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 February

Welcome to February’s seasonal snippets. We have a packed schedule down at Ropery Hall this month including the half term children’s theatre, Horace and the Yeti – a great way to treat young people and keep them occupied. We also have a Yeti workshop an hour before each performance so each child can make their own yeti to keep. Horace and the Yeti is an eco-adventure for children aged four years and up, featuring an original music score and ripping yarns galore.

This month’s seasonal vegetable is the leek. Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct flavour – quite harsh when raw (only very young leeks are eaten this way) but, when cooked, very delicate, like a mild onion but with a hint of sweetness. Leeks are very versatile and work well cooked in various recipes or as a side dish. Two of the world’s most famous soups, Scotland’s cock-a-leekie and France’s crème vichyssoise, are based around them.

Our seasonal fruit is grapefruit. Not to everybody’s taste this harsh citrus fruit comes in different varieties. Named for the fact that the fruits grow in grape-like bunches, grapefruits are the largest citrus fruits, growing up to 18cm in diameter. Inside, the flesh is segmented, like an orange, though the flavour is more tart.  They come in both seeded and seedless varieties and, although the skins are always yellow, sometimes with a faint blush of pink, the flesh varies from yellow-ish white through to pink and ruby red. Grapefruits are also a good source of fibre and vitamin C.

Grapefruit and greek yoghurt cake

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 340g Greek yoghurt
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Zest of 1 grapefruit
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 floz vegetable oil
  • 4 floz grapefruit juice

For the glaze

  • 4 tbsp. grapefruit juice
  • 250g icing sugar

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a loaf tin with baking parchment and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 200g of the caster sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
  3. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all well incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the grapefruit juice and remaining 75g of caster sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
  5. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
  6. For the glaze, combine the icing sugar and grapefruit juice and drizzle over the cake.

Seasonal Snippets January

I should like to start by wishing everybody a very happy and prosperous New Year. After a very hectic and fast paced December we are starting to get everything back to normal down here at The Ropewalk. We also arrive in January after the fantastic news of the Waterside Artists Co-operative completing the purchase of The Ropewalk building in mid-December. This allows us more freedom for improvements and we are looking forward with great optimism to the future. A full article can be read here

Onions are widely used in many dishes even if it is to just complement other flavours. We constantly use onions in our soups and specials as they are an excellent provider of vitamins B and C.

Our featured fruit this month is Lemon. The trees yellow fruit has many uses.  We use the juice for cooking and cleaning and the pulp and rind can be used in baking. The juice of the lemon is approximately 5-6% citric acid with a PH of around 2.2 giving it its sour taste. The distinctive sour taste of lemon juice is used in drinks such as lemonade and desserts like lemon meringue pie and tarte au citron (which will be a feature on our first Friday Night Food of the month).

Tarte au citron

  • 400g sweet shortcrust pastry (or a pre-made pastry case!)
  • 6 lemons
  • 6 eggs
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 60g butter, diced

Method

  1. If not using a pre-made pastry case, butter a loose-bottom tarte dish. Roll out the pastry and line the dish with it. Bake blind for 15 mins at 190C. Leave to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 150C.
  2. Juice and zest the lemons. In a pan, pour the lemon juice and zest, sugar and the whole eggs. Mix with a spatula and cook at medium heat until the mixture bubbles (be careful not to let the eggs scramble), stirring continuously. Add the diced butter.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Place in oven for 15 mins. Remove and cool.

Seasonal Snippets December

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Don’t forget to book in early for our Christmas themed afternoon teas available on December 15 and 22. We also have a busy schedule down at Ropery Hall with music, film and theatre all to get you in a festive mood including Great British Bake Off 2014 winner Nancy Birtwhistle who  is putting on a full day of demonstrations and food ready to impress all your guests this Christmas.

Believe it or not our seasonal vegetable this month is the Brussels sprout. Long relegated to just the Christmas table, Brussels sprouts have garnered a dreadful reputation. Like miniature versions of the common cabbage, they grow on large stalks and have a sweet, nutty flavour, which some people can find too pungent. But, treated with a touch of love and care, these little buds can become a firm winter favourite. Contrary to popular opinion, Brussels sprouts do not benefit from having a cross cut into the bottom of them. Instead of helping them to cook evenly, the cross can make the sprouts waterlogged. Instead, cut sprouts in half, or just pop them into the pan as they are. Try Brussels sprouts shredded, either eaten raw in a salad or flash-fried with bacon and plenty of butter or a few spoonfuls of crème fraiche. Throw in some chestnuts for a particularly seasonal treat that’s a perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast. Or blanch whole sprouts briefly in boiling water, douse in cream and bake in the oven for a luxurious gratin. Leftovers make delicious bubble and squeak. Mix the Brussels sprouts with mashed potato, shape into little patties and fry until golden-brown. Top with a poached egg for a simple brunch.

Our fruit for this month is fig. This striking fruit, with its fresh green or deep purple skin and vibrant deep pink flesh, is a wonderful addition to the Christmas table. Figs have naturally high sugar content, making them an ideal match for equally intense ingredients, such as salty prosciutto or feta – a classic Italian combination. Eat fresh figs on their own with goats’ cheese, or slice into wedges and caramelise lightly and toss in salads with bitter leaves. Alternatively, bake them until tender and drizzle with honey and crème fraîche or yoghurt, or poach in port or sweet sherry with aromatic flavourings such as cinnamon, citrus peel and pomegranate seeds and serve with cream. Dried figs can be soaked in boiling water or lightly steamed to reconstitute. They’re excellent chopped, mixed with nuts and spices and added to tea-breads and cakes, or stewed, flavoured with star anise and fennel.

December Recipe


Brussels Sprout Gratin

Ingredients

  • 400g Brussels sprouts (washed and peeled and halved)
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 onion
  • 50g flour
  • 350ml double cream
  • 100g butter
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 100g cheese (cheddar or feta works best)
  • 100g pancetta lardons (optional)

Method

  • If you are using Pancetta lardons, add to a large non-stick saucepan, frying until browned. If not skip straight to the next point.
  • Add the leeks, onion and Brussels sprouts and stir fry until tender. Sprinkle over the flour and stir through the ingredients.
  • Pour in the cream and bring to the boil for 2 minutes stirring continuously. The sauce will be lovely and thick. Pour the Brussels sprouts mix into a small ovenproof dish.
  • Tip the breadcrumbs and butter into a bowl and rub until all the butter is incorporated. Add the grated cheese and mix well. Spread evenly over the Brussels sprouts mixture.
  • Set the grill to high and place the dish under until the topping is golden brown and crispy.