards completed the pancake along with a drizzle of raw honey from their hives.
Ingredients (use organic ingredients where possible)
4 medium British grown apples 50g + 15g butter 5 medium eggs 3 tbs coconut flour (opt 2 tbs coconut flour + 1 tbs of arrowroot) 4 tbs maple syrup ½ tsp baking soda ¼ tsp sea salt ½ tbs vanilla extract ¼ tsp nutmeg 1 tsp + 1tsp cinnamon ¼ cup water Opt: coconut palm sugar to finish or raw honey
• Preheat your oven to 200C • Heat 15g of butter in an ovenproof 9inh frying pan/skillet • Cut the apples length ways, first into quarters and then into thirds, removing the core if you like. • Fry the apples with 15g of butter and 1tsp of cinnamon on a medium heat for 10-15 min, stirring occasionally and allowing the edges to brown. • Gently melt the 50g of butter in a saucepan and put to one side to cool. • Whisk the eggs in a bowl. • Add the rest of the ingredients one at a time including the melted butter, while continuing to whisk. • Remove the apples from the pan and pour in the pancake mixture, then arrange the apples on top - sprinkling with a little coconut palm sugar. Or just pour the pancake mixture straight onto the apples. • Bake in the oven for 20 min or until golden brown on top. • Finish with a drizzle of raw honey and some yoghurt or cream
This is our take on a New York style cheesecake and it’s packed full of goodness. We’ve created a wonderful biscuit base from toasted pecans, coconut and cacao nibs bound together and sweetened with dates - you can enjoy it as it is if there are no ripe avocadoes to be found!
The creamy top is, unlike most raw and vegan cheesecakes, completely free from nuts - usually cashew. The creamy texture comes instead from the blend of honey, coconut oil and ripe avocados and of course the avocados lend the beautiful green colour that we associate with a key lime pie.
This biscuit base is… WOW! For a raw cheesecake you can always leave out the toasting process for the base and for anyone with a nut allergy just up the cacao nibs and coconut (which is actually a seed).
We always soak and dry nuts and seeds before we use them. This removes bitter tannins and aids digestion. Dissolve ½ tsp salt per cup of nuts or seeds in enough water to cover them by an inch. Leave for at least seven hours. Drain and rinse, then spread on a large tray and put in an oven at 50°C. Leave for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally, until crisp. For a raw cake leave out the toasting process when making the base, and if you have a nut allergy swap the pecans for more cacao nibs and coconut.
Ingredients For the base: 125g (4½oz) pecans, soaked and dried as above 45g (1½oz) desiccated coconut 70g (2½oz) cacao nibs 185g (6½oz) pitted dates (approx 32) 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted and at room temperature
For the filling: 560g (1lb 2½oz) avocado flesh (from approx 5 medium-large avocados) 200ml (7fl oz) lime juice (roughly 8 to 10 limes) 175ml (6fl oz) coconut oil, melted and at room temperature 1 tsp lime zest 190g (6¾oz) honey
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2.
Place the pecans and desiccated coconut on a lined baking-tray lined. Place in the oven for seven to eight minutes, until toasted.
Transfer the pecans to a food processor and add the rest of the base ingredients. Blend until the mixture is crumbly (don’t let it go completely smooth) and holds together when pinched.
Line the base and sides of an 18cm (7in) round cake tin with baking-paper and tip in the base mixture. Press this down firmly and evenly with the back of a spoon, ensuring it is neat and flat where it meets the tin. Transfer the tin to the fridge while you prepare the filling.
Place all of the ingredients for the filling into the food processor and blend until the mixture is completely smooth and silky. Check for taste – add more lime juice, zest or honey according to preference, but it’s best to keep this deliciously tangy.
Remove the cake tin from the fridge and pour the filling over the base. Cover the tin, using a plate or clingfilm, and return it to the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
To serve, run a knife between the tin and the cake and carefully push the base up from the bottom. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.
By the way there is NO gluten in nuts and seeds, unless of course they have been processed with an ingredient containing gluten. Gluten is not the reason that we soak nuts and seeds - please ignore this misprint!
Part 3 - Sustainable fishing with Chris Bean, Kernow Sashimi
We continued our roadtrip to the remote picturesque village of Helford in Cornwall. It may only have a handful of houses, but it’s home to a vibrant fishing industry supplying an array of fish to top restaurants across the country.
Chris Bean has been a fisherman in Helford for 42 years. On his boat, the Lady Hamilton, which he built a year after he started fishing professionally in 1971, he and his team use traditional, sustainable and environmentally friendly methods to catch a huge variety of fish to supply well-known sushi eateries and exclusive restaurants such as Umu, Moshi Moshi and the UK’s first certified organic restaurant, the Duke of Cambridge.
We caught up with Chris as he landed his catch in Helford. On this particular day, Chris brought ashore familiar fish such as haddock, mackerel, whiting, red mullet and crabs plus the less familiar lesser spotted dogfish (rock salmon substitute), wrasse and gurnards.
Chris tells us how these fish will be served on plates in top restaurants in London the following day. Given that Helford is just shy of a 7 hour drive from London, we find out just how they can deliver fresh fish so quickly.
Chris’s catch changes every day, so when Lady Hamilton is back on dry land, Chris contacts his clients to confirm the fish of the day. The fish is put on ice to stay as fresh as possible and delivered across the UK. It’s then featured on menus up and down the country in as little as 24 hours. Top restaurants will adapt their menus regularly to ensure they’re only offering fish in good supply, so make sure the restaurants you eat at share the same philosophy. If you’re unsure, ask. A huge proportion of Chris’s fish is supplied to sushi restaurants under the business name, Kernowsashimi, which means freshness and the manner in which the fish is caught and delivered, is of upmost importance. Helford has welcomed some of Japan’s most influential chefs and restaurateurs, who now buy from Cornwall instead of shipping from the markets in Japan – so you know the fish is going to taste out of this world.
Sashimi with lime, wasabi and ginger
With fish this fresh and natural it makes sense to eat it raw like sashimi or at least ‘cooked’ in citrus juice the Peruvian way. We settled on an Asian-style ceviche as it’s just so easy to get a lovely marinade with any ratio of typical Asian ingredients.
If you eat it straight away it might be considered sashimi with an Asian dressing - or you can leave it for a few hours in the fridge or overnight and it will be a ceviche - a lovely, fresh-tasting starter for dinner parties that can be made in advance
We got our hands on mackerel but with these flavours any white fish would do too. The whole crew loved this dish, prepared on the tiny harbourside at Helston
Ingredients (use organic ingredients where possible)
500g extremely fresh, quality fish eg seabass, salmon, mackerel etc, filleted 4tbs lime juice, approx 2-3 limes 20g fresh ginger, grated and the pulp squeezed to give 2tsp of ginger juice 1.5 tbs unrefined sesame oil or 1 tbs toasted 2 tsp good quality wasabi paste - more depending on strength 1 tsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) 1 tsp raw honey or pure maple syrup sea salt to taste
To garnish: 1 tbs fresh coriander leaves finely sliced, 2 tbs black sesame seeds and a little red chilli to your taste
Ask your fishmonger to fillet your fish, then slice thinly carpaccio style or dice
Whisk the honey, lime, ginger, tamari and wasabi paste together
Add the sesame oil a little at a time as you whisk
For diced fish, cover with the dressing and marinade for at least 20 mins up to a few hours in the fridge.
For sliced fish, arrange the fish on platter and spoon over the dressing.
Top with black sesame seeds, fresh coriander leaves and finely sliced chilies to taste.
Summer minestrone with buckwheat spirals & basil oil
HEMSLEY + HEMSLEY for
Just like our vegetable packed broccoli, ginger and white bean, miso carrot, mexican squash and watercress soups, Minestrone is also a great way of getting nourishing bone broth into you - don’t underestimate the benefits of a good old fashioned stock! Remember to keep hold of the bones from an organic roast as simmering them away for hours will leave you with a wonderfully flavourful bone broth full of nourishing goodness and best of all, free.
Nowadays, the peasant meal of Minestrone, is one of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine and is a stand alone dish in it’s own right. Although the ingredients do vary across Italy, the recipes are generally adhered to rather than throwing everything into a pot and hoping for the best. After a recent trip to Riverford Farm however, we decided to create a minestrone using just fresh ingredients - our pickings of the best of summer veg; tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine and basil. The result was a delicious soup, with the flavours of a ratatouille, topped with ribbons of the robustly flavoured cavolo nero (or black cabbage to us) - a favourite in Italian soups. Instead of the usual refined wheat flour pasta we used pasta spirals made from naturally gluten-free buckwheat (fyi buckwheat is not wheat!) and 20% rice.
But remember you can use this recipe as inspiration, just as we do with most recipes. To us minestrone still qualifies as a ‘leftover special’ - when the ingredients are in season, the stock is rich, and you’ve got some black pepper and quality parmesan to hand it’s always going to taste good! Adapt the recipe with whatever odds and ends you have in the fridge - try leftover summer veg such as broad beans or peas, add cooked quinoa and root veggies like squash. Make it light and brothy as a starter or thick and hearty for a main meal. Save the rinds from Parmesan and other hard cheeses and pop into your soup for extra flavour, scooping them out just before you serve. This soup can come together in 40 minutes but you could also put everything (aside from the buckwheat spirals) into the slowcooker and let it simmer gently over the course of the day. Make a big batch of this soup ready for light suppers and packed lunches and freeze portions to eat on a rainy day.
Here is Part 2 of a road trip discovering delicious and nutritious homegrown British foods.
Riverford Farm in Buckfastleigh, Devon.
Our second visit was to Buckfastleigh, home to Riverford, the award-winning organic vegbox business.
25 years ago Guy Watson started delivering vegetables locally to 30 friends and neighbours. Today, the family business delivers an astonishing 40,000 boxes a week nationally from its five farms and network of British farmers. We use Riverford veg when cooking for our private clients and catering events and recommend them to everyone!
We caught up with Rachel and assistant harvest manager Ed Scott to hear more about the Riverford ethos and the benefits of buying seasonal and organic produce.
The Riverford philosophy of farming is to grow and harvest food that tastes good, regardless of size, shape or fashion. They also strongly believe in convenience. People assume that organic food is harder to get hold of, whereas with the Riverford box scheme, seasonal fruit and vegetables are delivered straight to your door. The time it takes to get from the field to your doorstep is typically much shorter than the route food takes to arrive on supermarket shelves. For most of the produce it’s as little as just two days.
This approach to veggie picking may seem obvious to those not in the profession, but with conventional farming the reality is that you’d never eat straight from the field as the veg would taste terrible. You’d need to wash off all the chemicals that had been sprayed over them before putting them anywhere near your mouth. It’s an exciting and encouraging sign that everything here tastes great directly from the ground. You can’t get fresher than that!
Being 100% organic means Riverford has less yield than commercial farms, but the benefits this brings its 40,000 plus customers are unbeatable. Firstly, organic is better for you: organic farms don’t spray their crops with a mixture of nerve toxins, fungicides and herbicides. Research suggests organic food has higher nutritious value, and judging by the taste of the tomatoes, plums and redcurrants the flavour is much stronger too.
Ed explained that people are becoming used to eating vegetables out of season – which isn’t necessarily a good thing. For example, strawberries are readily available in the UK all year round. However, strawberries in December are never going to taste as good as strawberries in June. They will have been shipped from abroad in a process taking anything up to a week which will compromise the flavour. And you’ll pay a pretty penny for the privilege of eating totally average fruit. There’s a reason vegetables grow at certain times of the year. They offer nutrients we need to keep us safe from lurgies in winter or to keep our energy levels up during long summer nights.
Secondly, organic farming is good for the environment. There’s more biodiversity and soil life, less polluted watercourses, less fossil fuels, and a lower carbon footprint. It’s all about having respect for the land. Not depleting the soil, but adding natural elements that will help it flourish.
Back in the kitchen, we chose courgettes as their main ingredient for their Riverford recipe, complimented by other summer veg including ripe tomatoes, red peppers and purple basil with a wonderful aniseed bite.
Courgettes are not only one of our favourite vegetables as they are so versatile and affordable. They love plenty of heat and moisture, which luckily hasn’t been in short supply this summer so there is plenty to go around.
‘Courgetti with Red Pesto’
A wonderful seasonal summer dish, perfect for a light dinner, using the best of Riverford’s organic summer veg
Ingredients (use organic ingredients where possible)
6 large courgettes 1.5kg 60g parmesan 90g cashews (soaked for 4-6 hours then drained and rinsed) 2 large handfuls of fresh basil 1 large red pepper 200g 800g cherry tomatoes 6 cloves of garlic (do not peel but wrap the bundle of cloves in foil) 2 tbs balsamic vinegar Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling 1 large pinch of sea salt 1 large pinch of black pepper Fresh red chilli - add a little at first
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Halve the red pepper and lay on a baking tray with the whole cherry tomatoes. Roast the tomatoes and pepper slowly in the oven for 90 mins - 2 hours to reduce the moisture and concentrate their sweet flavor. Halfway through, add the foil covered garlic to the roasting tray
- Squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins into the blender, then add the roasted tomatoes and pepper as well as the rinsed cashews, parmesan, balsamic vinegar and almost all of the basil (save some for decorating) Blend until you have made a chunky sauce. Taste for seasoning
- Use a spiraliser to turn the courgettes into long strips that resemble spaghetti then combine the sauce and courgetti in a large bowl and mix through with your hands
- Pile everything into a dish, scatter with extra basil, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!
We’re peachy keen on raw peaches with raw, full-fat cream (!) but this is the one time of year that you can roast a peach and get away with it. Peach season starts in July - a time when the first peach of the year should be enjoyed au naturel, celebrating the (hopefully) long summer to come. Whilst roasting a peach might seem like a crime, it’s now peak season so they are bountiful and at their best price. Seasonal eating is not just about taste - it’s about the savings!
Enter a very easy pudding. It’s simple and rustic, it’s hot and sweet. Mix up our almond topping, known as a frangipane, spread it over half a peach and roast. The result is individual little puds that look like muffins or mini peach cobblers with soft “peachy bottoms” (sorry couldn’t resist). They have a crumbly cake layer in the middle and a smooth crunchy golden top “like an amaretti biscuit” said our Italian friend Stephanie who popped by just as we opened the oven.
Frangipane, pronounced fran-jee-pan-ee, is the common name of a flowering tree and also the name of an almond cream, used in pastries, fruit tarts (think Bakewell) and the ever popular almond croissant. Frangipane is not to be confused with marzipan, though they have a similar flavour thanks to their almond paste base - almonds plus sugar. To avoid this refined sugar and control the sweetness of our little peach desserts we’ve used organic ground almonds with a little pure grade maple syrup. So what’s the difference? Well, after the four chemical processes it takes to get refined sugar there is no nutritional value left. With maple syrup, however, the maple sap is simply heated to remove the water and bottled. It’s sweet and good for you and far more satisfying thanks to its nutritional content, including good levels of zinc, manganese and calcium - refined sugar look away.
But remember any sugar still has an effect on blood glucose so aim to reduce your sweet tooth and always balance it with fat and protein like we do here with pastured butter, organic free range eggs and almonds. This batch only needs a tablespoon of pure maple syrup to sweeten it, (actually only two thirds of a tablespoon will do for us) then a little Nielsen Massey almond extract gives it that marzipan oomph without the sugar - Mel only likes a hint. Vanilla or orange blossom also make delicious variants.
Pair the little frangipane peaches with Coyo coconut yoghurt (as we did in our cherry trifle) or a dollop of full fat probiotic yoghurt for a sunny Sunday breakfast. For guests, nothing beats a quenelle of Hook & Sons’ thick raw cream or some gingered crème fraîche.
Almonds and peaches are perfect partners - a peach “seed” looks just like an almond. They are part of the same Prunus family - along with nectarines, plums, cherries and apricots - so remember that frangipane can transform any of these fruits into something amazing. If you like this combination of almonds and fruit then make sure you try out our other gluten-free, whole food puddings: apple crumble, cherry trifle, banana bread, strawberry and custard tarts and apple tarts.
Wild Beef at Hillhead Farm, Chagford, Devon with Richard and Lizzie Vines
The first stop on our road trip is in the heart of Dartmoor where the wild pasture is home to Richard Vines’ herd of freely roaming cows.
Wild Beef is a family-run business that produces natural, grass-reared and grass-finished beef, which is packed with nutrients. The Vines’ 70 plus native cows are allowed to graze as they please, with calves and mothers living together. They browse on land free from artificial herbicides and pesticides. The cattle are never fed on unnatural high-protein finishing rations, concentrates or hormones to promote their growth; as can often be the case elsewhere. Basically, Wild Beef produce food as nature intended.
The Vines’ old-fashioned approach not only rears the cows in the most respectful way possible, ensuring they enjoy quality of life, but also results in the most nutritious (full of Omega 3, 6 and 9, minerals and trace elements) and tasty beef the country has to offer. It also cooks quickly and keeps extremely well as it’s free from impurities.
We were lucky enough to join Richard when the herd was moving from a hay field they’d been enjoying to meadows higher on the hills. They would then be moved onto the moor a few days later. Moving them to fresh pastures like this ensures that they always have access to the best grass available. This ‘Cow Drive’ is part of the Vines’ farming philosophy; to give the animals diverse grazing for the healthiest and most delicious farmed meat that money can buy. The cows literally tell Richard (by sitting down and moo’ing) when they’re bored of a certain pasture, an indication that they want to be moved.
Richard explained to the sisters that for supermarkets to keep prices at such a low rate, there has to be a compromise and it’s the quality that suffers. Interestingly, previous generations spent more on their weekly food shop than we are currently spending. In order to improve the quality and nutritional content of meat, along with availability and affordability, people need to use their buying power to ask more questions about where their meat comes from, and create a greater demand in the future. The best butchers will know the farm where the meat has come from, and be able to confirm if the animals have been reared in a friendly way and fed naturally. A good butcher will be delighted to talk to you about the provenance of their meat.
Championing cheap cuts from high quality meat, Lizzie Vines cooked up one of her favourites using shin of beef - one of the cheapest cuts and, luckily for all of us, one of the most nutritious. It has plenty of bone marrow to satisfy and nourish. Fat is also crucial to flavour; everything in moderation! The girls added a twist using one of Lizzie’s farmer markets finds – oaked smoked tomatoes - to bring this wonderfully delicious dish into the summer.
Lizzie Vines, Wild Beef Stew
Serves 8-10 A slowcooked, one pot, melt-in-the-mouth stew with a sweet and smokey gravy. Lizzie’s twist on a classic beef stew is to leave out the root veg and celery and instead use oak smoked tomatoes found near her own stall at Borough Market. These tasty aromatic, sun dried tomatoes are a wonderful way to lighten the stew and turn it into a summer dish. If you have trouble finding these tomatoes then use fresh or tinned tomatoes instead, reduce the amount of water and up the tomato puree to keep it rich. A few pinches of sweet smoked paprika will provide the subtle smokey flavour.
The stew freezes beautifully and tastes even better the next day and even the day after that, so don’t be put off by the number of people the recipe serves. This dish really is a doddle - quick prep, slow cook and maximum appreciation from everyone who is lucky enough to eat it!
Ingredients (use organic ingredients where possible)
2kg beef shin cut into rounds with marrow bones included 2-3 large onions roughly chopped 6 medium carrots, chopped into large batons (you don’t want them to disintegrate during the cooking) 2 x 180g pots of oak smoked tomatoes, drained 2 tablespoons of tomato puree Sea salt and pepper to taste 1 round tablespoon ghee or butter Approximately 1 litre hot water
If using the oven, preheat to 140C.
Start by removing the tough outer skin from the beef shins - but leave the fat on!
Season the meat with a quality sea salt and black pepper.
Heat a little ghee or butter in a casserole pan and gently fry the onions and carrots for 5 minutes before adding the beef shins, tomato puree and drained smoked tomatoes.
Add enough hot water to just cover everything and bring to a low boil.
Pop the lid on and put in the oven for 3-4 hours on approximately 140C, checking and stirring occasionally. If you are cooking on the hob, simmer away gently for 3-4 hours.
You can start cooking this up to 8 hours in advance and keep it on the lowest simmer - we often use our slow cooker and keep it bubbling all day.
Serve with cauliflower mash and raw red cabbage salad or green cabbage wilted in butter
You can buy Wild Beef from selected food markets in Somerset and London. Wild Beef can be found at Borough Market, every Friday & Saturday, in Broadway Market, Hackney, every Saturday, and Wells Market, every Wednesday. Wild Beef is also available as mail order: wildbeef.co.uk - so even if you live far away you have no excuse!
Join us as we set off to discover delicious home grown British foods.
We’ll be visiting our favourite producers, farmers and fishmongers to get the low down on the country’s tastiest wholesome, organic and nutrient filled foods. We’ll be trailing Britain’s green fields and country lanes to meet with like-minded family businesses to unravel the essence of thoughtful eating: rediscovering the heritage of our food, and understanding what we’re feeding ourselves and loved ones.
Follow us as we share new recipes, as well as videos and photos from our travels.
A pretty foolproof, one-tray roast - even one of our best friends, a self-confessed cooking phobic managed to pull this one off at the eleventh hour while putting her kid to bed and tidying the house for last minute guests.
Only four ingredients (if you don’t count the salt and pepper) - onion, fennel, lemon and chicken, in that order! And no need to marinade or prep the meat in any way. These four ingredients are so inherently special that together they create something wonderful, the lovely aroma from the oven does not give you that smelly hair and clothing you often get when slaving over a stove - always a bonus if you’re expecting guests.
We use chicken thighs for this dish - succulent, juicy and full of flavour as they are very forgiving to cook, running much less risk of becoming dry like the average chicken breast - and for taste, there is no comparison. With the modern day trend of clean and lean meat, Britain has developed a preference for breast. We eat 56-day-old chickens (with bigger breasts) in comparison to other countries which rear older birds for more substantial leg meat. As ever, the nutritional and beneficial factors are going to depend on the quality of your food. It’s absolutely worth seeking out naturally-reared meat (shame we even have to say this!) - we’re talking pasture-raised, hormone and antibiotic-free. We prefer buying our meat from our local butchers - Ginger Pig and Wild Beef at Borough Market.
Remember the quality is not about the cut, it’s about the provenance of the meat - a healthy animal doesn’t have unhealthy dark meat. The natural fats one might fear are actually nourishing us - we need fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. And, in any case, an organic free-range bird is leaner since it is able to live naturally with plenty of exercise and on a non-bulking diet. Meanwhile, did we mention that along with the benefits of taste and nutrition the darker meat is much cheaper so what’s not to love?
It was mum’s day today. No not mothering Sunday (as one of her little nephew’s thought) - it just happened to be her birthday, on a Sunday, today…and she’s our mum!
What to give your mum when she can’t keep her presents to herself and just loves giving it all away?
Well the first idea was easy - food.
Our mum loves having family round and enjoying some home cooked food, no fancy restaurants for her, she loves our cooking the best!
Though it wasn’t his birthday Dad carefully considered then dictated the menu - an easy one tray roast of chicken thighs on a bed of onion, fennel and lemon, super simple, with loads of vegetable sides to nibble on. We decided it should be a VOGUE recipe this week so look out for it in a couple of days.
Starters were a choice of smoked salmon pate, mushroom pate or our raw courgette humus (out in the Guardian Cook supplement soon) with gem lettuce leaves to carry them.
Pudding was chosen over a traditional cake so we quickly baked up our chocolate molton puddings, cooking them a little longer to solidify. They were then cooled and eased out of their ramekins, topped with a hot sauce of stewed summer berries and drizzled with a creme fraiche, yogurt and honey mix. It’s the second time we’ve served them this way after trialling it on Father’s day when our dad declared them ‘our best yet’ - a fierce compliment where we come from.
Then the next part of the gift had to be beauty ‘stuff’. We made her sample them straight away, while mentioning that they don’t last forever, so that she can indulge in them guilt free with the knowledge that they couldn’t be gifted to others (don’t mums just love to keep the best for others - no mum, it’s for YOU!).
The going off part is kind of true anyway as these little potion pots contain natural magic - but no preservatives. They’ve got around 6 months, unlike the other bits and pieces on our bathroom shelves that hang around for years, so handle with care and enjoy the results. The quality of these little products is immense which means they don’t all come cheap but boy are they worth it.
The first bottle is a company called Pai, only recently discovered - we started using their super concentrated orange coloured Rosehip oil a few weeks ago but the effects were immediate - we were impressed enough to buy one for our mum and she was sold on the smell alone.
The second is one of, if not THE best non-toxic eye creams on the market. It’s by Tata Harper, an American company specialising in natural skincare technology. It’s super pricy but a teeny tiny bit really does go a long way, which is great because the eye area doesn’t take well too being soaked in stuff anyway.
The third product was on her wish list. Mum has taken our cue and ditched the foaming facewash, which tends to strip the skin, for something utterly gentle but incredibly nourishing - our big love, Angel Balm by Alexandra Soveral - definitely the best way to wind down for bed and wake up angelic.
You can find Pai and Tata Harper at Content Beauty, Marylebone, London and Angel Balm online and at Daniel Hersheson, Harvey Nichols.
Meanwhile keep your eyes peeled for the roast chicken dish, it’s another of our favourite things…like you mum!
We received a little gift the other day, via a messenger - some very pretty condiments of colourful, flavourful salt!
We haven’t had a chance to catch up with her yet but we assume it’s a souvenir from her travels. Our friend Liz loves food and health, a true Australian, and she always has her eyes peeled for new ingredients and recipes.
The last time she treated us she sent a brown paper bag of dried stevia leaves from Peru (which looked a bit suspect!). This was the real deal stevia, the first time we had tasted the actual plant - delicious in a rooibos tea with vanilla.
This time 2 salt sachets appeared - one was flavoured with blueberries and the other with activated charcoal.We’re looking forward to trying these out - the list of suggestions on the back mentions it goes with everything - including whale! So we assume she’s fresh back from Iceland (well the ‘Made in Iceland’ was more the giveaway).
This is our go-to smoothie for those times we’ve been deprived of raw green food (excellent after-flight care!) or need to balance an earlier rich meal. This dish is alkalising, hydrating, cleansing, antioxidant-rich and easy to digest - not to mention its minimal prep time.
The beauty of this recipe is that with just a few simple tweaks it can be transformed from a green smoothie to a green soup - by just adding garlic, salt and spices it becomes raw and savoury, like a gazpacho. With this little trick you can chop and change the basic recipe to suit your taste buds. To counteract a sugar or salt overdose just concoct the opposite version - a bit like craving chocolate to fix the salt from a packet of crisps or vice versa - but of course in a much more subtle and natural way!
Weight for weight and calorie for calorie, leafy greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet - but we can’t fill up on them all day long. For one, they require an awful lot of chewing to extract their goodness and secondly, they are so fibrous that they would fill up our bellies well before being able to provide the energy that we need for day-to-day activities. To maintain their shape, plant cells have a cellulose wall which is indigestible by the human body, making it very difficult to access their many nutrients. That is why for most people a good diet would consist of the addition of more calorific nutrient foods such as fatty nuts, seeds and oils and more protein-rich, less fibrous foods such as animal products.
It’s true that some plant foods are high in protein and whilst some of the largest and strongest mammals on earth are vegetarian we do not possess their big jaws or the digestive systems of a cow or rhino!
So man’s secret weapon to bypass our physiological limitations was fire and a cooking pot. Once we had those we were suddenly able to access far more nutrients - not only those in animal bones (think bone broth) but also by breaking down the cellulose of plant foods through cooking.
And now we have the blender. Blending our greens also allows us to break up this cellulose and have access to more nutrients - the creamier the better. You’ll need a strong blender - otherwise use spinach over kale and chop the ginger, celery and cucumber into small chunks too. We love our Vitamix - a big investment for the kitchen but one that we use as often as our kettle! It makes short work of these meals and is a doddle to clean.
But we must remember not to depend on this shortcut alone - blending the fibre speeds up digestion so if you dump this meal into your stomach quickly it can cause a big rise in blood sugar and insulin levels and then a massive fall. Consider how long it would take you to chew all those vegetables whole. So the rules are with all food that you put into your mouth, whole or otherwise - chew it well and go slow. That’s right folks - you even have to chew a smoothie… or a soup!
A few months ago we watched Michael Pollan from the balcony of Conway Hall courtesy of The School of Life.
"…our diet has changed more in the last hundred years than in the last 10,000, probably, with the result that it is affecting our health."
Michael is a legendary food writer and incredibly inspiring speaker. Check out his book ‘In Defence of Food’.
We’re currently reading Pollan’s newest book ‘Cooked’:
"Cooking has the power to transform more than plants and animals. It transforms us, too, from mere consumers into producers. Not completely, not all the time, but I have found that even to shift the ratio between these two identities a few degrees toward the side of production yields deep and unexpected satisfactions."
Here the protein-packed quinoa, nourishing fat from olive oil and the addition of avocado makes this tabbouleh (usually a side dish or part of a mezze) a meal all on its own - perfect for a spoon and bowl supper:
A fresh, gluten-free and healthy way to enjoy glorious old-school coronation chicken. Free from refined sugar, thanks to naturally dark and rich, unsulphured, dried apricots and packed with superfoods: ginger, turmeric, yoghurt and almonds.
For the boats 4 medium chicken thighs 4 black peppercorns 2 large garlic cloves, peeled 2 tsp ghee or coconut oil 2 medium onions, finely chopped ¼ tsp fresh ginger, chopped 1 tsp tomato puree 7 whole dried unsulphured apricots 4 tbsp full-fat probiotic yoghurt ¼ tsp fresh lemon juice 1 small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped (save a little for garnishing) 2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted 6 baby gem lettuces, washed and dried Salt and black pepper
For the curry powder 3 tsp ground turmeric 1 tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground coriander ¼ tsp fennel seeds ¼ tsp ground cinnamon A pinch of ground cayenne
1 Poach the chicken thighs, peppercorns and garlic in a large pan just covered with water and simmer gently, lid on, for 18-20 minutes until cooked through. Remove the chicken and set aside to cool.
2 Heat the ghee in a frying pan and gently cook the onions for around 8 minutes until soft. Add the curry powder mix and fry for a further minute, stirring constantly.
3 Add the ginger, tomato puree and 3 tbsp water and simmer for a few minutes until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
4 Blend 5 of the apricots with 4 tbsp water in a liquidiser to form a puree. Chop the remaining 2 apricots.
5 Dice the cooled chicken into small pieces and add to a large mixing bowl with the apricot puree, chopped apricots, yoghurt, lemon juice, coriander, cooled onion spice mix and half the almond flakes. Taste for seasoning, then refrigerate until ready.
6 To serve, spoon a tbsp of the chicken mix on to each lettuce leaf, and top with a pinch of the remaining almond flakes.
Poached eggs with samphire, honey, harissa dressing.
Inspired by Guy Watson of Riverford Farm and his favourite samphire accompaniment - the poached egg, we added a quick spicy dressing to this simple dish for Sous Style. This tiny step of just 3 ingredients whisked together and poured over takes the satisfaction of this dish to a whole new level.
It’s a quick and easy, no-cook pud! Our super fast, superfood version of the German classic Blackforest Torte.
Fresh cherries, cacao, almond butter, raw honey, probiotic yoghurt - you can even use probiotic coconut yoghurt by Co Yo.
Now’s the time to enjoy British cherries. We’ve got it on good authority that something good has come out of this unusually cold and bleak first half of the year. Thanks to our fickle weather the cherries have developed more slowly, increasing the natural sweetness and texture of their flesh and producing an exceptional flavour.
On top of that, 2013 is a bumper crop thanks to a new planting scheme using smaller trees which not only makes the cherries easier to harvest but also easier to protect from harsh winds and hungry birds - who enjoy them just as much as we do!
So take advantage of this affordable glut because these incredibly beautiful and valuable little fruits don’t grace the supermarket aisles or the greengrocers boxes for long - only popping up from mid June to the end of July. Support your farmers and buy British. For a touch of the ‘good life’ head out of town for the day and into the countryside. In Kent, Sussex and Herefordshire - the main cherry-growing counties of Britain - look out for pick-your-own farms and pop-up cherry stalls for a great value way to enjoy them and mark the summer by feasting on cherries picked by your own nifty fingers.
You can also buy cherries shipped in from Europe – French cherries being the best choice but don’t bother searching the aisles in winter – these cherries will have been flown in from the southern hemisphere and lack the flavour and freshness of our homegrown crops, with up to 4 weeks of cold storage before they hit the shelves….minimum flavour that will cost a fortune.
It is believed cultivated cherries were introduced to Britain in the first century AD. Legend has it that you can trace the route of old Roman Roads in Britain by looking out for wild cherry trees. Story tellers insist that Roman legions spat the stones from the fruit as they marched through Britain.
100g of cherries provide 25% of the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin C
Cherries are a rich food source of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin promotes healthy sleep patterns.
Powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins are found abundantly in cherries. Cherries are the richest source of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which give them their ruby colour.
Varieties grown in Britain that will be in stores over the next few weeks include:
Merchant is one of the earliest cherries to ripen. The fruit is large, sweet, and dark-red, with a good flavour.
Sunburst has large dark fruit, with a rich cherry flavour.
Stella is medium sized so good for smaller members of the family. The dark-red fruit is very sweet and juicy.
Skeena produces very large fruit with a good flavour.
Regina has large dark fruit that has a firm texture.
Kordia is a mid-season cherry that is medium-large in size, has firm flesh and a good flavour.
Lapins starts the second half of the season and has large dark-red/black juicy fruits with dark flesh.
Colney is also a late season variety. A large, dark black fruit, of superb quality, that is very sweet.
Sweetheart as its name suggests, produces cherries that are predominantly sweet but they are not sugary to taste. Sweetheart ripens towards the end of the British cherry season.
Penny has outstanding quality and is the latest cherry to ripen. Penny is a black cherry that is large, firm and very sweet to eat.
The lovely people at Riverford recently invited us down to visit the Orchington Farm estuary in beautiful Devon to pick samphire from the only certified crop of samphire in Britain. The samphire season is short–only July to August – and as we didn’t know much about this unique little plant we jumped at the opportunity to learn more!
Read on here and try our poached egg, samphire and harissa honey dressing recipe…
Is it a juice or is it a soup? It can be whatever you want it to be… for us, it’s a refreshing mid-afternoon pick-me-up, cool consommé starter and even a fancy aperitif.
Beetroot is commonly juiced with apples, making the most of this sweet root vegetable - but here it becomes a base for a wonderfully tangy, savoury drink with incredible colour to boot. A spicy vegetable medley with all the flavours of Andalucia coupled with the amazing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties of beetroot.
This makes a fantastic ‘morning after’ drink to revitalise the system…and the tastebuds! So dust off your juicer and try this savoury number - if you haven’t bought a juicer yet - a little note - masticating is better than centrifugal for more efficient juicing and nutrient preservation. But if you are time-poor or lazy in the kitchen then you’re better off with a centrifugal juicer - it’s much easier and quicker to use. After all, it’s better to use a centrifugal juicer more often than to leave the bigger, more expensive masticating juicer hanging around twiddling its thumbs, because it’s just such a pain to clean!
Meet our friend Geetie Singh - owner of the incredible and unique Duke of Cambridge pub in Islington - the kind of pub that makes you wish you were a local. We popped by this week for a catch up and and enjoyed some good honest food in the sunshine, washed down with a refreshing Dunkertons organic cider.
We shared scallop ceviche, a spiced fish stew and this big summer salad - fennel, broad beans, broccoli, spring onions, cucumber, kohl rabi and Laverstock buffalo mozzarella.
Geetie opened the Duke of Cambridge in 1998 - it’s Britain’s first and only organic pub.
The menu changes twice daily and 90% of the fruit and vegetables on it comes from organic farms in the South east while 100% of the menu is of the best quality and organic.