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Devon Farm Shop Visit in the Summer of COVID

Beth visiting Darts Farm Farm Shop in Devon, England.

Intro by David

Beth Newbery is a team member who has worked in our store for almost two years, she also works as an NYC tour guide, and in theater, and sometimes she combines it all on our selling floor.  In speaking with her during the age of COVID, she mentioned how she was visiting her local Farm Shop in Devon, England, which is in the Southwest of the country. Her visit to the Farm Shop reminded her about Chelsea Market Baskets. I encouraged her to write up something so we can all share in her visit. An English Farm Shop, as she describes, offers local and specialty foods, lifestyle products, a place to have Tea. They are often attached to a Garden Centre and are generally a good place to soak in some retail therapy. I have enjoyed visiting many over the past 20 plus years and they have been an inspiration for Chelsea Market Baskets. 

Farm Shops have Grown Up in the last 50 Years

Just as our current situation began, I left the Big Apple to visit family and friends back in England. As everywhere, things quickly changed there too. When the UK lockdown eased, to help myself feel better I ventured out to visit a couple of nearby farm shops. This gave me a chance to get back to my roots: revisit sights and sounds, familiar smells, and the tastes of childhood. One farm shop, in particular, stood out to me, Darts Farm. Just a humble hut nearly 50 years ago, it has evolved into a lifestyle shopping destination, with a working farm at its heart. As a Brit in NYC, I often yearn to return to be around an actual farm again. It seems a long time since I grew up on one, but it helped me appreciate good food, wholesome cooking, and of course certain beverages to go with it! The friendly staff at Darts Farm were very welcoming. As I entered, I noted an exceptionally large selection of delicious products, and almost immediately I reconnected with the foods and drinks that we sell so well at Chelsea Market Baskets! I noted some favorites and thought it would be a good opportunity for me to ‘make sure’ they still taste as good as I remembered. Quality control, on behalf of the CMB community of NYC you understand!

What Is on the Shelves at Darts Farm?

Willie’s Cacao Chocolate as presented in the Darts Farm Shop

The first local product that I saw just so happened to be chocolate, but not any old chocolate. This was Willie’s Cacao Chocolate.

It was no surprise to find this wonderful range, made locally by Willie Harcourt-Cooze. Before the explosion of choices, we have today, Willie ventured to Venezuela and the forests of the world in search of the finest cacao. The beans come from specific genetics, soil, and climate. More traditional and simpler processing means very fine chocolate capturing richer and deeper flavors. Sea salts, nuts, raisins, orange oil, and more help produce this wonderful range. For anyone who loves rich dark chocolate, with natural, simple ingredients, pleasure awaits! I tried the Vegan Range and it being summer, I opted for the Luscious Orange. Willie states that nothing gets in the way of the flavor of the bean. At Darts Farm the range was too large to sample them all (sigh) but I made sure to try one of the truffles was a new flavor for me. I had to share and eat this quickly before it melted. Yes, we do get mini heatwaves over here!

Luscombe Drinks – in the Summer Heat There’s No Better Way to Quench Your Thirst!

Luscombe, as local beverage at Darts Farm Shop.

It was a hot day so finding plenty of cool drinks from the well-known Luscombe Estate was simply joyful. My favorite is the Sicilian Lemonade. Feeling a little sweaty (I prefer ‘glowing’) the timing couldn’t have been better. Since I began working at Chelsea Market Baskets, we have sold many of these delightful organic drinks in four flavors (being a lover of gin, I also noted their tonic water!). I find the story of Luscombe so interesting with the Estate dating back to 1087. It also has a history of making the famous Devon Cider and was even mentioned in the Doomsday Book. However, with the family leaving the business it later began thriving again in 1975, developing these wonderful drinks, including Rhubarb, Lemonade, Raspberry Crush, and St Clements. Thirst slated, the child in me turned to another nostalgic treat…

Buttermilk Fudge – Soft and Sugary to Melt in Your Mouth

Buttermilk Fudge – a familiar product for Chelsea Market Baskets Shoppers

This company produces 1,500 kg of fudge a day. Image how much that is — I’m obviously not the only one with a sweet tooth! This is made in Bodmin, Cornwall, which is the next county (‘Poldark country!’). Not quite as local, but for a traveler like me, that’s close enough. Both Devon and Cornwall are well known for their rich and thick dairy produce, and I truly recommend the clotted cream flavor. I asked one of the assistants which was the best-seller and just like at Chelsea Market Baskets they mentioned the Seasalt Caramel. I went for the clotted cream flavor. A divine, melt in the mouth experience, I had a sample (or two) with my Luscombe Lemonade and took a walk outside where I sat in the cool shade of a tent, or should I say Wigwam? Yes, they really did have these set up to enjoy the delightful food and drinks found at this large country store. Shop Buttermilk at ChelseamarketBarketBaskets.com

Tents set up at Darts Farm Shop setup to enjoy the local treats outside.

It was good to be reminded of where these popular lines originate and to be reminded of just how good they taste. Nostalgia played its part for me too, I remember eating fudge as a child whilst at school, which, being really close to a beach gave me plenty of opportunities to buy such things but you can rest assured these products taste as good whichever side of the Atlantic they are on!

Thanks to Darts Farm for letting me reminisce about my childhood and my time at Chelsea Market Baskets during the Summer of COVID.

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Cooking with Belazu Ingredients

Since so many of us are working from home these days, it is the perfect time to expand your skills as a home chef. We recently began importing products from the Belazu Ingredient Company, which specializes in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ingredients such as harissa and preserved lemons. While these ingredients are not that common in our country, they are great ways to create simple flavored-packed dishes and do it with a minimum of fuss.

Harissa and preserved lemons are condiments common in cuisines of North Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Harissa is a paste made from chili, garlic, oil, and other spices. We are importing three different Belazu harissa recipes: Rose Harissa, Apricot Harissa, and Smoky Chilli Harissa. Preserved lemons are simply lemons preserved in a salt brine so that the entire lemon is edible minus the seeds. They add an intense lemony salty flavor to foods that go well with savory dishes. The Belazu Beldi Lemons are a bit smaller than others and have less peel or pith.

Here are a few recipes to whet your appetite for these ingredients.

Burrata or Stracciatella Cheese with Preserved Lemon & More

David had this in a restaurant in Greenpoint Brooklyn last year named Chez Me Tante and was amazed at how good this unlikely combination tasted.  Stracciatella (or Burrata which is more easily available) cheese with Marcona almonds, preserved lemons, and currents, served with garlic-rubbed bread is a combination of different flavors that somehow meld beautifully together. He has recreated this many times and has included capers and roasted red peppers a little bit of fruity olive oil. You too can be creative with this combination.

  • Burrata or Stracciatella Cheese 8 oz
  • 3 tablespoons of dried currents plumbed in some hot water, drained
  • 1/4 cup Marcona  almonds
  • 3 or so Belazu Preserved Lemons chopped coarsely without seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic for the bread
  • To add more flavors, add roasted pepper strips, and capers.

Assemble in layers and pour olive oil over the top. Serve with toasted bread rubbed with garlic and enjoy as an appetizer.

Beef Steak with Harissa with Tomato, Pepper, and Lemon Sauce

This is preparation is based on a recipe in the sophisticated cookbook SIMPLE by Yotam Ottolenghi (page 224). In this recipe, Rose Harissa is used to marinate the steak. We cooked the bells peppers and steak on the grill and it worked out very well and we were able to do everything in about 40 minutes. The harissa gave the steak a herbal flavor with very gentle heat. The tomato sauce made with yellow peppers and preserved lemon was the perfect complement to the steak and made for a very delicious low-carb dinner. The acidity of the preserved lemon in the tomato mixture added an unexpected flavor that really added to flavors of the grilled steak

  • Beef Steak – 1-2 lbs
  • 1 tablespoon Belazu Rose Harissa
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  • 2 Large Yellow Bell Peppers  cut into wide strips
  • 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 28oz can of diced peeled tomatoes
  • 0.5 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 small preserved lemon with seeds removed
  • 0.5 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon sliced for serving
  1. Salt and pepper and steak and rub on Belazu Rose Harissa and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  2. Grill the yellow bell peppers for about 10 minutes so the skin is charred. Once cool, remove the charred skin from the peppers and slice into small pieces.
  3. In a medium frying pan fry the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add can of tomatoes with juice, paprika, and salt and petter. Cook for 7 minutes
  4. Add peppers, preserved lemon and chopped parsley to the tomato mixture and cook for another 7 minutes.
  5. Grill the steak for about 5 minutes on a side to medium-rare. Let the steak rest for about 5 minutes.  
  6. Slice the steak and serve with the tomato mixture, garnish with fresh lemon. 

Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka with Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa

This recipe is based on a recipe from the cookbook East Bay Cooks (page 150) by Carolyn Jung and originates from the spice aficionados behind the outstanding Oakland Spice Shop. Shakshuka is a middle-eastern dish that includes poached eggs and is usually made with bell peppers but this recipe uses eggplant instead. This dish makes for a simple one-skillet vegetarian dinner or a flavorful brunch dish. We prepared this dish with Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa instead of making the harissa chili paste from scratch as outlined in the cookbook recipe.

Recipe for Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka with Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa
Recipe for Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka with Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa
Recipe for Roasted Eggplant Shakshuka with Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoon Belazu Smoked Chilli Harissa
  • 1 large can of peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 4 large eggs
  • Cilantro leaves for Garnish
  1. Slice the eggplant into 0.25-inch slices. Salt the eggplant slices and let it sit for about 20 minutes and drain. Rinse the salt off the slices and pat dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 deg Fahrenheit. Brush the eggplant with olive oil on both sides and place slices on a baking sheet. Bake the eggplant for about 8 minutes on either side. 
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet. Add slides onions and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, eggplant, and Belazu Smoked Chili Harissa. Simmer covered for about 20 minutes.
  4. Make four indents in the sauce, and carefully add eggs to each, and salt each egg. Simmer covered for about 3 minutes until eggs are poached but still have runny yolks.
  5. Garish with cilantro and serve with crusty bread.

These recipes are just a tease for these ingredients, there are many uses and they are very easy ways to add flavor to all sorts of dishes. Harissa is a versatile ingredient to add to roasted veggies such as carrots or to make a fast and hearty chicken stew in the Instapot.

Curious to learn and taste more? Stop by our store or order Belazu products online from our website.

Gift featuring Belazu Products
In our catalog, we have this gift that features the Belazu ingredients mentioned in this post as well as the Ottolenghi SIMPLE cookbook.

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Popcorn as a Blank Canvas for Flavor

The popcorn season is on now with the Superbowl and Oscars coming up. I like to think of popcorn as a canvas ready to sample spices or flavors or a way to experiment with intriguing flavor combinations. Sometimes the flavors might be sweet or salty or have a certain ethic angle. Just put some Garam Masala (a blend of cumin, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, and more) in with buttered popcorn and you create a delicious snack with an Indian accent. Another easy way to create flavored popcorn is to pop your corn using a flavored oil such as a garlic-infused or truffle-infused oil.

Our store in Chelsea Market stocks plenty of condiments and spices that can act as vibrant colors for your popcorn canvas. With just a few ingredients and a few tests, you can create popcorn that has the right amount of flavor, sweetness, and salt to rival your favorite packaged popcorn snacks.

Here is a recipe for sweet and spicy popcorn that I have made many times, and I feel it hits all the spiciness and sweetness notes.

Ingredients

  • Popping Corn: We like Amish Country Popcorn which we carry in our store!
  • W&P Popcorn Popper (Make microwaving even easier with this handy tool)
  • Jacobsen Co. Smoky Honey Sauce (about 3 tablespoons) Can use hot or truffle honey but I like the smoke!
  • Smoked Pimenton Paprika (about 1 teaspoon) from Burlap and Barrel… can use more ordinary paprika which is smoked but we like Ethan and what he is doing!
  • Sea Salt: We used one from Iceland Saltwerk which is flaky, more delicate and Iceland is cool these days
  • Some better butter (about 3 tablespoons): Use your favorite brand

After popping the corn, melt the butter, honey, and paprika in a separate microwave-safe dish; toss with popped corn; salt to taste; and presto!

We have a store full of options for creating fantastic popcorn snacks. Have any popcorn ideas to share? We are always interested in new ways to enjoy good old-fashioned popcorn.

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