May 8, 2020

A Different Kind of Bank Holiday

It might not be the bank holiday we had hoped for, but here's how to make it a belter...

Believe it or not, it is actually possible to have a bit of fun during lockdown. Sure, we can’t spend the bank holiday doing all the things we would normally be doing, like celebrating this rare and glorious sunshine with a pint down the pub or getting out and about with the whole family in tow. And whilst those days may feel like a distant memory, we’re endeavouring to keep you busy and, more importantly, smiling (yes, we know it’s hard) for a three-day weekend spent at home….

Lockdown Libations with Mark Whitehouse

Despite being in lockdown, bank holiday weekend is looking pretty splendid on the weather front, and just to make things better, Mark Whitehouse has recommended a couple of wines that he thinks you might like to celebrate with…

Rias Baixas Albarino 2019, Asda – £7.00
This has to be one of my favourite white wine varieties from the Rias Baixas wine region in Galicia in Northern Spain. The good news is it’s currently at a reduced price of £7.00 and probably one of the best value for money supermarket wines out there at the moment. Light to Medium bodied and dry with a high acidity with notes of pear, peach and citrus making it ideal with shellfish, Thai cuisine and poultry dishes. A lovely mouthwatering and refreshing drop of white wine making it the perfect hot bank holiday weekend aperitif!

Austrian Hills Zweigelt 2018, Majestic Wine – £8.99 
Austrian wine is pretty underrated in my opinion and this Zweigelt is a prime example of this. Medium to light bodied and smooth tannins with notes of red cherry, strawberry, violet and leather and a great accompaniment to poultry and rack of lamb or lamb steaks. Its bursting with red fruit, slightly floral and has a good depth of flavour and for all you Pinot Noir or Beaujolais lovers, I think this is right up your street! 

Getting Back to Nature with The Salt Box

The Salt Box celebrates coming together and sharing seasonal food al fresco, neither of which we can do right now. That being said, co-founder, Beckie Wingrove, has shared with us her tips for exploring and rediscovering the great outdoors in the meantime…

These are weird, sometimes scary and most definitely uncertain times. But if one thing is certain, it’s that we have all learned a lot. We’re confident that the pandemic will drive positive change for us all. More than ever, we are all spending more time outdoors and more time in the kitchen, and less time fulfilling obligation after obligation. Our all time favourite combination! And whilst we have sorely missed being unable to host our feasts over fire beneath the trees over the past few months, so many of you have been taking the time to explore your local hedgerows and fields, foraging for ingredients to enjoy at home! An opportunity to scroll less and stroll more. 

It’s also been a wonderful time to truly appreciate locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, remembering that the world may not be able to supply us with infinite resources. Taking the time to choose wisely and invest in your local community, such as discovering your neighbourhood bakery, coffee roasters or fruit and veg growers. There’s truly never been a better time to support local.

Once the world shifts again, as it inevitably will, we should hold onto some of our newfound habits, profound realizations and rediscovered hobbies.  Just imagine, this could be our wake up call to get back to nature. 

Indulge with Newton Wood’s Epsom Salts

Indulge in some pampering and relaxation this bank holiday weekend, by creating your spa at home with our Epsom Salt crystals. Simply add our crystals to warm water and treat yourself to a soothing hand soak to replenish dry, sore hands caused by frequent washing and hand sanitisers. Or why not enjoy a rejuvenating foot soak to soften your nail beds, cuticles and heels; follow up with a foot scrub and your favourite nail polish to finish? Before bed, relax in a bath infused with our Epsom Salt crystals to ease your body and calm your mind; the perfect natural, yet indulgent, remedy to help relieve stress, anxiety and insomnia.

Click here to buy your Newton Wood Epsom Salt crystals.

Brewing with Beanberry

Missing your morning flat white? Struggling with your latte art? Good news. We spoke to Edward from local coffee roaster, Beanberry Coffee Company, to make sure you can enjoy a barista standard cappuccino this weekend. Established in 2011, it was the first UK based artisan coffee roaster, fully dedicated to supporting organic coffee farming and delivering the most distinct coffee that is fresh, delicious, and pure. The roastery was set up in nearby Woking and remains there to this day.

First things first, do we stand a chance of producing that smooth espresso or perfectly foamed cappuccino we are used to from the professionals?
This is possible, but difficult.  In some way, you absolutely can improve the quality of your home espresso by choosing good beans and making some tweaks to your espresso preparation, but, if you want to match what some independent artisan cafes are doing, you will have to invest into a rather expensive kit that has been developed for the prosumer market and invest into your own coffee training.

Coffee to water ratio, water temperature, grind size, brewing time…the list of “essentials” is endless. Truthfully, what are the most important factors to consider when it comes to at home brewing?
Coffee is always brewed to a recipe and, unlike tea, is very sensitive to getting the recipe wrong.  Tea is forgiving, coffee is not.  Take filter coffee that you make using a cafetiere or a Melita cone (or perhaps its very popular counterpart V60) or any domestic filter coffee machine: your will need 6 g of coffee for every 100 g of water, your grind size should be method appropriate (i.e. medium for filter) and allow you to brew your coffee in 3.5 to 5 minutes.  Water quality is hugely important, as water is 98.6% of the filter brew.  Use relatively soft water with 110 to 160 ppm hardness and try to get the water which is Ph neutral, as alkaline water makes coffee taste bland and acidic water makes coffee taste overly acidic.  If you look at bottled water, Volvic is probably the best water out there to make a nice cup of coffee.

So what equipment and tools would you recommend investing in?
The most important home coffee tool is a burr grinder, which you need to give your coffee a nice even grind for a perfect extraction.  It is always better to buy whole beans and grind them at home right before use, as coffee loses its flavour incredibly quickly after grinding.  When at home, I like brewing my coffee at home with a V60 or a Melita cone.  Cafetieres are fine too.

Buying beans is new to a lot of us, what’s on offer at Beanberry and how do we choose the right coffee for us?
we make sure we cater to all of our customer coffee needs.  We have a range of single origin coffees and a very balanced seasonal filter blend, 8AM Blues, for those who make filter coffee at home.  For espresso drinkers we have two espresso blends: our Javascript Espresso is a modern age rethink and an upgrade of a classic Northern Italian espresso that is superb with milk and full bodied, sweet and lingering on its own; and Wildcat Espresso that caters to the seekers of higher and subtle notes that are appreciated by the drinkers of espresso who don’t take milk.

Where can us Surrey locals get our daily dose of Beanberry coffee post-lockdown when out and about?
You can always buy Beanberry beans online.  We always ship the current week roast and we roast every single week of the year.  Once we are out of the lockdown, you will also be able to buy our beans at our stores in Kingston, at 30B Fife Roar, and in Central London, at 272 High Holborn.  

The Epsom Bakehouse Presents

Perhaps you’ll be partaking in a street party this weekend. Well, grab your pinny (as well as the bunting) and get baking these earl grey, lemon & rosemary teacakes…

You’ll need:
2 Earl Grey tea bags
200g sultanas
1/2 lemon, zest only
Leaves from a sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
250ml whole milk
70ml tea
35g butter
500g white bread flour
35g caster sugar
7g instant dried yeast
10g salt

1. Brew the tea in approximately 150ml boiling water.

2. Mix together the sultanas, zest and chopped rosemary. Pour over the strong tea and leave to soak whilst you prepare the dough (longer if you wish).

3. Gently heat the milk and butter in a saucepan until the butter melts and the milk is steaming. Set aside to cool until at finger temperature.

4. Weigh out the flour, salt, yeast and sugar into a large bowl, ensuring the salt and yeast don’t come into direct contact. Mix the dry ingredients together.

5. Strain the tea off the sultana mix and reserve 70ml.

6. Add the cooled milk and butter mixture, the 70ml reserved tea and the soaked sultana mix into the dry ingredients.

7. Mix everything together to make a dough, then turn it out of the bowl. It’s important not to flour the surface, as this adds extra flour into your dough and will dry it out. The dough will be quite wet and sticky to begin with. Knead the dough for 10 – 15 minutes until it becomes smooth and silky.

8. Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the bowl. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to prove for 1.5 – 2 hours.

9. Once proved, turn the dough out of the bowl and divide it into equal pieces of about 100g each.  

10. Roll each piece into a tightly shaped ball, tucking the sides under and ensuring a smooth surface. Try and tuck any escaping sultanas underneath, otherwise they’ll burn in the oven.

11. Place the buns on two lined baking trays, spaced well apart. Use the heel of your hand to flatten the buns down. Cover them with oiled cling film and leave to prove again for at least an hour until they are well risen. Pre-heat the oven to 210C.

12. Once the buns have risen, remove the cling film and glaze them with a little milk. Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes. I like to turn the trays and swop them between oven shelves halfway through, to ensure an even bake. When fully baked, the buns should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Leave to cool slightly before cutting open and spreading with butter. Enjoy!

Rhiannon is also running a weekly bake-along live each Saturday morning at 10am on her Facebook page here. In addition, there’s an online bread making class each weekend – from baguettes and ciabatta, to cinnamon rolls and brioche. Find out more here.

Once Upon A Town signature