June 17, 2017

Across all the boxes we sent a huge variety of steaks in the this summer edition - some of you will have had fillet, some sirloin for your prime steak cuts, and there was also the odd cote du boeuf, some round and flank steaks as well as hogget leg steaks. Add to that the merguez sausages that those of you with a Shilling box will have received and you’ve got a BBQ menu ready and waiting!

For the prime cuts, leave them as unadulterated as possible and let the smoke from the BBQ be the only additional flavour (but season well!). For the other cuts, use Jake’s BBQ spice rub and you’ll end up with a nice range of tastes and textures - we’re doing one big BBQ as a ‘our first box has been sent’ celebration, but hopefully there are plenty of warm summer evenings to come, so if there are fewer of you then refrigerate or freeze the BBQ-ready cuts and spread them out over the coming season.

Fathers' day looks set to be scortching this year, so we'll be eating out - in the shade! With a nearly three year old and a baby in tow, I'll be keeping things simple in terms of the meal I'll be serving for Ed and my own Dad, the total time in the kitchen should be well under an hour.

To start I'll be serving Jake's Italian salami, sliced very thinly (a super-sharp knife helps with this part). To go with it there will be some excellent sourdough from the Angel Bakery in Abergavenny, spread with our beef dripping - I like it straight from the fridge for this - and topped with Maldon salt.

Then there will be rare roast topside of beef served with a very simple heritage tomato salad, roast new potatoes cooked in the beef dripping and a salsa verde. We'll drink a chilled Tempranillo, though I have sourced plenty of Leominster based Swan Brewery ales for Ed, as it's a special occasion!

For dessert I'll be going easier still and serving some of Hereford's fantastic new season cherries in big bowls full of ice, and that's it!

At the moment our mid-week meals are driven by what's available in the garden, which for now is an awful lot of ruby chard, spinach and new potatoes, plus the few peas that I manage to get back into the house before the kids demolish them. There are also lots of baby courgettes - that I pick far too early, but they are particuarly tasty when very little.

For my peas, there are few better places to end up than in a summery beef ragu. you will all have received jars of slow-cooked beef in your boxes and this is our favourite way to serve it at this time of year. First of all, fry chopped red onion, garlic and cubed aubergine in a deep pan. Then add the beef, some of the bone broth and a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until the aubergines are falling apart, then add the peas. Serve with a short pasta and top with breadcrumbs, parmesan and a bit of lemon juice.

Another firm favourite is a new potato hash, which we often have for lunch. For this, fry sliced shallots and the smoked lardons from your box in a touch of dripping or a light oil. Then add new potatoes, sliced in rounds the same thickness as a pound coin. Put a lid on the pan (add a dash of water if if needs it) but keep taking the lid off and tossing it all together every now and then - it will be inclined to stick a bit, but thats not the worst thing in the world. After it's had ten minutes or so, add quite a lot of washed and chopped ruby chard or spinach and some finely sliced baby courgettes. Give it a few minutes with the lid on and then crack eggs into any space between the potatoes left in the pan, as many eggs as you have people to feed. Put the lid back on, give it 5 minutes - you want the yolks runny - and then grate some cheddar on top and season.

Enjoy your summer box! Francesca.

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