April and May are the best months of the year for me, full of optimism and promise. The world re-generates in beautiful colours, and produces in abundance for the future. In Devon, that has meant a profusion of wild flowers and blossom, unspoiled by mowing or spraying; myriad shades of green in delicate early-day fronds adorn the hedgerows and hillsides. The lanes are lined in the red, white and blue of campion, stichwort and bluebells, while the hawthorn, wild pear and apple explode in balloons of cotton-wool.
Gussie, our broodmare, travelled to Newmarket, where she duly produced a lovely filly foal.The foal’s sister ran at Epsom on Derby Day, sadly unplaced. Unfortunately Gussie suffered a twisted gut post foaling, and following abdominal surgery to save her, is not able to be covered this season.
A light and easy weekday recipe which will leave you time to read the paper or walk the dog! We had this the day after Easter and it was a big hit with all the family. The Cornish Sea salt blend and chicken thighs (from The Ark Deli) used are available from our farmshop at Borough Market. This recipe will serve 4 people.
4 chicken thighs, preferably skin on
300g Tenderstem Broccoli
300g New Potatoes
1 garlic bulb
Cornish Sea Salt Lemon and Thyme blend
2 tbs oil
Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6
Wash the broccoli, asparagus and new potatoes. Remove the ends from the asparagus and cut the potatoes in half. Peel the garlic and separate the cloves.
Move the potatoes, garlic and vegetables to a large baking tray and toss together with some of the oil, two teaspoons of the Cornish Sea Salt Lemon and Thyme blend and some lemon juice. Cover with foil and roast for 15 minutes.
Season the chicken thighs with the Cornish Sea Salt Lemon and Thyme blend and black pepper. Drizzle with a bit of the oil. Remove the foil from the tray and put the chicken thighs on top. Roast for another 25 minutes. The chicken should be crisp and cooked through and the vegetables tender.
Serve on the middle of the table to share. You can add a simple green leaf and tomato salad on the side for extra vitamins.
Chagword is Dartmoor’s Literary Festival in Chagford and takes place from 13th to 15th March 2015.
During the festival you can meet 10 authors & poets, 2 journalists & broadcasters, 2 author/illustrators, 1 more illustrator, an editor, a publisher and…a chef. That’s where we come in.
We are a proud sponsor of 'The Perfect Meal' the event where 2-Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines MBE and Oxford University based experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence will explore what makes for the perfect dining experience.
More information about the festival can be found at www.chagword.com
Skirt steak has a full beefy flavour and is best slow-cooked or (medium) rare for the most tender texture. It’s the classic cut for fajita’s, which make a great weekday meal. The great thing about fajita's is everyone can ‘DIY’ their own at the dining table! The guacamole to go with these fajita’s is easy to make and full of fresh and healthy ingredients.
This recipe is for six fajita’s and serves two people. You will need the following ingredients:
For the skirt steak:
250g Wild Beef skirt steak
1 pepper, cut into strips
1 onion, sliced in rings
1 red chili pepper, finely chopped, to taste
pinch of pepper and salt
½ lime, juice only
For the guacamole:
2 ripe avocados
½ red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 tomato, chopped
½ lime, juice only
handful coriander, chopped
salt & pepper
6 flour tortillas
200ml sour cream
100g grated mature cheddar cheese
Guacamole: cut the avocado’s in half, scoop out the flesh into a bowl. Use a fork to mash roughly and then stir in the other ingredients. Put an avocado stone in the bowl to keep it from changing colour and set aside.
Steak: Make sure the meat is at room temperature. Marinate the beef with the tequila, lime, pepper, salt and chili pepper in a bowl for about 10 minutes. Drain the marinade off. Heat a frying pan or grill pan and add the butter. Fry the peppers and onion for 2-3 minutes. Push them to one side of the pan and fry the steak for 3-6 minutes. Wrap it in some kitchen foil to rest for about five minutes. Then take it to your chopping board and slice it in thin strip across the grain.
To serve warm the tortillas and top them with the steak and peppers, cheese, sour cream and guacamole to taste.
You can also add tomato salsa and refried beans to the fajita’s, or try serving corn on the cob or a green salad on the side.
This recipe also works well with rump steak, minute steak (reduce the time in the pan to 1 minute!) and sirloin steak.
The yearly gather from the moor is a magic vignette. This year our animals were spread out grazing the top of the cleave, about half a mile away. I called, and the nearest animal, a first year mother, not knowing, moved away back into the herd. I called again; grazing ceased, and heads went up.
Another call – is that what I think it is? – does he mean it? – I think he does! With that, the older cows beginning walking towards me; they all do, then faster, and faster -- they trot, the claves in their wake, they know not why.
Finally they stampede, towards and past me, on to the moor gate. I follow, and let them down the lane, unled, much to the consternation of those drivers unused to Dartmoor.
Bringing up the rear, I stop to greet a neighbour and exchange news. At Jurston Green the cattle slow and spread out, I pass them to the front, and when I call again they follow; along the lane, right at the cross-roads where Lizzie stands, and on to the first of the winter meadows, to graze the re-growth on the silage fields – they know; pure magic.
The older followers live in the barn. Every three or four days I spread a half ton bale of straw for bedding; the signal for fun, and what a right old schmozzle ensues. They attack the bale, and race around, bucking and roaring in a form of musical chairs, and I take a lot on trust that they are aware of my presence! Great craic – for them.
Winter has brought a few cold winds, sharp frosts and heavy rain. One of the gales brought down an Ash tree, with it’s buds full and ready for Spring. They also up-ended a neighbours field shelter. Last year’s calves will be weaned in early February, and this year’s will begin to arrive in April. Field work, harrowing and rolling the meadows, will soon be upon us, and the farming year will start in earnest.