One of the best things about travelling around Britain is the opportunity to visit high-quality, local, specialist producers and try and buy their products.

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One such producer is Brown & Forrest, a small family run smokery producing a wide range of smoked goods including eel, salmon and duck, to name just a few.

Started 29 years ago at Bowdens Farm, Hambridge, the smokery now has both a shop and on-site restaurant, where you can feast on the smoked goods before buying a selection to take home with you.

The smokery was on my list to visit during my May trip to nearby West Dorset, but having failed to do so, I was delighted when fellow food blogger Helly suggested a lunch meeting there, the day after Meemalee’s Burmese Popup.

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To allow us to work out which smoked products we wanted to order for our mains, Helly arranged in advance for us to start our lunch with sharing plates featuring a variety of Brown and Forrest’s smoked products including salmon, duck, chicken and eel. This was a fantastic idea and I’d recommend getting in touch to organise something similar if you’re planning a trip with a group of friends.

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Mains were served with a nicely dressed side salad and garlicky potatoes. All came in under £10. Everyone ordered what they’d liked the best from the tasting plate; there were lots of happy eaters.

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Not that we had space, but we all ordered desserts. The sticky toffee and date pudding and the syrup sponge pudding were unanimously voted the winners. The queen of puddings and white chocolate desserts were also good. Only the tiramisu disappointed – a stodgy, overly cheesy and heavy lump which both who ordered it left almost untouched.

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After our lunch (which was less than £20 a head including drinks) we loaded up on goodies from the shop. Pete and I bought some smoked black pudding, smoked duck, smoked trout and smoked brie.

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Meemalee bought half the shop!

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Pete and I had some of the smoked black pudding for breakfast the next morning (along with some delicious Denhay bacon and fried eggs) and we both absolutely loved it. Soft black pudding with just the right hint of smoky flavour not to overwhelm pudding or rest of plate. Perfect!

Back home, we enjoyed the rest of our haul, impressed with the smoked brie too – again, a subtle hand meant the smokiness enhanced rather than overpowered the natural taste of the cheese.

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You can buy Brown & Forrest smoked goods through their online mail order service or, if you’re in the vicinity, I strongly recommend a visit in person.

Oct 302010
 

You’ve seen my (first ever) Hallowe’en Pumpkin.

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Now, please put your hands together for my Hallowe’en Courgette!

We grow courgettes in our back garden most years and usually choose the spherical yellow ones, just because they’re a bit different.

This little guy, though much smaller than most carving pumpkins, was a little long in the tooth for eating, so Pete suggested I might like to carve him à la pumpkin!

To my surprise, he was much tougher to carve than the pumpkin – his skin was really hard to pierce and saw through. So I’m glad I went for a simple design (which I chose because of his small size).

What do you think? Will it catch on? :)

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bob 20101012-0756

Name: Wolf Brewery Battle of Britain RAF

ABV: 3.9%

Bottled/ Draft: Bottled, not conditioned

Colour: Copper

Head: Very short lived

Mouthfeel: Full bodied

Taste: Nicely bitter, light on the malt.

Comment: This is one of four beers that Wolf have brewed specially to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain – a series of ales made to honour ‘The Few’, of whom 544 lost their lives during the period of the Battle.

Initially a little fizzy – an artifact of bottling, I’m sure – but otherwise this is a very drinkable, traditional style of bitter. Fairly light on the malt, but retaining a good body nonetheless. There’s a very nice floral hoppy nose, which leads through to a nicely balanced bitterness; this is how a good beer should taste!

I’ve seen Wolf around at various food and drink events before, but I’ve never got around to sampling their beers until now; on the basis of this one, I’m determined to explore more of their surprisingly extensive range (I count no less than 14 beers listed on their website, not counting the four Battle of Britain beers); if this one is anything to go by, they clearly know their beer!

As part of their commemorations, Wolf Brewery will be donating 10 pence per bottle to the Royal Air Forces Association’s Wings Appeal.

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The Battle of Britain beers are available from Wolf Brewery’s online shop for £28.50 a case (£2.38 per bottle). Other stockists are also listed on the website.

 

Fancy attending The Wine Show (12 – 14 Nov at London Olympia) and/ or The BBC Good Food Show (24 – 28 Nov at the NEC Birmingham)?

Well, you might be in luck! I have 5 pairs of tickets to each show for readers of Kavey Eats!

The Wine Show

TheWineShow entry-mastercheflive

Stroll through the Wine Market, meet celebrity wine experts, try and buy wines from around the world, perhaps even learn the art of sabrage – opening a champagne bottle by slicing the top off with a knife!

Also on at London Olympia at the same time is Masterchef Live, where you can meet the MC celebrities, watch them cook in the Chef’s’ Theatre, try and buy from a range of food and drink producers and take part in the Masterchef Experience (you can read about my efforts in the Masterchef Invention Test, here).

The Wine Show tickets include free entry to Masterchef Live.

The BBC Good Food Show

BBCGoodFoodShowWInter

Visit the stalls of hundreds of food and drink exhibitors in the Producer’s Village, take part in the Masterchef Experience, watch James Martin host a live sessions of Saturday Kitchen, attend food and drink master classes including specialist CAMRA sessions and taste some of the winners of the World Cheese Awards.

How to Enter

  1. Leave a comment here on the blog stating which show you’d like to attend. Please include your email address; entries with no email address provided will not be entered into the draw. If you’d like to enter both draws, please leave two separate comments, one for each.
  2. Enter on twitter by tweeting the following:

    Yes please, @kaveyf I’d like to win one of 5 pairs of tickets to The Wine Show! #kaveyeatswineshowtkts
    and/ or Yes please, @kaveyf I’d like to win one of 5 pairs of tickets to The BBC Good Food Show (Winter)! #kaveyeatsBBCGoodFoodtkts

The competition deadline is midnight GMT on Thursday, 4th November 2010.

One blog entry per show per person.

One twitter entry per show per person.

Prize Details

Both prizes are for entry to the shows only and do not include travel, accommodation or any additional paid classes or activities within the shows.

Tickets for The Wine Show will be available for collection.

Tickets for The BBC Good Food Show will be mailed out by post.

Many thanks to BBC Haymarket Exhibitions for the prize tickets.

 

Thank you for all the delectable entries to my recent Nielsen-Massey National Baking Week Competition.

I’ve roped in Pete to help me pick the two winners as he’s definitely the baking master in our house hold.

 

Our two winners are…

BunnyBanter – Vanilla & White Chocolate Victoria Sponge (see comments on competition post)

Samantha TanCaramelised Brown Bread Ice Cream

You each win:

  • A bottle of Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
  • A bottle of Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste
  • A Nielsen-Massey recipe book
  • A bottle of one of Nielsen-Massey’s Flavoured Extracts (flavour to depend on availability)

Well done and happy baking!

(You should both have emails from me; please get back to me with your addresses so we can arrange delivery of the goodies).

 

And many thanks to all the other entrants – your suggestions all made my mouth water!

The Other Entries:

thingswemakePetite Vanilla Bean Scones & Homemade Granola

Dom at Belleau KitchenRhubarb and Honey Ice-cream

Gail at One Million Gold StarsCaramel Popcorn

Heavenly HousewifeVanilla Shortbread

Jenny EatwellFruit Scones

dnaequalsfoodBaked Vanilla Cheesekcake

Foodycat – Deconstructed Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble (see comments on competition post)

NicismeSummerBerry Pavlova

Ileana – Genoese Cake (no recipe provided)

DeepaVanilla Marshmallows

Helen at Fuss Free Flavours –  (Almost) Healthy Sticky Toffee Pudding

zoenmya – Chocolate & Mayonnaise Cake (see comments on competition post)

Lo-LoGiant Cupcake

Scruffy99 – Vanilla Fudge (see comments on competition post)

Gill at Sky Loft – Microwaveable Chocolate Fudge Pudding (see comments on competition post)

Oct 272010
 

Hallowe’en has it’s origins in the Celtic festival of Samhain, meaning “summer’s end”:

The ancient Celts believed that the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family’s ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm. Bonfires played a large part in the festivities. All other fires were doused and each home lit their hearth from the bonfire. ~Wiki

As far as I can make out, the old Celtic festival seems to have merged into the Christian calendar, in which departed souls are commemorated on All Saints Day, also known as All Souls Day, Day of the Dead and All Hallows Day.

The name, Hallowe’en (now often shortened further to Halloween) is an old Scottish abbreviation for All Hallows Evening, the night before All Hallows Day.

Another tradition that has become associated with Hallowe’en is that of carving pumpkins.

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My very first pumpkin

How did this come about?

A common practice for All Souls Day (Day of the Dead) was to commemorate souls in purgatory with candle lanterns carved from turnips.

In North America, pumpkins are more readily available and larger, making them much easier to carve than turnips. Pumpkin carving became an American tradition more than 150 years ago. Although carving jack-o’-lanterns was originally associated more generally with the harvest period, it became more specifically identified with Hallowe’en in the mid-to-late 19th century

Personally, I really like the growing popularity here in the UK for hand-carved candle-lit pumpkins featuring grinning or grimacing faces, witches, broomsticks and cats, skulls, owls, spiders and cobwebs and all manner of other spooky motifs carefully chosen, applied and carved into the beautiful orange squashes.

But… I have never carved a pumpkin before.

Nope. Never!

I once watched in admiration as American university hall mates carved a friendly jack-o’-lantern for our shared kitchen (and stopped them throwing away the seeds with a horrified squeal – washing, salting and roasting them instead). That was nearly 2 decades ago!

So, when Waitrose invited me to take part in a pumpkin carving contest, offering to send me pumpkin, instructions and carving kit, I knew it was time to have a go for myself.

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In my box was a large, lovely pumpkin. An instruction book included some helpful instructions plus some, way-too-complex-looking templates and a little set of specialist tools.

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Step 1: I can haz pumpkin. I named him Pob.

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Step 2: Cut out the lid – the little handle makes it easier to position the lid back in place.

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Step 3: Scoop out the string, seeds and excess flesh.

Step 4: Print template, cut roughly around pattern, soak paper quickly, slap wet paper template onto pumpkin and use clever little roller tool to mark pattern into pumpkin skin.

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Step 4: Use drill to create starter holes in which to insert saw.

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Step 5: Saw out pattern. Carefully!

Step 5: Crow delightedly.

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Step 6: Pop candle inside pumpkin, try to light candle with short matches, swear, try again a few times, swear again a few times, tape match to blunt knife handle, light elongated match, light candle and crow some more.

Step 7: Note where candle flame makes sooty mark on underside of lid, remove lid and create tiny chimney hole using drilling tool.

Step 8: Replace lid, stand back and admire.

Kavey Eats Tombstone Pumpkin Template 2010

I must confess that my original design included, the letters RIP on the gravestone below a much smaller cross. However, when I began transferring my pattern to the pumpkin I panicked at the idea of carving such detail and went for the larger cross instead.

In actual fact, I found the two saws included in the pumpkin carving kit tool set properly sharp and really easy to use and I don’t think I would have had any problems with the RIP lettering.

If you’d like to use my template, please go ahead. All I ask is that you post a comment below with a link to a picture of your results!

The Pumpkin Carving Kit from Waitrose is priced at £6.99 (though it’s currently reduced in my local branch and on Waitrose Direct).

Have you carved a pumpkin before? How did it turn out? What do you think of my results?

 

PeteDrinks-6279

Name: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6

Bottled/ Draft: Bottled, bottle conditioned

Price: £1.29 from Aldi

Colour: Amber, a little clouded from the yeast

Head: Fine, lingering head

Mouthfeel: Rich, full body and flavour

Taste: Strongly bitter, with the kind of “strong” flavour that I normally associate with very strong beers.

Comment: America is not a country I automatically associate with good beer; largely because it’s dominated by big, bland brands that don’t really taste of anything but bubbles (I blame Prohibition).

However, small producers have been brewing interesting, real ale for some years now and it’s getting increasingly easy to get hold of in the UK (thanks to the rather esoteric buying habits of Aldi!)

This is quite a classic, well conditioned Pale Ale – heavy on the hops but with a surprisingly rich, full flavour behind it. The yeast from the bottle conditioning lends a little cloudiness, as well as a faint yeasty smell, but these are never bad things in my book – yeast is such an important aspect of beer (it is, after all, what makes it beer!) that I don’t think the more obvious presence detracts in the slightest.

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Oct 252010
 

The winner of my recent Chocri competition is Suelle for her suggestion of “Tropical Temptation”, a dark chocolate bar with ginger, dates, mango, macadamia nuts and cocoa nibs.

Sounds delicious to me!

Suelle, I have emailed you with a voucher code, enjoy your creations!

 

I have known Ann Busby for some years now, as a fellow member of the BBC Food chat board and more recently, the Wildfood forums.

Just over three years ago, Ann’s husband complained about the quality of piccalilli on sale in supermarkets. His comments prompted Ann to make her own, using her mum’s recipe. A box scheme starting locally at the same time and Ann asked them to sell some of the jars she’d made.

That was the start of her Simply Relish business through which she now sells home made chutneys, relishes and jams to an appreciative audience.

Her products have been recognised in the Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Awards for three years in a row!

Ann is keen to be as green as possible and now grows a lot of her own ingredients, composts all her peelings and sources the rest of her ingredients locally and seasonally as much as she can.

I was so pleased when she agreed to write a guest post sharing one of her fantastic recipes with Kavey Eats readers.

Scroll to the bottom to win some of Ann’s goodies for yourself!

Over to Ann:


I am an award-winning artisan chutney and relish creator and sell my produce at local farmers’ markets and farm shops. This gives me the flexibility to use seasonal and local produce to its full potential. Luckily I’m well known in the village and it’s not unusual to return home to find bags sitting on the doorstep bursting with apples, plums and pears, all of which are turned into chutneys and jellies.

sunshine in a jar

I just love using our native wild apples! From sunshiny crab apples to the tiny green ones, they are all rich in pectin at this time of year and set readily into sparkling clear jellies. This one is made in the traditional way, using some contemporary ingredients.

It’s getting a little late in the season for Crab apples, so I’ve mixed the few I managed to pick (asking the land owner’s permission first) with other native apples. The colour of the jelly may not be a vibrant pink, but the taste will be sublime!

wild apples

Before you start, ensure you have got enough jars, (I filled 12 x 110ml jars, using the quantity of apples below) lids and a large pan. Other useful, but not essential, equipment includes a jam thermometer, a funnel and a jelly straining bag, all available from good cook shops.

This is not a quick jelly to make – you’ll also need time and patience!

Simply Relish’ Wild Apple Jelly with Chillies and Lemongrass

Ingredients:
1.5 kilos mixed apples
White granulated sugar (more about that later!)
2 deseeded fat red chillies, minced – or more if you like it hot!
2 stalks of finely diced lemongrass; remove the outer leaves and discard. Use only the bottom third of the remaining stalk.

Method:

  • The pectin is richest in the skin and pips, so all you need to do is wash and roughly chop the apples, discarding any that are bruised or rotten. Pop them in a pan and cover them with about 1.2 litres of cold water; bring to the boil and let them simmer until they’re soft and pulpy. You can help them to break down by stirring with a wooden spoon. This stage takes up to 45 minutes.
  • Now comes the most traditional part – straining them. Great Grandma would probably have done this every autumn to maximise nature’s bounty. She would have used muslin, but you can use a straining bag or even a clean stocking! The liquid needs to drip slowly into a clean receptacle; don’t be tempted to help it along by squeezing, as you’ll get a cloudy jelly. Leave it overnight, if possible, or at least 6 hours.
  • Discard the dried out apple solids – you can compost these. You’ll be left with a rather dull, cloudy juice, but nature is an alchemist and, as long as you haven’t squeezed, prodded or poked the dripping apples, you can look forward to seeing the amazing change that will (trust me!) occur.

apple juice

  • There are a few things to do before you start the next stage. If you don’t have a jam thermometer, pop a saucer or small dish in your freezer – this will help you determine when your jelly has reached setting point. You’ll also need to wash, drain and sterilise your jars; leave them in a warm oven (approx 130 Celsius) for 20 minutes. Boil the lids in a small pan and drain thoroughly. You don’t want any water in the jars, once sealed.
  • Prepare your chillies and lemongrass now. I’m used to handling chillies, but you may want to wear gloves; remember to wash your hands well afterwards! If you prefer a hot jelly, add a bird’s eye chilli or two.
  • Remove the outer leaves from two stalks of lemon grass and finely dice the lower part. Put to one side.

chilli & lemongrass

  • On with the exciting bit! You need to measure the juice and calculate how much sugar you need to add.
  • I use this simple formula: to each 100ml of juice, add 80g of sugar if you want a tart jelly or 90g if you want a sweeter one. This batch yielded 965ml, so I added 870 grams of sugar.
  • Put the sugar and juice into a large pan – you can use the bottom part of a pressure cooker, if you have one. Bring it to the boil – the jelly will rise and, if the pan isn’t big enough, it will boil over, so you will need to keep an eye on it.
  • Using a slotted spoon, skim any scum from the mixture.
  • You’ll see the juice turn from cloudy to clear and its transformation is almost complete! Water now needs to be driven from the jelly; you’ll need that patience again! While it’s still on a ‘good rolling boil’, add the chillies and lemongrass, so they cook well. Keep checking it if you have a thermometer – it should reach 105 Celsius for a good set.
  • If you don’t have a jam thermometer, drop a small amount on the saucer you popped in the freezer earlier and leave it to cool a little. If it wrinkles when pushed, it’s reached its setting point. If not, keep boiling and repeat the procedure until it does.
  • When you’re satisfied that it’s set, leave it for a few minutes. This cooling should ensure an even distribution of ‘solids’. Using a funnel, ladle the jelly into jars, lid and place where it won’t be disturbed until it’s cooled and set. I love to put it on the windowsill, where the light can shine through.

ready for market

  • Once cold, label and put in a cool place.

It goes particularly well with poultry and pork, but I also love it in a Cheshire or Wensleydale cheese sandwich. It’ll keep quite happily, unopened, for a few months. Of course, I should tell you to keep it in the fridge, once opened, but this is a traditionally made jelly – and Great Grandma didn’t have a fridge!

The jars make lovely presents, too – if you can bear to part with them! This little lot are off to market!


Doesn’t that look absolutely delicious? Thank you, Ann, for sharing your recipe and tips!

To win a jar of Ann’s Simply Relish Sizzling Sweet Chilli Sauce and one of her Simply Relish Hot Sweet and Sour Sauce, please leave a comment about what you might serve with either one, before 15th November midnight GMT. Open to UK residents only. Please leave your email contact in your comment. A winner will be drawn using a random number generator.

 

PeteDrinks-6277

Name: Batemans Summer Swallow

ABV: 4.2%

Bottled/ Draft: Bottled, not conditioned

Price: £1.29 from Aldi

Colour: Classic amber beer

Head: Big bubbles, *very* short lived

Mouthfeel: Once the fizziness has bubbled off, pleasant.

Taste: Surprisingly deep maltiness for the colour; positively sweet tasting. Light, well balanced hops.

Comment: “One Swallow does make a summer” says the bottle, clearly positioning itself as a summer ale; it’s a light, easy drinking ale with a nice sweet kick to it.

The big, rather enthusiastic bubbles very rapidly faded, leaving the beer with an almost draft-like flatness – no bad thing but it did leave the beer looking more like a soft drink when initially poured into the glass. That aside, however, there’s little to fault this very pleasant, refreshing summer ale. Given the excellent price, it’s a hard beer to resist.

PeteDrinks-6278

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