Cheshire based cheese makers Joseph Heler are situated on the family dairy named Laurels Farm.
Over a century ago, Joseph Heler’s grandmother would make Cheshire cheese in the farmhouse kitchen.
Today the tradition continues with a team of expert cheese makers producing classic British regional cheese to time-honoured recipes.
Sadly, Joseph Heler passed away in 2016 however his legacy continues with a diverse range of cheese being produced including Mature Cheddar, Red Leicester, Cheshire and Double Gloucester using local milk from specifically selected dairy farms.
In 2001, the company was presented with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for work developing the very first low-fat cheese, ideal for those on a calorie-controlled diet or with specific dietary requirements.
We’ve recently sampled a selection of the cheese and would strongly recommend the Blackstone Cheddar, which is crunchy and flavoursome and would easily accompany a ploughman’s, pasta dish or sandwich.
The Eat Lean concept is innovative and a creative way of diversifying the brand in order to meet new market trends.
The branding of the cheese and price point means that it is accessible to everyone and can be purchased by visiting: SHOP — Joseph Heler Cheese (joseph-heler.co.uk)
As a family, we thoroughly enjoyed the range that Joseph Heler has to offer.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line the base of a 23cm springform tin with baking parchment. Place the bourbon biscuits in a food processor and blitz until reduced to fine crumbs. Mix the melted butter and biscuit crumbs together, then press firmly onto the base of the tin with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 10 mins then leave to cool while you make the filling.
Turn oven temperature up to 240C/220C fan/gas 9. In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and sugar with an electric whisk until creamy, then add in the cocoa, vanilla, coffee, eggs, soured cream and the melted chocolate and whisk again until smooth.
Brush the sides of a cake tin with a little more melted butter then pour in the cheesecake mixture and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 10 mins, then turn the heat down to 110C/90C fan/gas 1/4 for 25-30 mins. When ready the filling should be set, but with a little wobble in the middle. Turn off the oven, but leave the oven door open and allow it to cool in there for 2 hrs. Chill until ready to serve.
To decorate the cheesecake, carefully remove it from the tin and removed the lining paper from the base and then top with the cream egg halves then place the whole ones in between. Sprinkle with choc chips.
Say hello to Sandra Herbert of Whetstone Pastures Farm, a soft fruit pick your own on the outskirts of Leicester
You may catch Sandra on Cbeebies as she recently hosted Mr Tumble for an episode of ‘Something Special’.
So to Jams 🍓
It began when Sandra and her husband Anthony took over the PYO. Sandra had just left BBC Radio Leicester and needed to chill so fruit picking was just the thing!
She realised that smaller fruit was often wasted and hated waste so decided to make jam
Although being an avid cook and cake maker Sandra had not made jam before – So Granny Jam was born! Sandra’s jam is sold at the fruit farm when we they open in the summer. It’s also sold in Attfields farm shop, Wistow Deli, The Deli in Francis Street and Aldwinkles in Market Harborough.
Sandra has always been passionate about food and cooking her family (4 children) and when they started the PYO it seemed the right thing to use the fruit, which is frozen and makes such tasty jam with no watering down or additives except lemon juice where extra pectin is needed.
A cream tea is a really great British institution so here is Sandra’s recipe:
The scones have no sugar and egg in
450 G Self raising flour
75 G butter or margarine
Half pint of milk
Pre heat oven 200 C and prepare baking tray well greased or lined with baking paper
Gently mix fat into the flour using fingertips and then add 2-3 ozs sultanas for fruit scones
Add milk all in one go and mix gently to form a dough – add a little flour if sticky but don’t over kneed
Leave covered for 15 mins Roll out gently on floured board and sprinkle with a little flour before cutting with medium size cutter
Place on baking sheet I like to place them close together and brush with a little milk
Place in oven for 16 -18 mins
Leave to cool and then serve with dollop of British Cream and Sandra’s raspberry, strawberry or black currant jam!
Through the Farm Wives Facebook group, I recently connected with Donya Donger and she told me about how Peacock Farm was created.
‘Lying in the heart of the Vale of Belvoir, Peacock Farm in Muston is where our young family live and work.’
‘Carrying on a family tradition that goes back five generations, my husband has always lived on the farm and worked the land. When I left my job to start our family, I quickly started thinking about all the great home-grown delights we could produce. So, I started pressing our rapeseed for oil, which proved great for cooking, as are the infused flavour varieties which we have created.’
‘I have been making homemade blackberry vinegar for years from my Grandmothers recipe when a friend suggested I sell it, 4 years down the line we are producing hundreds of bottles a year and now make raspberry vinegar as well.’
‘I currently have bee hives split between the home farm and the Langar wildflower farm, also in the Vale. Keeping bees is a fantastic hobby and I’ve learned so much – particularly just how important bees are to the environment.’
‘My favourite thing is that my three young children love getting involved. They help feed the chickens, press the seeds and watch me care for the bees.’
‘Each Christmas I offer hampers which not only showcase the best of Peacock Farm but also the finest food and drink from the area in the ‘Best of Belvoir’ hamper, as supporting other small businesses is important to me.’
‘I am so passionate about local produce and try and share my passion and knowledge in any way I can, I often do talks to local schools and we take part in the open farm Sunday.’
‘We supply 20 shops locally and have an honesty shop at the farm where people can come and collect items directly. This really took off during the first lockdown and we now sell other local products in the honesty shop as well.’
‘I love being involved with food and farming because we are making of use of everything around us from start to finish. We grow the rapeseed, the bees pollinate it, we press the rapeseed to make oil and we cook with it. The left-over rapeseed cake we make into briquettes which we burn on our log burner. We then process the honey from the bees.’
‘When the blackberries are in season, we pick them and make vinegars. The kids love being involved and I enjoy that I can work from home in perfect harmony with the arable side of the business.’
Here are a couple of recipes to try:
Toad in the Hole
8 sausages (Lincolnshire obviously!)
225g Plain Flour
British Cold Pressed Rapeseed oil
Preheat Oven to 200
Pour enough oil into the bottom of a long shallow dish to cover, arrange sausages and place in the oven for 10mins
Whisk eggs flour and milk into a batter
Pour batter over the sausages and bake for a further 35mins
Serve with gravy and veg of choice
Tip: Left over Yorkshires are great with a bit of blackberry vinegar on!
Chewy Chocolate chunk cookies
295g brown sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
150g plain flour
110g Self Raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of Soda
125ml Cold pressed rape seed oil
150g chocolate chips
Beat the eggs and Sugar and extract for about 1 minute until light in colour
Stir in sifted dry ingredients and then the rest of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan forced. Grease oven trays.
Roll heaped teaspoons of mixture into balls; place on trays apart to allow room to grow during cooking. Flatten into 6cm rounds.
Bake for 10minutes, until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool on trays before transferring to wire racks.
Store in an air tight container and they will last for 1 week. You can also add raisins or multiple chocolate chips to add more flavour!
This traybake recipe is pure sugary heaven. I’m sure it will be a bit hit over the Easter holidays, so plan ahead and order those chocolate mini eggs now! You will need: 225g butter 100g white chocolate 250g light brown sugar 150g caster sugar 3 large eggs 1 tsp of vanilla extract 300g plain flour 1tsp baking powder 160g mini chocolate eggs – Place the butter and chocolate into a small bowl and melt in the microwave. Allow to cool for 5 mins – Mix the light brown and caster sugar together with the eggs. Add the vanilla extract – Slowly start mixing the butter / choc mixture into the eggs and sugar bit by bit – Add the baking powder and flour to the mixture and mix – Use a rolling pin to crush 80g of mini eggs (saving 80g for later) and add to the mixture – Spoon mixture into a greased tray and bake for 40 mins at 200c – Bring out of the oven. The cake should be slightly wobbly. Press the remaining mini eggs into the top of the cake
Today I’d like to introduce you to Stonegate Estate
For over 20 years, Stonegate Estate have loved producing the finest organic eggs in the heart of Wiltshire – and so have their hens!
With their Soil Association standards, their hens live in small flock sizes and are free to roam and forage to their hearts content. 🐤
You can find Stonegate Estate eggs on Ocado, Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh and at Harrods 🥚
Stonegate Estate are passionate about organic farming, animal welfare and producing wholesome eggs that taste delicious and are good for the environment too. 🚜
I asked the team to suggest an easy no fuss recipe that incorporates eggs and they suggested this tasty cookie recipe 🍪
Perfect in lunchboxes or as an afternoon treat, these wholesome raisin and oat cookies are easy to make and taste delicious especially with an organic egg! 🍳
The Long Family – Blue Aurora, English Blueberry Wine
The story of Blue Aurora, English Blueberry Wine begins at Lutton farm; a family run farm situated on the border between Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.
The Long family have been farming at Lutton since 1961. Lutton Farm was originally a livestock and arable farm with a small 3ha pick your own fruit farm and has now developed into a commercial soft fruit farm supplying the UK’s premium supermarkets.
In 2018, blueberry production at Lutton Farm increased to picking over 500 tonnes in a year. Through the grading process this then typically produces between 15-20% “waste”.
The waste is often fruit that is either slightly too small, too soft or too pink for the supermarkets, but otherwise it is still great quality, great tasting fruit! This is where the idea to diversify and take the bold leap into the wine world came from.
Throughout the whole process, the Long’s wanted to maintain the integrity of the beautiful blueberries and that’s why the wine is not mixed with any grape juice and it is purely and simply 100% pressed English blueberries.
There are three wines in the Blue Aurora range; Dusk, Midnight & Ice. All of which are vegan and gluten free.
In November 2020 the family were over the moon to be awarded 3 medals at the Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards in the Artisan Local Drink of the Year Category. Both the Dusk and Midnight receiving bronze awards and our Ice wine scooping the coveted Gold award.
Dusk is a crisp, fresh and deliciously fruity medium dry blueberry wine. It goes brilliant alongside antipasti, tapas or slow cooked lamb.
Midnight is an intense, oaky and beautifully rich blueberry wine. It goes great with steak, mushroom risotto or to accompany a cheese board.
Finally, the Ice wine is a sweet dessert style wine, made by pressing frozen blueberries. It is intense, fruity and velvety smooth and goes brilliantly alongside cheese, chocolate desserts, or added to sparkling wine or served on the rocks as a fantastic digestif.
The wines are all available online at www.blueaurorawine.co.uk and stocked at the seasonal Farm Shop in Lutton which will be back open again mid January. Amps Wine Merchants (Oundle), the Dovecote Buttery (Kettering) and Johnsons Of Oldhurst (Huntingdon).
The Longs are keen to find more Northamptonshire based stockists, so please do get in touch with suggestions for where you would like to see Blue Aurora stocked.