I spent a lovely evening sipping tea, sampling cakes and savouries at the Yeo Valley cookbook launch last week. I love visiting Yeo Valley, of all the brands I have worked with over the last three years they are my absolute favourite and, if memory serves me right, this will be the first time that I recommend a book which is not vegetarian!
Written by Sarah Mayor, daughter of Roger and Mary Mead who started Yeo Valley at Holt Farm back in 1961, this is a real farmhouse family cookbook. It is packed full of recipes using local, seasonal ingredients and hedgerow finds and Sarah’s enthusiasm and love for the country is evident on every page.
Returning home from our waterfall walk with arms full of wild garlic last week it seemed rude not to have a go at Sarah’s Spinach, Wild Garlic and Filo pie. You could make this very simply but I chose to throw myself into the book lock stock and barrel and to make my own ricotta and clarify my butter following Yeo Valley’s recipes – both deceptively simple and very satisfying. One happy Chris!
Scalding milk, adding lemon juice, spooning off the curds from the whey and letting them drain through muslin until you have a bowl full of delicious cheese, ready to cook with in less than hour with minimal effort, means I will never be buying ricotta again. Never will I despair at the words ‘animal rennet’ on a tub and have to change my dinner plans – hoorah!
Once I had made my cheese I combined 100g of it with 200g chopped spinach, 150g chopped wild garlic (you can use all spinach if it’s not wild garlic season – Sarah suggests flavouring the pie with a 50g bunch of chopped fresh mint or dill if you have no wild garlic to hand), 300g crumbled veggie feta, 50g grated veggie Parmesan, 5 large eggs, 50g fresh breadcrumbs, ½tsp freshly grated nutmeg, a bunch of chopped spring onions and salt & pepper.
I clarified 250g butter by heating it gently in a saucepan and then pouring off the yellow gold and leaving the creamy white behind.
I lined my baking tin with 7 layers of filo pastry each lovingly coated with the butter before the next was added. The spinach/garlic/egg/cheese mixture was popped on top and a further 7 layers of filo and butter layered in top. I pressed down the edges and folded them up to seal it in, brushed the top with the last of the butter, marked it into slices with a sharp knife, sprinkled it with water and popped it into the oven (180°C/Gas 4) for 45 minutes – keeping an eye on it so it didn’t burn (you can cover it with foil if you think this is going to happen before the middle is cooked).
I let it cool for 15 minutes before serving and it was delicious!
I’ve made this before as spanakopita on many occasions, it is a bit of a staple in our house, but the addition of the wild garlic and homemade ricotta turned it into something very special!
My Darling Girl was inspired to have a go at Sarah’s chocolate chip cookies, who wouldn’t be?! The book really does invite you in, it’s beautifully presented, feels nice in your hands and the photographs have a retro farmhouse chic feel which really appeals to me.
She was happy in her work!
They were keen to lick the bowl
and these didn’t last long!
There are, of course, pages I have to flick past but there are PLENTY of veggie friendly recipes to choose from. Chapters include The Dairy, The Veg Garden, The Woods, Hedgerows, Fields and Streams and this is very definitely not just a book about yoghurt!
The Great British Farmhouse Cookbook is, quite simply, a lovely book and I thoroughly recommend it! I’m looking forward to the start of asparagus season so I can make Cream of Asparagus Soup with soft poached eggs and next month’s elderflowers will see me making elderflower fritters with vanilla & honey yoghurt…I’m off for another leaf through with a cuppa and a slice of rhubarb, orange and hazelnut cake 😉
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Great British Farmhouse Kitchen and a delicious afternoon tea at the book launch. I was not required to write this review, all opinions are my own.