Steenberg Spices

I’ve been cooking from Meera Sodha’s fantastic book Fresh India recently, which calls for all sorts of Indian spices, not always easy to find  in York (try Rafi’s Spice Box in York, Harrogate and Leeds and Makkah International – formerley Feshways – on Hull Road), so I was pleased to be able to root around in the storerooms of Steenberg Spices, a specialist spice importer run by a lovely couple, Axel and Sophie Steenberg based at a business park in Melmerby.

 

You might have seen Steenberg’s little blue topped jars in Booth’s or in delis here and there, but if you don’t know of them then read on, because Steenberg’s are a fabulous source of ingredients, not just spices.

All their spices are organic, ethically sourced and many are Fairtrade. My visit included not only a tour of the factory but a Pepper Workshop organised by the Guild of Food Writer’s in which Axel took us through their list of 33 different peppers from the gentle Selim pepper from Ghana that strangely had a tang of furniture polish to the spicy Sansho Pepper from Japan with a menthol scent and a weird numbing sensation to the mouth much like Sechuan pepper.

But have a browse through Steenberg’s website for much more. This is the place to buy your harissa, sumac, chermoula, ras al hanout. They also stock hard to find baking ingredients such as buckwheat flour and chestnut flour, organic orange flower water, almond and vanilla extracts, edible rose petals, the list goes on. All available online from:

Steenberg Spices 6 Hallikeld Close, Barker Business Park, Melmerby, Ripon HG4 5GZ

Ibérica’s Authentic Paella

To Ibérica the stunning, former Bonhams/Hepper building on East Parade to learn about paella. We’d been invited by Marcos the CEO of the Ibérica Group who explained how we’d all been having too many touristy paellas and they were here to show us the proper thing.

The secret said Marcos is in the stock. It must be a proper fish or meat stock. The rice absorbs the liquid and provides all the flavour. There should only be a thin layer of rice, cooked over a high flame, preferably wood-fired and never stirred, this would release too much starch and make it sticky. When the rice can absorb no more stock the remaining liquid is allowed to caramelise so that it toasts a little at the bottom of the pan. This, is called the socorrat and considered the best bit of the paella.

To prove it they brought out a fish and a meat paella. It was thinner than I’d expected and not at all creamy like risotto. One was topped with prawns the other chicken (no mixed fish and meat they said) They were right of course the flavour is all in the rice, and with a special scraper, the chef released the wonderful crusty layer. It was indeed very good.

They also brought out anchovies and a selection of charcuterie, a plate of creamy and delicate croquetas, a strawberry and beetroot salad with an ajo blanco dressing, roasted bone marrow and steak tartar topped with fried quail eggs and for dessert, rice pudding with a brûlée top, churros and chocolate and an apple and salted caramel ice cream topped with whipped crema catalana.

What began as a talk about paella, morphed into a full blown lunch washed down with some rather luscious wines. We’re often sniffy about chains (Iberica will hate me for calling them a chain rather than a ‘collection’) but this we are willing to concede is one of the best, not least for its fabulous setting (make sure you use the loos) and of course the authentic paella.

Ibérica Leeds, Hepper House, 17a East Parade, Leeds LS1 2BH

T: 0113 403 7007

W: www.ibericarestaurants.com/restaurants/iberica-leeds/

Fruit Syrups

I have just been out running and noticed all the elderberries are now ripe and the apples are beginning to fall to the ground so here are recipes for two lovely seasonal syrups and ideas on how you might use them.

Elderberry syrup

Elderberry syrup

This syrup is the colour of deep red venous blood. A dribble of this viscous syrup looks regal and elevates a plain meringue or cake based pudding into an eye catching creations. It is cooks best friend in the dark winter months when raspberries and strawberries are too expensive and out of season to use to make coulis or sauces.

Makes about 750ml (3 small bottles)

Ingredients

1 plastic carrier bag of elderberries

550g granulated sugar

Method

Rinse elderberries in cold water and remove from their stalks. Place the elderberries in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Simmer for 10 minutes and mash with a flat headed potato masher. Strain the cooked elderberries through muslin or straining bag and make sure to extract every last drop of juice. Add 500g of granulated sugar to each 500ml of juice and bring to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. Allow the elderberry liquor to cool, and bottle in sterilised glass bottles.

Apple syrup

This recipe is a brilliant use of windfalls that might otherwise be discarded. The syrup can be used in apple sauces to team up with pork, diluted with carbonated mineral water and made into a spritzer or added to puddings and winter fruit salads. This is a lovely semi sweet syrup with bags of flavour. You will need a juicer or and apple press to extract the juice form the apples.

Makes about 250ml (1 small bottle)

Ingredients

1kg eating apples

Method

Juice the apples. Place the juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer the juice for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and removing any scum that forms. Reduce the liquid to about a third of its original volume. Leave to cool slightly before storing in a bottle or airtight container in the fridge.

www.joanransley.co.uk

 

 

Holmes Mill

What’s happened to Clitheroe. When I lived there as a teenager there was nothing much to celebrate in the way of food and drink apart from the wonderful Byrnes wine emporium, now it has Holmes Mill and the amazing Bowland Food Hall. The former textile mill on the edge of town is a vast gastrodome with a butchers, a fish counter, a cheese stall with, among others, a dozen different Lancashire’s. I took home a beautiful Tasty Lancashire. Fresh fruit and veg tumble out of one of those old French delivery vans, continental sausage and hams are strung up above a counter stuffed with local pies and pastries. There are countless deli items: pickles, chutneys, jams and jellies. At its heart is a counter from where you can sit with a coffee and cake or as we did, with a sharing board of salami and cheese and a glass of chilled white wine.

Next door is the enormous beer hall that claims the longest bar in Britain with a raft of real ales along with their own Bowland Beer. It’s all been cleverly restored to retain some serious industrial chic: iron pillars, stone flagged floors, exposed brick and beam and the giant rusting Clayton, Goodfellow & Co. horizontal engine that once powered the weaving shed.

 

Next door is a bakery and an ice cream parlour and coming soon they promise, is a hotel, a pool, gymnasium and spa. It’s a terrific enterprise to rival other such places in Malaga and Lisbon, well done little Clitheroe.

Holmes Mill, The Food Hall, Clitheroe, Lancs. T:01200 407130

 

Riverford Day

I’ve had a soft spot for Riverford Organics ever since they sent me one of their recipe boxes to try. I was a bit reluctant at first – who needs all those plastic pots and ingredients weighed out, but I was impressed. The dishes were delicious and very generous and they recycle all the packaging. When I sent a recipe box to my niece soon after she’d had a baby and was struggling in those first few days, she rated it the ‘best gift ever’.

Last week I was invited to a Vegetable Masterclass and lunch for Riverford customers near the Home Farm at Newby Wiske, where much of the veg is grown. Charming Ben prepared a vegetable and chick pea curry, showed us a good use for kohlrabi (roast it and serve with a spiced carrot and cannellini dip) and my favourite, a rice salad using ‘cured’ spring greens. Amazing what massaging thinly sliced cabbage with lime and salt does for cabbage.

I like their ethics too and I signed up for a veg. box delivery as soon as I got home. No need to commit forever; Riverford allow you to order their veg as and when you need it.

Riverford Organics

 

Peckish Kitchen

You know how we love to champion good Yorkshire produce. On the recommendation of Paul Heyhoe at Blue Sky Baker I picked up a couple of jars of Peckish products on my weekly shop for bread. ‘They’re extraordinary’ he said ‘different from any other – really’. I raised an eyebrow. Jam’s jam, right? Turns out there’s jam and then there’s Peckish jam. The Blueberry and Liquorice is my fave, though the Drunken Plum is pretty special. Not just jam either – Pink Grapefruit and Prosecco Marmalade is a winner on my sourdough wholemeal of a morning, and there’s pickle too; Roasted Garlic is fab with Welsh rarebit, and recently launched is Pea & Mint Pesto and they’ve absolutely nailed it – it’s fabulous folded through pasta with a handful of parmesan.

Established in 2015, Peckish is a family business based in High Burton, and its genesis is a familiar story; Colin made pickled onions from an old family recipe and Francesa made wild garlic pesto, and with their partners they sat round the kitchen table one night with a bottle of wine, saying let’s do this for real, and Peckish was born. After 6 months of cooking and tasting they went into production, selling initially at farmer’s markets; now you can find them all over the place including (Angela Cahill sells them at her lovely smokehouse) and *NEWSFLASH* the spanking new deli at the magnificent Piece Hall in Halifax, where you’ll find their entire range. As a starter, scoop up the above and shove in a jar of Chuffin’ Hot Charred Chilli Chutney for good measure.

Find them here too www.peckishkitchen.co.uk

 

 

Midlife Crisis Smoked Goods

Angela Cahill busies about in her tiny, immaculate shop looking, it has to be said, rather pleased with herself. Open only a matter of weeks, folk are already beating a path to her door. She’s been selling at Farmer’s Markets for a couple of years with husband Sean, at the same time running a pretty high powered career. Then, like many of us, Angela ‘reached a certain age and I thought let’s have a mid-life crisis!’ so ditched the big job and plans for the shop were born.

 

Ex-chef Sean has been experimenting in the smoke house (aka garage) and he’s settled on a method that lends a subtle, nutty flavour to the food. I’ve never been a fan of smoked cheese, but Pextenement cheddar has been given the Cahill treatment and it’s a revelation. Meat is locally sourced and fish arrives from Fleetwood. They dry-cure bacon, ham and charcuterie, and make their own sea salt butter. Angela stocks bread from Blue Sky Baker, and from Holmfirth, preserves by an outfit called Peckish who produce really unusual varieties; the blueberry and liquorice jam is fabulous and I can’t wait to try the pea & mint pesto. We arrived home with a fab loaf of bread, a pack of butter and a tub of richly smoky mackerel pate. And I can testify that the beetroot and gin cured salmon is TDF. We love it when a mid-life crisis is put to such good use.

Chapelbank Smokehouse, Crown Building, 99 Halifax Road, Ripponden HX6 4DA

T:01422 820610 and 07849 198036

www.chapelbanksmokehouse.co.uk

Open Thursday – Saturday

Kitchen Social

We told you ages ago about Yorkshire Food Finder; the company run by the irrepressible Sue and Aidan Nelson, who lead trails around Yorkshire sampling the best produce the county has to offer. Well they’ve expanded. Not only are there more trails: York – with a visit to the wonderful Haxby Bakehouse – the Yorkshire Dales, Thixendale for Ryedale Vinyard and to the Holderness coast with fisherman Andrew Sanderson then on to Justin Staal’s smokehouse.

Sue Nelson’s cookery book collection

They’ve now added ‘Kitchen Socials’ to their repertoire and last week Squidbeak were guests to enjoy one at their Wheldrake home. We sat down to five superior courses, cooked by Sue in her fabulously equipped kitchen surrounded by her extraordinary 1,600+ cookery book library.

Every course, from the gin cured salmon Carpaccio, through to Bridlington lobster, chocolate dessert and a very fine cheeseboard (special mention for Botton cheeses), showcased Yorkshire produce. Just this one dinner made use of 27 different Yorkshire sourced ingredients which they reckoned was a record. Proof if it were needed that the county is a source of great food.

Both trails and dinners would make a gift with a difference or for a group of food loving friends. Yorkshire Food Finder 

 

Star Inn the Harbour

It’s Wednesday lunchtime and chef Andrew Pern is sitting in his whites at a table in his own Star Inn at Harome but there’s no food in sight and the cutlery and napkins have been pushed aside to make way for a large ‘mood board’ of magazine cuttings with ideas for his next big venture.

Rockpool of shellfish with oyster ice cream and seaweed velouté

The Star Inn the Harbour is his latest project. A 160 cover fish restaurant to be housed in the former Tourist Information Centre in the heart of Whitby. The plan is to open in May with a dining area, bar, ice cream parlour and outdoor seating. It’s a plum location in the heart of the town right by the harbour. No wonder the local competition are a little jumpy.

A preliminary menu (which he warns is bound to change) majors on fish and seafood (£5-£15 starters/£15-£22 mains). Naturally they’ll be doing fish and chips: ‘We’d be stupid not to,’ he says, but also Dover sole; monkfish ‘scampi’; halibut and lobster thermidor. On ice: oysters, langoustines, lobster, crevettes then maybe deep fried calamari, fish soup and his fabulous posh prawn cocktail served with a Bloody Mary sorbet.

There will be Rockpool, a Star Inn favourite. He dashes to the kitchen: ‘I’ll get them to make you one’. What comes out is a wooden box filled with pebbles and seaweed: ‘a bit of theatre’ he says and in a hand thrown pot (100 newly commissioned from a local potter) come scallops, prawns, oyster and mussels topped with oyster ice cream and in another pot, a seaweed velouté to pour over.

You will thank me for trying it so that I can confirm it’s absolutely terrific.

It’s also the reason why Pern has a Michelin star and why in January, the Star won Best Gastropub in Britain. Me, I’m counting down to May when the Star rises over the harbour and Andrew Pern, (he was born here) comes home.

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