July Recipes

HASSELBACK AUBERGINE PARMIGIANA – Serves 4

1 large onion, chopped
5 tbsps. olive oil
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsps. tomato puree
500mls. tomato passata
400g. tin chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 tsps. dried oregano
1 tsp. caster sugar
large pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
2 large aubergines
50g. grated Parmesan
1 mozzarella ball
30g. dried breadcrumbs
small handful fresh basil

  1. Heat the oven to 200C fan / gas mark 7.  In a large frying pan heat 1 tbsp. of the oil and fry the onion for 5 minutes.  Add garlic fry for one more minute.  Then add the tomato puree and fry for a further minute.
  2. Pour in the passata, chopped tomatoes, 2 tsps. dried oregano, the caster sugar and chilli if using.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until slightly reduced.  Pour the sauce into your baking dish.
  3. Take the aubergines and make widthways cuts at 1cm. intervals, three quarters of the way through, so the slices are still attached at the bottom.  Drizzle with 3 tbsps. olive oil, getting into the cuts.  Spoon a little tomato sauce into the cuts, along with 30g. grated Parmesan.  Arrange the aubergines in the baking dish on top of the sauce and bake for 30 minutes or until the aubergines are slightly charred.
  4. Cut the mozzarella ball into 6 – 8 pieces then dot over the aubergines.  In a small bowl mix the dried breadcrumbs with 20g. grated Parmesan, 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. dried oregano.  Sprinkle over the aubergines and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese is golden and the aubergines are tender.  Top with fresh basil and serve with crusty bread and a green salad.  

 

BEETROOT SALAD = Serves 4

2 medium beetroot
dash olive oil
20g. blanched almonds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 red eating apple cut into 2cm cubes
1 green eating apple cut into 2cm. cubes
1/2 small red onion sliced
handful fresh herbs
salt and pepper

Dressing:

150g. plain yogurt
1 lime, zest and juice
2 tsps. runny honey

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
  2. Line a baking tray with kitchen foil and place the beetroot in the middle.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.  Wrap the foil around the beetroots, seal and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place a small frying pan over a low heat and toast the nuts and cumin seeds for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Peel and cut the beetroot into 2cm. cubes and place in a large, glass bow.  Stir in the apple, nuts, seeds and herbs.
  5. To make the dressing mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  Just before serving dress the salad and mix well. 

TIPS

The best Mozzarella is buffalo mozzarella.  You could use Parmigiano Reggiano rather than Parmesan, or even a strong Cheddar if you wished.

Do not prepare the beetroot salad too much in advance as the apple will discolour.  If preparing it slightly in advance toss the apple in lemon juice which will stop them going brown.

When toasting the nuts and seeds do be careful as they burn very easily.  Do not have your heat too high.

Hereford Times Food and Farming Awards

Congratulations to award winning local food producers

Several local to Ledbury producers have won awards at this year’s Hereford Times Food and Farming Awards 2021.

.Just Rachel, now based at the Hop Pocket, won the award for Best Dairy Producer for their scrummy ice creams. 

Pixley Berries, from Pixley, won the award for Best Drinks Producer for their wonderful fruit juices and cordials.

David Powell of Awnell’s Farm, Much Marcle was presented with a special Outstanding Achievement award as well as Cattle Farmer of the Year. Mr Powell is renowned for his herd of Herefordshire cattle.

Cattle at Awnell’s Farm
Cattle at Awnell’s Farm

Details of all the winners across the county can be found at https://www.herefordtimes.com/news/19382855.revealed-winners-hereford-times-food-farming-awards-2021/

Well done to all!

June Recipes – Spring Pea Dip and Strawberry Cake

SPRING PEA DIP

250g. frozen peas or petit pois
a large knob of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 x 100g. bag watercress, spinach and rocket
25g. hard cheese finely grated
1 tbsps. chopped mint leaves
2 tbsps. olive oil
Extra mint leaves and cheese shavings to decorate

This can be made up to 2 days ahead and chilled.  Remove from the fridge 2 hours before serving.  It can also be frozen but leave out the mint.  Defrost and allow to come to room temperature before adding the mint, finely chopped.

Put the peas in a large bowl and cover with just boiled water.  Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then drain in a sieve, and run under cold water.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot and cook gently for 5minutes, stir in the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the salad leaves plus 1 tbsp. water and cover with a lid.  Cook gently for 2 – 3 minutes until wilted.  Stir in the peas and remove from the heat.

Transfer to a food processor with the grated cheese, mint and olive oil.  Whizz briefly to a chunky puree.  Season, transfer to a serving bowl and decorate with cheese shavings and mint leaves.  Serve with bread, toasted or otherwise. 

FRESH STRAWBERRY CAKE

250g. plain flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
85g. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
225g. caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp.vanilla extract
120mls. milk
About 340g. strawberries (see below), hulled and halved (but quarter if large)

Preheat the oven to 180.  You will cook the cake for 10 minutes at this temperature and then reduce to 165 for about 35 minutes.

Butter a 9 inch deep dish or a 9 inch square cake tin.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl beat the butter and all the sugar apart from 2 tbsps. until pale and fluffy, about 3minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again until well combined.  Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and beat on low speed until smooth.  It will be like a thick batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared dish / tin and smooth with a spatula.  Arrange the strawberries on top, cut side down, so that they completely cover the batter (use more or less if necessary).  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsps. sugar.

Bake until the cake is lightly golden and a tester comes out clean.  It can take up to another 35 – 50 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the dish / tin and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  The cake can be stored loosely covered for several days at room temperature.

NOTES

I thought the dip would be nice to serve with drinks in the garden, always providing the weather holds and felt a strawberry recipe was called for at this time of year.  The chef baked his cake in an earthenware dish.  I would serve it directly from the dish.  If you use a tin instead I would line it.  I am a great one for lining tins, even when the instructions do not tell you to.  It just makes life so much easier.

Local Food Updates – Thursday 20th May

Please continue to support our local food producers and food retailers – safely!

Welcome back indoor eating…

There’s good news for all of you who have shivered while eating outdoors since 12th April– cafes, pubs, restaurants and hotels can now feed you inside!

So now you can go out and enjoy a hearty Ledbury breakfast, a tasty lunch, tea and super local baking or a sumptuous dinner indoors without freezing to death.

We have updated information on eating places to reflect what is happening now – please support them if you are able to do so.

Remember places are operating at restricted capacity to comply with social distancing needs – you may need to book.

Most are also providing take away service – for those in a rush or looking for answers for a picnic (as the weather allows).

Don’t forget our markets – Ledbury Charter Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays and Ledbury Country Market on Friday mornings.

Details of local businesses who provide delivery, order and collect or takeaway services have been updated.

You will find all the latest on our Food Information Page >>

Please let us know of any services we have missed so that we can include them in our next update – phone 01531 633637

May Recipe – Spring Veg Spelt Pizza

Serves 2 – 4

For the dough:

250g. wholemeal or white spelt flour
1 tsp. dried active yeast (I used easy blend)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl

For the beetroot chutney:

1 x 250g. pack cooked beetroot in natural juices, drained
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 small red apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped (I actually didn’t peel mine)
75mls. red wine vinegar
100g. light brown soft sugar
1 tbsp. thyme leaves

For the topping:

125g. ricotta (I would actually use more of the 250g. tub)
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 tbsps. finely grated Parmesan
6 tbsps. olive oil
6 stalks broccoli (cut in half if large)
50g. frozen peas
a handful of rocket, plus extra to serve
2 tbsps. toasted pine nuts

For the dough, mix the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl.  Dissolve the honey in 125mls. warm water and add to the bowl with the olive oil.  Mix to make a rough dough, tip on to a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth.  Transfer to a clean, oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm.  Leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.  I use my airing cupboard for dough rising.

For the chutney, reserve a small beat for the topping, chop the rest into 5mm. dice and put in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients.  Simmer uncovered for 35 minutes, stirring often, until the beets break down a little and the chutney is sticky.  Transfer to a bowl or sterilised jar.  The leftovers will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

Preheat the oven to 240, fan 220, gas mark 9.  Mix the ricotta, garlic, 3 tbsps. of the Parmesan, 1 tbsp. olive oil and some crushed black pepper.  Finely slice the reserved beetroot.  Knock the dough back, turn out on to a lightly floured surface, cut in half and roll each piece to make a thin base about 18cm. x 30cm.  Transfer to separate floured baking sheets and spread half the ricotta mixture over each base, leaving a 1cm. border.

Boil the broccoli for 2 – 3 minutes and pat dry on kitchen paper.  Top each pizza with the broccoli and sliced beetroot, then add dollops of beetroot chutney and scatter over the rest of the Parmesan, drizzle with 1/2 tbsps. olive oil and cook for 15 minutes until the base is crisp.

Meanwhile, add the peas to a pan of boiling water and cook for 2 – 3 minute until tender.  Put the rocket, peas, pine nuts and 4 tbsps. olive oil in a blender and blend until finely chopped.  Drizzle over the pizzas and scatter with a handful of rocket.

TIPS

  1. I made this last night and it was very nice but quite a lot of work.  You could easily use ready made beetroot chutney, or some other form of chutney (e.g. caramelised onion) instead of making your own.   
  2. The pea mixture which is added at the end is just like pesto so, again, instead of making your own, you could use a jar of ready made pesto and thus save time and trouble.
  3. You could obviously use frozen broccoli if you don’t have any fresh to hand.  This would stretch to feed 4 if you accompanied it with garlic bread and a salad.  If you are not a vegetarian you can, of course, use some meat on the topping.  I leave that up to you.
  4. It was a nice dough to handle, kneaded well but I did add slightly more water than the recipe said, not too much!  Spelt flour is considered to be easier to digest and I use it a lot.

Let’s encourage more visitors to Ledbury

Many visitors who come to Ledbury have no idea what to expect and don’t stay long.  We want to encourage them to stay, spend, enjoy and tell others, and we want to attract people who have never thought of visiting Ledbury.

 

We can now tell visitors of all the attractions of Ledbury and Herefordshire on the newly relaunched “Visit Herefordshire” website.

You can see the Ledbury entries at https://www.visitherefordshire.co.uk/see-do/city-towns/ledbury, or just type “visit Ledbury”.

It’s a bit empty at the moment.   Ledbury Town Council is encouraging local businesses and attractions serving visitors to get their business listed so that visitors can see the full range of what Ledbury has to offer.

It’s going to be a busy year for our local tourist economy (we hope) – we want to get lots of Ledbury and district tourist serving businesses on the website as soon as possible.

For those of us who don’t run businesses, “Visit Herefordshire” gives us a new way to explore where to visit, shop or eat locally – perhaps when we have visitors to entertain – or we just want to do something different.

Businesses of all kinds that serve tourists in our county can list their details for free.   Get started at https://directory.visitherefordshire.co.uk/.  You can set up a directory listing on the website to market your business (or several businesses).  Choose the categories that best describe your business, provide a description, and add photos and links to social media.  It’s straightforward to do.

You can help if you know of a local business that serves visitors, encourage them to get a listing on the “Visit Herefordshire” website.

 

A Last Gift from Pascal

Pascal with breakfast breads at Chez Pascal 2018

Pascal Clarenne of Chez Pascal fame sadly passed away on Wednesday 7th April.

Many will remember the joy of tucking into one of Pascal’s special pastries, breakfasts or lunches. 

For all of us Pascal has left an unusual gift.

In the latter days of his illness, Pascal was supported by St Michael’s Hospice with whose help Pascal has left us one last recipe – for Raspberry Tart.  Pascal creates the tart in his room at St Michael’s on a video available at https://www.st-michaels-hospice.org.uk/video/pascals-raspberry-tart/

This is probably one of the most inspiring cookery films you will ever see.

We remember Pascal for his support with Janie of the Ledbury Big Breakfast – when the enclosed photo was taken, for steamed up windows in winter, for Ledbury’s little bit of France, for the French onion soup, for pleasing both Ledburians and visitors.

Our condolences go to Janie and the Clarenne family.

If the video delights or moves you please donate to St Michael’s Hospice who made Pascal’s wish possible!