Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Strawberries & cream; the great outdoors; and a bounty of British produce

Schools break up, the holidays start and another British summer rolls in off the Atlantic, up over the West Coast and out again over Northumberland. But what will it bring?

If you follow Lord Byron's pessimism: "The English winter - ending in July, to recommence in August", you'll be preparing for the worst. But if you take our foodie optimism, you'll simply be catering for all occasions.

At least store cupboards and fridges can enjoy playing host to a bounty of British produce. So, hats off to Summer and let's share some tasty thoughts.

Summer Salads need Summer Dressing

The great thing about salads is that there are no rules - you can mix, add and dress them however you choose. The variations are limited only by the imagination, or perhaps our willingness to play. These are a few salads we have enjoyed playing with so far this summer. You may get a few ideas you'd like to try or suggest some variations of your own: tweet here, or post here. .


The simplest and most refreshing salad on a hot day is a Greek Salad. Try this little twist - before assembling the salad, marinate the sliced tomatoes in Stokes Olive & Balsamic Dressing which uses wonderful Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil, full of the flavours of Greece.

Caesar Salad is an al fresco favourite. Take it to a higher level by coating the chicken pieces with Stokes Original BBQ Sauce before char grilling. Add to the salad with anchovies and chopped hard boiled eggs, then generously coat with Stokes Caesar Sauce (it's delightfully creamy, made with free range eggs, parmesan cheese and garlic).

A further tasty dimension is to add crisply grilled shards of pancetta for its texture and flavour.

Fruity Additions. Take a basic peppery salad, the peppery pre-packed trio of rocket, watercress and spinach works well. Add a sprinkling of crumbed walnuts for texture and thinly sliced rings of red onion for zing. Cubed ripe avocado work well here too.

Now slice and add some juicy strawberries and a scattering of healthy blueberries. Balance the sweetness with stilton or feta cheese and dress with Stokes Raspberry & Balsamic Dressing. The combination of textures and flavours is mouthwatering.

Mint & Basil Tomatoes. The simplest things are often the best. This makes the perfect accompaniment to barbequed meats. Torn basil (or preferably the little leaves on Greek Basil plants - Waitrose have them) and chopped fresh mint.

Pour a generous amount of Stokes Mango & Orange Dressing and leave to marinate. Serve with a sprinkle of good sea salt flake to punctuate the flavour. Yummy.

The Broad Bean - dilemma

They're in, they're fresh, they're a symbol of summertime and they're deliciously versatile - but can I be bothered to buy an armful of pods for a handful of beans ... not really, truth be told. If you have children at home, have a phone and tablet-free hour ... instead of an i pad, have a you pod!

Broad beans are an excellent vegetable source of protein and fibre. Rich in folate and B vitamins - great for blood cell development, cognitive functions and energy.

However you buy them - frozen, podded, or in pods for hours of podding fun, broad beans are so versatile. They absolutely love fresh mint, crispy bacon or pancetta and cheese such as pecorino or a dry crumbly feta.

Here's a tip, 1.4kg of beans in the pod deliver about 350g of podded beans.

Broad Bean & Wasabi Salad
Make the wasabi mayo with 7g of wasabi paste, 50g of Stokes Real Mayonnaise and the juice of one lemon mixed well together. Add and coat cooked, cooled beans with the wasabi mayonnaise and plate on a nest of pea shoot salad.

Broad Beans with Tomatoes & Anchovies (optional)
Using 350g net weight podded beans to 450g halved cherry tomatoes. Sautee the tomatoes in olive oil adding chopped marjoram and crushed garlic to taste. As they caramalise add the cooked, cooled broad beans and warm through. If using the anchovies, add four chopped beauties now and stir in with two teaspoons of Stokes Chilli Jam. This is delicious on toasted ciabatta.


Minty Potato Salad
Boil some lovely little new potatatoes with two or three sprigs of fresh mint. Add equal quantities of peas and broad beans for the last five minutes and set aside to cool. Coat well in a dressing of equal parts of greek yogurt and Stokes Real Mayonnaise, the juice of half a lemon, lots of fresh chopped mint leaves and two teaspoons of Stokes Chilli Jam.

Pea & Broad Bean Hummus
Another easy one - mash equal parts cooked, cooled peas and beans to a spreadable paste, holding back some of the broad beans. Mix the paste with a tub of hummus with lots of fresh chopped mint and the remainder of the beans more roughly crushed for texture. Stir in two tablespoons of Stokes Chilli Mayonnaise until the consistency is right to serve on toasted pitta bread. Yummy with a few olives and sun dried tomatoes on the side.

Basically - while they are in season - make the most of them.

Getting the most from your Stokes Sauces

I don't know if you are like we used to be, but we were always left with half or quarter finished bottles and jars of sauces whenever we tried something new. That's why we are determined to help our Stokes friends use every last teaspoon of goodness with fresh ideas for using your sauce.

We have created a set of recipe cards for our most popular products, each offering ideas beyond the usual 'dollop on the side of the plate'. There is so much you can use the sauces, ketchups and preserves for.

Recipe cards are available at participating Farm Shops, Butchers, Delis and other independent retailers.

If you remember in last month's newsletter (here) we suggested a number of ways to mix two or three sauces together, adding additional ingredients to create new flavours all of your own.

It's not only good fun, but you might discover whole new taste experiences. There are a few ideas for our original BBQ sauce. Just click the image (left) to see a larger version.

Gravy with a twist

Here's a tasty tip to add a delicious twist to your gravy. Whether you make your own from a stock, reduce it from a jus, or - hmmmmm shake it from a jar, try this.

For an earthy sharpness stir in a spoonful of Stokes Brown Sauce; for a sweeter depth of flavour add a spoonful of Stokes Bloody Mary Ketchup; and for a richer hint of eastern spices add a good dollop of Stokes Curry Ketchup.

You'll know how much to add when it tastes ... yummy.

Leftover Chicken ? - give it a right Royal Coronation


Before we get to the Coronation Chicken, to make your roast chicken taste better still, add a spoonful or two of Stokes Cider & Horseradish Mustard to your gravy, stir it in to taste and enjoy the combination of sweet cider, hot horseradish and juicy pops of mustard grains running round the plate.

Coronation Chicken

For the perfect, speedy Coronation Chicken, mix two parts of Stokes Coronation Sauce with one part of Philadelphia cream cheese and fold to coat the shreds of cooked, cold chicken. Instant, smooth and oh so full of flavour.

It's great on a jacket potato, with a salad, or in a sandwich for supper.

Read on here for more Al Fresco favourites...

Simple,  honest,  delicious

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