Pegasus

Did you know we have our very own donkey ?  This may be a surprise, since dear Pegasus is safely positioned away from the hustle and bustle of the Hundred House.

 

Waiting for apples

We gave a home to Pegasus around four years ago, as a companion to Donk. She’s five years old and gorgeous.

 

Her favourite person is Libby, who feeds and cares for her. Pegasus does her bit for recycling too, taking great delight in the leftover apple and potato peelings. She’s the most recent in a long line of rehomed donkeys, and another of the things that make the Hundred House such a unique and charming place.

There’s nothing quite as lovely as a donkey’s nose.

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Edible Flowers – Viola

I’ve been so taken with the summer trend of using flowers in food, I feel a bit sad that salad season is almost over. The vivid colours and peppery notes of flavour have brightened many a meal for me this season.

There is a way to keep using these dainty delights though, and it’s probably in your garden right this minute.

Happy little faces brighten the morning.
©kam

Yes the humble viola mainstay of many a patio pot and a bright little face to cheer the days as winter draws in, is also a diamond when it comes to culinary delight. They can be used to give a delicate flavour to many recipes, and look absolutely delightful. Take care which variety you choose though, since not all are edible. The most common edible ones are Viola Cornuta, Viola x wittrockiana and Viola tricolor .

Growing Violas in the Herb Garden means the Hundred House has an endless supply.
©kam

 

As well as adding a pretty zing to your favourite dishes, Violas also work beautifully when crystallised. It’s incredibly simple to do and makes the humblest of cakes look like a work of art.  I use this method which features on the BBC Food website.

Crystallised Flowers

Ingredients

Method

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the egg white and water. Grasp the petals with a pair of tweezers and carefully brush the egg mixture onto the petals, lightly coating both sides.
  2. In another bowl, toss the petals with the sugar and transfer to a rack. Allow the petals to dry at least 6 hours, longer if necessary.

    Crystallised violas
    ©kam

I find using a flat paintbrush gives me a more even finish. The main thing is to pick flowers that are at their best. Any little nicks or blemishes will be more obvious after crystallisation. It’s a lovely way to cheer up a grey afternoon!

The finished article. Not bad for a first attempt.
©kam

 

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Beautiful Blueberries

Blueberries burst on to the British culinary scene around ten years ago, when sales of these little spheres of goodness overtook raspberries for the first time. Despite being introduced in to the UK in 1952, sales had remained at around 1000 tons per annum until around 2006, when they were discovered as a superfood. We now buy around 15000 tons a year. That’s quite an increase!

Freshly picked Blueberries bursting with possibility
©kam

Why should this be? Well  for a start they taste amazing, a mix of sweet and tart, and with something unmistakably, well, blueberry. They also have a shelf life that is much longer than our native berries, so they’re a popular choice for profit driven supermarkets. Blueberries are also incredibly versatile.  They are stunning on their own as a healthy snack and divine in a range of bakes, chutneys and savoury dishes. Oh, and did I mention that they’re a superfood? All in all, this little purple power pack is incredible.

Blueberry facts

  • Blueberries are native to North America. They did not arrive in Europe until the 1930s.
  • Blueberries contain Vitamin K which helps to build strong bones and ward off heart disease.
  • They may protect against memory loss
  • They can be used as a natural food dye. Legend has it that early American colonists boiled them with milk to make grey paint, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s Fruits & Veggies More Matters campaign.
  • The perfect blueberry should be dusty in colour

Source http://www.wfafnj.org/the-gardens/childrens-garden/blueberry-bed/

Perfect blueberries, with their dusty colouring. Don’t wash this off until you’re ready to eat them.
©kam

 

Blueberries are used in many ways at the Hundred House. One of the most unusual is in our Smoked Duck dish. The blueberries take the place of more traditional fruit pairings, and fulfill the role of cutting through the richness of the succulent duck in a unique way. It really is a dish to devour, and a perfect lead in to autumn dining

Smoked Breast of Duck, Duck Croquette, Potato Puree, Blueberry Port Wine Sauce
A new flavour for the classic pairing of duck and fruit.

This gorgeous recipe features in the Made in Shropshire recipe book which showcases delicious food from around our beautiful county.

Apple smoked Duck with Duck Croquette roast beetroot, horseradish cream and rainbow chard

Duck Confit Croquettes

(Serves 6- 10)

2 Confit Duck Legs, approximately 600g

100g Button Mushrooms

2 Teaspoons fuinely chipped French shallots

2 tablespoons Olive oil

250ml whipped cream

1 teaspoon finely chopped chives

2 eggs

Plain flour, for dusting breadcrumbs, for coating vegetable oil, for deep frying

 

  • Preheat the oven to 210C (Gas 6-7).
  • Warm the duck legs in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Remove the skin and finely slice, then sweat in a small frying pan over medium heat, cooking until crisp. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Debone the legs and put the meat with a small glass of water in the frying pan. Cook slowly over low heat until the liquid has evaporated. Shred meat with fork and set aside.
  • Wash and finely chop the mushrooms. Place the olive oil in the frying pan with the shallots and cook until golden brown. Season generously and add the cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then pour into a bowl and set aside. Add the shredded duck meat, skin and chives to the mushroom mixture. Adjust seasoning to taste, cover and place in the fridge until cool.
  • Beat the eggs in a bowl. Lightly flour your hands then shape small amount of the duck and mushroom mixture into croquettes by rolling between the palms of your hands. Coat in the egg then roll in the breadcrumbs. Coat again in eggs and breadcrumbs. Place in the fridge.

 

Brine

2 Large White Onions, peeled and chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

½ head of celery, chopped

3 garlic bulbs, split, peeled and chopped

8 allspice berries

8 cloves

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

20g thyme

6 bay leaves

45g coffee beans

630g salt

220g sugar

5 litres of water

 

Duck Breast

  • Make the brine one day ahead. Sweat in a saucepan the vegetables and herbs together gently without colour for 15 minutes. Roasted the spices at 180c for 5 minutes in a tray. Add the herbs and spices, salt, sugar and water to the pan, bring to a simmer for 45 minutes, then chill
  • Pour the brine over the duck breasts and leave overnight in the fridge. Remove duck breast from liquid, pat dry with clean cloth then smoke over apple wood for 1.5 hours in a Bradley or similar style smoker

To Serve

  • Place duck breast, skins side down in a dry frying pan over a low heat. Then gentle heat will render the fat from the breast and brown the skin.
  • After a few minutes turn over and place in overn for 5- 8 minutes at 185C
  • Rest in a warm spot for at least 6 minutes. Meanwhile bake croquettes at 185C till golden
  • To serve cut croquettes in half and serve thinly sliced breast with roast beetroot, chard, potatoes puree, horseradish cream and duck jus

 

 

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Beautiful blooms

Our garden is one of our favourite things. It’s what makes us unique and we know that our guests love it too.  Whilst the glorious summer flowers are fading, we’ve just harvested the latest crops for creating our hanging herb posies. All the herbs and flowers that we use to decorate the Hundred House are grown, harvested and dried right here. Libby had just created some beautiful new arrangements, and we think they look stunning.

Helichrysum, and Love in a Mist
©kam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfectly preserved
©kam

We’ve commissioned some gorgeous slate labels too, the heart shape gives a stylish retro feel.

The contrast between slate and delicate Angelica is beautiful
©kam

I love the vibrant purple of the Globe Thistle against the soft red brick.
©kam

 

Pop in soon to have a look and a bit to eat, everywhere is looking beautiful and of course the food is fantastic !

Ready for a lovely lunch
©kam

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Hollowdene Hens

 

Can you imagine how many eggs the Hundred House needs each week? As well being part of our delicious breakfast dishes, we use them in cakes, glazing pastries, sauces, side dishes, you name it, eggs are involved in the kitchen every single day. As you know, we really care about where our ingredients come from and whilst we like to use as much of our own produce as possible, space and time mean we source our some of our ingredients from local suppliers.Over the next few months I’ll be finding out about many of our suppliers and the essential egg seemed like a great place to  start. Peter Jarvis, owner of Hollowdene Hens was kind enough to answer some questions and take some fab poultry pics!

Happy hens mean tasty eggs

HH What can you tell us about Hollowdene Hens?

PJ I’m a former dairy farmer, and went into free range egg production just over 10 years ago. We run 3 separate flocks of about 2000 birds in each. This gives us a continuous supply of varying size eggs. Each flock is re stocked about every 15 months. Effectively this means we are re stocking one flock every 5 months.

HH Why are free range eggs better than other methods?

PJ The hens have the freedom to go out during day light every day. Judging by the speed they rush out every morning, this is something they truly enjoy. I haven’t said much about caged hens. Clearly, they are easier to manage, they eat less (therefore it’s cheaper to produce eggs) due to lack of exercise, but they have no life, other than that of a prisoner.

Here’s to happy hens !

HH What do you enjoy about your job?

PJ   For me, this is a very enjoyable job, although the down side is, it is truly 24/7, 365 days a year. Days off are few and far between.

HH Can the public buy your eggs?

PJ Our eggs are used in many top hotels and restaurants in the Shrewsbury / Telford area and can be bought in many independent shops in this area too. Under the Hollowdene hen’s logo.

HH Finally, do you have a favourite hen?

PJ the two resident cockerels are the only ones we have named. Colin and Stanley! Pictures attached. Stanley is the one posing in the back of the van, next to the egg boxes.

Stanley the Cockerel

 

Free range eggs not only taste better, they really do come from hens that have had happy lives. Thank you Peter for telling us a bit more about Hollowdene Hens, and for taking the smashing photos.  I’m pretty sure Stanley will be ready for a modelling career soon !

Colin the Cockerel

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