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Rain, veg boxes, tasting, a job offer in the Bahamas, Beef casserole and upsetting the French.

The weather has dominated the scene this week with very nearly more rain than a summer’s day in Wales and a sharp uptake in the demand for Ark building classes. For those most badly affected, I cannot help but feel sympathy and hope that their insurance company does what it is actually paid to do. However, to the Audi driver that drove at me at high speed through a flood, well lets just say karma (and water ingestion in your engine air intakes) takes all in its own way eventually.

Thankfully Mr Landy has taken it all in his stride and there has never been a point when it looks as if we are about to run out of wine and were unable to get to the Coop (it’s murder in there) or the post office in order to dispatch orders.

I haven’t been alone in doing aquatic deliveries this week. Greg from Sunshine and Green in Cavendish has been out and about doing his veg box round braving the flooding in the dark! We have only just begun to get this weekly delivery of wonderful organic produce as we tend to see Greg a lot at the local farmer’s markets and can generally top up then. However, in the past couple of months we have had times when we don’t see each other with reliable regularity so the weekly veg box I have been promising to order has finally become a fixture.

Each week it is the reliably familiar selection of seasonal veg but often with a twist. The carrots we steamed to accompany our halibut fillets this week were multi-coloured and as rich in their deep purple, yellow and orange hues as they were in their flavour. Cauliflower was Romanesco and crisp as you like. Leeks were incorporated into a cream sauce heightened with parmesan cheese to complement the brassicas and I am only scratching the surface of the week’s veg menu. We never throw anything away, it has become a point of principle to not do so. I have been up to Greg’s 4 acre plot and seen the hard work that goes into that produce, it would be a criminal waste to not use as much as possible. Peelings go into stock, carrot tops are a great substitution for parsley in a chimichurri sauce or a garlic rich persillade. The selection each week challenges you to think about how you might make the most of it. The salsify this week was a new one on me, cooked rather like fondant potatoes it was a welcome change. However, the habanero chilli is still lurking in the fridge door daring me to use it. I will, but you really need to takes these little buggers unawares or they can quickly get the better of you.

Follow the link to Sunshine and Green here.

And before you ask, no I am not on commission! If the product is good, then it is worth promoting just so that others can enjoy it too.

I have been out and about this week delivering to various places. One of my favourite visits is always with Ruben Aguilar Bel, head chef at The Angel Hotel in Stoke-by-Nayland, not least because he always has something for me to taste whenever I visit. You cannot help but like a man who feeds you great things. This week I have been promised a much anticipated taste of pastry chef Gabi’s white poppy seed ice cream. However, that has to wait until we have discussed cooking on salt in Switzerland, gathering liquorice in Spain and I have tried Ruben’s latest mushroom ravioli in a beautiful cream sauce rich with amongst other things, Manchego cheese, truffle and lime zest. I tell you, my job can be tough sometimes but hey! Someone has to do it!

I watch as Gabi assembles her dessert for me to try. The attention to detail always delights me. Roasted plum slices on a marjoram infused mouse with granola and white poppy seed tuille in the shape of an autumnal sycamore leaf topped with the much anticipated white poppy seed ice cream. It almost seems a crime to take a spoon to it such is the delicate nature of the presentation.

However, that is the purpose of this art.

The ice cream does not disappoint, silky smooth, nutty and not too sweet. The perfect balance for an autumnal dessert. And marjoram mouse, who knew? Ha! I am such an amateur when it comes to cooking. Always a delight at the Angel.

Thursday bought an unexpected offer, a job in the Bahamas. Good salary, relocation package and generous travel allowances. All sounds good, but I would miss Suffolk and the life I currently lead so no, I think I will pass. Oh, of course it would mean I would have to go back to being a maths teacher again too, so that isn’t going to happen!

Have I cooked this week you may ask? Well yes, the highlight was the beef dish I did early on. One destined to seriously upset my lovely neighbour in France as I am taking liberties with a very traditional French dish and adding a spiced twist to it.

I was at Wyken vineyard a few weeks ago and while I was there I bought, amongst many other things it has to be said, some beef skirt from Rolfe’s of Walsham and squirreled it away in the freezer for a rainy day. Well, let us say no more about timing and weather.

So skirt is a funny one, it looks tough and difficult to make luxurious but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, you can flash fry it to make amazing thin feather steaks, so long as you like your steak rare but by far and away the best use is to slow cook it in large chunks to make the most melt in the mouth steak casserole. In this instance, I made Beef Bourguignon with a Portuguese twist (sorry Mariella). Basically spiced beef cooked in red wine with herbs. It took 2 days to make in the slow cooker but my goodness me it was well worth the wait. my dumplings were a new method and to be honest I was not happy with them, but they all got eaten so they cannot have been that bad. Another sneaky plug here for multicoloured carrots - see above for details.

The recipe is here.

I hope you take a moment to consider it.

We have a busy week coming up, as we move into gear for Christmas markets, yes it really is that close, production moves up a gear and timing becomes everything. Also, the decision has been made in the Spice company household to remain here for the Christmas holiday, so preparations for that change need to be considered. I wonder if it is too late to make a Christmas cake?

Stay safe and dry.


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