The effects of lockdown have torn through the food industry like a tornado. Food businesses forced to close, with many restaurants staying open for takeaway and every day another business re-opening to dip it's toe into the online-delivery-takeaway market. Suppliers normally serving the trade have had to diversify and react swiftly, some offering online orders and deliveries to the public. Pubs have become community shops. Corner shops have kept us supplied with the store cupboard basics. Store cupboards have determined the dishes we can cook to nourish ourselves and our families. While chefs live stream cookery demo's from their kitchens, the niche social media experts have had to guard their territory as the stay at home population bombard us with their own sourdough, banana bread and brownie recipes. Farm shops providing deliveries, micro breweries and wineries setting up drive thru's there never has been a more challenging time to source food. The crisis has provided an opportunity to drive innovation and now is the time for us to support the independent producers who are working so hard to stay afloat. However, it's also the time for the service industries to keep in touch with their clientele, monitor consumer behaviour and continue to innovate, so that when the race back to reality begins, they're revved up and in pole position. Here's a photo gallery of some of East Anglia's innovative businesses and suppliers that I have used and that are providing top quality service and produce . You'll find plenty more if you check the many social media streams regularly. For Bury St Edmunds folk David Stapleton has created a simple and free web app directory of businesses open.
- Brays Cottage pork pie. Send a pie for a pressie.
- Jolly Asparagus has found outlets for a crop which would generally go to the restaurant industry. Snap it up at Hillcrest Nursery Stanton and Woosters Bakery (main picture)
- Watch Justin from Pea Porridge Restaurant in Bury via Instagram. Masterclasses and the weekly 'clash' with a local Chef
- Slate provisions and deli can send you a selection of cheese in the post. My British selection which arrived last week.
- Flour a problem? I got a sack from Thomas Ridley at Rougham. No account required, log in on their website as a guest.
- Woosters Bakery. Online ordering and collection from Bardwell, Bury, Wyken market.
- Brewshed Brewery pop up at The Cadogan. Ingham. Order a mini keg or take your own container for filling.
- Baron Bigod to order online from Fen Farm Dairy. Bungay
- Beerhouse pop up. Social distancing and well organised.
- Brays Cottage Pork Pie - big family size to order online.
- Order a pizza from Lucy's at Fornham St Martin. Must be pre-ordered and a time slot will be allocated. Book early - it's popular
It will soon be time to think about jam making with summer fruit. My tips are from my 'Food for Keeps' course and will help you make perfect jam every time. Try making this delicious Fresh Apricot Jam.
- Never make more than 10lb (10 standard jars) at any time. The less time spent in cooking the jam, the better the final colour and flavour.
- Choose firmly ripe, fresh fruit, picked dry. Wet fruit will affect the set and flavour of the jam.
- Prepare the fruit removing any stalks and bruised flesh, only wash if necessary.
- Use a large, heavy based saucepan. The pan should never be more than half full.
- Add water only of the recipe says so.
- Bring fruit to the boil, then simmer gently to break down any skin and to extract the pectin.
- Pectin is a substance in fruit that reacts with acid when heated, creating the setting agent. Fruits vary in their pectin and acid content.
- Jam sugar has added pectin and is ideal for fruits that are low in pectin helping jam to set.
- Do not cover the pan as water evaporation is essential.
- Underboiling causes jam to be too runny and overboiling makes it sticky.
- Test the set by dropping a spoonful of jam onto a refrigerated saucer and seeing if the top crinkles when you run your finger or a spoon across it.
- Warming the sugar in a low oven (110C) will shorten the cooking time. Preserving sugar consists of large crystals of sugar which dissolve evenly producing less froth when boiling.
- Remove any scum with a slotted spoon once the jam is ready to pot. A nut sized piece of butter at the end of the cooking will help reduce the scum.
- Cool the jam for 5 to 10 mins before potting, then stir again to help evenly distribute the fruit and stop it from rising to the top of the jars.
- Always warm jars in a low oven to sterilise and prevent cracking from the hot jam.
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- choose firm, ripe fruit
- preserving sugar has bigger crystals which dissolve more evenly
- test for set by seeing if a skin forms when dropping some jam onto a chilled saucer
- always warm the jars in the oven
Landing on my door mat this week was a copy of the recently published Suffolk Cook Book. Featuring over forty five recipes, all submitted by some of the many Suffolk businesses and personalities working within the local food scene. Recipes are diverse, with varying levels of cooking competence required. From a very simple, very do-able and delicious Suffolk Gold rarebit with caramelised red onions (Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses) to a ... drum roll ...Confit pork belly and pan fried mackerel fillet with carrot buttercream, candied bacon almonds, gin spiked blue berries, marzipan and pork jus, which is more challenging. (Executive Head Chef Alan Paton at Stoke by Nayland Hotel). Tempting my own taste buds and with an inspirational story and a recipe as far away from Suffolk as you could imagine is a Prawn, Pork and Cucumber Salad (Red Chilli Kitchen). The book showcases the fine Suffolk produce and ingredients that are available on our doorstep. I set my 19 yr old niece the challenge to cook anything that she would fancy from the book and she chose the Elveden Gluten-free sticky toffee pudding (Elveden Courtyard Restaurant) which was absolutely delicious. The Suffolk Cook Book is £14.95 and is available from the businesses featured in the book, from Waterstones and online at www.amazon.co.uk.
These savoury muffins are an all year round favourite. We like to experiment with different fillings and toppings, these are topped with pesto. Here is the link for our Feta and Peppadew Muffins. Have fun adapting the recipe!
A sliceable quince treat to serve with cheese.
This rice pudding is a little healthier and lower in fat than our other full cream recipe. You bake it in the oven - it takes minutes to prepare and two hours to cook. Well worth the wait.
- 100g short grain/ pudding rice
- 50g caster sugar
- 700ml semi-skimmed milk
- freshly grated nutmeg
- (1 bay leaf, or strip lemon zest for a different flavour)
- Heat oven to 130C/Gas 2.
Butter an 850ml heatproof ovenproof dish.
Pour the rice and sugar into the dish and stir in the milk.
Sprinkle the freshly grated nutmeg over and top.
(Add lemon zest or bay leaf into the milk if using)
Cook for 2 hrs or until the pudding has a brown skin and the rice is slightly wobbly.
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Delicious Indian snacks which are vegan/vegetarian and gluten free.
6 tbs cold water
- large pinch ground cumin
- large pinch of ground coriander
- 1 small onion finely sliced
- 4 handfuls of spinach leaves roughly chopped
- 1 handful fresh coriander chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp chopped green chilli ( optional)
- good pinch salt
- vegetable oil for frying
- Prepare all of the vegetables. Substitute any vegetables that you don't have with an alternative of your choice. Just about all types of vegetable work.
- Starting at the top of the list of ingredients add all to a large mixing bowl, everything except the oil which is required for frying.
- Mix very well making sure that the vegetables are all coated with a thin layer of batter.
Heat oil in a wok or use a deep fat fryer and drop spoonfools of the vegetables (coated in batter)into the hot oil.
- Cook until browned and the pakora holds its' shape.
- Turn to cook the other side.
- Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
A perfect way to use up all those leftover pieces of cheese in your fridge. All types of cheese can be used. It will keep for a week in the fridge and is a good vegetarian recipe.
225g grated cheese ( chop up cheeses that are hard to grate i.e Brie/Camembert
170g (small tin) evaporated milk
1 very small onion or 3 spring onions finely diced
1 tsp chopped chives
pinch of mustard powder
a little oil or butter for fying the onion
Heat a small knob of butter or splash of oil in a saucepan and soften the chopped onion
Pour in the evaporated milk
Add the grated cheese, mustard powder and a little ground pepper
Stir well until the cheese has melted
Stir in the chopped chives
Pour into ramekins and leave to set in the fridge
Eat spread on toast or with a baked potato
A favourite Winter soup which is vegetarian. Serves 6 - 8 people
- 1kg g (2 lb) Jerusalem Artichokes
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 450 g (1 lb) carrots ( peeled and sliced)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 75 g (3 oz) butter
- 1.5 L (3 pints) vegetable stock
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Peel and slice artichokes then put them into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from discolouring. ( add a slice of lemon)
Melt the butter in a cooking pot and soften the onion, celery, carrots and artichokes.
Put the lid on the pan and let the vegetables sweat for 5 minutes on a low heat.
Stir from time to time.
Pour in the stock, stir well, put the lid back on and simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Liquidise the soup and season to taste.