Category Archives: Local stores

Riverford at Oxfork

 

Last month I wrote about the Oxford Bake Off and how I wanted to challenge myself more in the food world. While there were no bake offs for me this April I set myself up to go to a food event in Oxford at Oxfork. Oxfork had been on my list for a while, so an event evening seemed like a perfect reason!

 

Riverford supply ‘organic veg and lots more to your door, they began in Devon supplying to 30 friends and now supply 40,000 boxes a week to homes around the UK from their regional farms. The event was a showcase of Riverford ‘Jake the Veg’, this sounded like a good night.

 

On arrival I was welcomed with a glass of Prosecco or Organic Apple juice, there was a variety of Riverford cheeses on the counter, which were available for nibbling for the whole evening. A very pleasing start to my night already, I do love cheese!

 

I was shown to a 6 seater table and waited for a few minutes to see who would be joining me at this Riverford event. It was long before I was joined by 5 other women, 3 work colleagues and 2 friends. Once introductions were made and a cheese runner was selected for the evening, we started to take a look at what was on our table. The Riverford brochure, our evenings menu and our crudities board.

 

The crudities were varied, there was the usual crisps, celery, carrots, peppers and then the spring onions. Spring onions weren’t really solid enough to work with the dip, which caused amusement around the table! The dip was delicious, it was a thick dip, definitely suited to chunky vegetables. The ingredients were nuts, garlic and possibly a hint of chilli. The kick that the dip gave was pleasing and moreish to all 6 members on my table.

 

When the crudities were finished and the board was taken away we were given our starter. This was a stunningly green starter: lentil and chard soup. The bowls were all varied, my bowl seemed huge in comparison to some, but it certainly gave a homely feel to our meal.

 

What is PSB? This was the question on my tables lips. One woman next to me knew the answer! I’ll tell you later. So you’ll have to keep reading if you don’t already know…
The main course: PSB, orange and cumin carrots and potato rosti. I think the carrots had been soaked in orange the flavour was strong and worked very well with the carrot and cumin combination. The reaction on the table over our plat of veg, was I thought very interesting. One comment was that some other guests had never been so full of vegetables, luckily for the two vegetarians, we had not had this problem before!

 

The dessert was Rhubarb cake with rhubarb compote and crème fraiche. This wasn’t the tables favourite dish, it would seem that rhubarb wasn’t that popular on our table. I thought it was at least something very different, I’ve never tried rhubarb in a cake and I would try it again, but perhaps with warm compote next time.

 

Our table choice of wine was red, there was some wines in the tables brochure, a bottle for £9.However our wine was not the same as advertised and came in at a higher price, clearly we hadn’t ordered from the brochure. This caused some surprise and annoyance on my table, but I don’t feel that there was a need to complain. I paid £25 a month ago for what I considered to be a great event, and I wasn’t disappointed. So that night the ‘expensive’ wine and a tip was all I was paying for, in my eyes £7 is a good night!

 

Throughout the night conversation flowed easily at our table. We talked about Oxford restaurants and bars; the favourites, the disasters and the one off times. Oxfork looks small from the outside but it is certainly bigger on the inside. The vibe is relaxed, it feels like your front room, if you had a really nice front room! Our table decision was that Oxfork was certainly unique, it has something that Oxford has needed for a while. I’m glad it’s so local to me!

 

Thank you to Oxfork for hosting a great night, I will keep an eye out for the next one and I have already raved about the event and your place to anyone that will listen. For more information on Riverford Organic here is the link:

http://www.riverford.co.uk/about_riverford/

What is PSB? Purple Sprouting Broccoli!

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Reggae Reggae beef rib

The Covered Market in Oxford is like a city within a city it includes clothes shops, shoe shops, a barbers, cafes, and many food stalls.  MFeller, Son & Daughter has a variety of meats on the outside of their shop. My other half picked up a pack of 4 Beef Ribs for about £7 the other weekend, the size of each rib has ment that he is having one a week, a great price for making 4 meals. This week he created a Reggae Reggae beef rib, it was slowly cooked for 3 1/2 hours.

 Ingredients
Beef rib
Reggae Reggae Sauce
Large glass of red wine
Pint of Stock

 

Select an ovenproof dish that your beef will sit well in, if you have one with a lid use this, alternatively you’ll need to cover this with tinfoil.
Pre-heat the oven to 165C
Cover your beef with a good helping of Reggae Reggae Sauce, roll the beef in the sauce for maximum coverage, this could be done in the morning to marinade.
Add a glass of red wine into your ovenproof dish and a pint of stock, we used a vegetable stock cube, make sure your meat is covered with the liquid, add a bit more stock if necessary.
Cover the dish with your lid or tinfoil and put into the oven for 3 1/2 hours, allow to rest for about 20mins.
The beef should fall off the bone with ease. Serve this with your roast veg and greens and enjoy!

Salmon en croute – new year to picnic

Salmon en croute with currants and ginger – Rick Stein

I made this last New Year which was great hot or cold and a great alternative after too much turkey or nut roast.

This time though I made this great dish for a family and friends’ picnic on the last bank holiday Monday. The group included 3 children and 16 Adults of all ages and taste preferences. I was unsure whether or not to risk the recipe as the flavours might not have been to everyone’s liking, but I decided to go for it. And I’m pleased to say it worked. So much so that there was none to take home for the following days lunch!

On Sunday morning I prepared the dish, so it was ready to lift the next day.

I bought my fish from Oxford’s Covered Market Haymans Fisheries, they had a whole fillet of salmon which weighed the
total amount needed.

As I was in a hurry on the Saturday of purchase I forgot to ask them to skin it, something they would have happily done! It was now left for my masterful other half to do this job, a task that was not easy, bearing in mind the weight that we were dealing with. It was done
with success, thankfully!

I halved the salmon and followed the recipe as written below. All the ingredients were easy to source you simply need a good fishmonger and a
supermarket!

The Recipe:

2 x 550g skinned salmon filet, taken from behind the gut cavity of a 3-4 kg fish
100g unsalted softened butter
4 pieces of stem ginger in syrup – well drained and finely diced
25g currants
1/2 tsp ground mace
750g chilled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
Salt and ground pepper
-Season the salmon fillet well with salt. Mix the softened butter with the stem ginger, currants, mace, ½ tsp of salt and black pepper. Spread the inner face of one salmon fillet evenly with the butter mixture and then lay the second fillet on top.

-Cut the pastry in half and roll one piece on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 4cm/1½in bigger than the salmon all the way around – approximately 18 x 33cm/7 x 13in. Roll the second piece out into a rectangle 5cm/2in larger than the first one all the way round.

– Lay the smaller rectangle of pastry on a well-floured baking sheet and place the salmon in the centre. Brush a wide band of beaten egg around the salmon and lay the second piece of pastry on top, taking care not to stretch it. Press the pastry tightly around the outside of the salmon, trying to ensure that you have not trapped in too much air, and then press the edges together well. Trim the edges of the pastry neatly to leave a 2.5cm/1 in band all the way around. Brush this once more with egg. Mark the edge with a fork and decorate the top with a fish scale effect by pressing an upturned teaspoon gently into the pastry, working in rows down the length of the parcel.

-Chill for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6 and put a large baking sheet in it to heat up.

Remove the salmon en croute from the fridge and brush it all over with beaten egg. Take the hot baking sheet out of the oven and carefully slide the salmon parcel onto it. Return it to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Leave it to rest for 5 minutes.

Transfer the salmon to a warmed serving plate and take it to the table whole. Cut it across into slices to serve.

Book – Rick Stein’s Seafood, published 2001, page 140, Salmon en croute with currants and ginger

(Designed with a spoon!)

My thoughts:

Cons
I would suggest not using all of the pastry, simply put don’t go all the way around. Just use enough pastry to go on top of the fish (as a lid!).  I found at New Year this was good as a decorative feature and less filling. Removing the lid allows the pastry to be an option for your guests/party, to eat as much or as little as they wish.

Pros
It can be had hot or cold, and for the masses! I pre-made this for the bank holiday and then couriered it to its final destination with no hassle. I just needed a large enough container, being a roasting tray in my case!

Oxford Foodies Festival

South Park Oxford, a large expanse of space, central to Oxford, lovely especially on a sunshine day! To mention everyone their would be a very very long blog but I’ll highlight some of my favourites here:

First off we’d left out tickets at home 😦 great start I know! However thanks to fabulous technology in this instance an Iphone the email confirmation did suffice!

The first stop for us was the ORiGami tent, where they were selling Aspall, Becks, and some fizz, we stuck to the Aspall and Becks but they definitely had a good roof for any rain that was coming the festivals way. By the looks of it they cater for events weddings and parties. http://www.origamievents.co.uk/

Our first food stop was ‘Discover the Origin’ was there with some delicious Pamigiano-Reggiano Cheese, a leg of Parma Ham, to be cut to people’s requirements. The cheese, 18yrs, 22yrs and 30 yrs in maturing stages, my favourite was 18yrs, the flavour was of a good strength, but if you prefer it more mild I’d skip to the aged parmesan, for more information. www.discovertheorigin.co.uk

I purchased a lovely chocolate book for my friend who loves Chocolate, the author also wrote in her email address so questions can be asked if anyone is stuck! Don’t get me wrong I love chocolate but I think this will be much more appreciated by a real chocolate lover. The book, Auberge du Chocolat is not out in stores yet, it will be in a couple of weeks though, if you do miss out on getting down to the festival. I loved the chocolate shoes, you can buy them online and they will last for a year, if you can make it last!! Everything at the stand was made last week, something that might not happen with Thorntons chocolates. http://www.aubergechocolat.co.uk/

Buying a drink as soon as we got there was a great idea but it did make it tricky to juggle tasters and cups, so my advise would be hold off have a nose then a drink.

For those of you that like your unusual cheeses the Cheshire Cheese Company was a stand with a great marketing banner – Cheese that makes you grin. The cheeses I tried were tasty, but some were very unusual! http://www.cheshirecheesecompany.co.uk/

Cotswold Gold Extra Virgin Cold Presses Rapeseed Oil: this is a bottle of  sexy looking and tasting Rapeseed Oil. As I heard one woman put it: ‘it’s very yellow!’ It even tastes good for you. They were at the Foodies Festival last year but with only one simple delicious oil, this year they have returned with many varieties; Original, Chilli, Lemon, Garlic, Basil, Dill, Cumin, Smoked and Rosemary.  They can be found in Wheatley Farm shop, I’ve not yet been but I will take a look out for it. http://www.cotswoldgold.co.uk/

The Cotswold Cider Company had some lovely ciders, and some great names to boot!
Look out for it growing in the next year. this year we purchased 1 large No Brainer and 2 small Side Burns
Location: On the other side of Faringdon, just on the Oxfordshire border.
People talk: I heard people talking about it as they’d previously only seen it at their local cricket club in Faringdon, they sounded pleased to have found it again at an oxfordshire event.
The website is under construction however will be live in a few weeks write it down! and visit it in time for October!  http://cotswoldciderco.com/
Drinks:
Dry – No Brainer Cider – ‘authentic still hazy cider ‘rich fruity distinctive’
Med/Dry – Side burn – med sweet ‘real toffee apple infusion
Sweet and flavoured – Sweet Cheeks – ‘elderbery and blackberry – lipsmacking’
Fizzy! Coleshill House Cider – An alternative to fizzy wine!

For lunch the meat-eater had his meaty burger, but this time it was not of the standard variety. We headed to Tuckers, an Australian burger joint, (for want of a better word!). On offer were a variety of ‘non normal burgers, they smelt fantastic. However I’m sure I must look like a non burger type as I was not pressed into selecting one of their 5 fine flavours. The Burgers all had the calorie counts on the board, something I liked about their honesty and shows how meat isn’t that bad for ya! 🙂

Tuckers ‘Big 5’

1. Ostrich – from previous times apparently ‘not much fat and very tasty.’
2.Buffalo
3.Wildebeest
4.Springbok – the chosen one,’ tasty but the feeling was that the flavour wasn’t that distinctive’
5.Wild Boar

As a Veggie had a lovely platter, like a burritos but on flat bread, a mix of 3 or 5 toppings, £6-£7. You can find this next to the Posh Pork Pie stand.

We bought some venison sausages and some wild boar burgers for friends birthdays and the freezer, from Hubertus Game the Burgers were cooking on their stands BBQ and I must say smelt like how a BBQ should smell like, if it’s going to be full of burgers! www.HubertusGamePitlochry.com

We found plenty of lovely wines at but our favourite @foodiesfestival was OTUWHERO ESTATES. They had 4 Sauvignon Blancs, a preferred choice of ours.

We tried some samples of: Sauvee Sea, Two Rivers, O:TU, Black Cottage. We purchased 1 Sauvignon Blanc Sauvee Sea and 1 Sauvignon Blanc Black Cottage. After sitting in the sun and thoroughly enjoying the  buzz around the festival we had another glass. The staff were friendly, and knew a lot about their produce, I did enjoy seeing the trade between the wine guys and the cheese toastie ladies across the way. why not have a sandwich for a lovely glass of wine as payment!

Items that were spotted along the way were the very cute hedgehog breads, which could be seen at the homemade bread stall.

All in all we had a lovely day and will return again to the foodies festival. I hope it continues to grow and keep returning to Oxford!

Bicester Avenue Home and Garden Centre and Broccoli Soup

The thing about Oxfordshire is that there are so many great food/farm shops, only a short drive from the main city centre. The purpose of my trip out today was for some essential kitchen items, that have over time; worn out, chipped cracked etc. Bicester Avenue Home and Garden Centre has a Lakeland which in my eyes has everything you would think of and need in a home kitchen. The range in products was impressive too; including Le Creuset, Raymond Blanc pots, Tupperware in all sorts of shapes and not to mention square cake tins – controversial!

The Wyevale shop was huge, I’m fairly sure there was at least 2 restaurants inside. I must say I was impressed with the chilli plant which for £7.99 had oodles of chillies on it before you had to do any work! The farm shop was the main appeal for me, the food supplies ranged from Pieminster (also found in the covered market in town) local sausages, a variety of chutneys and oils, (some of which was available for tasting) and a huge range of ciders and ales, which were not available for tasting on site, so a few have been purchased for home enjoyment.

This farm shop is the type of shop that invites you to purchase something, the moment you walk into it. Even if you hadn’t intended on doing any more food shopping for the week. I was also intrigued by the frozen ‘Patchwork Cheese Pate’ something I’ve never seen before, but it looked like there was a great range of flavours ‘Stilton and Guinness’ was the one I noticed first, maybe I’ll try one next time!

My purchases:
Broccoli (for soup making for this week).
Teapigs tea: lemongrass and peppermint.
A variety of Sheppys cider and Oxfordshire Ales.

My Soup – Broccoli, lemon and chilli soup.

1 Large Broccoli – purchased today as mentioned
A handful of green beans before they go past their best
1 home-grown and dried chilli
2 slices of lemon
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 Onion and 1 garlic clove
Vegetable stock cube with a large amount of water – cover your broccoli!

I’ve made this purely for my working week of lunches:
Chop the broccoli up and throw into a saucepan, along with the green beans topped and tailed.
Boil the kettle and fill up your measuring jug, just add one vegetable stock cube, add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and stir it around until the cube has dissolved. Once this happens add this too your pan of broccoli, top up with boiled water if needed, and start to bring the broccoli and beans to the boil.
Meanwhile chop the onion and garlic and fry in a pan, not too much oil though!
Then add this too your broccoli pan, (I find this way you don’t end up with too much oil in your soup.)
Reduce your soup to a simmer and remove the lid to add the chilli and lemon, put the lid on the soup and continue to simmer until the broccoli is nice and soft.
Now simply whizz it up and leave to cool before putting into a container to take to work.
Just remember to lift the container in the morning!