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01588 676060     [email protected]

For those of you thinking of taking one of our cooking courses, we'd like to introduce you to your cookery trainer. Milly Rees moved to Shropshire in 1997 and runs workshops and demonstrations, caters, and cooks in our Cafe if we need a helping hand. Each Tuesday she will provide a recipe, cooking tip or introduce an ingredient which will hopefully fire your enthusiasm for cooking. Look within this section of our website for courses that you can take with her.

Here is Milly's offering for Easter Sunday Pudding - Lemony puddings seem fitting for Easter and all that meringue is a showcase for eggs.

Lemon meringue pie 

Serves 4 

Shortcrust pastry made with 180g flour and 90g butter with 1 tsp sugar and 1 egg yolk and a pinch of salt and a little water to bind.

Filling                                                             Meringue
30cornflour                                                   2 egg white
300ml milk                                                   110g caster sugar plus a little to top
40g sugar 
2 egg yolks
Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

First make the pastry and roll out to line 20cm flan tin. Chill in the fridge for half an hour then bake blind for about 15 minutes until golden brown at 190 degrees. 

Mix the cornflour with a tablespoon of the milk. 

Heat the remaining milk and mix with the cornflour paste. Return to the pan and boil for 3 minutes, stirring all the while. Add the sugar. 

Allow to cool slightly before adding the lemon zest, juice and egg yolks. Pour into the pastry case and and bake for 10 minutes until just set. 

Whisk the egg whites until stiff. Add a tbsp of sugar and whisk again until solid. Fold in the remaining sugar and pile onto the pie, covering it completely. Dust with a little extra sugar and bake for another 5 minutes until crisp.

 Click here to download this recipe.

 

With only a week to go now, here is something you will be able to do with your Easter eggs.

Easter Egg Salad

This makes a really nice lunch or part of a Good Friday spread. Children might like to experiment with putting onion skins or beetroot in the water to dye the eggs.

Hard boil your eggs for 8 minutes and then run cold water over them to chill. It’s nice if the eggs are not too hard. But if your eggs are especially big and if you have kept them in the fridge they might need 10 minutes at a simmer.

Yogurt mayonnaise

I just mix 2 parts mayonnaise with one part yogurt or buttermilk. I like to add a teaspoon of mustard a teaspoon of anchovy essence and a dollop of salad cream with plenty of black pepper and sea salt.

Cut the eggs in half and arrange on a bed of lambs lettuce, watercress and wild garlic for a truly Spring time platter and eat with plenty of chunky wholemeal bread.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Rhubarb Crumble

 Serves 2 – 3

Ingredients
60g butter or margarine
100g plain or wholemeal flour
50g sugar
2/3 sticks of rhubarb
Juice of half an orange or a little water
2 tablespoons extra sugar (to taste)

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 190 or gas mark 5

2 Rub the butter or marge into the flour till it looks like breadcrumbs.

3 Stir in the sugar.

4 Cut the rhubarb into small chunks. Make sure you cut off the leaves first!

5 Put the rhubarb into your dish with the orange juice and stir in the extra sugar.

6 Sprinkle the crumble over the top and bake for 25 minutes.

Serve with custard , cream or vanilla ice cream.  Yum Yum!
 

Rhubarb fact -  the leaves are bad for you so make sure you cut them off!

Is it a vegetable or a fruit?

Rhubarb is easy to grow and will be ready to pick from April through to the end of June. So if you know someone who grows it, ask them to cut you off some root, shove it in the ground and enjoy next year. Ps better ask before you go digging up the garden though.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Phew, the sun is shining so here is a salad to celebrate. It keeps well in the fridge in a sealed container and is great as a base for packed lunches - feel free to add tuna, hard boiled egg, roast chicken etc.

Bean salad with hazelnut and orange 

Serves 6 

2 handfuls of fine beans (halved),                               Small handful of chives or a few spring onions 
2 handfuls of sugar snap peas (halved),                      2 tbsp olive oil 
2 handfuls of samphire,                                               1 tbsp sesame seed oil (or nut oil)                                       
2 handfuls of frozen broad beans                                1 tbsp soy sauce 
Small bunch of tarragon                                              1 tbsp balsamic vinegar        
70g whole hazelnuts                                                    Salt and pepper
2 oranges (use the zest)

Method 

Toast the hazelnuts and rub off the skins. 

Blanch the vegetables. Nb the samphire only takes a minute. Refresh and drain. 

Chop the nuts and zest the orange. Using a sharp knife, remove the peel and cut the flesh into segments with no pith remaining. Mix the oils and vinegar in a large bowl with the orange zest and mix in with the veg, and tarragon. Mix in the nuts and orange segments. Taste and season.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Something quite special for you to start your day with.

Breakfast granola 

300g rolled oats                                     100g almonds or hazelnuts
2 tsp ground ginger                                50g flaxseeds
2 tsp cinnamon                                      50g flaked almonds or coconut flakes
1 tsp sea salt flakes                               50g sesame seed
100g sunflower seeds                           150ml olive oil
100g Pumpkin seeds                             150 ml maple syrup

Preheat oven to 150 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. 

Tip the oats into a bowl and thoroughly mix in the spices and salt. Add all the other dry ingredients. 

Pour the oil and syrup into a jug and pour into the bowl and mix with a big metal spoon. 

Spread it all evenly in the tin and bake for 20 mins. Turn it over with a spatula and return to bake for another 20 to 30 mins and let it cool in the tray.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Make a batch of these to eat in front of the rugby - or make a batch of these instead of watching the rugby ..... Choux pastry sound complicated but it is actually very quick and these are great with a beer or two. Make them bite size or bun size and fill them with cheese and ham. 

Cheese and olive choux buns

 

85g butter
3 eggs, beaten
220ml water
100g strong cheese, finely grated (plus a little more)
105 g plain flour, well sifted
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp olives, chopped


Heat oven to 200 degrees and line a baking tray with non-stick parchment.

 

Put the butter, water, salt and sugar together in a heavy saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil so that all the butter is melted.

Quickly tip in the flour and take off heat. Beat with a wooden spoon until it is a thick, smooth paste.

Cool the mixture until it is just warm. Mix in the cheese and olives. Beat in the eggs a little at a time. It may not be necessary to add all the egg.

Pipe the mixture (or spoon) to form the shapes you want and bake for 20 mins. Reduce the heat to 180degrees and bake for a further 10-15mins. Top with a little more grated cheese and put back in the oven for a minute.

You could also deep fry these for an even more indulgent snack and if you really want to push the boat out, you can force a hole in the side of them and pipe in some sort of filling like cream cheese with capers or cheese sauce.

 Click here to download this recipe

 

Assuming you have the spices to hand, seafood and fish curries are so much quicker to make than meat versions. Although I do love rice, if you just wilt some spinach in less than a minute in the microwave or in a pan you get a carb-free, super healthy dish on your plate in less than 15 minutes. Feel free to add some prawns!

Fish Curry

If you are missing one or two of the spices don’t panic just do your best!

1 fresh green chilli                                          1 tin of cherry tomatoes (or use fresh)
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled              1/2 tin full fat coconut milk
1 onion                                                            1/2 tsp sea salt
vegetable or coconut oil                                  400g fim, white fish, no skin
2 tsp mustard seeds                                        1 heaped tbsp tamarind paste (or some lime juice)
1 tsp fenugreek seeds                                     1 bag baby spinach
1 tsp chilli powder                                            Coriander leaves
1 tsp turmeric

Deseed and slice the chilli. Finely chop or grate the ginger. Finely chop the onion.

Heat a good glug of oil and drop in the mustard seeds. When you can hear them pop, add the fenugreek, chilli and ginger.

Fry for a minute and then add the onion. Stir and fry for 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the chilli and turmeric and then the tomatoes.

Bring back to simmering before pouring in the coconut milk. (the leftover coconut milk will freeze for another time)

Bring the sauce back to heat before adding the fish, tamarind and sea salt.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Either stir in the spinach or cook this separately to make a bed for the curry. 

When the fish is cooked, serve with a sprinkling of coriander leaves.

 

This recipe comes from Milly's Winter Well-Being course which she ran last Thursday.

Peanut and green noodle salad 

This is a refreshing but wholesome salad which makes a great packed lunch. 

Dressing –
2 tbsp rice vinegar                                1 tsp brown sugar 
Juice and zest of a lime                        1 tsp sesame oil 
½ small chilli, finely chopped                1 tbsp soy sauce 
1 garlic clove, chopped 

Salad 
100g peanuts, unsalted                        A few basil leaves, torn 
200g fine egg noodles                          A small bunch of mint, chopped 
200g fine French beans                       Small bunch of parsley or watercress  
½ cucumber 
6 spring onions, sliced 

If you are using salted peanuts, rinse off the salt. 
Make the dressing in a jam jar. Cook the noodles according to instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl and toss in the dressing. 
Cook the beans until just cooked. Refresh in cold water and drain well. 
Half the cucumber lengthways and cut into slices. Mix everything together then scatter on the herbs and peanuts. Top with the chicken (see below) or roast tofu. 

Ginger chicken 
Serves 2 

Oil                                                                                  1 heaped teaspoon five spice 
2 chicken breasts cut into strips                                    6 spring onions,
A thumb size piece of ginger, peeled and sliced           a good dash of soy sauce
1 chilli, deseeded and chopped                                    a tablespoon of honey 
2 cloves garlic                                                               1 lemon 
Salt and pepper 

Cook the noodles and meanwhile get a frying pan hot, heat the oil and drop in the chicken to brown for a couple of minutes. 
Add the ginger, garlic and chilli. 
Stir for a minute then add the five spice and cook until nicely cooked. Add the spring onions, soy sauce and honey and bubble through. 
Squeeze over some lemon juice and serve.

 

Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins


As you will see, I have baked these in heart shaped moulds but they are full of loveli-ness whatever their shape – which is an important message I think!

Makes 8

50g cornflour
3 tablespoons g/f cocoa
100g dark brown sugar 225ml water
125g dark chocolate
75g butter
75ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs 125g caster sugar
125g rice flour plus 1tsp g/f baking powder (or g/f self raising flour)

Heat oven to 180 degrees

Place the cornflour, cocoa, brown sugar and water in a saucepan and whisk over a medium heat until boiling.
Remove from heat and beat in the butter and chocolate until smooth. Add the oil, vanilla and one of the eggs. Beat again. Add the other egg with the caster sugar. Beat again then sift in the flour. Combine thoroughly.
Spoon or pour the mixture into muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Click here to download this recipe

 

Dairy Free cookies

I came across these on the lid of a dairy free margarine many years ago and it is still my go-to cookie recipe. Sometimes I use part butter but honestly they aren’t improved by it. Very nice with a cup of tea but also useful with a soft pud like panna cotta. And you can flavour them to suit the pudding of course.

If, like me, you still have a half tub of candied peel then here is your way of using it up. Alternatively you could use a bit of marmalade or simply lemon zest but candied peel gives a nice chewiness.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees

 

120g sunflower margarine

60g sugar (plus a bit extra)

1 tbsp chopped lemon peel

150g self raising flour

 

Cream together the margarine with the sugar. Stir in the peel and then stir in the flour. Roll into balls and place on to a baking sheet, leaving a little gap around each one. Press down with a fork and sprinkle a little sugar on the top.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden. Leave them to crisp up on the tray.

click here to download this recipe

 

Whole Orange Marmalade

Whatever recipe you use, I would say the most important aspect is getting the shred really soft in the first place. Tough or rubbery shred is very disappointing. Also, do not think you can get away with less sugar than your recipe suggests. You can’t! And I speak as one who has tried in the past and regretted it.
I like to boil the oranges whole rather than cut them up first. If you haven’t got quite enough Seville oranges there is no harm in making up the weight with sweet oranges, lemons or grapefruit.
NB Seville oranges freeze so if you see bargain bags do snap them up for later.
You ideally need a preserving pan but don’t despair. Better to use two pans than try to cram it all in your biggest pan. Or do it in two batches.
3 ¼ litres water
3 kg sugar
1 ½ kg Seville oranges
Sterilised jars (I run them through the dishwasher and warm them in the oven)

Simmer the whole oranges in water for at least 1 ½ hours until the skin is really tender. Remove and keep oranges in a bowl until cool enough to cut into quarters. The water you boiled them in should stay in the pan. A slow cooker or alternatively a pressure cooker will do the job with different timings of course.
Scrape the mush and pips from the inside of the oranges into muslin or a jelly bag and put into the water along with any liquid that might be in the bowl.
Cut up the peel as you like it and add to the pan. Put a plate in the fridge to use as a setting test. Warm your clean jars in an oven set to 100 degrees. Turn off oven as they need to be warm but not scalding when you fill them.
It’s a good idea to warm the sugar in a microwave or low oven before adding to the pan. Stir until dissolved then turn up heat and boil the marmalade until a drop of the liquid sets enough to form a skin when you push it on the cold plate. This process can take from ½ an hour to an hour depending on the size of your pan. Keep pushing the juices out of the muslin from time to time to help it set.
When your marmalade has reached a setting point, let it stand for 15 minutes to avoid the shred rising to the top of the jars. Carefully fill your jars and seal tightly with the lids. I never bother with cellophane.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Forced rhubarb is in the shops now and in short supply this year so treat it with love and respect. They don't call it champagne rhubarb for nothing.

Rhubarb, cardamom and ginger parfait 

You will only need 500g rhubarb for the parfait but do make extra and put it on your pancakes or yogurt. 

For the rhubarb compote 

800g trimmed rhubarb 
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped 
250g caster sugar 

Put everything in an oven proof dish and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour or until just nicely soft and juicy. Allow to cool completely and chill ready to use in the parfait. 

To make the parfait 

110ml milk 
200ml double cream
4 cardamom pods 
6 egg yolks 
120g sugar 
3 egg whites 
½ tsp vinegar or lemon juice 

Heat the milk, cream and cardamom pods together until scalded but not boiling. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes. 

Beat the yolks with 60g of the sugar until creamy. Add the creamy milk to the eggs and stir well. Return to the pan and gently reheat until it begins to thicken. Be very careful not to let it get too hot. It should not be allowed to boil or you will find you have scrambled the eggs. 

Strain through a sieve and let the custard cool in a bowl. Transfer to the fridge as soon as possible to chill it well. 

When the custard is really cold, whisk the egg whites with the vinegar until stiff. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk again. 

Gently mix 500g of the rhubarb into the custard with a little juice. Then fold in the egg whites. 

Pour into a loaf tin lined with cling film and freeze.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

These are much more readily available now from your local butcher and they make a great Winter warmer - and if the forecasts are anything to go by.........!

Ox cheeks in Guinness

Serves 4 hungry people!

It’s really important to let the beef cheeks sit outside the fridge at a reasonable room temperature for at least an hour before you fry them to take the chill off. If you cook meat from ice cold it will be tough!

4 large beef/ox cheeks                                       2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, chopped                                               2 sticks celery, chopped
1 bulb of garlic, cut in half                                 3 sprigs thyme
1 bottle or can of Guinness                                 sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a little plain flour                                                   2 tbsp olive oil
150g butter                                                             500ml beef stock
1 tbsp Worcester sauce                                     1 tbsp redcurrant jelly

Day 1 Place the cheeks in a large bowl with the onions, chopped carrot, garlic and thyme. Pour over the beer, cover and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours, but preferably overnight. (the marinating is not essential but it does add a depth of flavor)

Day 2

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Or use your slow cooker.
Strain off the beef and vegetables, pat dry the cheeks dry, then season with a little salt and pepper and roll in the flour.  Reserve the marinade.
Heat a large casserole or ovenproof pan until hot, add the olive oil and a knob of the butter. When foaming, add the beef cheeks two at a time and fry on each side until browned. Remove and set aside.
Soften the vegetables in the pan then return the beef to the pan.  Add all the other ingredients together with the reserved marinade.
Bring to a simmer then cover with a lid, leaving the lid slightly ajar so you have a 1cm/½in gap at the side. Cook in the oven for 4-5 hours.
Remove the casserole from the oven and strain the liquid into a saucepan, then place over the heat and cook until the volume of liquid has reduced and is thick enough to just coat the back of a spoon.
Whisk in the remaining butter until the sauce is shiny. Season to taste. To serve, lift out the beef cheeks and place in shallow bowls with the sauce. Great with mash and greens.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

One of the things we cooked during our New Year's Celebration Cookery was cornbread. It is especially venerated as a New Year's treat in the southern United States because colour resembles that of gold. To ensure extra luck, some people add extra corn kernels, which are emblematic of golden nuggets.

Cornbread

Makes 12
Ingredients
125g plain flour

  • 125g cornmeal
  • 140g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 235ml milk
  • 80ml vegetable oil

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 200 C 

  1. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Spoon into muffin cases.
  2. Bake in the preheated oven until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes

To download the recipe click here.

 

We are lucky enough to have one of the recipes from Milly Rees' Vegetarian Christmas Cooking Course last week.

How's this for a Christmas offering? Hearty and welcoming if you are expecting long-distance guests (not necessarily on camelback)  to celebrate Christmas with you - Bethlehem Soup!

Bethlehem Soup

2 onions, finely chopped                            1 lemon ( or 2 sections of chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped                           preserved lemon, skin only)
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger                   300g red lentils
1 tbsp ground cumin                               1 litre veg stock
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper                           Fresh or frozen coriander
Salt                                                         pomegranate seeds
1 x 425g tin of plum tomatoes or
4 large fresh tomatoes, skinned,
Deseeded and chopped.
 

Heat a little oil in a large pan and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook gently for 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, cayenne and a good pinch of salt. Stir for a minute.

Add the lentils, tomatoes and 4 slices of lemon (or preserved lemon). Add the stock. Stir and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes. Add more liquid as desired. Stir in some chopped coriander and top with a slice or two of lemon.

 Click here to download this recipe

 

All the colours of Christmas roulade

Ingredients

400 g   (14oz) baby-leaf spinach                                                  500 g (1lb 2 oz) ricotta
6 medium eggs, separated                                                          3 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 roasted red pepper, deseeded and                                          3 tbsp. plain flour
          and finely chopped                                                            1 few sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. baking powder                                                                   25 g (1oz) chopped toasted walnuts, plus
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg                                                                             extra to garnish
60 g (2 oz) vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese

 Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan) mark 5 and line a rough 23 x 33cm (9 x 13in) Swiss  roll tin with baking parchment. Empty the spinach into a large pan, add 50ml (2fl oz) water and cook, stirring frequently, until spinach wilts. Empty into a colander and cool under cold running water.

Lift out handfuls of spinach and firmly squeeze out excess moisture. Put spinach into a food processor with the egg yolks, flour, baking powder, nutmeg and some seasoning. Whiz until spinach is finely chopped. Scrape into a large bowl.

In a separate large bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Mix one-third
of the whites into the spinach bowl to loosen, then fold in the remaining whites, retaining as much air as possible.

Spread mixture into prepared tin and cook for 12-15min or until firm to the touch and lightly golden. Meanwhile, sprinkle the Parmesan-style cheese over a large sheet of baking parchment on a work surface.

When cooked, invert the spinach tin on to the prepared baking parchment, remove tin and allow roulade to cool.

To make the filling, mix together the ricotta, chives, red pepper, tomatoes, walnuts and plenty of seasoning.

Peel off upper baking parchment from roulade, then spread over the filling. With the help of the base parchment, roll up the roulade from one of the short edges. Transfer to a serving plate, seam down. Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan-style cheese and chopped walnuts. Serve.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

“♪ ♫ And a partridge in a pear tree ♫ 

Well the partridge isn't actually in a tree, but you will have trouble getting that tune out of your head for the rest of the day and this make for a wonderful seasonal recipe.

 

This makes a tasty starter or light lunch. You could also use quickly fried pigeon breast instead of partridge or quail in which case don’t cook for more than five minutes. The breasts should be browned but pink inside.

 

Quickly fry some lardons or pancetta and remove. Season and brown a brace of partridge or quail in the same pan with a little butter and olive oil and then add some finely chopped shallot and a crushed clove of garlic and cook together until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the pan and slosh in half a pint of wine to deglaze. Put everything back and add a sprig of rosemary or thyme.

Cover and bubble gently for 20 minutes. Remove to a warm dish and reduce the sauce and stir in a little redcurrant jelly and balsamic vinegar. Strip off the meat and scatter onto the salad with the pancetta.

 

To make the fennel and pear salad:

Take a couple of fennel bulbs and remove outer leaves. Slice finely and mix with some finely sliced celery and pear. Squeeze on some lemon or lime for acidity and a little honey or maple syrup for sweetness together with a little olive oil and seasoning. Some fried walnuts are good with it and you could turn it into more of a slaw by mixing in some mayonnaise and maybe some mild creamy mustard.

 

Click here to download this recipe.

 

 

This makes a tasty starter or light lunch. You could also use quickly fried pigeon breast instead of partridge or quail in which case don’t cook for more than five minutes. The breasts should be browned but pink inside.

 

Quickly fry some lardons or pancetta and remove. Season and brown a brace of partridge or quail in the same pan with a little butter and olive oil and then add some finely chopped shallot and a crushed clove of garlic and cook together until the vegetables are soft. Remove from the pan and slosh in half a pint of wine to deglaze. Put everything back and add a sprig of rosemary or thyme.

Cover and bubble gently for 20 minutes. Remove to a warm dish and reduce the sauce and stir in a little redcurrant jelly and balsamic vinegar. Strip off the meat and scatter onto the salad with the pancetta.

 

To make the fennel and pear salad:

Take a couple of fennel bulbs and remove outer leaves. Slice finely and mix with some finely sliced celery and pear. Squeeze on some lemon or lime for acidity and a little honey or maple syrup for sweetness together with a little olive oil and seasoning. Some fried walnuts are good with it and you could turn it into more of a slaw by mixing in some mayonnaise and maybe some mild creamy mustard.

 

 

Naughty but nice Popcorn Boulders, a lovely winter treat - and definitely not for kids only!

Popcorn Boulders
50g popping corn
150g roasted cashews, roughly chopped
250g caster sugar
25g muscovado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tblsp condensed milk
25g butter
75ml water
Large pinch of salt

Butter 2 mini muffin trays

Pop the corn in batched in a pan or microwave. Put into a large bowl being careful to remove any un popped corn. Mix in the cashews.
Put everything else into a pan and stir over a low heat to start to melt the sugar. Bring to the boil and boil until thick and caramel like. Stir into the corn. Do this as quickly as poss.
With two spoons, pile the mixture into the tins and press down. Leave to cool.
Note (if you find you have undercooked the caramel then you can crisp it up by putting the tray into a hot oven for a few minutes until brown – be careful not to burn it)

Click here to download the recipe

 

Here is a recipe for the festive season - maybe for the day itself - and you can make it in advance. If you haven't made them before (and fillet is not cheap!) try doing a trial run with one to test your oven's timings. They are also delicious made with venison.

Beef Wellingtons
Serves 4
4 x 170g/6oz fillet steak
Salt and pepper
Worcester sauce 30g
beef dripping or a mix of butter and oil
60g field mushrooms, chopped
80g chicken liver pate
1 packet puff pastry
Beaten egg

Trim off any membrane from the steak. Heat the dripping in a frying pan. Season with pepper and brown the steaks quickly in the hot pan. The outside should be brown and the middle absolutely raw. Leave the meat to cool on a wire rack.
Cook the mushrooms in the frying pan and tip onto a bowl.
Beat the mushrooms into the pate. Taste and season if necessary. Set oven to 200 degrees.
Roll out pastry until it is the thickness of a pound coin. Put a dollop of the pate mixture onto it. Sprinkle the cooled steaks with Worcester sauce and place onto the pile of pate. Cut pastry into squares large enough so that the pastry will completely cover the whole steak. Brush the edges with water and draw the pastry over the steaks to make a neat parcel.
Decorate with trimmings of pastry.
Let them relax in the fridge for 10 minute and then brush with beaten eggPlace on baking trays with plenty of space between and bake for 15 minutes. Make some gravy!
To make ahead – Just be sure the mushrooms cold before mixing with the pate and that the steaks have cooled after frying. They can be assembled and stored for up to 3 days in the fridge and also frozen in which case cook from frozen for 25/30 minutes. They are meant to be pink in the middle!

Click here to download this recipe.

Milly Rees just dug up the last of her beetroot and they had beef yesterday so here is the result - 

Beef Borscht 

In this recipe I have used left over beef from the Sunday roast but it is not essential to add any beef at all. I like it with beef stock but of course veg stock would be a sensible alternative. Another way of doing all this is to put whole beetroots and root veg in when you slow cook brisket so that you can use it all up for soup the next day. If you do it this way, blending the finished soup with a stick blender is best.

About 250g left over beef, cut up small 
2 red onions 
4 medium sized fresh beetroot 
1 carrot 
1 parsnip 
1 can of consommé (or use a stock melt capsule) 
Sherry or Madeira 
A little butter and oil 
Salt and pepper 

Starting with the onions and beetroot, use a magimix to shred your peeled vegetables or grate them with a cheese grater. Put the butter and oil into a large pan and
start to soften the beetroot and onion with a little salt. Put the lid on and let them cook for five minutes while you prepare the other veg. 

Once the onions and beetroots are broken down a bit, add the rest of the veg. Stir well and put the lid on again for 10 minutes over a medium heat. 

Add the stock or can of consommé so that there is enough liquid to cover the vegetables. 

Simmer gently for 20 minutes. 

Add the finely chopped beef and cook on for another 10 minutes. Season again and add a glug of sherry. 

Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

A reason to be happy about that hard frost last week.

Sloe Gin

You could make this in jam jars for Christmas presents or make in large quantities for storing. I love it over ice with a splash of soda and it makes a good and luxurious addition to jellies and sauces.

Pick your sloes now that they have had the frost on them as it makes the skins softer which releases the juices quickly.

600g sloes

1 litre gin or vodka

400g sugar

Pick over the sloes to get rid of any stalk or leaves and put them in a large sterilised kilner jar. Pour over the sugar and then the alcohol.

Close the jar tightly and tip it up regularly for a week or two to dissolve all the sugar. Then store in a dark place for at least three months.

Strain off the sloes and pour the alcohol through a funnel into sterilised bottles.

A recipe for the season!

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Quick Pumpkin Bread 

Here is a scone-type bread for eating straight from the oven with plenty of butter and of course it would be lovely with a spicy pumpkin soup! 

Double or triple the ingredients to use up your pumpkin. I don’t use the seeds from the pumpkin as I find them too tough. Bought is better for this. Sunflower seeds or chopped hazelnuts are also good. 

200g grated pumpkin (raw or baked) 

250g self raising flour (wholemeal if you have it) 

Salt and pepper 

50g cheese (plus a little for topping) 

50g butter 

Small bunch chives 

100g pumpkin seeds 

I egg 

150ml milk 

1 teaspoon mustard 

Method 

1 Set oven to 200/400/gas mark 6. Brush a baking sheet with a little oil. 

2 Put flour, salt and pepper into a bowl. 

3 Cut up butter and rub into the flour. Stir in the pumpkin and half the seeds. 

4 Grate the cheese, snip the chives and add both to the mixture. (save some cheese for topping) 

5 Beat the egg with the milk and mustard and add to the other ingredients 

6 Sprinkle a work surface with flour and knead the dough on it until it can be made into a circle. 

7 Place this onto the sheet and cut through into six segments with a little space between. Top with the remaining cheese and seeds and bake for 15 to 20 mins.

Click here to download the recipe.

 

Here is quince recipe for anyone who has a tree full of them.

Quince Jelly

This is lovely as an addition to sweet dishes but I also like to add a little to gravies, pork dishes and even in dressings. If you want it to be really set, then just boil it for longer but I find it makes a versatile drizzle and I pour it over everything from fried haloumi to my breakfast
yogurt!

3 good sized quinces (or should that be 3 quince?)
1 litre water
850g sugar

Roughly chop up the quince and throw the whole lot, pips, peel and all into a large pan with the sugar and water.

Stir over a gently heat to dissolve the sugar then simmer for at least an hour. The liquid should have reduced by about half to leave you with a rosy coral colour.

Strain into a couple of, warm sterilised jars or make up a few small ones for Christmas presents. If you prefer, you can stop the boiling a little earlier to make a more liquid glaze in which case you could use bottles and the colour will be more like rose lemonade.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Here is another slow cooked dish for Autumn nights.

Glazed gammon

Unsmoked gammon—about 2.25 kg                  2 tbsp Worcester sauce
500ml apple juice or cider                                  1 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp juniper berries                                         1 tbsp English mustard
4 cloves garlic, bruised                                      2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 onion, quartered                                             1 tbsp cloves

To get rid of some saltiness I soak the gammon overnight then throw out the water but it depends on the gammon supplier.

Put the soaked gammon into a slow cooker (or casserole) with the cider (or apple juice), juniper berries, garlic, onion and Worcester sauce. Top up with water so that the liquid comes half way up the sides of the meat. Smear with the treacle and cook slowly with the lid on for at least 5 hours. Keep the cooking liquid.

When ready to roast it, turn on the oven to 180 degrees. Place the gammon into a roasting tray. Remove the rind from the meat and score it with a sharp knife. Slather it with mustard and then pat on the sugar. Stud the whole thing with cloves and pour enough liquid in to come up by about an inch all round. Tent it loosely with foil and bake for about 40 minutes. Take off the foil and carry on cooking for about another 15 minutes to get the colour just right. Serve hot with some of the reduced liquor or slice it when cold.

Click here to download this recipe

Slow cooked short ribs

With the frosts arriving I want to celebrate the drop in temperature with a comforting bowl of slow cooked beef made in my slow ribs are so flavoursome and like lamb shanks, when cooked very slowly they fall off the bone and and are delightfully soft. Use any like with them but here is one with a vaguely Chinese style and I’ll serve it in a bowlful of brown rice. Ribs vary in size (hence the sk tion recommendation) so when choosing them try to imagine them off the bone!

Serves 3 - 5

3 ribs
1 cup of soy sauce
1 cup of plum sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce or a dash of anchovy essence 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 red chillies, chopped
2 star anise
2 inches of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cups of water
1 cup of white wine or vermouth
Six shallots or small red onions

Nb if you haven’t got plum sauce you could add some apple puree or even some tinned plums or prunes – the idea is to add some sweetness.

Brown the ribs in a little oil and place in your slow cooker. Brown the onions in the fat and add these but put the fat in a cup and store in the fridge for another time.

Place all the other ingredients in the oil-free pan and stir until mixed and hot through. Tip this onto the meat and on- ions and cook for about four hours.

When the meat is really tender, scoop it out to an oven proof casserole dish, removing the bones as you do so. The meat should break into big chunks.

Skim off the fat from the liquid. Transfer the juices into a large saucepan and bubble to reduce by at least a third then tip back over the meat.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Supergrain salad with tahini dressing 

150g wholewheat cous cous 

150g quinoa 

150g brown rice or barley 

1 teaspoon sea salt 

1 bunch spring onions 

1 tin of chick peas 

Big bunch of chopped mixed herbs 

Olive oil 

Grated zest and juice of a lemon 

100g chopped olives 

100g chopped capers and gerkins 

100g toasted seeds 

 

Cook all the grains according to instructions on packet. Allow to cool for a while before folding in the other ingredients. Top with the dressing and a teaspoon of Zaatar if you have it. 

To make the dressing – mix 3 tablespoons of tahini with a clove of garlic (minced), the juice of an orange, ½ tsp chilli flakes, a little oil, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Shake it all up in a jam jar. 

(pomegranate syrup is nice with this too and some of the seeds scattered over the top adds taste and colour) 

Note - Quinoa (pronounced Keenwah) although less popular than rice, can be a more nutrient-dense alternative. For a 100-gram serving, quinoa has double the amount of protein (14 grams versus 7 grams) for approximately the same amount of calories. It also has 2.5 times the amount of fiber than rice: 7 grams versus 3 grams, respectively. 

It's higher in B-vitamins than other grain alternatives like barley, rye, rice, and corn. B-vitamins contribute to the metabolic reactions going in your body all the time, converting the food you eat into fuel for energy. Eating quinoa may also help lower LDL or "bad" cholesterol, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a 2012 study.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

Lemon and herb cutlets 

If your butcher is any good, they will be very happy to French trim cutlets. When they are trimmed they look good but more importantly, they make the pleasure of picking them up and gnawing on them even more joyous. At this time of year you could get away with 2 person but 3 piled up on the plate looks more generous. 

For 6 cutlets 

Make a marinade by chopping up a good handful of fresh herbs and mixing with 2 cloves of garlic, a spoonful of honey, the zest and juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of mustard and a dash of anchovy sauce (or a couple of anchovy fillets mashed up). I also like to add a splash of vermouth and a little olive oil. 

The easiest way to marinade is to tip everything into a freezer bag and put this into a bowl. I let the cutlets marinade over night then move them around in the marinade once again the next morning. 

An hour before you want to eat, take the cutlets out of the fridge, wipe them with kitchen paper and remove them on to a plate to take the chill off them. Keep the marinade. 

To cook, heat up a frying pan, put a little oil into the pan. When the pan is hot, let the cutlets sit skin side down to brown then flick them over and fry on a medium heat until they are cooked. This will take between five to 10 minutes. Alternatively (particularly if you are cooking a big batch) roast them in the oven for fifteen minutes. 

Let them rest and while they are resting use the marinade to swirl around the pan to use as a gravy.

Click here to download this recipe.

 

So called because it is basically handfuls of stuff though I’ve given the approximate weight. Also handy for anyone on a vegan or gluten free diet as I often use rice flour or a gluten free brand.

Handy Cakes

So called because it is basically handfuls of stuff though I’ve given the approximate weight. Also handy for anyone on a vegan or gluten free diet as I often use rice flour or a gluten free brand.


2 handfuls desiccated coconut (60g)                                          4 tbsp oil
1 handful roughly chopped nuts (85g)                                        4-5 bananas
3 handfuls of


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