Hello again for our second online newsletter and welcome to our new customers. We hope you enjoy your veg boxes this week and we look forward to hearing from you.
Its been a gloomy week weather-wise with mild rainy weather to date. However, the temperature is due to plummet by the weekend and we might also see some snow. Not good news for our farmers who are trying to pick purple sprouting broccoli. Vegetable farmers like even temperatures in the winter – any extremes make their lives more difficult and the veg prices soar.
I’ve decided this year is going to be a chutney and jam making year and I’m thinking about what chillies and tomatoes I can grow in the polytunnel. I’m still using the roasted tomato sauce I made last summer. Your own tomato sauce tastes absolutely delicious and if you can get hold of some ripe tomatoes next summer I can recommend making it. Better still why not grow a few tomato plants? I’ve found they survive with little attention as long as you remember to water regularly. The best tomatoes for sauce are beefsteak with Marmande being a great variety.
In your boxes………………..
My favourite beetroots are back in boxes this week. Beetroot has become a great favourite with the TV chefs and I’m delighted. Its especially good roasted drizzled with honey to bring out the sweetness. If you can’t bear beetroot as a veg why not make some chocolate beetroot brownies? I bring out this recipe every year and still get comments from customers who have tried it for the first time!
A first for us this week are mustard leaves from Walmestone Growers. They have a nutty, peppery flavour and make a great winter salad.
Finally, our green veg this week is curly kale. Very healthy and popular at the moment, don’t forget to make sure its piping hot to serve. It goes cold quickly and doesn’t taste as good.
Recipe 1: Warm beetroot, pear and chorizo salad
1kg mixed beets, leaves trimmed
200g chorizo, skinned and thickly sliced
100g whole blanched
2 tbsp quince paste
4 tbsp Sherry vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice, plus an extra squeeze
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large pear
small pack parsley, leaves picked and roughly torn
50g Manchego, shaved
Put the beets in a large pan of water. Bring the water to a boil, cover and leave to simmer – about 20-40 mins, depending on the size of the beets. Use a skewer or small sharp knife to check that they’re tender in the centre (try not to poke too often or they’ll bleed all their juices into the water).
Drain the beets and leave to cool in a colander. When cool enough to handle, peel away the skins, root and stalks, then roughly chop or slice the beets.
Put the chorizo in a cold frying pan and fry over a medium heat until crisp – you should collect lots of oil in the pan. Lift out the chorizo with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Tip in the almonds and fry quickly until just turning brown on the edges. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to dry.
Make the dressing by melting the membrillo in the pan with the chorizo oil, Sherry vinegar and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Mix in the olive oil and season.
Core and thinly slice the pear, toss with a little lemon juice to stop it browning, then arrange on a platter with the beets, chorizo and almonds. Toss together with the dressing, if you like, or serve the dressing on the side. Sprinkle over the parsley and Manchego and serve immediately.
Recipe 2: Pickled beetroot
If you don’t know what to do with your beetroot why not pickle some to have with cold meat and cheese?
1kg beetroot vegetable oil
4-5 tsp coarse crystal sea salt
For the pickling vinegar
1 tbsp black peppercorns 1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds 10 cloves
few pieces of mace blades pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves
700ml white wine vinegar, plus 3½ tbsp. 100g light brown soft sugar
Wash and trim the beetroot, rub each with 1 tbsp vegetable oil, then wrap individually in foil. Roast on a tray at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 1 hr or until tender. Cool, peel, then cut into wedges.
To make the pickling vinegar, put the whole spices in a medium saucepan. Toast over a low heat until they begin to smell aromatic. Add the dried chilli flakes last, as these can easily catch. Add the bay, pour in all of the vinegar and sugar, let it dissolve, and bring to a simmer.
Pack the beets into sterilised jars, add 1 tsp coarse crystal sea salt to each, then pour over the hot vinegar and seal. Ready to eat in 2 weeks, or longer, if you like
Recipe 3: Hugh F-W's Chocolate Beetroot Brownies
250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus a little more for greasing
250g plain chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids), broken into squares
250g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour (we use wholemeal self-raising)
100g broken walnuts (optional)
250g cooked and peeled beetroot, grated or puréed
Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/ gas mark 3. Lightly grease a baking tin that's roughly 20cm x 30cm in size and at least 2cm deep. Line the bottom with greaseproof paper and butter the paper, too.
Put the cubed butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Place this on an oven tray lined with a baking sheet, and put in oven to warm up. After a few minutes, remove, stir, then return to the oven to melt completely. (Alternatively, melt the chocolate and butter in the conventional manner, in a bowl held over a pan of barely simmering water.)
In another bowl, whisk the sugar with the eggs until smooth and creamy. Stir in the chocolate mixture until well combined. Sift in the flour, stir, fold in the walnuts (if using) and beetroot. Pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a knife or skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it - be careful not to overcook the brownies. Remove from the oven, then stand the tray on a wire rack until cool enough to cut into squares.