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To reach Stockley Farm you must go down winding country lanes that seem to lead you nowhere. This added to the mystery of the night – we knew when and where to turn up and that the the dinner would be seasonal, local and mostly organic. Otherwise, we we in the dark.
Dinner was held in a field in a large yurt with a smaller yurt attached at the entrance, it’s outside draped with bunting and inside haybales, piles of cushions, pots of summer flowers and boxes of Riverford veg.
Inside the main yurt there were large ash tables with benches and chairs. In the centre of the yurt was a large wood-burning stove gently heating the room.
We took a cushion to sit on and took our seats at our table, said hello to our fellow diners and supped on our drinks (organic larger for Mr Rigg and a Luscombe Scilian lemonade for me).
And so dinner began.
Starters were platters of homemade dips (one of beetroot, another of courgette, a baba ganoush and a hummous), bowls of crisp vegetables (including khol rabi and purple cauliflower!) and a basket of bread.
The main course was all served at the table ‘family’ style – large platters to pass and share. There was…
- slow-roast lamb and perfectly pink leg of lamb served with Puy lentils
- butternut squash and pecan tart for the veggies
- hispi (pointed) cabbage with runner beans
- broccoli with lemon and chilli
- carrots braised in honey and flecked with cumin seeds
- and a salad of watercress, fennel, orange and olives.
Dessert was also served at the table to dig into yourselves – there was…
- a generous bowl of blueberry and custard Eton Mess
- delicate slithers of pear and almond tart
- and dense chunks of chocolate and walnut brownie (possibly the best brownie ever – moist and cakey, dense and fudgy, deep with dark chocolate with only a hint of sweetness, and an earthiness from the nuts.
I haven’t gone into detail on the tastes and flavours of each item, because truly everything was stunning. Most of the dishes are in the Riverford Farm Cookbook (which I own and adore) but last night we both tried dishes I would normally overlook.
For example, I (usually) deteste the idea of fruit in a salad – so one that combined orange and olives just didn’t appeal to me and so I wouldn’t try making it at home.
But with the dish there for you to have as little or as much as you wish, you think ‘oh well, why not!’ and so I tried it … and I enjoyed it. Oranges and olives do go together in this delicious salad.
Our table was a mixture of young and old: a married couple with children who are Riverford customers, a family spanning the generations, and a younger couple like ourselves who’d booked the night as an anniversary treat.
The staff were friendly and polite, the food was fantastic, and the atmosphere in the yurt was happy, relaxed, and full of chatter.
If only eating out was always this pleasurable.
Sorry – no food pictures, was having too much fun and it was too dark!
Earlier in January was my mommy’s birthday. N and I packed our car and headed down for the weekend to celebrate her birthday with her and my family.
While my dad took her off to London for the day the little sister and me got to work preparing a delicious birthday banquet for dinner. For the main course we decided to do a selection of mezze style dishes with some middle eastern flavours.
There was a crushed carrot and goat’s cheese salad (similar to this one) but prepared everso slightly differently.
Toss a bunch of washed carrots that have been cut into lengths in some olive oil and bung in a pre-heated oven at 180°C – roast for about 40-50 minutes until soft and golden.
Allow them to cool slightly then mash. Stir through a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin and season lightly. Spread the crushed carrots over a plate, crumble over some goat’s cheese, and sprinkle with finely sliced mint.
Taken and slightly adapted from the Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter – one of my favourite recipe books especially for lovely veggie dishes.
An earthy roasted beetroot, red onion, lentil and feta salad.
In a bowl mix 2 tbsp soft brown sugar and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar. Add to this 1 medium red onion that has been finely sliced. Leave the onion to ‘pickle’ in the vinegar mixture for about an hour.
Roast about 500g beetroot that have been scrubbed and trimmed in 5mm of water covered in foil at 200°C for about 45 minutes or until tender.
Cook the Puy lentils and allow to cool until just warm: Place 100g Puy lentils in a pan with 2 peeled garlic cloves and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, turn turn and simmer for about 30 minutes until tender – top up the water if necessary. Drain.
In a bowl mix together the lentils, onion mixture and any remaining liquid, and season with salt and pepper. Peel the beetroot, cut into wedges and mix into the lentils. Stir through some chopped mint and crumble over some feta cheese.
Another delicious recipe from the Riverford Farm Cook Book by Guy Watson & Jane Baxter.
A coriander and mint hummous (inspired by A Year in My Kitchen by Skye Gyngell).
I wanted to try a different take on hummous, so used Sky Gyngell’s recipe for chickpea purée to inspire me. I can’t remember the exact amounts of ingredients as it was ‘taste and see’. Into a blender tip a can of drained chickpeas, 2 garlic cloves, some fresh red chilli (seeds removed), a good bunch of coriander and another of mint, lemon juice (add more to taste), a tablespoon or two of Greek yoghurt, a sprinkle of ground cumin and coriander, salt and pepper, and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Blend it all up into a rough purée. Keep tasting and adjusting the flavours until it’s how you like. I made it quite lemony, much to the horror of the little sister, but I promised her by dinner time the flavours would mellow and she would love it – they did and she loved it.
A platter of pan-fried ‘hint of spice’ chicken.
Take some chicken thighs on the bone. Place in a dish with a squeeze of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Mix the chicken thighs in the flavours well and pop in the fridge for an hour or so. When you’re ready to eat, pan-fry the chicken until cooked through.
And a bowl of mixed olives – some with Moroccan flavoured and the others were called ‘Mojito Olives’ – spiked with lime and mint.