The Kitchen Blog
Welcome to our blog created by our Coffee Shop team to keep you up to date with our latest specials, theme nights and seasonal fruit and vegetables that we will be using throughout the month.
For our Blog Recipe Archive Page please click HERE
Seasonal Snippets – November
British summertime has officially ended with the clocks going back an hour on Sunday October 29. However we haven’t stopped down here at The Ropewalk. Our opening hours, 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays, remain the same during the winter, giving you even more opportunity to enjoy our lovely hot drinks and cakes!
Our seasonal vegetable this month is the sweet potato, a root vegetable that resemble a potato, although it is quite different in taste and texture (and is not related to the potato). It has a pinkish-orange skin and a deep-orange, creamy-textured flesh that’s much lighter and fluffier than that of the potato. Sweet potatoes have a slightly sweet flavour (as their name suggests and make the perfect accompaniment for many a main meal, either made into spicy wedges or simply boiled to make a sweet potato mash. You can also bake them as an alternative to a normal baked potato and serve with cream cheese and chives. If you are feeling slightly more adventurous, it is common place to see sweet potatoes made into a pie and topped with marshmallow especially for the American tradition Thanksgiving.
Our fruit this month is pear. Like apples, to which they are related, pears come in thousands of varieties, of which only a small fraction are sold in the UK. Their fine, slightly granular flesh is much more fragile than apples and, unlike most fruit, they improve in flavour and texture after they’re picked. Most pears are wider at the bottom than they are at the top, though a few varieties are more spherical in shape. They’re not as brightly colored as apples, most having skins that range from dull bronze through to soft green, though you can also find red varieties such as Red William.
Pears are beautifully sweet eaten raw or they can be cooked down into a tasty crumble mixed with other fruits and berries. Our recipe this month is a real treat – completely fat free and a perfect ending to impress at any dinner party.
Red Wine Poached Pears
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 bottle red wine
- 225g caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, halved
- fresh thyme (2-3 sprigs)
- 6 pears
- Halve the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the black seeds and put in a large saucepan with the wine, sugar, cinnamon and thyme. Cut each piece of pod into three long thin strips, add to the pan, and then lower in the pears.
- Poach the pears, covered, for 20-30 mins, making sure they are covered in the wine. The cooking time will very much depend on the ripeness of your pears – they should be tender all the way through when pierced with a cocktail stick. You can make these up to two days ahead and chill.
- Take the pears from the pan, and then boil the liquid to reduce it by half so that it’s syrupy. Serve each pear with the cooled syrup, a strip of vanilla, a piece of cinnamon and a small thyme sprig.
Seasonal Snippets October
As the nights begin to draw in and the days get shorter and shorter, we begin to look forward to our autumn and winter programme. Our kitchen team have been busy preparing our Christmas Menu ready for December. This will be available every Friday and Saturday evening in December with booking essential. So, if you are still looking for a place to hold your staff Christmas party then look no further than the Ropewalk. We can cater for anything up to 40 guests and a bar will be available on the night. Any party wishing to bring their own wine may do so for a small corkage fee.
Our featured vegetable this month is Aubergine. A versatile vegetable, aubergine can be roasted or fried or stewed in dishes like ratatouille or moussaka. Although the plump, pear-shaped variety, with its near-black shiny-skinned exterior, is probably the most familiar in Britain, aubergines come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and sizes. Italian cooks enjoy varieties with long fruit and striking lavender and cream streaks. The aubergine can also be ivory-coloured and ovoid, which almost certainly led people in some countries to name it the ‘eggplant’.
Our Fruit of the month is Pumpkin. With Halloween coming up at the end of the month there was only one choice. Although pumpkin can be used in sweet and savoury dishes, the main reason we buy pumpkin in the UK is to carve weird and wonderful sculptures into the orange flesh. In the coffee shop we will be using pumpkin in our spiced pumpkin and lentil soup, and our in-house baker will be making the American classic pumpkin pie. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, eaten mashed and making its way into soups and purees. Often, it is made into pie, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holidays. In Canada, Mexico, the United States, Europe and China, the seeds are often roasted and eaten as a snack.
Pumpkin Pie Recipe
For the pastry:
100g plain flour
30g ground almonds
30g caster sugar
75g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
For the Filling
1 small pumpkin (approx. 600g)
125ml double cream
100g golden syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
1tsp vanilla essence
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
Pinch of sea salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 170c. Prick the squash all over using a skewer or a fork, place it into a baking dish and cook for 1 hour.
To make the pastry, mix the flour, sugar and almonds together until evenly distributed. Rub in the butter and add the egg yolk to make a dough. If the pastry seems a little dry add a tablespoon of water.
Press the pastry onto the base of a 20cm tart tin with removable base, 3cm deep. Level the surface by laying a sheet of Clingfilm over the top and smoothing it out with your fingers, taking it very slightly higher than the rim of the tin. Place the case on a baking tray.
Cut the squash open, discard any seeds and scoop out the flesh. Weigh 200g of the flesh and mix in a food processor with all of the other ingredients for the filling except the nutmeg. Whizz until this resembles a smooth cream and pour into the pastry case. Grate the fresh nutmeg over the top and bake for 40 minutes until golden and set.
Leave to cool for 2 hours.
Serve with freshly whipped cream
Seasonal Snippets September
Welcome to this month’s edition of Seasonal Snippets. We have had a very busy August down here at the Ropery Coffee Shop with the school holidays in full flow. We have also had an influx of children buying ice-creams and drinks and searching for “Barton Rocks” which have been known to be found right here in our Sculpture Garden and Coffee Shop.
As we mentioned in last month’s edition, we have some very exciting events coming up this month, a full programme which can be seen here http://www.roperyhall.co.uk/whats-on/
Following the success of our Friday night meals we are extending this throughout the autumn. So, if you are lucky enough to have tickets for any of our evening performances on a Friday, join us for a pre-show meal not to be missed!
This month’s featured fruit is the Peach. Peaches and nectarines are the same species, even though they are commonly regarded as different fruits. The only slight difference between nectarines and peaches is the fuzzy skin found on peaches. This is caused by a slight variant in one of the genes found in the fruit. Fresh peaches are second to none, and are perfect eaten as they are (with the obligatory peach juices running down faces and arms!), though extra decadence can be added with lashings of freshly whipped cream or a drizzle of honey to enhance their sweetness. Caramelising the flesh on a hot griddle will add an extra dimension, and poaching the fruit in wine is also a worthy way of serving it. Purée the fruit and use in a classic Italian Bellini recipe for a summery cocktail, or chill into an icy sorbet. Tarts, pies and crumbles will all put peaches to good use.
Our featured vegetable this month is Beetroot or “Beets”. Beets come in many different varieties and can be sliced to produce very pretty salads. To cook, wash – but don’t peel – the beetroot and either boil, steam or bake until tender. Once cool enough, the outer skin should be rubbed off. To avoid stained hands, wash them and anything else you’ve used as soon as possible. Beetroot leaves and stems can also be eaten: cook them as you would any other spring greens. Beetroot can also be used in making desserts. We will be using beetroot to make beetroot and chocolate brownies, but they can be used in cake making too to give a vibrant red colour for example red velvet cake. You will also find beetroot is used as a colourant in things like strawberry jelly, ice-creams and jams.
You will need:
- 250g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
- 100g butter, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
- 250g cooked beetroot, drained
- 3 eggs
- 250g light brown sugar
- 150g ground almonds
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper powder (optional)
- Icing sugar to dust
What to do:
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Prepare a 23cm square baking tin by greasing all over with a little butter. Line with a wide strip of baking paper, leaving two ‘tails’ at either side to help you lift the cooked brownie out of the tin.
Break up the chocolate into squares and put into a heatproof bowl along with the butter. Set over a pan of barely simmering water and allow to gently melt, stirring to mix together as it does so.
Tip the beetroot into a food processor and process to a puree, pausing the processor to scrape down the sides if necessary. Add the melted chocolate, butter and eggs and whizz again until combined. Again, scrape the sides down, then add the sugar, ground almonds, cocoa, baking powder and chilli powder (if using) and process until you have a smooth batter.
Pour into the prepared baking tin and bake for about 30 minutes until the top is set and the brownie is starting to pull a little away from the sides of the tin. A skewer inserted into the centre will come out fairly clean but still a touch sticky – don’t worry if it still seems a little soft as it will firm up on cooling. Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack and allow to go cold in the tin.
Using the baking paper tails, ease the brownie from the tin and cut into 16 squares. Dust the surface with a little icing sugar