Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Wimborne Food Festival - the recipe!

Well. we all had a fantastic time at Wimborne Food Festival at the weekend. Fortunately, the weather was kind, and the event was packed out as ever.  It was such a great opportunity to catch up with other interesting and inspiring food writers, particularly Josceline Dimbleby and Lucas Hollweg.

As it was National Baking Week, I just had to demonstrate a cake, and my cake of choice was a very tasty Chocolate & Pear cake using lovely local, seasonal conference pears. I was thrilled to hear that so many people in the audience went home and made this cake straight away, to great success. For those of you who wanted the recipe, it is below. Hope you like it!

Chocolate & Pear Cake


·        85g butter
·        85g dark chocolate
·        85g caster sugar
·        1 tbsp brandy
·        3 eggs, separated
·        85g ground almonds or hazelnuts
·        4 very ripe pears, peeled, halved and cored


1)        Grease and line a 25cm springform tin
2)        Preheat the oven to 180 / Gas mark 4
3)        Melt the chocolate and butter together
4)        Stir the brandy and leave to cool
5)        Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until pale and thick.
6)        Fold the melted chocolate and hazelnuts into the egg and sugar mixture
7)        In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peak
8)        Fold one tablespoon of egg whites into the chocolate mixture, followed by the rest of the mixture in two additions.
9)        Gently pour the mixture into the prepared tin
10)        Lay the pear halves into the mixture in the tin
11)        Bake for around 40 minutes
12)        You can dust with icing sugar and serve with crème fraiche

Friday, 21 October 2011

Wimborne Food Festival

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be demonstrating in the main tent at Wimborne Food Festival.

I will be making delicious cakes, it is National Baking Week after all, made with lovely local seasonal ingredients, and my cakes will be gluten free too!

For more information please see their website:

I will report back after the demonstrations with recipes. Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

An interesting lunch, let's say

I just thought I would share this with you quickly.

I recently went to lunch at the delightful James Ramsden's house. James was working on this piece for the Guardian Word of Mouth:

As a much more articulate writer than me, I urge you to read his piece, but I just thought I would share the photos with you. Please do share your thoughts of your guilty pleasures...

Les canapés

Kipper and kiwi: a match made in heaven ?!

The most successful lunch dish

The sausage crumble was actually ok with the addition of some fennel seeds. Cabbage in milk....just no

The pie was really nice, apart from the turnip

And finally....

An apology

I'm sorry I have been so bad at blogging recently. I will explain why very soon. In the meantime, I hope you will bear with me. It's been a crazy few weeks.

Charlotte x

Tetbury Food Festival

We’ve had a very busy time lately. I hope to be able to share news with you soon.
This time, it was Tetbury Food Festival. Tetbury is a great food festival. A real celebration of local produce.

Tetbury is a lovely Cotswold town based in the south Cotswolds. With strong links with its royal neighbours, it is well worth a visit. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s country retreat, Highgrove, can be found on the outskirts of town, and they participate in a number of local events in the town. Apparently Camilla is a member of the local Women’s Institute, and strolling around the church, you will see a tree which she planted recently to commemorate the William and Kate’s wedding earlier this year.
In preparation for my cookery demonstrations, I made it my mission to suss out the best local freefrom produce I could lay my hands on. And there were rich pickings.

I really strongly believe in trying to shop locally where possible, especially as I run a small food company myself, so I know what a difference it makes to small businesses. However, I am realistic and appreciate that most of us can’t get by without popping to the supermarket from time to time, especially if you live in an urban area.
So, with a wealth of local suppliers on the doorstep, I decided to pop down to the local butchers in Tetbury, Jesse Smith & Co. based on Long Street, one of the main streets running through this ancient market town. The delightful manager, John, showed me some beautiful, local venison he had in, farmed near Cirencester by a gentleman named Arthur Whitchell. I picked up a loin of venison there, very lean and tender meat, and it’s actually great value meat. Much cheaper than beef fillet. I decided to make a seasonal dish of venison with blackberries, thyme and port. In keeping with the local theme, I hopped on my bike and headed down the lanes nearby to pick some fresh blackberries. I managed to collect an excellent haul. Wild blackberries are so much more delicious than bought. They have a wonderfully intense flavour, and even better, are totally free! You will find my recipes below, by the way.
Turning to dessert, I decided to use my local buckwheat flour which I had picked up at Shipton Mill near Tetbury. Many people following a gluten free diet find they get on with buckwheat flour, so it may be worth a go. And it is beautiful locally milled flour. I made a lovely quick dessert of buckwheat pancakes, with a blackberry compote. Really local and really delicious – it went down a treat with the audience!

One of the best things about the food festival was discovering so many great food producers in the local area. I met Tom Herbert, who runs Hobbs House Bakery who have a shop in Tetbury amongst other branches in the area. Their bread is fabulous, made with traditional methods passed down through the generations of this family-run business. I highly recommend trying their superb bread – they deliver nationwide in boxes which come complete with a bread bag and a freezer bag. The rye sourdough is a favourite of ours. Tom, who has made several television programmes for the BBC was running his stall…

They sell fantastic quality, beautifully fresh vegetables, which are really reasonably priced, including outstanding vegetable boxes for just £5. Mine fed me every day for over two weeks (just me on my own, mind). Do take a look at their work if you can, and why not try and see if you have a local scheme doing something similar? I can’t resist including some photos of their produce.
Another great find at Tetbury was Aunt Addie’s farm project, a local farm project which grows and sells a wide range of excellent vegetables.

Venision loin with blackberries, thyme and port
Serves 2 (approximately)
This recipe does not rely on exact quantities, below is just a rough guideline
2 Venison steaks or 4 slices of venison loin
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
1 large handful of blackberries
1/2 a wine glass (medium) port
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
A knob of butter
2 tablespoons Olive oil (appx)
Ensure you have a plate warming before you begin
1) Place the olive oil in the pan and start to heat it
  1. Add the venison steaks or loin. Fry in olive oil (you can adjust how much you use to taste) for roughly 4-5 minutes on each side.
  2. Remove the steaks from the oven and place on the warmed plate. Cover with foil to keep warm
  3. Add the port, blackberries and redcurrant jelly to the pan you have used to cook the venison and bring to the boil. Make sure the redcurrant jelly is well incorporated.
  4. As the sauce starts to thicken, add a knob of butter, the thyme leaves and stir
  5. Serve the venison loin or steaks with sauce poured over them. I like this dish served with garlic sautéed potatoes.

Shipton Mill Buckwheat pancakes with blackberry compote
Makes18-20 pancakes
Ingredients for the pancakes:
500 ml whole milk or soya milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
80 g melted butter
70 g Buckwheat flour
105g plain flour or gluten free plain flour
3 large eggs
  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Heat a large frying pan on the hob.
  3. Drop a tiny piece of butter or sunflower oil in the hot pan and wipe it around with a paper towel.
  4. Pour enough of the batter in the middle of the hot pan, swirling the pan to distribute the batter quickly and evenly. The batter should start cooking within a few seconds, giving you just enough time to swirl it.
  5. After about a minute, flip the pancake over.
  6. Let the pancake cook on the flip side for about 30 seconds, then slide it out onto a dinner plate. Repeat.

Ingredients for the blackberry compote:
200g blackberries

4 tablespoons caster sugar
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
For the compote, simply combine the blackberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.
Heat slowly for around 20 minutes until the fruit has softened and the liquid is thick and syrupy. Sweeten further to taste, if required.