Thursday, 14 November 2013

Week 39- Sussex Winter Recipes

The soggy autumn draws to a close- and there is a definite nip in the air this morning.

Time to dig out the hats, scarves and gloves - and have some hearty winter menus.

Back in June, I came up with some Sussex summer recipes- so now, at the change of season, I've researched some winter fare.

To start, I'm suggesting Beachy Head crab cakes with a sweet chili dipping sauce, followed by a Chiddingly hotpot and finished off with biscuits and cheese- Windmill Hill thin biscuits in fact.

Beachy Head lighthouse emerging from the mist

Beachy Head is a beautiful and eerie place- the land ends abruptly as if sliced with a huge knife and the white cliff drops down vertically to the sea. Alas, this lovely place has a sad reputation as it is a favoured spot for tortured souls to throw themselves off,
The Beachy Head chaplain is always there- talking to walkers and worriers alike. One of life's unsung heroes. Just this week the team responded to 8 different incidents - and saved those lives. Nobody died here this week.

Less well known, the seas around the cliff are home to some of the finest crab and lobster in the country.

I've used this crab for my starter. Take 120g of crab meat (you can always use a tin of course), 100g of cooked peeled prawns, 2 slices of stale bread, 1 teaspoon each of finely chopped garlic, finely chopped red chili and ginger and some parsley or coriander. Blitz the whole lot in a food processor and pour into a bowl. Add a dash of light soy sauce (or Thai fish sauce if you have it) and mix together. Shape into little cakes with wet hands, chill in the fridge for half an hour
Chill the crab cakes before baking
 and then place on an oiled baking tray. Bake at 190 degrees for 15 minutes or so until lightly brown and serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
Beachy Head crab cakes

The next recipe I found in a magazine. It is a hotpot of beef and potatoes- surprisingly with olives. The flavours and textures work really well though. According to the research, this recipe was devised by Mr Edward Shoosmith of Chiddingly in East Sussex in 1917. It is a beef casserole with a layer of thinly sliced potato running through the middle, and then again on the top. The casserole is enriched with olives (which are now grown in The potatoes in the middle are soft, whilst those on the top are crispy. Try it- it's delicious.

I used leftover beef casserole to make this dish - but you can make it from scratch and let it cook for 2-3 hours.

I mixed olives into my leftover casserole. I layered casserole, potatoes, casserole, potatoes in a gratin dish and baked it in a moderate oven for an hour until the potatoes on top were brown and crispy.
Chiddingly Hotpot

The dessert is a cheeseboard. Excellent cheeses are now apparently made in Sussex- if you like goat or sheep cheese.

The biscuit recipe intrigued me though (from a book of old Sussex recipes). It is simple and quick and uses hardly any ingredients but produces lovely little crisp biscuits that you can flavour any way you want. There are windmills all over Sussex- so a recipe involving flour shouldn't surprise me really.
Windmill Hill windmill
You need just 75g of flour, 20g of butter, 1/2 tsp of baking powder. a pinch of salt and milk to mix.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix to a soft dough with the milk. Roll out very thinly and cut into shapes. Brush with a little more milk and bake until golden and crisp.

Decorate as you wish- I used pumpkin seeds and fleur de sel.

Windmill hill thin biscuits and cheeseboard

So there you have it, my Sussex winter menu. That should warm the cockles. (Plenty of those in Sussex too...)

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