Staffordshires Food and Drink Scene.

Dining in: Sauce Supper Club Dine at Home

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was…

When the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, Beth and Jon Toovey at Sauce Supper Club started delivering fresh fruit and veg boxes locally in Lichfield and the surrounding area. It was on 1 May that they delivered their first Dine at Home boxes in partnership with Tom Shepherd. The former head chef at one Michelin starred Adam’s Restaurant in Birmingham is planning to open his own restaurant in Lichfield later this year.

Each weekend there’s a different fine dining menu for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, with minimal effort required. This week, Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is reviewed for us by passionate Stoke-on-Trent-based foodie, Mike Lawton. Mike shares his thoughts on the food and considers whether it’s truly possible to recreate the restaurant experience at home.

The menu

Milk bread with marmite butter
.
Pulled barbecue pork fritter, wholegrain mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots, watercress
.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder, tenderstem broccoli, toasted couscous, cumin yoghurt, imam bayildi, pomegranate, lamb jus
.
Chilled coconut rice pudding, Alfonso mango salsa, coconut crumble, lemongrass and lime leaf sabayon
.
Chocolate fudge

In any business environment, it’s the innovators who survive; those who make the most of the situation and are able to adapt to changes in a way that suits their skillset. I think the emergence of ‘Dine at Home’ experiences plays very well into that; opening up new channels for consumers to create experiences in their own homes is a perfect example of innovation and will no doubt be a feature of the industry in the future.

When we first spoke about doing this review, I’d already had a couple of these types of experiences, from WOOD Manchester and from Peels on Wheels at Hampton Manor. To do the same with Sauce Supper Club and Tom was a great opportunity to compare the offers of three very credible contenders.

The experience began on Friday morning at 7:30am when the package was delivered to our door. Just to receive it was intriguing: excitement, anticipation and enthusiasm delivered in a cardboard box – that doesn’t happen every day!

The first thing I have to applaud the team on is the packaging. Today it’s really important to think about sustainability and how we respect the planet’s resources. The product packaging was genuinely thoughtful, not just in terms of what was in it, but in the way it was presented, including the use of fully recyclable WoolCool insulation.

Dine at Home box constituents

At the forefront of your mind when ordering a meal like this is, can you create a restaurant experience in your own home? What can it deliver? Is it going to be the same? How authentically can an amateur re-create the skills of a chef at home? There is an inferred responsibility – you want to perform well for yourself but also to represent the chef and their team’s hard work in preparing the food.

Inside the box is the skill, the enthusiasm, the knowledge and dedication of the chef in the product. It then comes down to you to engineer that into your own experience, using your knowledge of where you’ve eaten, what you’ve observed, what you like and what you dislike.

Of course, the end result is not the same, but I would argue it can be better because you’re able to apply your own influences to that of the chef – you can give your own care, attention and creativity. When expressed in these terms this is in no way a degraded experience – it’s a different experience influenced by you. It’s a fusion of chef and customer that presents a blend of skill and experience on each plate – it’s a chance to express your personality in the solid knowledge that the food quality will be assured.  

We received the box on the Friday and decided not to cook it until the Saturday. It was unpacked and we stored it in the fridge. It kept beautifully for 24 hours – plenty of time to plan, no need to rush. Adding to the experience was that every time I opened the fridge there was a thrill of anticipation, thinking ‘Ohh, look what’s coming!’ – it played an unexpected role in making the dinner special. 

Then Saturday night came and my wife and I laid everything out in the containers. It was very clear what to do because each of the courses had a colour-coded dot. The instructions were well-presented, very clear and concise, and enabled you to plan ahead. We switched on the oven and the fun began.

The first step was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done; I warmed up the bread. The difference – and this is where the value of this experience lies for me – is the skill you find in the detail. Although the bread was of course delicious, it was the marmite butter that created an incredible depth of flavour and taste – unbelievable to be able to create that in something so usually “ordinary”. That was a fitting precursor for what was to come. 

Milk bread with marmite butter

Whilst we were enjoying the bread, the pork fritters went into the oven and we laid out the mustard mayonnaise, sweet pickled apricots and watercress. Each element when tasted individually was well-prepared and delicate – together it was genuinely tremendous. The fritter was very easy to warm up. I used my Thermapen to check the temperature was right inside, and it came out crisp on the outside with great flavour and depth on the inside. Paired with the little apricots and mustard mayonnaise, we didn’t want it to end. I’m sure Tom would laugh at my basic plating skills, but the dish was a great mix of textures and flavours and we both really enjoyed it. We enjoyed a white Côtes du Rhône which paired beautifully with the construction of the dish.  

The lamb was a benchmark main course in terms of the combination of flavours and textures. The North African inspiration was clear to taste and smell; it came with couscous and imam bayildi, which I hadn’t heard of before, but is a Turkish aubergine dish. It was fantastic. The smell coming from the kitchen was like walking through a souk on a warm summer evening; with aromas of spices wafting through the warm confined streets. The lamb was beautifully prepared, compressed and rolled, perfectly ready for simply placing on a baking sheet and waiting for the magic to happen.

As ever, the winning part was in the detail, in the lamb jus. Wow. That’s the bit that you can’t create at home. It was truly phenomenal. All the science, the skill, the experience, and the professionalism of the chef comes in those little pots. This was a stand-out dish for me, not only because of the construction and the ease of bringing it together, but also because it demonstrated a complexity and depth in food that I could never have made myself.

Lamb, couscous, imam bayildi, broccoli

The dessert was spectacular. It was everything I want a dessert to be: rich, sweet, a beautiful texture. I’ve eaten at Adam’s a couple of times and had this dessert in the dining room there. The rice pudding was fantastic, the vanilla judged perfectly, the mango was delicious, and then there was the sweetness of the sabayon sauce… Just a beautiful balance. For me to have created that would have taken hours and hours of work and it wouldn’t have tasted anywhere close to that good. It was an absolute pleasure to serve it up, and it wasn’t difficult! All I needed was a plate and a spoon. I can’t speak highly enough of this dessert.

Throughout the lockdown I’ve tried to make the weekends special by trying to cook something a bit special – to make Saturdays different. These experiences really cater to that, they inspire you to be creative in the safe knowledge that if anything goes awry the food will carry the evening. If you’re in the house and you can’t get out, whether for lack of childcare or other commitments, you can be sure that this is definitely not second best. What you miss in the restaurant experience, you make up for with your own enthusiasm and dedication. It’s a perfect blend of creativity; yours and the chef’s.

I genuinely think these experiences should continue to be available once the hospitality industry returns to normal. Not only because it’s a revenue stream for restaurants, but also because it extends the restaurant or chef’s brand to new audiences who may never have found it accessible before. It’s a good introduction to bring people into fine dining, and a great way to involve the whole family in preparing food. The preparation and the plating became a talking point for my wife and I, creating possibly an even more engaging experience than eating in a restaurant.

It does make you appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant and understand what you’re paying for, but at the same time this model allows consumers to enjoy and be inspired by this level of cooking. I was certainly inspired. I would do it again, and I would recommend it to anybody.

Ordering & delivery
Sauce Supper Club’s Dine at Home box is available for Friday and Saturday delivery, with prices starting from £37.50pp. Delivery is free to Lichfield and the surrounding area, with nationwide delivery now available at a charge of £24.

Order via saucesupperclub.co.uk.

 

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Strawberry, vanilla custard & baked white chocolate

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Strawberry, vanilla custard & baked white chocolate

Strawberry sorbet dessert

Private chef and MasterChef finalist Louisa Ellis brought this recipe for strawberry sorbet, vanilla custard and baked white chocolate to her residency at The George at Alstonefield in 2019.

With British strawberry season in full swing, now is the perfect time to make this light and summery dessert.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

For the strawberry sorbet
600g strawberry purée
120g caster sugar
50ml water
50ml lemon juice

For the vanilla custard
400ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
100g sugar
5 egg yolks

For the baked white chocolate
200g Callebaut white chocolate

For the macerated strawberries
1kg British strawberries
25ml white balsamic
25g caster sugar

Instructions

For the strawberry sorbet

  1. Bring the water, sugar and lemon juice to the boil.
  2. Pour sugar water onto strawberry purée and whisk.
  3. Leave to cool.
  4. Churn in ice cream machine for approximately 20 minutes or until set.
  5. Set in the freezer before serving.

For the vanilla custard

  1. Whisk the egg and sugar together lightly in a bowl.
  2. Bring the cream and vanilla pod to the boil.
  3. Pour hot cream over the sugar and egg removing the vanilla pod skin.
  4. Place custard mix into a deep tray/ramekin/silicone mould and bake in the oven at 110°C.
  5. Pour hot water around the dishes/moulds to create a bain-marie. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or until firm but with a slight wobble) and chill.
  6. Portion or scoop mixture as needed.

For the baked white chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 160°C.
  2. Line a tray with baking parchment and spread the chocolate out so that it is flat.
  3. Bake the white chocolate for 10 minutes and check to see if it is slightly golden. If the chocolate has only melted with no colour then place it back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes until light brown.
  4. When caramelised, cool and break into small pieces.

For the macerated strawberries

  1. Take half of the strawberries and blend into a purée with the white balsamic and 25g sugar.
  2. Strain the purée through a sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Take the unprepared strawberries and remove the stalk but keep whole.
  4. Submerge the strawberries in the purée mix overnight.
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Cured, torched mackerel

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Cured, torched mackerel

Cured torched mackerel dish

Feast with Friends chef and educator Cris Cohen shared this recipe for mackerel with carrot purée, pickled carrot and wasabi avocado in Sauce’s spring 2019 issue.

Most of the ingredients will probably be in your store cupboard, so why not add the others to your shopping list and give it a go this weekend?

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

For the cure
40g sea salt
40g caster sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds (ground)
2 mackerel fillets (all bones removed)

For the carrot and citrus purée
1 large carrot
Salt
100ml lime juice/ lemon juice mix or 75ml yuzu juice

For the pickled carrot
250ml water
3 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tbsp caster sugar
3 heritage carrots (different colours)
2 tsp salt

For the wasabi and avocado
1 avocado
2 tsp wasabi paste
Salt
Squeeze of lime juice

Instructions

For the cure

  1. Mix together salt, sugar and fennel seeds to make cure mix.
  2. Sprinkle half of the mix onto tray. 
  3. Lay mackerel fillets skin side down and cover with remaining cure mix.
  4. Place in fridge for 1 hour.
  5. Take out of the fridge and wash mackerel gently in cold water.

For the carrot and citrus purée

  1. Peel and cut carrot into 1-inch chunks.
  2. Cook until tender in salted water.
  3. Remove a little of the cooking water.
  4. Liquidise with an immersion blender, adding a little of the cooking liquid back in if required.
  5. Add the juice until purée has punchy citrus flavour.
  6. Adjust seasoning if required.
  7. Pass through a fine sieve using the back of a spoon.
  8. Transfer into a squeezy bottle for plating up.

For the pickled carrot

  1. Warm water and put vinegar, sugar and salt in water and stir until dissolved.
  2. Thinly slice carrot on a mandolin and place into warm pickling solution.
  3. Steep in solution for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from pickling solution when ready to serve.

For the wasabi and avocado 

  1. Mash avocado on a plate using a fork.
  2. Mix in salt, wasabi to taste and lime juice.
  3. Pass through a fine sieve.

Serve with toasted rice or crispy noodles.

Notes

If you enjoyed this, follow Cris on Facebook for more tips and ideas:

facebook.com/feastwithfriends
facebook.com/feasted

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Gift ideas for a foodie Father’s Day

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s…

Just because the pubs are closed this Father’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t treat your dad to his favourite food and drink. We’ve been busy scouting out the best Father’s Day ideas across the Staffordshire food and drink scene so you can sit back, relax and simply enjoy some time with dad over a good meal (at an appropriate distance, of course)… without worrying about which pair of novelty slippers he’d like best.

Denstone Hall Farm Shop Father's Day Hamper

Denstone Hall Farm Shop & Cafe
If your dad is a lover of local Staffordshire produce, then this is the gift for him. The team at Denstone Hall Farm & Shop have released their ‘Staffordshire Father’s Day’ hamper, packed with local, homemade and artisan produce all sourced from Staffordshire. Expect Staffordshire Cheese Co., homemade pork pies and Cottage Delight treats. Order here: https://bit.ly/3egqo3q or email orders@denstonehall.co.uk

 

Candid Beer gift set

Candid Beer
Is it even Father’s Day without beer? Candid Beer, Stafford, have constructed the perfect gift this Father’s Day for craft beer lovers. Treat dad to a canister of four 440ml beers and a special Candid Beer glass. Choose from pale, dark, lager or mixed beers. Shop here: https://bit.ly/30Hke8M

Misco's box of chocolates

Misco’s Chocolate and Truffles
If your dad has a sweet tooth, he would love some delicious chocolatey treats from Misco’s Chocolates and Truffles, Leek. Their shop is now open (yessss!), so call in on Thursday, Friday or Saturday to pick up your dad’s favourite homemade chocolates and earn some brownie points this Father’s Day.

Dunwood Farm meat box

Dunwood Farm
Treat the King of the BBQ to a quality meat box from Dunwood Farm. Whether your dad is the chef or if you’re treating him to a day off and cooking for him, he will love the incredible quality of Dunwood’s high welfare meat. Head over to the online shop here: https://bit.ly/2MWbdAG or pop into The Village Butchers, Ipstones, to pick up your meat box.

Three Horseshoes Inn
Al fresco steak night, a bottle of wine and breathtaking views of the Peak District? Yes please! Although The Three Horseshoes Inn isn’t quite open yet, you can still treat your dad to their quality steak at a future date. The Three Horseshoes are offering a Steak Night for Two with a Bottle of Wine gift voucher, so you can treat dad a little later in the year. Head over to their online shop to purchase: https://bit.ly/2UILHmv

Bank Coffeehouse Alrewas afternoon tea

The Bank Coffeehouse
Nothing is better than a quintessential Afternoon Tea in the sun, especially with the ones you love. The Bank Coffeehouse are offering a Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea this Father’s Day. Enjoy a selection of sandwiches with salad, a fruit scone with homemade jam and clotted cream, a selection of cakes and a bottle of Spilsbury & Jones craft beer. You can also have the choice to swap out the sandwiches, scone or cake for a Peter Coates pork pie on request. Delivery in Alrewas or you can collect. Call or text 07722 891696 or email Reilly-jane@sky.com to order.

Clive’s Wines
The lovely team at Clive’s Wines have crafted the perfect hampers for Father’s Day this year! Choose from five different hampers, including the Cider Curry Set and the Personalised Wine Gift Set set to name a couple. Head over to their website to find the perfect gift for your dad: https://bit.ly/37HTOp3

World of Wedgwood cheese scones, chilli jam, Dovedale blue butter

World of Wedgwood
Head Chef Richard has been busy behind the scenes at World of Wedgwood, cooking up the ultimate treat for dad this Father’s Day… savoury scones with homemade chilli jam and Dovedale blue butter. If you want to flex your culinary skills and impress dad with a homemade treat, this is the recipe for you: https://bit.ly/3cZuETz

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Dining in: Gallagher’s Home Kitchen

Jessica and Chris Gallagher, based in Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands, set up Gallagher’s Home Kitchen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Having both been due to…

Jessica and Chris Gallagher, based in Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands, set up Gallagher’s Home Kitchen in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Having both been due to start new jobs in the hospitality industry at the end of that month, their plans were put on indefinite pause and they wanted to use their skills to offer fantastic quality food for home delivery. 

The couple met while they were both working at The Duncombe Arms in Ellastone. With Jessica’s background in hotel, event and restaurant management and Chris’ culinary expertise, they decided to fill their time during lockdown creating a homemade food service. 

Sauce jumped at the chance to try Gallagher’s Home Kitchen last week, coinciding with the launch of their new lamb baharat and falafel dishes. 

Ordering & delivery

Chris and Jessica’s menu is available to view on their social channels. There’s a different main on the menu for each day they’re open, from the lamb baharat and veggie-friendly falafel on Wednesday through to a traditional Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. You also have the option to add dessert, which changes every month. All you have to do is direct message them on Facebook to place your order, and pay via BACS transfer. Then Jessica will deliver to your door if you’re lucky enough to live within a 9 mile radius of Cheddleton.

Packaging

The food arrives in a large paper bag for the mains and a smaller one for the dessert, with a sweet little printed message from the Gallaghers. The majority is in foil cartons and there’s minimal plastic, which is always a plus. It seems Chris and Jessica have really thought about how the dishes on their menu will travel, because everything is pristine when it arrives on the doorstep with a smile and a wave! The elements of the main course are packaged separately so you can taste them individually, sharing out and plating how you like. The main was warm rather than hot on arrival, but the temperature was fine for us and you could easily heat up the lamb, falafel and couscous if you wanted to. 

Lam and couscous from Gallaghers Home KitchenAppearance

The slices of slow-cooked spiced lamb and the portion of falafel were nestled inside freshly baked pitta bread, while other containers yielded a rainbow of salad (crunchy lettuce, delicate ribbons of cucumber, julienne carrot and red cabbage) and bright, beautiful couscous with lemon and coriander. You also get little containers of thick Greek yoghurt and mango chutney. We could hardly wait to get stuck in!

You wouldn’t think a panna cotta would fare very well in takeaway form, but they are nothing short of immaculate when we come to lift the lids on dessert. We didn’t attempt to lift these onto our plates but I’m fairly sure they were firm enough to have held their shape if we’d tried. 

Taste 

The lamb baharat was rich and smoky with spices. ‘Baharat’ is the name of a traditional spice blend used throughout the Arab world, from North Africa to the Persian Gulf, but there are many regional variations. The falafel were tasty and well-seasoned too. The couscous was fragrant and delicious, with plenty of herbs, lemon, apricot, pepper and toasted flaked almonds making your taste buds do a happy little dance. The salad was super-fresh and the mango chutney was lush – tangy and sharply sweet with black onion seeds through it. 

And the dessert? Oh. My. Goodness. 

Greek yoghurt panna cotta from Gallaghers Home Kitchen

Texture

The falafel were made up of a nice mix of whole and ground chickpeas, with a great crispy exterior. The slow-cooked lamb was ridiculously tender, like butter in your mouth, but not cloyingly fatty as lamb sometimes can be. The pitta was a perfect match for both – soft and chewy with a satisfying bit of crunch at the edges. 

This dessert has every element you could wish for: unctuous and decadent salted chocolate ganache (I could eat this by the bowlful), creamy and slightly sour yoghurt panna cotta with the most beautiful of wobbles, tart and sticky apricot jam, and the sweet crunch of honey and oat granola cut through with fragrant rosemary. This really ups the delivery game when it comes to pudding.  

Experience

Overall, the food was fantastic quality and the whole experience felt special. The panna cotta dessert in particular was most definitely restaurant standard. At £10 each for the main and £5 each for dessert, with free delivery, we thought it was good value. It was super-easy to order, delivery was timely and safe, and the service was really friendly. What more can I say? 

Look out for our interview with Jessica and Chris coming soon, and get your orders in over on their socials.

Gallagher’s Home Kitchen
facebook.com/GallaghersHomeKitchen

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Apple, ginger & toffee cake

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Apple, ginger & toffee cake

Sugnall apple, ginger and toffee cake

It might not be apple-picking season, but if you’ve got some spare apples sitting in the fruit bowl and your cupboard is in good shape when it comes to baking staples, why not try this wonderful autumnal cake recipe?

Kindly shared with us by Mary and the team at Sugnall Walled Garden Tea Room, it featured in the Autumn 2019 issue of Sauce and it goes down a treat with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

For the cake
50g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
300g self-raising flour
250g light brown sugar
2 tsp sea salt
140g ground almonds
4 large eggs
80ml sunflower oil
130ml soured cream
2 eating apples, peeled and cored
2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

For the sauce
150g butter
150g muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
120ml double cream

For the garnish
1 eating apple, cored and sliced
50g butter
25g light brown sugar
30g walnuts, roughly chopped

Instructions

For the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 195°C.
  2. Grease a 25cm bundt tin.
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and almonds in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Whisk the eggs with the butter, oil and soured cream.
  5. Stir the apple and ginger into the egg mixture.
  6. Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients.
  7. Pour into the tin and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the deepest part of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool fully.

For the sauce

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat.
  2. Add the muscovado sugar and continue heating until dissolved.
  3. Add the cinnamon and cream and stir briefly.
  4. Gently simmer for 5-6 minutes to get a silky, smooth consistency.
  5. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

For the garnish

  1. Melt the butter and sugar together in a frying pan.
  2. Sautée the apple slices until caramelised.
  3. Place them around the top of the cake.
  4. Sprinkle over the chopped walnuts.
  5. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Notes

This recipe was kindly supplied by the team at Sugnall Walled Garden Tea Room. Follow them on Facebook so you’ll be the first to know when they are able to reopen to the public, as they would love to see you when it’s safe!

Sugnall Walled Garden Tea Room
Sugnall Walled Garden, Eccleshall, ST21 6NF

sugnall.co.uk

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What’s in season?

By now you will have felt that change in the air that means warmer weather is on the way. The days are getting longer and you’re finding yourself craving lighter…

By now you will have felt that change in the air that means warmer weather is on the way. The days are getting longer and you’re finding yourself craving lighter foods and fresher flavours.

From spring, as the first new shoots of wild garlic appear, through the long bright days of summer, our hedgerows, valleys, fields and farms are at their most productive and there are rich pickings for the keen foodie. In this issue, we’re highlighting one of the most versatile harbingers of the English summer and a statuesque Mediterranean native.

Elderflower

The elder is a large deciduous shrub which prefers to grow in untended hedgerows, sheltered from the wind and bathed by the sun. Its masses of frothy white, fragrant flowers are hard to miss in late spring and early summer if you’re walking, riding or driving around the English countryside. By late August their juicy, black-purple berries are ripe, and the birds will happily tuck in.

One of the classic wild foods of late May and early June, the sweetly scented flower heads are best picked on a bright, sunny morning when they first open. Once picked, elderflowers must be used or preserved quickly before they turn brown. Although uncooked elderberries are mildly poisonous, both the flowers and the berries have long been put to use in the kitchen. First and foremost, the flowers have been used for cordial and the berries for wine, but traditional medicine uses extracts of both as a remedy for coughs, colds and fever.

The flower heads are delightful simply dipped in a light batter and fried until crisp. Elderflower’s delicate flavour is perfectly suited to light desserts like fools or jellies, pairing particularly well with tart gooseberries, lemon or rhubarb. It also works well in summery cakes, tarts and trifles. Making your own cordial is easy enough to do, by infusing freshly gathered elderflowers with lemons, sugar, water and citric acid. Ideal for summer entertaining, it makes a sophisticated alternative to alcohol or, indeed, a refreshing addition to cocktails. To really get the party started, you can also infuse spirits like gin or vodka with elderflower.

Get yours from…

Forage for it
Because they have such a short shelf-life once picked, you’ll be hard pressed to find elderflowers for sale anywhere. If you’re happy to follow the countryside code and use your common sense, you can forage for your own on a sunny morning in late May or early June. Elder can often be found thriving alongside canal tow paths and old railway lines, of which there are many across the county. Make sure you get the landowners’ permission if you’re picking from fields or woodland edges and corners and only use foraged ingredients if you’re certain you’ve identified them correctly.

Elderflower - Sambucus nigra

Globe artichoke

The globe artichoke is one of the largest members of the thistle family and, somewhat confusingly, no relation of the potato-like Jerusalem artichoke. Introduced to England by the Dutch, artichokes were said to have been grown in Henry VIII’s garden at New Hall – also known as Beaulieu – in the 16th century. With one of the highest levels of antioxidant capacity of any vegetable, glboe artichokes are at their best from June all the way through to November.

The part of the plant you can eat is the flower bud before the flower comes into bloom. It’s the tender ends of the leaves and the fleshy base – the ‘heart’ – that are edible, unlike the tough outer leaves and furry choke. In smaller artichokes the leaves are more tender, but larger specimens tend to have bigger hearts. It’s best to choose those with tightly packed leaves showing a slight bloom. Some varieties have beautiful purple leaves, while others are a crisp green.

Eating globe artichoke has to be one of the simple pleasures of summer. All you need to do is boil or steam the whole flower head before pulling off the leaves and dipping them – they’re delicious with vinaigrette, hollandaise, garlic butter, mayonnaise or aioli. Draw the leaf through your teeth to remove the tender flesh and discard anything that’s tough. They can also be barbecued or grilled. Just slice in half lengthways, remove the fluffy choke, brush with olive oil and grill until tender.

Stuffed artichoke recipes are really popular, too. Start by boiling and then pulling out the central leaves and choke. In Italy, its common to stuff them with a mixture of bread crumbs, garlic, oregano, parsley, grated cheese, and prosciutto or sausage. Throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Turkey, and Armenia, ground lamb is a favourite filling. Then it’s simply a case of drizzling with olive oil and baking in the oven.

Get yours from…

Gerald Harrison Greengrocer
8 Market Place, Leek, ST13 8HH

A family run greengrocer for the past 45 years and counting, you’ll find Gerald Harrison’s right next door to the Market Place entrance to Leek’s historic Buttermarket. This traditional grocers is open from 7:30 every morning with the exception of Sundays (unless the Totally Locally Sunday Supplement is on), offering a huge range of fresh seasonal fruit and veg from across the UK and Europe. That includes globe artichoke when the timing’s right. Plus using your local greengrocer is one way to avoid all that unnecessary plastic you end up taking home from the supermarket – just make sure you’re prepared with your bag or basket.

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Cantarito Rising

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Cantarito Rising

Cantarito Rising cocktail and ingredients

Ten Green Bottles are well known for their craft beers and gin but they are equally adept when it comes to cocktails. Back in summer 2019 we caught up with Ben Errington over at Ten Green Bottles in Stone, who generously shared the recipe for this delightful summer cocktail.

You can use alternative brands of tequila and orange liqueur if you have them, or comment to tell us what spirits you have in your cabinet and we’ll challenge Ben to come up with a cocktail recipe for you.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

Olmeca Altos Tequila Plata
Solerno blood orange liqueur
San Pellegrino grapefruit
Pink grapefruit syrup

Instructions

  1. Add a shot of tequila to a shot of blood orange liqueur.
  2. Top up with San Pellegrino grapefruit.
  3. Finally, add pink grapefruit syrup for a sunset effect.

Notes

Be sure to pay Ten Green Bottles a revisit when they reopen to have it made for you:

Ten Green Bottles
21 High Street, Stone ST15 8AJ
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From bean to cup with Courtyard Coffee Roasters

Hessian sacks of various sizes, a bright red Diedrich roaster, and collected coffee paraphernalia greet visitors to Courtyard Coffee Roasters, just off Eccleshall’s High Street. Wooden shelves are filled with…

Hessian sacks of various sizes, a bright red Diedrich roaster, and collected coffee paraphernalia greet visitors to Courtyard Coffee Roasters, just off Eccleshall’s High Street.

Wooden shelves are filled with glass canisters of loose leaf tea – greens and oolongs as well as black teas and rooibos – single origin chocolate, mostly from Madagascar, and real hot chocolate. But it’s the aroma of coffee, freshly roasted and freshly ground, that fills the air. 

Owner David Wiggins originally established the roastery as a training school for baristas, but it has since morphed into a retail shop. He also sells online and supplies a handful of independent cafés and restaurants, some with their own unique blend.

David’s adventures in coffee began in the 1980s when he and his wife had a deli in Dresden, Stoke-on-Trent. He came upon an antique machine and started roasting his own coffee. In 1990, he set up Rapido Coffee Services, an exhibition service he ran successfully for around 20 years while simultaneously taking charge of Eccleshall café The Artisan (now Sancerre), the neighbouring bakery, and the roastery. Finding himself spread a little thin, David’s focus is now on Courtyard Coffee and his passion for these flavoursome beans.

The bulk of the world’s coffee is grown in Central and South America – Brazil is the biggest producer – but large quantities are grown in Africa, some in India, and quite a bit in Indonesia and elsewhere in southeast Asia. Each origin has its own particular qualities, led by the climate and geology of the region where it’s grown. While coffee trees need rainfall to flower, too much rain can damage the crop. The fruit, bright red when ripe, is called a cherry. Usually picked by hand, their preparation has a big effect on the finished flavour.

“The processing is quite involved,” explains David. “You have to get rid of the cherry to get to the seed. The fruit is removed by either the dry method or the wet method, often depending on the climate in the country of origin. Half-processed coffee beans are coated in a hard shell known as parchment, which is removed by hulling. Now the green coffee, as it’s called, is ready for roasting.”

The green coffee arrives in sacks weighing 50kg, 60kg or 69kg depending on which part of the world it has come from. While a large roaster will process a whole sack at once, one of these will last David a couple of months. He roasts in small batches of only 2.5kg of green beans at a time, yielding 2kg of roasted beans due of the loss of moisture as they’re heated.

“I’m not really big enough to buy direct from the plantations, and that’s almost a full time job in itself,” David tells Sauce. “You need to have feet on the ground. So I buy from four or five independently run, ethical importers who in turn buy direct from the plantations. They pay better than Fairtrade rates and in some cases they will buy the smallholders’ entire crop, certainly a year ahead and sometimes a couple of years in advance.”

Roasted coffee beans

People are more interested in individual origins these days, and growers are actively encouraged to seek their own markets, whereas previously they were very heavily discouraged from doing so. David believes the next revolution in the global supply chain of crops like coffee will be blockchain. Rather than finding new routes to market, the goal is transparency and traceability. Companies such as iFinca in Central America – which a lot of Colombian producers are already using – are setting the bar for its integration into commercial networks.

Although he claims not to have particular favourites when it comes to coffee, David is partial to Indonesian, Indian and some Central American origins.

“I keep coffee from around 20 different producing countries, only because we’re limited by space. I’ve usually got a Costa Rican, El Salvadoran, Colombian and either Honduran or Nicaraguan. Always Peruvian, because people like it, and Mexican when possible – it’s hard to get the ones I favour. And I always keep decaffeinated coffee, sometimes as many as four types.”

The El Salvador is very popular due to its sweet and chocolatey tasting notes, but David’s bestseller – largely because he supplies one couple who get through a kilo a week – is Indian Monsoon Malabar. It’s stored under cover in mesh-sided warehouses during the rainy season, to allow humid air to circulate around the beans and alter their flavour. The tasting notes are copper, tobacco, leather.

“The effect of the extra humidity is that the beans swell and so the chaff falls off,” says David. “It makes it slightly sour, and the end result is very good if you like that style. In the days of the Empire, when coffee was transported to the UK and the rest of Europe by sailboat, the journey would take around 6 months, and while the sacks were in the hold they’d absorb humidity from the sea. People got used to that flavour, so when steam came in and the journey time was reduced to weeks, they noticed the difference. To try to recreate it, this monsooning process was developed, and it’s now mostly carried out in Mangaluru on the southwestern coast of India.”

As coffee beans are roasted, each half of the seed splits along one side and the chaff – or silverskin – falls away and burns off. The acids, proteins and sugars in the coffee expand until the stage when it opens up with a crack. That cracking sound indicates the roast is nearly complete.

“If I’m making a blend I’ll probably roast them separately so each is roasted to it’s best. If you take three or four types of bean and roast them all together, one of them will be perfect but the others will be over or under done. Usually the roast time is around 12 minutes, but some will be done at 10; others will take 14. You need to judge by eye, aroma and sound.”

When it comes to turning the beans into a more brew-able form, a burr grinder is the best. Propeller blades tend to be too effective, producing an almost floury and slightly uneven grind.

“If you grind coffee for an espresso too fine, the water struggles to get through, and you’ll end up with a coffee that’s so bitter you won’t be able to drink it. That’s known as over-extraction.”

When using the filter method, pouring over the water – ideally at a temperature between 88-92 degrees Celsius – produces a bloom of tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide which will be familiar to anyone who uses a cafetière or drip coffee maker. There’s nothing wrong with giving it a little shake to get a more even extraction.

“I tend to brew at about 90 degrees,” shares David. “Using the burr grinder and filter method, you get the true aroma of the bean released. The coffee industry is always searching for that aroma in the cup, but you never really get it.”

Courtyard Coffee Roasters
14d High Street, Eccleshall, ST21 6BZ
courtyardcoffeeroasters.co.uk

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Good Morning Zoats

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Good Morning Zoats

bowl of zoats with banana and berries

Another wonderful recipe from the Sauce archives – health and wellness blogger Sarah Leanne Rose aka The Growing Butterfly has the perfect breakfast to set you up for the day, whatever you’re doing.

You can have some fun with these ‘zoats’ by adding whatever toppings you fancy, like a shake of cocoa powder and some sliced banana or frozen berries.

  • Author: Katy

Ingredients

Scale

50-60g oats
200ml milk
1/2 courgette

Then choose:
1 scoop protein powder
or
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp flaxseed

Instructions

  1. Start by adding the oats to a pan, then grate the courgette over the top.
  2. Next pour the milk in and gently stir the mixture together until combined.
  3. On a low-medium heat, place the pan on a hob and allow to cook for a minute or two, stirring at intervals.
  4. Now add in your chosen ingredients to create the desired flavour combination and mix well.
  5. Turning down the heat, leave to cook for a further minute before serving straight away in a bowl, adding any additional toppings of your choosing.

Toppings can be anything that you like such as:

  • Nut butter
  • Fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • A little chocolate

Notes

You can find more of Sarah’s recipes and blogs about mental health and other topics on:

thegrowingbutterfly.com

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