Thursday, 4 July 2013

Week 22- Sussex Summer Recipes

I love Sussex. It is such a varied county- a few large towns, mostly small market ones, and lots of rural villages. The hinterland is predominantly farmed- sheep and cattle on the Downs, pigs and chickens in the Weald. Just next door to 'the garden of England' so plenty of fruit and vegetable growing, not to mention brewing of cider and beer- and even a  few respectable vineyards.

And of course we have a long stretch of coastline, rich with mackerel, bass, brill, bream, crab, mullet, squid, herring- and everything from scallops at Rye to shrimps at Selsey and all places in between.

Odd then that some of the most famous Sussex dishes don't use local ingredients: Sussex Pond Pudding is made from lemons and Banoffi Pie (invented at The Hungry Monk in Jevington) is made from a confection of bananas, caramel and cream.
The Hungry Monk at Jevington

Traditional Sussex dishes - Sussex Blanket Roll, Selsey herrings, Sussex Lardy John- have fallen out of favour, as our appetite for suet puds, saturated fat and soused fish in vinegar, seems to have waned.
Sussex Blanket Roll
Selsey Herrings

Time to bring things up to date with a celebration of summery Sussex food - and that does include a version of Banoffi Pie!

On the menu today is summer vegetable risotto, followed by grilled black bream and finished off with a deconstructed (low fat) Banoffi Pie.

I ate a version of this starter at the Tiger Inn in East Dean- creamy risotto with peas, broad beans, mint and rocket.
Summer Veg Risotto

Begin by boiling some shelled broad beans and peas in a litre of water with a sprig of mint. Drain the veg but reserve the stock and mint and keep simmering. Then soften 1 small onion in some olive oil, and add 1 cup of risotto or arborio rice and stir to absorb the oil into the grains. Pour in a glass of dry white wine and stir quickly to absorb it. Add a ladleful of  minty stock and again stir until absorbed. Repeat this process until the risotto is cooked (the grains have swollen and are tender to the taste and the consistency is quite creamy.) Quickly stir in the veg and a handful of fresh rocket leaves (discard the mint) and serve garnished with a little grated Parmesan and a little more olive oil. Season to taste.

For the next course, choose a nice sized bream from your fishmonger- ask him to clean it, but this is best eaten on the bone. This is the season for black bream in Sussex so they should be widely available and well priced. Simply grill until crispy on both sides, pour over some  melted butter, lemon and parsley and serve with potatoes (new pots are really good right now- try baking a larger one and serving it with creme fraiche and chopped dill (my new herb of the moment!)
Grilled Bream
Pudding is a deconstructed Banoffi Pie.

Alas, the Hungry Monk restaurant is no more but I was lucky enough to be taught at evening class by the chef from that celebrated establishment. He would roll his eyes in horror at my version of his classic- and you can look at his recipe on his website at

Mine is low in fat and (as I ate it only last night and so can vouch for it) totally delicious.

First, here's a tip for keeping ripe bananas. If they have been in the fruit bowl longer than you would like and are starting to go a bit spotty- put them in a plastic container in the fridge. In there, like the Hungry Caterpillar, they will turn into something brown and unappetizing. But when you peel them, they will be (like local downland butterflies) pure and white -and  more importantly ripe and ready to eat.

Crush some digestive biscuits (sorry Ian D- I know that's your pet hate) and place in the bottom of a sundae glass. Top with sliced ripe bananas, a spoonful of caramel cream (those thoughtful condensed milk manufacturers now sell it ready boiled and caramelized in the can), a pot of coconut yoghurt, some caramel sauce and toasted coconut. This is best made an hour or two in advance so the yoghurt can percolate through and soak into the crunchy biscuits. Are you drooling yet? Look at the picture!
Deconstructed Banoffi 

So, there you have it- my Sussex summer menu.

But this one yields some interesting leftovers too. Leftover risotto makes a classic dish of arancina. Take the leftover cold risotto, form into patties with a  beaten egg and then roll in fresh breadcrumbs. Heat 2cm of vegetable oil in a wok or deep pan and fry the patties until golden all over. Serve with a salad.
Arancina with salad and dipping sauce

I also plan to make Ban- iteroles.

Take some pre-bought choux buns or profiteroles (or make your own if you are a star baker). Split them and (if they are already filled with cream) spread a teaspoon of caramel sauce, a slice of banana and then reseal them. If plain choux buns, add a teaspoon of whipped cream to each one too. Serve with a warm chocolate sauce or ice cream. Genius!

There will still be plenty of caramel sauce left in the tin - so make fudge! You will need 75ml milk, 50g  butter and 200g demerara sugar. Line a square loaf tin with parchment or greaseproof paper. Place the leftover caramel, butter, sugar and milk in a non-stick saucepan and melt over a low heat, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10-15 mins. Take a teaspoon of the mixture and drop it into some cold water. If a ball begins to form- the fudge is ready to come off the heat. Beat it with a wooden spoon for a few minutes until it becomes thick and well,  ...fudgy, and then pour into the baking tin and leave to set in the fridge. You can add nuts, raisins, cherries etc at this point if you wish. Or why not be ultra-fashionable and sprinkle with sea salt or fleur de sel once set for 'salted caramel'.

By the way, I'm pinning as many Sussex recipes as I can find or cook on

Also, if you don't like bananas. I think the pie/profiteroles/sundaes work just as well with ripe mango, or other stone fruits in season.

I therefore christen this version- Long Manoffi Pie- in honour of our chalk giant. A good one for Father's Day perhaps? Must remember that next year.

A moment on the lips though - a lifetime on the hips! This one's just for the men.

The Long Woman- be warned!

No comments:

Post a Comment