The first of the blackberries and it's beginning to feel like autumn. I created this recipe for an article I wrote for the Herb Society. Tarragon usually survives in my garden until the first winter frosts and it lends a warming aniseed flavour if used generously in a Coq au Vin. It is excellent in egg dishes and with vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, mushrooms and marrow. Its warm flavour makes it a perfect contrast to pulses and it is delicious with flageolet beans and nearly always better in cooked dishes than served raw. It is an essential ingredient of fines herbes and béarnaise sauce. However with its liquorice like flavour, fresh tarragon marries particularly well (and interestingly) in fresh cream desserts and served with blackberries or poached plums has to be the ultimate autumn dessert.
Tarragon Cream (makes 6)
600 ml double cream
150 ml milk
4 large sprigs tarragon
3 sheets leaf gelatine
140g caster sugar
Place the gelatine leaves in a bowl and cover with cold water
Put the cream, milk, sugar and tarragon in a heavy based saucepan and bring slowly to the boil.
Or place together in a jug and microwave.
Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatine, squeezing out any excess water out first.
Stir well and then strain through a sieve into a jug.
Divide the mixture between six ramekins or glasses.
Place in the fridge until set.
(Can be turned out like a jelly if preferred)
We have been sooooo busy over the last few weeks but had no time to tell you about it. We have moved the website to a new template with a much better looking Cook Book recipe page and a newsletter... sign up to receive news about our events as we write it. The Inspector entered the Mr Cutlets competition at Meatopia and got through to the the finals of six chefs with her Red Poll Shin and Tail stew and dumplings; the meat was from Elmswell butchers and had to be cooked on an open fire at the competition to select who would have the winners space at Meatopia. We went to the Cereal Killer Cafe (before it was attacked by anarchists !!!) Framlingham Sausage Fest, the Urban Food Fest in Shoreditch where we met Henry whose mum makes the sauces for Pan n Ice, and now we are at Blackthorpe Barn where our Little House of Cooking has been doing a pop-up cafe seven days a week for the Christmas shop, Christmas trees and Craft Fair and will be there until Tuesday 22nd of December. See you there!
The Bake Off'ers were on game pies this week and some of them (the pies) looked amazing. We don't eat enough game in this country even though you can see Muntjac deer, and dazed looking pheasants pre-shooting season, on nearly every corner here in Suffolk. Here's a young man who sells local venison and can even help you learn how to butcher a deer (in case you run one over...)
Haven't been to Alder Carr Farm for months and so set off for a sunny Saturday lunch with Mum. It was very busy - because it clearly has some of the best produce in the area and an interesting lunch menu that goes on until 3pm. We shared a paté dotted with pistachios, venison pie (with chips - sometimes I just have to have the gravy with chips...) and then a dessert pear, served with their own first rate coffee ice cream. It was all tasty and great value. The seasonal and locally sourced evidence is right there in the huge display of bright orange pumpkins and squash - to remind us that autumn is here.
Quail, grouse, venison, lambs kidneys, wild mushrooms, blackberries, damsons and figs...there's all sorts of delicious Autumn Gameyness on this menu. It declares its honourable local intentions by highlighting the relevant items with two stars for Wyken produced food and one star for those from either Norfolk or Suffolk. We had a friendly, interested and well-informed waitress to help us get to the nitty-gritty of the provenance and anyway we saw the fantastic fig trees on the way in and we know it's true; Wyken has a long and proven reputation. The hits of the meal were the grouse (not starred) served off the bone and as tender as any we have ever had, and the damson trifle (two stars). The meat eaters seemed more favoured tham vegetarians with bigger portions (we didn't all have the grouse - we shared...) and red cabbage on two of the dishes is a bit of a short cut in the kitchen. But for just under £50 a head for three courses, including an on-trend aperitif - Prosecco with Campari and bitters - and a glass of their excellent and award-winning wine, we were happy. As the farmer among us pointed out, why not provide that unctious, golden Hillfarm rapeseed oil to dip the bread in, instead of importing the olive, and then we will send all our Suffolk visitors here.
Near suffolkfoodie hq we have an old airbase where lots of trees planted in the war are still producing fruit, including these lovely plums that we are about to turn into jam. You don't need an airbase to forage to get wild fruit - just look at the side of the road where people have chucked out their apple cores. The cores are now fully grown trees. But professional foraging can cause problems as people strip the contents of everywhere wild. Leave some behind for the future!
Emily worked as a waitress at The Chalice when it was open in Bury and was so enthused by the cooking that she now makes home made food every day. Here is her favourite autumn recipe.
Autumn Butternut Squash and Pancetta Risotto
1 Butternut Squash
Knob of butter
300g of Pancetta
200ml of White Wine
Stock cube or fresh stock
300g of Risotto rice
150g of spinach
Pine nuts and Parmesan to serve
How to do it
Cut Butternut Squash in half and remove seeds and pulp. Roast on tray until soft with crushed garlic and drizzle with oil. This should take around 30 to 40 mins depending on the size. Dice one large onion, add to heavy bottom pan and sauté with a large knob of butter. In a frying pan, fry pancetta until crisp and brown, add the onion and risotto rice and fry rice for 2 minutes, add white wine and stir until it is absorbed.
Make a litre of stock, keep this simmering in a small saucepan, and add a ladle full at a time to the risotto. Stir until it is absorbed then add a further ladle full. Keep adding more stock, a ladle at a time, until the rice is soft, it may take a little more or a little less depending on the brand of risotto rice. Once the rice is soft add spinach leaves and spoon the butternut squash out of its skin in to the risotto. Stir until spinach is wilted and the squash is mixed in.
Serve with pine nuts sprinkled on top and shavings of delicious parmesan.
It might be nearly two hours from here but the food is worth it. Bobbys is a Leicester institution. The best home-made samosas - deep fried on the spot, an all you can eat buffet with no meat in sight, a Thali for one to take home which includes three types of vegetable curry, a dhal, rice, puri and pickles and actually serves two, and all this for under £20. I've been going here for twenty five years, and in the picture is Bobby himself!