Follow our spelt recipe calendar featuring our favourite seasonal recipes - easy to follow, inspirational and full of the goodness that Sharpham Park spelt delivers.
click here for spelt recipes
BOWEL CANCER UK
Find out here about how Bowel Cancer UK and Sharpham Park are partnering to spread the message of the importance of a high fibre diet in the fight against bowel cancer.
click here to find out more
our shop and cafe at
Kilver Court in the heart of Somerset is the setting for the Sharpham Park shop and cafe, with the best kept secret garden in the county. Click here to read more
YOUR SPELT RECIPES
Help raise awareness of Bowel Cancer and submit your High Fibre Spelt Recipe. The winner will be featured alongside the likes of Sophie Dahl and the Hairy Bikers! ENTER HERE
Sharpham Park Spelt Blog
We were delighted to have Brendan Lynch come and visit us at The Sharpham Pantry, Kilver Court to demonstrate how to make 'Orange Baltic Kringle Cake', his entry for the Great British Spelt Recipe Collection. I had a chance to catch up with him afterwards and ask him a few questions about life after The Great British Bake Off and of course what he thought of our favourite grain here at Sharpham, 'Spelt'!
BRENDAN IN FULL DEMONSTRATING SWING
*How did you first come across spelt?*
I was aware of spelt for some years, and in my mind had associated it with 'alternative flours', although I then discovered that it does contain gluten. I used to add a proportion of spelt to the wheat flour mix for extra flavour, however in the past 12 months, I have discovered that spelt can stand alone in its own right and have made a number of my favourite recipes with it.
*How does the taste of spelt compare to wheat?*
There are hints of rye and it is generally agreed that it has a definite nuttiness to the taste - as if you added some chopped nuts to wheat.
*What do you like about cooking with spelt?*
Its health properties and flavour. It also behaves well during the proving stage, but needs longer than wheat and it needs a good deal less kneading as the gluten strands are more fragile.
THE VERY DELICIOUS SPELT ORANGE BALTIC KRINGLE
*What are you up to next?*
I have several projects underway, including taking baking into retirement and care homes. Running alongside this is a trial project of baking with people with dementia using recipes from the eras that their memories are still sound. This increases confidencel and creates a greater sense of well-being.
BBC 2 are very interested and currently holding discussions about making a documentary programme. The olfactory sense and memories is a much under-researched area.
I also teach 2 days a month at Seasoned Courses, a new state-of-the-art Cookery School near Lichfield, Staffs and I do a considerable amount of fund-raising for various charities, which of course includes The Great British Spelt Recipes.
BRENDAN WITH FELLOW GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF CONTESTANT, CAT DRESSER, WHO IS ALSO HELPING WITH THE CAMPAIGN.
*Will you be watching the next series of GBBO?!*
Absolutely! Now I understand and know what is involved, it adds greater
depth and entertainment to the programme. I'm keen to see what challenges
the judges think up this time!
*Please can you share a spelt recipe with us!*
Yes, of course.
Brendan sent us a recipe for a delicious looking Spelt Marbled Bundt Cake, so stay tuned and I'll post it in the next few days.
It’s been such an exciting month down on the farm. My journey with the team began 4 weeks ago when I was welcomed in as the new marketing assistant and very quickly thrown in at the deep end with the Great British Spelt Recipes campaign that launched on the 1st April.
The chefs have been amazing in helping to promote this campaign as much as possible and I was very lucky to meet the lovely Rachel Green when she came and stayed at the farm at the end of March. She cooked up a delicious breakfast for all the local press.
She also talked about her love of spelt and how she uses it when cooking as a replacement to wheat flour and instead of rice in risotto. I’d never thought of doing this before but went home and tried the Sophie Michell, Spelt and Butternut Squash recipe from our collection, and it was delicious! Even my 7 year old, Ruby, who is a bit of a fussy eater, loved it. Spelt risotto is a great find for busy mums and Sophie’s recipe is simple and fairly quick.
After the excitement of the local press launch came Easter and the opportunity to meet the farm’s newest arrivals, the little lambs. Marcus the farmer very kindly offered to take us ladies from the office AND all our kids in to see them on Good Friday morning so it was quite a party that turned up in the freezing cold. The kids were all delighted to have the chance to hold the new arrivals and give them a bottle of milk, although it was some of the mum’s who found it hard to put them back in the pen when the time came to go.
Easter also saw the opening of the new restaurant at Kilver Court, The Sharpham Park Pantry and we had a great day over there and some delicious spelt food when Cat Dresser did her yummy Easter hot cross bun making workshop.
The inspiring Bradshaw Family were also visiting us that day and I had a good chat with them about how they were finding their year of buying only British. They were really interested in how Sharpham Park works; the spelt is grown, milled (the mill actually sits on top of our offices) packed and sent out to shops and stores across the country, so as well as being British it has very few food miles in its production. Take a look at the Bradshaw Family’s blog to find out more about their visit.
No time to rest though, we’re now off to Fortnum and Masons in London for some exciting celeb cooking demos. Take a look at the events page for more details and maybe I’ll see you there.
The team are happily munching their way through these beautiful vegetable pasties that I brought back from the filming last night, made with our Bakers Blend (Artisan Flour). I can honestly tell you that they smell, look and taste divine. Happy cooking!
Vegetable Pasty – 4 people
350 g/12oz Sharpham Park Bakers Blend or White Spelt Flour
175 g/6 oz good butter
Cold water to mix
For the filling:
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon mixed herbs, thyme, rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
225 g/8 oz leeks, washed and sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
100 g/4 oz mushrooms, sliced
Beaten egg or milk
1. Sift the flour into a bowl with the salt. Add the margarine and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Mix to a firm dough using a little water. Divide into four.
3. Heat the oil in a pan, add the sunflower seeds and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic, herbs and remaining ingredients. Cook for a few minutes then cool.
4. Roll out each piece of pastry to a circle approximately 20 cm/8 inches in diameter. Divide the filling among the circles, dampen the edges, seal to enclose the filling and crimp the edges.
5. Brush with beaten egg or milk and bake in a moderately hot oven (200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6) for 35-40 minutes.
6. Cool for a few minutes on a wire rack and serve while hot.
It has been such a busy couple of weeks, I don't really know where to start! Firstly there was the UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) conference at Weymouth that I attended on Thursday 9th August, 'Business is GREAT Britain'. It was a fascinating day with presentations and discussions from South West businesses including Clipper Teas, The Soil Association, Dorset Cereals, Kite Kids, Clarks, New Look, Hall & Woodhouse, IMRG, Bright Blue Day and The Design Programme. Topics ranged from international marketing strategies, worldwide corporate social responsibility (did you know for example, that over 20,000 cotton farmers per year die due to the pesticides used on the cotton fields?), certification bureaucracy, social media and e-commerce. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many other successful local companies and made us all feel a little bit proud to be South Westies!
Following the conference we were whisked off to Bincleaves to enjoy some of the Olympic sailing, which was a huge cause of excitement for me. Not because I am a sailing fan, but because I know NOTHING about sailing and was looking forward to becoming an expert! Sadly it was the one day that the sea was just too beautifully calm and so no sailing ensued. What a shame! We all made the most of the networking opportunity though and enjoyed being in the lovely sunshine whilst conducting business, and nosing into each others business worlds. Here are Richard and the team from Kites Kids Clothing and Francis Blake from the Soil Association having a good chin wag.
I came home from the conference to learn that we had started the harvest. Wow, how exciting!! It was so difficult trying to get a window in this awful weather that we have been having, but we have now got the crop in and are keeping our fingers crossed that the yields and quality are as high as last year. It is a bit touch and go as generally the news nationwide is that crops have really suffered this year with the weather. For more harvest pictures visit our Facebook or Pinterest pages.
And now time for the BIG announcement............we are embarking upon a project with Bowel Cancer UK where we will be working with them to help raise awareness of this horrible disease, and how eating a high fibre diet can help prevent it. Over the next 6 months you will start to see their logo appear on our packaging and we will be working on putting together a collection of recipes from high profile people (we already have one from the Hairy Bikers and Tom Aiken and I haven't even really started asking anyone yet!) that we will put together into a booklet that will be launched in April 2013, which is National Bowel Cancer Awareness month. I am meeting with the Board from the charity tomorrow to discuss how we are going to officially announce our partnership, so believe me when I say that you are hearing this first! As part of the project I spent last night with Stew & Charlotte from Kilver Court filming the first of our recipes to go on to You Tube as simple 'How To' videos. Full behind the scenes pictures from the shoot can be found on the Facebook and Pinterest pages, and the first recipe is about to follow.....
Exciting times ahead!
I spent last week in London at the Olympics and it was AMAZING! For all those of you that decided against going through the trauma of trying for tickets, I feel for you. The pain has all but been forgotten as the love has grown, and I can honestly say that it was truly worth it. Would I go through the long wait, the huge amounts of stress, high blood pressure and swollen ankles again? Like a shot! I loaded the car with my favourite West Country Granola and headed to the City. We were lucky enough to stay with friends, one of which is a Swedish lawyer, and who just fell in love with our Spelt Products. She is now on the hunt for a Swedish chain or distributor to help spread the good Sharpham Park word to Sweden. Maybe they will win more medals at the next Olympics if they introduce our products into their daily routine!
Back at the farm things have been moving swiftly ahead with the new look packaging and I came back to find these final proofs waiting for me on my desk:
Exciting! The new look will start filtering onto shelves over the next few weeks, with a new Apple & Cinnamon Spelt Porridge being launched at the Speciality Fine Food Show in September.
We have also been winning awards left, right and centre - and rightly so in my mind! We won Taste of the West Awards for the Bran Flakes, Bran Flakes with Walnut & Dates and a Great Taste Gold for the porridge also. There is one final award for another product that I am not allowed to tell you about yet, under threat of being drowned in a spelt silo, so you will just have to watch this space.
The rain has stopped us from harvesting so far, which has been tough, but is all part of being a UK farmer which we wouldn't change at all. We are praying that the forecast is right and that we will be drenched in sunlight towards the end of this week. If this is the case then we can (and please keep EVERYTHING crossed) harvest at the weekend. We will then test the grain for protein, hagberg, gluten etc and get it taken into storage. It is always a tense time of year, and the combine harvesters get booked up quickly when there is a threat of sunshine as there are many issues with harvesting wet grain - not least the additional drying process that would be required. Here is a great picture showing the spelt ripe and ready. Just one of many beautiful shots taken by our friends Debbie and Phil who came by the week before last. I will add more each week as they are just too good not to share:
That is all for now, but I have some REALLY exciting news about a new partnership to announce in my next entry and the most delicious pearled spelt recipe, so don't miss it!
I can't believe that it has been a month since I last wrote anything! Where does the time go? I have had a really fun month - starting with a trip to Centre Court at Wimbledon. It was the first time that I have ever been and it was such an experience. I saw my hero Federer play and even managed to nearly get hit by a flying serve from James Blake!
Here on the farm things have been pretty.........well wet to be honest. The fields flooded and we had to move all the animals to higher land, which was all fine until one morning we came in and Winston, our visiting Ruby Red Bul,l had managed to transport himself from one field to the next - over a flooded ditch that was flowing like a river. His goal? The lovely ladies on the other side! It had us all in stitches thinking about the big chaps' sheer determination to get up close and personal with our lovely White Park ladies. I never even knew that cows could swim! I guess, where there is a will there is a way.
The Bran Flake road show continued with the launch of the range in Sainsburys stores and also by me spending a Saturday in Harvey Nichols talking to people all about our spelt and our full range of breakfast cereals, flour and pearled spelt. I met a lot of people that day and the interest was overwhelming. One couple, Julie & Ben, are now such converts that Ben has even devised a recipe for Chicken & Chorizo Spelt Jamablaya. It sounds divine! Here is the link to his blog and the recipe http://quadrantkitchen.tumblr.com/post/27259366668/chicken-chorizo-spelt-jambalaya-jambalaya-is I tried it last night, and it was simply delicious.
The big news this week is that Kilver Court have opened up 5 new designer shops on site in a new street they have named Silk Street after one of the mills former uses. Brands there now include Mulberry, LK Bennett, Toast, Hawick Kashmir, Jack Wills, Aubin & Wills, Isabella Oliver, Crumpet, Bottletop, Pedlars........It is a most dignified discount shopping experience, with no scrabbling around for bargains, friendly staff at every turn and all in such beautiful grounds. If you are heading to Somerset then you really should make time. I can also highly recommend the spelt carrot cake in the cafe. I went to bed dreaming of it last night........
Well, I'm off now to go and see just how well the spelt it doing in the fields and see if we can guage whether it is going to be dry enough for us to harvest in a couple of weeks time as we usually do......keep your fingers crossed please,
The sun is finally shining and so I decided it was time that I tried this Summer Spelt Salad recipe from Xanthe Clay. I added some lightly fried squid from Wells Market that I had marinated in garlic and lemon to the top of mine, and got many ooh's of appreciation, but I am sure that it would have been just as delicious without. This amount served all 3 of us, with some Hobbs Sourdough as an accompaniment:
110g of Sharpham Park Organic Pearled Spelt
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of mixed chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, summer savoury, tarragon
1 young raw beetroot washed well
1 bunch of watercress or landcress (small sprigs are best) rinsed and dried in a salad spinner
5-6 radishes, sliced fine in rings
5 tbsp soured cream
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of half an orange (about 3 tbsp)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Cook the spelt in simmering salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse in cool water, then thoroughly drain again.
Place in a bowl and season with about 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and the herbs, tossing together until well coated. (This can be left for up to 24 hours, covered in the fridge.)
Whisk the soured cream, mustard and orange juice together until smooth and season to taste.
Peel the beetroot (if necessary) and using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the beetroot paper thin. Stack the slices together and slice again into fine matchsticks.
Put the beetroot into a bowl with the watercress and radishes, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and toss gently together.
Place a spoonful of marinated spelt on each plate, spreading it gently over the surface. Arrange the watercress, radishes and beetroot evenly on top. Serve the dressing separately.
Inspired by my many early morning walks with the pooch, and seeing and smelling it everywhere, I felt inspired to try and make a spelt risotto using the abundance of wild garlic. It was a hit! I hope that you enjoy it too.
Wild Garlic Risotto (serves 3)
2 shallots (finely chopped)
30 g butter
300 g pearled spelt
100 ml dry white wine
700 ml vegetable stock
100 g wild garlic leaves
100 g parmesan (finely grated)
Melt the butter in a thick-based, non-stick pot and fry the shallots until softened, but not browning. Add the pearled spelt, cook for 2 minutes, constantly stirring.
Deglaze with the wine, letting it reduce almost completely.
Pour in 200 ml of the stock, let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Repeat twice.
Stir in the wild garlic, parmesan and remaining (100 ml) stock, stir through until the garlic leaves are wilted. Adjust the consistency to your liking (I like a slight 'peak'- not completely dry, but not too runny) by adding more stock or reducing it further.
The spelt should be al dente: soft, but retaining a bit of bite.
Add chicken or fish too if you would like. Happy foraging folks!
Brought to us by our lovely Twitter friend @neilphotograffa and his daughter Francesca, this just looked too good to not pass on:
250g strong white flour
250g wholegrain spelt flour
7g dried yeast
320ml warm water (37 degrees, i am kind of precise in these matters) haha 10g sea salt good glug of rapeseed oil (tablespoon-ish)
semolina for rolling/dusting
mix the flours, yeast, salt and the water in a mixer with a dough hook adding the oil just as it starts coming together for 15mins on slow, or 25mins by hand until dough is smooth and springs back when pressed. Shape into a round, coat with a little oil and prove in a bowl wrapped in a bin liner for an hour in a warm but not hot place until doubled in size.
Once doubled in size, knock the dough back divide into 6 pieces (or 4 if you want big pizza) and shape into rounds a floured board, cover again and leave to rise for 45 mins until doubled in size.
crank the oven up to as hot as you can preferably with a baking stone on the top shelf. Dust surface with semolina and roll pizza dough out nice and thin (i cannot swirl it above my head so i roll it!). Top with a simple sauce made from garlic, good tin toms and tomato puree, and your topping of choice (asparagus, parma ham amd mozzarella is a good seasonal one at the moment, but as in the picture my daughter opts for ham and pineapple EVERY time!)
cook for 10 mins or until the cheese is bubbling, your tummy is rumbling and the pizza is golden and crispy.
My attention lately has been drawn towards the food labelling debate and the abuse of fair green land. Both issues are massively important to me, and so this week I have written my blog (and the views are mine, not Sharphams!) discussing the food labelling that we use.
As an advanced and so called developed nation, we as consumers naturally assume that food labelling in the UK is trustworthy and as a green, ethical and well regarded food company, we have to do all that we can to ensure that this trust is deserved. With high profile and easily recognised labels and certifications out there, there really shouldn’t be any issues, should there? Well it appears that some of the labels are not all that they seem on the surface and so I felt it only right that I delve into this a little further.
We currently use the logos for (and are certified with) the Soil Association, Red Tractor Assurance, Vegetarian Society and FSC. Sounds good eh? Well, let’s explore what that really means.....
The Soil Association (www.soilassociation.org) is the oldest and largest organic governing body in the UK. Running since 1946 they currently look after about 80% of the UK organic food market. In an ideal world organic food would also have a small carbon footprint, but currently 56% of organic food sold here is imported. The SA are tackling this by withdrawing their certification on imported foods, if said food cannot feasibly be grown in the UK. The downside is that many large corporations have bought up smaller organic producers and are finding loop holes to exploit, including allowing dairy animals and chickens to be raised in confinement.
The Red Tractor Assurance (www.redtractor.org.uk) standards cover food safety, animal welfare and environmental protection. Over 78,000 farmers and growers are now part of the Red Tractor Assurance chain, as well as leading food supply businesses across the UK making it Britains biggest food label. In a recent study the label's animal welfare practices have led the authors of a 60-page report to advise shoppers to look for schemes which scored higher in their treatment of animals. The damning report gave low scores for areas including pig mutilations with the report recommending the 'prohibition of mutilations of pigs, or at least stringent restrictions on mutilations.' It also stated the label should introduce 'a requirement to use anaesthetic for tail docking’ and a ‘requirement to use teeth grinding instead of teeth clipping’.
The Vegetarian Society logo (www.vegsoc.org) assures consumers that the products bearing its logo are free from animal flesh (meat, fowl, fish or shellfish), meat or bone stock, animal or carcass fats, gelatine, aspic or any other ingredients resulting from animal slaughter. Contain only free range eggs, where eggs are used. Be free from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There must be no cross contamination with non-vegetarian products during the production process. Be cruelty-free - no animal testing is permitted. Currently over 7000 food products in the UK bear the logo, and it is used by the NHS as part of its food initiative. The issue with claiming to be vegetarian, particularly when eating out, is that the word is often misused. I don’t know how many times I have seen a ‘vegetarian’ dish in a restaurant that contains parmesan cheese ,for example. The Vegetarian Society will certainly have their work cut out over the next few years as the terms "vegetarian" and "vegan" will soon have legal status. UK Food Standards Agency labelling guidelines were adopted in principle by the European Union in 2010, and following a five year period for compliance civil suits may be brought against anyone misusing the terms from 2015. Watch out chefs!
The FSC (Forest Stewardship Council www.fsc-uk.org ) logo is used on product labels to indicate whether products are certified under the FSC system . This system is based on 10 basic criteria that include the environmental, social and economic impacts of the forest industry. Biodiversity is encouraged and the legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands is recognised. When you see the FSC logo on a label you can buy timber and other wood products, such as paper, with the confidence that you are not contributing to the destruction of the world’s forests. Every year an area half the size of the UK is cleared of natural forests: temperate and tropical, North and South and on every continent. However, because the principles of the scheme are very general, loopholes can be exploited. For instance, although genetic engineering is not allowed, clear-cutting, use of chemicals (including herbicides) and preservation of old-growth forests are only addressed in a general way, without specific requirement.
So, who do we trust and how do we decide who to work with? If you take each of these certifications on an individual basis, it appears that they may be punching way above their weight – fighting a battle that can never be won - and the exposition of their loopholes is damning. However, I don’t see it that way. I see it as a combination of bodies (in both senses) working towards a better, more sustainable future in food. But there is a long way to go and we will all, I hope, continue to question and critique issues as they happen. I thank the organisations above, and the bodies that govern and critique them for highlighting our recent history of frankly, abhorrent abuse of the land and resources that maintain us, and hope that the recent press comments about food labelling will only increase consumer awareness and help us all towards making educated choices.
Until next time - when I will be featuring a delicious pizza base recipe from a lovely Twitter friend, yum yum.
I don’t know where to start this time as spelt HQ has been seriously buzzing for the last few weeks. Apart from a great trip to Glasgow where I spent time with @Peckhamsdeli (good luck on the opening of the 7th shop by the way guys!) and Wholefoods Market, and back here the farm has been alive with activity. We have 2 new bee colonies, 5 new calves and almost 200 lambs, with Gordon’s (“Raaaamsay” – the Hampshire that we crossed with our little ladies to beef up our yield) children being healthy, bouncy and oh so very big! They are half the size of their mothers already and look quite comedic springing around with their tiny play mates who are probably older than them. I think it is fair to say that the experiment was a success, so watch this space should you be interested in buying whole or half animals from us later in the year.
The Bran Flakes (a very stylish accessory I think you will agree!) have had some amazing press coverage – the Independent, Daily Mail Weekend and the Express S Magazine all raving about them in just the last 8 days. We are now about to place our third order and we haven’t even launched them with Sainsburys yet!
We were all completely stuffed last week when we had a visit from @alexgoochbaker (www.alexgooch.com) who brought us a plethora of delicious spelt cakes, pastries, bread, foccacias, sourdough....the office smelt amazing and we really got stuck in. That guy can really work wonders and was lovely too boot. He delivers through the Hay on Wye and Forest of Dean area and if you are close by then I am massively envious! To try some of your own spelt baking at home the Guardian featured some of our old friend Richard Bertinet’s recipes from his book ‘Pastry’, and he has an amazing recipe for spelt biscuits and pastries, where you can easily replace the wheat flour content with spelt flour http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/22/baking-recipes-richard-bertinet?newsfeed=true
Oh and come and see us and Edd Kimber (www.theboywhobakes.co.uk) at the new addition to the Royal Bath and West Show (30th May – 2nd June www.bathandwest.com ), the Festival of Baking! The area will be awash with great recipe ideas, including spelt bread, spelt cakes and spelt pastry so don’t miss it!
Watching the Hairy Bikers Bakeation last night made me REALLY want to make this deliciously simple focaccia recipe again. Give it a go. Oh and Happy National Bread Week!
250g wholegrain spelt flour
250g white spelt flour
10g fresh yeast (or 3g instant yeast)
1 ½ cups water, warm
2tsp rosemary, dried
½ cup black olives, pitted
1 tsp olive oil
Pre heat your oven to 220°C. Combine flour, salt, yeast, water and rosemary and mix until the dough forms; knead for 10 minutes until the dough is elastic or blend in a food processor until it forms a ball. Let it rise in a warm place for half an hour. Add the olives and knead. Grease a 24cm pan with olive oil. Let the dough rise for about an hour until double in size, knock back and put into pan. Bake for about 2 min.
Ingredients: Serves 8
250g Sharpham Park Pearled Spelt
6tbs extra virgin olive oil
Approx. 75ml pomegranate molasses
1tsp sumac, or to taste
4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
15g mint, chopped roughly
15g fennel, chopped roughly
20g parsley, chopped roughly
3 eating apples, chopped into small cubes
30g walnuts, chopped
100g dried cranberries
Put the spelt into a saucepan. Pour over boiling water so that it is a knuckle above the grain. Boil for about 8 minutes, or until cooked.
Add oil, molasses and sumac to the spelt. Stir to combine.
When the spelt is cool, add celery, mint, fennel, parsley, apple, walnuts & dried cranberries and serve!
NB: Sumac is a shrub originating in Turkey, certain varieties of which are cultivated in southern Italy and Sicily. Its fleshy petals and small berries are dried and reduced to a purple powder, which has an acidic taste and is very popular in Middle Eastern cookery. Mixed with water it can be used in the same way as lemon juice.
I hope that you all had a fab Easter break? It has been a little while since my last entry, which certainly caused a bit of a stir and got lots of people talking and debating the issue of spelt and the wheat free v’s gluten free discussion. The most important thing is that people ARE talking about it and I hope that these discussions continue to provoke and inspire. In the meantime, we will keep on developing delicious Sharpham Park Spelt products and recipes to keep the wheat free among you well fed and satisfied. Talking about recipes, I had the pleasure of meeting Jane from http://www.cookeryatthegrange.co.uk/ last week and she has sent us the most glorious spelt salad recipe which I will follow this entry so that you can all try it. All recipes are gratefully received, and if I post them on the site then we will send you some goodies in return, so don’t keep those yummy spelt recipes to yourself!
The Food and Drink Expo at the NEC was a huge success. The stand looked amazing (well done our Kate!) and we had a steady flow of people through, made some good contacts and caught up with old friends. The foodie world is a lovely world to work in as most of the time we are all working towards one common goal, which is to bring good food to the market. Exchanging experiences, contacts and ideas is all a part of that and makes it a very satisfying place to be. It is also lovely when you see other small brands that have grown or get their first big break and you get to share in a little bit of their excitement. http://www.propercorn.com/ is one such brand that we feel in love with and we wish the adorable Cass and Ryan all the best with it. Although, now they have a Waitrose listing we think that they’ll probably do just fine!
The Spelt Bran Flakes are continuing to sell amazingly well (including our first big export shipment!), and we have had a lot of great feedback including comments from Silvena Rowe, Tony Turnbull and Gizzie Erskine about how great they taste and look, and then a comment from a packaging design review website about how we are the one brand that truly deserves to use the Union Jack and how well we have done it! Praise indeed, and Marc, our designer is over the moon! http://www.reachbrands.co.uk/interesting-launches/sharpham-park-british-bran-flakes.html
I am keen to write a comment about the Panorama programme looking at the “Great Apprentice Scandal”. We have employed a few apprentices over the years, and sometimes it has worked out and sometimes it hasn’t. It is always disappointing when things don’t end the way you expect them to – either because they are the wrong person for the role, or the qualification doesn’t suit the candidate, but when it does work out the rewards are great. It is disgusting that this amazingly innovative programme is being abused, but if you can choose the right employer and the right qualification provider it CAN work and be hugely beneficial to both student and business. I would hate for that programme to put any potential apprentices off as vocational qualifications together with work experience are in high demand. Ask any chef, food producer or manufacturing company. Not all skills can be gained in the classroom alone.
Until next time.....
I hope that you have all had a lovely week in the sunshine. I am going to miss this weekends lovely weather, but I don’t mind as Kate and I will be winging our way to the NEC in our big white van for the Food and Drink Expo. Excited? Very!
I hope that you find my blog entry below interesting - just be warned it could be contentious! All opinions and experiences are entirely my own – there’s no comeback on the rest of the SP team I am afraid. Here goes........
Last night via the beauty of Twitter I was highlighted to a blog entry by http://foodallergyandintolerance.blogspot.co.uk about an error in Jamie Oliver Magazine. The offending article had suggested, alongside some recipes for spelt, that spelt is gluten free and therefore suitable for coeliacs. A bit fat whopping boo boo, make no mistake. However, the response from certain corners was really surprising to me. “This is how all us coeliacs are treated” was one comment, perhaps suggesting that the food world is at war and intentionally out to upset all with this awful disease. I work in the world of spelt. In fact, we ARE the spelt people. We grow it, mill it, make cereals, flour, biscuits, bread, cakes – you name it – with it, and our knowledge since we started doing this back in 2004 has grown tenfold. We hope and pray that this continues, but as far as I am aware no one is out to make others ill or intentionally give incorrect information. Knowledge is coming in thick and fast, and it is up to us to embrace it and work with it and as we learn errors will be made. It is human nature. For example, the lab and food technicians that first tested the gluten level of our spelt in 2005 told us that as it was less than so many parts per million, we could claim that it WAS gluten free. Commence joy and then confusion. A highlight from the Coeliac Society, a second test and a more experienced technician proved that it wasn’t and the lab had given us incorrect information. So you see, the resurgence of spelt in the UK started with confused messages, and we are still now battling to set the record straight.
And that record is hindered by suspicion. As a nation we have been so stuck on eating just one grain for so long, and so when a new one is introduced, we naturally think of it as a strange imposter. In no other nation is wheat consumed for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in between, is rye bread, corn bread or buckwheat looked at with suspicion and distaste. A healthy diet is a varied diet, but with so much conflicting advice it is no wonder people are getting their wires crossed.
In my experience, the grey area occurs when speaking with people who are NOT coeliacs, but perhaps suffer with IBS or wheat intolerance. Those people who, because of the complicated gluten structure within common wheat, find such foods hard to digest and therefore avoid products with gluten in for ease. For example, when we are offerings tastings of our spelt products, and people suggest to us that they can’t eat gluten, my first question is always, “are you a coeliac?” More often than not I am met with a very blank face – “a what?” Question answered! People with coeliac disease (for me an aunt, a close friend, a neighbour....) all know about the disease that they have and what they can and can’t eat. They all know that spelt contains gluten, because their health is at risk if they do not know. I am speaking with firsthand experience of food elimination. Having recently just completed a gruelling 18 months of operations, a stoma and a sub-total colectomy, I am more experienced than most at having to absolutely avoid specific foods, or risk my health, and I know what I can and cannot eat. I make it my business to know, and as food labelling has become much clearer and the choices for people with food limitations – coeliac or otherwise – has grown impressively, I feel that we should celebrate the fact that people now recognise and identify dietary concerns and implications and be grateful that there are people, like us, that continue research into food groups and their benefits, and continue to develop recipes that are not only suitable but also adventurous and delicious. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t correct, help and guide, but feeling victimised is negative and unhelpful. We should talk about these things openly and celebrate and support those that want to support us.
Gluten is a complex subject, and one that the medical profession are keen to know more about. The gluten structure in spelt is far more brittle and soluble, as opposed to common wheat gluten and the proteins much shorter. We have worked with Professor John Hunter at Addenbrookes and his patients and together we have compared methane and hydrogen output for IBS sufferers when eating wheat v’s spelt, and the spelt output was much less. We sent our spelt products out to self diagnosed IBS sufferers to see if by swapping all the wheat they usually have in their diet for spelt, what affect it would have and the positive response was overwhelming. For these people spelt can be life changing. Unlike Coeliac disease, IBS is not yet clinically diagnosed, yet just earlier this week I was talking with a clinician and consultant at St Marks who are running UK research into the FODMAP diet for those with IBS, and so hopefully clinical diagnosis is not far away. This is a subject that fascinates me and I have spoken with many people over the years, some who believe that yeast free diets work for them and I all kinds of other weird and wonderful variations, but to me there is one common factor. Wheat gluten. If you don’t have yeast, you don’t have wheat and wheat gluten can be an issue for up to 1 in 7 people in the UK. Therefore for them, avoiding wheat, and eating spelt and other grains is hugely beneficial. This cannot be disputed in my opinion. It is the distinction between this and coeliac disease that is the issue, and one which we must all continue to clarify and correct. Wheat Free isn’t necessarily Gluten Free and the 2 labels, one no less important than the other, should be identified as such and differ.
I don’t discount that we need ambassadors like Jamie to ensure that he gets his facts straight, but it has got us all talking and thinking about it, and for me that can only be a positive.
Phew! Now to pack the van and hit the road.....
4 1/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup pearled spelt
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons whipping cream
4 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Combine first 5 ingredients in heavy large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and spelt is very tender, stirring occasionally, should take about about 1 hour.
Reduce heat to low. Whisk egg yolks and cream in small bowl. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup spelt mixture; return to same pan and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly (do not boil). Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until melted. Stir in orange peel and cardamom. Transfer pudding to bowl; cover and chill until cold. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
I hope that you all managed to enjoy the lovely spring sunshine this weekend. Wasn't it just lovely? We met up with some friends and went for dinner at Goodfellows in Shepton Mallet on Saturday night. The owner, Adam Fellows, is an old friend as we used to work together many moons ago at Charlton House, and he certainly didn't disappoint. I had hand dived scallops with cucumber spaghetti and a champagne butter sauce. I am drooling just thinking about it. One of his dessert options was a white chocolate rice pudding and it was so delicious that it got me thinking about making one with pearled spelt, so I did that yesterday and spent most of last night quality testing it. One bowl after the other. The recipe will follow and resistance is futile!
Like me, and most of the rest of the nation, did you watch both the rugby and Kony 2012 this weekend? Well done those boys, it was a great game to watch and real edge of the seat stuff. Kony 2012 I found absolutely riveting. It is complete proof that if used correctly, social media has an enormous power and can change the way people think and behave. Fascinating. And it will be interesting to watch how it unfolds over the coming year. If you haven't watched it, you should. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc
Here at spelt HQ we are starting to get all of our bits together for the 2 shows that we are going to be exhibiting at later this month.
Bath In Fashion runs from 23rd March through to the 1st April and is a true celebration of Fashion with the backdrop of one of our most beautiful cities. We are lucky enough to be able to have a presence there through our sister company, Kilver Court Designer Emporium and it will be our aim to ensure that all the fashionistas are kept spelted up at all times! Our very own Roger will be hosting a talk about his journey from fashion to farming and back again on Tuesday 27th. Tickets are available through the website (bathinfashion.co.uk) and you had better book quick as his talks always fill up quickly.
Food and Drink Expo at the NEC from the 25th - 27th March is our first chance to really show off the new Bran Flake range to trade, and we have been preparing some fun props to ensure that we are not missed, including a 6 foot high replica bright pink box! We have already had interest from Hong Kong, Dubai and Singapore for this range so if that is anything to go by we we should get a good response at the show from the UK buyers and retailers. I am hoping to have a big announcement about the Bran Flakes too next week. We should hear on Friday, so watch this space....
Bye for now
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups Speltotto with a little added corn/potato starch to thicken. Allow to cool. (there are many recipes in our recipe section to choose from, and I find that left overs are perfect for arancini)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups dried Italian-style bread crumbs (spelt bread crumbs with herbs are perfect!)
2 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Pour enough oil in a heavy large saucepan to reach the depth of 3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.
Stir the eggs, Speltotto, Parmesan, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs in a large bowl to combine. Place the remaining breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Using about 2 tablespoons of the speltotto mixture for each, form the speltotto mixture into 1 3/4-inch-diameter balls. Insert 1 cube of mozzarella into the center of each ball. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat.
Working in batches, add the rice balls to the hot oil and cook until brown and heated through, turning them as necessary. It should take about 4 minutes. Using a draining spoon, transfer the rice balls to paper towels. Season with salt and serve with salad, tahini and juicy vine tomatoes.
We have had an amazingly busy and exciting week here at spelt HQ, including our annual SALSA audit (Safe and Local Supplier Approval), which we once again passed with flying colours. Hurray! And a huge well done to Kate and the team. Apologies if you thought that I was going to give you some yummy spanish recipe or break into a Latino number....
The big news though, and the one that has got us all jumping around with glee, is that the BRAN FLAKES ARE HERE! We are just so very excited and have tucked into them already. They look fab, and I promise you that they taste even better. They are available to buy after Monday 5th on line and across the nation very soon, but before then you can get exclusive tastings with myself and Alice this weekend at Selfridges Food Hall, Oxford Street and with Claire and Charlotte at the Shop at Kilver Court - the home of Sharpham Park. Be there or......be without the best cereal to hit the UK market in donkeys years!
Now, I really must calm down and talk about far more serious things. Like Spelt Arancini. We had a request for a recipe for arancini using our pearled spelt this week, and so I gave it a try and the recipe will follow. I found it delicious for lunch with salad, pine nuts and humous.
More next week......
Last week was Valentine's Day of course, and as usual the talk in the office turned to whether we celebrated it or not. Personally, I call it "Hallmark Day". I mean, what a load of old rubbish. If someone has to tell my man to send me a naff card to show me that he loves me then, honestly I would rather not have one. We cooked a lovely meal instead, opened a bottle of something nice and then he did the washing up! That was the best bit. I made a simple and delicious pasta dish using our Handmade Spelt Pasta and a fresh basil pesto with LOADS of parmesan. Mmm mm. It just goes to show that a few well selected ingredients and you can have a simple dish in minutes. I have listed what I used for the pesto below.
As you will hopefully have seen on the website home page, things are really gearing up for the Spelt Bran Flake Launch in 9 sleeps time! I am at Selfridges on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th March offering exclusive tastings and previews so please come by and see me and Alice if you can. We will then be will be sending it out to the world as of Monday 5th. I would love to know what you think of the new look, and will send samples out to 8 people that send me the most interesting or useful comments, so get thinking and typing.
I was going to write something about Shrove Tuesday and Pancakes, but actually, we all know how delicious spelt pancakes are all year round, so I won't bother. But just remember that the batter mix makes the most delicious Yorkshire Puddings too.
Have a great week!
For the pesto I used:
2 generous handfuls of fresh basil leaves
150g grated parmesan
Garlic infused olive oil, a good drizzle
100g of pine nuts
3 crushed cloves of garlic
A bit of salt and pepper
Grated yellow and green courgettes on top