WELL SEASONED

The Blog

Welcome to our award winning blog

 

Here you can find a collection of our thoughts, reports and ramblings together with some fun things we find along the way. We try to update the blog at least once a week and more often during busy periods so make sure you check back regularly..

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jul 11 2017 02:04PM

Last weekend, in glorious sunshine, Russ did a demo at the Dorset Seafood Festival. Centred around Weymouth harbour, the festival is a celebration of all things fishy and although squid was on the menu for the demo, we took the opportunity to hand out our very first piece of official marketing material for the Well Seasoned book.


This recipe for razor clams features in the book's February chapter but you might still be able to find some clams on your fishmonger's slab, so we thought we'd share it with you.


Enjoy (and keep an eye on the blog for more sneaky previews as we approach March 2018)!


-----


RAZOR CLAMS WITH HERB CRUMB, LEMON AND PARSLEY BUTTER


These are a little fiddly to prepare but for this particular recipe all the prep can be done in advance so it will take the pressure off! Once the clams are steamed open, the meat will pull easily from the shell and the inedible parts can be cut away. Lay the clam flat on the board with the rounder end to the left, cut this off close to the dark sac. Lift the frilly wing up and slice off the cylindrical piece of meat with the pointed end. Now trim the wing away from the dark sac. Scrape off any odd bits of sand as you go. Now the meat can be sliced into half centimetre pieces ready to use. If you're unsure at any point, the internet has plenty of useful videos on fish and shellfish preparation.


Serves 4 as a starter


For the clams

1kg live razor clams, thoroughly washed

75ml white wine


For the butter

50g unsalted butter

½ lemon, grated zest only

1 dsp lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper

reduced clam cooking liquid

1 dsp chopped flat leaf parsley


For the crumb

1 tbs olive oil

1 clove of garlic, smashed

40g day old bread, preferably a rustic loaf, torn into pieces.

1 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley


Method

Before you start cooking the clams, have a roasting tin of ice ready to chill them as soon as they are cooked.


To cook the clams, heat a large casserole or sauté pan that has a tight fitting lid. When really hot, drop in the clams and pour in the wine. Put the lid on immediately and steam over a high heat for 1 minute until the clams are open. Use tongs to drop the clams onto the ice. Pass the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a small clean pan and reduce until syrupy. Allow to cool. Prepare the clams as described above and then chill the sliced meat for a few minutes.


Beat the butter together with the lemon zest, juice and a few grinds of pepper. Gradually beat in the clam cooking liquid, checking for seasoning as you go. The liquid will be salty so stop when the butter is well seasoned. Add the parsley and mix in the clam flesh.


Select eight of the largest and best looking shells, give them a scrub and then place in a pan of water and bring to the boil to sterilise. Drain and dry off. Allow to cool.


For the crumb, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and add the garlic. Cook, turning frequently, to make a garlicky oil. Don't let the garlic go beyond golden or it will start to take on some bitter notes. Blitz the bread with the parsley, garlic and oil to make coarse breadcrumbs.


To serve

Fill the clam shells with the buttery clam meat and top with the breadcrumbs, grill under a hot grill for 2 minutes until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and bread for mopping up the juices.


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jan 6 2017 10:07PM

If your Christmas and New Year have gone anything like ours you will currently have i) a batch of fantastic new marmalade made from the season's first Seville oranges (in season until early February) and ii) a slightly stale, half-eaten panettone leftover from Christmas. If that's the case you'll definitely be needing this recipe, a New Year twist on that favourite classic, the bread and butter pudding.


Marmalade and Panattone Pudding


Ingredients


1 jar of orange marmalade

350g panettone, sliced and cut into rough triangles

Butter to grease the dish

1 tbsp brown cane or caster sugar

4 free range eggs

500ml full fat milk

4 drops vanilla extract

Cream or vanilla ice cream to serve.


Preheat the oven to 180C. Lightly grease a deep, 25cm ovenproof dish. Spread a layer of marmalade over each slice of panattone. Layer the panattone triangles in the ovenproof dish. Beat the eggs and milk together and add the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the panettone, ensuring each slice gets a soaking. Sprinkle over the brown sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden brown. The pudding should wobble very slightly when you take it out of the oven. Serve still warm with cream or a generous helping of ice cream. Relax and and enjoy in the knowledge that Auntie Doris won't come visiting or another 364 days.

By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Sep 9 2016 09:08AM

As I write this, the sun is shining and the thermometer is touching 23 degrees. Not your classic autumnal weather I grant you. But look a bit closer and all the signs are there; the first piles of brown leaves were gathered in our local park yesterday and the evenings are noticably shorter, with an unmistakable chill in the air. Perhaps more importantly, our apple trees are groaning under the weight of a fantastic crop of James Grieves, Bramleys and Coxes. It continues to be a brilliantly, er, fruitful year for fruit.


As we completed "Phase One" of our autumn garden clear-up this morning, we felt we'd earned a treat (ignoring for now the fact that Phases 2 to 129 were still to come) and settled down with a slice of Dorset Apple Cake.


This classic and simple cake is a great way to use up some of your apple crop and needs virtually no baking skills. Bookmark this recipe now - you'll be needing it from now until the end of November.


Classic Dorset Apple Cake Recipe:


225g white self-raising flour

300g Bramley or other cooking apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1cm cubes. (2 or 3 apples)

100g plump sultanas

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking powder

120g butter (chilled) plus a small amount for greasing the tin

120g light brown or golden caster sugar

1 free range egg

120ml whole milk

2 tsp demerara sugar (to finish)


Pre-heat your oven to 180C.

Lightly grease a deep 20cm cake tin and line with baking paper.

Sift the flour, cinnamon and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour mix using your fingertips until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency.

Add the brown sugar (not the demerara yet).

Lightly beat the egg in a small jug then add the milk and beat into the mixture.

Add the diced apple and the sultanas and mix well.

Pour the cake mix out into your tin, using a spatula to get it all out and make it level.

Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes. The top should be golden brown and lightly cracked.

Test your cake with a metal skewer (poke into the centre and, if the cake is ready, the skewer should come out clean.)

Leave to cool for 30 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack, carefuly remove the baking paper.

Enjoy still warm (with cream, custard or ice cream) or cold the next day.


(Sorry, we ate it too quickly. Picture of the cake will follow, just as soon as we've made another one.)

Edit: Slightly shonky iPhone picture now added!


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Sep 2 2016 11:00AM

We need to face facts - summer is drawing to an end. Yes, there should be plenty more days (and hopefully weeks) of warm weather to come but meteorological autumn starts on 1 September and the autumn equinox (traditionally Harvest Festival) falls on the 22nd . Whichever definition you prefer to use, one season is ending and new one is beginning.


For sun lovers it may be a sad time, but for seasonal foodies it's cause for huge celebration as we enter the most bountiful time of year. There's almost no end to the list of sun-ripened fruit and veg that are ready for picking right now. Softer varieties are giving way to the hardier, thick skinned ones in preparation for the colder weather and this seamless transition will see our larders fit to bursting for weeks to come.


As we tended the WS veg patch over the bank holiday weekend, we taste tested some of our early apple and pear crops. They're not quite ready, but they will be in a week or so, and then we'll have them coming out of our ears through to the end of October.


Gluts are an unavoidable feature of seasonal eating and, of course, essentially a nice problem to have. But you do need to be prepared with those fruit and veg-heavy recipes if you're going to avoid waste. One way to do that is to make sure you're eating fresh seasonal produce at every meal - including the most important one of the day.


This weekend (or as soon as you've picked some perfect pears), try this terrifically tasty Bircher muesli. Originally developed in a Swiss clinic to feed convalescing patients, we've tweaked it and packed a whole load more autumnal flavour in. Quicker than porridge and better for you than muesli (thanks to the fresh fruit), once you've discovered it, there will be no turning back. Prepare it the night before to let those oats soak up the fantastic juices and flavours.


Pear Bircher muesli recipe

(per person):


1 whole pear (or apple)

50g porridge oats

50ml of orange juice

Small pot of plain yoghurt

A handful of nuts (unsalted and lightly crushed)

A handful of raisins

2 or 3 chopped dates or other dried fruit


Start by grating the fruit. Don't worry about pealing or coring it, just remove any woody stalk. Add the fruit and the orange juice to the oats and stir. Now mix all the remaiing ingredients in and leave for at least 30 minutes (or overnight). if you have a particualrly sweet tooth, you can add some honey before serving. Enjoy with the morning papers and a cup of tea.


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Aug 22 2016 10:55AM

The mysterious elder tree must be one of the most recognisable and historically-important trees of the British countryside.


Back in May we made cordial with the elder's flowers. Having left plenty on the tree and after waiting for a couple of months, the summer sunshine has transformed them into an abundance of little purple berries.


The elder has for centuries been the subject of stories and folklore, connected with fairies and magic (it's no coincidence that JK Rowling chose an elder wand to feature in Harry Potter's wizarding adventures). The trees are said to be inhabited by a witch-like spirit known as the Elder Mother. Her potent powers, it is said, mean that elders are never struck by lightning. There's possibly some semi-scientific truth behind the myth because elders tend to live on the edge of woodlands, close to taller trees that are more likely to be struck.


Here's a modern day legend for you to try - Pontac (or Pontack) Sauce:


Pontac sauce is not meant to be a thick ketchup but something more akin to Worcestershire sauce. It has a fruity, peppery taste and goes particularly well with game, especially venison and liver. A few dashes will spice up any gravy or casserole. It famously mellows with age and is reputed to be at its best after seven years. In fact, it will be pretty respectable after 6 months so if you get some bottled-up now, keep it in a dark cupboard and you will just be able to get it out for the end of the game season.


Our recipe is a slight variation on the one contained in the well-known foragers bible, Food For Free by Richard Mabey but this vinegary, rich sauce has been enjoyed in one form or another for centuries.


Pontac Sauce


500g elderberries

500ml boiling cider vinegar or claret

1 onion or 200g of shallots, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

8 whole cloves

4 allspice berries

1 blade of mace

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp peppercorns

15g grated root ginger, bruised


Strip the berries off the stalks and place in an ovenproof dish with the vinegar (or claret). Cover, and place in a very low oven (120C) for 4-6 hours or overnight. Remove from the oven and put the berries in a saucepan with the salt, mace, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, onion and ginger, crushing the berries with a spoon or potato masher to release all the juice. Boil for 10-20 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. Discard what is in the sieve and return the liquid to the pan. Boil for another 5 minutes then bottle securely and store in a dark cupboard for up to 7 years!


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Jul 13 2016 08:57AM

It's that time of year when we start to see huge gluts of fruit and vegetables. Courgettes are always easy to grow and very productive but the warm summer sum with plenty of rain has made this year particularly bountiful. We're always looking for ways to make the most of our crop and this simple recipe makes a great starter or light lunch throughout the summer months.


Cheesy Courgettte Fritters


For about 10 fritters:


3 medium courgettes

150g self raising white flour

2 spring onions, chopped

1 bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and finely chopped

120g parmesan cheese, grated

1 egg, beaten

1 small pot plain yoghurt

1 lemon, zested and juiced

Oil for frying

A couple of handfuls of salad leaves


Start by grating the courgettes into a large bowl. Give them a very firm squeeze over the sink to remove any excess moisture (you want to get rid of as much as possible to avoid soggy fritters) then return to the bowl. Add in the flour, the chopped spring onion, parmesan cheese, the lemon zest (not the juice) and three quarters of the mint. Mix everything together to a stiff batter. Now heat a tablespoon of oil over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan. Drop in dessert spoonfuls of the batter and fry for two minutes on each side until golden brown. Don't make them too big or they won't cook through. Fry in batches and put to one side on some kitchen paper to blot any excess oil. Meanwhile, prepare a simple mint dip by mixing the rest of the mint with the yoghurt and lemon juice. To serve, place two or three fritters on a bed of salad leaves and drizzle over some of the minty dip.


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, May 17 2016 08:00AM

In May, the hedgerows blossom with creamy white and unmistakably fragrant elderflowers. Elderflower cordial is the taste of summer itself and now that the first flowers are out (we spotted the first ones near us this weekend) you have a few short weeks to make your own.


It's important to harvest elderflowers on a dry day. If you collect them wet you'll lose a lot of the pollen which accounts for much of their unique, delicate flavour. It's best to take your heads from a couple of trees if you can (there is usually more than one around) but most fully grown trees can withstand a pretty good cropping if necessary. The citric acid is essential if you want your cordial to last (it will help it keep for months rather than days) but not if you plan to drink it straight away.


Harry McKew was Jon's grandfather and a master maker of cordials, pickles and preserves. We recently came across his original recipe, on a tatty piece of old paper and thought he'd have been pleased to share it with you.


Harry McKew's Traditional Elderflower Cordial recipe

(makes about 1.5 litres of cordial)


25 elderflower heads

4 oranges, sliced

3lbs (1.4kg) caster sugar

2oz (about 50g) citric acid (available from chemists).

3 pints (1.7 litres) water


Cut off any leaves from the elder stalks and inspect each elderflower head for insect passengers. Place the water into a large pan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Add in all the other ingredients, give it a good stir and leave to stand for 48 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain the liquid though a clean tea towel or muslin then pour into sterilised bottles and seal. To serve, dilute the cordial about 10 to 1 with still or sparkling water. (You can also add it to sparkling wine for a very classy dinner party aperitif).


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, May 16 2016 11:41AM

Our last blog was on the topic of that true flag-bearer of summer, the mackerel. Two facts about mackerel you need to know: 1. They are very tasty. 2. They are very easy to catch. That does mean that on occasion we have a bit of a glut and so we are always looking for new ways to enjoy them.


This weekend, with one of the first mackerel of the season we wanted a quick and simple lunch. This quick cheat “pate” takes only about 20 minutes from start to finish and can be prepared in a single bowl.


You will need:


Two fresh mackerel fillets (or two small tins of mackerel fillets)

200g cottage cheese

Juice and zest of one lemon

Lots of fresh black pepper

A small bunch of fresh dill, chopped


To serve: crusty bread


Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Bake your to mackerel fillets on a sheet of baking foil for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool. You can do this the day before to save time. Once you’re ready to eat, flake the fish into a mixing bowl and add in all of the other ingredients then give it a good mix. You can be fairly rough with it as you want to break down the flakes into quite small pieces. Adjust the seasoning to taste and enjoy on toasted bread.


The mackerel season runs until September so we are almost certain to have one or two more recipes for you before then. Enjoy the warm weather we are having and happy fishing!


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Mar 29 2016 08:33AM

Well that was quite an Easter weekend. On the sporting front, it started excitingly with wins for England in the cricket world cup quarter final and against Germany in the football. Thrilling stuff. Then, despite some good weather on Good Friday, the storm clouds gathering and Storm Katie hit the British Isles with some force. (On a side note, the naming of storms only started in October of last year and we're already at K. At this rate we'll be needing a new alphabet of names by the end of 2016).


In Greenwich (where we are now based) a crane almost snapped in two and the news country wide was full of reports of similar storm damage. Nevertheless, Britain didn't get where is is today being put off by a bit of blustery weather. The famous stiff upper lip prevailed and all across the country families gathered for the tradtional Easter Sunday roast.


So it was for us in the Barn. As always, our local butchers (Drings) did us proud and we roasted a full leg studded with garlic and rosemary (Cooking time for a leg of lamb if you like it just pink in the middle = 40 minutes at 210C then 12 minutes at 160C for every 500g). Again as always, we rather overestimated our capacity and ended up with a rather a lot of cold lamb. (Nothing to do with the mountain of Easter eggs we ate before lunch, you understand.)


Luckily, after roast lamb, our second favourite meaty Spring dish is a classic shepherd's pie. These days, most people cook shepherds pie as a stand-alone dish, starting with minced raw lamb but, of course, it was traditionally a recipe for using up leftover meat and some of the less prime cuts. This tasty and textured pie (which, given the improved weather on Monday evening, we named Shepherds Delight) is full of juicy chunks of flavoursome twice-cooked lamb. The key, apart from the pieces of 'real' meat is the rich, gravy sauce.


This recipe feeds two hungry people but you can simply multiply the ingredients if you have more meat to use up or more mouths to feed.


Shepherds Delight - the Ultimate Shepherds Pie Recipe (feeds 2-3)


400g cold roasted lamb, shredded or finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, diced into half cm cubes

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

1 very good dash of Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons tomato puree

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chilli powder

300ml gravy or stock (ideally lamb but beef or vegetable will also do)

A small handful of mint leaves, chopped

Oil for cooking

2 large baking potatoes


First, put a large pan of water onto the boil. Peel and chop the potatoes into 3cm chunks then boil for 15 minutes until very soft. Meanwhile, lightly fry the onions on a medium heat in a little oil until translucent but not browned. Add the finely diced carrot to the pan and fry for another five minutes. Add in the chopped, cold meat, the cumin and the chilli and fry for two minutes. Now add the gravy (or stock), tomato puree and ketchup. Simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes until you have a rich, thick sauce (if using a thin stock you can sprinkle in a teaspoon of flour to help it thicken) and, finally, add the mint and put the filling to one side. Drain the potatoes and allow to steam for a minute or two before adding back to the pan with a knob of butter and a splash of milk. Mash until smooth. Now pile your meaty filling in to the bottom of a deep pie dish and top with blobs of the mashed potato. Using a fork, smooth the potato over the top and score the top of the pie to make a few rough peaks (these will help it brown nicely under the heat.) Heat your oven to 160C and cook the pie for 40 minutes until bubbling hot and golden brown. (You can grill for the last five minutes if it's not brown). Serve with fresh steamed green vegetables - brocolli spears are great at this time of year as the first peas haven't arrived yet.


By The Twig - Well Seasoned, Feb 9 2016 09:48AM

We could hardly let today go past without a mention of pancakes.


Technically, of course, it's Shrove Tuesday - the last Tuesday before the start of Lent. (The word Shrove comes from "shrive", meaning confession and absolution, as Lent is traditionally a time for fasting, penance and the confession of sins.)


But because meat and fatty foods (originally including dairy products) were forbidden during the Lent period it was common to use up stocks of foods, including eggs, butter and milk, hence why the day became so closely connected with pancakes.


Most countries in which Lent is observed have some form of Shrove Tuesday celebrations – a last hurrah before the period fasting and in fact, the word "carnival" is thought to derive from the Latin "carne vale" or "farewell to meat".


Don't, whatever you do, be tempted to complicate things; pancakes are meant to be simple food:

Basic Pancake recipe (for about 15-20 pancakes):


250g plain flour

600ml whole milk

2 eggs

a pinch of salt

a splash of oil (plus extra for frying)


To serve:

caster sugar

fresh lemon juice


Sift the flour and make a well in the middle, add the salt, beat the eggs and pour in, add the oil and then slowly pour in the milk, whisking to a glossy, smooth batter. It should be no thicker than the consistency of single cream. Ideally leave to rest for an hour. Making your batter tonight (up to 24 hours ahead is fine) will help, as will a callous disregard for the first pancake. It almost certainly won’t work, so don't try too hard. Just feed it to the dog and move on with your life.


RSS Feed

Web feed

502-shortlistbutton_runnerup-v2