Living with a non meat eating person has greatly expanded my gastronomic horizons- getting that rich flavour into stocks and sauces simply is not easy when you are accustomed to simply bunging in some meat jus or a few bones from the local butchers. We have eaten this lovely meatball and pasta sauce dish and not just as ‘not’ meatballs either. Mashing up the aubergine and breadcrumbs into the sauce then adding a goodly amount of white or red wine turns it into a very fine base indeed for all kinds of vegetable stews; adding fine sliced fennel turns it into a facsimile of Bouillabaisse. If I had my druthers I would make it with both aubergine and ‘meat’ meatballs though- mine corpulent with beef, a bit of veal and pork as James Villas the wonderful Tar Heel food writer best makes them. But veal is expensive, baby calves are really cute and I cannot be arsed to cook two meals for Mr Veggie and Ms Not Veggie. So Jack Monroe’s wonderful Aubergine veggie version it is and it is none the lesser for it- just different.
Jack Monroe has kindly permitted me to reblog this and other content. Just in case anybody was wondering (stalking….)
These ‘Not Meatballs’ are adapted from a recipe in The Abel & Cole Veg Box Companion cookbook. They are a great veggie alternative to meatballs, and a favourite in my household. Delicious served with spaghetti and tomato sauce – a simple can of chopped tomatoes heated through at the end with a pinch of salt would be a perfect accompaniment.
1 onion, red or white
a fat clove of garlic
1 red chilli or a pinch of the dried stuff
1 tablespoon finely chopped black olives (optional)
3 tablespoons oil
zest and juice of half a lemon, or a tablespoon of bottled lemon juice
a slice of bread, stale or fresh
a fistful of herbs: parsley, mint, coriander or basil all work well
Cut the stems off the ends of the aubergines and halve lengthways. Dice the flesh into chunks and pop into a medium non…
Former Waveney MP, Bob Blizzard speaking at a rally to sending a message to the government and the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust to think again on proposals for cuts to local mental health care services. Picture: James Bass
Mental health bosses have warned that Norfolk and Suffolk does not have the capacity to cope with a looming increase in dementia cases after beds and staffing numbers were cut by almost a third.
Changing dementia care in Norfolk and Suffolk
There are five Dementia Intensive Support Teams (DIST) across Norfolk and Suffolk, which aim to support people living with dementia in the community and ensure that they receive the help they need to remain at home wherever possible.
The first was set up in the Norwich area four years ago with the others being established over the last year as part of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s radical redesign of mental health services.
The west Norfolk team, which was established last August, consists of 12 mental health practitioners, an occupational therapist and two psychiatrists, all based at Chatterton House in King’s Lynn.
Around 85pc of the patients the team sees have dementia, while the remaining 15pc suffer from mental illness, such as depression. To meet demand, the service is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm.
Andrew Lillywhite, team leader of the west Norfolk team, said moving people with dementia out of their homes to unfamiliar surroundings was not always in their best interests.
“We aim, wherever possible, to help people to stay at home because we know how important being in a familiar environment is for their wellbeing. We want to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital, however, everything depends on the quality of life at home and we have to take into consideration individual circumstances.”
“Once we’ve received a referral from a GP or hospital, we like to visit the patient as soon as possible. We always check the patient’s physical health, as we know that it’s important to eliminate any physical problems first. Following a full assessment, we can offer advice with medication and care and we also act as a signposting service, explaining to carers how they can access further support and help.”
“The establishment of DIST has enabled us to see far more patients than we could before. For us, it’s all about enabling people to reach their full potential while suffering from a limiting illness. Team members can see the bigger picture when they meet the patient with other family members,” he said.
Campaigners have called on Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to rethink its proposals to close some inpatient wards with warnings that thousands more people will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia over the next 15 years.
Figures revealed under a freedom of information (FoI) request show that the number of dementia beds across the two counties has been reduced from 140 to 96 over the last two years. Officials from the mental health trust said bed numbers had been cut through a service redesign and the creation of new Dementia Intensive Support Teams (DIST) to treat more patients at home.
However, the FoI response revealed that the number of staff working in older people’s services at NSFT has been cut from 528 to 357 over the last year. The number of people with dementia is set to grow from 13,000 to more than 20,000 by 2025. Fourteen “alternative to admission” beds have been set up in Norfolk and Waveney where patients can be taken to a nursing home, rather than being admitted to hospital.
However, when asked if the trust had enough capacity for increased numbers of people living with dementia, Kathy Chapman, director of operations for Norfolk and Waveney, said: “No – additional resource will be required due to very significant future demand.”
She said the trust had to make 20pc savings, which had resulted in fewer staff. However, the trust had the right balance of inpatient beds because not all of them were fully occupied, she added.
She said: “Hospital acute assessment beds for people with dementia remain. Alternatives to admission will always be sought to ensure that people are admitted to hospital only when necessary. Our trust has completed the implementation of DIST across Norfolk and feedback we have received has been positive.”
The changes have resulted in NSFT having no inpatient beds in west Norfolk for people with dementia, with the nearest facilities in Norwich.
Norman Lamb, health minister and North Norfolk MP, said: “It is the right general approach to move away from inpatient beds to provide better support for people at home. The direction they are taking is the right one, but in terms of capacity of services and staff numbers, it has to be sufficient for growing demand. On the face of it, the commissioners in Norfolk and mental health trust need to work together to ensure they are looking towards the future and ensure they have an absolute grip on rising demand.”
Bob Blizzard, prospective parliamentary candidate for Waveney, who has been campaigning against bed cuts at Carlton Court, near Lowestoft, said: “Closing dementia beds at a time when all the demographics point to an increase in demand makes no sense at all. This is a shameful way to treat older people with dementia.”
Make no doubt about it, asparagus is sexy food even if the aftermath for some- that pungent scent in the bathroom is less so (due to sulphur-containing amino acids in the veg that break down during digestion). And as applies to many things in life, less is often more. It is hard to beat naked asparagus, grilled or steamed then adorned with a scatter of salt, some melted butter and a squirt of lemon juice. Or Asparagus with nothing more than salt even.
Lately though we have started livening things up in the kitchen department by experimenting with different tricks- after all they do say that variety is what keeps life in a marriage. Extending this life advice to ones kitchen isn’t to be sniffed at either although the only roasting going on in our house is in the asparagus department. Using this technique imbues the spears with a subtle smokiness that is a real departure from the expected grassiness of steamed asparagus, whilst scattering over the (optional) capers adds a metallic briny tinge. This recipe is shamelessly pinched from one of my kitchen Gods, David Lebovitz whose brand new book ‘My Paris Kitchen‘ was recently published to the delight of this acolyte. The usual flavours that Asparagus suits so well are beautifully referenced by the buttery stickiness of the egg yolks as they cook alongside and their golden colours (source of the ‘Mimosa’ name) are joyous to the eyes alongside the stomach.
Asparagus Mimosa by David Lebovitz
1 1/2 pounds (680g) green asparagus, washed and towel-dried (see above)
fresh ground black pepper
2 large eggs, at room temperature
chopped flat-leaf parsley or chives, for garnish
Capers for garnish are optional
1. Heat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC.)
2. Break off the tough bottoms of the asparagus stalk and peel the tough skin off the stalks of asparagus using thick spears. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of olive oil on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss the asparagus in the oil and roast in the oven, turning the spears a few times during roasting, for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender when you poke a knife into the stems. (But don’t overcook them) Do keep an eye on them if the spears are on the slender side- they make roast far more swiftly.
3. While the asparagus is cooking, hard-boil the eggs by bringing a small pot of water to a boil. Slide the eggs into the water carefully and reduce the heat to a low boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain water from the pot and add ice and cold water, then let the eggs sit in the water until cool.
4. Place the asparagus on a serving platter. Peel the eggs and use a cheese grater with large holes to grate the eggs over the asparagus. (Traditionally the eggs are pressed through a wide-mesh strainer, which you can do if you want them in smaller pieces.) Sprinkle the asparagus with chopped parsley, chives or a scattering of Capers and serve.
These light, easy to make muffins are a great way to use the gorgeous Gooseberry and Elerflower jam from Thursday Cottage. Click on the link at the bottom of the page to find out more.
250g self raising flower
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of sea salt
75g caster sugar
250ml buttermilk or 125ml plain yoghurt mixed with 125ml milk
2 medium eggs
100g butter, melted
150-200g Thursday Cottage Gooseberry jam
25ml Elderflower cordial
125g icing sugar, sieved
2 teaspoons Elderflower cordial
12 hole muffin tray, holes about 6 cm in diameter lightly greased or lined with paper muffin cases.
Preheat oven to 190/200C/Gas mark 5-6.
Sift the first 4 ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. Add the sugar and using a spoon or spatula, mix until well blended.
Next put the buttermilk, the eggs, melted butter, jam and elderflower cordial into a large mixing jug or bowl. Beat together until well combined and the mixture is a thick batter. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir very lightly, scraping the sides down, until just combined -over beating won’t improve your muffins! Divide the mixture between the muffin cups, filling each tyre-quarters full (approximately 1 large tablespoon per cup).
Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until well risen and the tops are golden. The muffins should spring back into shape when lightly touched. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, mix the sieved icing sugar with 2 teaspoons elderflower cordial and a drop of water to a thick smooth consistency. Trickle over the muffins when cool.
VARIATION – replace the elderflower cordial with freshly squeezed orange juice and the
zest from one orange.
Being lucky enough to be blessed with a good set of grandparents meant I also learned to cook and bake at their elbows- timeless, stick to your-ribs, homely cooking based upon what they grew in their garden and bought locally (alongside M&S apricot roll cake- a particular weakness of my grandmother). Evening meals were strictly rotated- the Sunday roast provided a mini roast on Mondays and Wednesdays with meat leftovers being added to freshly cooked vegetables. Tuesdays and Thursdays were beans or cheese on toast and Fridays were the day for fish and chips in the evening, eaten at home in the winter and in the summer, on our laps in a nearby beauty spot, Rodbridge Corner.
Ducks from the nearby river crowded around our feet as we threw the odd chip at them and licked our salt-encrusted fingers before getting back into the car, chip wrappers neatly stored away in one of the many plastic bags stored in the glove compartment. In those days, Getting The Car Out was a big deal and woe betide any greasy fingerprints smudged onto the Ultrasuede seat covers but the day came when the car met its end at the hands of a long drive after two strawberry ice creams and a bout of travel sickness. No amount of valeting eliminated the lingering perfume.
Doctor Who dictated Saturdays- we ate around the TV with our salads balanced precariously on our knees or we’d move the table into the sitting room. Daleks rained death and destruction upon the good Doctor and his sidekick as I peered through my fingers or around the cluster of bottles on the tabletop- salad cream, Branston Pickle and great grandmothers picalilli. The crowning glory of these meals were what I found in the cake tin; a retro Bakelite beauty stored in the highest wall cupboard, or inside the fridge-freezer. Great slabs of home made pastry were baked off and frozen on a weekly basis to be thawed out later and popped back into the oven until they were golden and crisp. They were served with stewed fruit (or in today’s middle class terminology, a compote) or a scoop of macerated strawberries in the summer and my grandfather liked his berries liberally dusted with black pepper.
The glories of the Be Ro Baking Book gave grandmother the inspiration for her boiled fruit cake and this slim narrow volume with time-torn, food-stained pages was THE cookbook of the sixties, packed with day-go bright drawings of battenburg cake, rock Cakes, victoria sponge and other ageless British cakes and breads. I have no idea what happened to the original copy although the Bakelite cake tin and child-sized knife with pale green bakelite handle are safely stored away. Boiled fruit cake recipes are thankfully not hard to find in other cookery books either; I have tried Julie Duff’s version and it is a decent replacement for the recipe of my childhood, giving a cake that is slightly smaller and not so moist. If you like a drier fruit cake then it will suit you.
This is THE Uber recipe though, the one used by my grandmother and provider of a darkly tanned and rich sugared crumb and retaining its juiciness via a generous hand with the dried fruit. It is large enough to keep a family fed for several days.
225g / 8oz sultanas
225g / 8oz currants
225g / 8oz raisins
50g / 2oz mixed peel
175g / 6oz butter
175g / 6oz soft brown sugar
350g / 120z self raising flour
Generous teaspoon of mixed spice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 150c/300f/Gas mark 2. Place the peel, fruit, butter, sugar and spice into a large saucepan and slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Boil very gently for two minutes and keep an eye on it then remove from heat, stir and let it cool down.
Sift flour and salt into another bowl and making a well in the centre, pour the lightly beaten eggs into the well of flour. Now pour the fruit mixture onto the flour and eggs then beat them with a wooden spoon until this mixture is thoroughly combined.
Spoon into a greased and lined 18cm/7 inch round cake tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 2- 2 and a half hours or until the cake is firm to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly.
Cover with a clean cloth and allow to cool in the tin.
Lovely with Wensleydale cheese and an apple.
If you want to soak the dried fruit overnight in rum or brandy don’t let me stop you. The cake tastes great with that hit but it isn’t the cake that I made as a child and it is this which I wanted to celebrate.
We are delighted to see that the talented Henrietta Inman is being recognised in our national press. The following recipe appeared in the Sunday Telegraph’s ‘Stella’ Magazine and shows everybody else what I already knew- that she is destined for culinary greatness. Having originally been fans of her delectable Facebook page and recently her new online pageswe found Henrietta at the monthly Snape Maltings Food Market earlier this year. Henrietta trained at the Lanesborough Hotel (among others) and whenever possible cooks with local ingredients, combining them with classical techniques and a fresh take on ingredients, many of which are locally sourced when not grown herself. Feast your eyes on some of these sumptuous treats then feast in real life by baking her lovely fruited loaf cake.
The new baker: Berry, banana and oatmeal loaf-cake by Henrietta Inman
Rapeseed oil gives this cake an earthy and a nutty depth, but for a lighter flavour sunflower oil works well too.
Makes one loaf
120ml (4fl oz) rapeseed or sunflower oil, plus extra for greasing
65g (2¼oz) medium oatmeal
25g (1oz) pumpkin seeds
25g (1oz) sunflower seeds
20g (¾oz) brown linseed
40g (1½oz) rolled oats
75g (2¾oz) white spelt flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp baking-powder
¾ tsp ground Maldon salt
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest 1 orange
2 medium eggs
140g (5oz) soft light-brown Muscovado sugar
150g (5½oz) ripe banana
60g (2oz) dried cranberries
60g (2oz) blueberries
60g (2oz) raspberries
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5. Grease a 19x12x8.5cm (7½x4¾x3½in) loaf tin with oil, and line the base with baking-parchment. Flour the sides with 20g (¾oz) oatmeal, leaving the larger grains to fall to the base.
On a small tray, toast the pumpkin and sunflower seeds for about six minutes. Mix in the linseed. Toast for a further three minutes. Meanwhile, cover the rest of the oatmeal and 30g (1¼oz) of the oats in a bowl with 150ml (5fl oz) boiling water. Stir well and leave for five to 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking-powder, salt, cinnamon and toasted seeds. Mix together the zest, eggs, oil and sugar, then whisk in the porridge. Add to the flour mix. Blitz the banana and cranberries for seven seconds in a food processor until the banana just begins to purée, leaving some lumps for texture. Scrape into the flour mixture and combine well.
Pour into the tin and sprinkle over the remaining oats and fresh berries. Bake for 30 minutes then rotate the cake and reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Cook for a further 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Place on a wire rack and leave to cool in the tin completely (it will slice better cold). Serve with yogurt for breakfast or on its own for tea.
We have some gorgeous photographs that celebrate Hunstanton, an east coast town that faces west and one of the few places on the English east coast where the sun can be seen to set over the sea. Hunstanton is notable for its stratified, fossiliferous cliffs: lower reddish limestone, known as ‘red chalk‘ that glows with rich reds and the colours of a Tuscan town. Much of the coastline along with the countryside and inland villages is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which covers around 450 square kilometres. To the south of Hunstanton towards King’s Lynn and then west towards Sutton Bridge, the coastline forms part of The Wash, the largest estuary system in the UK, that is recognised internationally as a fundamentally important site for wildlife.
Topped by a white chalk layer from the Upper Cretaceous Epoch, the cliffs are a beautiful place to wander at dawn and dusk where their colours and shadows are intensified. Go fossil and shell hunting with the children taking a good seaside wildlife App or guide book to help you identify rock pool inhabitants, the abundant local bird life and geological discoveries.
The excellent sandy beaches, awarded Blue Flag status in 2011 provide that trad British seaside experience where a bucket and spade, sunscreen, windbreak and sand encrusted picnic will keep any child happily occupied for hours on end with the odd wander to the nearby ice cream sellers to round off the day.
The original village settlement , Old Hunstanton boasts the more sedate village atmosphere, with carstone-built cottages and traditional British pubs but it is feasible (and easy) to walk from Old Hunstanton to the town proper itself and this is something that we highly recommend. Families that want the more Enid Blyton-esque seaside experience may choose to stay on the beaches of Old Hunstanton where children will not be tempted by the dazzle of the coin drop in penny arcades, the fair rides and other neon bright attractions.
Hunstanton’s popular seasonal land train carries visitors from Searles Leisure Resort to the Lighthouse and back again, turning the journey into a an attraction in itself and saving tired little legs from another walk. This is not the only form of transport though- Hunstanton longstanding beach donkeys and the seabuggy that crawls up and down the sand can be found on the town beaches alongside boat trips out to the many seal colonies that line the North Norfolk coastline.
To find out more about the many events and attractions both in Hunstanton and Norfolk generally, Mumsnet Norfolk has the most up to date listings.
The Hot Frites bars of Holland & Belgium sparked the idea behind Hot Chip although the UK is not exactly devoid of take outs celebrating the glories of the fried potato. What makes Hot Chip different is the pimping up that goes on behind its seemingly unexciting exterior opposite the famous Gardeners Pub and Murderers Bar in Norwich.
Leaving the Theatre Royal late at night we felt in need of some dirty food to provide a balance to all the high culture and Hot Chip excels at providing this. Their chips might be fried in clean rapeseed oil (which is a lot healthier) and made from locally sourced premium potatoes but by the time they have been artfully layered with any number of other foods and garnishes these babies are as far removed from a health food as Jamie Oliver is from tact. Chunks of succulent hot salt beef, wedges of vinegary gherkin, overflowing mustard mayo and Swiss Cheese melting and oozing over a pile of chunky chips barely contained in a US style cardboard take out box left us unable to move from the bench outside the Murderers Bar (where they allow you to take your chips).
Choose from a mix and match menu of worldwide ‘delicacies’ like ‘Turkish Delight’- chips encrusted with dry fried spicy lamb and yoghurt mint sauce; ‘Veggie’ coming with a side of Haloumi cheese pan fried until squeaky and charred, soused with mango salsa and piled onto chips; The Grizzly Bear, popular with ale soaked men features Canadian cheese sauce, ham, grated Cheddar, spring onions and of course, chips. Or go simple and have a box of chips spiced with cumin, sumach, pepper and other spices or the ‘Seaside Classic’- sprinkled with Aspalls vinegar.
Yes they are delicious. Yes you end up rooting around in the bottom of the take out box like a bear gone mad in the city bins. Yes they are best eaten NOT sober. And yes, we will need to do a low cal penance for like, a year. But as with all sins, boy it felt good at the time. And we will be back.
Long eaten across the American Deep South and very popular stewed long and slow, squirrel meat was even included in older editions of that famous American cooking tome The Joy of Cooking as a ‘tender alternative to chicken or rabbit’. It might not be long before people across East Anglia become accustomed to eating this lowest of food-miles meat and with over five million of the bright eyed and bushy tailed beasties hopping across our lawns, parks and forests, the questions has to be ‘what took us so long?’
Squirrel meat is on sale for the first time on the butchery counter at the Elveden Courtyard in Suffolk. Similar to rabbit in flavour, it is a light-coloured, finely textured meat that is low in fat and completely free-range. Its natural diet of berries and nuts contributes to a flavour I can only describe as nutty having eaten it some time ago, coated in a flavoured breadcrumb Southern style and deep fried. I also recommend a paella made with squirrel instead of rabbit or chicken and the great Brunswick Stew, an old Southern one pot meal beloved in North Carolina and Kentucky and which must be made with three specific ingredients to be genuine- okra, lima (butter) beans and squirrel.
One regular Elveden customer, Helen Sturgeon, has already created some lovely squirrel pasties using the meat and food shop manager Richard Howard explains the benefits, “Squirrel from Elveden is wild, nutritious and has virtually zero food miles, coming straight from the estate itself, making for a highly ethical meat.” If terroir is your thing, squirrel meat, like all wild game, is its perfect expression.
The move follows an increase in demand for game from the estate butchers, with venison, pheasant and wild rabbit highly sought after. Although rabbit can be shot all year round, a national decrease in population numbers has led the estate to restrict the numbers shot each month in order to ensure the animals flourish. It is generally advised to avoid eating town squirrels because of the risk of ingesting what they have eaten which may include poison put out to kill rats. Buying squirrel meat from a reputable supplier eliminates the risk.
“Rabbits are no longer breeding ‘like rabbits’,” explains James Holliday, Forestry and Conservation Manager at Elveden Estate. “Nationally, numbers have been in decline over the past few years and have now reached such low numbers we are limiting the number killed in order to maintain a sustainable population.”
The Elveden Estate is located in the Brecks region of Suffolk, an area renowned for rabbit warrening and a unique ecosystem that greatly depends upon controlled rabbit populations to maintain the open and friable structure of the soil, benefiting the huge variety of plants that are specialised to sandy healthland. So while we’re trying to build local rabbit populations up again, why not try its arboreal taste equivalent?
The Elveden Courtyard shops are open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am to 5pm and Sundays from 10am to 5pm.