Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

  • We do love a forage!

    It’s the time of year to get out and about and get foraging those wild greens. We have such an affection for it because it’s the gathering of wild food for free, but more than that it connects us with nature and affords us the time to slow down and fully take in the environment and our surroundings. With nettles, chickweed, wood sorrel and dandelions offering their wares we’re spoilt, but our favourite at this time of year has to be Wild Garlic (or to give it its fancy title Allium Ursinum). Also known as Bear’s Garlic, Devil’s Garlic, Gypsy Onions, or our favourite Stinking Jenny!

    It should be in leaf everywhere now and the bright green leaves are plentiful, but not to be confused with lily of the valley (test by the garlic odour). The distinctive flowers haven’t quite emerged, but May should bring that cover of delicate and starry white flowers. Though this does usually mean that it could be past its best when they do appear! But do pop a flower or two into a Spring salad for a gentle flourish of flavour.

    It’s not hard to find – look for ancient woodland canopies smelling strongly of garlic (look out for bluebells too – they are a tell-tale sign). Cut, rather than pull, a few handfuls of the leaves and get handy in the kitchen. It’s delicate in taste, similar to chives and sits perfectly when lightly cooked in scrambled eggs, savoury scones or risottos. It can also be eaten raw and we’ve done just that with this perfect pesto recipe. It makes a generous family portion and takes about 5 minutes to make so couldn’t be easier!

    Wild Garlic Pesto

    150ml Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil – natural

    1 large bunch of wild garlic washed thoroughly (about 100g)

    1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, washed

    50g pine nuts, toasted

    50g Parmesan cheese

    Squirt of lemon juice

    Seasoning

    Put all the ingredients in a food processor (except for our cold pressed, extra virgin oil) and blitz up for a couple of minutes. Then slowly pour in the rapeseed oil until fully blended and job done!

    Top tips

    Try our flavoured deli oils instead of the natural oil to give an added kick of flavour.

    It lasts about a week in the fridge but you can freeze it. We freeze it in freezer trays for handy portion sizes!

  • Easter baskets at the ready!

    Our Easter Basket is always full at North Breckenholme. Spring always brings an abundance of jobs on the farm and we are already welcoming new-born lambs! Looking after them will take up so much of Adam’s time, and all made the little harder with the weather – snow is still lying on the top of the Wolds with the Beast from the East not relenting! No doubt he will get some help from Charlie & Ivy who can’t resist getting involved once the lambs have arrived – the benefits of living on the farm, right in the heart of the action. Time to get some baking done to keep everyone’s energy up – early mornings and late nights equal cake!

    But don’t forget the evenings will soon be lighter with the clocks springing forward on Sunday 25th March – it will mean one hour less sleep on Saturday night but the lighter evenings will certainly be welcome.

    Food is always at the centre of all we are about, and Easter Sunday will bring the family around the table for a hearty celebration. But before that it’s all about the chocolate! Guppy’s Chocolates are a family run chocolatiers who have been based in York since 2010, and their chocolate is always on our wish list, especially at Easter. Who wouldn’t want a chocolate hen with eggs for breakfast?

    And if chocolate isn’t your thing, maybe a flavour filled Easter gift basket filled with Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil favourites could be! Hop on over to our shop to find our range of beautifully hand packaged Gift Boxes and Hampers filled with your favourite products. Choose from our own recommended selections or create your own combination. They start from just £12 and will last longer than any Easter Egg in our house.

    On Easter Sunday, we’ll enjoy that celebration meal with British Lamb on the table. I’ll tend not to make a pudding but will bring out an Easter special later in the afternoon with a good old cup of tea (Yorkshire, of course!). That showstopper will be an indulgent marzipan-topped Simnel Cake. Made with our Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil this makes for a very simple bake, and I get requests for this all year round, but the family do love a bit of marzipan! I’ve started to add it to my Hot Cross Bun recipe to keep them satiated! It will keep for around 3 weeks (if you’re lucky that it lasts that long in the larder!)

    Simnel Cake

    175ml Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

    50ml milk

    250g demerara sugar

    5 medium eggs

    250g self-raising flour

    1 tsp ground cinnamon

    1 tsp mixed spice

    50g ground almonds

    75g glace cherries, chopped

    1kg mixed fruit

    750g marzipan

    50g apricot jam

    Preheat the oven to 140°C/ 275°C / Gas Mark 1 and then grease and line a 20cm round tin.

    Add Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil, milk and sugar into a large bowl. Beat the eggs and gently fold into the oil and sugar. Sieve the flour, ground cinnamon and mixed spice into a separate bowl and then add the ground almonds. Fold this into the wet ingredients to form a batter. Finally, add the dried mixed fruit and cherries and carefully fold in.

    Pour half the mixture into the tin. Then, roll out 300g of the marzipan in a circle to fit the tin and place on top of the cake mixture. Pour the remaining mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes and then cover with greaseproof paper.

    Bake for 2 hours 45 minutes until cooked through (it will be firm to press, or a skewer comes out clean). Cool the cake in the tin on a wire rack and only when completely cold, heat the jam and brush over the top of the cake. Take approx. 225g of the marzipan and roll out into a circle to fit the top of the cake. With the remaining marzipan, create 11 balls and place around the top.

    If you’d like to glaze the top of the cake, place under a grill until just brown or for best results carefully use a blowtorch to lightly brown the desired areas.

    We all hope you have a lovely Easter and we’re keeping our fingers crossed for blue skies and sunshine.

  • Make it a day your Mum will remember!

    Mother’s Day will soon be here (a reminder it’s this Sunday!) – a day to show how much we appreciate them - those mums by blood or the special person in our life who also looks out for us, protects us, and cares for us.

    I must admit to having to brainstorm when buying for my mum for any occasion – she’ll never tell me that she needs anything so always looking for inspiration! So here’s my thoughts!

    A cook book is something I covet as a mum – I love cooking for family and friends and my favourite room in the house is our dining room with a big table that allows twelve of us to share good food, wine and stories! My first ever cook book was given to me when I left home (thanks Mum!) – it was Delia’s Complete Cookery Course (first published in 1978!). I still use it today for basic recipes and you can tell which dishes we cook most by the dog eared and food encrusted pages! I will regift it to my little ones when they leave the family home too. But probably a new and updated version!

    On my cook book wish list at the moment is the eagerly anticipated cook book Roots by Tommy Banks who runs his award-winning, Michelin starred restaurant right here in North Yorkshire. I have been fortunate enough to visit The Black Swan in Oldstead and had a wonderful day working my way through the tasting menu at this informal and outstanding restaurant.  It was a taste experience I will always remember, and it was no surprise that it was voted the World’s Best Rated Restaurant by Trip Advisor late last year!  I love the idea of home grown, foraged food that is defined by the seasons and this book will showcase this in the best possible way I am sure. (Note to my offspring : please take note it’s not available until April so would be delighted with a table or room booking in the meantime!!)

    If cooking is not your thing but books are, I can recommend my latest book crush! I read this in just two sittings and could have read it in one if I’d chosen to neglect the family, work and life! Gail Honeyman’s debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was a quick pick up from the bookshop which took me totally by surprise. I’ve added a photo as I chose it because I was visually attracted to the cover! No basis to choose a work of fiction from, but it worked for me. From the opening chapter I went through a rollercoaster of emotions – one minute laughing, next crying with a little awkwardness felt in between. I felt a little bereft when I finished this book which champions everyday courage, friendship and loneliness.

    I must admit to being a lover of a bit of a pamper and a scented candle and I’ve tried many over the years, but the one I always go back to is from North Yorkshire brand, Neom. They have a wonderful product that fits both my requirements. Their Skin Treatment Candle needs to burn for 30 minutes to create a pool of oil (which smells amazing!) which means I soak in the bath and get half an hour to myself (bonus!), and then you blow out the flame, cool for a couple of minutes and drizzle the warm and calming essential oil over your body – it’s made from rich cocoa butter and almond oil great for nourishing your skin and destressing your mind! Bliss. Couldn’t recommend it more!

    I think it’s fair to say that most mum’s appreciate something homemade or something you’ve taken some time over, and the best place for me to start is in the kitchen and if the younger chefs can help too, all the better.  Here’s a menu that I’ve used before and is always complimented on by my Mum, whilst loudly hinting about me making these again. She’s a pescetarian and a real flavour fiend so I find our oils and dressings perfect for the kick she’s always looking for.

    The only stipulation with my Mother’s Day menu is that there’s not to be much time spent in the kitchen on the day so I make the crab cakes and pudding cake earlier in the day and just keep one eye on the risotto whilst enjoying the rest of the bottle of white wine, making sure it doesn’t stick!

    Crab Cakes with Cucumber & Mint garnish

    A classic light starter or lunch that uses our Smoked Chilli Dressing and our Mint & Balsamic Dressing for those flavour kicks (makes 8)

    2-3 tsp Smoked Chilli Dressing

    Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil for frying

    3 tbsp cream cheese

    100g white crab meat

    200g cooked and crushed potatoes with skins removed

    2 spring onions, finely sliced

    2 tsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

    Fine oatmeal for coating

    Cucumber slices

    Mix the cream cheese and Smoked Chilli Dressing together in a bowl, add the crab meat, potatoes, spring onions and coriander and mix everything together well.

    Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and shape each one into a ball then flatten slightly into a small crab cake. Coat each one in the fine oatmeal.

    Heat just enough Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil into a frying pan to cover just the surface and then fry the crab cakes over a moderate heat for just a few minutes on each side until golden brown.

    Serve on a bed of thinly sliced cucumber marinated in our Mint Balsamic Dressing.

    Mushroom & Herb Risotto

    The Main Event. Find the recipe on our website. It uses our Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil with Herbs, and our Mint Balsamic Dressing again which is perfect as a tasty stir through at the end of the dish – goes perfectly with the parmesan shavings. Use a variety of mushrooms – the brown ones make a darker and more flavourful risotto.

    Apple & Almond Cake

    Finish the meal with this easy all in one method that I love. Apples are an easy choice – there’s so many varieties that you can find them all year round, but you know I have a love of eating with the seasons so in Spring this recipe is good with rhubarb; peaches or apricots in summer, and in autumn I use half blackberries and half apples. This reminds my Mum of her childhood so always a winner in her eyes.

    180ml Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

    140g golden caster sugar

    100g ground almonds

    150g self-raising flour

    ½ tsp vanilla essence

    ½ tsp almond essence

    3 eggs, beaten

    80ml milk

    2 small eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks

    50g toasted flaked almonds

    Icing sugar for dusting

    Preheat the oven to 190oC / Fan 170oC / Gas Mark 5. Grease and line a 20cm circular cake tin.

    Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar and almonds. Add the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil, milk, vanilla essence, almond essence and eggs. Mix thoroughly until you have a smooth batter. Add the apples to the batter and stir through.

    Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. A skewer inserted into the middle should come out clean when the cake is cooked.

    Cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack. When cold, decorate with a dusting of icing sugar and flaked almonds before serving.

    With this menu in mind we can help you out! We’ve a range of beautiful hand packaged gift boxes and hampers – you can even create your own! But my choice is the Petite Hamper packed full of our best sellers (including that scrummy Mint & Balsamic dressing for the recipes above)! Sent direct with a gift message – we couldn’t make it any easier. Have a look on the website.

    So hope that’s given you some inspiration to give your Mum a treat this Mother’s Day. She deserves to be spoilt rotten! And for all us Mum’s out there have a special day and enjoy knowing you are appreciated every day.

  • The Way to our Heart!

    What day is the second biggest gifting and card sending day after Christmas? For which occasion do we spend £880 million each year in the UK alone? Final clue - on this day you could receive some of the 110 million roses sold!

    You’ve guessed it! Valentine’s Day! 

    No-one is quite sure why we celebrate this day on 14 February, but it is thought that on this day, late into the third century AD, a man by the name of Valentinus was martyred by Emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples to marry in secret, as single men were thought to be better soldiers and forbidden to wed.

    Inside Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on Rome’s Piazza Bocca della Verità, it is claimed that, inside it, resides the skull belonging to this man whose previous existence is responsible for that huge sale of greetings cards, chocolates and flowers in February. This alone is worth a trip to Rome (big hint to my other half right there!)

    More recently, the tradition of sending anonymous Valentine’s Day cards originated in the UK and was made popular by the Victorians, when mass-produced and pre-printed cards were made available. Some were romantic, some sentimental, as expected from the supposedly prim and proper Victorians, while others showed a more humorous and bawdier side to their nature!

    For me on Valentine’s Day I don’t expect roses, but I do look forward to a simple supper with extra special touches. The food has to be decadent and paired perfectly with the wine. This menu does just that, with the starter and main meal just light enough to fit in a dessert! Here’s my perfect menu…

    To start it has to be Fishcakes with homemade Tartare Sauce. This is a guest recipe from our very own recipe book; that guest being Michelin Starred Chef, James Mackenzie from the Pipe & Glass Inn. James also provides the foreword in the recipe book which is available on our website with over 100 inspiring recipes. This particular recipe also teams Pickled Samphire, which is perfect if you have pickled it in advance, as it is best when fresh and in season during July and August, but they taste just as good without! The tartare sauce has just the right combination of flavour and texture in this recipe, and teamed with our own Yorkshire Mayonnaise, it has to be homemade. This recipe is perfect for preparing earlier in the day and cooking on the evening, which is perfect for date night!

    Next it has to be Steak with Creamy Black Pepper and Mushroom Sauce! A simple dish full of flavour and hits the spot every time. Here's how! Cook a thinly sliced small onion in Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil with Black Pepper, soften and then add 100g of baby button mushrooms, cook on a medium heat for around 3 minutes. Then it’s time to turn up the heat and add the steak to the pan, fillet of course and cooked rare for me (2½ minutes on each side – add ½-1 minute for medium and the same again for well done). Once cooked, remove the steaks from the pan, add 4tbsp of double cream to the pan juices, warm through and then pour the sauce over the resting steaks. Drizzle a little of our Dijon and Black Pepper dressing over the mushrooms before serving. Great with our Garlic & Rosemary Potatoes – check out our website for that recipe.

    For me the meal has been perfection so it’s now time to finish the night off in decadent style with the unusual but definitely moreish Chilli Chocolate Ice Cream! The hint of chilli teasing the palate after the seductively smooth richness of the chocolate – this was made for Valentine’s Day! This recipe is also in our recipe book, so get armed and get out your bottle of Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil with Chilli and add a teaspoonful at a time to get your level of chilli kick – hot for me! Made in advance you’ll have all your time to spend with your loved one!

     

  • Fires and Feasting

    What does December mean to me?  Well it is my birthday month, so it’s very special of course! But unlike many I believe that this month has so much charm to offer with its pale Winter light, and yes I do know there will be cold and grey days but eventually this dark month brings us the shortest day of the year, and it’s down from these dark depths that we begin to feel we are finally coming up and out of the other side.  There’s a reason why in this month there are so many festivals of light – Hanukkah, Yule and the biggest one in our part of the world, Christmas.  In order to bring hope and light, we feast and light fires, lanterns and candles to ward off the darkness, and it works.  But my favourite part is of course the feasting! We all need to feel warm, cosy and comforted.

    There are so many foods in season in this month – decadent and rich foods such as black truffles, Jerusalem artichokes, duck, goose, guinea fowl and venison. But it is those comforting staples that really appeal to me and they are in abundance – carrots, leeks, parsnips, cauliflower, kale, winter cabbage, squash, apples and pears – these always provide the basics for those one pot dishes that bring everyone around the table to feast.

    In Thixendale we cling to the light – living in a valley can make a winter feel endless with cold air plunging down the valley sides and the limitations of the sun’s rays.  Add to that the landscape being all bones – with just the barest of leaves clinging to the ends of the branches, it can feel like the longest month.  In the skies above the village swallows and swifts have now long gone, to be replaced by fieldfares and redwings escaping colder climes.

    Here’s a hearty recipe using those winter staples to please family and friends.  I know they may not be in favour with younger cooks, but if they are to make a comeback in your life they really are not a lot of work. Prep time isn’t too long and then you are free whilst they are cooking on the stove.  The other positive is that they taste best the next day, so ideal for serving over the busy festive period, and make for a relaxed dish with no last-minute hurdles to overcome. This dish is best served with a buttery mash, wilted kale and a roaring fire to bring that hope and light we so crave!

    Beef & Porter Stew (serves 4)

    Ingredients

    1kg beef skirt or stewing steak, cut into bite sized chunks

    50g plain flour

    2 tsp smoked paprika

    50ml Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil with Black pepper (or just use our natural oil)

    1 large onion, diced

    3 garlic cloves, finely sliced or use a garlic press

    ½ red chilli, finely diced

    1 large leek, finely sliced

    4 carrots, washed and sliced into rounds

    2 parsnips, washed and diced

    1 small swede, peeled and diced

    125g button mushrooms, cleaned

    500ml beef stock

    500ml porter or stout

    A couple of anchovy fillets, chopped

    Method

    1. Dredge the beef skirt or stewing steak with the mixture of plain flour and smoked Paprika (the easiest way is to put the meat, flour and the paprika into a freezer bag and shake it about until the meat is coated).

    2. Take a large pan and heat the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil. Brown the steak in batches over quite a high heat (if you put too much in the pan at a time it won't brown very well), season with salt and black pepper and keep it moving in the pan to avoid burning. Remove each batch onto a side dish.

    3.Turn the heat down to medium. Now add to the saucepan the onion, garlic, chilli and leeks and let them soften for 5 minutes or so - be careful they don't burn - then add your vegetables and let them soften, stirring occasionally for around 10 minutes.

    4.When the vegetables have softened put the meat back into the pan along with the couple of anchovies and give it a good stir until the meat warms up. Gradually add some good beef stock and the porter, stirring until the mixture thickens a little. Then cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 2 hours.  Do keep an eye on the stew and if it gets too dry just add a bit more stock, porter or plain water. If it is too wet, remove the lid, stir and let it reduce to the consistency you want. Enjoy!

     

  • Hedgerows and Blossom

    We thought we’d have a little chat about the bits and bobs you can find in our hedgerows that herald the arrival of spring and the mean we can finally turn our back on winter, cold rain and too much mud!!

    We all look forward to spotting the first daffodil and snowdrop shoots poking through the soil in January and February and that first scattering of frothy white flowers as the Blackthorn blossom spreads slowly up the country from the south coast.

    Spring is said to move at approximately 1.9 miles per hour from south to north thereby taking three weeks to cover the whole country in the first signs of spring. We love this idea as, like everything in the countryside and in farming, it makes you feel part of an active, growing process that encompasses the whole of the British Isles!

    Once the Blackthorn has stopped flowering we can see the lovely Hawthorn blossoms appearing together with masses and masses of dandelions – gardeners loathe them but they’re a really important food source for our bumblebees and honey bees so, if you do spend a long time digging them up, maybe leave a few plants for the bees?!

    We also find the odd lone Primrose and Bluebell plant in the hedgerows on the farm – it’s windy and pretty exposed up here so we probably don’t get as many of the woodland plants and flowers as you do once you get out of the Wolds.

    We also of course start seeing lots of frantically singing birds, Blackbirds, Robins, Sparrows, Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits and Goldfinches (to name a few!) – all busily trying to find the future mother/father of their babies! You can hear a distinct change in their song at this time of the year as they start their spring and summer songs.

    As April comes to an end we see lots of Blackbirds with their beaks crammed with wriggling worms setting off to feed ever hungry babies. It’s always a surprise as to how many worms they find and how many they can cram into their beaks! We wonder whether they’ll find enough food this year as although the spring hasn’t been particularly cold there’s not been a lot of rain which makes it harder for the Blackbirds to find worms. We could have done with a few more April showers I think!

    We consider ourselves very lucky to live where we do and we do make a conscious effort to notice the different wildlife and bird life that comes and go with the seasons. We’re lucky enough to see the odd mad March Hare and we have Red Kites making ever increasing appearances in our skies together with Tawny and Barn Owls. The latter love to hunt through the Wolds and it’s always a treat to see them ghosting through the valleys in the evenings.

    As it’s spring and evenings are getting steadily lighter and brighter we thought we’d leave you with a tasty, filling and delicious meal that’s easy to make and beautifully aromatic thanks to the addition of our Yorkshire Rapeseed oil with Mixed Herbs: Mushroom and Herb Risotto…

     

  • Christmas Cheer and Hello! New Year

    So 2016 is speeding to a close. It’s had good bits, it’s had bad bits but, like every other year it’s passed in a flurry of lambing, growing, harvesting, cold pressing, bottling, sampling, labelling, markets and food festivals. We consider ourselves lucky to be doing what we do together with being a part of the wonderful community up here in the Yorkshire Wolds but, once every year, we look forward to slowing down just a little bit to spend time with close friends and, more importantly, family.

    Christmas is when we get to be the Palmer family, rather than the face of Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil, for a little while. Christmas for us means time spent together chatting, laughing, playing with the kids, plus a fair amount of singing takes place (alcohol’s not always involved in the singing but it definitely contributes!) and cooking (of course!).

    Our Christmas dinner tends to be a traditional roast turkey (always from a local producer!) together with all the trimmings followed by Christmas Pudding and, later on, we start on the Christmas Cake we made back in October. We then pause for a short break, maybe a quick race around outside with the littlies, then back inside for mince pies.

    Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the food we usually eat on this one day of the year (I may have eaten a few mince pies prior to Christmas Day but we’ll gloss over that for now!) but have you ever wondered when some of our Christmas traditions started?

    I know that some people write ‘Xmas’ instead of ‘Christmas’ and I’ve always thought of this as a sort of slang, shorthand way of writing Christmas but actually it isn’t; it’s been around for thousands of years. The ‘X’ stands for the greek letter chi, which was the early abbreviation for Christ or the greek ‘Khristos’ and also symbolises the cross on which Christ was crucified.

    Is everyone looking forward to a group of Carol Singers on their doorstep around Christmastime?! We don’t often have this pleasure seeing as we are a little windswept and isolated but did you know that the literal translation of ‘carol’ is to ‘sing and dance’ in a circle. The tradition of going door to door to sing carols started in mediaeval times when carol singers were banned from churches for making too much noise and ruining the more sombre Christmas services of the time. We tend to sing only amongst family you’ll be relieved to hear!

    Back to our favourite food based facts; specifically our favourite easy to make, easy to eat mince pies! In mediaeval times mince pies were baked in rectangular cases to represent the infant Jesus in his crib and the addition of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg was added to symbolise the gifts from the three wise men. It was thought lucky to eat one mince pie per day for the twelve days of Christmas (hooray! This is one tradition they should bring back!). Mince pies were meat based in those days though and it wasn’t until Victoria’s reign that mince pies were made with fruits and spices only.

    Although we all refer to a ‘traditional roast turkey’ Christmas dinner; turkey was only introduced to England in the fifteenth century after the Americas were discovered. Prior to this a Christmas meal would have been goose or venison. At the time the poor of the parish were not allowed to eat the best cuts of meat although, if they were lucky, their wealthy Lord may donate the remains of his families Christmas deer, the offal, known in those days as ‘umbles’. To make the meal go further the ‘umbles’ were mixed with vegetables and made into a pie; an ‘umble pie’. Hence today’s expression of ‘to eat humble pie’ when someone falls from grace.

    With all the planning and preparation that goes into Christmas, the food, the presents, the build up and excitement from children and grandchildren, it really wouldn’t be half as much fun without these familiar yearly rituals and the familiar annual feast to look forwards to. We thought we’d leave you with our favourite recipe for gorgeous crispy Rosemary and Garlic Roast Potatoes to set off your roast dinner – they’ll go a treat with beef, lamb, venison or any roast meat your family tradition calls for! Happy Christmas and we’ll look forwards to seeing you all in the New Year! 

    Garlic and Rosemary Roast Potatoes Ingredients:

    Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil with Garlic

    6-8 medium potatoes

    2 tbsp Plain Flour, seasoned

    A handful of fresh Rosemary sprigs, chopped

    Salt

    Method: Pre heat your oven to 220C. Peel and halve the potatoes, boil for 5-6 minutes to part cook them. Drain and toss in the seasoned flour. Remove the potatoes from the flour and toss in lots of garlic oil. Fry on the hob for a few minutes until the edges are crisp then transfer into a roasting tin. Add the rosemary and sprinkle with salt. Cook for about 30 - 40 mins or until golden brown.

  • 800 Children and some tubs of rapeseed

    A few weeks ago we were invited to take part in an educational extravaganza at Driffield Showground. The idea being to give the younger members of today’s society a good sound knowledge of farming and agricultural practice.

    “What a great idea” we thought as we signed on the dotted line. It was only as the day drew nearer that we wondered how on earth we could make rapeseed, and its subsequent conversion into our favourite golden oil, interesting for, roughly,800 9 to 11 year olds from all over North Yorkshire!

    Could we grind some seeds up in a coffee grinder? Charlie, our 5 year old, is convinced this would work. We thought that perhaps Charlie could help on the day and tell each group of 20 children all about the four stages of rapeseed harvest (no, we’re not certain what they are either but he’s adamant there’s four stages!)? Adam thought it would be fun to get a stack of paper and some hammers and invite the children to crush some seeds between the papers and see the oily smears the seeds leave. We weren’t sure Health & Safety would like that idea so we compromised with just Adam giving the seeds a good bashing instead.

    After much to-ing and fro-ing of ideas we decided we’d do what we usually do and perfect the talk/demonstration on the day (sometimes called ‘winging it’!) . We ended up taking along some flowering plants, ten tubs of seeds, ten bottles of oil, a cabbage and a pot of mustard (to demonstrate they’re all from the Brassica family for those of you wondering why on earth we’d take random items!) plus two blocks of wood, some paper and a hammer.

    You know what? It went beautifully. The kids were fantastic – naturally curious and interested in everything and we had some hilarious questions. “Is there a chance that in this tub of seeds there’ll be some that have never been touched by a human hand?” was one of the more interesting questions. Every group though wanted to know how many seeds were in each tub (guesses seemed to stagnate around one million!) and how many seeds it took to make one 500ml bottle of oil (around one and a half to two kilos for anyone interested). We had some lovely kids from farming families who knew it all but were still happy to chat and explain the processes to their classmates. We also had some from urban backgrounds who had never been close to a rapeseed flower and who thought we’d have to boil the flowers to get the oil or ‘melt’ the seeds – it was these children the day was aimed at and it’s our fervent wish that they went away from the day with a much greater understanding of all things agricultural.

    The one thing that every single class had in common though is that it seems that the minute children stick their hands into a two kilo tub of rapeseed they go into a kind of trance. It didn’t matter whether the next group was noisy and boisterous or arrived looking uninterested; the minute they put their hands into the seed they became far more receptive. This makes it generally easier to chat to them and pass on information.

    We’re now thinking of marketing rapeseeds as a classroom tool – we think the idea’s got legs!

  • The birds and the bees..

    honeybee

    Well, I'm just discussing the bees actually.....the birds can wait for a while. I thought it'd be nice to talk about all things buzzy (and I really, really like bees and honey).

    So we're all heaving a sigh of relief that winter is creeping away and warmer weather should be just around the corner - Ok, ok, some of us are heaving sighs; others are gearing up for their busiest times of the year. Apologies to all those farmers working round the clock to bring us foodstuffs of all shapes, breeds, varieties and sizes - and, no, I wasn't prompted by someone sitting in my immediate vicinity to write that (honest!). 

    We all know bees hibernate through the winter - no one sees a honey bee zipping round on a frosty December morning; if they did then the bee would not be long for this world. Bees hibernate through winter in a cluster in order to keep the colony at a constant temperature. They do this by vibrating the flight muscles on their wings to raise the internal temperature. Interestingly (well, I think it’s interesting) a hives’ temperature is around 35 degrees Celsius; similar to human skin (37 degrees). As the bees on the outside of the cluster cool they burrow in to warm up and the next layer of worker bees take over the status of 'bee duvet'. As the external temperature warms up outside they start to send out foraging parties looking for early blossoming plants and trees. A couple of well known garden favourites, snowdrops and crocuses, contribute to the pollen gathered by early foragers. 

    Once spring's in full bloom the bees can gather enough pollen to refuel and start replenishing their honey supplies. Did you know that the colour and 'runniness' of the honey depends on the blossom the bees have gathered pollen from? If the pollen has been gathered from garden flowers the honey tends to be clear and runny, from heather honey (sometimes referred to as 'the King of honeys') it can be clear and almost jelly like in consistency. Honey made from our very own rapeseed sets hard, so hard in fact that a drop in temperature can make it hard for the bees to munch on through the winter.

    Honey has been gathered for millennia and is still used in medicine and cooking. It keeps indefinitely - edible honey has been removed from the tombs of the Pharoahs - not sure I'd want to spread 3,000 year old honey on my toast but it's still amazing!

    I always have honey in my food cupboard; it’s such a versatile sweetener – We musn’t forget our ever popular Honey and Mustard dressing, which gets used for all sorts of spring and summer salads. The kids have honey drizzled on their porridge, I have it in my coffee and, of course, I bake with it! In my quest for all things honey I had a good rummage for my favourite honey recipes and I came up with this beauty - easy to make and very, very more-ish (but don't tell the bees!). 

     

    Orange, Pistachio & Honey Cake

    So this particular cake lasted, ooooh, approximately 15 minutes! It's lovely to look at, easy to make and it tastes absolutely delicious. 

    You will need:
    220g self raising flour
    220g golden caster sugar
    150ml original cold pressed Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil
    75ml milk
    4 medium eggs
    zest and juice of one orange

    For the drizzle:
    150g honey
    300g unsalted pistachio nuts

    Simply mix together the dry ingredients in one bowl then mix together the oil, eggs, orange juice, zest and milk in another and add the wet ingredients slowly to the dry ingredients, mix and place in a lined tin. We used a 20cm by 26cm rectangular tin. Bake at 180 degrees celsius for 40 minutes or so (this will vary according to your oven!), take out and leave to cool.

    To make the drizzle warm the honey in a pan - take care not to let it boil! When its warm and runny add the pistachios, stir through, pour on the cooled cake and leave to set. Simples!

  • Cake, Oil and Lambs!

    lambs

    So here it is, Easter. I’m not sure where it came from, last time I looked it was only mid-January, but here we are the end of March and all being well spring is well and truly on its way.
    It’s a lovely time here on the farm (that is if the weather is behaving itself) as I sit in the office and type, I am serenaded by the sound of new-born lambs. A noise that comforts me into the belief that spring and summer are not too far around the corner.
    It’s a tricky one for Adam as we find that his time is taken away from Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil for a few weeks as he takes the early morning shift for lambing season. On the flip side I think it reminds him of his roots, of our pre oily days. As he is the centre point of the business things do become trickier when he is not around. Luckily it is not a busy time with shows yet, and we have the most amazing team helping us run smoothly in his absence.
    Show season for us kicks off mid-April, so we are busy preparing for that (keep an eye on the website for up and coming dates). We also have some exciting new products that we are currently developing, they are due for launch in the summer and we can’t wait to see what you make of them!
    For me Easter is great fun, the children love lambing time, school holidays are taken up with helping dad, and when they are not doing that the love helping me in the kitchen. On that note, I thought I would share with you a school holiday treat that I frequently make with the kids ‘Charlie’s Pudding Pots’ are not only great school holiday entertainment but tasty too! Made of course with our Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil, I use our natural one but the lemon or ginger are very tasty alternatives. The best thing is you can make them up with whatever needs eating up in your fruit bowl. I use apples here but raspberries, blueberries, pear, pineapple all work equally well. For a cheeky Easter treat sprinkle some chocolate chips in with your fruit too!
    I hope you all have a lovely Easter and fingers crossed for some sunshine!

    easter

    Charlie’s Pudding Pots

    50ml Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil
    2 eating apples
    100g self-raising flour
    100g golden caster sugar
    1 medium egg, beaten
    50ml milk
    Dusting of cinnamon

    Preheat the oven to 200C / Fan 180C / Gas Mark 6

    Grease 4 x 9cm diameter ramekin dishes.

    Core and chop the apples and put them in the ramekins.

    Make the cake batter by putting the flour, sugar, Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil, milk and egg into a bowl and beating all the ingredients together well.

    Pour the batter over the apples in the ramekin dishes. Sprinkle with a dusting of cinnamon (optional) and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the sponge is cooked through.

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