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Christmas Eve lunch – a simple winter salad of warm potatoes, crispy bacon, chopped celery leaves and a dressing of mustard, cider vinegar and shallots.
This was my first attempt at this delicious sounding salad from Rose Prince’s The New English Table – I tried to follow the amounts for the dressing, but it wasn’t quite how I wanted it, so I just tweaked the ingredients until I was happy.
Winter potato, bacon and celery leaf salad
20 new potatoes
6 rashers of streaky bacon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
175ml olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
Handful of celery leaves
Salt and pepper
Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until done. Drain and cut in half or quarters.
Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crispy.
Mix together the sugar, mustard, olive oil and water – I like to use a jam jar as you can screw on the lid and shake it. Add the shallots, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Pop the cooked potatoes into a bowl. Tear up (or cut up) the crispy bacon and add to the potatoes. Drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle over chopped celery leaves. Stir everything together.
This past weekend we went to Bath for a weekend away with friends. On Saturday morning whilst I was waiting for Mr Rigg to arrive by train, I ventured in to the Bath Farmer’s Market – and what treats awaited me!
Incredible veggies – like these pink stripey beetroot and mixed carrots. I bought a bunch of each.
Wonderful cured meats and sausages – bottom right is pancetta and Coppa, both of which found their way into my shopping bag, along with some Italian pinwheel sausages (back top left).
Mushrooms of all kinds – I bought a box of those teeny tiny ‘Paris Browns’.
Cheeses of all kinds, including the award winning Bath Soft Cheese – somewhere between a Brie and a Camembert.
This is the lovely oil man, selling rapeseed oil made from his farm’s crops, and also making a selection of delicious dressings. I usually make all my own salad dressings, but I couldn’t resist a bottle of his creamy Quince and Cider dressing.
The quince lady…well that’s not her real name (a bit more on her soon) selling a selection of beautiful homemade quince products. Syrups, jellies, sweets and quince paste.
The choice of vegetables available at the farmer’s markets is outstanding. All farmers markets around the country should have this kind of choice. Everyone around the country should have access to vegetables like these. Dark bunches of cavolo nero and pumpkins of all sizes and colours.
The aforementioned flowerpot bread – cheese and herb I think, baked in a terracotta flowerpot to give it that unusual shape. Also deliciously tasty!
If you ever thought winter vegetables could be boring, here’s a picture to change your mind – amber pumpkins, pinky-purple onions, muddy carrots, fat beetroot, stalks of sprouts, bundles of spinach, dark curly kale, crisp stalks of celery, fresh broccoli, and the wrinkly savoy cabbage or those tinged violet.
And this stall selling their own cheeses, and various cheese products and accompaniments – chutney, cheesecake, soft cheese, and curd tarts. I bought some of their ewes cheese which was incredibly delicious.
So following on from yesterday’s post about my much shortened trip to London, I went to the National Trust Fine Farm Produce Awards on Thursday evening. The awards are given to National Trust farms, orchards or gardens who produce products of the very highest standards – environmental, welfare, and taste.
There were incredible displays of the winning produce and products – cider and apple juice from Barrington Court Estate, golden beetroot from Wimpole Walled Garden, late season honey from Lyveden New Bield, golden hot chilli sauce from Gringley Gringo…
We sipped delicious drinks all of which were made from the awards winning products – Apple Bellini’s, incredible apple cocktails some with mint some with cinnamon, cider, ale and beer. The Apple Bellini (exquisite fresh apple juice with champagne) is one for my wedding drinks list next year I think!
We ate delicious canapes til we could eat no longer – tiny beef pies, mini hamburgers, spoonfuls of golden beetroot and garlic risotto, bite-sized tarts with blue cheese and chutney, rice pudding with honey, and miniature scones with cream and rhubarb jam.
The producers were recognised with a short film and speech from the National Trust and judges, and this year’s Overall Winner – rhubarb jam from Brockhampton Estate – was awarded their prize.
I watched Richard McGeown (the Executive Head Chef from Couch’s in Polperro, Cornwall) give a demonstration on how to cook the perfect steak. He had been giving cooking demonstrations throughout the evening, and as I watched I snacked on my first ever piece of hogget lamb.
Tips I picked up on how to cook the perfect steak?
- Make sure the pan is really hot (if you have asbestos fingers like Richard test it with your fingers…!!).
- Only add a tiny drop of oil to the pan before adding your steak.
- Season with salt but not black pepper at this point – it will burn and taste bitter.
- Cook for about 15-20 seconds on each side to seal.
- Season with black pepper then finish off in a hot oven (220°C) for about 6 1/2 minutes if you like it rare, 7 minutes for medium rare.
The evening was finished off with more networking and nibbling on delicious canapes, before heading off with a goodie bag…
…included was a bag of flour from Clyston Mill, a small bottle of the incredibly fiery Gringley Gringo gold hot chilli sauce, some of the new National Trust ‘Lancashire lemon curd’ biscuits, apple chutney from the Killerton Estate, and a treasured jar of the award winning rhubarb jam.
Friday morning breakfast: a soft chewy slice of Kaiserbrot from Barbakan, spread with goat’s butter and Brockhampton Estate rhubarb jam. Yum.
As I mentioned previously last weekend we headed down south to Hereford for a friend’s wedding. On our journey home we decided to take a leisurely trip stopping off at food place along the way. We didn’t really have a plan, just to see what we found.
The first place we came across we whizzed past, which is funny because it’s such a huge blot on the landscape it’s hard to miss! In the midst of countryside as you head out of Hereford you come across a HUGE ‘barn’, if it can be called that, which reads ‘Oakchurch – farm shop’.
We entered this building with some apprehension and were greeted by what I would describe a confused food-cum-home-cum-DIY-mega….something-or-other! It’s identity to me was unclear, it was utterly bewildering. Imagine a farm shop supermarket and that’s part of the way there.
There was a huge meat section, cheeses and produce – all local the labels told us; there were wines, beers and a selection of local cider and perry; there was a whole section dedicated to homewares (china plates and mugs, jam jars, bread boards, baskets, and every baking item under the sun).
We came away with a small bottle of local perry and a couple of packets of greaseproof bags (ideal for wrapping up edible Christmas goodies). After visiting a friend of mine we crossed the River Wyre at a toll where the lady collecting money looked like she should have sold us some eggs and home produced honey as well as our crossing!
From there we travelled via Eardisley and pulled in at the last minute to a natural cider and perry producer called The Orgasmic Cider Company – who couldn’t resist but stop at somewhere with a name like that?! A friendly man told us about their different types of cider’s and perry’s and we tried some before buying a bottle to take home.
Our next foodie stop was Monkland Cheese Dairy - here we found a small shop and cafe selling homemade cheese, and a selection of preserves, chutney, bread and other local goodies. We tried some of their different cheese and settled on their Oak Smoked for Mr Rigg and their Garlic & Chive for me.
The last place we visited was the Ludlow Food Centre, the one place I had planned to visit in advance. The food centre is a large red brick and black timber clad new build that is light and airy inside. It was bustling with people and on entering we were greeted by buckets of gorgeous locally grown bouquets, and local fruits including Victoria plums.
There was lots of local produce to choose from with pumpkins and squashes, purple beans, and sweetcorn. There were modest meat, cheese and deli counters. There were some delicious looking breads (even bread shaped like a tiny teddy bear!) and all the normal store cupboard items.
We bought some sourdough bread sprinkled with poppy seeds, sweetcorn, Victoria plums, a bunch of local flowers, the first of the Hereford apples, two types of sausage and streaky bacon (at least that’s all I can remember!).
For lunch we ate in their Conservatory Barn Cafe – cheese and chutney sandwiches and a sausage roll for Mr Rigg, and for me roasted red pepper soup. It was nice if slightly uninspiring food, but it tasted good. I was very tempted by their ‘award winning’ Victoria sponge cake, but I resisted knowing that we had a tupperware of homemade chocolate cake in the car.