Archive for October, 2015

Recipe: Potatoes Dauphinoise With Long Pepper and Grains of Paradise

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

With the nights drawing in and the leaves turning a rusty orange colour, I had promised Sophie that I would make Potatoes Dauphinoise, one of her favourites.  This is a tasty, homely dish that is full of the richness from the cream and milk.  I prefer a Maris Piper potato for this, as well as for roasting potatoes in general, so I have used them here.  You can use any potato as long as it does not get too floury and collapse.

For seasoning, I used the classic garlic and onions, but instead of simply pepper and salt, I have gone more exotic and used Indonesian long pepper and Ghanaian grains of paradise, plus some nutmeg.  These are all old, classic spices, but the long pepper and grains of paradise are certainly much less used these days.  Then I sprinkled over some delicious, bright red paprika from Murcia as a final garnish.

Potatoes Dauphinoise is delicious with almost any main course, but I think it goes better with meats than fish, because of its richness.

Steenbergs Recipe For Potatoes Dauphinoise Before Baking

Ready For Baking – Steenbergs Potatoes Dauphinoise With Long Pepper And Grains of Paradise

Steenbergs' Recipe For Potatoes Dauphinoise With Long Pepper And Grains Of Paradise

Potatoes Dauphinoise With Steenbergs Long Pepper And Grains Of Paradise

Recipe for Potatoes Dauphinoise with Long Pepper and Grains of Paradise

900g potatoes, about 4 large Maris Piper potatoes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic, finely chopped
425ml double cream
150ml milk
15g butter
1 Steenbergs long pepper
½ tsp Steenbergs grains of paradise
½  tsp Steenbergs organic nutmeg or mace powder
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of Steenbergs organic Spanish paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Peel and slice the potatoes thinly, then parboil for about 4 minutes, then drain.
3. While the potatoes are boiling, butter a large ovenproof dish.
4.  In a pestle and mortar, crush the long pepper and grains of paradise until quite fine.  Mix in the nutmeg powder and a pinch of sea salt.  Crush again lightly to break down the salt crystals.
5.  Arrange a layer of the potatoes in the ovenproof dish, then sprinkle over some of the onions and garlic.  Next season with some of the spices mix.
6.  Place a layer of potatoes over the garlic-onions-seasoning.  Repeat the sprinkling over of onions and garlic, then season.
7.  Alternate such that you end with a layer of potatoes.
8.  Mix the milk and cream and pour over the potatoes.  If you need to add some more liquid, simply add  little more milk.  Cover with foil.
9.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown.
10. Sprinkle with the paprika before serving.

Sophie’s autumn books 2015

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

During the autumn months of September and October 2015, I’ve been reading my usual eclectic mix but also trying to read some of the books that have been on my chest of drawers for a while. Look forward to hearing if you’ve enjoyed or hated any of them and what you enjoy reading. They are in no particular order. Looking at them I seem to have been reading quite a lot of the Man Booker Prize shortlist for 2014, this wasn’t my intention, but last year lots of them really appealed to me (although it may have taken me a while to get round to them), which isn’t always the case.


Some of the books Sophie has read this autumn.

Some of the books Sophie has read this autumn.

My Brilliant FriendElena Ferrante (the first in the Neaopolitan novels) Loved this first novel of friendship, look forward to reading the rest. Waterstones and my local independent bookshop – the Little Ripon Bookshop have been very pro this series but read a great review of the last in the series of 4, when it was published earlier in the year.

UnprocessedMegan Kimble (one person’s determination to live for a year eating unprocessed food, from making her own bread to working out what was possible)

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – great psychological thriller – kept me guessing until the end

On the Black HillBruce Chatwin (this was recommended in Susan Hill’s book – Howard’s End is on the Landing A year of reading. I hadn’t read any Bruce Chatwin since his amazing book Songlines, but I did enjoy this book on Welsh rural life)

The Children Act – Ian McEwan (brilliant, short, but definitely felt connected to the judge and her decision making – the September Little Ripon Book shop book club book)

Us – by David Nicholls, author of One Day – empty nesters rediscovering themselves – much preferred this book to One Day, partly because I liked the characters more. Long listed for the Man Booker prize 2014.

The Museum of Things Left Behind – Seni Glaister – a charming book about a fictional european country that grows tea and how development is not all about big things, often it can be about collaboration and working together.

Chop Chop by Simon Wroe – restaurant hell but genuine love of what they do. Short listed for the Costa First Novel Award 2014.

A spool of Blue Thread – Anne Tyler (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2015 – the October book for the Little Ripon Bookshop book club) family secrets and dynamics. Hadn’t read any Anne Tyler for decades so was delighted to read her again and enjoy it.

Emma – Alexander McCall Smith (the modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic, part of the Austen Project) Emma is not my favourite Austen novel but i enjoyed this retelling

The Honest Trust – by Dan Gemeinhart – a teen book recommended by my daughter about a boy’s determination to complete a project, even when he’s terminally ill

Why we took the car – Wolfgang Herrndorf, another teen book about an illicit road trip in Europe. A coming of age book.

Madame Bovary – Flaubert (went to the lovely Ripon Curzon cinema and saw a trailer for the new film Gemma Bovary – realised I had never read the original, although it was beside my bed – so thought now was the time. A tail of woe where no one ends up happy)

The Tiger in the Smoke – Margaret Allingham – (listened to Woman’s Hour in the summer talking about the Queens of Crime. I had never knowingly come across Margaret Allingham before – enjoyed this very much)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan – winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Not for the faint hearted and definitely had to be in a strong mood to read this book about the Burma Railway in World War II. Very glad to have read it though.

How to be Both – Ali Smith – winner of the 2015 bailey’s women’s prize for fiction, also short listed for the Man Booker Prize for fiction 2014.

Dark Endeavour by Kenneth Opel – a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankinstein aimed at the teen market. Read it after our daughter had finished it to see what themes have come up. Not even sure though that I’ve read Mary Shelley’s book. Another one for the ever increasing pile.

The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley. This book covers the eldest of at least 6 adopted daughters discovering her origins. A great read.



More of the Sophie's reading list from autumn 2015

5 Ways with Pumpkin!

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Halloween is drawing near and the nights are drawing in, but what do you do with the juicy flesh of your pumpkin once it is hollowed out for display?  We’ve gathered together 5 delicious recipes to tempt you into spicing up the humble pumpkin. Enjoy!


Pumpkin-hummus-2We love the delicious fresh recipes cooked up by Diana in her Little Sunny Kitchen blog.  Recently she has been celebrating the return of autumn by creating different recipes using pumpkin and she’s kindly let us share her Pumpkin Hummus recipe.  We think it will become a favourite!

Little Sunny Kitchen’s Pumpkin Hummus


  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • lemon juice of half a lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic


  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy!
  2. Garnish with walnuts or pine nuts, and olive oil.

Do also check out Diana’s recipes for Spiced Pumpkin Rice Pudding and the very delicious looking Pumpkin Cauliflower Fritters


Weetons Roasted butternut squash soup resized webWe have been supplying Weetons Food Hall in Harrogate for many years with spices and condiments. This year they have produced 10 new recipe cards to celebrate their 10th birthday and we think this soup sounds delicious!  Try using different varieties of squashes or pumpkins to vary the final result.

Serves 4


  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and de-seeded (roughly 1kg weight)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 8 sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 leek, green tops removed and finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 mild red chilli, de-seeded and finely diced
  • 750ml vegetable stock
  • 100g goat’s cheese
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice 1/2 lime


  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Cut the butternut squash into large chunks and toss with half the olive oil and honey in a roasting tray and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden and soft.
  2. In a large saucepan melt the butter with the remaining olive oil and sweat off the onions, garlic, carrot, leek, herbs and chili over a low heat until soft and the onions are transparent.
  3. Add the roasted squash and stock to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins. Remove from the heat and process the soup through a liquidizer in batches for a really silky finish. Return to the pan and season to taste with the lime juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Gently heat the cream in a small sauce pan until nearly boiling, remove from the heat and crumble the goat’s cheese into pan and whisk until smooth.
  5. Serve the soup with some of the goats cheese cream drizzled over and a sprinkling of the sliced spring onions and a few drops of extra virgin olive oil.


pumpkin-pie-mix-organicPumpkin season wouldn’t be the same without a recipe for Pumpkin Pie.  Here we have used our own blend of Pumpkin Pie Mix, a delicious organic blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & cloves that gives the perfect flavour to the traditional pumpkin pie.

Steenbergs Pumpkin Pie


  • 375g/ 13oz shortcrust pastry
  • 3 medium free range eggs
  • 425g/ 15oz puréed pumpkin (either canned or homemade – see below for making your own)
  • 195g/ 6½oz Fairtrade golden brown caster sugar
  • ¼tsp sea salt
  • 3tsp Steenbergs organic Pumpkin Pie spices
  • 335ml/ 11½ fl oz evaporated milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/ 400oF.
  2. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 23cm round pie dish, to about 3mm thick.  Blind bake the pastry case for about 10 minutes.
  3. Now mix up the filling.  Whisk the eggs lightly in a bowl.  Add the Fairtrade caster sugar, sea salt, Steenbergs Pumpkin Pie Spices, pumpkin purée and then evapourated milk.  Give it a good whisk after each ingredient to ensure that it has been mixed through thoroughly.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 170oC/ 340oF.  Take the part-baked pastry from the oven and pour in the filling.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the filling has just set; if you insert a skewer into the centre of the pie filling, it should come out clean.
  5. Allow to cool completely, then serve with cream.
  6. If you’re feeling indulgent, how about adding a smidgeon of Jack Daniels to the pie (about 2tbsp).

How to make your own pumpkin purée:

  1. Chop up the pumpkin, removing all seeds and internal fibres and the skin and dice it into 3cm squares.  Boil with water for about 10 minutes.  Drain then process in your food processor until smooth; or
  2. Chop up the pumpkin, removing all seeds and internal fibres, then place onto a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes at 180oC; now scrape out the cooked flesh and process until smooth.


WF Dian sampling pumpkin pie smoothieA longstanding stockist of Steenbergs spices and home baking ingredients, Whole Foods Market in London is great at creating new recipes to showcase their products.  Here’s a deliciously creamy, dairy free smoothie they created using Steenbergs Pumpkin Pie Mix.

Whole Foods Market Pumpkin Pie Smoothie


  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 cup unsweetened soymilk or coconut milk beverage
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 ice cubes


Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses and serve.


pumpkin & sage risottoFinally a homely, savoury Steenbergs family risotto recipe which is perfect for cosy nights in.  You can use fresh pumpkin purée as detailed above or, to make this at any time of year, our jars of pumpkin puree work a treat!

Steenbergs Pumpkin, Ginger & Sage Risotto



  1. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed frying pan. Add onion, leek, garlic, sage, chilli and ginger
  2. Add rice and cook for 3-5 minutes, stir to allow rice to be coated in oil and glazed
  3. Heat the stock and puree together in a saucepan. Add a ladel of hot stock and puree to the rice. Allow liquid to be absorbed before adding another ladel. Repeat until all stock used and rice in slightly tender but still has a little bite!


Recipe: Swallow Fish Kipper Kedgeree From Ramus Seafood

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Back in 2011, I blogged about some of my favourite kippers from Northumberland.  After tasting kippers from Craster and Seahouses, I found those from Swallow Fish in Seahouses my favourite.

So I was really happy to have a go at making the Swallow Fish Kipper Kedgeree from Ramus Seafood’s new fish boxes. Sophie had, also, been wanting kedgeree for some time, so it was a good excuse to try the Ramus recipe; Sophie also wants potatoes Dauphinoise so that is next on the blog list.

I have to admit bias because Steenbergs provides the hot curry powder for the box, so I am not impartial and Swallow Fish’s kippers are my favourite of all time.   Nevertheless, this really is good.

Kipper Kedgeree

Kedgeree using Swallow Kippers and Ramus Fish box


2 smoked kippers
450 ml boiling water
25 g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp Steenbergs hot curry powder
225 g basmati rice
110 ml double cream
Lemon, juice only
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 eggs, hard-boiled, peeled, roughly chopped
3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Place the kippers into a deep baking dish and pour over the boiling water.  Leave in the water for five minutes, then remove and set aside, reserving the soaking liquid.  Carefully remove the meat from the fish, taking care to remove all the bones.  Place the kipper meat into a bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat a deep frying pan with a lid until hot then add the butter.  Once the butter has melted, add the onion and fry for 3-4 minutes, until just softened but not coloured.

Add the Steenbergs hot curry powder and cook for a further minute, then add the rice and stir to coat well in the butter and onions.

Add the reserved kipper soaking liquid and heat to a gentle simmer, then cover with the lid and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed.

Stir in the double cream and lemon juice.

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then add the kipper meat, eggs and parsley.  Stir gently to combine without breaking up the kipper meat too much.

To serve, spoon into warmed bowls.

STEENBERGS TEA TASTER PANEL Morning Brew herbal tea & organic Fairtrade Earl Grey Tea

Monday, October 5th, 2015

Our tea taster panel had a delicious choice of teas this time, with a delicate organic Fairtrade Earl Grey and one of our new herbal tea blends, Morning Brew.  We had some great comments on both teas, although 63% of you did prefer the Earl Grey.  Read on to find out more…


About Morning Brew:

morning brewSteenbergs Organic Morning Brew Herbal tea is an organic caffeine-free herbal blend created for Sophie as a decaff morning herbal brew. It is hand crafted and packed by us to Axel’s special recipe from organic redbush, organic oatstraw, organic ginger, organic cardamom, organic cinnamon and organic orange peel. The redbush provides the body, the oatstraw is uplifting and the spices add a zing and a spring to your step.

“I start every day with a mug of this tasty morning brew without milk – it starts my day perfectly,” says

Since we sent out the samples to our lovely tea taste panel, we have made a couple of changes to our Morning Brew.  Firstly we have managed to find organic oatstraw so we can make Morning Brew completely organic – hooray!  Secondly, we have relaunched our herbal teas in brand new practical packaging to make it easier to see the delicious blends.  We’d love to know what you think…

What did you think of Morning Brew?

Given the name ‘Morning’ Brew and the blend of uplifting herbs, it was interesting to see that only 29% would drink it just in the morning, with the majority happy to drink it at any time of the day (56%) and 9% in the evening.  Only a tiny minority didn’t like the blend.

morning brew worditout

The vast majority of our tea tasters enjoy herbal tea on a regular basis (88%), with 77% rating it excellent or good. When asked to describe how it made you feel we were delighted to find that ‘refreshed’, ‘invigorating’ and ‘energised’ were frequent words, as though was ‘relaxed’ – how good to feel both at the same time!

morning brew descriptions

Although very positive about the tea, it wouldn’t be the majority of our panel’s first drink of the day, many of you preferring a caffeinated drink such as coffee or black tea to give you that much-needed kick start.  Maybe it doesn’t go well with toast which it what the majority of our panel have for breakfast.  We particularly liked the sound of ‘toast with a savoury topping – goats cheese & honey or peanut butter & black pepper’ – delicious!


About Steenbergs Earl Grey:

organic-fairtrade-earl-grey-tea-loose-leaf-125g-tiSteenbergs Organic Fairtrade Earl Grey Tea is a deliciously light and fragrant classically scented organic black tea.  It comes from the Greenfield organic Tea Estate which lies between 5000ft and 6000ft above sea level in the Uva Highlands in central Sri Lanka. We pay a premium for the social welfare of the 770 people on this Greenfield Tea Estate. Visit our About FAIRTRADE  page for more information.

Sri Lanka is a jewel of a tropical island, located just above the equator with perfect growing conditions for organic Fairtrade tea, the climate is temperate, but rainy. Uva tea is regarded by the Japanese as the best of all Ceylon teas and we tend to agree. It produces a pale liquor with a slightly astringent taste that works very well with the flowery Bergamot flavour.

We use Greenfield organic Fairtrade Orange Pekoe grade tea leaves as its base, which compliments the sweet, citrus flavour of bergamot oil. We only use 100% organic bergamot oil for flavouring. The story is that in 1830 the second Earl Grey was presented with the recipe for this tea during a diplomatic mission to China.

What did you think of our Earl Grey?

With 78% of our panel rating the tea either Excellent or Good, here were some of the lovely comments you gave us on our Earl Grey:


“Earl grey is a winner in my books, again down to the taste but I loved it!

“Even the last cup from the pot is lovely.” “It hits the spot.”

“Rarely drink Earl Grey – but this is amazing! Love the large tea leaves.”

However some of you were less enamoured and felt that the tea was not as intense or flavoursome as you would have liked.

Here are some of the flavour and aroma descriptions that you came up with.  It’s interesting to see that both ‘strong’ and ‘mild’ featured heavily, although ‘delicate’, ‘light’ and ‘citrus’ were definitely the main adjectives used.

Earl grey worditout

Of our taster panel, 59% were already regular Earl Grey drinkers, enjoying Steenbergs but also several other brands.  Over half of our panel drank the Earl Grey without milk and of those, 26% drank their black tea with lemon, with a small handful added sugar or honey to their tea.  If milk was added is was most likely to be cows milk (76%) although a variety of other milks were drunk including soya, almond & goat’s; although of those who drank both, several preferred cow’s milk in their tea but non dairy on cereal.

It was interesting to see that the vast majority of our panel enjoy their tea from a tea pot, with 72% feeling it is a ‘must’ for an enjoyable tea experience.  A tea bag versus loose leaf tea was another interesting debate and really boiled down to time.  54% definitely prefer loose leaf, with 20% preferring bags and 26% using either depending no how much time they had.

58% of our panel also enjoyed tea as their evening drink of choice, although 76% of those chose a decaffeinated herbal tea to wind down.  14% though felt that a glass of wine or a G&T was a much better way to spend an evening and 12% chose a soothing milky drink.

In conclusion, loose leaf tea in a lovely tea pot at the weekend with friends, or whilst reading or watching TV, was agreed to be a very relaxing way to enjoy a cuppa!