The Ledbury Big Breakfast is coming…just not yet

We look forward to our annual breakfast treat – the Big Breakfast – but this year we will have to look forward for a bit longer.

Ledbury Food Group have postponed this year’s event from the end of January to Friday to Sunday, 11th to 13th March.

We have taken this decision because of the high number of Covid cases locally.  We want people to be confident to go out for a special breakfast, and for our venues to be confident that customers will turn out for this special event.

Hopefully this postponement will allow things to settle down.

All the venues are looking forward to serving you this year.

We have five places new to the event lined up – Pot and Page, The Corner Café, The Sunrise Café, The Ledberry and Janey’s – all in central Ledbury.

These join favourites The Feathers, The Talbot, The Malt House Gallery, The Market House Café, The Organic Café and the Seven Stars in Ledbury.  Outside town The Nest, Trumpet Corner and The Scrumpy House Restaurant (at Westons) will be joining the occasion.

For those who would like to cook their own, Wallers and Gurneys butchers, Handley Organics and Ceci Paolo plus our greengrocers and the weekly Country Market will all have local produce for you to create a special taste of Ledbury.

Provided things improve, full details of this year’s event will be available in late February.

In the meantime please continue to support our local food retailers and eateries as you are able in this quiet time of the year.

January 2022 Recipes

CHICKEN AND BACON PUCHERO – Serves 4

1 tbsp. oil plus a little extra
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into bite size chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
200g. baby potatoes, halved or quartered
2 onions, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
700g. skinless and boneless chicken thigs cut into bite size pieces
200g. back bacon rashers, visible fat removed and sliced
900mls. boiling chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. mild or medium curry powder
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
400g. can chickpeas, drained
200g. green cabbage leaves, roughly chopped

  1. In a lidded non stick pan heat 1 tbsp. oil.  Add the pepper, carrots and potatoes and fry for 6 – 8 minutes, until lightly browned.  Transfer to a plate.
  1. Add a little more oil and the onions, chilli and garlic and stir fry for 6 – 8 minutes until softened.  Add the chicken and bacon, season to taste and stir fry for 10 – 15 minutes.
  1. Pour in the stock and add the bay leaves, curry powder and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 12 – 15 minutes, then add the tomatoes, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  1. Stir in the pepper, carrots and potatoes, chickpeas and cabbage.  Cover and cook for 10 – 12 minutes or until the cabbage has wilted and the other vegetables are tender.  Serve hot in bowls with rice if you prefer.

TIPS

This is a Spanish slow-cooked stew (the name means stewpot) and it can be found with different ingredients and spices throughout the Spanish speaking world.  This is a version from the Philippines and the curry replaces smoked paprika.

There is quite a lot of liquid with this dish. When I made it I did not bother with rice as I didn’t think it needed it. 

SPICED BEETROOT AND CARROT CURRY – Serves 4

1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tsps. cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
400g. beetroot, peeled and cut into batons
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into batons
2 carrots, peeled and cut into batons
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
600mls. boiling vegetable stock
100mls. reduced fat coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
chopped fresh coriander to serve

  1. In a wide non stick frying pan heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop, add the onion, garlic and chillies and stir fry for 3 – 4 minutes or until the onion has started to soften.
  2. Add the curry powder, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, beetroot, potatoes and carrots and stir fry for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and stock and season to taste.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and let the curry bubble nicely for another 5 – 6 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice and check the seasoning.  Scatter over the coriander and serve hot with rice.

TIPS

  1. This dish too has quite a bit of liquid.  You could try reducing the amount of stock used in both recipes by at least 100 mls.
  2. Do wear thin rubber gloves when chopping the chillies and beetroot, or make sure you do not touch your eyes, or any part of your face after touching the chillies.
  3. Both these recipes come from a Slimming World book so are good if you have over indulged at Christmas.  You could always use full fat coconut milk if you are not worried about calories.  Give the tin a good shake before using.  Handley Organics do a very good range of spices upstairs.
  4. Any leftover coconut milk can be used when making a rice pudding or cooking rice.

Happy New Year,

Christmas wishes, Events in 2022 and a way to help

We hope that, despite everything, you have a pleasant Christmas and enjoy better prospects in 2022.

We are hoping to hold the following events inn 2022 – circumstances permitting:-

The Ledbury Big Breakfast 2022

At the end of January 2021 we had to hold a virtual Big Breakfast because of restrictions then ruling. 

This year preparations are underway for a real Big Breakfast 2022 over the weekend Friday 28th, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th January.   Now postponed to 11th to 13th March.

All local food venues in the “breakfast industry” in Ledbury and district are keen to be part of this and are looking forward to serving you with a special breakfast or with local breakfast products for you to take to eat at home.

We are very conscious of the unknowns of the latest Covid variant and will be reviewing the feasibility and general safety of holding the event as planned, as things may change.  It may be possible to postpone or hold another virtual breakfast if we can’t go ahead as planned. 

The Ledbury Celebration 2022

We are pleased to announce that we are also preparing for Ledbury’s celebration of local food and drink, poetry, music and heritage – the Ledbury Celebration – on Sunday 10 July.

The event will give local food producers the opportunity to tempt you with their wares.  It follows the tradition of celebrating local food and drink on the last day of the Ledbury Poetry Festival.

 We plan to hold the event again in St Katherine’s next to the historic Master’s House – a background for music and poetry to enrich the event.

Again our concern is that it will be safe to hold this popular open air event in July.

Let’s hope!

And finally…

Have you applied for the Herefordshire Shop Local Card loaded with £15 to spend in local businesses?  You can apply for this at https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/business-1/shop-local.

With this someone has suggested you can bring double benefits – here’s how:

  1. Use the card to buy locally produced food or drink in a local shop – helping the local economy.
  2. Donate the equivalent that you spend to Ledbury Food Bank – find out how at  https://www.ledburyfoodbank.org/index.html#help

It’s a thought? Share it around

Diversify Your Grains: Throw in Some Beans

Local Writer Liz Pearson Mann issues the following challenge

Photo credit:  Wesual Click on Unsplash

The nights are drawing in, temperatures are dropping, and our thoughts may turn to thickened winter stews, filling puddings and toast and butter. Now is a good time to think about your grains, peas or beans of choice. Diversify your grains (and your pulses). Look into where they came from and how they were grown too. As a result, collectively, we may do much to improve food security, local farming economy, soils, and the life of animals.

This is good news – hunker down for winter!

If you live in or around Ledbury, you live in a landscape of stiff, relatively fertile clay that has always produced good wheat. At least, it has in abundance since the ploughman of old sliced through clay with a newly-efficient mouldboard plough. Casting that clay sideways, he ploughed a straight furrow, producing the medieval ridge and furrow still visible in the landscape today.

Diversify Your Grains

Wheat takes more nutrients out of the soil, and is more fussy about inclement weather than other grains. No wonder that we find rye was more common on loose, loamy, poorer but well-drained soils to the west, along the English/Welsh Marches. There was an oaty flavour to those hills too, as oat wins out over wheat on cold, damp soils. Diverse crops have always helped with security against crop failures, and against exhausting soils. Local crops for local soils. This is what we need to return to, and we as individuals can help.

Beneficial Beans and Peas

Throw in some beans and peas into the pot too, for they have long been in the mix, with fallow periods and manure of animals for keeping up soil fertility. This is thrifty food, and food from outside your front door can help with food security for us all. Soak your grains, peas and beans – make bread, pottages and puddings.

Go Local

We all like some pasta, rice and chickpeas. But if you can source temperate climate-friendly and locally-grown supplies, all to the good. Often, where we find these, they’re not grown for the global commodity market. They’re more likely to have been grown on a smaller scale, with minimal, or no, agricultural chemicals. Animals fare better where soils are fed with manure and are full of microbial, fungal and insect life. Hedgerows and meadows are their home too.

For wheat, you may want to start with spelt wheat from Toad’s Mill near Bromyard. Spelt is an ancient wheat, known from prehistoric times, though most often thought of as a Roman wheat. Standing shoulder-high (not knee high like modern wheats), it shades out some of the weeds, leaving the farmer less dependent on herbicides, and provides more shelter for small animals too.

Try working windmills, or watermills, in and around the region. Some of them, like Charlecote Mill in Warwickshire and Shipton Mill in Gloucestershire sell their own flour.

For British-grown flour, grains and pulses pop into Handley Organics (Shipton, Bacheldre and Sharpham flours plus grains and pulses), or Ceci Paolo (Wessex Mill flours) on Ledbury High Street.  Or try newly opened Seed and Source at 6 New Street, Ledbury (Shipton Mill flour and an increasing range beans, grains and pulses) – take your own containers for purchases!  For those who shop from home try Bakery Bits online. In all these places you can find supplies produced with time-honoured cultivation and milling ways.

Recipes

For thrifty fare in days gone by, vegetables, grains and pulses (together or separately) were always on the stove. If you’d like a Tudor thick pea pottage, Angela Hursch from Bite From the Past translates a Tudor recipe into an easily-used modern format. The Tudor version starts “To boyle yong Peason or Beanes, first shale and seethe them….‘.

The Shakespeare Trust presents us with pea porridge with onions. And, if you want to experiment with rye, Roggenbraut (a traditional sweet and heavy rye bread) may be up your street.

Diversify and relocalise with your grains and pulses. There are, though, only so many crops we can ever raise from the ground without livestock in the mix. A further blog on “Nose to tail eating” is coming up soon.

Liz Pearson Mann is a writer, archaeologist, crafter and grower. She writes about being rooted in landscape, traditional culture and evergreen skills. She is author of Eat Like Your Ancestors (From the Ground Beneath Your Feet): A Sustainable Food Journey Around the English West Midlands available at Ledbury Books and Maps.

December Recipes

STOLLEN TRAYBAKE

stollen traybakeMakes 24 squares

175g. golden marzipan
125g. mixed dried fruit
275g. self raising flour
225g. soft unsalted butter
125g. caster sugar
100g. light brown sugar
zest of 1 orange, plus 1 tbsp. juice
75g. ground almonds
2 tsps. baking powder
seeds from 8 cardamom pods, ground
1 1/2 tsps. gd. mixed spice
1/2 tsp. gd. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
5 large eggs
30g. flaked almonds
icing sugar to dust

  1. Chop the marzipan into small dice then spread out on a plate and put in the freezer to chill – this stops it melting in the oven when baked.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4.  Grease a 20 x 30cm. traybake tin and line with baking parchment.
  3. Toss the mixed fruit in 1 tbsp. of the flour and set it aside.  This helps to prevent the fruit sinking through the cake batter.
  4. Place the remaining ingredients, except for the flakes and icing sugar, in a large bowl.  Beat for 2 – 3 minutes until combined.
  5. Add the cold diced marzipan to the bowl of mixed dried fruit and toss to combine before folding it all into the cake mixture.  Spoon into the prepared tin, level it out and scatter with the flaked almonds.  
  6. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch.  Leave to cool completely in the tin.  Carefully remove, dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.  

CHEESE AND PARSNIP ROULADE

For the roulade:

40g. butter
25g. plain flour
275mls. cold milk
110g. Sage Derby cheese, grated or alternative cheese
49g. hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
3 large eggs, separated
salt and pepper

For the stuffing:

225g. onions, chopped
40g. butter
3 level tsps. dried sage
1 tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
75g. white breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

For the filling:

350g. parsnips (prepared weight)
25g. butter
2 tbsps. double cream
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

You will need a Swiss roll tin 32 x 23 cm. lined with baking parchment

 

  1. First make the stuffing by melting the butter in a pan, adding the onions and cooking them for about 6 minutes or until transparent.  Add the herbs, breadcrumbs and seasoning, stir well to combine then sprinkle evenly over the silicone lined tin.
  2. Now for the roulade, place the butter, flour and milk in a saucepan and whisk together over a medium heat until thickened.  Season well and leave to cook over the gentlest possible heat for 3 minutes.  Draw the pan off the heat to cool slightly, add the egg yolks, whisking them really well in.  Add the grated Sage Derby, or alternative, and check seasoning.
  3. In a large bowl and with a spanking clean whisk beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Gently fold one spoonful into the mixture to loosen it then spoon a little at a time into cheese mixture.  Now spread the whole lot evenly over the stuffing mixture in the tin and bake on the top shelf for 20 – 25 minutes until it feels springy and firm in the centre.
  4. Meanwhile cook the parsnips in a steamer for 10 – 15 minutes until they are soft, then cream them together with the butter, double cream and seasoning.  A food processor is easiest for this.  Keep them warm.  Lay a sheet of baking parchment (slightly larger than the roulade) on a work surface and sprinkle the hazelnuts all over.
  5. Turn out the roulade on to the hazelnuts and carefully peel off the base paper.  Spread the creamed parsnip evenly over the sage and onion stuffing.  Roll up the roulade along the longest side, using the baking parchment to help you pull it into a round.  Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with a dusting of grated Parmesan.

TIPS

With the traybake you can chop and freeze the marzipan the night before to save time if necessary.

The roulade recipe is an old one of Delia Smith’s, hence the Sage Derby.  You can still sometimes buy this but it is not easy to get hold of.  You could try the cheese man in the Saturday market.  I think Cheddar would be a quite acceptable alternative but you could always seek advice from someone who knows about cheese.

The first time you make a roulade is quite daunting but it usually works well, give it a go!!

Ledbury’s 2021 Vintage goes on sale

From Sixteen Ridges’ vineyards on the sunny slopes of Walls Hill, Ledbury’s latest “English Nouveau” has come to the market this week.
Simon Day, winemaker and Production Director for the Sixteen Ridges range, is one of a handful of second generation English wine makers in the country, carrying on in the footsteps of his father. With over 25 years’ experience making wine in England and abroad. Simon is known in the industry for his innovative approach to winemaking, and his commitment to ‘let the fruit do the talking’ ensuring minimal intervention in the winery.

The original idea for an English Nouveau came from a trade enquiry in 2019 which led to a small experimental batch being made for trade only sale.

English Nouveau

As a result, Sixteen Ridges English Nouveau was created for Waitrose and sold out within 24 hours online in 2020. Simon in collaboration with new Sixteen Ridges Winemaker Joshua Ravell-Gough has increased production threefold this year to meet demand.

In France this style of wine e.g. Beaujolais Nouveau is produced using the grape variety Gamay, but Sixteen Ridges used our Pinot Noir Early which ripens some 2 to 3 weeks earlier than standard Pinot Noir.

In terms of production, the Nouveau is made using similar methods as used in France’s Beaujolais region. Sixteen Ridges want to highlight the delicious fresh fruitiness, and reduce the tannins. This is done using small tanks into which whole bunches of grapes are placed into CO2 and undergo an intracellular fermentation for a short period of time – a process called carbonic maceration. These fizzy grapes develop fruitiness and start to take on colour. Once they reach around 2% alcohol, the berry drops off the bunch, and releases the juice. The wine then continues to ferment in a more conventional manner with yeast. Then the grapes are pressed to yield a lovely fruity easy drinking light red wine.

If you want to try this most local of wines, the 2021 vintage is on sale from 18 November from Waitrose – waitrosecellar.com and from sixteenridges.co.uk.

November Recipes

CLOTHILDE’S BEEF WITH WINE, BAY AND THYME

Serves 4

Salt and pepper
1kg. / 2lbs. 4ozs. silverside or topside of beef
1tbsp. oil
2 onions, halved and cut into crescent moons
3 garlic cloves, chopped
150mls. dry white or red wine
4 carrots halved lengthways
2 large tomatoes, quartered
3 thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
300mls. / 10fl. ozs. chicken or beef stock 

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C / gas mark 1.  Season the beef and heat the oil in a large casserole.  Brown the joint all over.  Remove and put the onions in the pan and cook until golden.  Add the garlic for another couple of minutes, then add the wine and bring to the boil.  Return the beef to the casserole along with all the other vegetables and the herbs.
  2. Pour the hot stock over.  Season well, cover and cook in the oven for 2½ hours.

TIPS

I cook this meal an awful lot and add other vegetables.  Yesterday it was leeks and parsnips as well as the carrots.  I serve it with mashed potato.  I also allow the meat to rest once it is cooked for a good 15 minutes.  I thicken the cooking juices by adding cornflour (do mix with cold water first) and bring to the boil.

The cookery writer had this dish in France where they serve it with either bread or a gratin of macaroni.  The macaroni was either moistened with juices from the pot roast or with cream, then topped with Parmesan or Gruyere cheese and baked or grilled.  I haven’t tried that version yet.

CHILLED BRAMLEY APPLE AND RICE PUDDING

Serves 6

150g. / 5 ½ ozs. short grain rice
700mls. / 1¼ pints full fat milk
30g. / 1¼ ozs. caster sugar
75ml. / 2 ½fl. ozs. double cream
grated nutmeg or cinnamon

For the apple:

3 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced
100mls. 3½fl. ozs. cider
caster sugar to taste

For the syrup:

150g. / 5½ ozs. caster sugar
To serve:

The remainder of your carton of cream

  1. Cover the rice with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Boil for 4 minutes, drain and rinse.  Return the rice to the pan and add the milk and sugar.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring from time to time.  You may need more milk.  You should end up with a sloppy mixture that still holds its shape.  Remember it will firm up as it cools.  Leave until cold.
  2. Put the apples in a pan with the cider and set over a medium heat.  Cover and cook until completely soft, stirring to break them down every so often.  Once cooked add sugar to taste.
  3. To make the syrup put the sugar into a pan with 100mls. / 3½ fl.ozs. water.  Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved.  Then bring to the boil and watch until the syrup turns to caramel.  Swish the pan a bit.  Once it becomes caramel, you will know by the smell and colour, immediately add about 8 tbsps. water and wish around.  Stir so the caramel dissolves in the water.
  4. Layer the components up in glasses.  Start with some apple, then caramel, then rice pudding, then caramel.  Repeat.  Spoon whipped cream on top and drizzle with caramel.  Refrigerate until serving.

TIPS

Do watch when adding the water to the caramel as it will spit and is very hot!!  You need to watch caramel very carefully as you do not want it to burn.  Stand by the saucepan and don’t answer the ‘phone.

If making caramel is a step too far for you you could just have a thin layer of chopped nuts or crushed ginger biscuits, which would add a contrast colour wise. I think ginger biscuits would be rather nice in fact.