Inspired by the BBC Good Food magazine recipe but with a few of my own twists, including the fact that I’ve made it #GlutenFree , here is my easy to make, no fuss, no bake cheesecake with a summer vibe
Fancy having a good at this?!
For the base:
120g salted butter
1 packed of gluten free chocolate chip cookies (I used the Tesco Free from)
50g desiccated coconut
For the filling
1 can of condensed milk
1 tub of cream cheese
2 limes, zested and juiced
White chocolate stars (these were from ASDA)
Lime and mint
First melt the butter
Crush all the biscuits into a fine crumb
Mix in the melted butter and combine
Press the mixture into a springform tin
Place in the fridge to cool whilst you make the filling.
Mix together the can of condensed milk, cream cheese and 2 limes (zest and juice)
Bring the tin out of the fridge and add the filling.
Place back in the fridge and allow to set.
After 4hrs the mixture should be set. Decorate with pieces of lime, mint leaves and chocolate stars.
I was fortunate to visit Lye Cross Farm in North Somerset recently, home of the Alvis Family business who have been making farmhouse cheddar cheese since the 1950’s.
Back then the Alvis’ started off milking around 300 cows on 500 acres, whereas in 2023 they now milk over 1000 cows and manage 4,000 acres of grass and arable land, some as part of an arable contracting business. All milk produced on the farm goes into cheese production and the Alvis family also buy in extra milk from 25 local farms to keep up with production demands.
Each year around 4000 tons of organic farmhouse cheddar is made and the business now exports to over 40 countries; Canada and the USA being the main export customers, with an ever growing demand in the far east; China, Singapore, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia for example.
Locally, Lye Cross Cheese can be purchased from the farm shop on site, which is open 7 days a week Lye Cross Farm Shop with a range of cheeses, locally sourced meats, fresh fruit and vegetables and fresh deli or carvery rolls are available daily.
Cheddar cheese is made all over the world – but Lye Cross Farm’s is the real thing!
In order to qualify for the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) West Country Farmhouse Cheddar must use some of the farms own milk, and all the milk must come from one of 4 counties – Somerset, Devon, Cornwall or Dorset.
In the making of the cheese you have to ‘Cheddar’ the curds by hand. The Cheddar must then mature on the farm in the care of the farmer for a minimum of 9 months. Each month the cheese recipe is constantly changing or adapting partly due to the milk fat content, protein and quality of grass the cows eat.
No expense is spared because quality counts. Every process is controlled and stringent health and safety rules are followed, to ensure a top-class product reaches the consumer.
The family are delighted to have received the Red Tractor Farm Assured Stamp of Approval. This is a recognised mark of quality that guarantees the food consumers buy is being produced to the highest standards possible.
The company employs over 130 people and has a turnover of £26 million annually. The business is constantly investing in ways to improve on energy reduction and new technology advances with an ultimate aim to become carbon neutral.
How the cheese is made
Fresh milk is pasteurised and passed into stainless steel vats with steam jackets. A start culture and non-GMO vegetarian rennet is mixed in to begin the careful transformation into cheese.
The curds and whey are run off onto a cooling table and hand stirred with large shovels to drain the whey. The whey is highly nutritious and packed full of vitamins and minerals, ideal for feeding livestock on the farm.
Next is the ‘cheddaring’. This is when the curds are turned by hand until they begin to bind, which can then be cut into slabs to be stacked. This will help to remove excess whey and helps develop the tasty cheddar flavour.
The blocks are fed into a mill which cuts them into small pieces, then stirred and mixed with salt to act as a preservative.
The salted curd is then pressed into blocks, wrapped and boxed before going to a maturing warehouse. A mild cheddar can be produced within 3 months, however the cheddar must be matured for at least 9 months to be classed as West Country Farmhouse Cheddar. A vintage cheddar will be at least 20 months or more.
Once the cheese is inspected and given a class specification it is labelled and shipped to Lye Cross’ retail customers.
With an abundance of rhubarb at the moment, I just had to find time to make some rhubarb and raisin chutney.
This variety of rhubarb is called Glaskins Perpetual which I grew from seed 3 years ago. And isn’t it doing well!!
So here is my recipe for spiced rhubarb and raisin chutney which you can make in about 30 minutes. Super quick, tasty and will store for around 6 weeks. A really good way of preserving produce and enjoying with a ploughmans type lunch over the summer months.
The perfect accompaniment for some cooked ham.
You will need:
8 stalks of rhubarb (chopped into 2cm pieces)
300 ml apple cider vinegar
500g caster sugar
2 onions chopped finely
1 tbsp of mixed spice
1 tbsp mild curry powder
100ml warm water
In a large pan, fry off the chopped onions in some rapeseed oil.
Add in the rhubarb, raisins, apple cider vinegar, sugar, curry powder and mixed spice.
Allow the sugar to dissolve and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Once at a boil, allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. If the mixture becomes slightly dry, add some warm water to the mixture.
The mixture will change to a brown colour resembling chutney and will start to look ‘jammy’.
Allow the mixture to cool and place in some sterilised jars. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 weeks.
In the latest ‘meet the producer’ blog, I caught up with an old pal from Cornwall Young Farmers, Ben Cavill, who works as technical manager at Pengelly Farms Ltd on behalf of the Rogers Family.
How long have you been farming at Pengelly?
The Rogers family have been farming at Pengelly Barton in West Cornwall since 1967 and is today run by father and son duo, Simon & Philip.
Phil’s son, Harry – the third generation of the Rogers family joined the team in 2020.
What do you grow / farm / produce?
The business is currently farming around 2,800 acres across Cornwall consisting of 1,400 acres of potatoes (approx. 18,000 tonnes a year!) as the primary enterprise with a further 950 acres of Maize, 220 acres of Rye and 180 acres of Sugar Beet grown to feed the farms’ Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant annually.
How did you get involved with the business?
I joined the business in 2016 as the inaugural operator of the newly built AD plant. Following 3.5 years as the plant operator, I moved into my current role as Technical Manager.
As TM, I work closely with the two directors to help monitor and streamline performance, efficiency, and reliability across the business with a particular focus on;
– Biogas & Anaerobic Digestion
– Health & Safety
– Finance & Investment
– Training & Development
– Social Media & PR
– HR & Recruitment
– Data Analysis
– Crop Protection
What’s the thing that surprises you the most about your job?
The thing that often surprises me is the amount of ‘behind the scenes’ work required to get our potatoes from field to fork. As a rural person, its easy to become slightly complacent about the journey that our food makes to get from farm to plate.
As one of the South West’s largest potato growers, we rely on a large and dedicated team of people with different skills and specialisms to ensure that the good old humble spud is planted, grown, harvested, packed and shipped to our customers in the best of conditions, every time.
What does the future look like for you?
Within my role at Pengelly Farms Ltd, I want to continue developing my knowledge and skills in the management of Health & Safety on farm.
With narrow weather windows, increasing costs and greater workloads – it’s often easy to start cutting corners to ‘get the job done’ but I want to focus on ensuring that despite all of this, the job is done safely and that everyone gets home at the end of the day.
Do you enjoy cooking?
One of my favourite things to do when not on the farm is to cook, especially with locally grown, high quality ingredients.
Given the abundance of local meats and vegetables in Cornwall, there is nothing better than preparing a hearty meal with ingredients sourced within a 15-mile radius of home.
A particular favourite of mine would be an adaption of the BBC Good Food’s Herby Potato Pesto Pasta to include Jazzy potatoes and freshly made pesto (a jar of pesto works just as well!). A quick and simple carbohydrate loaded meal, perfect after a day working on the farm.
Here is the recipe:
‘Jazzy Potato Pesto Pasta’
200g bag ‘Jazzy’ salad potatoes, halved
150g pasta shapes
100g green beans, trimmed and sliced
1 tbsp crème fraîche
For the pesto
large bunch mixed herbs (use whatever you have, such as basil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, or rocket – about 25g in total)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
½ garlic clove, crushed
zest ½ lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
25g parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated, plus extra shaved, to serve
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 5-6 mins until ¾ cooked. Add the pasta and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. Add the green beans 3 mins before the end.
Meanwhile, in a mini chopper or small food processor, blitz the pesto ingredients until roughly chopped.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and tip back into the pan. Toss through the pesto and crème fraîche and divide into bowls. Serve with shaved Parmesan on top.
In the latest instalment of ‘Meet the Producer’ Milly finds out about Norfolk based meat and knitwear business Eco Ewe from owner Olivia Shave
What is your backstory? Have you always been involved in Agriculture?
We started farming as a family back in 2014 following a family bereavement, starting with five orphan lambs and building our flock over time. We then grew over the next few years and opened a farm shop just before the first lockdown initially as an outlet for our meat and ready meals. We soon outgrew our premise, after stocking over 250 other products, all made by other local producers and decided rather than expanding, we would re-diversify into our existing range of knitwear and sheepskins.
What do you produce or grow?
We produce grass fed lamb which has been awarded with the Great Taste Award, reared as holistically as possible with minimal antibiotic use. We farm regeneratively working with nature.
Our aim is to be as sustainable as possible utilising every part of our lambs and celebrating each life by creating lasting products such as our range of knitwear, wool and sheepskins as well as selling our meat locally.
Who do you supply to or how can people buy your products?
We sell direct to consumer via our website and social media channels. Our lamb is available seasonally as whole or half lamb boxes as well as delicious, homemade ready meals as we found a real gap in the market where a lot of customers were telling us they loved to eat lamb but didn’t know how to cook it.
Our knitwear and sheepskin range is available all year round to order via our Website and at present, we ship all over the UK.
What does the future look like for you?
This year we are planning substantial farm growth as we have been fortunate to attain further grazing.
We all have subsidiary businesses alongside our farming life so it’s busy 24/7 especially from April to October.
During the year we pride ourselves on stewarding at local Agriculture Shows, making appearances, and sharing tips at cookery theatres.
My work as Norfolk’s regional community supporter for Love British Food means networking and raising the profile of British Food Fortnight and also Love Lamb Week. With this and writing my own British Lifestyle Column for Farming Monthly, attending events for my new business Cheesecake Norfolk I’m sure in for a hectic year.
Do you enjoy cooking? Is there a favourite go-to meals or recipe you could share?
Place the lamb, onion, crushed garlic, oregano, cinnamon and bay leaves into a heavy-based frying pan and cook for 8-10 minutes on a medium heat.Break up the mince using a wooden spoon.
Once the lamb has browned, drain off any excess fat. Continue to cook the mince mixture as you stir in a good pinch of salt and pepper with the sugar, tomato purée, red wine and tinned tomatoes. Bring to a gentle simmer and then leave to cook for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lamb has tenderised.
Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over a high heat. Drizzle the oil over the sliced aubergine and fry for 4-5 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Set aside on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil.
Preheat the oven to 200°c/180°c fan/Gas Mark 6 and bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the sweet potato slices to the pan and cook for 6 minutes, then drain in a colander under cold running water before placing on kitchen paper to drain.
For the bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a small saucepan, gradually whisk in the flour and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, slowly adding the milk and ensuring you continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth. Return to the heat and gently simmer for 3 minutes while stirring in the parmesan, grated nutmeg, and seasoning to taste. Let the sauce cool to room temperature before whisking in the beaten egg.
Spoon a third of the lamb mixture into a large ovenproof dish and spread out evenly, followed by a third each of the aubergine and potato slices. Repeat twice more to create distinct layers, then finish by pouring the bechamel sauce over the top and smoothing it out so you have an even covering. Sprinkle the moussaka with extra grated parmesan if you like, then place in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until you have a nicely golden topping. Serve with a delicious herby green garden salad.
You may have heard of the village of Catthorpe before. It is just off the M6 / M1 / A14 junction on the Leicestershire / Northamptonshire/ Warwickshire border. Before they changed the junction, you’d always hear about traffic on the Catthorpe Interchange, especially on a Friday night!
Anyhow, I recently caught up with the owners of Manor Farm at Catthorpe, The Grindal family, who run a successful farm shop, tea room and campsite.
Here’s a little bit more information on what they produce and how you can find out more.
How long has Manor Farm been a farm shop at Catthorpe and what do you specialise in?
Manor Farm started life as a tiny shop selling fruit cakes and potatoes in the 70’s and the main shop opened in the 90’s. We have extended and grown every year since to what we are today! We specialise in growing, rearing and making our own produce. With particular emphasis on our rare breed meats; Leicester Longwool lamb, British Lop pork and British White beef.
We make all our own meals, pies and cakes using our own produce and the food we serve in the Farmhouse Kitchen utilises our produce too. We grow potatoes, asparagus, soft fruits, vegetables and pumpkins.
Did you diversify from traditional farming to include the farm shop?
Yes we used to just grow potatoes and crops as well as having some livestock. Since the main shop has opened, we no longer grow crops on the farm and only rear the rare breed animals solely for the farm shop.
The farm shop has grown over the last few years. What have been your main successes?
The Farmhouse Kitchen has been the most successful aspect of the business; attracting customers from all over the UK, especially when travelling. Being able to link what we grow on the farm with the kitchen and then offering the chance for customers to buy what they have just eaten in the shop is what we aim for….full circle!
We are very proud of rearing the rare breeds due to their scarcity and plan to continue building the breeds every year. The Beer Barn is another aspect of the shop that has been really successful. The room is full of lots of locally made beers, wines and ciders; we have one of the best selections in the county.
Have there been any bumps in the road?
Like all businesses we have encountered bumps! At present it’s the extortionate electric prices (£7500 per month from £1200), the last few years we have had to cope with the pandemic and in previous years we have over come the outbreak of foot and mouth and everything else that mother natures throws at us!
We are very weather dependent, so we keep a close eye on predictions; the hot summer of 2022 meant that our soft fruit crop was much smaller than usual and the cold weather recently has had an affect on our vegetables. Generally though, we plough on and take what comes!
What can people expect to see or do at Manor Farm Shop?
A REAL farm shop…..we are a working farm retailing our own produce. So think rustic charm, homegrown produce and expect a very warm welcome. We have the main farm shop, Farmhouse Kitchen serving food seven days a week, our campsite is open March-October and we also have two independent shops on site too; The Pink Peony florist and gift shop and Catthorpe Loft who sell home and garden ware and gifts
Recently I caught up with Sarah Evans of Watery Lane Produce, a new on-farm business start up producing vegetable boxes selling direct to the customer, based near Wrexham. Here’s some insight on how it all started:
How did Watery Lane come about?
‘We had been thinking for a while of different ideas of things that I could do at home- from crafty things, baking to even a vinery or beer brewing, but none really took my fancy. Then we watched a national organic online course on how to grow and make money in a poly-tunnel, the case study was based in Ireland.
After the series of lockdowns, I had developed some green fingers from gardening and thought veg is similar to flowers and its outside, at home and I was interested, so we decided to just go for it! ‘
What is the businesses ethos and who is your customer?
My business ethos is that I am growing organically or purchasing organic produce from a wholesale who prides itself on providing seasonal sustainable fresh produce. No air miles are used and produce is picked to order to minimise waste across all levels. All the produce is also sourced as locally as possible, reducing carbon footprint. My customers are those who share this ethos.
How do you fit time into your business whilst raising a family?
My first year in the business was a juggle at times. Much was learnt but on the whole it worked really well. Apart from Tuesday afternoons for a short while, late Wednesday afternoons and early Thursday mornings (these are ordering, receiving and delivering times) the rest is extremely flexible particularly in winter, early spring and late autumn.
The other times I may need to sharpen up my act, but I get in the poly tunnel early during holidays in the summer to ensure that I can be free later in the day to be with the children. Thankfully vegetables don’t need the same looking after as livestock so it works well!
What’s your favourite thing to grow or produce?
I have enjoyed growing the tomatoes, sugar snap peas, cucumbers and runner beans – they all cropped well and I could have a munch whilst harvesting. They all tasted far better than anything purchased in the supermarket. I had forgotten that cucumbers actually had a taste until I grew my own!
I think my enjoyment for growing these has also come from the fact that I won best tomatoes in 2 local shows and best tomato truss, and best cucumber in my local show too!
What does the future look like for the business?
I would like to increase my orders more but at the same time make my growing more efficient. I learnt a lot last year and this year I simply want to improve on that. If I can refine my practices then things will run more smoothy and I can buy less in and make more profit!
What do you like to cook? Could you provide a recipe using some of your ingredients?
I used to enjoy baking and though I was pretty good, as my children have grown up I seem to rush it all too much trying to juggle everything so my skills have gone down hill. But its fab as the children love baking so they just do it instead of me!
I tend to be the main cook in the house for main meals, however as I am working my eldest is now cooking at least once a week for us all. We did rather a lot of cooking in lockdown but time has become an issue again.
I don’t have a favourite recipe but I do always prefer to cook fresh – my other half sometimes says- don’t put so much pressure on yourself just do something easy like beans on toast (and I do sometimes) but equally I am wanting to put fresh, home cooked food into my families tummies. It is not always that exciting but I know where it has all come from.
I do love my slow cooker, walking into a kitchen with the smells from what you started in the morning knowing it will be ready when you finally land after all the after school activities is fab. I like hiding veg in dishes like stews, bolognaise, lasagne, moussaka so the children get all the goodness. I also love a roast and roasting all my veg – my girls are happy to eat beetroot, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, turnips and kale and sprouts to name just a few veg, and that makes me happy!
How can people find out more about Watery Lane Produce?