Inspiring Food Boxes for Foodies!

I recently received A Most Wonderful Thing ~ a box of goodies from British Herb Kitchen.  Just look at this!

I blatantly stole this image from British Herb Kitchen's website, hope they don't mind.

The aim of Victoria McNeill of British Herb Kitchen is to re-familiarise us with the ancient native herbs of Britain that used to be the mainstay of our cooking but which seem now fallen out of favour. In addition to the herb of the month each box will contain a selection of artisan products from around the British Isles. If you want to discover new tastes, ideas and products this is the thing for you!

This is quite a long post because there was so much in that box!

I understand from Victoria that, so far, she has plans to feature Sweet Cicely, Lemon Verbena, Lovage, foraged Juniper Berries, Bay and Savory in forthcoming boxes but not sure which herbs when as, of course, much depends on growing conditions.

British Herb Kitchen's July box contained …

He's recovering well from his trip!

~  A sorrel plant

~  Some fresh sorrel leaves

The first thing I did, of course, was nibble on the cut sorrel leaves seeking inspiration; they have a bright, sharp lemony flavour. Having thoroughly digested this information I decided to make a cream sauce to go with the cod I had luckily bought that very afternoon.

Sorrel Cream Sauce

100g fresh sorrel – stems removed and leaves shredded
30g butter
splash of dry white wine
125ml double cream
salt and pepper

~   In a small pan cook the shredded sorrel in the butter till it has wilted and lost its bright colour.
~   Add a tablespoon or so of dry white wine and then the double cream.
~   Bring to a boil and cook till the sauce thickens slightly. 
~   Taste and season with the salt and pepper.

Because I love crunchy textures with creamy textures I coated my cod in panko crumbs before pan frying in the rapeseed oil which has a delicious toasty flavour.

~  A pack of mixed lettuce seed 

Quite wonderfully, see these instructions on the back of the box that all the goodies arrived in …

... so that's what I'm going to do.

~  A jar of British Herb Kitchen’s Tomato and Lovage Passata 

This is a fresh tasting tomato sauce with notes of anise and celery from the lovage. Apart from a quick taster I haven’t done anything with this yet, but don’t worry I definitely will, probably involving fish. Watch this space.

Incidentally I understand that the word lovage is derived from the medieval name for parsley, meaning love-ache!

You can just see my reflection
in the spoon!

~  A bottle of Hillfarm extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil.  

I normally dress my salads with extra virgin olive oil but after trying a little of this on my finger tip (nutty and delicious) decided to drizzle it on my lunch (tomato, red onion and chorizo salad with garlic and herb Boursin and homemade sourdough) together with a little balsamic vinegar.

~  A bag of whole blue peas from the wonderfully named Hodmedod’s 

These look and taste like a refined version of the dried marrowfat peas  that I use to make my Geordie lad his mushy (aka sloppy) peas. 

Mushy Peas ~ so much nicer than they sound!

This  makes about 6 portions.

~   Soak 275g dried peas overnight (or possibly during the day) in copious cold water (actually, there are soaking instructions on the packet!).
~   Drain, rinse and put into a saucepan.
~   Add 600ml cold water, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer. If you are a bit picky check after 10 or 15 minutes to remove any skins that have been shed.
~   They take about 45 minutes or a bit more!  Check and stir occasionally and top up with a little extra water if necessary.  They are ready when they have broken down and are soft, aka mushy. 
~   Give a brisk stir to improve the mushiness, add a knob of butter and season to taste.
Traditionally served with fish and chips but also with many manly meaty dishes!

Blue Bean Dip

For lunch today I made myself a bean dip.  My basic recipe for these is here - Hummus & Other Bean Dips + how not to tell lies! I replaced the olive oil with the rapeseed oil, added a couple of leaves of fresh sorrel and folded in some of the roasted pumpkin seeds (below).  I also drizzled it with balsamic glaze because I always do that with bean dips!

~  Roasted salted pumpkin seeds from Simply Seedz 

These came with the serving suggestion that they be nibbled whilst drinking “a glass of something cold” which I naturally assumed meant white wine. So that's what I did with the seeds that I didn't fold into the bean dip above.

~   A box of Flower & White’s lemon meringues

There were 2 seriously large meringues in the box, both sadly broken but delicious. Here’s a picture of the not too damaged meringue with the evening sun streaming through it – romantic or what?

For dessert last night we had half each of one meringue with Cornish clotted cream and I quickly made a little blueberry coulis with some leftover blueberries.  Lemon and blueberries go surprisingly well together.

I am also going to make a sort of Eton Mess Ice Cream using my lovely no-churn ice cream method and a little lemon curd.

~  A couple of recipe cards.

So this is what I have done so far with all these goodies.  I will be re-potting the sorrel plant and sewing the lettuce seeds soon and have lot of ideas for the sorrel!

As you can imagine this is an exciting thing for a food obsessed person to unpack – one of British Herb Kitchen’s boxes would make a superb gift for any foodies you might know.