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Review | St Helen’s Farm Dairy

This has never been a particularly dairy centric household. Cheese, we all love, obviously, and soured cream is essential for Mexican food, but once you get into things like yoghurt and milk, we’ve always been more likely to opt for plant based products. I think this began as a hangover from my intense allergy to dairy when I was a baby (it gave me eczema so severe I couldn’t be held) but eventually we all quietly decided that we just preferred it.

However, over the years I’ve been introduced to goats milk dairy (which when I was a slightly older child didn’t trigger my eczema quite so severely) several times, and been fond of it. So, when St. Helen’s Farm asked if I was interested in sampling their range in order to ‘vary my dairy’ this month, I figured it might be interesting to bring you that perspective: plant based “dairy” products vs. those made with goats milk.

St Helens Farm Review

I loved every single St Helen’s product I tried with the exception of just one, which I’ll get into in a minute. I tried cheeses, yoghurts, butters and milks and was really impressed with all of them. The trick with goats dairy, I think, is that you have to like the taste. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s difficult to describe. Products made with goats milk tend to be much sharper, their flavour comes out more strongly in your coffee, your cake or your toast. So, if you’re not really feeling that, this range isn’t for you. However, if you’ve been known to nibble on a slice of goats cheese or two in your time, I strongly recommend that you explore what else St Helen’s have to offer in the way of dairy swaps to expand your culinary horizons and mess around with flavour.

The only product I wasn’t as keen on was the spreadable goats cheese. I think it’s because they’ve done too good a job of making it taste like Dairylea, and for me that makes it lose the distinctive sharp and high quality taste of goats dairy products. That was my only “meh, I don’t like this as much” moment. The rest is perfect.

St Helens Farm Dairy Review

If you’ve not really messed around with goats dairy before and I’ve tempted you into incorporating it into your kitchen, you might not know where to start. I’ve got your back, bro. I’d say start with the cheese and the yoghurt (both a little easier to bury taste-wise if it turns out you don’t like them) and go from there.

Cheese: pictured above is a risotto and a big hearty plate of sausage and mash. For the risotto, I used the milder standard St Helens goats cheese, just grated and swirled in right at the end of cooking. It’s gentle taste complemented the mushroomy creamy risotto perfectly. For my mashed potatoes, I used the stronger mature cheese, which really let you know it was in there (in a good way) when it came to eating.

Yoghurt: my god, I love goats yoghurt. While cows yoghurt has a little tang to it, the goat stuff is just streets ahead in terms of that signature sharpness (I’m well aware of how often I’m using that word and I’m truly sorry but it is what it is) and just good flavour. It’s absolute perfection served with a dollop of good strawberry jam for dessert, and works really well in savoury dishes too. Seen above mixed with cucumber for a cooling side to a curry, it’d also go down very well in a homemade slaw.

If you try those and they please you, move on to that butter. It’s gorgeous, lightly salted, luxurious, I slather it onto my toast so thick I may soon drop dead of heart disease but it will all have been worth it.

Are you into goats dairy? Got any favourites? Are you a total novice with just enough curiosity to give it a go? Let me know in the comments. You can find St Helen’s Farm products in most good supermarkets these days, and get some more information on their website if you’re interested!

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This post was in collaboration with St Helens Farm, all views are (obvi) my own

crepescremedemarron

Crepes a La Creme De Marrons

Pancake Day is at last mere days away. On February 28th, it’s finally time to grab a whisk the moment you come home from work and whip up a batch of battery goodness. I’ve had some pretty killer pancake ideas in my time (I think my favourite will always be last years marzipancakes) but this year, I decided to take inspiration from my recent trip to Dieppe, France.

In Dieppe, there was an outdoor crepe stall almost every few paces. They were made fresh outside restaurants, cafes and dessert joints, and creme de marrons was on every menu. Creme de marron (which I, of course, had to use Google Translate to decipher when I first saw it) means chestnut paste. This, it turns out, is incredibly easy to make.

Vacuum packed cooked chestnuts (I had a packet in the house leftover from Christmas) are boiled gently with sugar, water and vanilla for about half an hour. The chestnuts go into a blender with a little of the syrup at a time until you reach a consistency you’re happy to spread onto your pancakes. The result is a gorgeous sweet crepe, and something that you’re probably not going to find on your average dessert menu in England, which I can’t help but find incredibly exciting.

If you’re a lemon and sugar person through and through, I’ll forgive you. It’s a classic combo. But if you’re looking for a change this year, look no further. One final thing to always remember on Shrove Tuesday: unless you’re an absolute pro, your first pancake will almost always be a bit shit. Push through, your last one will be masterchef-level.

Makes 12ish

100g plain flour
2 large eggs
300ml milk
1 tbsp sunflower oil

180g cooked whole chestnuts (I use Merchant Gourmet)
150 sugar (granulated is best)
1 teaspoon vanilla
500ml water

  1. Make the batter first to allow for resting time: whisk all the ingredients up in a bowl until lovely and smooth. Set aside for thirty minutes while you make the chestnut puree.
  2. In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water with the chestnuts and vanilla, and simmer for about thirty minutes. Put the chestnuts in a blender or food processor with a little of the syrup (add a little at a time) and blend until you have your desired consistency.
  3. Make the pancakes by heating just a whisper of oil in a non stick frying pan and ladling in batter. You know the drill with pancakes. Flip if you dare.
  4. Spread about a tablespoon of your chestnuts onto each crepe, fold, and enjoy.

P.S – you’re gonna have some chestnut syrup leftover and it’s going to taste excellent in your coffee. You can thank me later.

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crepes creme de marrons chestnut pancakes

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Happy Sunday

I’m back in England. Boo. Hoo. I’ve had the holiday blues from the moment I stepped off that ferry. It may have a lot to do with the fact that as soon as you alight a ferry from Dieppe, you find yourself in Newhaven (it’s an absolute shithole, we can’t very well beat around that bush). It may also have something to do with the hangover that was soon to kick in because we got incredibly drunk off £3 white wine from the ferry shop that we weren’t technically supposed to drink on the ferry.

However, the holiday blues have failed at overshadowing my baseline level of happiness as a result of the lovely time we had in France together. We celebrated two birthdays and Valentines Day and not a thing went wrong, it was the perfect trip. It even had the perfect ending, just look at how beautiful everything was as we pulled out of the ferry port..

Dieppe to Newhaven

Dieppe to Newhaven

I know I’ve overused the word perfect already but truly, that’s what it was. I’m struggling to get back into the swing of having to do things that aren’t eating at restaurants all day and speaking little bits of French and taking naps. Holidays are great, I should do them more often. The thing that’s hardest to let go of? Carrefour. I brought back a few little treats from the French supermarket to eek out over the next few weeks so as to have little bits of holiday magic here and there. I even brought back a French food magazine to translate and learn more about French at-home cooking – I’m very excited about that and will very likely write all about it.

Treats from Carrefour

Real life is happening again, though, and it’s really not so bad. Yesterday was gloriously sunny, it felt like winter was finally going to start edging it’s way out, and I joined a few friends on the beach to drink beers, talk nonsense and watch the starlings.

Brighton Sunset

Eating out

This week, one of Tom’s oldest friends turned 25 and we celebrated by eating at Tosca in Shoreham. It’s not often that I venture out of Brighton and into the outskirts, so it’s rare that you’ll see the word Shoreham on this blog, make the most of it. The food at this place is good, it’s your standard Italian joint, and the price is very reasonable. Check it out if you find yourself in that neck of the woods. The carbonara (pictured below) was perfection.

Carbonara at Tosca

OK so this is eating in, not eating out, but I don’t think I’ve ever given one of my favourite takeaways a shout on CITK before. Lumberjacks are a business that pride themselves on serving up a healthier option for those that like a take away every now and then, and they do that really, really well. I used to get one occasionally a couple of years ago but then they stopped delivering to my area, but they do still deliver to Tom’s place, so we make the most of that at least once a month at the moment. My order is the BBQ chicken wrap and sweet potato fries (which comes to just under a tenner) and it’s great every time. Those sweet potato fries are, in my opinion, the best in town. Check out their menu and see if they deliver to you: http://www.lumberjacksfood.co.uk/

Lumberjacks Takeaway Brighton

Rosie (off of RPPP) has been recommending Busby and Wilds for their Sunday roasts for bloody ages, and it was only today that we finally got around to marching ourselves in the direction of the marina to try one. I was quite honestly blown away. Gorgeous, tender pork, every single veg element absolutely nailed, enough gravy (nowhere else seems to manage this), and a yorkshire pudding that I’ll be telling my Grandchildren about. I can’t wait to recommend them to anyone who’ll listen. The plate you see before you was £13.99, that cauli cheese in the background came with.

Busby and Wilds Roast Dinner Review

New (or new-to-me)

Since I got back, I’ve been reading FLAVOUR by Ruby Tandoh at bedtime. Excuse my language, but it’s fucking great. I’ll be trying a couple of recipes soon and writing up a full review of the book, but if you can’t wait until then I can already tell you that I recommend buying it, it’s overall message (diets are stupid and cooking for yourself is important) is just bang on.

Flavour by Ruby Tandoh

Flahavan’s have announced a new addition to their range and kindly sent a box over for me to try for myself. The irish porridge oats sachets are all about speed and convenience and are just right for those looking for something to microwave at the office once they get to work. What I love about this product is that they’re not coming at you with declarations of ‘good for you’ whilst loading you with sugar, these sachets are filled with porridge oats, that’s it, enough for a decent morning portion. I’ll be mucking about with them this week so keep an eye out for feedback next Sunday.

flahavan's irish oats sachets

I don’t know if oat milk is actually new to Alpro‘s dairy alternative range but I’ve certainly never seen it before. There’s not a lot to say about oat milk beyond the fact that.. it tastes a lot like oats, so if you’re into porridge, you’ll be into this. Give it a shot if you’re super over almond milk.

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I’ve probably forgotten a thing or two that I wanted to share with you this week but I think that’s all we can all handle for now anyway. Keep an eye out this week for this years Pancake Day recipe.

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