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 – July
Welcome to July’s seasonal snippets. We are seeing some fabulous weather at the moment; bringing with it some excellent seasonal produce perfect for salads and al fresco dining. This month we will be focussing on salads and summer fruits to brighten up any barbecue.
Here in Britain at the first hint of sun, we optimistically haul rusting barbecue grills from sheds and garages to be given a good scrub. There’s something irresistible about the prospect of food sizzling over smoky charcoal and eating outdoors with friends and family on a warm sunny day.
Our focus will be on salad leaves and the different varieties out there and how to utilize the different flavours to get the most out of your salad dishes. We start off with lettuce; among the most commonly available floppy lettuces in the UK are Round, Butterhead, Lollo Rosso, Escarole, Oak Leaf and Little Gem. Crisp lettuce includes Iceberg, Cos, Curly Endive (also known as Frisée), Web’s Wonder and Romaine.
Lettuce is the base for many salads but can be mixed with other salads like spinach, rocket, radicchio or lambs lettuce to add some vibrancy to your table. All of the above can be mixed with a little salad dressing which is very easy to make. At The Ropewalk we use Womersley Vinegars that come in a variety of flavours. We use these on all our salads and the feedback speaks for itself. Mix the vinegar of your choice with a nice olive oil in the ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil to make a perfect salad dressing for any salad. Womersley Vinegars are also on sale at the Coffee Shop for you to take home.
Our fruit this month is gooseberry. We grow our own here at The Ropewalk and use the produce to make lovely cakes and pies. The sizes of large grapes, but with a more spherical shape, gooseberries are related to the blackcurrant, and have been a popular British fruit since as far back as Elizabethan times. Early in the season they are bright green, with a veined effect on the skin, and quite hard and tart – they are best for cooking with, in particular to make the classic English pudding, gooseberry fool. Later on, softer, sweeter varieties become available, often yellow or red coloured – they are good eaten raw. Some varieties have sparse, thin hairs.
3 tbsp caster sugar
200g Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
200ml double cream
Put the gooseberries and sugar in a pan with a splash of water. Heat gently, stirring, then bring to a simmer and cook until the fruit starts to burst. Squash the gooseberries with a potato masher or fork until pulpy. Cool then chill until cold in the fridge.
Put the yoghurt in a bowl and beat with the icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Gently whisk in the cream (it will thicken as you whisk so don’t overdo it). Ripple through the gooseberry pulp then spoon into pretty glasses or bowls to serve.
June Seasonal Snippets
Welcome to this month’s edition of seasonal snippets. This month our featured fruit is cherry, and instead of our featured vegetable this month we will be looking at some wonderful fresh herbs (some of which can easily be grown at home)
One of the delights of the summer, cherries are much loved for their succulent texture, flavour and gorgeous good looks. The juicy flesh can be sweet or sour, depending on which of the hundreds of varieties they are. Cherries are divided into three groups: sweet, sour and hybrids. Buy plump, shiny cherries that have their stalks attached and look for fruit that is dark red, firm but not hard.
Generally, pale cherries are sweet and dark cherries more acidic. It is always a good idea to try before you buy to get the flavour that you prefer.
The herbs we are featuring are basil, mint and thyme. There are several types of mint, each with its own subtle difference in flavour and appearance. The most popular type is spearmint, with its pointed, serrated leaves and a familiar refreshing flavour. It is commonly used to make mint sauce or jelly and in tea.
Basil is most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, with its sweet, strong aroma and flavour. There are three main Mediterranean types: sweet, with large green leaves; Greek, with smaller leaves and a peppery undertone; and purple, whose dark leaves have a milder flavour.
Thyme is very easy to grow, especially in sunshine, thriving in rocky crevices or containers, with woody stems and base. It’s one herb which snow can be brushed from to harvest the sprigs for kitchen use and is notable for deterring garden pests like beetles while the flowers are known for the nectar they generate, which attracts bees that subsequently produce thyme-infused honey. Thyme is so versatile that it’s also sought after for soap, toothpaste, cosmetics, perfume, and antibacterial cream.
Chocolate Cherry Brownie
- 175 g unsalted butter
- 200 g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) , broken up
- 75 g dried cherries
- 75 g cocoa powder , sifted
- 100 g plain flour , sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 300 g golden caster sugar
- 4 large free-range eggs
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line a 20cm x 30cm baking tin with greaseproof paper. In a bowl over a pan of simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate, mixing gently until smooth. Stir in the cherries, and then remove from the heat. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder and sugar. Add this to your melted chocolate mixture then stir until it’s all combined really well. Beat your eggs then mix these in, too.
- Pour this brownie mix into the baking tin, and place in the oven for around 15 to 20 minutes. You don’t want to overcook it, so you don’t want a skewer to come out clean. The brownie should be slightly springy on the outside but gooey in the middle. Allow them to cool in the tray for 30 minutes then carefully turn them out on to a chopping board and cut into 3cm squares. Pile them on plates and dust with icing sugar.
Seasonal Snippets May
This month we celebrate Grand gardening day coming up on Sunday 20th May. This will run between 10am and 4pm. It will be a special day celebrating everything gardening with stalls, events and refreshments. There will also be a full programme of talks, including Nick Hamilton as our featured speaker.
This month’s seasonal vegetable is carrot and our fruit of the month is apricot.
The carrot is one of the most versatile root vegetables around – a result of its sweet flavour, which means it can be used raw or cooked, in sweet or savoury dishes.
Carrots should be firm, with unblemished, bright orange skins. In spring, look out for young, thin carrots with their feathery greens still attached – they’re particularly tender and sweet.
Those on sale later in the season will be larger and tougher. Some argue that, of all vegetables, carrots that are grown organically have the most marked improvement of flavour.
Apricots are a relative of the peach, nectarine, plum and cherry. They are fragrant, with a soft, velvety skin that ranges from pale yellow to deep orange. Inside there’s a large kernel that will fall out easily if the flesh is ripe. An apricot’s colour is not always a reliable guide to flavour, but steer clear of very pale varieties, and always avoid wrinkled or blemished skins. The flesh should feel moderately firm with some give.
12oz Dark brown sugar
12oz Light brown sugar
12floz sunflower oil
1 small pot soured cream
4tsp vanilla essence
18oz wholemeal flour
2tsp bicarbonate of soda
6oz desiccated coconut
22oz grated carrot
- Beat together all the wet ingredients until well combined
- Add dried ingredients and mix well
- Add the coconut and carrot and mix well
- Place into a lined cake tin in a preheated oven at 140°c for 1 ½ hours until baked (test with a skewer)
For a cream cheese frosting, mix together one tub of full fat cream cheese, 100g soft butter, the juice and zest of a lemon and 200g icing sugar until thick.
Seasonal Snippets April
Spring brings along plenty of fresh produce for us to use in the Coffee Shop. We have already seen a lovely spring lamb dish on our Friday Night Food menu which went down a storm! Keep a look out for our ever changing specials, especially on a Friday where we include a meat or fish dish alongside our veggie favourites. Friday Night Food is served between 5pm and 8pm with last orders at 7.15pm, so if you haven’t been and tried our great value, tasty meals, make sure to try us out as soon as possible!
This month’s seasonal vegetables are peppers. Peppers are also known as capsicums, bell peppers, sweet peppers or by their colours, for example red and yellow peppers. Green peppers are the unripe state of red peppers and are the most aggressively flavoured that softens with cooking. Once ripe and red, peppers are gentler and sweeter in flavour and far more use raw or cooked, although it’s common to use red and green peppers together. Yellow and orange peppers are individual varieties rather than stages between green and red peppers, and both of these were specially bred to be sweet and gentle. Purple peppers have a slightly stronger flavour but will turn green when cooked.
This month’s seasonal fruit is passion fruit. Also known as granadilla, passion fruit is a tropical fruit about the size of an egg with a brittle outer shell that contains crunchy seeds surrounded by intensely flavoured, slightly sour, yellow, juicy pulp. Its inedible shell can be purple or yellow in colour. Passions are native to subtropical wild regions of South America, probably originated in Paraguay. It is an avid climber that grows on anything that it can grapple around through its tendrils.
Passion Fruit and lime puddings
- 4 passion fruit
- 300ml double cream
- 200g condensed milk
- Juice of 2 limes plus wedges to decorate
- Cut the passion fruit in half and scoop out the pulp. Reserve 4tsp for decoration and sieve the remainder into a large bowl to remove the seeds.
- Add the cream, condensed milk and lime juice to the bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until evenly mixed and starting to thicken.
- Spoon into glasses and chill until ready to serve. Decorate with the reserved passion fruit pulp and lime wedges.
Seasonal Snippets March
Welcome to this month’s seasonal snippets. It’s almost time to change the clocks again as we jump into spring with lots of excellent produce to look forward to. Spring brings us many lovely greens like spring cabbage, asparagus, artichoke and peas. As well as the beautiful fruit and vegetables to whet the appetite we have a full programme of music, theatre and comedy at Ropery Hall including a comedy double header lined up for you over the weekend of March 9 and 10 with the wonderfully talented Angela Barnes on the 9th, and the slightly wacky cooking antics of George Egg on the 10th. Tickets are still available for both gigs so come on down for a couple of nights of laughter at Ropery Hall.
Our seasonal vegetable this month is spinach which is believed to be of Persian origin. The name “Florentine” is often used to describe dishes containing spinach (and a creamy sauce). It is thought that this name dates back to the 16th century and the Italian wife of France’s Henry II,Catherine de Medici who it is believed introduced spinach to the Court of France and to honour her Italian heritage, she then decided to call any dish containing spinach Florentine.
Our seasonal fruit this month is Lemon. Oval in shape, with a pronounced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile fruits around, and contain a high level of Vitamin C.
Although the juicy yellow flesh is a little too sour to eat on its own, its citrus fragrance and tartness means it’s wonderful combined with all manner of ingredients and dishes, from the sweet to the savoury. The bright yellow skin can be used as well, when zested. The lemon is a kitchen essential.
Spinach Mushroom and Pesto Lasagne
(A Coffee Shop favourite at The Ropewalk)
- 1kg button mushrooms (sliced)
- 25g salted butter
- 1 white onion (diced)
- 1 bag of spinach washed
- 1 jar green pesto
- 330ml double cream
- 250ml white wine
- 300ml veg stock
- Cornflour to thicken
- lasagne sheets (fresh is best but dry works also)
- Sautee the mushrooms and onions in the butter until softened
- Add the white wine, cream and stock and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the pesto and add the spinach
- Once the spinach has wilted down, season to taste and leave to one side.
- If the sauce is too watery add a small amount of cornflour mixed with water to thicken
- Layer the lasagne in an oven proof dish, alternating between the sauce and the pasta sheets
- When you reach the top of the dish, generously grate cheese on the top (smoked works perfectly for this recipe)
- Oven bake for 30-40mins on 160°c until the top is browned and the lasagne sheets are cooked