• Country food

    Our favourite place: Farnham

    by  • 16/12/2016 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    Visit Farnham in SurreySet on the River Wey and among the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this pretty market town is the perfect place to visit this season for food and interiors shops plus plentiful green space in and around the town for country walks. We also love Farnham it for its:

    Historic Castle The former palace of the Bishops of Winchester, 12th Farnham Castle and its Norman Keep preside over the town where visitors can take the lofty walk to enjoy spectacular views over the streets and hills from the Keep.

    Markets Farnham has three! A weekly Friday country market offering arts and crafts, local food produce, cakes and bakes; the Farnham Maltings monthly market for antiques, crafts, jewellery, furniture, cards and local handmade produce,  and Farnham farmer’s market on the fourth Sunday of the month (except December), selling goods direct from the food producer.

    Nature See conservation in action or join a safari road train at Birdworld. Or head to the RSPB Farnham Heath to enjoy seasonal blooms, purple heather and yellow gorse which attracts a variety of wildlife, butterflies, plus sand lizards!

    Shops Locals and visitors are spoilt for choice between plentiful markets, independent shops and stylish designer brands in this bustling market town. Long-standing Elphicks department store sells everything from beds, linens and furnishings to china, glass and toys. India Jane is the place for gorgeous tableware and stylish lamps.  For modern country style, try Appassionato, and for gifts, head to the Maltings Stores for crafts and bespoke buys. Wrap up warm for a winter ramble with country clothing from Orvis, and get set for the racing season with a winning hat from Beverley Edmondson Millinery. Or cosy up with elegant nightwear from The Prial.

    Love the local food heroes The town markets provide a feast of local produce to source on weekends. You can also try Farnham’s independent shops: For fruit and veg visit G Hone and Sons for a variety of fresh produce on Downing Street. Source fresh meats and meat products from Smallbone and Sons, traditional family butchers, also on Downing Street. Pick up fresh rolls from French bread and rye to spelt and seeded flours at Loaf Bakery.  And party bags can be found at Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe. Take time out from your busy shopping day with a meal at The Wheatsheaf Pub & Grill, which offers tasty winter-warming British food featuring the best of local and seasonal produce.

    Where is your favourite market town to visit? We would love hear more about it…

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    Cheese, Chutney & Antipasti Tart

    by  • 15/12/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    With party season in full swing, make use of leftover cheese, chutney and antipasti with this simple but delicious tart. The perfect quick dish to whip up when some friends or family turn up unexpectedly!


    500g block puff pastry

    1tbsp milk
    4tbsp chutney or onion marmalade

    125g your favourite cheese (feta or strong cheddar work especially well), crumbled

    175g mixed antipasti, eg. olives, roasted red peppers and sun-blushed tomatoes

    Green salad, to serve


    1. Heat the oven to 200°C. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry to the thickness of two £1 coins. Trim the edges with a sharp knife to make a 27cm square and mark a border 1cm from the edge. Brush the border with milk. Prick the middle section with a fork and bake for 15 mins until golden.


    1. Press down the risen middle section with a fish slice and dot with chutney. Scatter over the cheese and antipasti, then season with pepper. Bake for a further 12 mins until the cheese has melted. Serve with a big green salad.


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    Herby Scotch eggs with sage & lemon

    by  • 06/12/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    For the ultimate winter warmer snack or starter, we’re going with these delicious Scotch Eggs we found in Yeo Valley Family Farm’s ‘The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook’ (Quadrille £20) written by Sarah Mayor. With their crispy breadcrumbs and runny yolks, these are already a Country Homes firm favourite.


    Makes 8


    8 large free-range eggs

    30g butter

    100g finely chopped shallot or onion

    Finely grated zest of 2 small lemons

    ½ tsp ground mace

    2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

    700g good pork sausage meat

    Sunflower oil, for deep-frying

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper


    For the breadcrumb coating:

    50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

    3 large free-range eggs, beaten

    150g fresh white breadcrumbs or Japanese panko crumbs


    1. Lower the eggs into a pan of boiling water and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Remove from the pan and plunge into cold water to stop them cooking, then peel.
    2. Melt the butter in a medium-sized frying pan, add the shallot or onion and fry gently for 5-6 minutes until soft but not browned. Tip into a bowl and leave to cool. Add the lemon zest, mace, sage, sausage meat and some salt and pepper and mix together well. Divide into 8 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball, using lightly floured hands.
    3. Lay a large sheet of clingfilm on the work surface and lightly dust it with flour. Lay a ball of the sausage meat on top, lightly dust with flour then cover with more clingfilm and roll out into approximately a 14cm disc. Wrap the sausage meat around the egg and press the edges together to seal, making sure there are no gaps and cracks. Chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a deep-fat fryer or large saucepan to 180ºC. Roll the Scotch eggs in the flour, knock off the excess then coat in the beaten egg and finally the breadcrumbs, pressing them on to give a good coating. Deep-fry for 8-9 minutes until crisp, richly golden and cooked through. Drain briefly on kitchen paper and serve with a crisp mixed salad.


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    The Place to Eat…

    by  • 02/12/2016 • Country food, Country moment • 0 Comments

    The Place to EatIt’s time to visit a stylish and cosy winter pub… We love The Plough at Kelmscott which has been beautifully refurbished by owners Sebastian and Lana Snow – it’s the perfect place for friends and foodies to enjoy delicious food and fireside drinks this season.

    Location The Plough is set in a Grade II listed Cotswold stone house in the pretty village of Kelmscott in West Oxfordshire.

    Style It’s cool and rustic. Enjoy drinks at The Hideaway Bar, housed in a refurbished stable block, overlooking the beer garden. Love the quirky, vintage and antique finds which harmonise beautifully with recycled timbers, muted paint shades of sage, olive, grey and white, and original period features, to give a relaxed style and character.

    Rooms Stay over in one of 7 individually-styled rooms with king size beds from £90 a night B&B.

    Food Savour the delicious daily changing à la carte menu of modern British comfort cooking showcasing the best locally sourced Cotswolds produce available, including pork from Kelmscott, vegetables from Evesham and game from local estates. Seasonal dishes range from starters of crayfish, avocado and cucumber cocktail with melba toast, to ham hock and artichoke terrine with piccalilli and mains include leg of lamb hotpot, a mixed grill, skillet roast whole plaice, with desserts such as steamed marmalade pudding and custard. There’s an all-day bar menu too featuring hog’s pudding scotch egg, devilled whitebait, potted crab, buck rarebit, scampi in a basket and spam fritters with pineapple relish,

    Drinks There’s a selection of craft ales, lagers, ciders and juices, plus a wine list with French classics and the best of the New World.

    Nearby Enjoy easy walks from the doorstep as Kelmscott is along a stretch of the Thames path with countryside views all around. Or  take the short stroll to Kelmscott Manor, the former home of designer, William Morris.

    Where is your favourite foodie inn? We would love to hear more about it…

    Want more inspiration for weekends in the country? Sign up for your weekly Country Post!



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    Gingerbread Flapjacks

    by  • 01/12/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    What better way could there be to celebrate the beginning of the festive season than with some warming ginger and comforting oats?! Nibble these treats with a freshly brewed pot of tea for the ultimate winter afternoon snack.

    Makes 16

    300g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
    100g caster sugar
    200g golden syrup

    100g black treacle
    2 tsp ground ginger
    20g crystallised ginger, finely chopped, plus extra to decorate
    550g porridge oats
    100g raisins
    200g white chocolate, broken up
    soft gold edible pearls, to decorate

    1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Grease and line the base and sides of a shallow baking tin around 22cm square with a larger square of baking parchment, pressing it into the corners to fit.
    2.  Put the butter, sugar, syrup, treacle, ground ginger and crystallised ginger in a pan and heat gently to melt the butter. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats and raisins. Mix well and spoon into the tin, pressing down gently with the back of a damp spoon.
    3. Bake for about 30 minutes or until just beginning to look cooked around the edges. The flapjack will still look soft in the centre but will firm up on cooling. Leave in the tin to cool.
    4. Melt the chocolate, either in a heatproof bowl resting over (not in)
      a pan of hot water or in short bursts in the microwave. Remove the cold flapjack from the tin and spread with the chocolate. Sprinkle with extra crystallised ginger and gold pearls. Leave to set before cutting into squares.
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    Be tempted by delicious food and drink at our show

    by  • 17/11/2016 • Country food, Country style • 0 Comments


    It may be a boutique shopping event, but we certainly haven’t scrimped on the food and drink at our first ever show, Country Homes & Interiors Christmas, taking place next weekend (25-27 Nov) at Stonor Park, Oxfordshire. Here’s what to expect…

    Start the day off with a winter warmer from The Black Cab Coffee Co, a taxi-cum-coffee stand handily positioned en route to the marquees.

    Once inside, there’s an array of seasonal artisan delights to choose from, designed and created by renowned Buckinghamshire based catering company Goose & Berry. Elegant menu choices include coffees with a Christmas twist and spiced mulled wine, as well as sandwiches and wraps, salads, hot plates and even a Christmas-themed afternoon tea!

    Be sure to visit the Box Seventy Seven bar for a glass (or two) of festive fizz before you leave, too! 

    Not booked your tickets yet? Buy them online here. Look out for more blog posts over the next couple of weeks with more exciting details on what we’ve got planned!


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    Pear & ginger caramel puff pastry tart

    by  • 17/11/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    We’re well into pear season and this delicious tart is the perfect way to enjoy this sweet fruit. Plus it’s super easy to make! Enjoy for dessert with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream or treat yourself to a slice with your afternoon cup of coffee.

    Serves 8
    Ready in 45 minutes

    Ready-rolled puff pastry sheet
    3 balls stem ginger and 2 tbsp syrup from the jar, plus extra to glaze
    50g dulce de leche caramel spread
    1⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tsp cornflour
    juice 1 lemon
    5-6 ripe pears, peeled, cored and sliced (not too thickly)
    1 beaten egg, to glaze
    vanilla ice cream, to serve

    1 Heat the oven to fan 180°C, gas 6. Unroll the puff pastry then, pressing gently, run
    a knife around the edge of the rectangle to create a 1.5cm border.

    2 Finely chop the stem ginger and mix with the syrup, caramel spread (reserving a little), cinnamon, cornflour, lemon juice and pear slices.

    3 Arrange the pear slices on the pastry, inside the border, and pour over any reserved caramel sauce. Bake for 25-30 minutes, brushing the pastry with the beaten egg after 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly, then serve with ice cream.


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    Comforting cauliflower soup

    by  • 10/11/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    We found this delicious soup in the wonderful new book Scandinavian Comfort Food: Embracing the Art of Hygge (Quadrille £25). It’s perfect as a starter, but also for dinner during the week, and is really nice served with home-baked bread. Any soup can be spiced up with croutons, herbs, spices, nuts or other delicious toppings – this one also works well with grilled prawns.

    SERVES 4

    2 large heads of cauliflower
    2 large potatoes, peeled
    1 onion
    3 garlic cloves, chopped
    1 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    1 litre water
    3 bay leaves
    200ml double cream

    To serve

    1 tsp butter
    2 tbsp capers
    100g almonds, chopped
    Rye breadcrumbs (or other breadcrumbs)
    1 bunch of watercress

    1. Roughly chop the cauliflowers, potatoes and onion, then put in a large saucepan with the garlic, butter and half the oil. Gently heat until the vegetables start to sizzle, then pour in the water and add the bay leaves and some salt and pepper. Cover, bring to the boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for 10–15 minutes.
    2. Remove the bay leaves, add the cream and blitz until smooth. Reheat in the pan, adding more water if necessary to get the right consistency. At the same time, melt the butter in a frying pan and add the capers, almonds and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the mixture over the soup and top with watercress to serve.


    Photography Columbus Leth


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    Bonfire night toffee apple dippers

    by  • 03/11/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    Try this great idea for serving up sweet treats to guests on Saturday night! Pour the sauce into cute mini metal buckets and serve on a rustic tray decorated with leaves for a seasonal touch. Don’t feel too guilty when you’re indulging – apples contain pectin, which helps to lower cholesterol levels.

    4 eating apples, such as Cox’s, cored and cut into wedges
    Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
    Few pinches of ground cinnamon
    25g (1oz) butter
    100g (4oz) light muscovado sugar
    2tbsp golden syrup
    150ml (1⁄4pt) light double cream

    You will need
    16 wooden skewers, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes

    1 Toss the apple wedges in the lemon juice then thread them on to the skewers. Place on a foil-lined grill pan and sprinkle over the ground cinnamon. Set aside while making the toffee sauce.

    2 Place the butter, sugar, syrup and cream in a small pan. Warm over a gentle heat, stirring, until the butter melts. Increase the heat slightly and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat, pour into bowls and allow to cool slightly.

    3 Grill the apple skewers for around 5 minutes, turning once, until just beginning to soften. Serve with the warm toffee sauce.


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    Rye grain & barley porridge with spiced apples & bee pollen

    by  • 27/10/2016 • Country food • 0 Comments


    This week is honey week and we have so much to thank our bees for – not least an incredible range of honeys infused with a host of floral fragrances. As a guide, the lighter varieties, such as acacia, clover or orange blossom, combine well with similarly delicate and aromatic flavours, such as vanilla, mild dairy and hints of citrus. This warming, wholesome porridge is dairy-free, but it can be made with cow’s milk and butter, if preferred.

    Serves 4
    125 g rye grains
    125 g barley flakes
    50 g jumbo rolled oats
    600 ml unsweetened almond milk Generous pinch sea salt
    15 g coconut butter
    2 firm eating apples, such as a Cox or Orange Pippin, cored and sliced
    1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
    2 tbsp honey, plus extra to serve
    2 tsp bee pollen

    1. Put the rye grains in a large mixing bowl and cover well with cool water. Leave to soak overnight, or for at least a couple of hours if time is short.
    2. Drain the rye grains and transfer to a large saucepan with the barley flakes, rolled oats, half the almond milk, the salt and 750ml fresh water. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 25 minutes, stirring often, until the rye grains are just tender.
    3. When the porridge is almost cooked, melt the coconut butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the apple slices and the cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the honey and cook for a few minutes, until caramelised. Set aside.
    4. Add the remaining almond milk to the porridge and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, until thickened to the consistency you like.
    5. Divide the porridge between bowls and top each with a quarter of the spiced apple, half a teaspoon of bee pollen and extra honey, to taste.
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