Blackberry sorbet

After a successful summer’s lettings, it felt wonderful to be back in the cottage for just one night before more lettings through September.

View from Orford Quay

View from Orford Quay

The apple trees are laden with fruit and we picked blackberries from the garden.

Garden view from the kitchen window

Garden view from the kitchen window

Everything had grown a lot but we had time to weed and deadhead and pick apples before the next guests arrived.

Apple tree

Tree laden with apples

There are so many blackberries around this year and they are earlier than ever. Maybe it’s global warming or simply the effect of a mild winter and warm summer. Blackberry sorbet is fresh and low fat and doesn’t actually have that much sugar in it for each portion or scoop so it is a relatively low carb pudding as well. I made the puree using a mouli legumes or you could use more elbow grease and push it through a sieve. I didn’t use an ice cream machine to churn the fruit although of course you could if you had one. I just made the sorbet one evening and then set the alarm on the oven to remind myself to take it out the freezer each hour where I whizzed it with a stick blender.

Brambles

Blackberry sorbet

INGREDIENTS

110g granulated sugar

100 ml water

450g blackberries

2 tbsp lemon juice


2 tbsp creme de mure (optional)

METHOD

1. Dissolve the sugar gently in the water and then boil for two minutes. Pour into a jug and leave to cool.

2. Whizz the blackberries in a blender, food processor or with a stick blender to make a puree and then pass through a sieve or mouli legumes to get rid of the seeds.

3. When the sugar syrup is cool, add to the puree with the lemon juice,  (and creme de mure) if using. Stir together and then use an ice cream machine to churn and then freeze. Alternatively pour the mixture into a plastic box and put in the freezer. After an hour and half, scrape the frozen sides away from the edge of the box and whizz everything together with a stick blender or mixer to break up any ice crystals that may be forming. Repeat every hour or so until the mixture is frozen but smooth.

4. Take it out the freezer half an hour before serving so that it softens up enough to scoop easily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I did with my gooseberries. Part 2

For the sake of completeness, I did promise I would say what I did with the rest of my gooseberries. I made this brilliant Nigel Slater recipe of pork with gooseberries which made a change from pork chops with apple sauce.

Nigel Slater pork with gooseberrie

Nigel Slater pork with gooseberries

Then I stewed the last few in the microwave and put them on top of my Bircher muesli with some orange slices and a few chopped walnuts to make yet a different variation for my breakfast one day.

Bircher Muesli with gooseberries and orange

Bircher Muesli with gooseberries and orange

 

What I did with my gooseberries. Part 1

I heard that High House Fruit Farm didn’t have many gooseberries left so I rushed over and bought a huge bag of them. There was no PYO this year as the bushes were netted to stop pigeons eating the fruit.

High House Fruit Farm shop

High House Farm shop

There’s always anticipation about what to make but first on my list was Diana Henry’s gooseberry and spelt cake which was quite delicious, the tang of the gooseberries giving a welcome sharpness and the organic wholemeal spelt flour from Maple Farm, a nuttiness which made it feel quite wholesome.

Diana Henry gooseberry and spelt cake

Diana Henry gooseberry and spelt cake

We ate the cake in the garden, where the flower bed was in full bloom.

Orford cottage garden

Orford cottage garden

My husband wanted pie so I  followed Simon Hopkinson’s recipe here with a packet of Jus-Rol  butter puff pastry, in a golden wrapper I think it’s fine using it as long as you check that the one you buy is made with butter.  Lots of them are not and just don’t taste the same. I used the whole 500g packet in a 23cm tin as if you are going to make a pie, then you might as well make a big one and I just added more gooseberries until they were heaped up pleasingly in the tin.

Simon Hopkinson gooseberry pie

Simon Hopkinson gooseberry pie

The third thing I did was make gooseberry and elderflower curd, following a recipe in Mark Diacono’s book,  ‘A Year at Otter Cottage’ and using the very last of the elderflowers which are infused in the curd.

Mark Diacono gooseberry and elderflower curd

Mark Diacono gooseberry and elderflower curd

I then used some of the curd to make a strawberry and  gooseberry and elderflower curd Eton mess, also from ”A Year at Otter Farm’, although I have to confess I used bought crushed meringue nests.

Mark Diacono strawberry and elderflower Eton Mess

Mark Diacono strawberry and elderflower Eton Mess

PS Part 2 of what I did with my gooseberries  coming next and although High House Fruit farm may not have any more, they are still for sale in the shops. ( and a proper review of ‘ A Year at Otter Farm.’)

PPS We didn’t eat all of these at once or else we would be the size of barrels but gooseberries do freeze very well, so do catch the last of them in the shops.

 

 

Walk around Orford, Part 2

 

This walk links up with the one I posted here to make one big loop around Orford. You can do either half or do them both together. These pictures were all taken on a hot, bright and sunny Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks ago but I imagine that this weekend, the weather is going to be the same. The second half of this walk starts in the Market Square from where you can spin around and see St Bartholomew’s Church and the 13th century Kings Head pub,

King's Head and St Bartholomew's Church, Orfor

King’s Head and St Bartholomew’s Church, Orford

the Butley Orford Oysterage, famous for its locally caught and smoked fish

Butley Orford Oysterage

Butley Orford Oysterage

the Pump Street Bakery, renowned for its bread, pastries and now chocolate

Pump Street Bakery

Pump Street Bakery

and over on the opposite side, the Crown and Castle,  a hotel with a really good restaurant, the Trinity.

Crown and Castle

Crown and Castle

Carry on past the hotel and you will come to Orford Castle, which is now run by English Heritage.

Orford Castle

Orford Castle

Follow the road round to the left into Castle Lane, and past a pretty row of cottages.

Castle Lane, Orford

Castle Lane, Orford

At the bottom of the lane, turn left and then follow the public footpath sign to the right of this house through the holiday barns to reach open fields. If you wanted to, you could carry straight along Broad Street and back to Quay Street.

Orford house

Orford house

This footpath leads down to the River and you can see the sails of a boat in the middle of the picture as it sails along the River Alde.

Footpath to river

Footpath to river

If you look back across the fields, you can see the back of Quay Street.

Back of Quay Street

Back of Quay Street

There is a well marked path climbing up onto the flood defences and then you turn back left along to the Quay.

Orford Quay

Orford Quay

Turn left into Quay St and back to the Market Square past the Jolly Sailor, another great Orford pub.

Jolly Sailor, Orford

Jolly Sailor, Orford

Strawberry and elderflower cordial

There’s an elderflower bush or tree at the end of the garden which encroaches onto the lawn and could probably do with a bit of a prune but at this time of year, it’s brilliant for cutting elderflowers as no dog has been near it, it’s not near a road and it’s totally organic. They are a bit later than other blossoms because the bush is not sheltered and prone to the power of the East winds.

Elderflower at the end of the garden

Elderflower at the end of the garden

The flowers are a creamy white, smell of muscat in the warmth and are brilliant for cordials and cakes.   Last year I had great fun making elderflower fritters and elderflower vinegar.  This year ,I rang the changes with a batch of elderflower cordial by adding macerated strawberries, following the recipe from the British Larder blog which gives me constant inspiration. Their buttermilk and spelt soda bread recipe  and the carrot cake  which I made here are two of my absolute favourites. Their restaurant is magnificent and there’s a copy of their cookery book in the cottage because I found another one in a charity shop. ( More fool the donor.)

Elderflower blossom

Elderflower blossom

I followed the recipe exactly and put the cordial in little zip lock bags in the freezer. Then I can bring them out, top up with soda water and serve with ice when we want. It’s refreshing and just a little bit different. When the next bag comes out the freezer, I am going to experiment with a cocktail… or maybe two. Watch this space.

Strawberry and elderflower cordial

British Larder strawberry and elderflower cordial

Cottage bedrooms

The upstairs bedroom overlooks the garden. It has a king size bed, a dressing table with wall mirror and two fitted wardrobes, either side of the bed.

Double bedroom

Double bedroom

Twin bedroom

Twin bedroom

The twin bedroom overlooks the front and has two beds, a fitted wardrobe and a chest of drawers.

Twin bedroom overlooking the street

Twin bedroom overlooking the street

From the twin bedroom, stairs lead to the loft extension which can be used a single bedroom, a playroom or as a study area. There is a view over the garden from the loft extension window.

View over the garden from loft extensio

View over the garden from loft extension

There are plenty of toys and children’s books for all ages from picture books to teenage novels.

Children's books for all ages and toys

Children’s books for all ages and toys in the playroom

Smashed pea and ricotta bruschetta

It’s hot and sunny and bruschetta make an easy lunch.

Time for lunch in the garden

Time for lunch in the garden

The poppies that we bought from Woottens of Wenhaston nursery are in full flower.

Cottage garden

Cottage garden

I used Pump Street Bakery’s sourdough bread and followed Henry Dimbleby’s and Jane Baxter’s recipe for pea and ricotta bruschetta here.

Pump Street Bakery Vermont sourdough

Pump Street Bakery Vermont sourdough

The recipe will become staple in our household when I can’t think of what to have for dinner as it’s so quick to make and Parmesan, lemon and garlic are three staples I always have in the fridge as well as peas in the freezer. It’s fresh and summery and quite delicious. The other topping was simply chopped tomatoes with torn basil leaves in some olive oil.

Pea and ricotta bruschetta and tomato and basil bruschetta

Jane Baxter’s pea and ricotta bruschetta and tomato and basil bruschetta

 

Darsham Nurseries, 17 May 2014

A sparkling review in ‘The Independent’ led us to Darsham Nurseries which turned out to be my  idea of heaven, both an excellent cafe and a nursery full of tempting plants.

Darsham Nurseries

Darsham Nurseries

The cafe entrance  has a welcoming vase of flowers and some sample menus.

Darsham Nurseries table at entrance

Darsham Nurseries table at entrance

Inside, there is a simple room with hesperus flowers on a half wall, delineating a big table for a group from the rest of the grey painted tables, arranged in two lines with mismatched wooden chairs. Some of the chairs are more comfortable than others .

We started with the signature cocktail, a Rhu-bubble,  a mixture of rhubarb spirit, rhubarb syrup and Prosecco. This was so good that I am determined to copy it, fresh and original and a change from the ubiquitous Kir.

Darsham Nurseries Rhu-bubble

Darsham Nurseries Rhu-bubble

The menu has a list of plates of food which you can either share or eat all by yourself, if sharing leaves you feeling a bit anxious. We did a bit of both, and started by splitting a plate of vegetable crudités with wild garlic mayonnaise and a young vegetable salad  with Fielding goats curd and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Darsham Nurseries vegetaable crudities with wild garlic mayonnaise

Darsham Nurseries vegetaable crudities with wild garlic mayonnaise

There’s a delicacy and a precision about the food. We played guess the vegetable with the translucent slices of heritage carrots, beetroot, fennel and turnip.

Darsham Nurseries vegetable salad with Fielding goats curd and toasted pumpkin seeds

Darsham Nurseries young vegetable salad with Fielding goats curd and toasted pumpkin seeds

Then, I had Summerhouse smoked salmon, picked and wild fennel which was light and bright and delicate.

Summerhouse smoked salmon with picked and wild fennel

Summerhouse smoked salmon with picked and wild fennel

My husband had a more substantial and seasonal dish of roasted hake with asparagus and wild garlic and walnut pesto which had a freshness and vibrancy about it. I could put hashtag no filter about the photograph.

Darsham Nurseries roasted hake, Suffolk asparagus, wild garlic and walnut pesto

Darsham Nurseries roasted hake, Suffolk asparagus, wild garlic and walnut pesto

I wasn’t going to have a pudding, (said I beforehand) but my crack cocaine, salted caramel was on the menu. It came in its own little milk jug to pour onto three scoops of vanilla ice-cream. My husband had a chocolate and olive oil mouse with creme fraiche but thought I had made the better choice.

Darsham Nurseries vanilla ice cream, warm salted caramel

Darsham Nurseries vanilla ice cream, warm salted caramel

It’s  a happy, friendly place and we have already booked to go back which is really the best recommendation anyone can make.

Darsham Nurseries, Main Road,  Darsham, Suffolk  IP17 3PW Tel 01728 667022

To get there from Orford, go out the village on the road through Sudbourne to Snape. Turn left onto the A1094,   and then right onto the A12 at the junction. Carry on up the A12 and Darsham Nurseries will be on the right just before the BR station. Booking is strongly advised at weekends.

Asparagus and broad bean risotto, 5 May 2014

It’s the asparagus season and we followed a sign offering asparagus for sale, coming back from Saxmundham on the B1121 towards Snape. It took us over the ford to a house at Benhall Green to a house where the asparagus is grown in a field at the back. You couldn’t get any fresher than that.

Ford at Benhall Green

Ford at Benhall Green

To make some of it go a bit further, I made a risotto and added broad beans. I have to admit these were frozen but I slipped the skins off, apart from the one which somehow got caught in the middle of the picture. It’s fresh and green and springlike and quick to make.

Asparagus and broad bean risotto

Asparagus and broad bean risotto

Asparagus risotto

INGREDIENTS

50g butter plus knob of butter to serve

2 shallots or one onion , finely chopped,

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

200g risotto rice

Glass white wine

750ml vegetable stock or chicken stock

Handful frozen broad beans

Bunch of asparagus

Parmesan cheese to garnish

METHOD

1. Melt the butter and fry the shallots or onion and the celery for 5 minutes until soft but not coloured.

2. Add the risotto rice and stir round until coated in the butter.

3. Add the glass of wine and simmer until it is absorbed while stirring.

4. Slowly add the rest of the stock in batches, stirring from time to time so that one batch is absorbed before you add the next.

5. Meanwhile, cook the asparagus in boiling salted water for 5 minutes until tender. Cut most of it into pieces, leaving some for a garnish.

6. Cook the frozen broad beans in boiling water until they rise to the surface. Scoop out, rinse under cold water and peel to reveal the bright green interiors. You can do all this at the same time as stirring the risotto.

7. Just before the rice is completely cooked, add the chopped asparagus and broad beans to heat through and a knob of butter. Serve with the reserved asparagus on top and Parmesan cheese.

 

 

Campsea Ashe auction

This  auction, run by Clarke and Simpson takes place nearly every Monday and is really worth a day out for its  unique atmosphere.

Clarke and Simpson Auction at Campsea Ashe

Clarke and Simpson Auction at Campsea Ashe

There are previews on the Saturday beforehand where you can take a good look at the lots and you can also leave a bid.

Preview at the Clarke and Simpson Auction at Campsea Ashe

Preview at the Clarke and Simpson Auction at Campsea Ashe

There’s also a produce auction where you can buy plants, veg and fruit at sometimes bargain prices if you can work out how to bid.

Produce auction at Campsea Ashe auction

Produce auction at Campsea Ashe auction

Outside, there’s a market with more produce for sale, household items and bargain seeds for us.

Outdoor market at Campsea Ashe auction

Outdoor market at Campsea Ashe auction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We bid successfully for our first auction purchase,  a folding garden bench which we have now transformed by painting it  a sage green. There’s a smug feeling now when I look at our new bargain.

Bench bought at Clarke and Simpson Auction at Campsea Ashe

Bench bought at Clarke and Simpson Auction at Campsea Ashe